Saturday, April 30, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Sheldon Richman comments on the problems with government run education and on some solutions.
From Reason TV:
From Reason TV:
Who likes the sound of a school bell? Sheldon Richman certainly doesn't.
"Schools, by their structure, are preparing kids for some sort of authoritarian lifestyle," he says.
Richman is critical of the school choice movement, saying that even in charter schools, money is still being provided by the state.
He edits The Freeman and TheFreemanOnline.org, publications from the Foundation for Economic Education. Richman also is the author of Separating School and State and is a contributor to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.
Topics include: Unschooling; critiquing charter schools; for-profit private schools; and home schooling.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Three More Attacks on Civilization
by Jeffrey A. Tucker
Thank goodness we’ve got a global marketplace where banned and nearly banned products can be purchased with a click. This is how I obtained a box of Savogran Trisodium Phosphate, which sounds like an explosive but is really just a cleanser that was in every dish-washing soap until last year. It is made of phosphorous, an element from bone ash or urine that was discovered in Germany in the 17th century. It is also the reason that dishwashers once cleaned dishes perfectly, leaving no residue or spots.
Remember the old Calgon commercial that showed food falling off plates and glasses left gleaming at the end of a wash? That was phosphorous at work.
It is still a must in commercial establishments like restaurants and hotels. But 17 states have already banned the product for consumers, causing most all makers of the detergent to remove it from their product, which vastly degraded its value. The detergent makers saw the writing on the wall and this time decided to get out in front of the regulatory machine, anticipating a federal ban before it actually takes place.
Most consumers are clueless as to how sometime in the last year, their dishwashers stopped working properly. They call in the repairman, who fiddles with things and announces a fix. But it is not fixed. The glass are gritty and the plates often need to be rinsed again after washing. Many households have bought new machines or resorted to just running the dishes through twice.
The creation of phosphorous-free detergent is the real reason. As Jonathan Last explains in the Weekly Standard, the anti-phosphate frenzy began in Washington State, which was attempting to comply with a Clean Air Act mandate that a certain river be swimable and fishable. This was a problem because tests found inordinate amounts of phosphate in the river. As part of the effort to comply, the state banned phosphates from detergents. That was in 2008, but the way politics works these days, the banning spread to state after state - again with the backing of federal law.
Now, it is clear that the law’s proponents knew exactly what the results would be. It would increase dishwasher use and even end up leading people to abandon dishwashers altogether, and either solution leads to much more water and energy use. In other words, even by the goofy environmentalists own standards, this is no savings. It might end up in the reverse.
Studies since the ban have even shown that phosphorous reduction in the Washington State river is entirely due to a new filtering system and, further, that it turns out that the phosphorous in the river was not even a problem in the first place!
Of course the facts don’t matter. Our conveniences like clean plates and machines that makes them so must be sacrificed to the false gods of environmentalism. One of the great innovations in human history must be reverted because governments are enthralled by the witchdoctors of mother earth. And thus must mankind take yet another step background on the trajectory toward social progress. And to heck with your fetish for clean things!
A similar impulse is driving the new attack on ice makers. Jeffrey Kluger writes in Time Magazine a typically hectoring piece that claims that one way to say the earth is to "buy a couple of ice trays. To the long list of human inventions that are wrecking global climate – the internal combustion engine, the industrial era factory – add the automatic ice maker."
Of course we don’t use ice makers for completely arbitrary reasons. It is because it is a pain in the neck to carry a full tray across the room, spill a bit here and there, and then balance it carefully in the freezer. And then when you take it out, your fingers stick to the trays and you have to break the tray and dump the cubes into something and re-freeze what you do not use, and then the cubes stick together and so on. That’s why we use ice makers.
But, still, the Department of Energy hates them. And so it has warned all makers of freezers that it will lower the energy-compliance rating of any freezer that keeps them. Or, another way to make a freezer with an ice maker is to degrade the refrigerator and freezer itself, leaving most of the energy use for the ice maker.
This whole model forgets a perfectly obvious point: having an ice maker often means that you have ice dispenser on the outside of the fridge, meaning that you do not have to open the door to get your ice. This is surely an energy saver. Having to open the freezer far more often only ends up wasting energy, which is another reason for the ice maker in the first place (saves on electrical bills).
Here again, facts don’t matter. If there is something you like and makes your life better, you can bet that some bureaucrat somewhere has targeted it for destruction. Saving the planet is the most convenient excuse around. Time Magazine would contribute more to "Saving the Planet" by putting an end to its print publication.
We can see where this is headed. Just as people hoard old toilet tanks and old washing machines that actually use water to wash clothes, so too people will now have to hoard their old refrigerators because they work. We are becoming like the Cubans with their 1950s model cars, holding on to them for dear life if only to preserve some elements of civilization in the face of government attacks.
Now let’s talk drain openers. Everyone knows that the best chemical drain opener is lye, or solium hydroxide. It is wicked stuff that cuts through grease, hair, or just about anything else. It will burn right through human flesh and leaving terrible scarring. But for drains, nothing else compares.
Now that less and less water is flowing through our homes, thanks to regulatory attacks on water use, and the water we use is ever more tepid, thanks to regulatory attacks on hot-water heaters, it is no surprise that clogged drains are ever more common, thus making lye an essential household chemical.
If you can get it. The mainstream hardware stores have stopped carrying the stuff. So have the grocery stores. When I asked around, I thought I would hear stories involving liability for injuries, but no: instead the excuse is the drug war. It turns out that this stuff is an ingredient in the making of methamphetamine, and hence it too is on the regulatory hit list.
Fortunately you can still buy it through Amazon, but how many people know this? How many people are buying liquid drain openers only to discover that they don’t actually work? Surely millions are doing this. So far as I can tell, there is nothing but hush hush about the strangely disappearance of lye-based crystal drain openers from our shelves.
So there we go: we must also live with clogged drains, so that not even the pathetic drizzles of tepid water that come out of our facets can flow down the drain, and we must stand in pools of bacteria-breeding water as we take our short, cold showers. It’s back to the 19th century for all of us!
In these three examples, we can see the model at work: puritans and paranoids work with bureaucrats to unravel all the gains that markets have made for civilization. And they do this not with persuasion or an attempt to convert us to their primitive faith. Instead, they do it by force, driving us back to the compost pile, the river for cleaning, and, eventually, having to hunt and gather for our food that we take back to our caves, which serve as domestic environs for those lucky enough to survive their regime of coerced poverty.
Jeffrey Tucker is editorial vice president of http://www.mises.org./
Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Lionel (Michael William Lebron) decodes and deconstructs the labyrinthine Federal Reserve, the best kept secret in town, for Sukanya Krishnan.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
From Reason TV:
"The perception of being antiwar as a strictly left-progressive thing is a holdover, I think, from the Vietnam War," says Brian Doherty, senior editor of Reason.
Doherty, author of Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, sat down with Reason.tv to talk about the all-but-forgotten tradition of conservative antiwar activism. Tracing its roots back to the American Anti-Imperialist League of the late 1890s, Doherty discusses the evolution of right-wing non-interventionism through the 1930s and into the Cold War of the 1950s, which ultimately led to a lasting rift between conservatives and libertarians. He also addresses the possibility of a resurgent conservative antiwar sentiment in the Obama era.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Jeremy Clarkson and James May of the British television series Top Gear look back at some of the engineering masterpieces produced by the Communists. I actually rode numerous times in a Trabant on my visit to East Germany in 1975. I'll always remember that my uncle had to use a dip stick to see how much gas he had, as there was no fuel gauge.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Judge Andrew Napolitano comments on the Bradley Manning case.
From the Huffington Post:
From the Huffington Post:
Hillary Clinton's spokesman has slammed the Pentagon for its "ridiculous" treatment of Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier who is currently detained on allegations of handing thousands of confidential State Department cables to WikiLeaks.
Speaking at an MIT seminar in Boston, Assistant Secretary Of State For Public Affairs P.J. Crowley said Manning is being "mistreated" in the military brig at Quantico, Virginia. "What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defense," he said.
Manning's treatment -- which includes being held for 23 hours daily in solitary confinement and being stripped naked every night -- has sparked the ire of civil rights advocates as well as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who called the U.S. Army intelligence analyst a "political prisoner [held] without trial." But as the Guardian is reporting, Crowley's comments mark the first time anyone within the Obama administration has expressed concern over Manning's treatment, and are the first sign of a crack among lawmakers over the ongoing handling of the entire WikiLeaks saga.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
From Russia Today:
Libyan state TV reports eight NATO strikes on the capital Tripoli have caused numerous injuries among civilians. Latest pictures from the capital show smoke rising above the buildings following the attack. Local media claims one of the coalition bombs hit the residence of Colonel Gaddafi. Meanwhile, NATO officials have announced plans to continue their operation until Libyan forces stop attacking civilians and retreat. At today's meeting in Berlin, members of the alliance discussed what contribution each state needs to make, with only 6 out of the 28 involved conducting air strikes. The UK and France have been calling on other countries to increase military pressure on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. For more, RT talks to former CIA counterterrorism analyst Michael Scheuer.
Senator Rand Paul states that the so called budget cuts are nothing but a sham.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Jack Hunter comments on how the pro war politicians like Senator Lindsey Graham are always ready to limit our freedoms in the guise of "protecting us from Islamic Terrorists", while they completely ignore the fact that the United States historically had no fear of Islamic Terrorists until we started to intervene heavily in the Middle East.
Government continues to grow in size and scope, and yet there may be reason for liberty lovers to be optimistic about the future.
In 2007, college students formed the non-profit organization Students for Liberty to aid the growth of libertarian campus groups. Today, Students for Liberty has grown to include more than 400 pro-liberty campus groups and the organization was recently featured in an episode of Stossel on Fox Business Network.
On March 31, 2011, Students for Liberty hosted a Stossel viewing party at Reason's D.C. headquarters.
Co-founder and executive director Alexander McCobin and communications manager Blayne Bennett sat down with Reason.tv to talk about the organization's history, it's success and, why they're optimistic about the future of liberty.
MSNBC is believed by many to be the most liberal of all cable networks.
Most who watch would agree that many of the hosts are pro-Obama, pro-choice and pro-union. But it turns out they are also pro-war and there is a long history of evidence to prove it.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
John Stossel discusses the problems of government schools with guests Sherry Street (school voucher advocate) and Joel Klein (former chancellor of NYC schools). South Carolina spends over $12,000 per student. In a class of 20 students that would be $240,000! But only 43 cents of every school dollar goes to the classroom.
From the Libertarian Party:
Libertarians say Paul Ryan is worse than Bill Clinton
WASHINGTON - In response to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's new budget proposal, Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle issued the following statement today:
"Americans hoping to get real about our national debt just got sucker-punched by Republican Paul Ryan.
"Republicans want to spend $40 trillion over ten years. That averages a staggering $4 trillion per year. As recently as 2000, federal spending was only about $1.8 trillion.
"They also want to increase the federal debt from $15.0 trillion to $23.1 trillion. I hope our children and grandchildren enjoy paying interest on that extra $8.1 trillion.
"People should not judge the quality of this Republican plan by the standard President Obama has set. Everyone knows Obama is a big spender. Democrats rarely campaign on cutting government. What this budget shows is, Republicans are hypocrites. They have no intention of cutting the federal government down to size. In 2021, Paul Ryan still wants the feds to be spending 19.9% of GDP. That's a higher percentage than during Democrat Bill Clinton's second term. In 1997, federal spending was 19.5% of GDP, and it dropped to 18.2% by 2000. Paul Ryan is worse than Bill Clinton.
"Another unfortunate but predictable thing about Paul Ryan's budget is that it continues to mollycoddle the Pentagon. Paul Ryan is the Military-Industrial Complex's best friend. He apparently can't find one penny to cut from Obama's bloated levels of military spending. Only a big-government Republican could come up with language like 'reinvesting $100 billion in higher military priorities.'
"It's interesting that when the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House from 2001-2006, they did nothing to shrink government, or even slow down government growth. On the contrary, back then, Paul Ryan was busy voting for expensive foreign wars, No Child Left Behind, and the huge 2003 Medicare expansion. More recently he's voted for the TARP bailouts and even ethanol subsidies.
"We Libertarians propose eliminating federal functions that are not authorized in the Constitution. Furthermore, Libertarians propose ending foreign wars and foreign troop deployments, allowing huge cuts in military spending. Libertarians would cut the federal government down to less than 10% of GDP, and we'd keep cutting once we got there."
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
William L. Anderson discusses one of the ills brought on by the so called Progressive Era:
False Convictions: Another Sorry Legacy of 'Progressivism'
by William L. Anderson
As many readers know, I devote a large portion of my time – and my life – to advocating for people who are charged with "crimes" they never committed, and often "crime" that never even occurred. Lew Rockwell graciously permitted me to use this page to advocate for the falsely-accused Duke lacrosse players charged with raping a stripper five years ago.
In retrospect, Lew took a huge risk in permitting me to fire broadside after broadside at the corrupt prosecutor, Michael Nifong, who brought the charges and kept the case going. Lew also permitted me to take a hard look at the politicized atmosphere at Duke University, which also drove the false charges and exposed "elite" higher education in a way that demonstrated just how fraudulent American colleges and universities can be.
The charges themselves were transparently false, and it was stunning to see how the "professionals" in both Durham, North Carolina (where the event happened), and in the news media tried to spin established details and time into something that logically was impossible. Yet, many people claimed that the very fact that the "professionals" were claiming that the three lacrosse players had committed the crimes for which they were charged was "proof" that everything alleged was true.
However, in the end it was the "professionals" who not only were lying, but also were acting under outright delusion, and their delusion was supported by other "professionals." On the outside, people with no connection to the justice system, such as K.C. Johnson, a history professor at Brooklyn College, were the people who were most effective at tearing apart Nifong’s case. (Johnson created the popular Durham-in-Wonderland blog from which he logically dissected the events as they occurred.
If one steps back, one can see a curious contrast. On the one hand, the "professionals," people who were prosecutors, lawyers, judges, law professors, and professional advocates for women were (for a long time) united in their chorus of support for Nifong’s case. On the other hand, people from other occupations, students, and just observers knew quickly that the charges were fraudulent and that Nifong and his "victim," Crystal Gail Mangum, were lying. (Some lawyers later turned against Nifong and the attorneys representing the three accused young men from the start were convinced of their innocence.)
Should one step back even further, one can see a pattern emerging, one that not only is disturbing but also one that has its roots in the Progressive Movement of more than a century ago, when American intellectuals, businessmen, and politicians joined to overthrow a social order that was responsible for transforming American society from a backwoods, agrarian country into an industrial powerhouse. While "Progressives" were and are championed by the intellectual elite and media pundits as "reformers" who are trying (against those backward capitalists) to make society better, in reality they undermined human liberty in order to impose an order that could move in no direction but toward tyranny.
One of the things "Progressives" did was to take many occupations and "professionalize" them. They introduced occupational licensing and they also were able to formalize and organize the "justice" apparatus into a mechanism in which "professionals" would transform the process of investigating crimes and seeking judgment and punishment for perpetrators. Instead of having a system that drew heavily upon community participation, "Progressives" reasoned that the professional police, prosecutors, and "expert" witnesses would not be bound by emotion but would act according to their pure training and knowledge.
The system we have today is one in which the "professionals" run everything, from the police investigators to the judges and prison administrators, and it simply is awful. Last year, when I covered the Tonya Craft trial and aftermath in my blog, it really was a battle between the "professionals" and people advocating for the truth.
For example, the prosecutors and the judge worked in tandem in order to try to rig a guilty verdict (the "unprofessional" jurors refused to go along with the scam and acquitted her), a police officer fabricated a document in order to fill holes, and "professional" child "advocates" insisted that the stories being told about Craft’s alleged child molesting were true. The jurors saw through the whole thing and had concluded even before the prosecution rested that the whole thing was bogus.
Wrongful accusations and convictions often occur because the "professionals" are able to convince jurors that the impossible really has to be true – because the "professionals" say it is true. Because "Progressivism" has been institutionalized to a point where most people cannot imagine a society without its influences, people are easily swayed by foolish arguments made by "professionals" even when logic and reasoning tell them otherwise.
As I said at the beginning, I am passionate about advocating for those who are wrongly charged and those who are wrongly convicted. I can think of no worse indictment upon a society than to say it is one in which "justice" is turned upside down and perverted, and as I see it, one of the main reasons that "justice" in America is a crapshoot is the legacy of "Progressivism."
A recent book by a former Ohio attorney general, Jim Petro, goes into detail about wrongful convictions, and his verdict on American "justice" is not good. False Justice: Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent lays out reasons why Petro believes that tens of thousands of Americans are in prison, wrongfully convicted.
Petro lays out what he says are the myths about the system, and they are:
Myth 1: Everyone in prison claims innocence.
Myth 2: Our system almost never convicts an innocent person.
Myth 3: Only the guilty confess.
Myth 4: Wrongful conviction is the result of innocent human error.
Myth 5: An eyewitness is the best testimony.
Myth 6: Conviction errors get corrected on appeal.
Myth 7: It dishonors a victim to question a conviction.
Myth 8: If the justice system has problems, the pros will fix them.
Steve Weinberg’s review of the book goes into more detail about each of these myths, but he wrongly lays the problem at the feet of political conservatives – even though conservatives have played an important role in this sorry affair. Indeed, every one of these myths exists because the "pros" have helped to create them.
As I read through Weinberg’s review, I realize that it is the "professionals," from police to the appellate judges, which have institutionalized injustice to a point where it has become an integral part of the system. Indeed, the very fact that they can do these things with impunity, knowing they almost never will be disciplined at any level for wrongdoing, only ensures that injustices will increase.
One of the things that "Progressives" believed was that "public servants" always (or at least mostly) would act "in the public interest" and not seek self-rewards. We do see the political classes in this country, along with other "Progressives" such as college faculty members and media figures lay this "public interest" mantle upon themselves, declaring that they are "public servants" who are preserving all that is good in society.
The truth is much different. Like all other human beings, "public servants" are self-interested and all-too-often, the "public interest" fervor with which they supposedly operate is transformed into careerism and self-aggrandizement that serves as what Murray N. Rothbard called "psychic profit" for their actions. Because this problem is deeply institutionalized in American society, it almost is impossible to uproot it, which means in the "justice" system that exonerating the innocent is almost impossible.
For example, even though it was obvious that the charges against Tonya Craft were fabricated, she had to spend upwards of a million dollars in order to defend herself, and even then her money ran out. The state agents bringing the case, however, were financed by tax dollars and did not have to worry about spending a penny of their own funds. The Duke defendants spend even more than a million dollars apiece, even though the charges were transparently false from the beginning. From the "professional" medical personnel that helped get the ball rolling in the Craft and Duke cases to the "professional" child counselors and police and prosecutors, we see that through each step, the "professionals" demonstrated themselves to be incapable of doing real research and investigations and were nothing more than cogs in an accusation machine.
This financial disconnect alone is a huge reason that there are wrongful convictions, and the fact that prosecutors, police, and judges are protected from being charged with wrongdoing no matter how dishonest or outrageous their misconduct provides only more incentive for the "professionals" to steamroll the innocent into prison and to the death chambers. Convictions are politically popular, so even when a prosecutor gets a wrongful conviction or wrongly brings charges, there generally is no price for him or her to pay.
In establishing the various institutions that now permeate our society today, "Progressives" believe that they were providing the nation with a system in which competent "professionals" would guide and order our lives. Instead, they created a system in which "professionals" can be petty dictators, telling others what to do, destroying lives in the process, and exacting tribute from their victims.
Wrongful convictions existed before the Progressive Era, but the wrongness was not institutionalized the way it is now. This state of affairs does not exist because people make genuine errors in judgment or identification, but rather because it is in the interest of those who are employed by this system to put innocent people on trial, falsely accuse them, and throw them into prison.
Furthermore, the "professionals" in the system tend to watch out for each other. The courts have given prosecutors such immunity that it has become clear that even when they engage in criminal behavior, as was the case that was at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court’s outrageous Connick v. Thompson decision, the authorities have their backs.
As I noted before, the Progressive Era did not create injustice, but it managed to institutionalize the processes through which injustices occur. We now are at the mercy of "professionals" who are worse than the worst of the lynch mobs and "experts" who are worse than amateurs when it comes to evaluating evidence. All that is left is raw state power, and the "Progressives" made sure that we would forever be subject to that.
William L. Anderson, Ph.D., teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He also is a consultant with American Economic Services. Visit his blog.
Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Now that all murderers and rapists have been apprehended and the state budgets are showing surpluses, we can now spend gobs of money removing basketball poles:
After taking her daughter to school, Melissa McCafferty noticed something unusual on her drive home Friday.Rest of story here.
Heavy machinery and police cars were gathered around the front sidewalk of a house about a block away from hers. In the back of a dump truck, she saw a pile of basketball hoops. Nearby, she spotted a front-end loader working to rip another pole and rim out of the ground.
She knew they would come for hers next.
The mother of three sped around the corner to her home on Hilldale Court, parked under her children's basketball rim, climbed to the top of the pole and waited.
"I promised my kids I'm not going to let them take it away," said McCafferty, 39, of Claymont.
The McCaffertys and at least seven other residents of Radnor Green and Ashbourne Hills received letters warning them this would happen. Police and Delaware Department of Transportation officials say their hoops, angled toward the street, violate the state's Free Zone law, which prohibits hoops, trees, shrubs and other objects from being within seven feet of the pavement's edge in subdivisions.
Friday, April 1, 2011
CIA Veteran Michael Scheuer discusses reports of CIA agents on the ground in Libya. Scheuer suspects most of the rebels that are fighting are veterans of fighting in other countries, often against the United States. He says Libya may become a recruiting tool for radical Islamists.
Scheuer says the US has no interests in Libya and should stay out.
Scheuer says the US has no interests in Libya and should stay out.