The tornado devastation in Oklahoma and surrounding areas is a horrific tragedy beyond words. At least 145 people reported injured with the death toll at 51, including 20 children.
Please give what you can to help those who need it.
Obama's "Balanced Approach" Proposal to Deficit Reduction: $6 in Tax Hikes for Every $1 in Spending Cuts →
Of course, “spending cuts” are mostly decreases to projected increases. (And a trillion dollars less than he promised last month.) Overall spending will not actually decrease.
Additionally, some of those “savings” come in switching to “Chained CPI” as the measure of inflation. This tends to rise more slowly than other forms of measuring price inflation. But the biggest impact in the long run of switching to Chained CPI is even more government revenue: “Currently, the cutoffs for different tax brackets rise with CPI-U, a non-chained measure of inflation. Chained CPI would cause the cutoffs to rise more slowly, pushing more and more people into higher tax brackets. That raises $99 billion over 10 years.”
The repeal of Prohibition was the real reason for FDR’s popularity. Historians credit the New Deal and World War II, but both were negative. The New Deal did not get us out of the Great Depression (neither did WWII) and WWII did not improve living standards, but instead led to massive deaths and destruction.
With Repeal achieved, the entire alcohol industry, including distilleries, breweries, and wineries, were back at work. Workers were rehired. Input suppliers like farmers could feel the surge in demand for their products and services.
Crime dropped; with the murder rate falling precipitously back to its pre-Prohibition level. Violent crime and crime in general dropped significantly. The source of money for bribery, corruption, and street gangs largely evaporated.
The people were happy for the first time in almost four years. Happy Days Are Here Again was FDR’s campaign theme song, and now it is the Democratic Party theme song, but few remember it was written for a movie to celebrate the imminent repeal of Prohibition. The song would appear in 42 other movies during the 1930s.All levels of government (federal, state, county, and local) reinstituted taxes, licenses, and fees on the alcohol industry, but prices for consumers still dropped substantially. Beer was once again available and whiskey became drinkable again.
President Obama should learn this lesson from FDR. Freedom and prosperity are what makes people happy. The cause of FDR’s popularity may have been obscured by court historians, but picking on sick and dying people and prosecuting potheads is no way to build your legacy.
Parents, Pot, and Prohibition: Daisy Bram’s Story
The War on Drugs provides the state cover for malicious acts, and it gives agents of the state license to be cruel.
What the state has done to this family - and countless others - is contemptible. Anyone who advocates criminalizing peaceful behavior - tearing happy families apart in the process - should be ashamed of their ignorance and inhumanity.
A New York college student being held in a headlock at gunpoint by an intruder was accidentally shot and killed by a police officer who had responded to a report of the home invasion at an off-campus home, police said Saturday.
Andrea Rebello was shot once in the head Friday morning by an officer who opened fire after the masked intruder pointed a gun at the officer while holding the 21-year-old Hofstra University student in a headlock, Nassau County homicide squad Lt. John Azzata said.
In a tense confrontation with the officer, gunman Dalton Smith “menaces our police officer, points his gun at the police officer,” Azzata said. The officer opened fire, killing Smith and his hostage.
Officer safety is the highest priority. Warren v. District of Columbia already established that police are under no obligation to protect us. As I’ve noted: “The police’s priority is officer safety, not public safety. They protect and serve themselves first, and sometimes exclusively, at any cost.” Occasionally innocents are shot. This is just the price we pay for a free society.
So even in the unlikely event that a cop can arrive in time to save a life, they still might not - or worse. This is why it is ignorant and naïve to disarm potential victims (who are the real first responders).
And the subservient media really can’t help themselves - look at USA Today’s original headline:
The cop can’t be blamed, that bullet was totally working alone.
Some interesting reading I’ve come across while sitting on a chair in the sky…
- Lew Rockwell’s manifesto of peace.
- Aeon Skoble’s thoughtful contributions to the subject of libertarianism and war.
- Glenn Greenwald on the endless war on terror.
- Has the Left made peace with the warfare state?
- John Whitehead on the war on terror and the surveillance state.
- Jeffrey Tucker on the dangerous “witchcraft” of central banking.
- Hunter Lewis on the essence of Keynesianism.
- Walter Williams notes that taxes destroy transactions and thus jobs.
- The Minimum Wage: An Unfair Advantage for Employers
- The Minimum Wage Harms the Most Vulnerable
- “Economics isn’t rocket science; it’s a lot harder. We should admit as much and when asked to measure things we cannot measure, we should admit our ignorance.”
- Richard Ebeling: The Federal Reserve’s “Exit Strategy” is just more monetary manipulation
- George Smith defends the non-aggression principle: “Libertarianism is a political theory that deals with the concept of justice. It does not deal per se with establishing what is and is not “morally permissible.” That is the realm of ethics, or moral theory, which is a much broader discipline than political theory.”
- Tom Woods on progressive confusion of “society.”
- David Friedman on democracy, partisanship, rational ignorance, and why he believes things.
- Jonah Goldberg admits that the president probably didn’t ask the IRS to target political opponents - but they were an agency after his own heart.
- Tim Lynch and George Will offer some “empirical evidence” on IRS political manipulation.
- Doug Ross compiles a timeline on the IRS scandal and concludes: “1. Steve Miller lied to Congress, 2. Lois Lerner lied to Congress, 3. Barack Obama lied to the American people”
- Audit reveals disturbing new information on IRS abuse scandal.
- The IRS has a long history of political abuse.
- Obama apologetics in full force: New Republic blames the Tea Party for the IRS Scandal, NY Times claims that IRS targeting of Tea Party only proves Republicans are desperate, Nancy Pelosi thinks people are making a big deal about this because “the president is such a great president.”
- Mike Riggs shares the Drug Policy Aliiance’s “An Exit Strategy for the failed War on Drugs”, noting 75 ways in which to make the Drug War less awful (of course, there solution is much more simple: end prohibition of all peaceful activity. Period.).
- Shikha Dalmia on the Myth of the Scientific Liberal: “The core trait of a scientific mind is that when its commitments clash with evidence, evidence rules. On that count, what grade do liberals deserve? Fail, given their reaction to the latest evidence on universal health care, global warming, and universal preschool.”
- “[C]ollege students run up big bills to pay for educations unlikely to deliver payoffs to match the money invested. It’s no surprise that delinquency rates on those student loans are soaring. So, what’s the federal government’s response [included in Obama’s budget next year]? [I]t plans to expand a program that encourages students to take on debt with promises that taxpayers will assume the burden.”
- Americans who favor gun control incorrectly believe gun crime has increased.
- The case for legalizing horse meat.
- How zoning kills affordable housing.
- Read this if you still think teachers’ unions and educrats care about kids.
- Missouri Legislature Nullifies All Federal Gun Control Measures by a Veto-Proof Majority
- John Stossel notes: “Forty-three million Americans moved from one state to another between 1995 and 2010 — about one-seventh of Americans. … [They] have moved away from high-taxed, heavily regulated states to lower-taxed, less-regulated states. Most don’t think of it as a political decision. They just go where opportunities are, and that usually means where there’s less government.”
- How big business depends on big government.
The TSA is as loathsome as ever. And I get to deal with them three more times this summer. Yay.
Why not diamonds?
“Will you take half this diamond for your laptop?”
“brb gotta try and cut this damn thing in half.”
Not to mention that even if the diamonds were easily divisible, they would not retain their value. A single diamond of 1 karat is worth more than four diamonds of a quarter karat each (of the same quality).
Unlike gold, diamonds lack the characteristics that make emergent money stable and suitable as currency. As I’ve noted, such ‘money’: “(1) must be relatively imperishable (retain its value over long periods of time without decay), (2) must be easily divisible without losing value, (3) must be malleable and ductile, able to be shaped into more convenient and portable forms, (4) must remain stable in a wide range of temperatures and climates, (5) has never been worth nothing (has intrinsic value, or rather value as something other than an intermediary of exchange), (6) must be fungible (an ounce from one source would be equal and identical to an ounce from another source), (7) supply is finite without being so rare as to be difficult to use (relative scarcity), (8) new supply is relatively uncommon and difficult to acquire, (9) has a long-standing history of being used as currency, and above all else (10) free people have used it as a medium of exchange or intermediary of trade.”
The view that we exist in a cultural wasteland is both popular and mistaken. Contemporary humans have unparalleled access to the greatest amounts and qualities of expressive media created in any point in our history. The fruits of the division of labor and specialization have grown so bountiful that we can eat our fill of the raw necessities of life while having enough left over to savor the nuances of delicate artisanal wines. The rise of capitalism has driven down the costs of producing and enjoying creative works; the supply and diversity of products has expanded accordingly. Still, the tempting allures of cultural pessimism stubbornly persist.
In this month’s edition of The Freeman, one member of the creative class airs his grievances towards his comrades’ penchants for rabidly gobbling subsidies to the arts stolen from the meager pockets of the army of baristas-slash-whatevers likewise struggling to make a splash in the art world. Comedian and writer Andrew Heaton decries the regressive injustice of extracting involuntary endowments for the arts from working class people to buttress the coffers of exquisite high society taste.
Heaton is right that people are made worse off when their hard-earned money is siphoned from the monster truck rallies and Croods that they would otherwise enjoy and diverted towards a $75,000 NEA grant to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall so that Motown’s élite can enjoy a complete cycle of Beethoven’s works on the cheap. This criticism, however, falls on hollow nouveau aristocratic ears: they don’t care that fewer people can watch the Croods if it means that Beethoven will live on. Defenders of public arts funding argue that undirected market activity produces too many low-brow Psys and not enough high-brow Beethovens; they forget that Beethoven himself was a glorious agent of commerce and trade (and an old school pop artist, to boot).
Tyler Cowen extols the largely unappreciated virtues of capitalism as the driving force behind artistic development and dissemination in his book, In Praise of Commercial Culture. Plucking and presenting the most popular theories that drive cultural pessimism—among them conservative worries of degeneracy and decadence, gripes of capitalism’s corrupting mediocrity from the Frankfurt crowd, and multiculturalist concerns of global cultural whitewashing—Cowen demonstrates that each of them fail to recognize how commercial development assuages their artistic anxieties and expands high, low, and minority culture.
Take our friend Beethoven. His stellar musical rise was fueled by the productive powers of capitalism. The commercialization of the printing press allowed the Maestro to sell sheet music directly to middle class families and make a cozy artistic freelance living. Businessmen eager to peddle instruments to a growing middle class improved production and lowered the costs of owning a family piano, which drove demand for the sheet music that allowed classical composers to live free from the bondage of patronage. The rise of a wealthy merchant class allowed composers to work for private grants and performances, freed from the strictures of stuffy state and religious taste. Classical composers’ growing roles as businessmen in the developing music market allowed them unprecedented degrees of artistic freedom.
Classical music flourished in the fertile commercial culture of 19th century Germany and Austria without the meddling of the National Endowment for the Arts. Today, technological developments and growing wealth makes the case for government-subsidized culture all the more scant.
Not only is the market better for creative culture than most people realize, the state can be downright toxic to creative expression and cultural development. Elsewhere in the fresh pages of The Freeman, Mike Reid warns of the perils entrusting social culture to the brute purveyance of the state. The state exerts its tyranny on social culture through paternalism and imperialism. In the case of the Jarawa “primitives” of the Andaman Islands, their government’s desire to preserve their “pristine” culture resulted in laws that forcibly prevented these people from culturally assimilating. Elsewhere and more commonly, governments have enacted harebrained “culturalization” schemes to smother the traditions of indigenous people.
In the same way, when placed in a position to judge and cultivate artistic culture, the state oscillates between propping up stale established forms and attacking the avant-garde. Upon appointment as head of the state-controlled French musical Academy, composer Jean-Baptiste Lully refused to subsidize works that did not meet his particular taste; many years passed where his production was the only one bankrolled in the entire country. On the other side of the spectrum, the cool angles and industrial philosophy of Walter Gropius’s Staatliches Bauhaus was stifled by state cultural authorities in Nazi Germany. More recently, state funding for the arts has backed questionable works of middling quality for pure shock value (Piss Christ: never forget).
The areas in which the modern arts have most flourished are those that are the most commercial and free from the clumsy taste of the state. In her book The Substance of Style, Virginia Postrel chronicles the explosion of aesthetic options wrought by our growing global marketplace. Today, consumers survey seas of products that deliver solid functions and the perfect forms to suit more individualized tastes—all for a fraction of ugly earlier models’ costs. Echoing these observations, social critic Camille Paglia suggests that the relative stagnation in the visual arts is a result of modern artists’ disconnectedness and disdain for commercial culture. Industrial designers are driving renaissance of style and function because they are still tapped in to the creative forces of market activity.
There is no reason to believe that the state will be a responsible steward of our culture. Our cultural history gives us every reason to believe that capitalism will continue to provide the diversity and quality of forms that we have come to take for granted. The rich should shell out to pay for their own whimsies; the art world will thrive with or without this stolen “generosity.”
Anthony Gregory does yeoman’s work collecting books, essays, and opinions on the libertarian stance on war.
Read it, click the copious embedded links and spend a few days reading those, and be sure to bookmark it for future reference. It’s a veritable bounty of knowledge and insight…
Yes, President Obama has broken the law on multiple occasions. Despite clearly stating, in a 2008 questionnaire, that the commander-in-chief is not lawfully empowered to ignore treaties duly ratified by the Senate, Obama has willfully failed to enforce the torture treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan and duly ratified by the Senate, that compels him to investigate and prosecute torture. As Sullivan put it earlier this year, “what Obama and Holder have done (or rather not done) is illegal.”
Obama also violated the War Powers Resolution, a law he has specifically proclaimed to be Constitutionally valid, when committing U.S. troops to Libya without Congressional approval. …
Has he ordered the assassination of any American citizens in secret without due process? Did he kill any of their teenage kids without ever explaining how or why that happened?
Has he refused to reveal even the legal reasoning he used to conclude his targeted killing program is lawful?
Has he waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers?
Has he spied on millions of innocent Americans without a warrant or probable cause?
Does he automatically count dead military-aged males killed by U.S. drones as “militants”?
Did he “sign a bill that enshrines in law the previously merely alleged executive power of indefinite detention without trial of terror suspects”?
Yes. He. Has.
Don’t Talk to Cops
I’d like to underline that none of the stress, the heightened security measures, the omnipresence of weapons (wielded by the young, militia members from Misrata who looked after us when things started to get..tense) meant that anything bad happened to any of us. There were NO near death experiences. No close calls. (Okay. A bottle rocket ricocheted into my hair. Setting it momentarily on fire. It hurt for a second. Ouch.) Everywhere WE went, people were, more often than not, lovely to us. At one point, we unwittingly rolled up on the front gates of the internal security forces’ HQ, intending to shoot some cool graffiti. Some very sinister looking dudes were extraordinarily and unusually cool to us. Almost anywhere else, we would have been arrested immediately. In Misrata, the overwhelming concern of the various “militias” seemed to be to keep us safe, to keep order, to not let their city—for which they’d fought so hard—slide back into chaos. Even the Tripoli militia who you’ll see shutting us down while trying to shoot in the ruins of Gadaffi’s palace complex—they weren’t overtly hostile per se. It was more an armed version of a bureaucratic squabble over jurisdiction. These things happen when you’re talking about a “new” nation emerging from 40 years of maniacal autocracy. There is not, currently, much of a government. Order, to a great extent, is a DIY affair, maintained on what one might call: a volunteer basis.