Archive for category: Libertarianism

Friday Quote – Thomas Sowell

05 Oct
October 5, 2018

There are three questions that will destroy most of the arguments on the left: 1. Compared to what? 2. At what cost? 3. What hard evidence do you have?

Philadelphia Is Shutting Down Its Asset Forfeiture Program

01 Oct
October 1, 2018

And paying $3 million to the people it victimized. Apparently, Philly’s was one of the most pernicious in nature.

Philadelphia hauled in $64 million in seized property over the last decade, according to an investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer. That’s more than Brooklyn and Los Angeles combined. Not only does Philadelphia take in more than other cities, but the average seizure is significantly more petty. A City Paper review of 100 cases from 2011 and 2012 found the median amount of cash seized by the District Attorney was only $178.

Civil asset forfeiture is one of the most aggregious concepts to spring from the drug war.

Friday Quote – Calvin Coolidge

21 Sep
September 21, 2018

The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much more meager.

Do You Own What You Buy?

20 Sep
September 20, 2018

“You know all those movies you bought from Apple? Um, well, think different: You didn’t” The headline from the Register is outragey, and it’s only deep in the article the real story starts coming out.

And it’s not fair to single out just Apple either: pretty much every provider of digital content has the same rules. Amazon got in hot water a few years ago when its deal with Disney expired and customers discovered that their expensive movie purchases vanished over night. In 2009 thee was a similar ruckus when it pulled George Orwell’s classic 1984 from Kindles without notice.

In reality of course, these huge companies go to great lengths to ensure that their licensing deals with the main content companies are retained so the situation happens only occasionally. And such deals are usually worth so much to both sides that they are continually renewed.

With digital media, there’s been a long-running skirmish surrounding who truly owns their media. I don’t think it’s going to be solved anytime soon. What I do know is that if you own any digital media, it needs to be free of Digital Rights Management (DRM) code and it should be on your hard drives. Or you need physical copies.

Or just take the risk.

Florida First on Freedom

06 Sep
September 6, 2018

The Cato Institute released its freedom rankings among the fifty states, and Florida came in first. From the article:

Florida won the top spot with its economic policies. The state has no personal income tax, and its “state-level tax collections are more than a standard deviation and a half below the national average,” the study says. The state also has lower-than-average levels of government consumption and debt.

From a regulatory point of view, Florida doesn’t enjoy the same level of freedom due to a variety of factors, including land-use regulations, an $8.25/hour minimum wage, regulations on managed-care plans, and a bottom-five occupational freedom ranking. In terms of personal freedom, Florida ranks 11th thanks to civil asset forfeiture reforms and educational freedom. Florida also recognizes same-sex marriage due to the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. The Florida state criminal code, however, still contains draconian mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses and allows for capital punishment.

Who came last? New York. This is my surprised face.

First Question

20 Aug
August 20, 2018

If I’m going to debate someone, one of the first questions that need to be addressed is this:

Do you believe, or are you willing to concede that I believe, that I want you to have the best life you can according to your needs, wants, and desires?

If the answer is “yes,” then we can have a civilized conversation about the best means of bringing this about. If the answer is “no,” there is real doubt we can even have a conversation. Because there are very few people that I want them to have less than the best life possible. Those generally fall into those who willfully and maliciously harm others.

The Law Is Violence

16 Jul
July 16, 2018

The Atlantic published an article quoting a Yale professor on how ultimately the law rests on the use of violence. It’s pretty much just quoting Professor Stephen L. Carter, but the man’s writing is good enough that I’m going to lift the intro. Just RTWT.

Law professors and lawyers instinctively shy away from considering the problem of law’s violence. Every law is violent. We try not to think about this, but we should. On the first day of law school, I tell my Contracts students never to argue for invoking the power of law except in a cause for which they are willing to kill. They are suitably astonished, and often annoyed. But I point out that even a breach of contract requires a judicial remedy; and if the breacher will not pay damages, the sheriff will sequester his house and goods; and if he resists the forced sale of his property, the sheriff might have to shoot him.

This is by no means an argument against having laws.

It is an argument for a degree of humility as we choose which of the many things we may not like to make illegal. Behind every exercise of law stands the sheriff – or the SWAT team – or if necessary the National Guard. Is this an exaggeration? Ask the family of Eric Garner, who died as a result of a decision to crack down on the sale of untaxed cigarettes. That’s the crime for which he was being arrested. Yes, yes, the police were the proximate cause of his death, but the crackdown was a political decree.

The pithy saying is don’t advocate for any law you wouldn’t want someone to kill a member of your family over.

Friday Quote- Frederick Douglass

13 Jul
July 13, 2018

To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.

Reason Article Barrage!

11 Jul
July 11, 2018

Cleaning up some open tabs. As my readers should know, Reason magazine is where I get a lot of my news and analysis.

California Supreme Court Rules Impossible Laws Are Constitutional Basically, the court says impossibility can be a defense, but does not invalidate the law. Okay, I can understand that concept in theory, but it has real world costs for people forced to defend themselves from overzealous prosecutors enforcing this bullshit law. This is the kind of legal wonky ruling that reduces confidence in legal thinkers.

Illinois Court Rules That Police Can’t Arrest A Person For Carrying a Gun Without Checking For Valid Permit. This kind of balances out the previous article. I’d say I was surprised it came out of Illinois, but their courts have been much better on RKBA than the legislature.

A federal judge has blocked Tennessee’s practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid court fees without first determining if the debtors are too poor to pay. This is a good step to remedying the vicious cycle of fines, suspension, jail that plagued the lower income communities.

Reason Is Concerned That the Recent Loss by the Southern Poverty Law Center Could be a Threat to Free Speech. I understand the concern that defamation suits can have a chilling effect on speech, which is why I support strong Anti-SLAPP laws. I will also admit to my own schadenfreude against the SPLC.

DC Taxes the Hell Out of Ride Sharing to Prop Up Broken Metro System. In my trips to DC, I’ve never had to deal with the numerous issues plaguing the Metro. That being said, with the coming changes in vehicles (automation and electric), I can’t support additional taxes to rail that is on its way out, much less an agency as troubled as the Metro.

Union Dues

05 Jul
July 5, 2018

So, we now have the US Supreme Court telling public sector unions that they can’t force employees to pay dues because those dues are used for speech that the employee has no say in or actively opposes. Some are calling this the death of unions, which I don’t think is necessarily a good thing. I’m hoping it will force a change in how unions operate.

I think public sector unions need to be abolished or substantially overhauled. There’s a governor on private sector unions in as much that if they have to balance the firm’s survival with their demands. Management has to balance the unions’ demands with the survival of the firm. Neither can force a third party with violence to support both the survival of the firm and the unions’ demands.

However, I can also understand wanting to band together to prevent management from forcing bad pay and working conditions. I also understand how the government, in its role as an employer, may want to have one negotiation covering as many employees as possible instead of hundreds or thousands of individual employment contracts. So, how to address all of these competing concerns?

My solution would be forcing a wall between the union’s bargaining activities and its political activities. I’m thinking how the NRA must separate out its political activities (by way of the NRA-ILA) and its educational activities. The bargaining fund could only be used for bargaining activities with management, and not be used for political donations or speech. A fee per employee could be assessed because each employee is using the union services for that bargaining. Any other service that the union would provide (health care, pension, grievances) should be through non-compelled membership. If union leadership wants to ask for political donations to support candidates, then those donations should be in a specific political fund for those activities.

There is a union at the day job. I don’t want to join it both because I dislike how they handle employee-management relations as well as just disliking public sector unions in concept. I’d be more willing to pay a fee for bargaining if I knew that it wasn’t going to be used to pay for speech that I strongly oppose or advocate for employees that really need to leave government service.

Maybe this ruling will force the changes I want to see.