Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category

Kids Smoke Marijuana, White House Drug Czar Shocked and Outraged, Blames Medical Marijuana

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

“Alarming” increases in marijuana use upon teenagers according to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Reporting that they’ve smoked pot in the last month: 6.6% of teenagers in 2009 increased to 6.9% in 2010 (I can hear society crumbling around me as I write this).

I can’t find a video of Gil Kerlikowske’s press conference (the drug czar aka head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy) talking about the results of the survey, but supposedly he said this:

“Emerging research reveals potential links between state laws permitting access to smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use,” Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a written statement. ” I urge every family – but particularly those in states targeted by pro-drug political campaigns – to redouble their efforts to shield young people from serious harm by educating them about the real health and safety consequences caused by illegal drug use.”

Here is my added emphasis in bold: “Emerging research reveals potential (what does that mean? I am potentially a millionaire if I buy a  lotto ticket) links between state laws permitting access to smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use, (ah duh… giving people the right to do something usually leads to some people exercising that right). I urge every family – but particularly those in states targeted by pro-drug (I could get all syntactical but what’s the point) political campaigns – to redouble their efforts to shield young people from serious harm by educating them about the real health and safety consequences caused by illegal (but not legal) drug use.”

Couldn’t agree more that we should shield young people from the serious and real health and safety consequences, of which with marijuana there is very few. Despite the commercials, there has never been a reported case of any kid smoking weed and blowing his brains out on accident with his dad’s gun, or running over a little girl as you exit the drive thru (I could be wrong, if so, please link me to a story, I would like to know). I can’t find any news stories or anecdotes that are of concern when I search for “marijuana related deaths” except for stories about law enforcement killing Mexican Mafia members. “Marijuana related injuries” returns similar stories of people being hurt while being arrested by police.

Read more…


Immigration: It’s Good For Everybody

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Looks like someone recently had some of the same ideas as I have.

Let’s open the borders. People want to come to this country to add value to the economy. If they can come into this country and live here legally, we can make them pay taxes. We don’t even necessarily need to immediately extend to them all of the rights and entitlements of citizenship.

“Won’t this be a drag on social services and public capital?” No, not if the immigration is increasing the tax base.

“Won’t they take our jobs?” They already are taking your jobs. Bringing people into this country will boost entrepreneurship and lead to net job creation. Look at Texas: the Texas job miracle is as much a story of immigration and population growth as it is about the business-friendly political environment. Remove obstacles towards creating enterprise and people will create jobs for themselves.

The problem today is that it is so hard to migrate to this country (and many other countries) legally. There is an incentive to come here illegally, and once an immigrant arrives here illegally, they usually are able to use social services and social capital, without paying taxes (why would they pay taxes if they are already here illegally?). Unlike rich people, immigrants aren’t intrinsically tax dodgers.

I think that nations don’t want free migration because they don’t want to compete with each other. If people got to vote with their feet, and models of governance were forced to compete with each other, it would be a win-win situation for the people and big loss for the corrupt practices of government.

They need to manufacture memes like terrorism and racism and “They took our jeooobs!” to get us to believe that immigration is bad for us, but it’s all bullshit.

This is What Plutarchy Looks Like:

September 8, 2011 Leave a comment

This is What An Oligopoly Looks Like:

This is What A Plutocracy Looks Like:



EDIT: According to this, the four big banks only have 34% of the market as measured by total deposits.

How many of you were pissed off at the bailouts and still keep your money with one of these banks? Going down to your local credit union and opening an account is a better form of social protest than doing nothing.



Pragmatic Libertarianism

The following post was inspired by these two articles.

Joseph Stiglitz: The Evils of Unregulated Capitalism

Anthony Gregory: Why the Left Fears Libertarianism 

The above two pieces are not necessarily diametrically opposed to one another, but reading them on the same day made me reflect on the sorry state of discourse between contemporary liberals and classical liberals. If you boil it down to a single defining characteristic, it is the socialist welfare state that divides the two, and nothing more. I look at the development of the modern social welfare state as a centuries-long process of negotiation and compromise between the classes of society. The current socialist democratic makeup of the developed world is the result of this (often violent) negotiation process, and it represents a sociopolitical equilibrium that will continue to shift as time marches forward. I say all of this without making any normative statements as to whether or not such a equilibrium is preferable to any other hypothetical states of equilibrium. Libertarianism makes the case that an equilibrium can exist at a point with much less government power and less consolidation of authority, and that such an equilibrium would be a “better” place to be as a society. Essentially, Libertarians are making the argument that Pareto-efficient social outcomes exist at some point where there is dramatically less government intervention in society. I am not going to comment on that statement for now, and instead go back to the articles that inspired this post, but keep this sociopolitical equilibrium model in mind.

Gregory makes some interesting points about how much the popular left has maligned libertarianism since the onset of the Obama presidency and subsequent rise of the tea party. He also does a great job of pointing out the Obama’s failures: not ending the wars, selling out to the big corporations in both health care and financial system reform, and just generally being more of the same (what else should we expect from a major party candidate?).

Joseph Stiglitz, fighting from the other corner, has a remarkably simple and coherent plan for fixing the economy: end the wars, rein in military and drug costs, and raise taxes on the rich. I can get behind that 100%. Maybe that doesn’t really make me a “real Libertarian” like I purport myself to be, but the fact of the matter is that such policy would be much more libertarian than our current policy of corporate welfare and endless intervention in the affairs of other countries.

Yeah, the rich should pay some more taxes… they have been sucking off the public’s teat forever, maybe its time for them to give a little back. I am not ideologically Libertarian because Libertarian is the best political ideology and all other ideologies are inferior; I am Libertarian because I believe that people should be free to live their lives unencumbered by the constraints imposed upon them by political, religious, and cultural institutions. I believe that, as long as we are not depriving other people of their own right to be weird, we should be as weird as we want to be. My personal philosophy is actually inherently progressive. Maybe I am really a Marxist; if you know your history, it is kind of hard not to be. I think there is a mountain of evidence that the monied classes have been systematically abusing our democratic system for their own personal benefit… for at least 30 years, perhaps closer to 300, or 3000… its hard to know exactly how far to go back, but if Libertarians were to look at the tenets of Liberalism that inspired their own philosophy of freedom, they would see that Liberalism and the Enlightenment were about giving power and choice to the people. The Liberal revolutions that brought us the American Revolution, French Revolution, and countless other political and social movements were an inherently democratizing and enfranchising process. It is a process that has been taking place all over the world, and has yet to reach its culmination.

Today’s libertarians need to consider their end game: is a libertarian utopia, even if hypothetically achievable, even sustainable? Can the equilibrium that they believe in even exist? I unabashedly believe we need more libertarian-minded reforms in this country, but I also am skeptical that a pure libertarian equilibrium exists. If we are only concerned with Pareto-efficient outcomes, I think there are a number of things that can be accomplished within the democratic socialist framework of our countries institutions. This is where I have an ideological split with “fundmentalist libertarians”, who would never use the corrupted means of government power to establish an end that is marginally more libertarian. Would it be worth it to spend $1 trillion dollars on a national project that delivered clean and cheap fusion energy to every household in North America? If it guaranteed that we wouldn’t need a foreign policy centered around the invasion of energy-rich countries, I say such a project is a net-gain for Libertarianism (as well as practically every single person on Earth).

The reality is that there is no such thing as a free market, and consequentially there are a huge number of goods and services that are misprovisioned. If you accept the hypothesis that “pure libertarianism” is unfeasible, or at the very least unworkable (and I actually think most people who identify as Libertarian recognize the futility of their ideological affiliation, but are like me and stick to their guns because they believe marginal steps towards libertarian principles are what this country and the world need), it is only a logical extension that such an aforementioned “Manhattan Project” for energy is a good idea.

Ideology is always a mistake. It blinds us to the facts. It doesn’t really matter from which angle you are coming from; if you believe in an idea in and of itself as an end in and of itself, you are abandoning any pretext of objectiveness. You are using bi-variable equations to explain phenomena that take place in four dimensions, and your model will ultimately fail.

Stephan Metcalf on Robert Nozick

I never read the entirety of Anarchy, State, and Utopia, but I think that Nozick’s opus was more a book for its time rather than a timeless book (I do regard as timeless the philosophers’ from which he synthesizes his argument).

This article hits the nail on the head about what is right/wrong about contemporary libertarianism. Most of the people who call themselves libertarians today are really just self-interested assholes. They are benefiting from the historical and social coincidence of the world in which we live, where a set of ideas has been collected and defined as “Libertarianism”. By affiliating themselves with a philosophy such as Libertarianism, they are able to conceal their own moral bankruptcy with a veil of intellectual vanguardism. It is one thing to write and defend a well-reasoned piece of moral philosophy (as Nozick has done). It is entirely another to ignore one’s privilege and hide behind the haughty ramparts of someone else’s ideas while following a solipsist strategy of personal material enrichment.

The Free State Project

from the article:

Freeman does not pay federal taxes and hasn’t for years. He pays local property taxes, and water bills, as does the co-host of his radio show, Mark Edge.

“Those revenues,” says Edge, “are a lot less likely to be used to buy weapons to kill brown people.”




May 22, 2011 1 comment

Rape is really bad. But so is convicting someone in the court of public opinion before they have a fair trial. I haven’t seen anything in the media that doesn’t assume his guilt is a foregone conclusion. Are we as a public so horny for revenge against the Masters of The Universe that we are willing to abandon due process?