Monday, April 29, 2013

My First Reason Foundation Article: TVA Should Go Private

TVA: For Sale By Owner

Time For the Tennessee Valley Authority to Go Private

Privatization makes sense. The hard part is working out exactly how to do it.
Recently there was a bit of excitement about the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) mention in the President’s Budget (PB). Page 51 of the PB states:
Given TVA’s debt constraints and the impact to the Federal deficit of its increasing capital expenditures, the Administration intends to undertake a strategic review of options for addressing TVA’s financial situation, including the possible divestiture of TVA, in part or as a whole.
After the conservatives and libertarians finish cheering and throwing their top hats in the air, there is something important to remember about federal budgets: they are not created equal.

Read the rest at Reason.Org

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

If McVeigh wore Che Shirts ...

McVeigh Che ProfessorMy column from this morning:

Where do you find White American Terrorists Walking the Streets?

If Timothy McVeigh dressed like this, he might be a professor today.
White terrorists are not hard to find in America, all you have to do is take a trip to your local Progressive leaning university.

The progression goes like this: Read Marxist and Marxist derivative works, wear Communist logos on your clothes, talk about “the struggle” for “the workers”, blow stuff up, get a professorship.  A trip to jail only enhances your resume and puts you on the fast-track to tenure.

Short version: Killing people after reading the Turner Diaries does not impede your proper punishment.  Doing the same thing after reading the Motorcycle Diaries leads to a teaching gig and retirement package.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

Something You Cannot Get at the Walmart

So you think Walmart has a monopoly?  Try finding Special Gupowder there
Special Gunpowder at the Far East Market
Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Every Gun Blogger Needs to Listen to and Share This

Sheldon Richman, Vice President o the Future of Freedom Foundation, talks about his recent essay: The Absurdity of “Universal” Background Checks
He covers a broad range of how the US Senate is poised to subject our rights to a vote.  He covers numerous related topics, from deputizing the psychiatric profession, to the absurdity of universal background checks.

The broad range is why every freedom advocate should listen, especially you gun bloggers.  We get bombarded with questions and Sheldon provides great, concise answers.

In many ways, it is like listening to a month of the old G. Gordon Liddy Show distilled down to nothing but the right to defend yourself, including destroying the argument that "the best of all worlds would be no guns."

See my column about this at FreedomBunker.Org
Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It Takes The State to Rear a Child is as Old as the Spartans

Privately educating your children is a civil right, not just a financial choice.

The Twittersphere seems to be in a tizzy about this MSNBC ad featuring Melissa Harris-Perry advocating collectivist rearing and training for your children:
She repeats the well worn idea that children should belong to the whole of society rather than their parents. The most frequent historical comparisons that I've noticed are the easy comparisons to Hillary Clinton's wildly popular It Takes A Village book, advocating a collectivist approach to rearing children be adopted (imposed) on American society.  Mrs. Clinton did not invent that idea, she is just being credited with an idea that has been around since 5th century Greece.

Something else that is interesting, the conservatives are beating the pants off of libertarians in this area of civil liberties, including the right to educate their children free of state interference. I hesitate to blame the problem on religion, since religious movements have been at the forefront of libertarian thought for centuries, especially in the civil right of education choice.  After over half of a century of trying to chip away at government schooling, the only people who have made a serious difference are the religious groups who thumb their noses at the state and educate their kids without a government rebate. Here is George H. Smith from 1985 pointing out the problem (full video on YouTube and farther down in this post):
This notion endorsed by MSNBC is much older and deeper than the vocal opponents seem to realize and it is directly related to the freedom to educate without the state. It goes back to the days of Sparta vs. Athens, or earlier. Fifth century Athens had free market education and Sparta had compulsory state education. Which society is remembered for its robust culture?  Athens of course, as George H. Smith informs an audience here, in 1985 (full video on YouTube and farther down in this post):
Apparently lost to ages among libertarian scribes is the history of government education and the historical argument against it was replaced by a government handout. Back in 1950s 'ancient' America, there was a suggestion by Milton Friedman, and other libertarian Chicago School Economists, that school vouchers (another government handout) be used to give parents "choice" in schools: The Role of Government in Education. For decades, libertarians have been preaching this belief that vouchers will be the end of the government schools, and it sounds pretty good too. The vouchers can be viewed as a "rebate" to taxpaying parents for educating their children elsewhere, etc.

One problem with that idea: No voucher program is a rebate to anybody, since the amount of the voucher is never tied to what an individual paid in taxes toward their local government schools.  Another problem with this voucher handout, it is never the amount that would have been spent on anybody's child in a government school either. The voucher is always some several thousand dollars that looks good in the papers and that is about it.

Some price the voucher near tuition at a private school, as if that "counts." Anybody serious about these handouts would be arguing for a full refund, something that either equals the percentage of the total school budget spent on one child, or the amount of taxes taken from that parent for the schools.

The big, huge, glaring problem is the libertarian abandonment of the argument for liberty and arguing the economic aspect exclusively. As Smith argues, the economic argument is an important minor aspect of the overall argument for liberty.

Maybe it is not that remarkable, since there has been a tendency on many topics for libertarians to go for the government handout instead of demanding that the government butt out.  Even though they are rarely argued in opposition: Which is more popular today, home schooling or school vouchers? The feds say there were 1.5 million home schoolers in 2007. Finding the number of students attending private schools and/or receiving vouchers is difficult. If you can find a reliable number please let me know. NCLS has all sorts of data, but the numbers to compare to home schoolers is not jumping out at me.  The fact that one number is easy to find and the other is difficult (I have not given up yet) indicates a whole bunch of people have an interest in keeping one number hidden.

It is not like no numbers related to vouchers are out there. It is easy to find the amount of vouchers offered by various districts. Aggregate dollar amounts are pretty easy to find too. Perhaps it is the nature of the argument that is all about money and not really about liberty?

The libertarian problem is not one of ignoring history either, especially on this topic, since the quotes George H. Smith gives about Western state education are used by libertarians all the time as you can see in this long clip of his 1985 speech (full video on YouTube and farther down in this post) and this is a good source for those of you who are interested in the cources:
The real problem is with the notion that the way to rally people to liberty is by handing out a few bucks.

Educating your children as you choose is certainly within the realm of the "free market of ideas," it is not a right reserved to religious orders, it is a civil right of all. It is the civil right that homeschoolers fought for and were jailed over in the 1980s. Typically they do not get a government handout either, they get to pay school taxes while they educate their children themselves, typically under government scrutiny.

It is not as if this civil rights idea was not introduced when the Chicago School idea gathered steam in the 1980s either, it is not as if we were not repeatedly warned by Smith:

This is Smith on the larger topic of the emergence of the Progressive era, where he gives other detail to compulsory state education.
Libertarians ignoring civil rights aspects of issues only further the success of the statists. Your children are yours to educate until they reach the age of majority. It is not only a pocketbook issue, it is a rights issue and giving government the power to jail people for not sending their children to government approved schooling is a surrender of rights that should not be tolerated.

Related post at The Freedom Bunker.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Big Econ Debate of the Weekend

Over the weekend, the analysis arm of the American Economic Liberty Alliance tossed a topic around Twitter, asking which form of taxation is the least evil.  I guess you can check the various timelines of me (@AustrianAnarchy) and them (@TheAELAOfficial) to get the whole picture if you really want to.

The basics were a slightly open-ended question between a low national income tax or a high sales tax. Now, this Austrian Econ lover prefers a single amount on every person in the country, but that was not a choice.  So, my answer was a sales tax.

Apparently that did not fit the script, since they were talking about the fair tax supported by @FBNStossel and @GovGaryJohnson which proposes a 23% consumption tax. Why those two are proposing an unconscionable rate of 23%, which is unconscionable for any tax, is unknown to me.  My position is 3% of GDP and start with a 3% sales tax on all goods/services, then adjust. Also, not said on twitter, the tax needs to be obvious on the receipt/invoice of everything the tax is collected from.  Additionally, I am an advocate for taxes being collected at one point, and only one point, in the transaction chain.
Well, this opened a different redistributionist/progressive can of worms from AELA:

For one thing, they state this as if it is inherently bad.  And no, it does not in the slightest tax different people in different proportions. It only taxes on what one consumes and nothing else. Sure, if someone is spending all of his income on food/shelter, then all of his income is taxed too.  So it really makes no difference if he was taxed 3% on income or 3% on goods, the tax man got 3% of his wages anyway.  If he is a bit more self-sufficient, he is rewarded by retaining income that the tax man would otherwise have stolen.  Stated otherwise, when he gets to a point where his income exceeds his purchases, he stops getting taxed. Sounds like an incentive rather than a punishment to me.

If we are working with a flat sales tax, then all products are taxed equally and market distortions are minimized.

The notion that a flat sales tax (gasoline, cigarettes, and food all taxed at the same rate) "unfairly taxes" comes from the utility theories of Keynesians.  Someone with little or no disposable income is taxed unfairly if all of his income is spent to survive, but the person with oodles of disposable income is getting away with something if he spends on frivolity, or just saves without his "extra" money getting taxed.

Their redistribution colors were shown with this tweet:
Sure, it could "go back" to the States, and I replied that it sounds just like right now. Unstated then, it turns the whole country into a giant federal only tax district, where the feds are the ones who spread the collected money around. Why something like letting the feds have their one tax and "letting" the States create their own, never occurred to them (or was dismissed) is a bit odd too.

They later posted something about it (Taxation. Which method is the least evil?), sticking with the argument that a low income tax is the only argument against a 23% sales tax, even though I (and presumably others) pointed out quite plainly that 23% is ridiculous and 3% should be just fine, like it was in the 19th century.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Libertarians vs. Reason

Reason.Com is the latest libertarian publication to enter the center ring in a bizarre attempt to join with the illiberal in their quest for ... I have no idea what their quest is, beyond getting page hits, and whipping up a froth of discontent from their readers. Page hits might have something to do with it.

The Reason.TV Editor-in-Chief, Nick Gillespie, spent quite a few words (444) on the continuing Bill Maher entertainment bit about his "libertarianism" (rimshot!): Is Bill Maher Right That "Libertarians Have to Stop Ruining Libertarianism"? That link is to the article and I encourage all to look at the comments and see if libertarians are in agreement with the editors of Reason.TV
I am the last person to ask about what publications like Nick's require of their writers or editors, since I have yet to crack that code. Obviously, reading what they quote is not one of them, since he kicked off his article with a quote:
Libertarians have to stop ruining libertarianism! Or at least do a better job of explaining the difference between today's libertarian and just being a selfish prick. Now, many years ago on a television network far, far away, I expressed support for libertarianism because back then it meant I didn't want big government in my bedroom, in my medicine chest, and especially not in the second drawer of the nightstand on the left side of my bed. And I still believe that. But somewhere along the way, libertarianism morphed into this creepy obsession with free-market capitalism based on an Ayn Rand called Atlas Shrugged, a book that's never been read all the way through by anybody with a girlfriend....

Libertarians also hate Medicare and Social Security and there are problems with those programs but here's the thing: It beats stepping over lepers and watching human skeletons shit in the river and I also like not seeing those things. I’m selfish that way!
Bolding mine, and anybody out there not familiar with libertarianism at all, economic liberty (free market capitalism) is a pretty hefty piece of the philosophy.  The counter to the capitalism Maher finds creepy is called crony capitalism. The same economic blending of government and commerce that Mussolini and Obama espouse, the same qualified version of "capitalism" that Maher supports with his flamboyant political donations.

From this, Nick concludes stating:
But for anybody interested in growing the influence and impact of liberatarian ideas, it's worth thinking about the ways in which the libertarian identity fails to move a guy who is anti-prohibition, anti-empire (belatedly!), pro free expression, and pro-much more that falls in line with a libertarian perspective. For better or worse, a Venn diagram of Maher and libertarianism is going to show a huge amount of overlap on things. The same is common among right-wingers too, where many people agree with libertarians on anywhere from 50 percent to 90 percent of issues but recoil from any association with the label or the beautiful, clean-smelling, super-smart, and just-swell folks who self-identify as libertarian.
Bolding mine there too, just to ask who is recoiling from the label? Ronald Reagan used it, as did Maher, but Reagan knew what it meant.

In light of what the Reason.TV boss-man quoted, it is impossible to get to his conclusion, or even the open ended question, with any logic at all.  You don't get there if English words mean anything either.  How could Maher be sympathetic to liberty when he does not support it at all?  Here, try this and see if you can get to the same conclusion:
  • "Years ago I was a Christian, but then something weird happened.  All these Jesus freaks showed up and started preaching on Wednesdays and Sundays.  I didn't leave the church, it left me!" - So how do we reach out to a guy like this who is pro-religious freedom ...
  • "I was a vegan, many years ago in a McDonald's far, far away. Then something weird happened. Some asshole ruined it by putting meat on the menu!" - So how do reach out to a guy like this who obviously appreciates food ...
  • "I was a Muslim a while back, but when they began that praying five times per day business, I just couldn't take it anymore." - So, brothers and sisters, how can we reach out to someone who has so much on common with us yet he recoils from the label?
In the first place, Bill Maher was never a libertarian. Why anybody would accept his self labeling, or even his claim of sympathy, is incredible. As incredible as anybody believing Glenn Beck's similar claims.  Rush Limbaugh is more libertarian that Bill Maher ever thought of being and never claims it (not saying Limbaugh is a libertarian of any kind, he is just a lot closer to it than Maher.)

Maher injects the Rand business, as if that is libertarian, while she was usually against anything libertarian (h/t Say Uncle) no matter how much libertarians agreed with her. I am here to testify, you don't have to read a lick of Rand to be a libertarian. The Objectivists (Rand followers) arrive in the libertarian ranks all the time, but it is certainly no right of passage.

If you are interested in the nuances between libertarianism and Austrian Economics (Laissez-Faire), how they are related, and especially how libertarianism is not atheistic Objectivism (but lots of libertarians came from there), this is a good video from Dr. Walter Block:
More detail on libertarianism from Dr. Block and he mentions the atheism/Objectivism aspect about 9 min. in:
Part of Nick's analysis is on Maher's "positions" on things, none of which are based in liberty at all but Nicks dreams them into something related: anti-prohibition, anti-empire (belatedly!), pro free expression, and pro-much more that falls in line with a libertarian perspective ... He is not anti-prohibition, he is pro-drugs that he likes and wants them all taxed/regulated. He is not anti-empire and never was, and he is only pro-expression for the expressions that he makes or agrees with. For example, lots of people are pro-roads, but how many of them are pro-private roads?

Maher alluded to his nightstand, not your nightstand and he does not support you storing a machine-gun in there unless he decides that he likes them. Even then, you are going to have to pass his licensing scheme. To be fair, he may not have been referring to guns at all.

What about this: I didn't want big government in my bedroom ... Again, his not yours, and I doubt it includes storing your machine gun in your bedroom.  He supports licensing of your relationship with one person at a time. He does not support four licensed spouses, nor any of them first cousins, in your bedroom. Other than that, sure, he was down with libertarian principles of keeping the government out of marriage and the bedroom.  By the way, gay bedrooms are not the ones being raided today. Polygamous ones are.

Even interns at Reason should know that getting high does not make you a libertarian. Why the boss doesn't know this is odd.
Another odd thing about the Reason.Com article, Nick Gillespie has been on Bill Maher's show and no telling how much they hang out.  Is it really possible that the only thing Nick conveyed to Bill about libertarianism is getting high and getting laid, until a recent mention that Atlas Shrugged makes for bad rolling paper and worse pickup lines?

Of course, there is a plausible explanation that makes Maher a victim of changing times. He could have gotten into this libertarian stuff in the days of John Locke, got frozen in a glacier and recently thawed, and is truly blindsided by the changes that have occurred.

Update: From the grave, William F. Buckley, Jr. interviews Margaret Thatcher and Thatcher gives Nick Gillespie an answer:
At 4:44 (opens new window) - "But, you see, for years now in British politics, this word, you must use it, consensus, has reared it's head. 'You must have a consensus.' Again, it is a word you used to not to use when I first came into politics. We had convictions, and we tried to convince people that our convictions were the right ones. And it is of no use of having convictions unless you have the will of translating those convictions into action. But politics was more, if you had convictions, than a matter of multiple maneuverings to get through the problems of the day. 
I often think, when you are going for consensus, so often it means that those who believe, as I believe, tend to give in to the left wing and who steadily move further and further left. "
If libertarian convictions are valid, they should stand on their own and not be subject to the tyranny of the statist, collectivist, Left. Why should we seek consensus with the likes of Bill Maher, when he has no intention, and never had, to even entertain a thought of liberty? Convince his audience, since you will never convince him of anything.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Friday, April 5, 2013

Why isn't New Jersey State Employee Mike Rice in Jail awaiting Trial?

Why isn't ex-coach Mike Rice in jail right now?  If you are not familiar, here is a little bit of video evidence of adults being assaulted by a New Jersey State employee:
Without even getting into the politically correct world of jailing people for life for hurting other people's feelings, there is ample evidence that Mike Rice physically assaulted people in a criminal manner.

New Jersey is not shy about using cameras to convict people for minor offenses.  So what gives with this?  The assaults happened on State property, they were recorded by a concerned citizen, the assailant was a State employee, and it was covered up by other State employees.

In 2012 Rice was "fined" $500,000 for actions a regular citizen might be doing jail time for.  It was not a fine like you and I get from a judge, with a notation on our "permanent record," no it was the pay withheld variety.

Governor Christie (R) called for Rice's firing, and he was fired. Doesn't the governor's phone reach the State police?

Is this yet another instance of different rules for the rulers and the real rules are for the ruled?

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ