(Video) 1948 cartoon: “Make Mine Freedom!”

July 7, 2014

Here’s a neat animated short from almost 70 years ago that does a darned good job showing the differences between a society based on individual liberty and the free market, on the one hand, and those based on statism (Socialism, Communism, and Fascism) on the other. It makes good use of humor to get its point across:

Nowadays, I think we could add another “-ISM” to that patent medicine’s list of ingredients: the religious totalitarianism of Islamism.

Via Dan Mitchell, this was part of good post on how the Left was wrong about unemployment insurance.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gun Control and Mass Shootings

May 29, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Because gun-control laws have been such a failure in the past, the natural response is to…. demand more gun-control laws. :/

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Well, another loser killed a bunch of people, this time in Santa Barbara, California.

Which gives gun control zealots an opportunity to seize upon the tragedy to recycle their calls to restrict private firearms ownership and otherwise erode the Second Amendment.

But I’m not too worried that they’ll succeed. The evidence is simply too strong that gun ownership reduces crime. The research shows that criminals are less aggressive when they fear potential victims may be armed.

Moreover, they don’t even have practical proposals. Here’s some of what Jacob Sullum wrote for Reason.

None of the items on the anti-gun lobby’s wish list makes sense as a response to the crimes of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old college student who murdered Martinez’s son and five other people on Friday night. …the Isla Vista massacre, which took place in a state with firearm laws that are among the strictest in the nation…

View original 713 more words


Another 2nd Amendment win in California

March 6, 2014

"Crime stopper"

“Self-defense”

Okay, someone has put something in the water at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; this is the second ruling in a row where they’ve defended the right to bear arms in self defense against hyper-restrictive California laws. This time, they smacked down the Yolo County Sheriff:

Just weeks after striking down the San Diego County “good cause” requirement as burdensome to the exercise of the Second Amendment, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Yolo County, CA’s requirement that a concealed carry applicant “prove they face a threat of violence or robbery” before being allowed to carry a gun.

The Court in its new-found crush on the Bill of Rights found that the application of the “good cause” rule in Yolo “impermissibly” infringed the plaintiffs 2nd Amendment rights. While the ruling only applies to the county in question, it seems to me this is another wedge in the door that opens the way for a state-wide ruling.

Civil liberties — what a concept!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


A “Human Right” to Other People’s Money

January 29, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Your money. It’s my right.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

One of the many differences between advocates of freedom and supporters of statism is how they view “rights.”

Libertarians, along with many conservatives, believe in the right to be left alone and to not be molested by government. This is sometimes referred to in the literature as “negative liberty,” which is just another way of saying “the absence of coercive constraint on the individual.”

Statists, by contrast, believe in “positive liberty.” This means that you have a “right” to things that the government will give you (as explained here by America’s second-worst President). Which means, of course, that the government has an obligation to take things from somebody else. How else, after all, will the government satisfy your supposed right to a job, education, healthcare, housing, etc.

Sometimes, the statists become very creative in their definition of rights.

View original 869 more words


A Christmas lump of coal for the gun-grabbers

December 24, 2013
"Crime stopper"

“Crime stopper”

It seems concealed-carry cuts down on gun crime:

The purpose of the present study is to determine the effects of state-level assault weapons bans and concealed weapons laws on state-level murder rates. Using data for the period 1980 to 2009 and controlling for state and year fixed effects, the results of the present study suggest that states with restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons had higher gun-related murder rates than other states. It was also found that assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level. These results suggest that restrictive concealed weapons laws may cause an increase in gun-related murders at the state level. The results of this study are consistent with some prior research in this area, most notably Lott and Mustard (1997).

It’s logical: not only would potential victims be able to defend themselves, but the uncertainty of whether said potential victim (or anyone in the area) is carrying a weapon would tend to make a criminal less likely to strike. This woman might have been able to save herself. There’s a reason why the Founders protected the right to self-defense in the Bill of Rights.

Of course, logic, reasonableness, and constitutionalism will continue to be ignored by the Feinsteins, Bloombergs, Schumers, Morgans, and other gun-grabbers in the world.

via RBpundit

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Another gun company leaves New York

November 5, 2013

pistol

Via the Washington Free Beacon, this makes the third gun company to head for more welcoming locales:

Nearly 10 months since New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D.) signed the SAFE Act, opposition to the law continues to increase, three gun companies have announced plans to leave the state, and a key provision in the law has been quietly delayed.

American Tactical Imports is the third gun company to announce it would be leaving the state and will be investing $2.7 million in its new facility and creating 117 new jobs in South Carolina.

The delayed provision is the real-time background check for all ammunition purchases; no reason has been given for the hold-up. Maybe they hired the same company that designed healthcare.gov.

Read the rest for some jaw-dropping instances of people being arrested for ticky-tack violations of the state’s new ammunition limits. I swear, the best way to get people to realize how bad progressivism is as a governing philosophy is perhaps to just them have power for a while and sit back while they tick everyone off.

RELATED: Earlier 2nd amendment posts.

UPDATE: Welcome Hot Air readers, and thanks for the link, Jazz!


#Obamacare: VA Democrat calls for making physicians serfs of the State

November 3, 2013
"A Democrat directs his serfs"

“A Democrat directs his serfs”

What was it I was saying yesterday about ownership of one’s own time and labor being essential to a free man or woman? Oh, yeah:

Nothing you pay money for is an inherent, natural right. To declare health care a “right” everyone is entitled to, you have to take from someone else, if need be by force, their property, whether it is their time and labor, or the products they produce. Force them to sell something for less than what it is worth or to provide it “free,” and you are effectively stealing from them, even enslaving them. For the government to demand that taxpayers pay far more than they need to for insurance in order to subsidize your medical procedures is no different than a medieval lord taking a farmer’s grain crop and giving it to his favorites.

And as if to illustrate that last point, along comes Virginia House of Delegates candidate Kathleen Murphy, a Democrat, who advocates making it a law that physicians must accept Medicare and Medicaid patients:

FYI last night at the Great Falls Grange debate, Democrat delegate candidate Kathleen Murphy said that since many doctors are not accepting medicaid and medicare patients, she advocates making it a legal requirement for those people to be accepted.

She did not recognize that the payments are inadequate to cover the doctors’ costs. She also did not recognize there is a shortage of over 45,000 physicians now and that it is forecast to be 90,000 in a few years.

Democrats appear to want to make physicians slaves of the state, but Democrats don’t admit they would just drive more doctors out of practice into retirement and other occupations. The Obamacare law and regulations are causing millions of people to lose their health insurance, drop many doctors and hospitals. The HHS internal forecast is 93 million Americans would lose their health insurance due to the Obamacare law and rules about adequacy of insurance.

It’s like the old joke in which the patient complains to the doctor that “it hurts whenever I do this,” and the doctor replies “then stop doing that!”

Progressives have created a deadly problem through government interference in the economy: their “Affordable Care Act” requires millions of individuals to buy policies and pay inflated prices for coverage they don’t need, in order to cover the costs of, among others, Medicare and Medicaid patients. But, as has been mentioned in several places, far more Medicaid “takers” are signing up than relatively well-off “payers,” threatening the viability of Obamacare, itself.

Compounding this is the doctor shortage “Mason Conservative’s” correspondent mentioned above: not just from doctors leaving the field rather than deal with Obamacare, but fewer and fewer accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients. Already reimbursed at an artificially low rate by the government for their services, many are refusing to take on more such patients –or any at all– as Obamacare signs up thousands more.

A rational person would look at the problem and recognize its causes: top-down government intervention in the healthcare market. That same rational person would then realize that the “hair of the dog” is not the solution; that, in fact, ending the disruptive government intervention is what’s called for.

But, we’re not dealing with rational people. We’re dealing with progressive Democrats, convinced against all evidence that an economy and society managed by technocratic government “experts” is best, let alone possible. It’s their central delusion and it is absolutely crucial to their political belief system.

Hence Ms. Murphy’s suggestion that doctors become servants of the State. It isn’t possible that government created this problem, it’s just some recalcitrant doctors. Or, if government did create a problem, it’s only a “glitch,” to be fixed by more, you guessed it, government intervention, even if that means taking by force of law the time and labor (the property!) of the doctors.

After all, it’s for the public good, and only government knows what’s truly good for the public.

PS: Though it is kind of fitting for the party that defended slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation, no?

RELATED: Legal Insurrection calls it the “revolt of the kulaks.”

UPDATE 12/02/2013: My blog-buddy Sister Toldjah posted an article today with more on Medicaid, Obamacare, and the doctor shortage.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Libertarian political humor

October 18, 2013

This passed through the Public Secrets inbox today. Already shared it on Twitter, but I thought I’d post it here. Not only is it funny, but it catches the Classical Liberal/modern Libertarian mindset nicely while poking gently at both progressives and (some strains of) conservatives. Enjoy:

satire Libertarians

 

As they say, “Heh!” Smiley Laughing Maniacal Clown


The Obamacare chronicles: Building the moocher class, subsidy by subsidy

October 14, 2013
"Turn right for Obamacare"

“Turn right for Obamacare”

I’ve talked before about the perverse incentives built into Obamacare (Browse this category for more examples), but those have been largely about the incentives provided to businesses to cut hours and stop hiring full-time workers thanks to the onerous burdens imposed by the ACA. But now we have an example from the other end, that of the victim consumer of Obamacare.

The San Francisco Chronicle looks at the situation of people caught in a trap by Obamacare: On the one hand, the coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act, along with its ban on lifetime benefits caps, has caused a tremendous rise in insurance rates. (For example. And again.) On  the other hand, people making up to 400% of the poverty level are eligible for varying degrees of subsidies — money provided by our taxes and federal borrowing.

The problem is that some people are caught on the wrong side of the subsidy boundary: if you make 401% of the poverty level, your rates may triple, you may be forced to buy coverage you don’t need, but you also get no subsidy. Like they used to say on Starkist commercials, “Sorry, Charlie!”

But, hey, no worries! The Chron’s Kathleen Pender has the solution for you: earn less, so you can get a larger subsidy. Her main example deals with the Proctors, a San Francisco couple in their 60s who make just above the 400% mark and so do not qualify for subsidies, but are suffering huge increases in their insurance premiums. Pender covers tax and IRA strategies the couple can follow to get them under the magic boundary and greatly reduce their direct insurance costs. But the kicker comes in this line:

You can also consider reducing your 2014 income by working just a bit less.

Yes, you read that right: Obamacare makes the cost of individual policies so high that it is in the economic interests of some people to become less productive and earn less, because they need that government subsidy to survive economically — or to survive at all.

This is what economist Dan Mitchell has described as the “poverty trap.” While the quote below talks about welfare benefits and the disincentives they create to earn more and be more productive, I think it applies equally to the Obamacare subsidy question:

Most people focus on the huge burden that the food stamp program imposes on taxpayers, which surely is significant, but there is another economic cost that is equally worrisome, and it applies to all income redistribution programs. Whenever the government gives people money simply because their incomes are below a certain level, that creates a poverty trap. More specifically, because people lose benefits for earning more income, they are penalized with very onerous implicit marginal tax rates for climbing the economic ladder.

I highlighted that last sentence because it illustrates perfectly the situation faced by the Proctors and others; if you substitute “insurance premiums” for “marginal tax rates,” you’ll see what I mean. And, heck, let’s call those insurance premiums what they are: a tax. You’re required under penalty of law to pay them, even if the money goes to a company, rather than the government. For you and me, there’s no effective difference.

(And you should read and bookmark Mitchell’s post. He has another that contains a chart that graphically shows how welfare traps people in poverty.)

Pender’s article, in short, reveals the insidious heart of Obamacare: it creates incentives for people to become moochers, infantilized wards dependent on the government, rather than productive, self-reliant citizens building wealth for themselves and others.

And, in my darker moments, I suspect that’s the whole point.

PS: Before anyone goes after me for mentioning the Proctors, I’m not blaming or criticizing them. It’s the Democrats and their anti-constitutional monstrosity that put them in this bind. They’re free to act in their own best interests given the circumstances in which they find themselves, and I’ll not throw stones. It’s the people who created this mess who deserve the brickbats.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Illinois Supreme Court overturns state ban on carrying firearms

September 14, 2013

Here’s a surprising victory for constitutional rights in one of the most gun-restrictive states in the nation:

In an unusually forceful and straightforward opinion in the case of People v. Aguilar, the Supreme Court of Illinois unanimously held that the state’s “comprehensive ban” on the “use of an operable firearm for self-defense outside the home” is invalid on its face under the Second Amendment. The NRA had participated in the case with an amicus brief.

The court surveyed the Supreme Court’s recent Second Amendment decisions, as well as state and federal precedents from courts in Illinois. Regarding the significance of the Supreme Court’s opinions, it declared: “neither Heller nor McDonald expressly limits the second amendment’s protections to the home. On the contrary, both decisions contain language strongly suggesting if not outright confirming that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms extends beyond the home.” It also characterized the Illinois law as “a wholesale statutory ban on the exercise of a personal right that is specifically named in and guaranteed by the United States Constitution….” According to the court, “In no other context would we permit this, and we will not permit it here either.”

And this was in Illinois. Maybe there’s hope for overturning California’s draconian gun laws, yet.

via ST on Facebook

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The potential threat to liberty in driverless cars

September 3, 2013
And he's driving, too.

And he’s driving, too.

Yesterday, I wrote about the European Union proposal to mandate speed governors on all cars, which would be automated to force a driver to slow down, should he exceed the legal speed limit. As an aside, I mentioned the trend toward driverless cars and the potential for state control of those.  (And hacking, let’s be honest. But that’s another issue.)

Jonah Goldberg thought along the same lines this morning and imagined some of the “fun” we could have:

Let’s be fair: The experts aren’t always wrong, and even when they’re wrong, their arguments aren’t necessarily unreasonable given their assumptions. But if you follow the logic of mandatory seatbelts and motorcycle helmets, red-light cameras and anti-texting laws (1) to their natural conclusion, it’s easy to imagine that some bureaucrats will want to co-author your car’s software.

And then what? Will you ever be allowed to go over the speed limit again? Police are already drooling to see our GPS data. Will that become automatic too? Will the cops have the power to tell your car to stop whether you want it to or not? Will authorities be able to tell your car to take a detour to alleviate traffic? Make it turn around when it gets too close to certain off-limit areas?

Whoever thought that driving your own car could be the next “live free or die” moment?

Footnote:
(1) I am, however, strongly in favor of laws against cell phone use and texting while driving, having nearly been run down several times by people paying more attention to their phone than to the road. Studies show phoning while driving is as impairing as driving while drunk. And texting isn’t much better.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Proclaimed in Philadelphia, July 4th, 1776

July 4, 2013

history  Trumbull signing declaration independence

It’s a fact often forgotten by many, after 237 years, but the United States is a truly revolutionary nation — one of the few in the world, in fact, because we declared that all Mankind is equal, that government derives its power from the people, alone, and that the people have the right to change that government when they see fit. The band of men who made that declaration in Philadelphia had no idea how their gamble would turn out –some thought hanging at the end of a rope was as likely as winning– but I think it’s safe to say it’s succeeded beyond their wildest dreams and in ways they couldn’t imagine. The revolutionary ideal contained in the Declaration of Independence first compelled the nation to purge itself of the evils of slavery, refounding itself in the process, and then to bring the light of liberty to other peoples around the world, sometimes with great success, sometimes not, but always with a firm belief in the power of liberty and human liberation.

So now we’re going through one of our periodic crises of national confidence. Times are tough: the economy stinks, the world seems to grow more dangerous, and many of those in our government seem to want to turn us from free citizens into dependent children. At times like these –and on this day, especially– I think it’s a good idea to re-read our national “vision statement,” both to remind ourselves of who we are and why we exist,  and to stiffen our spines to tell the new King Georges “NO!!”

Declaration of Independence

(Adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776)

The Unanimous Declaration
of the Thirteen United States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Source: The Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776

via Early America

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Oh, no. This won’t set off conservative and libertarian alarm bells at all.

May 11, 2013

"The State watches over you"

“The State watches over you”

I mean, what’s so threatening about a biometric database of all adult Americans being in the immigration bill, citizen?

The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.

Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation (.pdf)  is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.

Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo.

This piece of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act is aimed at curbing employment of undocumented immigrants. But privacy advocates fear the inevitable mission creep, ending with the proof of self being required at polling places, to rent a house, buy a gun, open a bank account, acquire credit, board a plane or even attend a sporting event or log on the internet. Think of it as a government version of Foursquare, with Big Brother cataloging every check-in.

Emphasis added.

Nah, there are no 4th Amendment illegal search and privacy concerns here. Nothing to see, carry on. After all, wingnuts, you demanded greater security in the immigration bill and, well, here ya go! The government will make sure only bona fide Americans get jobs by keeping track of each and every one of us. And if they should find other uses for the information, well, that will be for the public good, too.

And you thought Person of Interest was just fiction.

If this Wired story is true, this provision is reason enough to kill the bill.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The “Walker Effect”: Wisconsin PEU membership cratering?

April 8, 2013

Or maybe it’s the predictable result of restoring liberty to the people and not using the force of law to extort money from them for the benefit of union bosses (1). Regardless, the reforms Governor Walker instituted and then defended against thug tactics in Wisconsin have sent the membership numbers of at least one public employee union, AFSCME, into a tailspin:

According a Labor Department filing made last week, membership at Wisconsin’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 40 — one of AFSCME’s four branches in the state — has gone from the 31,730 it reported in 2011, to 29,777 in 2012, to just 20,488 now. That’s a drop of more than 11,000 — about a third — in just two years. The council represents city and county employees outside of Milwaukee County and child care workers across Wisconsin.

Labor Department filings also show that Wisconsin’s AFSCME Council 48, which represents city and county workers in Milwaukee County, went from 9,043 members in 2011, to 6,046 in 2012, to just 3,498 now.

(…)

They show why the state worker unions and their liberal allies fought such a protracted, bitter battle in 2011 over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s changes to the state’s labor laws. Under the old laws, state employees were obligated to pay dues to a union even if that worker didn’t want to belong to a union. Walker changed that to allow state workers to opt out of paying those dues. He also required unions to submit to an annual re-certification vote. Without those requirements, the unions have found it much harder to retain members.

And I’d say this is a good thing for Wisconsin, as early results from the reforms have shown. As public employee unions have grown (Disclosure: I pay dues to one — against my will), they’ve come to treat the taxpayers as cash-cows, milking them for ever-higher salaries and benefits (often far better than for comparable positions in the private sector), whether justified or even healthy for the state. They’ve fought even the mildest reforms tooth-and-claw, as witnessed during the protests and occupation of the Wisconsin state capitol in 2011. In effect, they were acting as overlords demanding tribute from a subject people and becoming enraged when the people said “no more.”

If these membership numbers are any indication, a large and probably growing swath of Wisconsin public employees don’t like how their unions operate, either, and are making their feelings known loud and clear. And this has to have the union bosses frightened as the reform movement spreads from state to state.

via Power Line.

Footnote:
(1) The dues they take in are often spent on political activities and influence buying to pursue policy goals that many of their members would object to, or even consider irrelevant to their interests. This is often done through large contributions in money and campaign work to (largely Democratic) legislators, who then reward their employers — the unions, not necessarily the voters. It is, in effect, a corrupt kickback arrangement.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


March 30, 2013

Phineas Fahrquar:

This is a very interesting study. I’m sorry to say my beloved California comes in only at second place in “most un-free” states, behind New York. Come on, Sacramento! I’m sure you can do more to screw this place up! I have faith in you.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Sometimes I myopically focus on fiscal policy, implying that the key to prosperity is small government.

But I’ll freely admit that growth is maximized when you have small government AND free markets.

That being said, our goal should be to expand freedom, not merely to have the largest possible GDP.

Which is why the Freedom Index is a good complement to Economic Freedom of the World.

It shows, for instance, that Singapore may be ranked #2 for economic freedom, but it is only #39 when you look at all freedoms.

We also have a comprehensive ranking of economic and personal freedom for the 50 states.

Here are the full rankings from the newly released Freedom in the 50 States from the Mercatus Center, showing North Dakota as the state with the most freedom, with South Dakota (#2), Tennessee (#3), New Hampshire (#4), and Oklahoma (#5) also deserving…

View original 177 more words


(Video) Is America Becoming Europe?

March 27, 2013

A philosophical question for you from Encounter Books and narrated by, I think, Bill Whittle:

My short answer is “No, and I’d  rather not live in Europe, thanks.” (Even though I live in one of the states closest to “might as well just join the EU and get it over with.”) If it means permanent 10% unemployment, economic stagnation, dependency on a cradle-to-grace welfare state, the high taxes meant to support it, and rule by a political class that thinks the people are to be controlled, not consulted… Well, I’ll pass.

Wait. I’ve  just described the modern (Social) Democratic Party, haven’t I?

Seriously, I’m old enough to remember the stagnation, declinism,  and national bad mood of the 70s, particularly under Jimmy Carter. Those times passed, and I’m sure these will too, but only if we work tirelessly to remind people there is a better way.

Complacency really will make us Europe.

PS: I can almost hear someone saying “Yeah, but we had Reagan, back then.” But few if any in the 70s knew that Reagan would become one of the most successful presidents in our history. Many didn’t take him seriously, calling him a fringe politician, a Goldwater throwback, even a nut and an amiable dunce. It wasn’t until several years into his presidency that we realized how right he was and how much good he was doing. We may or may not have a “Reagan” waiting in the wings, now, unnoticed or underestimated, but my point is that we can’t sit back, waiting for that person to save us. We have to work at it and stand against the spread of statism and dependency and for the promotion of liberty day after day, every day.

/soapbox

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Eurozone Chief: Cyprus was just the start

March 26, 2013
"Obama loan officer at work."

“EU bureaucrat at work.”

Hoo, boy. I just had a feeling that, once the the EUrocracy learned it could take depositors’ money at will without a total meltdown, the temptation to do it again (and again and again and again…) would be too great to  resist. Thus we read in the Telegraph:

Cyprus bail-out: savers will be raided to save euro in future crises, says eurozone chief

Savings accounts in Spain, Italy and other European countries will be raided if needed to preserve Europe’s single currency by propping up failing banks, a senior eurozone official has announced.

The new policy will alarm hundreds of thousands of British expatriates who live and have transferred their savings, proceeds from house sales and other assets to eurozone bank accounts in countries such as France, Spain and Italy.

The euro fell on global markets after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the eurozone, told the FT and Reuters that the heavy losses inflicted on depositors in Cyprus would be the template for future banking crises across Europe.

“If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be ‘Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?’,” he said.

“If the bank can’t do it, then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we’ll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders.”

Ditching a three-year-old policy of protecting senior bondholders and large depositors, over €100,000, in banks, Mr Dijsselbloem argued that the lack of market contagion surrounding Cyprus showed that private investors could now be hit to pay for bad banking debts.

Don’t you just love how Dijsselbloem puts it? “We’ll ask them to contribute.” As if Manuel the Madrid taxi driver, who’s put his life’s savings into a bank he thought he could trust, will get any chance to say no. If he’s lucky, he’ll wake one morning to discover that his masters in Brussels have left him anything at all.

This is just immoral. Depositors in Cyprus are being robbed to cover for the bad borrowing decisions of governments and the equally stupid lending decisions of bankers, and now Dijsselbloom and his fellow mandarins are casting their gaze across Europe and seeing a smorgasbord filled with tasty accounts waiting to have a bite taken out of them.

Let’s review an old principle of (real) liberalism that’s more and more forgotten these days: your bank account is your property, as it represents the fruits of your labor. Security in your right to property is essential to your liberty; if you do not have the first, then you lack the second. If some bureaucrat can come and take your property via a diktat dressed in legal finery, then you are not a free human being.

Desperate to save their precious Euro at all costs, the Eurocrats and the national governments are all but guaranteeing a future bank run and financial panic as frightened people take their money and try to put it beyond the reach of grasping, blundering officials and quite possibly creating the very crash they’re trying to avoid.

With establishment politicians like these, is it any wonder people turn in frustration and anger to radical politics?

PS: And I wish the EU would stop giving Obama ideas…

via Bryan Preston

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Cruz vs. Feinstein, Texas vs. California, Liberty vs. …???

March 14, 2013

The following fascinating exchange occurred between Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today on gun control, presumably including Feinstein’s pet legislation to outlaw scary weapons. First, Ted Cruz:

“The question that I would pose to the senior senator from California is,” said Cruz to Feinstein, “Would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment, namely, would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights? Likewise, would she think that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against searches and seizures could properly apply only to the following specified individuals and not to the individuals that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?

Notice how Cruz approaches the question of the legislation before them: as a Senator of the United States, whose oath binds him to protect and defend the Constitution. His first concern, therefore, is where it should be — on how the legislation jibes with the Constitution, the rights it enshrines and the limits it imposes on government. Hence the questions about the First and Fourth amendments and the attempt to draw a logical parallel in order to test whether gun control legislation meets constitutional muster.

Call me naive, but isn’t this how the Senate is supposed to operate?

Apparently the whole thing was just too much for Senator Feinstein to bear:

“I’m not a sixth grader,” said Feinstein. “Senator, I’ve been on this committee for 20 years. I was a mayor for nine years. I walked in, I saw people shot. I’ve looked at bodies that have been shot with these weapons. I’ve seen the bullets that implode. In Sandy Hook, youngsters were dismembered. Look, there are other weapons. I’ve been up — I’m not a lawyer, but after 20 years I’ve been up close and personal to the Constitution. I have great respect for it. This doesn’t mean that weapons of war and the Heller decision clearly points out three exceptions, two of which are pertinent here. And so I — you know, it’s fine you want to lecture me on the Constitution. I appreciate it. Just know I’ve been here for a long time. I’ve passed on a number of bills. I’ve studied the Constitution myself. I am reasonably well educated, and I thank you for the lecture.”

In other words, “Don’t you dare presume to question me, boy!”

Note how Feinstein replies: outrage at supposed disrespect (“I’ve been here for 20 years! I’ve passed bills!”); an emotional appeal (“I’ve seen dead people! Think of the children!”); and confusing the issue through ignorance (cosmetic features do not a “weapon of war” make, no matter how scary looking). But only once does she touch upon the Constitution, referring to Heller, and she never answers Cruz’s questions.

Memo to Senator Feinstein: You may have been in Washington for a lot of years (too many, if you ask me), you may have sat at one of the constitutional seats of power, maybe even read the Constitution, but you clearly don’t “get it,” and I doubt you’ve ever really thought about it. Your smokescreen reply to your colleague from Texas betrayed the emptiness of your position, its lack of any constitutional legitimacy. It was the bluster of an oligarch unaccustomed to being truly challenged. Senator Cruz was doing exactly what he should be doing, and what you should have been doing for those 20 years you’re so proud of.

I may be, like you, a child of the Golden State, but, right now?

I side with the Lone Star.

via The Weekly Standard, which has video

UPDATE/FLASHBACK: Don’t bother Senator Feinstein with facts, either.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


February 26, 2013

Phineas Fahrquar:

Spot. On. And while I don’t think the administration is Socialist (though I’m convinced Obama himself is), their nanny-state progressivism is different only by degree. And the same can be said for New York and California.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

If you want some inspiration from Ronald Reagan, these brief remarks reveal his understanding of both economics of history (especially with regards to the other great president of the 20th century).

And this short video excerpt also gets me fired up to fight big government.

But maybe it’s also time to share a warning from the Gipper. Here’s a quote (which I’ve verified since not everything that lands in my inbox is necessarily accurate) about the perils of government dependency.

Reagan Slave Quote

This actually overstates the competence of government.

Communist nations, after all, didn’t do a very good job at providing food, shelter, and healthcare. Though, to be fair, there were quite proficient at turning people into slaves and prisoners.

We have a reverse problem in today’s welfare states. The people who produce the most are being coerced into turning over 50 percent of their earnings, which is sort of…

View original 41 more words


The #guncontrol crowd’s portrait of a mass killer is all wrong

January 31, 2013

That’s the gist of a report from the Department of Homeland Security, working with local New Jersey police. The gun-control legislation passed in New York and introduced by Senator Feinstein in Congress, and all the demands of the gun-grabbing crowd, have nothing to do with reality:

This is what a mass killer looks like, according to a Department of Homeland Security analysis. He works alone. He uses a semi-automatic handgun. He’s a he. And he probably didn’t serve in the U.S. military.

That’s the conclusion of a November 28 analysis by the New Jersey branch of the Department of Homeland Security’s partnership with state and local law enforcement. The so-called intelligence “Fusion Center” sifted through data on 29 major mass killings in the U.S. since 1999, starting with the Littleton, Colorado school shooting. Its practical advice is to be more concerned by your co-worker with the bad hygiene who mutters about putting his “things in order” than by the war veteran in the next cubicle.

The basic pattern found by the New Jersey DHS fusion center, and obtained by Public Intelligence (.PDF), is one of a killer who lashes out at his co-workers. Thirteen out of the 29 observed cases “occurred at the workplace and were conducted by either a former employee or relative of an employee,” the November report finds. His “weapon of choice” is a semiautomatic handgun, rather than the rifles that garnered so much attention after Newtown. The infamous Columbine school slaying of 1999 is the only case in which killers worked in teams: they’re almost always solo acts — and one-off affairs. In every single one of them, the killer was male, between the age of 17 and 49.

They also don’t have military training. Veterans are justifiably angered by the Hollywood-driven meme of the unhinged vet who takes out his battlefield stress on his fellow Americans. (Thanks, Rambo.) In only four of the 29 cases did the shooter have any affiliation with the U.S. military, either active or prior at the time of the slaying, and the fusion center doesn’t mention any wartime experience of the killers. Yet the Army still feels the need to email reporters after each shooting to explain that the killer never served.

In other words, “wrong person, wrong weapon.” But that’s immaterial to the gun-control posse, since their objective is really to make it incrementally harder for law-abiding people to obtain weapons, until it reaches the point where no one will bother trying — a de facto ban. That’s why facts and truth don’t matter to them: the strategy is to go for the scariest looking weapons first and play on people’s emotions, as well as tarring (again, law-abiding) people who buy such weapons as themselves objects of fear. The goal is not public safety, but abolition.

Thankfully, this latest federal effort looks to be going nowhere, but the fact-free assault on our natural right to keep and bear arms goes on in the state capitals. We need to carry the fight and the truth there, too.

As Mr. Jefferson said: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

via Ace of Spades, which has a picture you must see.

RELATED: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is rapidly becoming my new hero. Check out this video of him taking the Senate hearing on gun violence to school with facts and truth, all while being polite and respectful to the opposition. This is how you get the message across.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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