Archive for December, 2012
2012 has almost come to a close an 2013 is about to role in. I’m still on vacation so you don’t be seeing any new content today or tomorrow. As I expect most people will be partying today and hungover tomorrow I don’t expect many people to be hitting this site anyways. Enjoy whatever New Year’s Eve celebration you’ll be attending.
I’ve been reading The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. So far it’s been an amazing read but I have trouble recommending it simply because it requires a working knowledge of anarchism, Discordianism, and other forms of anti-state movements. The book also fails to maintain any type of continuous timeline. In one paragraph it will be covering characters and events from one scene only to jump to an entirely different set of characters, who may be in a different time period, without warning. Since I have a habit of reading 10 books at the same time this doesn’t bother me but I know it would present problems for many readers. Still, if you can get around those notable issues it’s an absolutely hilarious title.
One part of the book discusses a man named Emperor Norton. Emperor Norton was a self-declared Emperor of the United States that resided in San Francisco. What’s interesting about the man is that the people of San Francisco humored him. He even issued his own currency, which became accepted in the city. An except from the book makes an excellent point regarding Emperor Norton’s insanity and effectiveness:
Well, chew on this for a while, friend: there were to very sane and rational anarchists who lived about the same time as Emperor Norton across the country in Massachusetts: William Green and Lysander Spooner. They also realized the value of having competing currencies instead of one uniform State currency, and they tried logical arguments, empirical demonstrations and legal suits to get this idea accepted. They accomplished nothing. The government broke its own laws to find ways to suppress Green’s Mutual Bank and Spooner’s People’s Bank. That’s because they were obviously sane, and their currency did pose a real threat to the monopoly of the Illuminati. But Emperor Norton was so crazy that people humored him and his currency was allowed to circulate.
Emperor Norton effected actual change in his area simply by being crazy. Even though he issued his own currency the state never moved against him as they did with other individuals who attempted to introduce competing currencies. He was never tried for treason, labeled a terrorist, or otherwise targeted for state agression with the exception of one incident where he was kidnaped by the police who planned to have him involuntarily committed. Needless to say the townsfolk didn’t agree with the police’s actions:
In 1867, a policeman named Armand Barbier arrested Norton to commit him to involuntary treatment for a mental disorder. The Emperor’s arrest outraged the citizens and sparked scathing editorials in the newspapers. Police Chief Patrick Crowley ordered Norton released and issued a formal apology on behalf of the police force. Crowley wrote “that he had shed no blood; robbed no one; and despoiled no country; which is more than can be said of his fellows in that line.” Norton magnanimously granted an “Imperial Pardon” to the errant policeman. All police officers of San Francisco thereafter saluted Norton as he passed in the street.
How many individuals do you know can be arrested and wind up having the police salute him? Sometimes sanity is a liability. When you’re serious about something people often refuse to take you seriously but if they believe you’re insane they will often humor you. While they may be humoring you they are still participating in what you advocate and that participation can give you an opportunity to point to and say, “See! You’ve been doing exactly what I’ve been preaching and things have turned out just fine!” Joshua Norton effectively became emperor by merely declaring it. Since people thought he was insane they humored him and began acting like he was an emperor. For all practical purposes Joshua Norton was an emperor, at least a legitimate of an emperor as any other that has existed.
Calling on the state to prevent violence is oxymoronic because the state exclusively uses violence, specifically the initiation of violence, in everything it does. For this reason, as pointed out by Ron Paul, using government security can’t prevent violence:
Predictably, the political left responded to the tragedy with emotional calls for increased gun control. This is understandable, but misguided. The impulse to have government “do something” to protect us in the wake national tragedies is reflexive and often well intentioned. Many Americans believe that if we simply pass the right laws, future horrors like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting can be prevented. But this impulse ignores the self evident truth that criminals don’t obey laws.
The political right, unfortunately, has fallen into the same trap in its calls for quick legislative solutions to gun violence. If only we put armed police or armed teachers in schools, we’re told, would-be school shooters will be dissuaded or stopped.
While I certainly agree that more guns equals less crime and that private gun ownership prevents many shootings, I don’t agree that conservatives and libertarians should view government legislation, especially at the federal level, as the solution to violence. Real change can happen only when we commit ourselves to rebuilding civil society in America, meaning a society based on family, religion, civic and social institutions, and peaceful cooperation through markets. We cannot reverse decades of moral and intellectual decline by snapping our fingers and passing laws.
Let’s not forget that our own government policies often undermine civil society, cheapen life, and encourage immorality. The president and other government officials denounce school violence, yet still advocate for endless undeclared wars abroad and easy abortion at home. U.S. drone strikes kill thousands, but nobody in America holds vigils or devotes much news coverage to those victims, many of which are children, albeit, of a different color.
There are a lot of people demanding the government go something immediately to prevent future school shooting from happening. What these people fail to realize is that any action the government takes will be an initiation of violence against every person living in the United States. Whether the federal government prohibit the ownership of certain firearms or puts armed thugs in every school is irrelevant, the fact of the matter is the state will use violence to achieve its goals. Let us not forget that the state pays for everything it does through expropriation, primarily taxation, which is nothing more than theft.
Why would anybody need to carry a gun? Because there are demons in this world and they don’t play nice:
A Detroit woman targeted by would-be carjackers surprised them by shooting back at them.
Alaina, who asked only to be identified by her first name, said she walked out of a store at Plymouth Road and Myers Road earlier this month and was confronted by two men. One of them started shooting in an attempt to rob Alaina and steal her sport utility vehicle.
Alaina was shot and wounded. Her vehicle was hit several times, but she has a concealed pistol permit and she returned fire.
It’s amazing what raising the cost of initiating violence can do. I’m guessing those carjackers will be thinking twice before continuing their career in automotive theft.
The state is an interesting monster. It uses coercion to make individuals abide by its decrees and then lashes out at those who obey its decrees. There is no winning strategy. Take the shooting in Connecticut. Even though the state mandates federally licensed firearms dealers perform background checks on any sold firearms the state has decided to harass the dealer who sold the shooter’s mother firearms:
Federal agents raided an eastern Connecticut gun shop on Thursday, the same gun shop that sold one of the weapons used by the Newtown elementary school shooter.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, assisted by police, moved in on Riverview Sales at 4 Prospect Hill Road in East Windsor at around 5:15 p.m., reported Len Besthoff of CBS 2 sister station WFSB in Hartford.
Of course the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms an Explosives (ATF) are trying to play innocent by claiming their raid had nothing to do with the Connecticut shooting:
All indications are Thursday’s raid was not directly related to the Newtown massacre investigation, but, as Besthoff reported, it was related to several other crimes committed at the store, including the recent theft of an AR-15 and the attempted theft of a .50-caliber long gun, both by a man with mental illness, Besthoff reported.
That’s a pretty shady cover story since both mentioned incidents involved individuals trying to steal firearms. In all likelihood the ATF is exploiting the Connecticut shooting in order to raise their status in the public’s eye. By raiding this shop the ATF is making it appear as though they’re trying to shut down the dealer that sold the firearms used in the Connecticut shooting. Reading the statements made about the shooting it seems the public isn’t interested in due process, they want to see anybody even remotely connected to the Connecticut shooter punished.
What’s interesting about this whole fiasco is that the store was legally required to perform a background check on the shooter’s mother. It was the federal government, specifically the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), that said the mother was fit to own firearms. Considering this fact the shop owner shouldn’t be the victim of state harassement since the state gave the OK for the sale in the first place. As we know that’s now how the state operates though.
Gun control advocates often ask why anybody needs a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. Deciding legality based on need is a common trap authoritarians fall into. Due to the lack of specialized knowledge one cannot know what another person needs. For example, as Uncle pointed out people being attacked by multiple assailants would benefit from having standard capacity magazines:
Bullets flew during a deadly home invasion robbery as a homeowner traded shots with several suspects.
A suspect was caught and cuffed in connection with the deadly home invasion robbery. Police say the homeowner was rushed to the hospital after trading shots with several suspects and killing one of them.
Advocates of gun control claim that forcing a shooter to reload more often gives somebody else more windows to stop him. That logic works both ways. If a homeowner is being attacked by multiple assailants they leave themselves vulnerable more often if they have 10 round magazines. Once again we see something advocated by gun control supporters working against the lawful.
Dianne Feinstein continues her holy crusade to make criminals out of currently lawful gun owners. One of the scams she’s proposing would be to regulate semi-automatic rifles under the National Firearms Act (NFA). For those who aren’t aware the NFA is the piece of legislation that requires individuals to obtain a $200 tax stamp from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms an Explosives (ATF) in order to purchase an automatic firearm not prohibited under the Hughes Amendment, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, supressors, and anything else the ATF randomly classifies as an Any Other Weapon (AOW). In other words such legislation would require everybody currently in possession of a semi-automatic rifle to get the ATF’s permission and pay the agency a $200.00 tax stamp:
Notice her implicit lie. She claims that there are devices to convert semi-automatic rifles into fully-automatic rifles so they should be regulated under the NFA. The implication is that a converted semi-automatic rifle doesn’t fall under the NFA regulations, which is false. If you convert a semi-automatic rifle to be fully-automatic it is legally a machine gun. Since the Hughes Amendment prohibits civilian ownership of any machine gun registered after May 19, 1986 one would be committing a felony by converting their semi-automatic firearm. In other words what she’s proposing is asinine because converting a semi-automatic rifle into a fully-automatic rifle is already illegal.
Mikhail Kalashnikov has been on this planet for 93 years. The reliability of his body has only been matched by the weapon he designed, which is why this news doesn’t worry me:
Mikhail Kalashnikov, the 93 year-old inventor of the world’s most popular automatic rifle, has been admitted to a cardiology hospital in the Russian city of Izhevsk, in the Urals.
The engineer’s health is said to have worsened during a routine check up on December 20, and Kalashnikov has stayed in intensive care ever since.
According to his biographer Aleksandr Uzhanov, the weapons designer, who has until recently regularly attended work at the military plant in named after him, “feels good and plans to leave the hospital in the coming days.”
Doctors confirm the life of the increasingly frail Kalashnikov is not in immediate danger.
Although he may seem troubled now his is assured if the doctors merely kicks his rusted bolt open again. Here’s wishing well to one of the best weapons designers in history.
Advocates of gun control seem to think nothing bad can come from registering firearms. If you say you oppose firearm registration they’ll often call you paranoid or say some mutation of the phrase “If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.” Why would a gun owner who has done nothing wrong oppose firearm registration systems? Because they can lead to fiascos like this:
The map indicates the addresses of all pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties. Each dot represents an individual permit holder licensed to own a handgun — a pistol or revolver. The data does not include owners of long guns — rifles or shotguns — which can be purchased without a permit. Being included in this map does not mean the individual at a specific location owns a weapon, just that they are licensed to do so.
At the link you’ll find two maps. One map shows the location of every handgun permit holder in Westchester County and the other shows every handgun permit holder in Rockland County (both counties are in New York). If you click on any of the dots that appear on the map you’ll get the name of the permit holder and their address. What are the ramifications of such a map? Let’s say you were a criminal in search of a handgun or a burglar looking for high money merchandise, what would you do with this map? In all likelihood you would use this map to find known handgun owners, stake out their residences, and break in when nobody was home in the hopes of walking away with some handguns. Handguns are valuable items for thieves. These maps basically give thieves prospective targets to rob.
This is one reason why firearm registration systems are bad, they provide information to criminals on prospective targets for robbery. If gun control advocates are truly concerned with keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals they should oppose firearm registration schemes. Even if the information isn’t generally made available to the public it can be leaked by individuals who have access to the data. A list of handgun permit holders would be a valuable item and therefore an individual in control of such a database would have motives to leak it.
One of the debates being waged in the United States revolves around universal healthcare. Unfortunately those who claim to advocate universal healthcare don’t. Instead they advocate universal coverage, which isn’t care:
There is this really stupid tendency among people to confuse “coverage” with “care.” They are not, nor will they ever be the same thing. Coverage means that it will be paid for. Care means you actually receive it. So all this focus on getting everyone insured is a waste of time and is in itself stupid.
The important thing to understand about insurance is that it doesn’t CREATE medical resources. It’s sole purpose is to finance the treatment for problems that you develop later on. Giving everyone health insurance does NOTHING to fix a lack of healthcare. Reducing scarcity can only come one way: by increasing supply. This is the thing that no one wants to admit. You can’t fix the healthcare problem with more insurance and by forcing people to buy it.
So now that we know that “coverage” is a bullshit goal, what should we try to accomplish?
We need more “care.” And we can only address this problem by considering what is preventing more care from entering the marketplace.
Most people mistakenly believe that progressives support universal healthcare and libertarians oppose the concept. The opposite is true. What most progressives advocate is called single-payer health insurance. In such a system everybody pays their insurance premiums to the state and the state becomes the sole payer for health services. Such a system isn’t universal healthcare though because it doesn’t create more medical resources, it merely give a monopoly on paying for medical resources to the state.
Libertarians on the other hand want universal healthcare. The state has put numerous barriers between developers of medical resources and the market. These barriers prevent a great many medical innovations from ever reaching those in need. Eliminating these barriers is one step towards universal healthcare as it would lead to the creation of new medical resources and encourage competition, which tends to lead to more affordable goods. In fact one of the biggest flaws in single-payer insurance models is the lack of competition. The single-payer dictates what it’s will pay for various medical resources and medical resource providers must either offer their resources at those prices or not offer anything at all. There is no advantage to providing resources for less nor is there any reason to provide a resource that costs more than what the single-payer is offering.
Focusing on coverage instead of care is why state controlled health insurance has continued to fail. Just because everybody is covered doesn’t mean there are the medical resources available to meet everybody’s needs. In most cases ensuring everybody has coverage leads to more severe shortages as everybody is laying claim to the finite number of resources. This is why countries that have state controlled health insurance systems resort to rationing medical resources.
Once again the goals of progressives and libertarians aren’t mutually exclusive. Progressives want universal healthcare and try to provide it by giving health insurance to everybody. Libertarians want universal healthcare and try to provide it by allowing markets to provide more medical resources. The progressive method fails to address the root of the problem, which is the fact that there is only a finite amount of medical resources. Meanwhile the libertarian method focuses on addressing the finite amount of medical resources by making it easier for medical resource producers to provide more medical resources. If medical resources become more abundant they will also become cheaper and if medical resources become cheaper the need for insurance goes down dramatically.