Picking Your Battles

The last couple of week shave really demonstrated what media blitzes are capable of. Before Chick-Fil-A’s owner, Dan Cathy, publicly stated his opposition to gay marriage I had never heard of his restaurant. Shortly after his statement the Internet was alive with people praising and denouncing the man and his business. Those opposing gay marriages cheered Cathy’s statement and vowed to frequent his restaurant and those who support gay marriages decried the man and encouraged everybody to boycott the restaurant. What happened? People reacted:

Chick-fil-A restaurants in cities across southern states of the US, where the majority of the chain’s outlets are located, were reported to be bustling with customers who turned out in support of the chain on Wednesday.

How did this happen? Is the United States so bigoted towards homosexuals that far more will set out to support a restaurant owned by a man who is publicly opposed to gay marriages than will boycott it? To answer this question we need to do a bit of analysis.

First and foremost the reaction by the supporters of gay marriage was, to say the least, inflammatory. Mayors of Boston and Chicago both threatened to ban the restaurant from their cities while many other supporters of gay marriage loudly referred to Cathy and his supporters as bigots and homophobes. Screams about boycotting the establishment were made, Facebook boycott events were created, and angry rants were posted across the Internet. Needless to say Cathy’s supporters were receiving a great deal of hatred and decide to counter the hatred with their own plans.

Let’s look at the factions in the gay marriage debate. Only two factions have an actual stake in this debate: homosexuals who want to receive the same treatment in marriage as heterosexuals and deeply religious individuals who believe God his tasked them with bringing his word and morality to the masses. Other factions have various interests in the debate but no real stake, they won’t be personally affected. Of the two factions with a stake in this debate the deeply religious factions is by far the largest. The golden rule when confronting a much larger force is not to engage in a head-on attack. Unfortunately that’s what the proponents of gay marriage did, they engaged their smaller force in a head-on attack against a much larger force. In addition to that their move alienated them from other potential supporters.

The most intelligent move would have been to ignore Cathy’s statement and continue to fight for gay rights. Such a move would have given opponents to gay marriage nothing to rally their troops behind and such a move wouldn’t have alienated potential supporters. Instead demands for a boycott were made and two groups ran to the support of Chick-Fil-A: opponents of gay marriage and proponents of free speech. Bravo guys, you managed to give common cause to two extremely large groups. The motivation of the opponents of gay marriage was obvious, they don’t support legalized gay marriages and see Cathy as a spokesperson. What about the supporters of free speech, what was their motivation? Free speech. When the mayors of Boston and Chicago came out and threatened Chick-Fil-A with a ban from their cities they may as well have said they were punishing the establishment because its owner decided to exercise his freedom of speech. It was a stupid and devastating move.

The stupidity didn’t end there. In a move that one could believe was custom crafted to further create opposition to gay marriage supporters started slinging mud. They started referring to people who ate at Chick-Fil-A or otherwise agreed with Cathy’s statement bigots, homophobes, haters, and disgusting individuals. Insulting people is not how you build popular support for your movement. Many people who were on the fence or uninvolved suddenly had reason to support Chick-Fil-A. Why help a group of people who are calling you names even though you didn’t really have a stake in the game? Others who were on the fence but leaning towards supporting gay marriage also started backing away because few people want to work with individuals who are acting in an unprofessional manner.

To put it bluntly, advocates of gay marriage really fucked up this time. What could have been an absolute nonissue turned into a giant political fiasco. Chick-Fil-A found its stores packed with supporters, which sent a signal to other businesses informing them that opposing gay marriage may be rewarded with additional patronage. Free speech advocates, who had no reason to support Chick-Fil-A, sudden had a reason to support the restaurant. Opponents to gay marriage found themselves with a massive media platform to use to rally support to their cause. Basically every unintended consequence came to fruition.

I now see why constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage have succeeded in every state they’ve been pushed in. Getting prohibitions against gay marriage off of the books requires appealing to public opinion, it requires building support, it requires smart maneuvering. All of those things are jeopardized when a single individual is able to rile up supporters of gay marriage in such a way that they act against their own goal. You have to keep your emotions under control if you want to win public support.

What Sowing Subsidies Reaps

When the state give subsidies to a business they are sending a market signal: the businesses failure to make a profit is rewarded. Amtrak is a company that can’t operate on its own, it requires government money to stay afloat. Needless to say since they’re receiving government money they have no motivation to find ways to actually make money:

Taxpayers lost $833 million over the last decade on the food and beverages supplied by Amtrak, which managed to spend $1.70 for every dollar that received in revenue.

“Over the last ten years, these losses have amounted to a staggering $833.8 million,” said Rep.John Mica, R-Fla., in a statement previewing a House hearing today. “It costs passengers $9.50 to buy a cheeseburger on Amtrak, but the cost to taxpayers is $16.15. Riders pay $2.00 for a Pepsi, but each of these sodas costs the U.S. Treasury $3.40.”

If you can’t make a profit off of selling hamburgers at $9.50 you don’t deserve to be in business. I can go to my local butcher and get a pound of ground beef for $4.00 to $5.00 and if I buy a cow directly from a farmer and pay to have him butcher it I can get the entire animal for roughly $3.00 a pound. Since most hamburgers are usually between a quarter pound and half of a pound of ground beef Amtrak is seriously screwing up either procurement or preparation.

Why should they change though? The government keeps transferring money from individuals to Amtrak. Every tax victim is, in essence, a forced customer of Amtrak. Until the subsidies are taken away from Amtrak there is absolutely no motivation for them to offer a product people want at a price they’re willing to pay. Because of their inability to make a profit they will continue to get more government subsidies. Subsidies are a reward for failing, they tell producers that making products consumers want is unnecessary and may actually be detrimental (why risk making $1 million in profit when you’re guaranteed $100 million in subsidies).

They’re Falling Like Dominos

A third California city has declared bankruptcy:

The California city of San Bernardino has filed for bankruptcy protection amid a $46m (£30m) budget deficit and ongoing criminal investigations.

The city listed assets and debts of over $1bn, court documents show, and becomes the third in the state to go bust in just over one month.

When the previous California city declared bankruptcy I was expecting more to follow (although not quite this soon). This is the only possible result of following Keynesian economic ideas. One cannot spent themselves back to prosperity.

Savings are resources that have been set aside for future use. What’s being spent today isn’t actual savings, we’re not spending saved up resources, we’re spending nonexistent resources. One of the failures of Keynesianism is believing savings are bad for the economy. When somebody saves they are foregoing current consumption for future consumption. A city may save in order to buildup enough resources to construct a community center or a road. The key is that resources need to be available in order to do either, something debt spending doesn’t do. Eventually the shortage of resources, that is the misallocation of resources, catches up and people quickly find out that they don’t have enough resources to complete projects. Towns find themselves unable to afford finishing the new community center or road.

We will see more and more stories like this as more and more municipalities collide head on with the reality that there aren’t enough available resources to continue existing projects.

Something Seems Fishy About this Story

I don’t claim to be the smartest man alive but there is something awfully fishy about this story:

Teresa Carter just doesn’t understand what happened to her son Chavis in the back of a police car. Officers picked him up, said he had drugs on him, and missed a court date on more drugs charges.

“As protocol he was handcuffed behind his back and double locked, and searched”, said Sergeant Lyle Waterworth, Jonesboro Police.

Somehow minutes later police say they heard a thumping noised, turned around and found Chavis dead, shot in the head, in the back of the squad car.

“Any given officer has missed something on a search, be it drugs, knife, razor blades, this instance it happened to be a gun” said Waterworth.

So police officers arrested the man, search him, managed to miss a firearm, and the suspect shot himself? First I must inquire how a gun was missed during the search then I must inquire why the suspect shot himself. Either that or I have to inquire about other means in which the suspect was killed, say by an officer.

A Sad Day Indeed

It is my duty to regretfully inform readers of this blog that the Burnsville Rifle and Pistol Range in Burnsville, Minnesota caught fire two nights ago:

At least six fire departments were called to the scene of a fire at a shooting range in Burnsville Tuesday night. Crews are still working at the scene around 1 a.m.

Burnsville firefighters were called to the Burnsville Rifle and Pistol Range at 14300 Ewing Ave. S. around 8 p.m.


Burnsville Fire Marshal Lee LaTourelle told Twin Cities Fire Wire that customers were inside the range shooting when they saw smoke coming from the padded walls at the rear of the building. He said they escaped without injury.

I wonder what caused the fire and I hope the range isn’t a total loss.

Win the Gold Pay the State Gold

What do the American athletes at the Olympics get when they win a gold medal? An $8,986 tax bill from the Internal Revenue Service (revenuers):

While 529 hardworking athletes proudly represent the United States in the 2012 Olympics, any medals and money they earn wearing red, white and blue will be taxed by the IRS. According to research done by the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, U.S. Olympic athletes are liable to pay income tax on medals earned and prizes received at the London games.

American medalists face a top income tax rate of 35 percent. Under U.S. tax law, they must add the value of their Olympic medals and prizes to their taxable income. It is therefore easy to calculate the tax bite on Olympic glory.

At today’s commodity prices, the value of a gold medal is about $675. A silver medal is worth about $385 while a bronze medal is worth under $5.

There are also prizes that accompany each medal: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze.

You have to pay if you want to play and if you don’t pay the state will take what it wants at gun point. Perhaps the state isn’t exploiting this tax code enough. They could really exploit this to push the “everybody is a winner” mentality. Those who win competitions can be subjected to major taxes thus ensuring everybody who wins loses and everybody who loses wins.

It Had to Happen Eventually

With the hysteria surrounding child abductors and pedophiles it was only a matter of time until a father walking down the street with his daughter was accused of being a predator:

We were walking to the library together, and she was holding my hand and trying to pull me into telephone poles and whatnot as we walked, which is a silly game that she enjoys. Suddenly a police car pulled up beside us, lights on and everything. The cop gets out of his car, says “Sir, please step away from the child,” then proceeds to crouch down and ask her if “everything is okay.”

After re-asking a few times, getting a more and more nervous “yes” each time, he stands up and informs me that someone had called 911 reporting what looked like a young girl being abducted. My daughter and I both explained what was really happening, and not only did he not even apologize, he chastised ME for not being, and I quote verbatim here, “More thankful someone was watching out for my daughter.”

I’m actually surprised the officer didn’t begin the engagement by tackling the father to the ground, hand cuffing him, and tossing him into the back of the police car until Child Protective Services to arrive. The state has drummed up so much fear of child predators that one can’t even be seen in public with a child unless the other parent is present.

A tip of the hat to Reason for this demonstration of public hysteria.

Legislation Being Pushed to Ban Online Ammunition Sales

The gun control advocates just can’t exploit the shooting in Aurora enough. First Schumer puts for an Amendment to a cyber security bill that would prohibit the transfer of magazines with a capacity greater than 10-rounds and now Lautenberg is putting forth legislation to ban online ammunition sales:

The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act works through four components:

· It requires anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer.
· It requires ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase, effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians.
· It requires licensed ammunition dealers to maintain records of the sale of ammunition.
· It requires licensed ammunition dealers to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.

I wonder if my curios and relics federal firearms license (C&R) qualifies me as a dealer (I know I can get dealer discounts as several online firearm retailers)? If it does this legislation is so easily bypassed that it’s not even worth talking about. Even if a C&R doesn’t qualify somebody as a dealer I’m still not sure what the point of this legislation is supposed to be. Effectively it merely has the to potential make somebody wait a little longer to obtain large quantities of ammunition, and that’s only if they care about their purchase being reported. I’m also not sure where Lautenberg came up with the claim that online ammunition sales are anonymous:

U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY4) and advocates from the gun safety community announced new legislation being introduced this week to make the sale of ammunition safer for law-abiding Americans who are sick and tired of the ease with which criminals can now anonymously stockpile for mass murder.

When you purchase ammunition online you must have it shipped somewhere and it must be paid for in some manner, almost always with a credit or debit card. I’m not sure if Lautenberg is aware of this but credit and debit cards are generally tied to a person’s name, address, and social security number. To say online purchases are anonymous is misleading at best. Then again I shouldn’t expect honesty from a politician, they lie for a living.

Traveling the Path to Persia

Obama simply won’t be satisfied until we’re at war with Iran:

President Obama’s executive order is designed to make it harder for Iran to evade existing sanctions.

Mr Obama said the US remained committed to reaching a diplomatic solution on Iran, but the onus was on Tehran to meet its international obligations.

We’re so committed to reaching a diplomatic solution on Iran (not with Iran mind you) that we’re punishing the people living there [PDF]. But we have good cause, right:

The sanctions come amid ongoing concern over Iran’s nuclear programme, which Tehran denies is to develop weapons.

Who is concerned? It’s obviously not United States intelligence agencies:

Reporting from Washington — As U.S. and Israeli officials talk publicly about the prospect of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, one fact is often overlooked: U.S. intelligence agencies don’t believe Iran is actively trying to build an atomic bomb.

A highly classified U.S. intelligence assessment circulated to policymakers early last year largely affirms that view, originally made in 2007. Both reports, known as national intelligence estimates, conclude that Tehran halted efforts to develop and build a nuclear warhead in 2003.

Obama, and the rest of the decision makers in the United States government, won’t be happy until our soliders and Iranian people are dying in an unnecessary conflict.

Taking Your Stuff is Big Business

I complain about civil forfeiture laws from time to time. United States Code 881(a)(6) grants the state the legal ability to sieze property that the owner can’t prove isn’t involved in a drug crime:

(a) Subject property

The following shall be subject to forfeiture to the United States and no property right shall exist in them:


(6) All moneys, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things of value furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance or listed chemical in violation of this subchapter, all proceeds traceable to such an exchange, and all moneys, negotiable instruments, and securities used or intended to be used to facilitate any violation of this subchapter.

Needless to say the state makes big money on stealing peoples’ shit:

The Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund under President Obama is the largest it’s ever been, having grown from $500 million in 2003, to $1.8 billion in 2011, according to a new report from the GAO.

In addition to the fund’s size, payments from the fund to local law enforcement agencies totalled $445 million in 2011, another all-time high. These payouts are part of the DOJ’s “equitable sharing agreement,” which incentivizes local cops to conduct federal raids. They then get a portion of the assets seized during the raid (more money if they contribute more resources). That money is then used to finance SWAT and paramilitary training, as well as the acquisition of military grade weapons and equipment.

$1.8 billion of property were stolen by the state through these civil forfeiture laws in 2011. That’s nothing short of mind boggling.