They Call It a Shield for a Reason

Do you know why they refer to a police badge as a shield? Because it defends against liability even when you murder somebody:

A grand jury has not charged a New York City police officer over the death of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by the officer.

Does anybody remember the heinous crime Garner committed that lead to officer killjoy murdering him? That’s right, he sold an untaxed cigarette. Everybody who has ever claimed that the state doesn’t kill people for not paying taxes can kindly shut the fuck up now.

What makes this ruling even more egregious is that the coroner ruled the act homicide:

Footage of the incident shows New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo placing Garner in the chokehold that was the main cause of death according to the coroner, who further ruled the death a “homicide.” (Police at the scene initially claimed that the asthmatic, 350-pound Garner had suffered a heart attack). Like Wilson, Pantaleo was not indicted.

That probably has something to do with the fact that even the New York Police Department (NYPD), one of the most psychopathic police departments in this country, prohibits officers from using choke holds:

Yet clearly something has gone horribly wrong when a man lies dead after being confronted for selling cigarettes to willing buyers. Especially since, as even Bratton has acknowledged, the chokehold applied by the restraining officer is prohibited by the NYPD’s own rulebook. Does the commissioner really control his officers, and is it time to rethink nanny state policies that create flourishing underground markets?

But the grand jury decided it was all good, which raises an important point. People, especially the tough on crime crowd, like to claim that grand juries are examples of justice at work but in reality they’re just another arm of the state meant to intimidate the people into rolling over. In fact it’s very rare for grand juries to not indite, unless the accused has a shield of course.

Edward Snowden Receives the Swedish Right Livelihood Award

There are still a lot of ignorant worshipers of the state who see Edward Snowden as a traitor I think a majority of the people who have heard of him recognize him for what he is: a hero. And while the United States government tries to find a way to get Snowden back stateside so he can be given the Chelsey Manning treatment other governments are giving him award:

Whistleblower Edward Snowden received several standing ovations in the Swedish parliament after being given the Right Livelihood award for his revelations of the scale of state surveillance.

Snowden, who is in exile in Russia, addressed the parliament by video from Moscow. In a symbolic gesture, his family and supporters said no one picked up the award on his behalf in the hope that one day he might be free to travel to Sweden to receive it in person.

His father, Lon, who was in the chamber for what was an emotional ceremony, said: “I am thankful for the support of the Right Livelihood award and the Swedish parliament. The award will remain here in expectation that some time – sooner or later – he will come to Stockholm to accept the award.”

I also hope that he can someday leave Russia and claim is award. Sadly the wrath of the United States government is long lived and Snowden will likely die of old age before his transgressions are forgotten.

Dey Tuk Er Jurbs

While I understand economics isn’t everybody’s favorite subject of study it’s also not rocket science either (although if you look at some of the magical formulas concocted by Keynesians you might think it is). There is no reason why people today should still believe the myth that automation leads to unemployment. But people still believe it:

The Associated Press has a three-part series on one of the biggest questions business and society will face in coming years.

Are we prepared for a world where 50 to 75 percent of workers are unemployed?

It seems like a ridiculous question, but it’s something economists and technologists say we seriously need to think about. It’s just math.

If you believe this then do yourself a huge favor and read Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. Chapter seven, title The Curse of Machinery, buries this myth under six well deserved feet of ground.

Back when the industrial revolution was in full swing people often cursed automation as the killer of jobs. Then computers came to the market and they were going to render us all unemployed. Now we’re all supposed to be afraid of the job killing robots. In the end every supposed killer of jobs has failed to render everybody unemployed. Instead the employment market changed. People are still needed to do things that machines cannot. Even if we do reach a point where a vast majority of work is performed by robots it will only mean that goods and services will be so incredibly cheap that people will have to perform very little work to afford them. It will also mean that labor will become more specialized and therefore more expensive so an individual could live a very comfortable existence by only working a handful of hours a week, month, or year.

The robots may render specific jobs obsolete but they won’t render everybody unemployed. That’s just history.

You May Not Be Free But Encryption Works

The feds have been throwing a hissy fit since Apple and Google both announced that device encryption will be enabled by default on all of their mobile devices. Members of the Department of Justice have even gone so far as to imply that Apple (and, likely, Google) are marketing their devices to criminals and will ultimately be responsible for the death of a child (when all else fails just think of the children). But many people still wonder if these public tantrums are just for show. Do the feds have magical super-quantum-hyperdrive-computers that can crack any form of encryption ever?

Further evidence indicates they do not. Courts documents have been found showing how desperate the feds are getting in order to break device encryption:

OAKLAND, CA—Newly discovered court documents from two federal criminal cases in New York and California that remain otherwise sealed suggest that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is pursuing an unusual legal strategy to compel cellphone makers to assist investigations.

In both cases, the seized phones—one of which is an iPhone 5S—are encrypted and cannot be cracked by federal authorities. Prosecutors have now invoked the All Writs Act, an 18th-century federal law that simply allows courts to issue a writ, or order, which compels a person or company to do something.

A magical piece of paper that can compel you to do work for the state? Obviously we live in the freest country on Earth! While this story is further evidence that we’re little more than serfs in the eyes of the state it also shows that encryption works.

I know a lot of conspiracy theorists believe that the feds have magical computers that can break any form of encryption by utilizing subspace frequencies or some sort of bullshit like that. If that is true then the state must either be trying to keep it hush hush by not utilizing it (which would make it useless) or it costs a small fortune to operate (which makes it almost useless) because coercing people with the court system is terribly inefficient. So I think these court documents are a good indication that device encryption works pretty well and that’s reassuring.

Obviously rubber-hose cryptanalysis, which issuing legal threats is certainly a form of, is very effective so the question will become whether or not Apple is technically capable of bypassing the iPhone 5S’s encryption. Hopefully it is not.

Children’s Wing of Libertarianism

Over the weekend a few people e-mailed me an article title The Children’s Wing of the Libertarian Party. In it the author attempts to trivialize a good portion of the Libertarian Party by claiming that they’re not real libertarians. Once again we devolve into the No True Libertarian logical fallacy.

Libertarianism, not surprisingly since it is an individualist philosophy, succumbs to a lot of infighting. It seems every libertarian believes him or herself to be the only one who possesses the One True Truth of Truths. If you don’t agree with their definition of libertarianism then you are automatically wrong (and commonly labeled a statist because that’s our favorite insult).

According to the author:

Unlike the real libertarians, this vocal minority is more of the crusaderist variety. More focused on “protesting” and being part of some underdog crusade against “the man.” This results in them voicing protests that are no different than what comes from leftists and socialists.

Hyperbole over police brutality.
All war is evil.
Soldiers are murderers.
It’s all about oil.
The Illuminati.
The legalization of pot
“It’s the corporations MAAAAAN!!!!”
They even have a god damned Wikipedia entry for “libertarian socialism” which is the epitome of contradiction.

In short, they really aren’t libertarians as much as they are college kids who maybe read a pamphlet and now deem themselves “libertarians” since it’s “cool” and “edgy.” You might as well lump them in with the token high school “anarchist” or “marxist,” both parodies of themselves as they Venn diagram with “emo” and “wears mascara.”

Yes, he does appear to have used the phrase “real libertarians” unironically. Based on the article I’m lead to believe that the definition of libertarian in the eyes of the author is basically a Republican that is less socially conservative. In other words the members of the Libertarian Party who really like the state, want the state to severely punish anybody who crosses its imaginary lines without permission, and believes the state’s cronies are examples of a free market at work.

If that’s your thing then you’re free to subscribe to it. But for the purposes of this post I am going to refer to these individuals as the children’s wing of libertarianism. Like children these individuals seem to believe in magic. For example, they honestly believe that doing the same thing again and again will eventually lead to a different result. How else can you explain their participation in the political process? Anybody who has studied the history of politics has seen that playing by the rules put in place by the rulers doesn’t lead to liberty. Many of these self-proclaimed libertarians believe that the United States is the freest country in the world. They believe this because there is a magical scroll called the Constitution that lists a set of spells that supposedly keeps the state in check. Us adults in libertarianism know that those magical spells have failed miserably to keep the state in check because words on a piece of paper are just that, words.

The children within libertarianism also believe that performing certain magical rituals; including caucusing, running for office, and voting; will bring a new era of liberty to the people living in this country. Those of us who have studied political history already know that working within the system established by those in power never results in liberty. Some who have studied the political history of the United States may argue that the political process has granted additional liberty but there is no way one could sanely argue that the overall trend of politics in this country has been greater and greater state power.

In addition to believing in magic the children within libertarianism also suffer from a great deal of cognitive dissonance. Libertarianism is made up of vastly different philosophies but they tend to agree that non-aggression is a good thing. The state is the embodiment of aggression. It exists entirely on the threat and use of force. Adults of libertarianism acknowledge this, which is why we’re anarchists. But the children’s wing of libertarianism seems to believe that a small body of individual can be given the power to initiate violence and be trusted to stay within the bounds of some magical document written over two centuries ago (while, at the same time, complaining that they haven’t stayed within the bounds of that document). That is a level of cognitive dissonance that adults should be incapable of (but sadly are).

The children within libertarianism also enjoy beating on the free market drum while singing the praise of the state. Again this is a form of cognitive dissonance. So long as a handful of individuals can write rules and regulations impacting markets there can be no free markets, at least outside of “black” markets. With the ability to write rules and regulations those in power are able to grant special privileges to those they favor at the expense of those they don’t. Consider the method the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) controls spectrum. When it wants to raise some money it declares some spectrum up for auction. The auction process ensures that only well established market actors are able to gain access to that spectrum because only they are able to bid billions of dollars. The problem is just a continuation of the fact that those established market actors are often the result of previous state regulations pushing out their competitors.

I have a friend who is fond of saying “We’re all libertarians now.” Libertarianism has become little more than a label people like to apply to themselves when they want to sound rebellious and edgy but not too rebellious and edgy. Unfortunately these individuals have seldom studied libertarian philosophy so they end up sounding like children to those of us who have. They might be able to tell you who Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard are but are mostly unfamiliar with their works. Very few, if any, of them will be able to tell you who Tucker, Spooner, or Konkin are.

Monday Metal: Dante’s Inferno by Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody

Are you in the mood for some fucking epic power metal? If not then you’re in the wrong place. For those of you with taste we’re going to be listening to Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody (which is just a fancy name Luca Turilli started to use after splitting from Rhapsody). The song is none other than Dante’s Inferno, which is based on one of the most epic epic poems in history:

I try to shy away from the word “epic” but the Divine Comedy is, in fact, an epic poem so I feel I’m warranted in using the word here (three goddamn times).