Category Archives: Current events

Every Breath (of CO2) You Take – “We’ll be watching you”

The noted 18th century British essayist Samuel Johnson is perhaps best know for his statement, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” This is often misunderstood to be a disparagement of patriotism, but, in fact, is quite the opposite. Johnson was casting aspersions against those who shield their true motives beneath a banner of a noble ideal. Apropos the shielding of true motivations: the modern era “climate” crusaders. If I may be so bold as to pen as variant of this principle, “Children are the last refuge of the undefendable.” 

            The most current example of this principle (argumentum ad liberi) is manifested in a one Greta Thunberg. She is the physical incarnation of the modern climate campaign. And her address to the UN is the likely apotheosis of that movement. A child is the perfect avatar for a cause whose sole call to action is predicated on future calamities. And who will be here in that future? Children, of course! Being a child she is granted immunity from all criticism because this then facilitates casting such a critic as a misanthropic ogre (and we’ve already seen this dance play out in the media in the past week any time she has been criticized). Cue my critics in 3, 2, 1 and…

            But of course this is not her doing. We cannot blame her, she is after all only a child. She is but a tool, a puppet, for a movement whose roots extend far back into the last century. No, not environmentalism, but rather Marxism (aka communism). These 21st century Climate Marxists are political watermelons (green on the outside and red on the inside). Marxists are adept at pitting one “class” of people against another in order to foment unrest and animosity that they can capitalize (ironically) on in order to effect their political ideals in society. This pattern emerged during the Russian revolution and repeated throughout the 20th century (China, Cuba, Cambodia, Vietnam). Everywhere it was tried it was an abysmal failure that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions who did not want to be a part of their utopic commune. And now they are trying again. 

            Seeing as how capitalism raised the standard of living for billions in the last century and reduced absolute poverty from 90% to around 10% today, clearly the anti-capitalism message is rapidly losing its strength. But then along came “climate change” to breath new life into a dying movement. The appeal of this cause célèbre is that it doesn’t matter if the details are correct or not, what is important is that we “do something.” And of course that something, in their view, is to radically alter the global economy in order to “save” the planet. But leaders have been slow or recalcitrant to implement their favored policies. Potential damage is decades away. Time to shorten the timetable and pull out the big guns: children. 

            The current climate alarmism lobby is now taking a page from the Chinese communists propaganda playbook.  They used children in their propaganda as a means to shame adults into conforming.  And that is exactly what Greta set out to do. From her opening remark ,

“My message is that we’ll be watching you”

to her closing statement,

“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you”

were remarkable in their capacity to cram so much shaming, hate, anger, and implied revenge into such a short speech. Her statements sound more like dialogue from “The Godfather” than the expected plaintive pleas of a young schoolgirl afraid for her future.

            But the mask is off now. If these “climate” extremists get voted into power you can fully expect unyielding persecution, subjugation, or worse to any that would stand in their way (“How dare you oppose us! Why do you hate the planet so much comrade?”). The 20th century’s mountain of corpses stands as a testament to what the extreme left is willing to do to its opponents to achieve their ends. And they would have zero qualms about a repeat of the Ukrainian Holodomor on a global scale. This is not hyperbole. The stated “solutions” to keeping temperature rise below 1.5 °C would quite literally sentence several billions to death by starvation. Without carbon or nuclear-based fuels there is no serious short-term alternative to maintain the current global standard of living and food supplies. If we go back to the future of 1850’s technology within 10 years then population must necessarily fall from today’s 7 billion to the 1 billion back then. And this is entirely ignoring the concomitant drop in standard of living, as manual labor must increase without an equivalent supply of power. Ironically their boogeyman “income inequality” would skyrocket to what it was in the 19th century with mostly those in government occupying the upper echelons of income and power (a pattern by the way seen in every communist/Marxist regime). Of course this would be perfectly fine since many of those on the left (from Paul Ehrlich of “Population Bomb” fame, to the Club of Rome) have called from drastic reductions in global population.  

“Our aim is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to change the global economic system…”

UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres (Feb 2015)

“The common enemy of humanity is Man. In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill..”

– The Club of Rome Premier environmental think-tank and consultants to the United Nations. 

Anything Goes!

This past week Trump’s Energy Department announced a relaxation of a set of light-bulb energy efficiency standards (EISA) first implemented under George W. Bush and finalized under Obama. The standards were set to go into full effect in January 2020 (eliminating incandescent versions of three-way bulbs, candle-shaped, globe-shaped and reflector bulbs). 

The autistic screeching from the corporate press and leftist “public policy” lackeys only underscores the lengths to which “the Cathedral” will go to in order to maintain the hell-fire of climate alarmism. For Cathedral adherents the sky is quite literally falling. It is because of their prescient guidance that the rest of us are corralled into doing “the right thing” – namely spending $10 on a bulb to save $15 in electricity – over the next 30 years. Even though the market has always deprecated older technology in favor of newer, we just can’t wait when it comes to energy efficiency. In the words of New York Times columnist John Schwartz, we need the federal government to “force(d) Americans to use more energy-efficient light bulbs.” Please note that “force” here is a politically correct euphemism for “threaten with initiatory violence”. Now it is true, force can solve problems quickly. All the mugger needs to do is to wave his gun in my face and moments later his monetary problems are solved. One would like to believe that in the “land of the free” such state sponsored aggression would not be so readily lauded as the primary method deployed against perceived societal problems. Of course I do not expect the state to abjure this special power it has any time soon, it is the qua sine non of every state/government. When a such a body dictates to the citizenry what they may or may not manufacturer and buy, then that country is no longer entitled to call itself “the land of the free” or claim “liberty and justice for all.”

One of the more vocal critics of this rollback, an Andrew deLaski of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project went on record with some rather eyebrow-raising comments. For example

“The Trump administration is trying to protect technology that was first invented in the 1800s. It’s like trying to protect the horse and buggy from the automobile technology.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but as I recall the government did not OUTLAW the sale or manufacture of the horse and buggy in favor of promoting the automobile. Consumers transitioned to the newer technology over time at a rate mediated by both the cost and advantages of the new technology.

To imply that removing regulations that are annihilating an industry is equivalent to “protecting” said industry makes about as much sense as saying someone who was in the process of knifing you to death but then pauses and begins to only punch you in the face is actually now “protecting” you. The truth is the polar opposite. The manufacturers of fluorescent and LED bulbs are the ones receiving state protection insofar as competing technology have being outlawed. But we’re “protecting” the planet so greater good trumps all. Makes one wonder what the left is capable of when they eventually hold power and the climate apostates are in their cross hairs. In the words of Cole Porter I suspect it will be “anything goes!”

iMonopoly?

This past May the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Apple on the question of whether a group of iPhone users could file an antitrust lawsuit against Apple arising from their contention that Apple’s App Store constitutes a monopoly and thus has harmed consumers. Their primary argument is that Apple’s 30% fee on every app store sale constitutes a “tax.” Consumers are “harmed” because most developers simply pass that additional cost onto the consumer. So apparently if some entity is construed to hold a monopoly market position and imposes a “tax”, that is a bad thing. But if the government does precisely the same thing that is just a-ok. On the precedent of this ruling it should now be possible to overturn the taxing authority of every level of government! But I won’t hold my breath.

In point of fact, Apple does not hold a monopoly position in the market. To suggest so quickly leads to absurd wrongheaded conclusions such as Ford is a monopoly because only they can sell Ford cars or that Robert Di Niro is a monopolist because he is the only one that can star as Robert Di Niro in a movie. The obvious rejoinder to such claims would be that “well that’s silly, there are other manufacturers of cars and other actors, so the consumer can simply substitute the good if they find the supply too constrained or the price too high.” Exactly. Last time I checked Apple does not have the only “App Store” in town. Google has their equivalent and there are number of other independent “Android” app stores as well. But even if Apple did have the only App store platform they would still not be in a monopoly position. Anything that can be done in mobile apps can be done through a desktop or web interface.But even if that were not true, Apple would still not be a monopolist. Why? Because no company in a free market can become a monopoly (other than governments themselves which exert their monopoly provision of certain market goods (security, courts, roads, regulation) through coercive violence). Just as Ford competes with other automakers to sell cars, they are also competing with every other market entrant. Everyone is vying for the consumer’s dollar and so everyone is competing against everyone.Apple competes against pet stores, Ford competes against Apple, pet stores compete against shoe sellers, and so on. 

Every consumer, no matter how wealthy, has a limited supply of funds. When they use those funds they economize them, that is, they rank those things they desire in order of importance and spend their money on the most important items first (food, shelter) and then work their way down the list until at some point they only have enough for one more thing. The next entrant on that list lost out to the one just before, so in that sense they were competing with them head to head. So the App Store could lose out to someone who chose to go to the movies or to buy their dog a treat, or it could be vice versa. If the consumer has a choice (even if a difficult one) then there is no monopoly power. If you hate big oil you can choose to go electric.If you hate all cell phone carriers you can choose to not have a cell phone. It may be a difficult choice that imposes other costs on you, but you are free to do so. No one will throw you in a cage if you don’t sign up for cell service. But they will if you don’t pay your taxes.

In the broader context though this case was rather amusing. That a company can be sued for providing to the consumer this thing that literally didn’t even exist 15 years ago demonstrates an utter lack of comprehension by the public at large of the benefits bestowed on them by the market economy aka capitalism. You should rejoice that there are so many greedy SOB’s seeking to take your money and giving you in return the most incredible, standard of living enhancing tools in human history… things you could not create yourself if you had a hundred years to figure it out. Very sad. Many people agree. 

Blowing the Sails

President Trump continues on his shortsighted warpath of ever escalating tariffs on Chinese goods. “Tariffs will make our Country MUCH STRONGER, not weaker. Just sit back and watch!” he tweeted recently. Well, yes, I suppose if you jump off a bridge and break both your legs those bones will be stronger once healed, but I don’t think that’s what he had in mind. Tariffs are a self-imposed burden; the exporter of a good does not pay them – the importer does (i.e. the domestic business, employing domestic workers, selling to a domestic market). It is the economic equivalent of me insisting I pay an extra 25% to the grocery store because I’m so upset there is a trade imbalance between the grocer and myself. Trump is either being willfully dishonest (and to be fair, what politician isn’t – ‘if you like your plan you can keep your plan’), or, he is entirely ignorant of how tariffs actually work. If Importer ABC is buying widget A from a Chinese exporter for $1 and there is a new 25% tariff imposed, the cost goes from $1 to $1.25 – paid for entirely by the importer. The cost is either passed on to the American consumer or expenses in other areas are reduced (i.e. layoffs of American workers) in order to stay price competitive. 

            Perplexingly, Trump actually acknowledged the potential harm to some sectors (i.e. US farmers, whose sales of exported goods to China have dropped off due to in-kind retaliatory tariffs by China on the US) and rather than extinguishing the dumpster-fire he has created he has doubled down on an even more ludicrous plan. He is proposing that we take the proceeds from the tariffs and use it to offset declining agricultural sales by purchasing the unsold goods – and get this – donating it to foreign countries! So, it is bad for the US if China “dumps” low cost goods into our market, yet somehow it’s a-ok if the US in turn dumps totally free goods into other countries’ markets? Nah, that won’t totally disrupt their domestic agricultural market driving them to cross a border in order to find work… there is some country where that has happened before but the name escapes me right now. This Rube Goldberg scheme is tantamount to using a fan to blow the sail of a sailboat. Yes, it works, but it is incredibly inefficient; just remove the sail and turn the fan around. In other words, an actual free market in trade (not managed trade á la NAFTA or TPP) is maximally efficient and beneficial to all.

            The only utility to be gained from this scheme is to encourage Trump-hating-leftists to closely examine the idiocy of this scheme. Perhaps once Trump is out of office they will recognize the lunacy of this scheme in future government polices. For example, all foreign aid works on this principle. Take money from some Americans and give it to others to buy their goods in order to give them to a third party for free. Or, take money from some Americans and give it to a third party with the stipulation they can only use it to buy goods from some other Americans.Carbon taxes, if imposed, would work the same way. Impose a tax (on Americans) then turn around and refund the just collected funds to other Americans to offset the fact they are paying more for energy. 

            Perhaps in the end that will be the silver lining of the Trump presidency; to awaken the American electorate to the fact that the idiotic schemes implemented by Trump are identical to every past presidential administration in their execution. These programs and schemes are counter-productive and inefficient on their face regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. 

Reparations Roller Coaster

The political landscape in the Democratic Party has become so chaotic that in order for a presidential candidate to distinguish him or herself it is no longer sufficient to engage in safe, conservative levels of vote pandering e.g. free healthcare for all. Now one must step up with über-insane policy positions like slavery reparations. Several candidates have put forth pro-reparations platform positions recently. Any self-respecting black person should reject such talk outright. The whole notion is preposterously insulting. Why? Ok, hold up your hand (any race) if you think your “success” today is even marginally affected by the life events of one or more of your sixteen to thirty-two second-great or third-great grandparents? Can you even name a single one of them? The argument is basically that all succeeding generations over 150+ years have been entirely impotent to advance in life because they lacked a check from the federal government – all other forms of welfare and assistance not withstanding (12 years of free schooling be the main one). Perhaps you could make that argument (as with apartheid in South Africa) if every single black person were dirt poor today. But that’s not the case. In fact there are numerous highly successful black individuals today (doctors, lawyers, business owners, actors, politicians, athletes, etc.). This alone should conclusively prove that race no longer plays a meaningful role in holding anyone back. While the poverty rate for blacks as a whole vs. whites is higher, it is not earth-shatteringly so (20% vs 8%). To hear the pro-reparations people talk you’d think black poverty was 90%+ in this country.

The time for reparations was immediately after emancipation, to the actual slaves. That is how reparations have operated for more recent state-level atrocities (Germany, South Africa, etc). Locate the victim and compensate them. That is correct and just (although monetary compensation can never truly make one whole for these kinds of state sponsored crimes). Reparations should have been made in the US shortly after the Civil War (and indeed this was done for a short period, General Sherman’s Special Order 15 was quickly reversed by President Johnson). That this did not occur is a crime against those former slaves. However, there is nothing that can be done to fix that now. History is like that. Bad people did horrible things, but navel gazing hundreds of years later isn’t going to put the toothpaste back in the tube. If my grandmother were raped but the culprit never served time nothing is served by putting that guy’s grandson in prison today. However that is exactly what reparations would do, only worse (it would be like grabbing some random person off the street and putting him in prison merely because he’s a man). Were reparations to come to pass it would be funded by some new tax. But many millions of Americans (like myself) are recent generation Americans. All of my great-grandparents entered this country over 50 years after the end of the civil war – why should I be taxed to pay for something that neither I nor them could ever have conceivably benefited from? Indeed, these great grandparents were initially treated harshly (yes, the Klan hates Catholics too) by the “nativist” populations they emigrated to. Should I get reparations too for how they were held back by such incipient hatred on arrival? (In case you were wondering the  answer is “no” to this rhetorical question).

Some would argue that even post Civil War emigrants enjoyed the privilege of all the wealth brought about in this country through the labor of former slaves who built this country. Ok. Except that is totally backwards. This country was made poorer, not wealthier, because of slavery. The reason for this is simple: automation. Cheap slave labor meant there was no incentive to explore more efficient means of production. Without slavery the south would have been pushed economically to explore efficiency improving automation that much sooner. As we recall from high school history, the north was regarded as wealthy while the south was considered poor. The primary reason for this was the difference in automation. The highly industrialized north was highly automated in its output. Just as paper beats rock so to do machines beat humans every time in the output Olympics.

Even if we were to pay reparations there is no practical “fair” way to do so. The whole thing quickly spirals out of control into a general welfare check. Such a check would be far out of proportion to what those individuals might have had had actual reparations been paid in 1865 to the forefathers. If it were in proportion it would amount to only a few hundred dollars and politically such a small amount would be a non-starter. So it will have to be disproportionately larger. So how does this idea go from only for descendants of slaves to everyone? Well, first if it were constrained to only those that could prove a genealogical connection to a slave, accusations would fly of unfairness for all those unable to claim their rightful inheritance because of paperwork lost to the ages. Ok, so now anyone who is black (DNA test) gets it, but how much “blackness”? 90%? 50% 25%? No matter where you draw an arbitrary line someone will complain so just make it 1% or more then no one will complain. And of course the DNA tests will have to be free, otherwise this too would be deemed as unfairly keeping those most in need from obtaining their due. Next is the problem of payment ratio. Should it be a ratio of your DNA %, e.g. you are 10% black so you get 10% of the reparations payment? Or what if you can only prove one out of 32 ancestors was a slave; do you get 1/32ndof the payment? The mind boggles with the logistics of handling this all. Even if you assume a generous $100k reparations payment to each former slave this would be rapidly diluted to only a few hundred dollars today after applying the various race and generational dilution heuristics. Is a few hundred dollars really going to change anyone’s life?

And lastly, this must be a one-time payment. Anything other than that is not reparations but simply welfare. If you have made each “victim” whole, then there is no more reason to continue payment to them or their progeny. So under the only possible “fair” model of reparations Barack Obama would qualify. That’s a good thing, just think of what he could have accomplished had he not been black!

CON Job

There are a myriad of reasons that health care costs are sky high. Every cause shares a common genesis – government. From the World War II era tax benefit of allowing tax-free employer sponsored plans to state imposed price controls (Medicare/Medicaid) to today’s outright subsidies (Obamacare), it has been a 70+ year slow motion train wreck that has annihilated anything remotely resembling a “free” market in health care. However, today I want to focus on but one sliver of that regulatory quagmire: Certificate of Need (CON) laws. When I first learned about these I honestly thought I was reading satire – this is America after all! How can such monstrosities of law exist? And yet they do. For those unaware, CON laws basically allow one or more local hospitals to have a say in whether a prospective hospital may be permitted in their “backyard.” It’s like if McDonalds had a vote in whether any new fast food restaurants could be built within say 30 miles of their location. What do you think McDonalds’ choice would be? This is nothing but state backed protectionism, pure and simple. And like all protectionism it harms consumers while benefiting the protected class (unions, taxi drivers, any tariff protected industry, etc.) But please, tell me more about this free market in health care we have.

Supporters of CON laws try to appeal to ones sense of “fairness” by claiming that if these mean old private hospitals come in why they’ll “steal” patients from our poor old public hospital by only offering the most lucrative and profitable services leaving the extant hospital with money losing care and indigent patients. Hogwash. In other words they are saying that in terms of those “lucrative” services they can’t compete because they are in fact overcharging for their “lucrative” services in order to subsidize the money losing services.  In other words they don’t know how to properly run a (hospital) business and are afraid of someone coming in and competing with them that does. 

Ludicrously, these same people will turn around and decry the “monopoly” of a company like AT&T or Microsoft or Google or Apple and claim “why we need to break them up, don’t you know monopolies are bad and that competition lowers prices and helps consumers?” But then will unironically tell you that monopolies in hospital services makes perfect sense and why don’t you just trust the guy telling you he doesn’t need competition to give you a fair price? I guess state backed monopolies are “a ok” (schools, courts, police, utilities, roads, etc.)

Ironically many of these people who support CON laws are “conservative” Republicans! Indeed there was a recent Bill 198 in the Georgia House that died in that Republican dominated chamber. One representative quipped in a local paper

“I was very happy to help kill the elimination of the CON process that would hurt local hospitals.”

David Belton
R – Buckhead, GA, District 112

Wow, give that man a Bernie Sanders medal, he is a Democratic Socialist and doesn’t even know it. Socialism claims the right of the “people” (aka the State) to own the means of production. Ownership conveys a right to control, you don’t own it, you can’t control it and vice versa. Well if the state can tell prospective investors in a new hospital what they can’t do with their own money, then what is the state doing other than asserting an ownership (control) claim over those investors’ property? I’m sorry Republicans; I must have missed the part in the Constitution (Federal or State) where it says we have a right to a livelihood unfettered by nettlesome competition. Repeat after me, just because a violation of rights can be harmful doesn’t mean anything deemed harmful is a rights violation.

The NPC’s Strike Back

My recent editorial at the Oconee Enterprise brought on a somewhat misapprehending response by guest columnist Anthony Potts. My response to his response is below:

White people are racist when they blankly stare, because power, or something.

This column is in response to Anthony Pott’s guest column last week. Some of his points are understandable since the editorial staff altered (for space reasons) a more nuanced statement in the opening preamble. The column (as submitted) did not state that “(racism) is dead” but rather “that legacy, at least as a tangible society-level property, is now dead.” Nor did the column state racism was isolated to the 20thcentury, rather that there was a parochial conception of it in the US at that time. The interested reader may see the full article, as originally submitted. My observations were focused on American society, not at any particular individual. It’s the same as noting that Americans are generally regarded as being over-weight without excluding the possible existence of thin people within that collective. 

The rest of his response, however, is a collection of deliberate distortions of my column. Nowhere will you find explicitly or implicitly the statements “black people are the racists now” or “whites are now the oppressed group.” These mischaracterizing assertions reveal much about the liberal/progressive mindset. People are not viewed as individuals; but rather as part of a collective, mere cogs in the machine. The individual is the collective and vice versa. An attack or defense of the individual is seen as applying to their collective. Therefore, unsurprisingly, when presented with clear, unambiguous, video proof that Group A was accosted by Group B, the progressive will regard the argument being made as ALL members of Group A are victims and ALL members of group B are aggressors. 

Finally, I must point out that it is Potts and his ilk that have an utter misunderstanding of the definition of racism. He claims I don’t know what it means, and I’ll admit I’m a bit old fashioned, but the last time I checked a dictionary there was nothing about “societal power dynamics.” The dictionary defines prejudice as “unreasonable feelings, opinions or attitude esp. of a hostile nature directed against a racial, religious or national group”. Gee that sounds a lot like racism to me, which is defined as “a hatred or intolerance of another race or other races”. If we allow the left to redefine racism to mean “people who (perceived to) hold “power” in society are engaging in racism whenever they interact with someone (perceived to) to not hold power” then like the wordsmiths on the right with their “war on terror” we will ensure never ending culture wars.  You can’t win a war against a label whose definition changes. 

This “racism is rampant today” narrative is further bolstered by the leftist media’s periodic outrage du-jour of a white on non-white incident that in 99.9% of cases today (i.e. the 21stcentury) turns out to be a hoax or misunderstanding. Mark my words, the “Jussie Smollet” incident mentioned by Potts will be found to have been a fabrication within 6 months 6 days and will be quietly swept under the rug.<Just call me Nostradamus – I wrote this when nearly everyone and their brother was convinced of the veracity of Smollet’s story… how quickly did that unravel…hmmmm>

Racism is but one flavor of prejudice. There are many others (e.g. sexism, anti-Semitism, jingoism, etc.) Nowhere does “power dynamic” come into play. That doesn’t mean a prejudiced individual can’t impact your life if they hold power over you in the context of that interaction but the mere holding of power does not do the reverse, it does not make them acquire prejudicial beliefs. Individuals hold power in society, not groups. Those that define you based on your perceived group memberships are the true enemies of the people for they seek to gain power (political, social, or economic) by appealing to one group while demonizing the other. The left does it. The right does it. Let’s cast off these imposed identities and interact as the individuals we are.


Racism is dead. Long live racism

What is racism? In the United States (at least in 20thcentury) the prevalent conception is of a pro-white anti-black bias. This misapprehension of what racism means is a rather peculiar parochial American artifact. It is primarily a result of declining 20thcentury standards in history pedagogy. White on black racism is an echo of the government-endorsed subjugation of one class of individual by another that existed in the US for decades – a legacy that warped and shaped the minds of millions over multiple generations. That legacy, at least as a tangible society-level property, is now dead.

Racism (as a form of behavior) is an anti-intellectual inheritance of our primitive forbearers who had to make quick judgments about the dangers lurking in the world. It’s the same reason we have a natural fear of heights and snakes; both are so dangerous it’s not worth the time to reflect on the finer points of non-venomous varieties or handrails. If one example of A has property B then it is easier to simply conclude all other examples of A must also have property B. Thus racism is a form of low-information low-thought quick-conclusion collectivism. We don’t need much information or much thought to reach our conclusions. Likewise the herd instinct takes over when our neighbor reaches a conclusion before we do; we then assume they’ve already thought it through and so can’t be wrong so we’ll quickly adopt their mindset (again, more intellectual laziness). From an evolutionary standpoint this can work insofar as the herd steering away from the predator will tend to keep the individual safe; but it can also backfire when the herd is spooked over the cliff.

And so it was this past week we saw this herd-like low intellectual analysis play out in real time on Twitter and in the state media. A short video clip emerged showing a group of MAGA-hat wearing teens “confronting” and “intimidating” a gentle and peaceful elderly Native American man whilst he chanted and played his drums on the Washington mall in DC. Apparently, 10 seconds of video is all that was needed for the media and the Twitter blogosphere to start (literally) calling for the death of these teens! These kids were unwitting lighting rods for the vitriolic hatred of all things in any way connected to Donald Trump (aka as TDS: Trump Derangement Syndrome). The outpouring of invective towards these boys from across the country was breathtaking in its rhetorical and ideological uniformity. Intellectual reflection was not necessary – these were white males, some of whom apparently had a preference for President Trump, therefore no other conclusion was possible than that they were nascent Nazi’s. That is perhaps the saddest part of this whole story: so many on the left ardently believe that nearly every white person in this country is a closet Klan member. So convinced they are of this that they will imbue every innocuous non-event as somehow being proof of the existence of these witches.

As it turns out (surprise, surprise) the above narrative was 100% wrong. After a full 2-hour video  (see here for yourself) emerged we quickly learned that it was not the boys who approached the Native American man (Nathan Phillips) but rather that Phillips approached the boys’ group and got right in the middle of it. The boys were merely waiting for their school bus to pick them up from their field trip. They were actually being harassed by a group of blatantly racist (according to the SPLC – I mean, when the SPLC is calling a black group racist, that has got to be bad!) black men known as the “Black Hebrew Israelites” who hurled racist and homophobic invectives at the teens. Philllips bizarrely claims he moved into the teen’s group to prevent them from attacking the Black Hebrews (even though the videos show zero evidence of that brewing).

In short, these boys were on the receiving end of what blacks have had to endure in this country for decades: a summary judgment based solely on one’s preconception about members of that skin color group coupled with a scant smattering of “evidence” (oh the irony that this happened over the MLK holiday weekend). Likewise, the real instigators here, the black Hebrews, are entirely ignored, forgiven, or excused, again, solely based on skin color. When racist, old, black men are assumed to be in the right and young, white boys are assumed to be in the wrong, then, on a national level, it is safe to conclude that all traditional notions of racism in this country are dead. Should that be celebrated our mourned? Both and neither – truly a paradox.

Eyes Wide Shutdown

The current government shutdown is moving into its third week as I write this and has now won the prize for longest shutdown in history – truly America is being made great again. The longer it goes on the more Americans it affects. Already we are seeing multi-hour queues at TSA checkpoints as more and more unpaid but “essential” federal employees are quitting or calling in sick. Many IRS agents have been furloughed and that agency is operating at minimal capacity (although I think that would bolster support for the shutdown!). And for the first time ever I have been personally impacted by one of these shutdowns insofar as my genealogical hobby has been halted by the shuttering of the doors at the National Archives.

The popular stereotype of anti-government libertarians might lead one to believe libertarians are rejoicing. Although there might be a wee bit of schadenfreude, for the most part that is not the case since (a) libertarians oppose the state, not government (a critical but important distinction that even many self-described libertarians are oblivious to) and (b) temporary disruptions do nothing to advance that goal for the same reason your employer doesn’t hire a replacement every time you go on vacation. But – when a poorly performing employee does go on vacation sometimes it provides an opportunity to demonstrate to management that a temporary replacement is actually doing a better job – or that maybe we don’t need that position after all (i.e. no one noticed that the job not getting done).

For example during this shutdown many local businesses around Yellowstone National Park have banded together and voluntarily taken over the duties of the local park service (removing trash, cleaning bathrooms, maintaining roads, etc).

Why? Because it is in their mutual self-interest – all those tourists coming to Yellowstone also spend their money at those local restaurants, hotels, and shops. Indeed, this is the model that answers the perennial “but who will build the roads?” question – businesses that want to make it easy for customers to find them, that’s who.

Likewise the TSA disruption should make all question why exactly airport security is an arm of the federal government? Do we really want air travel in this country to be held hostage by the whims of those bickering children in Washington? Up until the incidents of September 11 airport security was a completely private affair. 9-11 was certainly not a failure on the part of that private system (unless of course you believe a federal TSA agent would have (a) stopped the guys with the box cutters because (b) they knew box cutter = destroyed buildings). Again, airports and airlines have aligned incentives in that both would be culpable and liable if they allowed dangerous individuals on board a flight. They should be allowed to choose the best most competent agency to handle security, rather than being forced to accept a single monopolistic agency (TSA) that can’t be fired no matter how poorly they perform. Due to the “crowding out” effect caused by nationalization (as with the TSA) there exists no viable competitors that could take over during these short-term disruptions (because by their nature they are short term – who would start a business that could only get operate once every year or two for a week or two?).

Hopefully this current shutdown will serve as a “teachable moment” amongst the general public who will begin to question why the federal government must control endeavors that can quite easily be managed by the private sector.

On Property Rights and Poop

I recently had the opportunity to visit San Francisco for the first time. Coastal towns tend to be a bit more interesting in terms of cuisine (seafood being one of the more varied palate options) as well as architecture (steep hill structures are ever a testament to human ingenuity) and San Francisco scores high in both categories. However one area where it currently scores quite low is in the aroma zone. At first I thought perhaps they had a very inefficient sewer system near the shoreline retail sector, but as we explored deeper toward the city center it became clear something was amiss. I learned shortly thereafter that San Francisco has a poop crisis. To be blunt – people are literally crapping on the sidewalks. Not the tourists mind you but the local homeless population. The situation has come to a head (or to the head to employ a nautical metaphor) primarily as a result of progressive conservatism primed with the power of centralized (governmental) authority.

The outside leftist narrative of course is that this poop crisis is inevitable results of unmitigated capitalism, which drives the eternal boogeyman of income inequality. This inequality fuels gentrification of the San Francisco housing market (no, actually property taxes are the prime driver of gentrification – if you own your home absent property tax you would never need to sell due to rising prices). So as housing becomes ever more “unaffordable” people are forced out of their homes and onto the street. This is of course complete nonsense. Prices only go up if supply is constrained while demand is rising. So in order to discover why supply is constrained we turn our attention toward the “inside” leftists (that is, the progressive liberals who live there). It turns out those that live there are in fact quit conservative (even if they don’t realize it). Any attempted new housing project must pass not only governmental hurdles but also the “local input” of current residents. These residents walk and talk like social progressives but because one of their core tenets is that they do not want the flavor, character, or architecture of the area in which they live to change – that is, they want to conserve it in perpetuity  – this by definition makes them conservatives in that arena. Their dual desire to not only keep San Francisco locked in an eternal snow globe style stasis but to also not erode the value of their homes drives them to engage in this very destructive economic protectionism: keeping new comers out by making it virtually impossible (or more costly than necessary) to build, keeps the value of their own homes artificially elevated while preserving the Norman Rockwell character of their town.

To fully appreciate the extent of the damage they are causing and why perhaps more than anywhere else in the country the homeless problem is so acute is that the median price of a modest single family home now stands at $1.6 million. A family of four with a household income of $100k is considered at the poverty line and actually qualifies for assistance from HUD (let that sink in – taxpayers across the country are subsidizing the housing of people making a $100k/year).

So what is the solution? Always the same and likewise always decried as “unrealistic” – remove all housing regulations and obstacles and let anyone build anything anywhere (works just fine in Houston, TX thank you very much). Your neighbor has no right to say what you can do with your property. Progressives (yes, I’m looking at you “townies” in Athens) should stop blocking progress when it comes to housing and development.