29 February 2012

Two Flaws

Chuck Norris, on what presidential candidate the Founding Fathers would vote for:
No wonder John Jay -- the first chief justice of the United States, appointed by George Washington himself -- wrote to Jedidiah Morse on Feb. 28, 1797: "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers. And it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
First off, it doesn’t matter what opinion any founding father had about government.  What matters is what the constitution says, because the constitution trumps personal opinion when it comes to government.  This is how rule of law functions.

Second, “Christian nation” is not the same as “Christian government.”  The government of a nation is a subset of a nation.  Regardless of you define members of the US government (I refer solely to federal employees, but including eligible voters strikes me as a reasonable metric as well), the number of people who are a part of the government is always smaller than the number of citizens.  As such, it is simply ludicrous to think that claiming that America is “a Christian nation” is somehow proof that the US government should be a theocracy.  The fact of the matter is that America is a Christian nation with a secular federal government.  As such, religion has no official role in the federal government (hence the whole “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion).

While Christians would hopefully have a better grasp of natural law and rule of law than non-Christians, it is not imperative that they be elected, especially if they are elected solely on their merits of claiming to believe in God.  The Founding Fathers, then, would vote for someone who understood rule of law and had respect for the constitution.  We all know who he is.  (Hint for Chuck Norris:  It’s not Rick Santorum.)

More Bad Arguments from Environmentalists


First off, this is a false dichotomy.  It doesn’t matter which theory makes more sense, as it is entirely possible that neither theory accurately describes reality.

In the second place, environmentalism isn’t exactly hurting for money (just ask Al Gore!).  The amount of money that gets poured into researching global warming is pretty massive.  The federal government has handed out at least $50 billion to global warming research  since 1997.  From what I can gather (and this is by no means conclusive), it appears that pro-warming researchers have received more than twice as much as skeptics (counting all sources of funding, not just the federal government).  Thus, presenting the issue as “poor, honest scientists” being pitted against “big (profitable) oil” is simply dishonest, and there is no excuse for it.

In the third place, massive conspiracy is both misleading and accurate.  If the East Anglia scandal is any indication, there certainly have been some global warming apologists that have conspired to mislead.  On the other hand, it doesn’t appear that there is a massive conspiracy as much as there is simple correlation of interests, which is mostly a case of self-selection.  So it’s not so much that the apparently vast majority of environmental scientists are all secretly colluding with one another as much as they have coinciding interests and are thus acting together.

In the fourth place, the implication of intentions is irrelevant.  It seems likely that most global warming apologists are well-intentioned, albeit ignorant, illogical, and not given to introspection.  Thus, they don’t intend to destroy the global economy.  Unfortunately, that will certainly be what happens if they have their way in setting environmental policy.  And so, their intentions are irrelevant; drawing attention to them is a false flag.

In all, this amusingly illogical and counterfactual “infographic” feels more like a piece of propaganda than a legitimate argument.  And if the greens are resorting to propaganda, you can bet the movement is on its last legs.

In Which Feminists Learn That Democracy Sucks

And cue the feminists snarkily complaining about how the government goes against their desires:

The Virginia Senate passed its mandatory ultrasound bill today. A Democratic Senator tried to amend it so that the Virginia women who are subjected to a mandatory medically unnecessary medical procedure aren’t also required to cover the cost of that procedure. Republicans said, “No thanks.”
The Alabama State Senator who proposed a mandatory transvaginal ultrasound bill has changed it so that a woman would be able to choose between a medically unnecessary transvaginal sonogram and a medically unnecessary abdominal sonogram. Damn, it feels good to have choice, doesn’t it ladies?

As I noted for conservatives, and also for liberals, if you’re going to use the government to impose your vision on the world, don’t be surprised if it comes back to bite you in the butt.  To quote an insightful, highly intelligent blogger:

Ultimately, the downside of going all in for mob rule democracy is that the mob can turn against you rather quickly.  And as undoubtedly pleasant as it is to force other people to conform to your will, the reverse is pretty horrible.  Which is why democracy sucks.  The mob is often wrong, and it’s very unpleasant when forcing its wrongness on others.

28 February 2012

Flaws in the Defense of Free Trade


But there’s more to this than meets the eye. What we don’t see are the hidden costs of protectionism. The first is the waste from using costly production methods. Protectionism changes manufacturers’ incentives, and they use capital and labor that could have been better-used elsewhere to produce (say) cars. The economic imagination is useful here. If people weren’t making cars, they could be making medical devices. Or tacos. Or automotive repair services (it stands to reason that if you can build cars, you can probably also fix them). Or any of a number of other things. As Russell Roberts points out in The Choice, there might be some short-run costs for workers who have trouble retooling; however, free trade leads to new opportunities for the next generation.

Replace the word “protectionism” with the word “regulation,” and note that the resulting paragraph makes a compelling case against government regulation.  The altered paragraph also explains why free trade is terrible idea at this point in time:  there are a massive number of regulations imposed on businesses by the federal government.  Allowing for free trade, then, will not make the country wealthier.  Rather, all it will do is decrease the cost of consumable goods while simultaneously transferring wealth to foreign businesses.  As such, supporting free trade during a time of high domestic economic regulation is akin to supporting government-based foreign aid.

The second cost comes from the fact that tariffs increase the price of cars. When prices rise, people demand less of something. Consumers are worse off because they have fewer cars, and the cars they are no longer buying are cars that would cost less than consumers are willing to pay in the absence of tariffs. Interventions like tariffs raise the incomes of some workers by impoverishing others.

As mentioned before, there are a large number of governmental regulations that hinder the domestic economy.  If tariffs were enacted to enforce regulatory parity, prices would naturally go up (or the quality of products would go down) as a response because consumers would have to bear the costs of their government’s regulatory interference.  In a democratic country like the US, citizens would have to live with the consequences of the choices their elected representatives make.  Thus, by simultaneously desiring free trade and a high degree of regulatory “protection,” Americans are essentially saying that they want societal luxury goods (like minimum wage, reduced pollution, worker safety, etc.) without having to actually pay for them.  Unfortunately, nothing is free in this world, and the cost of regulation will be paid for, either in the form of higher prices, in the form of diminished capital, or in the form of increased debt.

The third cost comes from the change in incentives when it is discovered that people can raise their incomes by getting favors from the government. At best, favors from the government are a zero-sum transfer from one group of people to another. In reality, however, people use scarce resources to effect these transfers. Consider just one cost: the cost of flying to and from Washington, DC. The plane that is flying auto executives and union representatives from Detroit to DC could be used for something else, like flying people from Detroit to New York for business or from Detroit to Los Angeles for a vacation. The prospect of subsidies, tariffs, and other benefits from the government means that people will take valuable resources that could have been used to create wealth (planes, the time and energy of flight attendants and pilots, bags of roasted peanuts) and instead use them to transfer wealth. On net, we’re all worse off.

It is true that one government intervention usually begets another.  What’s ignored is that not all second-order governmental interventions are irrational or illogical.  While the initial tinkering in the economy usually leads to unintended and undesirable consequences, it does not follow that further interventions will do the same.  And thus, while it is better for the government to not tinker in the first place, it is ludicrous to suggest that further tinkering will always be a net negative.  Furthermore, if we take Carden’s argument at face value, the most appropriate response would be to focus our energy on deregulating the domestic economy instead pursuing free trade, since the domestic economy plays a much larger role in consumers’ lives than foreign trade.

Incidentally, coupling a highly-regulated domestic economy with free foreign trade is economic suicide in the long run because the domestic producers will their ability to innovate to be quite stifled (what with regulation and all), and so they will outsource their innovation to freer countries that offer comparable labor markets.  And since production usually initially occurs at the same place as the innovation that leads to said production, it stands to reason that the innovative industries of the future will begin outside of the highly regulated economy that has encouraged outsourcing via free trade.

As should be clear, Art Carden’s argument suffers from the same flaws as all the others made by free traders:  it’s shallow, ignores economic complexity, and is based on highly idealistic economic theories instead of actual reality. As such, his policy prescriptions should be ignored.

Whence Inheritance

Here’s an explanation called the “rotten parent theorem”:

Wealthy kids are usually wealthy because their wealthy parents left them a lot of money.  You might think that’s because parents are altruistic towards their kids.  Indeed every dollar bequeathed is a dollar less of consumption for the parent.  But think about this:  if parents are so generous towards their kids why do they wait until they die to give them all that money?  For a truly altruistic parent, the sooner the gift, the better.  By definition, a parent never lives to see the warm glow of an inheritance.
A better theory of bequests is that they incentivize the children to call, visit, and take care of the parents in their old age.  An inheritance is a carrot that awaits a child who is good to the parent until the very end.  That’s the theory of strategic bequests in Bernheim, Shleiffer and Summers.

What seems to be left out of the discussion are two important factors:  historical precedent and lack of perfect knowledge.  Also, the theory seems to be predicated on the assumption that people are perfectly rational.

In the first place, historical precedent counts for a lot when it comes to human habits.  Humans have a tendency to do things a certain way simply because that’s how things have always been done.  Given that death could come at relatively young ages, in times past, and come rather unexpectedly at many cases, it made sense to defer giving one’s wealth to one’s children until one’s death, since there was no way to know in advance how much of one’s accumulated wealth one would need to live out one’s life.  And, given that the vast majority of people that have ever existed were poor, it’s hard to give away a meaningful amount of your wealth when you’re not sure how much of it you’ll end up needing.  Really, this period of massive personal wealth—relatively speaking—is an historical abnormality, so it should come as no surprise that humans have not developed new habits to replace a centuries-old custom.

In the second place, and in keeping with the first point, people do not know when they are going to die.  Furthermore, they do not know the circumstances of their death, nor do they know what expenses they will incur between the present and their death.  As such, it makes sense to keep a decent amount of money on hand to take care of one’s expenses, as well as handle whatever emergency medical expenses might come.  Now, one might reasonably object that by keeping their money for themselves, parents are essentially saying they don’t trust their children to take care of them.  This is certainly plausible, but one must also consider the issue of convenience.  Even if one’s children were to be trusted perfectly, it still makes sense to keep money on hand anyway, since it usually easier to pay for things for yourself than to wait on someone to make your payments for you.

Finally, it makes no sense to assume that people approach the matter of inheritance with any degree of rationality.  Since the transfer of wealth via the mechanism of inheritance is closely tied to death, it is understandable that many people do not spend a lot of time contemplating the matter.  And since the current system of inheritance serves its purpose well, there isn’t that much to be gained from changing.

How To Make a Bad Argument


Someone had sent me a 2008 Pew report documenting the intense partisan divide in the U.S. over the reality of global warming.. It’s a divide that, maddeningly for scientists, has shown a paradoxical tendency to widen even as the basic facts about global warming have become more firmly established.
Those facts are these: Humans, since the industrial revolution, have been burning more and more fossil fuels to power their societies, and this has led to a steady accumulation of greenhouse gases, and especially carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. At this point, very simple physics takes over, and you are pretty much doomed, by what scientists refer to as the “radiative” properties of carbon dioxide molecules (which trap infrared heat radiation that would otherwise escape to space), to have a warming planet. Since about 1995, scientists have not only confirmed that this warming is taking place, but have also grown confident that it has, like the gun in a murder mystery, our fingerprint on it. Natural fluctuations, although they exist, can’t explain what we’re seeing. The only reasonable verdict is that humans did it, in the atmosphere, with their cars and their smokestacks.
Such is what is known to science--what is true (no matter what Rick Santorum might say). But the Pew data showed that humans aren’t as predictable as carbon dioxide molecules. Despite a growing scientific consensus about global warming, as of 2008 Democrats and Republicans had cleaved over the facts stated above, like a divorcing couple. One side bought into them, one side didn’t—and if anything, knowledge and intelligence seemed to be worsening matters.

Let’s consider the various components of the argument one by one:

The basic facts about global warming have become more firmly established.”  Someone has apparently forgotten all about East Anglia, and how a decent amount of temperature data was fraudulently altered massaged into proving global warming.  Furthermore, in the US at least, there is a strong heat bias among the vast majority of weather stations, which means that the assertion of global warming is overrated.

Humans, since the industrial revolution, have been burning more and more fossil fuels to power their societies, and this has led to a steady accumulation of greenhouse gases, and especially carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere.”  While the first premise is true, the second premise has not been proven.  In fact, the second premise cannot be proven, at least if one follows the scientific method.  In order for an hypothesis to be acceptable, it must be testable, which means that it must be falsifiable.  As such, no scientific claim can be considered true; it can only be considered unfalsified.  (Note that a theory can be reliable if it has been properly and extensively tested without ever being falsified).   Additionally, the only link between burning fossil fuels and the accumulation of greenhouse gases is correlative, not causal.

At this point, very simple physics takes over, and you are pretty much doomed, by what scientists refer to as the “radiative” properties of carbon dioxide molecules…to have a warming planet.”  The physics of CO2 is pretty well-esablished at this point, but the practical, real-world effects of increased CO2 levels haven’t actually materialized, which is to say that surface temperatures haven’t actually increased by the predicted amounts. The reason for this is pretty simple:  though scientists have apparently found a workable model of the direct effects of CO2 concentrations, they have not yet found a predictable model for the feedbacks of CO2 concentrations. (See here for proof of this paragraph’s assertions.)

Natural fluctuations, although they exist, can’t explain what we’re seeing.”  This is a logical error, known informally as an appeal to ignorance.  That scientists cannot model a potential causal relationship between natural fluctuations and temperature doesn’t prove that such relationships don’t exist, it only proves that scientists are apparently incapable of constructing a model that explains a potential relationship between natural fluctuations and temperature.

Such is what is known to science--what is true.”  Since I’m on the subject, I may as well pick a nit or two.  Science is not living entity, and cannot know anything in any meaningful sense.

Despite a growing scientific consensus about global warming…  This is the fundamental flaw of the entire argument.  Consensus proves nothing, and this assertion is nothing more than the appeal to authority fallacy.  A million scientists claiming that global warming is occurring stands as proof of fact to the same extent that a million scientists claiming that liberals are retarded sub-humans does.  The human element of science is exactly why it cannot be trusted implicitly.  To simply measure things without regards to what they mean is mere statistics.  To interpret the meaning of data is science, and said interpretation requires human analysis.  And, unfortunately, human analysis has the exact same problems as humans:  biases, prejudices, imperfections, and the limits of finiteness.

One side bought into them, one side didn’t—and if anything, knowledge and intelligence seemed to be worsening matters.”  I completely agree.  Being moderately intelligent often has the unfortunate effect of causing one to be overconfident, and succumbing to the pretense of knowledge.  The problem is not the absence of knowledge and intelligence, the problem is an incomplete amount of knowledge coupled with a finite amount of intelligence.  Quite simply, the proponents of global warming are not intelligent enough to recognize the limits of their knowledge, nor can they account for it.  They readily grasp the argument for global warming, but simply are not intelligent enough to consider its fallacies and shortcomings.  They are too clever by half.

The Limits of Freedom


I believe it is now time for Western Christians and non-Christians alike to acknowledge that men such as Alexis de Tocqueville were correct and various concepts such as free expression, freedom of association, and other hallowed concepts of Western civilization simply do not translate outside of Western Christian culture. What was once theoretical is now empirical thanks to more than sixty years of evidence that strongly suggests conventional Western views of human liberty are simply not compatible with non-Christian, non-Western cultures.

I’ve noted elsewhere that not everyone wants to be free.  Furthermore, there are those who may desire freedom for themselves while simultaneously wishing that others did not have freedom.  Thus, there are a large number of people who simply do not want freedom.  As such, there are very real limits to freedom simply because not everyone wants freedom.

Because there are limits to humans’ desire for freedom, it necessarily follows that there will be practical limits to the exercise of freedom, which in turn means that freedom is both relative and, in a sense, finite.  The goal, then, is to maximize the amount of freedom that can be exercised at a given point in time.  Paradoxically, this will mean restricting the rights and freedoms of some people.

For starters, if freedom is going to be preserved to any degree, there will be a need for some form of the state because the state, by definition, has coercive powers that do not exist in a state of freedom.  The need to concentrate power in the state stems from the willingness of those who are anti-freedom to use force to attain their goals.  From a practical standpoint, the main defense of freedom will be a complete and total willingness to kill people who would strive against freedom.

In the second place, there must be limits to citizenship within the geographical parameters of the state.   By this I mean that people from societies that have a history of being anti-freedom should be prohibited from making their home among the free.  The surest way to lose freedom is to allow the seductive arguments of authoritarianism to have a say among the free.  Additionally, it would be wise to avoid democracy as a political system, if for no other reason than to ensure that those who oppose freedom have no say in the governance of the state.

Finally, the state must be limited in scope and power.  It’s only responsibilities should be the preservation of liberty and justice. The state should not be authorized to spend massive amounts of money, nor should the state be authorized to micro-manage people’s lives.  The state should not be expected do much of anything, except defend liberty whenever it is threatened or attacked.  Additionally, the state should be ruthless in defense of liberty.

This is but a starter list of the practical prerequisites of liberty.  While perfect, complete liberty is a deserving ideal, it will not be possible as long as there exist those who oppose liberty.  As such, the defenders of liberty should keep in mind that liberty can only be optimized, not attained, and adjust their policies and prescriptions accordingly.

Hubris

That’s definitely the word for this behavior:

To add insult to injury the word "tip" was circled on the receipt, and the banker wrote "get a real job" on the bill. The picture of the receipt was taken and uploaded to the blog Future Ex-Banker by a person who was dining with the anonymous banker. As expected, the blog received a lot of attention and has now been taken down. The author of the blog wrote, "mention the 99% in my boss' presence and feel his wrath. So proudly does he wear his 1% badge of honor that he tips exactly 1% every time he feels the server doesn't sufficiently bow down to his holiness."

It takes an incredible amount of arrogance and stupidity to do something like this, in the age of the internet.  While the banksters don’t deserve all the blame for the United States’ current economic misfortune (cronies in congress certainly contributed to the mess), they do deserve a fair portion of the blame, seeing as how they found it profitable to encourage real estate speculation and the college bubble, among other things.  Then, when this blew up in their face, they took billions of taxpayer dollars to cover the mess they had made.

Because of this, the economy has been mired in a recession, due in part to economic and legal uncertainty, and also in part to the radical misallocation of resources.  One reason it’s difficult to find “real jobs” is simply due to the fundamental economic inefficiencies the US economy faces.  While congress and the fed made a good portion of this happen, they mostly did so at the behest of their banker cronies, who found the resulting market distortion to be quite profitable.  Thus, it is simply detestable for a bankster who likely contributed to the conditions that would prevent someone from getting a “real job” to tell someone to get a “real job.”

Additionally, being a server is a real job.  Who, exactly, does this bankster think will serve him if everyone has “real jobs”?  The fact of the matter is that anyone who gets paid for providing a good or service has a real job.  To say otherwise is to ignore the very basics of trade and the division of labor.

UPDATE:  It turns out that the receipt is fake.

Everything You Need to Know


CFRB compares the candidates’ plans to a “realistic” baseline that assumes the Bush tax cuts are made permanent and the automatic sequesters required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 are waived, among other things. Relative to that extremely pessimistic baseline, Santorum and Gingrich still want huge increases to the national debt; only Paul’s proposals would reduce it. Romney’s proposals would have little impact, but that was before his latest attempt to pander to the base: an across-the-board, 20 percent reduction in income tax rates. [Emphasis added.]
How is this possible, since all of them have promised to cut spending? Huge tax cuts, on top of the Bush tax cuts. Romney, as mentioned above, would reduce all rates by 20 percent, repeal the AMT, and repeal the estate tax. Santorum would cut taxes by $6 trillion over the next decade. Gingrich would cut taxes by $7 trillion. Paul, the responsible one, would only cut taxes by $5 trillion.

Of course, these projections need to be taken with a grain of salt since they are nothing more than an attempt to apply static analysis to a dynamic system.  Nonetheless, it should be quite telling that the two most nominally conservative candidates have the most fiscally irresponsible budgets.  (The penultimate paragraph of this post deals briefly with this subject).  The moderate businessman has an essentially balanced budget, and the libertarian is the only one of the lot that actually attempts to decrease the national debt.

The reason why the “conservative” candidates’ budgets aren’t fiscally responsible is because they simply do not understand the simple reality that government spending is essentially the same as taxation.  Every dollar that government spends must come from taxes.  This can happen directly, indirectly (e.g. inflation), or it can be deferred (e.g. borrowing).  However, at some point, government spending must come from tax revenue of some form.  As such, it is downright irresponsible to cut taxes without also cutting an equal or greater amount of spending.  Therefore, both Gingrich and Santorum are nothing more than political parlor magicians who are using sleight of lower taxes to distract from the insufficient budgetary cuts.  Sadly, there are too many conservatives who will fall for this, and ignore the plain and simple fact that government dollars must first come from citizens’ pockets.

This is not to say that taxes should not be cut.  To the contrary, the relatively high-rate of federal taxes are undoubtedly stifling the economy.  Ultimately, though, these tax rates are nothing other than a reflection of the high rate of government spending.  Thus, it is government spending that is stifling the economy, and therefore the federal budget must be cut if the United States are going to recover.  At this point, it should be clear that there is only one candidate who grasps this underlying reality.  We all know who he is.

27 February 2012

The God of Feminism


In an indirect way The Thinking Housewife says society does not worship women, but rather still men since women are really men these days. The thing is society does not understand that it forces women to "negate their femaleness". Society does not think women are taking on manly traits, but rather equally womanly traits that were there all along, but were just oppressed by men. It then celebrates and worships women for rising above male oppression and being the strong women they always were.

As I’ve noted before, feminists define themselves by men, and view men as the ideal.  More specifically, they view alpha males as the ideal, and essentially worship them, as evidenced by how feminists act like alpha males (aggressiveness, defining themselves by their social status, etc.).  Really, everything about feminism is defined by men.

The metrics of equality and accomplishment are always based on comparisons to men.  For example, feminists often complain about how women are marginalized in sports, even though sports and athletic competition has long been the province of men.  Feminists also complain about how women are less accomplished in business than men, even though business has long been the province of men.

Furthermore, as Laura notes, everything that is distinctly feminine in women is looked down upon by feminists (at least of the first wave variety). Instead of emphasizing their unique abilities and specific, gender-conferred advantages, feminists choose to focus on being like men and besting them.  In doing so, they necessarily focus on being better than men in those specific areas where men have their greatest advantage.  In doing so, feminists confine themselves to a life of misery because they are continually picking fights where they have the greatest disadvantage and belittling the fights where they have the greatest advantage, which results in continually emphasizing their areas of inferiority while simultaneously belittling their areas of superiority.

Ultimately, feminism isn’t focused on women at all, except in a nominal sense.  Ultimately, feminism is about being like one of the boys.  Or, as The Thinking Housewife puts it, “modern feminism is penis envy writ large.”

An Irrelevant Metric


Men are turned off by successful women
FALSE
The rise of the alpha female is one of the most striking features of modern society. A century ago, intelligent and capable women were frustrated by laws and conventions that kept them out of the professions, and were not even seen as desirable mates. Now, such women are succeeding sexually as well as professionally. Fifty years ago, male surgeons married nurses; now they are as likely to marry other doctors. This effect is seen most strongly in IT and engineering, which until recently were strongly male-dominated. In Silicon Valley, the influx of women has led to a proliferation of high-flying techno-families.

Male attraction, by and large, is not dependent on a woman’s economic success.  In fact, male attraction is largely contingent on a woman’s looks.  As long as a woman is sufficiently attractive, she will generally be able to attract men regardless of whether she’s a Fortune 500 CEO or a broke college student.  As such, a woman’s socio-economic status is pretty much irrelevant to the question of male attraction.

26 February 2012

Remember Lot’s Daughters

Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave. Now the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.”  So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, “Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.” Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.
Genesis 19:30-38

Assuming the blogs of various pick-up artists are to be believed, it seems reasonable to say that most men have no qualms about getting a woman drunk in order to increase their chances of having sex with her.  This is because men don’t generally have a whole lot in the way of scruples when it comes to getting laid.

But, as the Bible helpfully reminds us, this same sort of callousness in the pursuit of fleshly desires is also found in the minds and spirits of women.  In fact, if this passage teaches anything, it teaches that women have fewer scruples when it comes to getting laid than men do.  See, while men have proven themselves to be willing to get a girl drunk in order to have sex with her, pretty much all of them will draw the line if the girl in question is their mom.  It does not appear that the same can be said for women.

Anyhow, the point in all this is that all human of every sex have the same tendency to do evil, and have the same ability to succumb to temptation and all manner of evil desires.  Even women, which is why it is best not to pedestalize them.

25 February 2012

A Heartening Trend

From FoxNews:

Over the years, Eric Fischer had grown suspicious of whether he was really the father of his youngest daughter. So he secretly got a sample of the girl's hair, grabbed one from his own head and sent them to a lab for DNA testing.
Sure enough, he was right. The girl was the product of an affair between Fischer's wife, Pamela Tournier, and her business partner, Richard Zollino.
Now, five years later, the State Supreme Court has ruled that Fischer can proceed with a lawsuit demanding that the girl's biological father pay him $190,000—half the cost of raising her.

I have no issue with fathers being expected to provide for their children.*  However, it is patently unjust to expect men to care for some other man’s child, particularly if forced to do so at gunpoint. As such, it is somewhat refreshing to see that men now have a legal precedent for reclaiming what was taken from them under false pretenses (which was once known as fraud).  Hopefully other men will also be able to expect legal recourse for being defrauded by false claims of parentage.

* Just so MRAs don’t get their panties in a knot, I also have no qualms about mothers being expected to take care of their children.

They Never Learn


2) Santorum isn't JUST a social conservative. Based on his time in office, the most conservative candidate in the race is Newt Gingrich, although he's gone off the reservation on a number of issues in the last few years, which has naturally given some people pause. Going by his record in Massachusetts, where he raised taxes, implemented Romneycare, backed gay marriages, pursued a multi-state cap and trade scheme, and gave $10,000 to a radical gay group that taught fisting and "water sports" to high school students under his watch, Mitt Romney is a barely center-right politician -- at best. Although Santorum has his flaws, I will at least give him credit for being a conservative across the board.
Santorum's social conservative credentials are beyond reproach and on foreign policy issues, he's a knowledgeable hawk who spent 8 years on the Armed Services Committee and has been sounding the alarm on Iran for years. Fiscal conservatism is not Santorum's strong suit, but even there, he's not quite as weak as you might think.
The National Taxpayers Union said Santorum had the 5th best record out of 50 senators during his tenure in office. On the other hand, the extremely harsh graders Club for Growth said Santorum was above average, but had some flaws of note.
On the whole, Rick Santorum’s record on economic issues in the U.S. Senate was above average. More precisely, it was quite strong in some areas and quite weak in others. He has a strong record on taxes, and his leadership on welfare reform and Social Security was exemplary. But his record also contains several very weak spots, including his active support of wasteful spending earmarks, his penchant for trade protectionism, and his willingness to support large government expansions like the Medicare prescription drug bill and the 2005 Highway Bill.

I have no idea when conservatives will wake up to the fact that the trio of social conservatism, imperialism, and small government simply cannot work.  You cannot have an empire on the cheap.  It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a domestic empire where the government controls every aspect of your personal life (e.g. China) or an international empire where the government tries to boss around other people because they talk funny.  You cannot be an imperialist and have a small government.

Beyond that, I also have no idea when conservatives will wake up to the fact that, of the two alternatives, small government is more sustainable than any form of imperialism.  Quite simply, the United States cannot continue to wage war with Middle Eastern countries indefinitely.  The costs of doing so are astronomical and unsustainable.  Additionally, the costs of maintaining a domestic empire wherein all citizens are subject to a veritable army of bureaucrats is also costly and unsustainable in the long run, especially if citizens get upset with the infringement of their liberties and decide to revolt.  Given the sheer number of firearms (and the staggering amount of ammunition) in this country, trying to suppress an insurrection could turn costly.  Yet, conservatives continue to push their chickenhawk imperialism and social conservatism, even though these things are nothing more than fantastical flights of fantasy in the long run.

Finally, note the hilarity of the claim that Santorum is strong on taxes but weak on spending.  In the long-run, if you’re weak on spending, you are going to be weak on taxes.  Everything has to be paid for at some point, and even if Santorum plans on defaulting on federal debt at some point, the moment he does so is the moment the credit spigot gets turned off.  Thus, the current level of spending will have to be paid for in some form of taxation (and recall that inflation is merely an indirect form of taxation).  And so while Santorum has voted for low current tax rates, his votes for increased spending virtually guarantee in an increase in taxes at some point.

Thus, conservative support for Rick Santorum is completely baffling and illogical.  He has spent his entire career voting against liberty and for increased taxes, which is the exact opposite of the stated conservative stance.  If this is the best conservatives can offer, they may as well consider their political movement dead.

No Kidding

In what will undoubtedly be a shock to a lot of people, thinner wives make for happier marriages:
Marriages are happier when wives are thinner than their husbands, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Tennessee studied the BMI (body mass index, a common measure of obesity) of nearly 170 newlywed couples, along with their marital satisfaction over time.
Andrea Meltzer, the lead author and a doctoral candidate at UT, told Discovery News that "We found this effect initially on husbands' satisfaction at the beginning of marriage... husbands were more satisfied at the time of marriage to the extent that their wives had a lower BMI than themselves."
The fact that men tend to be happier with a thinner wife may not be surprising, but Meltzer and her colleagues also found that women who had a lower BMI than their husbands were significantly more satisfied with their marriage over time. Thinner wives make both spouses happier.
Obviously, men are going to be happy coming to home to an attractive wife.  And wives are going to be happy if they’re attractive, mostly because it means that they’re married to an alpha.

Now, it is axiomatic that happy marriages are the most likely to succeed.  Also, it is axiomatic that marriage is the bedrock of society. Therefore, attractive women are good for society.

So, ladies, that means it’s time for you to get in shape.  While you’re at it, feel free to wear makeup, wear feminine clothes, and grow out your hair.  The health of our society depends on it.

An Irrelevant Argument


Those who defend the Confederacy in the name of liberty today must assume, against all historical evidence, that rationality and economic benefit would have otherwise trumped the exploitation and irrational hate that drove the institution of slavery, the rebellion to defend slavery, and the Jim Crow South to avenge slavery’s defeat. That the Southern states used the power restored to them after Reconstruction to keep their citizens in poverty and deny them their rights as American citizens is the best argument for the federal government in living memory. That this is often used by the Left and others to presume benevolence in directives from Washington is unfortunate to libertarians who believe in a bounded federalism that protects the rights of the individual while providing states the power to be the laboratories of democracy that they were intended to be. Libertarians would better serve the cause of liberty and decentralization by recognizing that absolutes—such as granting the state absolute authority to do as its elites wish—are as sure a road to tyranny as amassing uncheckable power in a chief executive. There is nothing libertarian about granting any government so broad authority in order to quash the fundamental rights of the individual, a power inherent to an unbounded state “right” to secession.

While I cannot speak for all libertarians, what with each of them being precious snowflakes with highly nuanced views of liberty, I can say that Blanks argument is mostly irrelevant to mine.  In an absolute sense, the confederacy was terrible.  In a relative sense, not so much.

The difference is that the increased centralization undertaken by the federal government since their victory in the “civil” war has been radically anti-rights.  Worse yet, since this undertaking is so centralized, the trampling of individual rights has affected everyone uniformly.  While a “states’ rights” approach would have undoubtedly trampled individual rights (I point I willingly concede), I doubt very much that said trampling would have occurred uniformly.  As such, individual states would have an incentive to not go overboard in enacting draconian measures against its people, else their people would leave for another, freer state.

Also, the ex post extrapolations of southern states’ behavior after reconstruction is a non-starter.  There is simply no way to be sure that they would have behaved the same way or even worse had the confederacy won.  The incentive structure for such behavior would have been quite different.

Additionally, this argument begs the question:  if the federal government’s intervention in the war was sufficient to stop the racist institution of slavery, why did the federal government not step in after reconstruction?  Perhaps the answer is that those who were concerned with centralizing power were as racist and anti-rights as those who opposed centralization.

Incidentally, this brings us back to the main thrust of the post:  if there is going to be a regime of anti-rights statism, it’s best that it is decentralized, so as to ensure the best prospects for liberty.  In this event, it can be said that the confederacy is the lesser of two evils, and therefore worthy of support, in a relative sense.  Basically, if the two choices are suboptimal, it is best to pick the more optimal choice.

There Is No Conflict


U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton heard closing arguments earlier this month in a lawsuit that claimed state rules violate the constitutional rights of pharmacists by requiring them to dispense such medicine. The state requires pharmacies to dispense any medication for which there is a community need and to stock a representative assortment of drugs needed by their patients.
This is bullshit. The state had a very compelling reason for the requirement: As we all know, EC gets less effective over time and in rural areas there may not be another pharmacy for miles. And pharmacists who don’t believe in birth control or erroneously think that EC is an abortifacient were free to pass the prescription off to coworker who would fill it. As the Seattle Times wrote in an editorial calling on the state to appeal the ruling, this decision “sends a message that pharmacists’ personal views can take priority over patients’ rights.”

A couple of qualifications are in order.  First, there is no need for EC if one does not have sex, which means that any need that arises is voluntarily inflicted.  Second, it would more accurate to say that some pharmacists and/or pharmacy owners may not believe EC to moral, and therefore believe that they should not personally sell EC, or have it stocked and available for sale in their store.  Third, there is no inherent conflict between patients’ rights and other people’s personal views.

Quite simply, no one ever has the right to force someone else to do something that would (tautologically) be against their will.  If it’s wrong to force someone to, say, pay for Bibles to be delivered to atheists, then it is wrong to force someone to, say, pay for birth control pills.  If it is wrong to, say, be forced to stock and sell Bibles against their will, then it is also wrong to, say, be forced to stock and sell birth control pills.  Since there is basically no one who takes a positive-rights approach to both of extremes (seeing as how everyone picks one extreme or the other), the positive-rights approach falls apart on its own inconsistency of application.*

That leaves the negativist view of rights, which means that one owns oneself (and all attendant property, wherein ownership is generally well-defined by longstanding legal tradition), and therefore no one has the right to interfere with your self-ownership.  The basics of this approach is summarized in the non-aggression principle.  At any rate, one can act on one’s personal views in whatever way one sees fit, provided that one’s actions do not violate the non-aggression principle and, consequently, others’ rights.

As such, if one does not wish to sell, say, either Bibles or birth control, one cannot be forced to do so.  By the same token, one has no right to prevent other from purchasing or rightfully acquiring either Bibles or birth control.  Therefore, an unwillingness to trade certain items with others violates no one’s rights because no one can be compelled to engage in trade.  If a given person does not wish to engage in trade with someone else, they are certainly within their rights to refuse.  It would be just as wrong to force someone to buy something as it would be to force someone to sell something.  Therefore, the hand-wringing over the violation of patients’’ rights is simply unmerited.

* In the first place, it can be argued that everyone has the right to whatever they desire.  The finite limits of the temporal realm make it immediately obvious that this ideal is unattainable.  In the second place, positive rights have no permanency.  This means that, unless a right has existed from the beginning of time, no rights actually exist with any degree of certainty.  If rights can evolve into being, they can also evolve out of being.  And if rights are granted on the basis of majority rule, as would generally be the case in a democracy, there can be no logical calls for ex ante oughtness.  There are other issues with the positivist view of rights, but such are beyond the scope of this post.

24 February 2012

Living by the Sword

Jezebel inadvertently proves why democracy sucks:

If social conservatives were hoping to ride to the White House on tide of unquenchable Puritan backlash against President Obama's birth control mandate, they'll find their hopes tragically dashed. According to a new poll, the majority of Americans like the idea of giving birth control to anyone who wants it.
The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, found that 54% of Americans support the administration's mandate that employer sponsored plans provide birth control at no cost to employees who wish to use it under the Affordable Care Act. Only 38% of poll respondents opposed the measure.

Let us suppose that there was poll in which 54% of respondents supported a government initiative to kill off everyone who wrote for Jezebel’s online publication, with only 38% of respondents opposing such an initiative.  I wonder how our intrepid Jezebel respondent would feel then.

Ultimately, the downside of going all in for mob rule democracy is that the mob can turn against you rather quickly.  And as undoubtedly pleasant as it is to force other people to conform to your will, the reverse is pretty horrible.  Which is why democracy sucks.  The mob is often wrong, and it’s very unpleasant when forcing its wrongness on others.

Incidentally, this is why rule-of-law-based governments (usually governments based on constitutions that take a negative-rights view of things) are considerably better, even if most people don’t have the “right” to vote.  Quite simply, your rights exist independently of other people’s desires, actions, and consent.  While you do not have the right to take from others for your own personal gain (like, for example, using the government to take money from other people to pay for your birth control), by the same token, people cannot take things from you for their own personal gain (like, say, killing an annoying feminist writer so that the internet is not filled with as much mindless drivel).

And so, while it sounds wonderful to say that you should be able to force other people to provide birth control for you to use, going down this road inevitably leads to your own destruction because the power you give the government for your own benefit is also the same power you give the government for others’ benefit.  And when those benefits clash, the government will always favor the majority, which is all fun and games until you find that you’re no longer in the majority.  And then you’re screwed.

22 February 2012

Book Review


Longtime readers won’t anything new in this book, as it is more or less a collection of Athol Kay’s self-selected best posts.  He covers a lot of fundamental subjects, like the definitions of alpha and beta, as well as the roles the respective traits the two play in marriage.  He also covers some aspects of his personal life, as well as providing plenty of examples of how he Games Jennifer on a day-to-day basis.  For some reason, there seems to be a disproportionate number of sci-fi references in this book as well.

More importantly, this book serves as a decent substitute to his blog, so that people can find his more relevant and insightful works quickly.  It’s like holding all of his better posts in hand, as a convenient reference and/or review.

While, as mentioned before, this book is basically a bunch of his better blog posts (which means that its contents can be found on his blog), it is still worth buying for two reasons.  First, it’s a convenient reference that can be filled with notes and highlights (which is especially easy with a Kindle).  Instead of bookmarking a bunch of his posts, you can have easy access to his best posts and you can add to them in a manner of speaking a well as highlight his more profound or applicable observations.

Second, this book would serve as a great introduction to Game.  His first primer is better geared to those who have already accepted the reality of Game (though it can serve as an introduction), but this book is less threatening, and more humorous than the Primer.  As such, it should serve as a fairly innocuous introduction to Game, and would likely make a good wedding present.

Also, buying the book is a good way to support Athol for his wonderful contributions to the manosphere.  He’s written quite a bit worthy of recommendation and appreciation, and buying his book is probably easier than buying him a cold one.  Also, he doesn’t handle alcohol so well (or so says the book), so buying the book would probably be better received.

In all, the book is a fun, engaging read, much like his blog (quelle surprise, non?).  There is a lot of good stuff in the book, and it’s an easy way to read the highlights of the blog.  There isn’t anything new, of course, but what’s there is worth revisiting from time to time, and the book makes it easy to do so.

Movie Review: Moneyball

I have a review of Moneyball at Allusions of Grandeur.  An excerpt:

Even though the movie is fundamentally about statistical analysis, the attempts at humanizing the story largely work.  Beane is presented as somewhat quirky (he never watches a game in person, preferring instead to work out), and he is also portrayed as regretting his decision to enter the majors instead of going to college because he ended up being a wash even though he was considered one of the best prospects of his time.  Beane eventually warms up to his players throughout the movie, taking time to get to know them, to coach them (with the help of statistical analysis, of course).  It helps that Beane is played by Brad Pitt, who brings a wonderful human warmness and complexity to this role.
Brand is played by Jonah Hill, he does an excellent job of playing the shy, nerdish stats geek.  Beane encourages Brand to become more involved with the players, and Hill gets the initial awkwardness of Brand’s antisocial tendencies just right.  Hill also brings some depth to Brand, in subtly portraying him as a bit of an overachiever who often seems embarrassed by his ambition and passion for stats and baseball.

The rest is here.

Guaranteed Failure

I agree with everything in this post, except for this:

In short, men will man up when women woman up. Because women, as the gatekeepers of sex, get the men they deserve. And, more often than not, what they deserve is what they want.

This paragraph seems highly ironic coming from a man whose blog continually makes and reinforces the point that men need to take the lead if they want to be successful with women.  The constant advice for initiating, demonstrating confidence, keeping frame, and passing fitness tests can all be boiled down thusly:  you’re the leader in the relationship; act like it.

That men are most successful with women when they take the lead is certainly true on a micro level.  It stands to extrapolation, if not reason, that men will most successful with women on a macro level if men take the lead.  And thus, the call for women to take the lead and “woman” up is somewhat misguided.*

Think about it.  The fundamental problem is that men accepted and complied with women’s frame.  How then can one think that the problem will be solved by men accepting and complying with women’s frame?  The problem is not the specifics of the frame, it is the compliance.  If this mess is going to be solved, it will only be solved by men taking the lead.

Now, to be sure, part of men’s leadership should be telling and expecting women to act like women, which is to say that women should be expected to be submissive, supportive, feminine, and pretty (among other things).  But ultimately, women will only “woman up” if men make this the frame with which women comply.  And this means that men will have to man up and take the lead.  If they don’t, then all the calls for women to “woman up” will inevitably end in failure.

* The taking the lead part, not the “woman up” part.

What Can Women Do To Help Men Take the Lead?

I had originally asked Olive to help me out with this, but it seems now that it’s more appropriate to just go ahead and say what needs to be said.  But first, an observation from Olive:

What I've found, interestingly, is that as I become more feminine and less obnoxious (don't argue, don't nag, just let my BF do his own thing and make his own decisions), he becomes more "alpha"...which is actually not how he's been throughout most of our relationship (something my brother was pointing out to me tonight, but with different words). The change is gradual, but it's there.

In a prior post, I had made the argument that men will have to take the lead and, to use a phrase, “man up” if the problems caused by feminism are going to be fixed.  Now, I suppose that there are some who are wondering what women can do to help this process along.  I have another post planned that deals with specific behaviors, but for now I just want to make a couple of general points.

First, women should avoid taking the lead.  This seems obvious, but I’m actually referring to something a little more subtle.  Specifically, women should never tell, command, or even ask men to take the lead.  The reason for this seems obvious to me, but nonetheless I will spell it out just to make sure we’re all on the same page.  Telling someone to take the lead can never, by definition, be obeyed because attempted compliance to the command is an implicit acceptance of someone else’s authority.

Second, women must generally refuse to take the lead.  This doesn’t mean they can never give advice or counsel, only that they can’t make the final decision.  Always let the responsibility for the final decision remain with your husband or boyfriend.

Third, stop fitness testing as much as possible.  I know this is difficult, as it is in women’s natures to do this in order to test a man’s fitness.  But doing this can undermine his confidence and his leadership, and he may then decide that he doesn’t to take the lead anymore, thus finding porn and video games to an acceptable diversion from women.

Fourth, be supportive.  When he makes a decision, back it 100%, even if you think it’s wrong (and remember, it’s not like you’re right all the time either).  He may end up being right; he may end up being wrong.  Either way, the important thing is that you support him.

Finally, be a woman.  Heartiste has an excellent post on this, and I recommend starting there.  Proverbs 31 and Titus 2:3-5 also provide some really good pointers as well.  Understand that the process of getting men to become the leaders they need to be is not going to happen overnight, and will likely be an unsure, somewhat painful promise.  But if women are acting as the submissive, supportive, feminine women they ought to be, it will make the process much easier.

In closing, let me note that it is entirely possible that men will refuse to take the lead (see here for proof).  If men still refuse to take the lead, even after women do what they can to make taking the lead as easy as possible, then all the calls for women to “woman up” are for naught.  And, ultimately, those who have called for women to “woman up” will be revealed as nothing more than the weak, spineless betas they really and truly were.  And they will have no right or reason to complain.

Paragraphs to Ponder

Jason Whitlock says it more eloquently than I ever could:

Jeremy Lin is a great story.
From the point-guard position, he has imposed his personality, his values, his culture and his style of play on the New York Knicks and, for the moment, those attributes have transformed the formerly underachieving Knicks into winners.
Amar'e and 'Melo should be embarrassed. They have more raw talent than Jeremy Lin. They should wonder what is it about their personalities, their values, their culture and their style of play that didn't allow them to impose a winning imprint on the Knicks.
Lin's success, even if it disappears, should not be dismissed. There is something to be learned from the results of his play and the absence of two star hip-hop, AAU athletes, 'Melo and Amar'e.
Yes, I played the hip-hop culture card. Hip-hop music is a capitalistic success. Hip-hop culture is an utter failure. The me-first, rebellious, anti-intellect culture directly contradicts all the values taught in team sports and most of the values necessary to sustain a civilized society.

The rest is very much worth reading.

Keynesian Tautologies


Watching Europe sink into recession – and Greece plunge into the abyss – I found myself wondering what it would take to convince the chattering classes that austerity in the face of an already depressed economy is a terrible idea.
After all, all it took was the predictable and predicted failure of an inadequate stimulus plan to convince our political elite that stimulus never works, and that we should pivot immediately to austerity, never mind three generations’ worth of economic research telling us that this was exactly the wrong thing to do. Why isn’t the overwhelming, and much more decisive, failure of austerity in Europe producing a similar reaction?

Let’s lay out some definitions first:  GDP, by definition, includes government spending; success, according to Keynesians, is some amount of economic growth (measured over arbitrary time periods and in the aggregate); austerity, by definition, will generally require cutting government spending.  Now, Keynesians generally don’t care where increases in GDP come, so long as increases occur.  Austerity, though, very much emphasizes balancing government budgets, which generally means cutting spending since it is rare for a government to a) be running only a minor deficit and b) raise tax rates enough to cover the current deficits.  Thus, austerity usually requires a significant cut in government spending, and thus a cut in GDP (since government spending is a component of GDP).  Thus, complaining that austerity doesn’t immediately lead to economic growth is like complaining that water is wet, in that we’re only really dealing with definitions.

Furthermore, austerity does not directly concern itself with growth.  As was mentioned before, austerity is mostly about balancing a government’s budget (to put it crudely).  Trying to evaluate austerity in Keynesian terms, then, is somewhat disingenuous as austerity does not have Keynesian goals, nor does it concern itself with the Keynesian analytical framework.  Rather, austerity focuses on paying back government creditors, and that is thus the framework by which it should be analyzed.  To use Keynesian metrics and goals to measure the success of austerity measures is akin to analyzing quarterbacks by their OBP.  In both cases, the analytical framework simply is not suited for the thing being analyzed.  Therefore, it is safe to say that only a fool, an ignoramus, or a liar would judge austerity by the economic growth it provides.

Houston, We May Have A Problem

Roll Call reported Feb. 6 that Paul was repeatedly paid twice for flights between Washington, D.C., and his Congressional district, receiving reimbursement from taxpayers and also from a network of political and nonprofit organizations he controlled, according to public records and credit card statements for an American Express card in Paul’s name.
Spokesman Jesse Benton said then it was “possible that wholly inadvertent errors were made in a handful of instances” in which flights were reimbursed twice, but he maintained that “absolutely zero taxpayer funds were ever misused.”
But James’ recollection and new documents obtained by Roll Call suggest Paul was aware that he was often being reimbursed twice for individual flights. In all, Roll Call found 26 flights in which several layers of documentation show double payments: credit card statements that detail the ticket purchases, a payment to Paul from his taxpayer-funded House account for reimbursement of a flight and Federal Election Commission records or copies of checks that verify a second payment from a separate group for the same flight.
Roll Call obtained copies of checks from the Liberty Committee to American Express that paid for Paul’s expenses. The records obtained by Roll Call cover about 17 nonconsecutive months. Beyond the 26 flights, documents show an additional 31 flights where it appears Paul was double-reimbursed but the records lack sufficient detail to prove duplicate payments. [Hat tip: Karl Denninger.]
Now, I like Ron Paul, and he has built up a large amount of goodwill with me, and I am therefore inclined to wait and see if there is some sort of misunderstanding, or lack of documentation that explains how this happened, or even an opportunistic staffer that decided to commit a host of other fraud.  However, if it is the case that Ron Paul has been defrauding the taxpayers, then there is no way that I can continue to support or otherwise endorse him.

I say this because it is the little things that demonstrate a man’s character.  A wise man once said that “he who is faithful over little will be faithful over much.”  Conversely, one who defrauds others for small amounts is one who will defraud others for large amounts.

Furthermore, it is hypocritical for Ron Paul to complain about the massive fraud perpetrated by Washington and The Fed when he himself contributes to it.  He’s not part of the solution, he’s part of the problem.  And while he may not play as large a role in the problem as others, he plays a role nonetheless, and he cannot therefore be trusted to contribute to the solution.

Now, it is my hope that Roll Call is wrong or mistaken, and it is also my hope that Ron Paul is in the clear on this matter.  But if he is not, then it is time to simply accept the fact that there is no one who can lead us out of this mess.

Obamao the Fraud

It isn’t news that Obamao is a statist masquerading as a pro-Civil Rights leftist.  It is news, though, that his statism has taken a turn for the drug war:

But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multi­agency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush. The feds are busting growers who operate in full compliance with state laws, vowing to seize the property of anyone who dares to even rent to legal pot dispensaries, and threatening to imprison state employees responsible for regulating medical marijuana. With more than 100 raids on pot dispensaries during his first three years, Obama is now on pace to exceed Bush's record for medical-marijuana busts. "There's no question that Obama's the worst president on medical marijuana," says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "He's gone from first to worst."
The federal crackdown imperils the medical care of the estimated 730,000 patients nationwide – many of them seriously ill or dying – who rely on state-sanctioned marijuana recommended by their doctors. In addition, drug experts warn, the White House's war on law-abiding providers of medical marijuana will only drum up business for real criminals. "The administration is going after legal dispensaries and state and local authorities in ways that are going to push this stuff back underground again," says Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, a former Republican senator who has urged the DEA to legalize medical marijuana, pulls no punches in describing the state of affairs produced by Obama's efforts to circumvent state law: "Utter chaos."

The drug war is a losing proposition for a variety of reasons.  First, it does nothing to eliminate (or, apparently, even reduce) demand for drugs.  Second, the incentives posed by the drug war strongly incentivize increasing the black market for drugs.  Third, the drug war contributes to political corruption and increases state power and violence.  As such, the drug war is all costs and no benefits.

Additionally, the drug war fundamentally ignores human rights.  As long as one’s actions do not directly interfere with anyone else’s exercise of personal rights, then one can do whatever one wants.  The consumption of marijuana is not inherently an infringement on someone else’s rights, and should therefore not be outlawed.

Finally, medical marijuana—the issue at hand—is no more problematic as a drug than morphine, oxycontin or vicodin.  If these drugs can be used legally, why not marijuana?  After all, people have getting addicted to morphine, oxycontin, vicodin, and other powerful painkillers.  And it’s not like marijuana isn’t a painkiller.  If one generally non-deadly pain reliever can be permitted, then all generally non-deadly pain relievers can also be permitted.  To do otherwise is nothing more than hypocritical moral posturing.

At this point, it should be clear that Obama is continuing the moralist’s war on marijuana, and continuing the statism that has been encroaching on US citizens’ liberty for decades.  As such, it is time for him to go.

21 February 2012

Imagine That!

Here’s an explanation of why Americans are less inclined to riot in this day and age:

"So why," Katz asks, "had collective violence more or less disappeared from the streets of American cities?"
He tackles this question in a new book, Why Don't American Cities Burn?, which he discussed Friday in Washington at a forum hosted by the New America Foundation. What's so striking about his answer is that many of the trends implicated in our quiet streets are not necessarily good ones. It's true, American cities aren't burning. But we shouldn't pat ourselves on the back just yet.
Some of Katz' explanations are good news: Previously marginalized groups that once felt they had no other outlet now have more voices in the political process. White flight ceded whole cities – and their governments – to African Americans in the U.S. And this left neighborhood boundaries less contentious, Katz argues, eliminating one of the causes of urban friction. In the 1960s, by contrast, large numbers of African Americans were moving into the city at a time when whites had not yet left.

So, racial homogeneity corresponds with reductions in riots?  Who could ever have guessed it?  Anyway, it looks like diversity is not all that it’s cracked up to be.  Maybe, then, we shouldn’t try to force the issue.  Maybe, then, we should simply let people decide who they want to live with and who they want to live near to.  And maybe we should leave those people alone.