Archive for the Current Events Category

About those Dark Enlightenment guys..

Posted in Current Events, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 4, 2014 by FoolishReporter

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There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth recently in regards to a formative political/social movement (?) dubbed “The Dark Enlightenment.” (DE) Lead by their prophet Mencius Moldbug and his apostles Nick Land, Bryce Laliberte, Michael Anissimov and gathered together communally at theden.tv, the members of the DE offer something truly radical in today’s political climate: reaction/neoreaction.

Termed everything negative under the sun from burgeoning neo-Fascists to outright Nazi’s (from both left and right, no less), the members of the DE end up with such descriptions because…well, they may just be right in their deconstruction and critique of modern society. Pulling from a variety of resources, Moldbug especially explains modern society as “The Cathedral”, a combination of state, education and media that programs people to be faithful advocates of democracy, despite nearly two centuries now of evidence that seems to perhaps tell us otherwise.

The DE’s contention also seems to be that previous forms of governance may perhaps be preferable to democracy, if one can free one’s mind to an appropriate extent. One modern example, as Land points out, is Dubai. Very little political freedom exists there, but the single vision of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has allowed Dubai to become a 21st century wonder and a relative island of stability in a region known for anything but that.

This hinting at monarchism or some sort of “natural” elite rule may also be where DE adherents attract the most criticism, especially with Moldbug’s openness to the question of racial disparities being innate or not. But, if the goal is the restoration of a previous form of government derived from “natural” elites, one has to be able to entertain the concept, that yes, *some* people are inherently better than others in some ways.

Regardless, anyone who professes to claim to have an open mind should give some serious regards to the DE. These guys are smart, effective writers who seem to have the ability to make you say “hmmmm” every other sentence or so. Radical capitalist Hans Herman-Hoppe has often written and spoke of modern society’s need for “anti-intellectual intellectuals” to break society as a whole free from old, decaying forms. While I’m not entirely sure the DE is what Hoppe had in mind, it certainly can’t be denied that the members of the DE are certainly just that, and their growing popularity is a testament to, perhaps, the unspoken recognition that we are living in a completely broken society and something wildly different is needed moving forward.

 

A Detroit Narrative That Needs A Home

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

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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

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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.

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

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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!

SEIU Set to Rabble Rouse Over #WaLeg Budget

Posted in Current Events with tags , , on June 27, 2013 by FoolishReporter

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Ah, good ole SEIU. If they don’t get their way, they’ll be sure to let EVERYONE know about it. The letter above came home with my wife yesterday, from our kids’ daycare. Love the language don’t you?

“the real *targets* in this mess are Senators Rodney Tom, Andy Hill and Joe Fain”. (emphasis mine) Remember in 2010 with all that talk about cross-hairs being on a map of legislative districts being the DIRECT CAUSE of madman Jared Loughner’s shooting rampage in Arizona? Apparently using loaded language like “targets” is A-OK if you’re in a rabble-rousing union like SEIU.

Also gotta love the part where they plan on going to Senator Hill’s *neighborhood*. Because, yannow, bringing a shouting mob into a peaceful residential area is sure to win the sympathies of everyone.

Also fun is the promise of “something HUGE” if there’s no budget passed by the Washington State legislature by Friday, June 28. I’m almost rooting for the government shutdown to happen, just to see what their surprise might entail.

For those of you wondering what the hell is going on, here’s the short of it: the Washington State legislature is onto it’s second special session in an attempt to pass a state budget. The oddest of oddities has happened in the Washington State senate, in which two Democrat senators essentially defected to the Republican side in order to create what they call the “Majority Coalition” Caucus”. The State senate has a budget proposal that will meet what’s commonly being called the “McCleary downpayment”, in which a billion dollars will be put towards education as a result of a State supreme court ruling in recent years. The Senate was able to do this by pulling money from “safety net” programs, hence the letter you see above. On the other side, is the House budget (controlled by Democrats), which will also make a downpayment on McCleary, but has provisions to raise taxes in a lot of different ways.

Tom, Hill and Fain are among those Senate democrats who either outright defected (Tom) or have been in support of the Senate’s measures to pass a budget.

Hence, the targeting by SEIU.

Regardless, this was an interesting insight into how one of the most radical, and frankly, most annoying labor unions operates today. Targeting elected officials to the point where they feel they have a right to disrupt a peaceful neighborhood because they’re so aggrieved. *Think Texas legislature earlier this week*

Good times!

UPDATE: Even with Governor Jay Inslee announcing that a budget deal has been reached, it appears SEIU is going to forge ahead with it’s plans to agitate in Senator Hill’s neighborhood anyways.

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SMH.

Seattle’s Ride-Share Companies Threaten Transportation Monopolies

Posted in Current Events with tags , , , on June 17, 2013 by FoolishReporter

photo via Greg Gilbert/Seattle Times ... Lyft cars are marked by their distinctive pink "mustaches"

photo via Greg Gilbert/Seattle Times … Lyft cars are marked by their distinctive pink “mustaches”

 

A curious fight is underway in Seattle right now, as the city tries to figure out how to deal with “ride-share” companies like Uber and Lyft. The Seattle Times has a fairly balanced article on the issue, which discusses that the main point of contention currently is the fact that Uber and Lyft drivers are “unlicensed” cab drivers, for all intents and purposes. From the Times:

Habitu Sallehu pays hundreds of dollars a year to be a legal for-hire cabdriver in Seattle. The fees help pay for detailed city inspections of his records, his Toyota Prius, and the entire for-hire industry.

Lately, the 43-year-old Ethiopian émigré has seen drivers offering the same services as he does in cars with furry, hot-pink mustaches attached to their grills. But the drivers for that company, Lyft, and a second outfit, Sidecar, operate without any licensing or inspections from the city.

A third service, UBERx, also allows unlicensed drivers and vehicles into its ride-sharing fleet. The city says their lack of licenses makes the services of all three companies illegal and potentially dangerous.

The reason for Uber and Lyft’s increased popularity? Because they targeted the demographics of Seattle correctly, selling their whole service on it’s use of smartphone technologies. For either company, riders schedule their ride through the company’s custom app, and, in both cases, take care of their payment method through that same app. Or more simply put: Uber and Lyft et al innovated in the free market and are now threatening one of the favored monopolies of the government/State : transportation.

The Times points out the taxi cab companies “preferred” status if you will, and the government’s overregulation of the industry, has been going on for decades:

Seattle Councilmember Sally Clark said she’s impressed with the innovative approach to offering quick, affordable transportation in dense, urban areas, but she and other council members are on the fence about whether Seattle should find a way to make their services legal, as is. The current taxi and for-hire cab industry has been highly regulated in Seattle for decades, with caps placed on the number of licenses available and expensive fees used to fund the monitoring of drivers.

That paragraph does a lovely job of the inherent hypocrisy of government: they push for the masses to adopt more “environmentally conscious” modes of transportation, and when companies spring up to provide just such a thing, well, they still have to “pay to play”, as it were. LOL.

Also contained within our referenced Times article is a fun little section on for-hire drivers. Again, the market responds to consumer needs, and these for-hire drivers are one of the responses. Private business people attempting to make a better life for themselves and their families, while also attempting to better the quality of life for Seattle residents. What’s the government/State response? Heavy- handed and profit-killing as usual:

Meanwhile, three city inspectors actively fine legal for-hire drivers for violations all the time, said the president of East Side For Hire, Samatar Guled. Sting operations sometimes catch for-hire drivers picking up people who flag them down, something only licensed taxi drivers are allowed to do.

Police also fine them. Last month, for instance, a police officer pulled Sallehu over in the South Lake Union area when he saw a woman open Sallehu’s door at an intersection where he was stopped, then walk away. The officer interpreted it as Sallehu trying to solicit an illegal ride, according to a police report, and gave him a $513 ticket.

Guled thinks Sallehu can fight the ticket, but still views the scrutiny of his actions as harassment and, in light of the city’s dismissiveness toward unlicensed drivers, discrimination.

“Which is more safe: a driver who is licensed or a completely unlicensed car and driver?” Guled asked. “I don’t like to bring up race, but we’re almost all East African immigrants trying to play by the rules and the city is coming after us. Why is that?”

Hey may have a point, as, at least with my experiences in interacting with Uber, they mostly appear to be educated, upper-middle class white kids etc. But, I’m also a bit disinclined to take anyone seriously when their first reaction is RACISM!

Regardless, the next bit of the story is probably the *real* crux of this burgeoning fight: Namely, the taxi cab companies are feeling tense because their government sanctioned transportation monopoly is being threatened by these new upstarts:

The influx of unregulated ride-sharing services has hit taxi drivers hard too, said Tommy Key, general manager of Yellow Cab’s Puget Sound Dispatch.

“The drivers feel if they are being regulated by the city so hard and paying all these fees, these people need to be doing the same to level the playing field,” Key said.

It should also be noted that public transportation has been a big fight in the greater Seattle metro area for the past two years or so, as King County Metro, the main transit service for urban Seattle, has been facing serious financial issues due to the effects of the Great Recession. So not only are Uber/Lyft et al threatening the for-hire drivers and established taxi companies, they’re also threatening the State’s *own* transportation infrastructure and monopoly.

One also has to wonder  if the Zipcar program has any affect on this particular fight as well. For those unfamiliar with Zipcars, they’re essentially enviro-friendly cars that Seattle residents can “rent” for specified amounts of time for a fee. In essence, it’s the same idea motivating Uber, Lyft et al. And hell, Zipcar even announced its partnership with the City of Seattle back in 2009, extending it’s services to all 10k city employees.

It will be curious to see how the city responds to this fight. Again, one of it’s favored monopolies in transportation is under attack from a free-market innovation. Instead of embracing this and attempting to make sure these businesses continue to be successful, the state’s response, as always, is to attempt to impose “control” , either in the name of “safety” or “fairness.”

Or, more simply:

rothbard

 

 

Equality, Inequality and the NBA

Posted in America, Conservative, Current Events, government, Liberty, The United States with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 2013 by FoolishReporter

 

 

 

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LeBron James making the entire New York Knicks team look silly

 

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Jason Collins, long-time NBA player and the first active professional athlete to “come out of the closet”

 

Americans are so enamoured of equality, that they would rather be equal in slavery, than unequal in freedom — Alexis De Tocqueville

I recently shared the above quote on Twitter the other day, and got a curious response from a follower on there, in which they asked how is it freedom if some people are inherently unequal to others? I replied by stating I didn’t know that equality and freedom were supposed to be the same thing. They, in turn, replied by saying that isn’t what they were implying. When I asked what exactly the question they were asking was trying to accomplish, I ended up getting crickets.

Regardless, de Tocqueville’s quote and the question from my friend raises an important issue in the argument between big government, social justice advocates and smaller government, free market advocates. Those who push for equal outcomes among people seem to ignore one simple fact about humans as a whole: we are unequal in almost all things when viewed on an individual to individual basis.

To illustrate this point, we’ll look at the two basketball players pictured above, LeBron James and Jason Collins. To begin with, don’t forget that all players in any professional sport are the top one percent of the top one percent. In the NBA’s case, there are approximately 450 players distributed among the 30 teams in the league. Again, keeping in mind that active NBA players likely represent the absolute best players in the world, the occurrence of inequality among humans is easy to see.

Collins, who most recently got publicity for announcing he’s gay, is, at best, a journeyman NBA player. In his 10+ year career in the league, Collins has averaged 1.1 points per game, and about six rebounds per game. LeBron, in his 10-year career, has averaged  nearly a triple-double over the course of his time in the league, with 25.1 points per game, and approximately 6 rebounds and 6 assists per game.

So, in the highest concentration of basetball talent in the world, you have two players who’s stats can’t be further apart. Accordingly, their salaries reflect the inequality in the amount of talent the two players have. For instance, Collins averages about 1 million a season, while LeBron’s earnings for the 2012-13 season were approximately 19 million. And, in this situation, to proclaim that Collins is deserving of Lebron’s salary is patently ridiculous.

And yet, that’s the argument that we hear all the time today from the left. Income inequality is through the roof, and the only just solution would be to try and provide for equalized outcomes for everyone. Pulling from our example above and applying it to a more everyday scenario, the left essentially suggests that a cashier in a Wal-Mart is deserving of a wage commensurate with that of a highly skilled worker or middle management.

Within the larger context of our society, equality and freedom are there, despite the inherent inequality among us. Because, you see, both Collins and LeBron had equality of opportunity to choose what to do with their lives. In turn, because of the equality of opportunity, one can also argue that their freedom is unrestricted as well.

Well, that’s it for today. The pain meds are making my brain foggy, and I’m surprised I was even able to spit out 600 words or so. Til next my time, my friends.

 

 

 

Ennobling the #IRS? Lolwut?

Posted in Current Events with tags , , on June 4, 2013 by FoolishReporter

As the IRS scandal continues to unfold, and the abuses of the agency under the current administration continue to be uncovered, it seems difficult to think anyone with an ounce of common sense would defend the actions of the rogue agency. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in the weeks since this scandal unfolded, there are those who are willing to do just that. I got my own dose of it this morning, when I received a reply because I retweeted one of Kirsten Power’s tweets on today’s hearings.

(pause)

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My first response was despair that someone would defend the government, especially one of it’s most odious manifestations in the form of the IRS. And then, after a little more thought, I seized on the fact that our Twitter friend labeled IRS agents as “public servants.” That got me to thinking… Does the IRS actually serve the public in any true sense?

I mean, firefighters serve the public by putting their lives on the line. Same with police. Same with military. Hell, even the rare politician can *actually* be said to be a true public servant.

But definitely not the IRS.

Because what is the IRS? Nothing more than an administrative apparatus meant to make sure the government gets it’s cut of *your* money. Nothing more, nothing less, really. It is a servant OF the government, FOR the government. If there are people who believe IRS agents are brave souls who one day dreamed of making the world a better place by ensuring taxes are paid and laws and regulations are met, then we are definitely in a strange place (And I’m pretty damn sure we crossed that bridge awhile ago). And if there *are* people actually like that (and I’m not disinclined to believe there might not be), then the mire the agency finds itself caught up in currently makes perfect sense.

What the IRS scandal and those who defend it are also illustrative of is the state worship that seems to infect many these days. When you replace God (or the recognition of any sort of higher power, regardless of labels) with the State, a transference of infallibility happens. If God is infallible, and the State is now God, then that leads you to the conclusion that the State, therefore, is infallible.

The benevolent God-State, with kindly leaders from which all munificence issues.

Don’t believe me? Again, just look at the tweet above. A person defending tax collectors.

This, in a country that was founded on a tax revolt.

 

 

 

Cloward-Piven 2.0 : Using the Elderly To Overwhelm The System?

Posted in Current Events with tags , on May 7, 2013 by FoolishReporter

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Seattle-area reporter Brandi Kruse has an interesting story today, about a private company known as Benefits Data Trust, and one of it’s proxies, Washington Benefits Center, and their attempts to enroll elderly persons in Washington State in the basic food stamp program. Here’s a quick transcript of the story:

Kruse V.O. : 77-year-old Allan Blackman knew he didn’t qualify for food stamps.

Blackman: My income is about 50,000 a year. I’ve… got a house that I own, along with the credit union. I own a $6,000 bike.

Kruse V.O: But earlier this year, the Seattlite got a phone call and a letter saying he could qualify for the state’s basic food program.

Kruse: What did you think when you got the call and got the follow up letter?

Blackman: Well this must be part of the Obama campaign to get everyone on welfare. That’s what went through my head (laughs).

Kruse V.O: He had been contacted by an organization called the WA Benefits Center. A not-for-profit that operates out of a call center all the way in Philadelphia.

Voice over: Thank you for calling the Washington Benefits Center.

Kruse V.O. : The organization is a branch of the Benefits Data Trust. They work with the states of Pennsylvaina, Maryland and Washington. Here they help track down elderly residents who could qualify for food stamps.

Deanna Minus-Vincent: In Washington, only 43 percent of seniors who are eligible for basic food are receiving it.

Kruse V.O. : Deanna Midas-Vincent, a spokesperson for Benefits Data Trust, says its their job to get those people enrolled. Babs Roberts, with the state Dept of Social and Health Services, says the elderly are an underserved population.

Roberts: You often hear them say, give it to a family, to the children. I don’t need it. What we need seniors to understand is they’re absolutely entitled to this. This is not a necessarily a handout, it’s a nutrition program. And good nutritious food is as important to their health as their medical prescriptions are.

Kruse V.O. : Benefits Data Trust is paid for their work. The federal government gives them $80 for each person who applies for food stamps, and another $50 for each application that’s approved.

Blackman: The notion that they’ve gotta go rounding up people to give them this benefit…it sounds preposterous to me for the government that’s basically broke and bankrupt to be spending money like that.

Kruse V.O. : And while Benefits Data Trust says they have a proven data driven approach to targeting people who qualify, Blackman says he’s proof that their approach doesn’t always work.

Kruse: Why would someone like him get a letter saying you may qualify for food stamps?

Deanna Minus-Vincent: Um, I think there’s times where the data we get isn’t as clean as we’d like it to be.

Kruse V.O. : Benefits Data Trust has only been working with the state for a few months. In February, which is the latest month with data available, they helped 14 people apply for food stamps. Six of those apps were approved.  

Thankfully, Blackman seems to have some sense, and realized the preposterous-ness of this particular situation. Regardless, there’s some weirdness in this brief story.

a) The fact that Benefits Data Trust basically acts like a sales-referral model, where people are incentivized to enroll the elderly in the food stamps program is just downright creepy.

b) The state employee’s view of the situation that ” we need seniors to understand is they’re absolutely entitled to this. This is not a necessarily a handout, it’s a nutrition program. And good nutritious food is important to their health as their medical prescriptions are.” Basically, that statement equates to a view that the elderly don’t know best and can and should only be helped by the government. Statism for the win!

As I thought about this story though, I was reminded of the Cloward-Piven strategy employed in New York City in the 1970′s. For those unfamiliar with the Cloward-Piven strategy, it’s an idea formulated from the radical left of the 60′s of a top-down, bottom-up strategy to crash current institutions.

David Horowitz and Richard Poe did an excellent job in their book “The Shadow Party” chronicling the professional left’s attempts at bankrupting the city by flooding the welfare rolls, :

“New York’s welfare rolls had been growing by twelve percent per year already before (NCY mayor John) Lindsey took office. The rate jumped to 50 percent annually in 1966.”

Because of this, “welfare spending in New York City more than doubled, from $400 million to $1 billion annually. Outlays for the poor consumed nearly 28 percent of the city’s budget by 1970.”

This was achieved through the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), headed by a man named George Wiley. Horowitz and Poe note that Wiley and the NWRO were apt to use aggressive, intimidating tactics when stating their case, most clearly illustrated in a 1970 New York Times article:

“There have been sit-ins in legislative chambers, including a United States Senate committee hearing, mass demonstrations of several thousand welfare recipients, school boycotts, picket lines, mounted police, tear gas, arrests– and on occassion, rock-throwing, smashed glass doors, overturned desks, scattered papers and ripped-out phones.”

In that case, the left focused on minorities and used them as a weapon to wield against the welfare system. Now, it appears that the tactic has shifted to the elderly. As has been noted in many places and in many different fields in recent years, America has an aging population. From the Administration on Aging website (www.aoa.gov):

The older population–persons 65 years or older–numbered 39.6 million in 2009 (the latest year for which data is available). They represented 12.9% of the U.S. population, about one in every eight Americans. By 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2000. People 65+ represented 12.4% of the population in the year 2000 but are expected to grow to be 19% of the population by 2030. The information in this section of the AoA website brings together a wide variety of statistical information about this growing population.

In short, we’re gonna continue to have a lot of older people sitting around over the next few decades. And what better way to crash the collective system than to enroll as many of them as possible on food stamp programs at either the state or federal level?

Things that make you go hmmmm….

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