"every business located within the boundaries of the municipality that serves any sort of prepared food to have on hand at all times an allergen handbook listing every ingredient in every item served."
Exactly where will this nonsense end?
"every business located within the boundaries of the municipality that serves any sort of prepared food to have on hand at all times an allergen handbook listing every ingredient in every item served."
"Washington, it seems, is still ruled by Reaganism -- by an ideology that says government intervention is always bad, and leaving things to the private sector is always good."
They were an elite unit charged with investigating gangs, but they often took cash from "suspects" never linked to gangs - and hauled seized property like big-screen TVs home for their own use.
If some Metro Gang Strike Force officers stopped someone with a lot of money, they "typically" seized it, said a report issued Thursday. And "these encounters almost always involved a person of color."
Of about 35 members, roughly 10 to 12 Metro Gang Strike Force employees engaged in misconduct and some in criminal acts, former federal prosecutor Andy Luger said.
"Some individuals at the Metro Gang Strike Force engaged in serious misconduct - misconduct that was appalling and outrageous," Luger said as he and retired FBI agent John Egelhof released an independent review of the defunct multi-agency task force. "While this is a sad day for all who have faith in and trust law enforcement, our report is not a criticism of law enforcement in general. Something went terribly wrong at the Metro Gang Strike Force and it must never happen again."
Nicole Kardell, legal analyst, discusses the lawsuit that will force the Federal Reserve to disclose information about who received emergency bailout money.
I, David William Hedrick, a member of the silent majority, decided that I was not going to be silent anymore. So, I let U.S. Congressman Brian Baird have it. I was one questioner out of 38, that was called at random from an audience that started at 3,000 earlier in the evening. Not expecting to be called on, I quickly scratched what I wanted to say on a borrowed piece of paper and with a pen that I borrowed from someone else in the audience minutes before I spoke. So much for the planned talking points of the right wing conspiracy.
Coffee, Tea, or Should We Feel Your Pregnant Wife’s Breasts Before Throwing You in a Cell at the Airport and Then Lying About Why We Put You There?
by Nicholas Monahan
This morning I’ll be escorting my wife to the hospital, where the doctors will perform a caesarean section to remove our first child. She didn’t want to do it this way – neither of us did – but sometimes the Fates decide otherwise. The Fates or, in our case, government employees.
On the morning of October 26th Mary and I entered Portland International Airport, en route to the Las Vegas wedding of one of my best friends. Although we live in Los Angeles, we’d been in Oregon working on a film, and up to that point had had nothing but praise to shower on the city of Portland, a refreshing change of pace from our own suffocating metropolis.
At the security checkpoint I was led aside for the "inspection" that’s all the rage at airports these days. My shoes were removed. I was told to take off my sweater, then to fold over the waistband of my pants. My baseball hat, hastily jammed on my head at 5 AM, was removed and assiduously examined ("Anything could be in here, sir," I was told, after I asked what I could hide in a baseball hat. Yeah. Anything.) Soon I was standing on one foot, my arms stretched out, the other leg sticking out in front of me à la a DUI test. I began to get pissed off, as most normal people would. My anger increased when I realized that the newly knighted federal employees weren’t just examining me, but my 7½ months pregnant wife as well. I’d originally thought that I’d simply been randomly selected for the more excessive than normal search. You know, Number 50 or whatever. Apparently not though – it was both of us. These are your new threats, America: pregnant accountants and their sleepy husbands flying to weddings.
After some more grumbling on my part they eventually finished with me and I went to retrieve our luggage from the x-ray machine. Upon returning I found my wife sitting in a chair, crying. Mary rarely cries, and certainly not in public. When I asked her what was the matter, she tried to quell her tears and sobbed, "I’m sorry...it’s...they touched my breasts...and..." That’s all I heard. I marched up to the woman who’d been examining her and shouted, "What did you do to her?" Later I found out that in addition to touching her swollen breasts – to protect the American citizenry – the employee had asked that she lift up her shirt. Not behind a screen, not off to the side – no, right there, directly in front of the hundred or so passengers standing in line. And for you women who’ve been pregnant and worn maternity pants, you know how ridiculous those things look. "I felt like a clown," my wife told me later. "On display for all these people, with the cotton panel on my pants and my stomach sticking out. When I sat down I just lost my composure and began to cry. That’s when you walked up."
Of course when I say she "told me later," it’s because she wasn’t able to tell me at the time, because as soon as I demanded to know what the federal employee had done to make her cry, I was swarmed by Portland police officers. Instantly. Three of them, cinching my arms, locking me in handcuffs, and telling me I was under arrest. Now my wife really began to cry. As they led me away and she ran alongside, I implored her to calm down, to think of the baby, promising her that everything would turn out all right. She faded into the distance and I was shoved into an elevator, a cop holding each arm. After making me face the corner, the head honcho told that I was under arrest and that I wouldn’t be flying that day – that I was in fact a "menace."
It took me a while to regain my composure. I felt like I was one of those guys in The Gulag Archipelago who, because the proceedings all seem so unreal, doesn’t fully realize that he is in fact being arrested in a public place in front of crowds of people for...for what? I didn’t know what the crime was. Didn’t matter. Once upstairs, the officers made me remove my shoes and my hat and tossed me into a cell. Yes, your airports have prison cells, just like your amusement parks, train stations, universities, and national forests. Let freedom reign.
After a short time I received a visit from the arresting officer. "Mr. Monahan," he started, "Are you on drugs?"
Was this even real? "No, I’m not on drugs."
"Should you be?"
"What do you mean?"
"Should you be on any type of medication?"
"Then why’d you react that way back there?"
You see the thinking? You see what passes for reasoning among your domestic shock troops these days? Only "whackos" get angry over seeing the woman they’ve been with for ten years in tears because someone has touched her breasts. That kind of reaction – love, protection – it’s mind-boggling! "Mr. Monahan, are you on drugs?" His snide words rang inside my head. This is my wife, finally pregnant with our first child after months of failed attempts, after the depressing shock of the miscarriage last year, my wife who’d been walking on a cloud over having the opportunity to be a mother...and my anger is simply unfathomable to the guy standing in front of me, the guy who earns a living thanks to my taxes, the guy whose family I feed through my labor. What I did wasn’t normal. No, I reacted like a drug addict would’ve. I was so disgusted I felt like vomiting. But that was just the beginning.
An hour later, after I’d been gallantly assured by the officer that I wouldn’t be attending my friend’s wedding that day, I heard Mary’s voice outside my cell. The officer was speaking loudly, letting her know that he was planning on doing me a favor... which everyone knows is never a real favor. He wasn’t going to come over and help me work on my car or move some furniture. No, his "favor" was this: He’d decided not to charge me with a felony.
Think about that for a second. Rapes, car-jackings, murders, arsons – those are felonies. So is yelling in an airport now, apparently. I hadn’t realized, though I should have. Luckily, I was getting a favor, though. I was merely going to be slapped with a misdemeanor.
"Here’s your court date," he said as I was released from my cell. In addition, I was banned from Portland International for 90 days, and just in case I was thinking of coming over and hanging out around its perimeter, the officer gave me a map with the boundaries highlighted, sternly warning me against trespassing. Then he and a second officer escorted us off the grounds. Mary and I hurriedly drove two and a half hours in the rain to Seattle, where we eventually caught a flight to Vegas. But the officer was true to his word – we missed my friend’s wedding. The fact that he’d been in my own wedding party, the fact that a once in a lifetime event was stolen from us – well, who cares, right?
Upon our return to Portland (I’d had to fly into Seattle and drive back down), we immediately began contacting attorneys. We aren’t litigious people – we wanted no money. I’m not even sure what we fully wanted. An apology? A reprimand? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter though, because we couldn’t afford a lawyer, it turned out. $4,000 was the average figure bandied about as a retaining fee. Sorry, but I’ve got a new baby on the way. So we called the ACLU, figuring they existed for just such incidents as these. And they do apparently...but only if we were minorities. That’s what they told us.
In the meantime, I’d appealed my suspension from PDX. A week or so later I got a response from the Director of Aviation. After telling me how, in the aftermath of 9/11, most passengers not only accept additional airport screening but welcome it, he cut to the chase:
"After a review of the police report and my discussions with police staff, as well as a review of the TSA’s report on this incident, I concur with the officer’s decision to take you into custody and to issue a citation to you for disorderly conduct. That being said, because I also understand that you were upset and acted on your emotions, I am willing to lift the Airport Exclusion Order...."
Attached to this letter was the report the officer had filled out. I’d like to say I couldn’t believe it, but in a way, I could. It’s seemingly becoming the norm in America – lies and deliberate distortions on the part of those in power, no matter how much or how little power they actually wield.
The gist of his report was this: From the get go I wasn’t following the screener’s directions. I was "squinting my eyes" and talking to my wife in a "low, forced voice" while "excitedly swinging my arms." Twice I began to walk away from the screener, inhaling and exhaling forcefully. When I’d completed the physical exam, I walked to the luggage screening area, where a second screener took a pair of scissors from my suitcase. At this point I yelled, "What the %*&$% is going on? This is &*#&$%!" The officer, who’d already been called over by one of the screeners, became afraid for the TSA staff and the many travelers. He required the assistance of a second officer as he "struggled" to get me into handcuffs, then for "cover" called over a third as well. It was only at this point that my wife began to cry hysterically.
There was nothing poetic in my reaction to the arrest report. I didn’t crumple it in my fist and swear that justice would be served, promising to sacrifice my resources and time to see that it would. I simply stared. Clearly the officer didn’t have the guts to write down what had really happened. It might not look too good to see that stuff about the pregnant woman in tears because she’d been humiliated. Instead this was the official scenario being presented for the permanent record. It doesn’t even matter that it’s the most implausible sounding situation you can think of. "Hey, what the...godammit, they’re taking our scissors, honey!" Why didn’t he write in anything about a monkey wearing a fez?
True, the TSA staff had expropriated a pair of scissors from our toiletries kit – the story wasn’t entirely made up. Except that I’d been locked in airport jail at the time. I didn’t know anything about any scissors until Mary told me on our drive up to Seattle. They’d questioned her about them while I was in the bowels of the airport sitting in my cell.
So I wrote back, indignation and disgust flooding my brain.
"[W]hile I’m not sure, I’d guess that the entire incident is captured on video. Memory is imperfect on everyone’s part, but the footage won’t lie. I realize it might be procedurally difficult for you to view this, but if you could, I’d appreciate it. There’s no willful disregard of screening directions. No explosion over the discovery of a pair of scissors in a suitcase. No struggle to put handcuffs on. There’s a tired man, early in the morning, unhappily going through a rigorous procedure and then reacting to the tears of his pregnant wife."
Eventually we heard back from a different person, the guy in charge of the TSA airport screeners. One of his employees had made the damning statement about me exploding over her scissor discovery, and the officer had deftly incorporated that statement into his report. We asked the guy if he could find out why she’d said this – couldn’t she possibly be mistaken? "Oh, can’t do that, my hands are tied. It’s kind of like leading a witness – I could get in trouble, heh heh." Then what about the videotape? Why not watch that? That would exonerate me. "Oh, we destroy all video after three days."
Sure you do.
A few days later we heard from him again. He just wanted to inform us that he’d received corroboration of the officer’s report from the officer’s superior, a name we didn’t recognize. "But...he wasn’t even there," my wife said.
"Yeah, well, uh, he’s corroborated it though."
That’s how it works.
"Oh, and we did look at the videotape. Inconclusive."
But I thought it was destroyed?
On and on it went. Due to the tenacity of my wife in making phone calls and speaking with relevant persons, the "crime" was eventually lowered to a mere citation. Only she could have done that. I would’ve simply accepted what was being thrown at me, trumped up charges and all, simply because I’m wholly inadequate at performing the kowtow. There’s no way I could have contacted all the people Mary did and somehow pretend to be contrite. Besides, I speak in a low, forced voice, which doesn’t elicit sympathy. Just police suspicion.
Weeks later at the courthouse I listened to a young DA awkwardly read the charges against me – "Mr. Monahan...umm...shouted obscenities at the airport staff...umm... umm...oh, they took some scissors from his suitcase and he became...umm...abusive at this point." If I was reading about it in Kafka I might have found something vaguely amusing in all of it. But I wasn’t. I was there. Living it.
I entered a plea of nolo contendere, explaining to the judge that if I’d been a resident of Oregon, I would have definitely pled "Not Guilty." However, when that happens, your case automatically goes to a jury trial, and since I lived a thousand miles away, and was slated to return home in seven days, with a newborn due in a matter of weeks...you get the picture. "No Contest" it was. Judgment: $250 fine.
Did I feel happy? Only $250, right? No, I wasn’t happy. I don’t care if it’s twelve cents, that’s money pulled right out of my baby’s mouth and fed to a disgusting legal system that will use it to propagate more incidents like this. But at the very least it was over, right? Wrong.
When we returned to Los Angeles there was an envelope waiting for me from the court. Inside wasn’t a receipt for the money we’d paid. No, it was a letter telling me that what I actually owed was $309 – state assessed court costs, you know. Wouldn’t you think your taxes pay for that – the state putting you on trial? No, taxes are used to hire more cops like the officer, because with our rising criminal population – people like me – hey, your average citizen demands more and more "security."
Finally I reach the piece de résistance. The week before we’d gone to the airport my wife had had her regular pre-natal checkup. The child had settled into the proper head down position for birth, continuing the remarkable pregnancy she’d been having. We returned to Portland on Sunday. On Mary’s Monday appointment she was suddenly told, "Looks like your baby’s gone breech." When she later spoke with her midwives in Los Angeles, they wanted to know if she’d experienced any type of trauma recently, as this often makes a child flip. "As a matter of fact..." she began, recounting the story, explaining how the child inside of her was going absolutely crazy when she was crying as the police were leading me away through the crowd.
My wife had been planning a natural childbirth. She’d read dozens of books, meticulously researched everything, and had finally decided that this was the way for her. No drugs, no numbing of sensations – just that ultimate combination of brute pain and sheer joy that belongs exclusively to mothers. But my wife is also a first-time mother, so she has what is called an "untested" pelvis. Essentially this means that a breech birth is too dangerous to attempt, for both mother and child. Therefore, she’s now relegated to a c-section – hospital stay, epidural, catheter, fetal monitoring, stitches – everything she didn’t want. Her natural birth has become a surgery.
We’ve tried everything to turn that baby. Acupuncture, chiropractic techniques, underwater handstands, elephant walking, moxibustion, bending backwards over pillows, herbs, external manipulation – all to no avail. When I walked into the living room the other night and saw her plaintively cooing with a flashlight turned onto her stomach, yet another suggested technique, my heart almost broke. It’s breaking now as I write these words.
I can never prove that my child went breech because of what happened to us at the airport. But I’ll always believe it. Wrongly or rightly, I’ll forever think of how this man, the personification of this system, has affected the lives of my family and me. When my wife is sliced open, I’ll be thinking of him. When they remove her uterus from her abdomen and lay it on her stomach, I’ll be thinking of him. When I visit her and my child in the hospital instead of having them with me here in our home, I’ll be thinking of him. When I assist her to the bathroom while the incision heals internally, I’ll be thinking of him.
There are plenty of stories like this these days. I don’t know how many I’ve read where the writer describes some breach of civil liberties by employees of the state, then wraps it all up with a dire warning about what we as a nation are becoming, and how if we don’t put an end to it now, then we’re in for heaps of trouble. Well you know what? Nothing’s going to stop the inevitable. There’s no policy change that’s going to save us. There’s no election that’s going to put a halt to the onslaught of tyranny. It’s here already – this country has changed for the worse and will continue to change for the worse. There is now a division between the citizenry and the state. When that state is used as a tool against me, there is no longer any reason why I should owe any allegiance to that state.
And that’s the first thing that child of ours is going to learn.
December 21, 2002
Nick Monahan works in the film industry. He writes out of Los Angeles where he lives with his wife and as of December 18th, his beautiful new son.
Copyright © 2002 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Allan Carlos is a prospector who lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory Canada. The police and department of fisheries conspired to destroy him because he was outspoken and opinionated about Canada's useless Firearms Act.
Jane Gaffin wrote a book on the Carlos case called "Justice Served Up Yukonslavia-Style -
The Shameful Conspiracy Behind the Allen Carlos Trilogy" that you can download from diarmani.com
After the Motorhome Diaries crew was put in touch with http://warisimmoral.com's Daniel Lakemacher, they coordinated to make time for an interview when swinging through Chicago. In this video Daniel shares his personal journey - from working at an insurance firm in downtown Chicago to enlisting in the Navy post-9.11 to discovering the ideas of liberty and encouraging others to "think for themselves" - in a very compelling interview that will inspire others in and out of uniform to face the reality of their actions and quite possibly, result in a paradigm shift so that they live morally.
The Free Market as Regulator
Since the bailouts last fall, lawmakers have been behaving as quasi-owners of the bailed-out banks and businesses, leading to calls for increased regulation of executive compensation and other wasteful expenditures. We have heard much about bonuses and executive pay packages that sound more like lottery winnings than an honest salary.
Many lawmakers voted in favor of these unconstitutional bailouts, believing that these corporations were too big to fail, and allowing them to go under would precipitate widespread economic disaster. This second wave of citizen outrage at the bailouts has left these lawmakers with a bit of egg on their face, and once again, they feel the need to "do something" to "fix" it. Shouldn't there be a regulatory structure in place governing executive compensation? Politically, it seems quite feasible. People are outraged that the system has once again gutted the many to make a few at the top fantastically wealthy. But they are incorrectly demonizing the free market.
What we need to realize is that there WAS a regulatory structure in place that was attempting to stop bad management, including overpaying executives. That regulatory structure is the free market, and when poor management brought these companies to the point of bankruptcy, Congress circumvented the wisdom of the free market, and inserted its own judgment at our expense. And now because of that intervention, we will burdened with massive new regulations. We can be certain this effort will fail.
The free market is a naturally occurring phenomenon that can't be eliminated by governments, not even totalitarian ones like the former Soviet Union. It can be regulated, over-taxed and manipulated until it is driven underground. Lately it has been wrongly accused of doing so many things it just doesn't do, that are really the fault of crony corporatism and convoluted government policies that brought on the crisis. Too many people equate the free market with big business doing whatever it wants, but that is not the free market. Unconstitutional taxpayer funded bailouts are what allow giant corporations to run roughshod over the economy. The free market is what puts them out of business when they misbehave.
The free market is you and your neighbors working hard to produce what you produce, and exchanging goods and services voluntarily, in mutually agreeable arrangements. The free market is about respecting property rights and contracts. It is not about building up oligarchs and monopolies and confiscatory tax theft - these are creatures of government.
We must watch out when government comes up with interventionist solutions to interventionist problems. The root of our problems lie in interventionism. Trusting the free market is the solution.
With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people’s money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.
While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:
• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems.
Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan’s costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.
• Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.
• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.
• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.
• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.
• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor’s visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?
• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.
• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
On Monday morning Ryan, Pete and I woke up in MARV which was parked on a Starbucks parking lot outside Detroit. We were able to drowsily walk inside and work until we met up with Paul Kersey of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy at 2PM. He was generous enough to dedicate most of his day to give us a tour of government destruction in Detroit. Paul made the direct connection between failed policies by the Detroit government and the economic conditions residents are saddled with as a result. We toured the city until 3:20 p.m. when we made a wrong turn.
Thanks to the GPS Paul brought (that was not updated to recent construction changes), we ended up taking an exit toward Canada with no possible way to turn around. We were Canada bound and if you’re a regular reader of the Motorhome Diaries you know that this would be bad news. We made the drive over the Ambassador Bridge hoping that we could simply tell the militant Canadian crossing guards that we’d like to turn around and have no desire to enter their country. We had a tour of Detroit to get back to and this shouldn’t have taken more than 30 minutes.
On the other side of the bridge we got into a queue of vehicles and passengers who were to be asked invasive questions by government agents. We stated our desire to turn around and were told where to park. Pete covered the events thoroughly here but we were stopped, frisked, MARV was searched inside which included the use of two dogs. One dog was for drugs which found nothing. The other dog was for currency and when we were told it found something we were all excited only to be disappointed to learn that it was a false alert. We were then told to wait to talk to a border bureaucrat in a sealed lobby. She had papers for us to sign stating that we “hereby voluntarily withdraw my application to enter Canada and agree to leave Canada without delay.” It was misleading because we didn’t apply to enter Canada – we took a wrong turn. Wanting to make it to the 7 p.m. meetup I signed the bureaucrats form, as did Paul. Pete refused, like he had during our previous encounter with the Canadian border thugs. Ryan had a different approach, making him my hero:
Because of Pete’s refusal and Ryan’s subversion, the border bureaucrat stated “I’m glad you guys think this is funny” and told us to wait in the sealed off waiting room. She said that they are there 24 hours and that this would delay our exit. Pete’s philosophy was that the longer they held us the worse they would look. I just wanted a stiff drink at the quickly approaching meetup. We sat around for about 20 minutes until the border bureaucrat’s bluff was called. She used the intercom to tell us to walk out to our vehicle so that we could leave.
We were headed back to Detroit! Until we drove the few feet into the U.S. border checkpoint where a new armed gang calling themselves “the Department of Homeland Security” searched our vehicle all over again and detained us. These two encounters were pure harassment. They deleted the video we took for our documentary because as one of the crossing guards said, he didn’t want to end up on YouTube. Despite rhetoric, government doesn’t want transparency because if people knew what their government was up to they wouldn’t stand for it. We were asked plenty of questions by a heavily armed, t-shirt wearing DHS gang and after another hour of detention rooms, questioning, and a vehicle search, we were given a stamped permission slip giving us permission to leave their detention.
The entire encounter with these two gangs took four hours making us cancel the rest of our tour and making us about an hour late for our Detroit meetup.
Lobbying groups have used the political process to push coverage for special-interest causes like substance abuse and weight loss treatment ahead of treatments for some kinds of cancer on the priority list.
The self righteous busybodies are back, once again trying to impose their utopian vision. This time their target is porn in hotels.
The Minnesota Department of Health, as part of its Sexual Violence Prevention Program "... has created a plan to prevent sexual violence."
This plan is called The Promise of Primary Prevention. Included in this plan is the "clean hotels initiative," seeking the elimination of pornography in hotels through public policy and laws.
As with other campaigns to improve society, the initial goals are limited at first. With this campaign the initial goal is to have local governments only do business with "clean hotels." Without a doubt in the future the campaign will seek to force hotels to be "clean" through licensing requirements, county ordinances and state statutes.
This initiative is based on the belief by its promoters that there is a cause and effect relationship between pornography and sexual violence against women. This belief is questionable at best. As pointed out in a Reason Magazine article ("Is Pornography a Catalyst of Sexual Violence," Nov. 5, 2007), while access and exposure to pornography was growing by leaps and bounds due to the advent of the Internet, the incidence of rapes decreased by 72 percent.
If the campaigners believe pornography leads to sexual violence, then just banning it from hotels will not accomplish their objective. Won't it have to be banned from cable TV, satellite TV, DVDs and most importantly the Internet? Will we eventually have SWAT team raids on homes suspected of having pornographic materials?
Who will determine what qualifies as pornography? Is pornography limited to films, what about books such as Chaucer's Canterbury Tales or the Bible, which have many sexually charged passages, should we ban those also?
If pornography can be banned to prevent sexual violence, what about banning horror movies and other films that depict violence? What about war movies, should they be banned for glorifying war? Perhaps we need to ban all toy guns and knives so children won't mimic violent behavior.
There is a much more important issue here than the effects and availability of pornography; that issue is freedom. As we allow government to restrict or ban certain thoughts, activities or products, the threat increases that even more thoughts, activities or products will be banned because it is believed that by doing so, some harm will be prevented.
Instead of working to have people voluntarily change their behavior, people now turn to government to force others to do what they wish.
These groups will claim that they have the community's best interest at heart and that they possess the expert knowledge to know what is best. This is the same rationale used by the royal rulers of the past and every dictator of the modern age. By resorting to force these groups demonstrate what a low opinion they have of the public and what a high opinion they have of themselves.
Just like the busybodies of today who predict an improved society if they get their way, the busybodies who foisted alcohol prohibition upon this nation predicted that prohibition would cure many of the nation ills, including sexual violence. Instead we got increased drinking and crime, with organized crime mobs being the main beneficiary of prohibition.
"When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before." John D. Rockefeller, Jr., 1932
The alcohol prohibitionists and the busybodies of today, with their coercive utopianism, insist on elimination of choice, rather than punishment of wrongdoing. The busybodies look at society as their laboratory and the people as their lab rats to experiment on.
If the experiment fails, as most ultimately do, the cost is borne by society at large and the unfortunate individuals harmed in the process. The busybodies will not be deterred, they will move on to their next experiment content in the knowledge that they are working for good.
In the wise words of the great Christian author C.S Lewis:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
While most Americans are struggling to make ends meet during the economic recession, members of congress seem to still be living the high life. The house recently approved nearly $200 million dollars for the Air Force to buy three elite Gulfstream jets in order to fly top government officials and Members of Congress. But at a time when both private and public agencies are making cutbacks, is this additional spending really necessary? And how do American taxpayers feel about where their money is really going? RT's Dina Gusovsky speaks to Paul Singer, Associate Editor at Roll Call Newspaper.
We hear the trillion-dollar figure all the time, but how much would ObamaCare really end up costing? If we've learned anything from previous government programs, it's that the actual price almost always shoots far beyond the advertised price. Is there any reason to think things would be different this time around?
In an effort to push back against criticism of its health care reform plans, the Obama administration is sending one of the many former journalists in its employ onto the digital airwaves of YouTube to attack Matt Drudge and other critics for spreading "disinformation" and "lies." Since "we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House," health reform Communications Director Linda Douglass says, "we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org."
Reason.TV's Dan Hayes is nothing if not patriotic, and with a good nose for fish, so he took his camera in the dead of night and went hunting for perpetrators. The results, as shown in this two-and-a-half-minute video, should scare every American who cares about truth and health care.
Bowling Green ophthalmologist Rand Paul said Wednesday that he will convert his Senate exploratory committee to a full-fledged campaign.
Paul's decision to enter the 2010 race was expected, especially after Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., announced last week that he would drop his bid for a third term after posting poor fundraising totals during the first half of 2009.
Paul — the son of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, an unsuccessful candidate last year for the Republican presidential nomination — said he probably would have eventually entered the GOP primary race even had Bunning stayed in.
“I do have a lot of respect for Sen. Bunning, and I was still waiting out of respect for him … but I think we were going forward on the basis of uncertainty (about whether Bunning would be re-elected),” he said.
Paul, 46, is known for his largely libertarian views and has often been at odds with more mainstream Republicans. He opposed the U.S.A. Patriot Act — enacted after the 2001 terrorist attacks — and favors dismantling the Federal Reserve Bank.
His politics are similar to his father's, as is his disdain for mainstream Republican initiatives that he argues led to a doubling of the federal deficit during the Bush administration.
On Saturday at the Fancy Farm political picnic, he lobbed criticisms at both Republicans and Democrats, calling “hypocrisy ... the one true bipartisan trait.”
Healthcare Plan Based on Economic Fantasy
As the healthcare debate rages on, there is one reality that even the proponents of this hostile takeover of healthcare by government cannot ignore – and that is money. The government simply does not have the money for a new, expansive, public healthcare plan. The country is in a deep recession that will deepen even further with the coming collapse of the commercial real estate market. The last thing we need is for government to increase and expand taxes to pay for another damaging, wasteful program. Foreigners are becoming less enthusiastic about buying our debt, and creating another open-ended welfare program when we cannot pay for what is already in place, will not help. Champions of socialized medicine want to tax the rich, tax businesses that already cannot afford to provide health plans to employees, and tax people who don’t want to participate in the government’s scheme by buying an approved healthcare plan. Presumably, all these taxes are to induce compliance. This is not freedom, nor will it improve healthcare.
There are limits to how much government can tax before it kills the host. Even worse, when government attempts to subsidize prices, it has the net effect of inflating them instead. The economic reality is that you cannot distort natural market pressures without unintended consequences. Market forces would drive prices down. Government meddling negates these pressures, adds regulatory compliance costs and layers of bureaucracy, and in the end, drives prices up.
The non-partisan CBO estimates that the healthcare plan will cost almost a trillion dollars over the next ten years. But government crystal balls always massively underestimate costs. It is not hard to imagine the final cost being two or three times the estimates, even though the estimates are bad enough.
It is still surreal that in a free country we are talking only about HOW government should fix healthcare, rather than WHY government should fix healthcare. This should be between doctors and patients. But this has been the discussion since the 60’s and the inception of Medicare and Medicaid, when government first began intervening to keep costs down and make sure everyone had access. The result of Medicaid/Medicare price controls and regulatory burden has been to drive more doctors out of the system – making it more difficult for the poor and the elderly to receive quality care! Seemingly, there are no failed government programs, only underfunded ones. If we refuse to acknowledge common sense economics, the prescription will always be the same: more government.
Make no mistake, government control and micromanagement of healthcare will hurt, not help healthcare in this country. However, if for a moment, we allowed the assumption that it really would accomplish all they claim, paying for it would still plunge the country into poverty. This solves nothing. The government, like any household struggling with bills to pay, should prioritize its budget. If the administration is serious about supporting healthcare without contributing to our skyrocketing deficits, they should fulfill promises to reduce our overseas commitments and use some of those savings to take care of Americans at home instead of killing foreigners abroad.
The leadership in Washington persists in a fantasy world of unlimited money to spend on unlimited programs and wars to garner unlimited control. But there is a fast-approaching limit to our ability to borrow, steal, and print. Acknowledging this reality is not mean-spirited or cruel. On the contrary, it could be the only thing that saves us from complete and total economic meltdown.