A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Political Favors for Favored Businesses

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In celebration of the country’s favorite annual religious festival being held in Minneapolis this year, the Minneapolis City Council has announce that it will magnanimously allow bars to stay open until 4AM between February 2nd and 4th. But not every bar. Only those close enough to the Temple of Football:

Last week, Minneapolis City Council approved a resolution that will let bars near U.S. Bank Stadium stay open until 4 a.m. for the weekend of the Super Bowl, February 2–4.

The good news is, the chaos will probably be confined to downtown. As GoMN notes, only bars within the “designated area” can apply for the honor of serving the beer-pounding, pigskin-loving, out-of-town masses until the wee hours of the morning — meaning no, you won’t be able to meet up for super late drinks at the CC Club. Bars will also need to pony up a $250 fee for the special permit. (Gee, wonder if that will pay for itself.)

Excellent news for the bars who are fortunate enough to be situated next to The People’s Stadium but not so good news for every other bar.

Why shouldn’t bars elsewhere in the city also be allowed to stay up until 4AM during the Super Bowl? Better yet, why should any restrictions be placed on how late a bar can stay open? Why can’t bar owners decide for themselves how late they’ll keep their establishments open? And why are these special privileges only bestowed when the city will be packed with people from out of town (because, let’s face it, the Vikings aren’t going to be playing in the Super Bowl)? Are the people living in Minneapolis not good enough to deserve these special privileges?

Written by Christopher Burg

October 13th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Learning Lessons the Hard Way

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My view of politics is bleak. I don’t believe voting is capable of bringing about meaningful change nor do I believe that the system can be changed from the inside even if decent people are elected to offices. No matter how often I point out the redundancies that prevent meaningful change from occurring within the State, people continue to argue that we (by which I assume they mean the royal we) have to keep trying. Perhaps those individuals, like this individual, will someday get a job within the State and learn the lesson the hard way:

This summer I got to see how Illinois government works from the inside when I accepted a high-level position at the governor’s office.

A lot of people have asked why I took the role, considering I have spent the bulk of my career railing against the government.

It came down to this: If I declined the job, I’d watch Illinois’ problems go unfixed and wonder if I could have made a difference. Or, I could enter the nucleus of state government and attempt to change the system from within.

[…]

The experience was eye-opening, but after six weeks I decided to leave the position. It was a dysfunctional workplace in a flailing administration. The bad I saw far outweighed any good I could do.

But perhaps worst of all is that I learned early on that there would be no fixing the system from within, especially from my role; this is a state government that has been broken for decades. It is designed to reject improvement in every form, at every level.

Then again they, like most people who enter government, might realize how awesome it is to receive a paycheck for doing nothing meaningful and forget all about their plan to change the system from within. But I digress.

The article is a great read and, although it’s discusses the Illinois government, the issues it brings up apply to any governmental body (or any bureaucracy in general). Promotions aren’t based on merit but on seniority and connections. Since promotions aren’t based on merit, apathy is rampant. Tradition rules. “We’ve always done it this way,” is considered a valid argument for doing something in governmental bodies. The combination of apathy and tradition dictating direction is a recipe for failure. Just ask any number of companies that failed due to apathetic employees pursing the things the company has always done.

Every single member of government is an interchangeable cog in a complex machine. Even an office as powerful as the presidency of the United States of America is unable to bring about any meaningful change, regardless of how much people believe otherwise, because the other cogs don’t want to shake up what they perceive to be a pretty good thing (being a government official is a pretty cushy job).

Written by Christopher Burg

October 11th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Spain Apparently Wants Civil War

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The vote on secession in Catalonia has come and gone. The overwhelming majority of voters voted in favor of secession. However, in order to cast that vote they had to risk beatings from Spanish law enforcers:

The Catalan regional government is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the next steps towards declaring independence from Spain, a day after millions of Catalans voted in a tumultuous poll that left more than 800 people injured.

Preliminary results from Sunday’s vote showed that 90% of people cast their ballots in favour of independence, according to the Catalan government.

At least 844 people and 33 police were reported to have been hurt on Sunday after riot police stormed polling stations in a last-minute effort to stop the vote.

This vote wasn’t even binding and Spain’s law enforcers were willing to beat down over 800 people, which really shows Spain’s attitude towards Catalan independence. As far as Spain is concerned, the only way Catalonia is leaving is in a body bag. However, secession appears to be extremely popular in Catalonia so Spain is unlikely to succeed at keeping the people there under its boot indefinitely. If things continue down this road, Spain will eventually have to decide whether it will let Catalonia secede peacefully or require it engage in a civil war. I’m hoping for the former but based on Spain’s actions so far I fear the latter may be inevitable.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 3rd, 2017 at 10:30 am

Turning Bodies into Speed Bumps

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I try to avoid straight up politicking because it’s boring and unproductive. However, once in a while a politician hands the world something worth ruthlessly mocking discussing. Hillary Clinton apparently released a book titled What Happened. In it she throws a lot of people under the bus. According to the BBC article she names James Comey, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, the media, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, sexism, white resentment, and finally, in a rather surprising twist, herself. Granted, she only admits some fault and only after blaming everybody else but it’s a start.

I bring this up not because blaming other people is somehow unique but because it’s politics as usual. One of the key characteristics of most politicians is the inability to accept their own faults. When they screw up they tend to point the finger at everybody but themselves. If they’re feeling especially charitable, they might note that an insignificant amount of blame can be aimed at them.

This tendency to blame others isn’t unique to politician though. It has practically become an American pastime. Heads of companies will often blame their underlings with a product or service fails to attract property market attention. Employees will often pass the buck to a coworker when they were the ones who actually screwed up. Children love to blame the dog for failing to finish their homework. One of the defining characteristics of the United States is the remarkable ability many have to pass the buck.

I’m not sure if the politicians normalized their behavior or if they only started behaving this way because it became acceptable to do so in the eyes’ of the general public. What I do know is that personal responsibility is almost entirely absent in the political class and in very short supply among the general population.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 13th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in Politics

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Why Collectivism is Doomed to Fail

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Nazism is in the headlines again because there are people who still take the ideology seriously. The fact that anybody takes Nazism seriously is evidence that not enough people have read Ludwig von Mises. Mises thoroughly destroyed Nazism in his book Omnipotent Government. One of the most important points he made was that Nazism, due to its foundational principles, was doomed to eternal strife:

The strong man, say the Nazis, is not only entitled to kill. He has the right to use fraud, lies, defamation, and forgery as legitimate weapons. Every means is right that serves the German nation. But who has to decide what is good for the German nation?

To this question the Nazi philosopher replies quite candidly: Right and noble are what I and my comrades deem such, are what the sound feelings of the people (das gesunde Volksempfinden) hold good, right, and fair. But whose feelings are sound and whose unsound? About that matter, say the Nazis, there can be no dispute between genuine Germans.

But who is a genuine German? Whose thoughts and feelings are genuinely German and whose are not? Whose ideas are German ones—those of Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller, or those of Hitler and Goebbels? Was Kant, who wanted eternal peace, genuinely German? Or are Spengler, Rosenberg, and Hitler, who call pacifism the meanest of all ideas, genuine Germans?

There is dissension among men to whom the Nazis themselves do not deny the appellation German. The Nazis try to escape from this dilemma by admitting that there are some Germans who unfortunately have un-German ideas. But if a German does not always necessarily think and feel in a correct German way, who is to decide which German’s ideas are German and which un-German? It is obvious that the Nazis are moving in a circle. Since they abhor as manifestly un-German decision by majority vote, the conclusion is inescapable that according to them German is whatever those who have succeeded in civil war consider to be German.

This isn’t a problem exclusive to Nazism. Any philosophy that defines what is right or wrong by the “will” of a collective will suffer this exactly problem.

Another thing that Mises pointed out is, “All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.” A collective has no will. It cannot think, reason, or act. Individuals within a collective can think, reason, and act but the collective itself is nothing more than an abstraction. Discussing the “will of the people” is nonsense.

But the abstractions don’t stop there. Once somebody allows themselves to believe that a collective can have a will they inevitably start grouping individuals into various collectives. Usually these collectives are poorly defined. In Mises’ book he points out how poorly defined “genuine German” was. Under Marxism people are grouped into either the proletariat or the bourgeoisie. In the Soviet Union the government threw anybody it didn’t like into a catchall group called kulaks. What constitutes a genuine German, proletariat, bourgeoisie, or kulak? It depends on who gets to define those collectives. Usually the “good” groups, like genuine Germans and proletariat, are defined as “everybody who agrees with me” whereas the “bad” groups, like bourgeoisie and kulaks, are defined as “everybody who disagrees with me.”

The national socialists in this country are already busy defining their collectives. They obvious hold anybody who is white in the highest regard. However, if one happens to be both white and Jewish then they are relegated to the dregs of society because, according to national socialists, Jews are the lowest collective. I’m not sure how Asians rank in their system although I know they certainly rank below whites. Blacks certainly rank pretty low in the national socialist system although I think the current consensus amongst its proponents is that they’re still slightly higher than Jews. These definitions, being abstractions, will shift over time as new people gain influence amongst national socialists. The definition of each race will shift as well as the ranking of the defined races amongst each other. And, of course, battle for influence amongst national socialists will involve a lot of arguments over the minutiae with insults of people who disagree being “race traitors.”

Collectivism is doomed to fail because it relies on poorly defined abstractions. Any system that ignores reality in favor of arbitrarily defined abstractions will implement policies that don’t work in the real world and will therefore eventually collapse.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 15th, 2017 at 11:00 am

A Debate Between National and International Socialism is Hardly a Debate

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In America, much like in Europe, the concept of individualism is almost entirely absent. The political spectrum is synonymous with the socialist spectrum. On the left are the international socialists. On the right are the national socialists. Since the end of World War II, due to their side losing the war, proponents of national socialism have been more or less relegated to the shadows. That has started to change since the election of Donald Trump. The national socialists believe they were critical in getting Trump elected so they also believe that they have a great deal of influence and power, which is probably part of the reason why they are crawling out of the shadows and onto the streets:

Chanting “blood and soil,” “white lives matter” and “you will not replace us,” scores of white nationalists holding torches marched across the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on Friday night.

Scuffles broke out between them and a small group of counter-protesters calling themselves “anti-fascists” who were surrounded as they demonstrated in advance of Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, which is expected to be one of the largest far-right gatherings in the U.S. in at least a decade.

As you’re probably aware, the Unite the Right rally didn’t remain peaceful. Several scuffles broke out and one person drove a car into a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring 19. This shouldn’t have surprised anybody though since this was a political rally and politics is nothing more than a ritualized form of violence.

It seems like most people have either sided with the national socialists or the protesters. If there is a silver lining to this two-sided split it’s that it has revealed many of the crypto-statists who have been hiding amongst the anarcho-capitalists. I’m not a fan of purges but I am a fan of duplicitous people outing themselves. Unfortunately, this being the United States, the protesters seem to be primarily made up of international socialists, which differ from their national socialists brethren only in minor ways.

Under national socialism you’re either a member of the nation and gain the “benefits” of socialism or you’re relegated to the slave class, which means you’re forced to provide the resources necessary for the members of the nation, executed, or the former followed by the latter. What defines a member of the nation or the slave class is largely arbitrary. American national socialists put a lot of emphasis on race, which they also define rather arbitrarily. For example, if you’re white, you’re likely considered a member of the nation… unless you happen to be Jewish as well. This sounds familiar doesn’t it? Replace “member of the nation” with proletariat and “slave class” with bourgeoisie and you have international socialism. So the political debate here in the United States is one of arbitrarily defined definitions.

The only way out of this socialist death spiral is a resurgence of individualism. But if there’s an ideology that is less popular than national socialism here in the United States, it’s individualism. Because while national and international socialists have their disagreements, they can both agree that people who view the individual, not the collective, as supreme are a threat to their power and beliefs and therefore must be exterminated. Since the only alternative to socialism is relegated to the shadows the predominant political debate in this country will hardly be a debate at all.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 14th, 2017 at 10:30 am

A Shocking Development in Venezuela

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I think Venezuela just shocked the entire world. In a totally unprecedented move for a socialist country, the newly established constitutional assembly has granted itself practically unlimited power:

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The new constitutional assembly assumed even more power in Venezuela by declaring itself as the superior body to all other governmental institutions, including the opposition-controlled congress.

That decree came Tuesday just hours after the assembly delegates took control of a legislative chamber and put up pictures of the late President Hugo Chavez, who installed Venezuela’s socialist system.

Delcy Rodriguez, the head of the ruling socialist party and leader of the body, said the unanimously approved decree prohibits lawmakers in congress from taking any action that would interfere with laws passed by the newly installed constitutional assembly.

“We are not threatening anyone,” said Aristobulo Isturiz, the constitutional assembly’s first vice president. “We are looking for ways to coexist.”

Leaders of congress, which previously voted not to recognize any of the new super-body’s decrees, said lawmakers would try to meet in the gold-domed legislative palace Wednesday, but there were questions whether security officers guarding the building would let them in.

History may not repeat itself but it certainly rhymes.

The coup is complete. While the leaders of congress may have voted against recognizing the assembly’s decrees, the only thing that matters at this point is which side has the most armed thugs at its disposal. If the members of congress who oppose the assembly can muster a fighting force great enough to take on the assembly then it has a chance to enforce its oppositional vote. Otherwise those members of congress who refuse to “get with the program” will likely find themselves against the wall in short order. Meanwhile, while the elites have their pissing match the people of Venezuela will continue to starve.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 9th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Might Makes Right

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Most people are appalled by the idea that might makes right. They seem to believe that just because somebody has the might to force their will on others doesn’t mean doing so is moral. However, the response is different if I change the phrasing just a little bit. If I say that the plurality of voters agreed to something then suddenly the use of force becomes moral.

Democracy is nothing more than a popularity contest. For some reason a single individual wanting something and resorting to force to get it is considered immoral to most people. But a plurality of voters, regardless of how small that plurality is, wanting something and resorting to force to get it is considered moral to the same people. What those people are actually saying is that they believe popularity contents determine morality.

We see this attitude whenever somebody justifies aggression against a nonviolent person by saying, “He broke the law!” What is law in the United States is determined primarily by what the plurality of a political body say it is. Since a plurality of voters in Congress voted to ban cannabis and they managed to get a president to sign off on it (if he didn’t then Congress would have just had to override his veto by voting harder), using cannabis is against the law and it is therefore moral, at least in the eye’s of those who support democracy, for law enforcers to go as far as killing cannabis users.

Every single law is enforced with force. Every single law exists because a plurality of voters; in this case usually voters in the United States Congress, state congresses, or city councils; endorsed the law. Democracy is nothing more than might makes right with a single additional stipulation. Might makes right so long as might wins a popularity contest first.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 3rd, 2017 at 11:00 am

How Every Election Should Turn Out

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On election day I follow the advice of the great philosopher George Carlin:

And I’m not alone. During presidential elections voter turnout usually hovers around 60 percent, which means roughly 40 percent of eligible voters stay home as well (thank them for not trying to force their beliefs on you). Voter burnout during non-presidential national elections is generally lower while municipal elections are usually lower yet. In Wichita, Kansas the turnout for City Council District 1 was even lower than most municipal elections:

Three hours into voting for Wichita City Council District 1, the race was locked in a four-way tie.

Zero, zero, zero to zero.

Advance voting in the Aug. 1 primary election opened at 8 a.m. Monday at the Sedgwick County election office downtown.

But by 11 a.m., “We haven’t had anyone vote yet,” Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman said. “It’s sad.”

By the end of the day a total of seven people showed up to the polls. Everybody else in that district might want to find out who those seven fools were and steer clear of them since they obviously have an interest in forcing their beliefs on their neighbors but I digress. Democratically elected governments derive their “legitimacy” from numbers. The more people who vote for a government the more “legitimate” it claims to be. However, when nobody votes or only a handful of people vote the elected government can’t claim much “legitimacy.” How can an elected official claim to represent the people if only three or four people voted for them?

One of the best ways to strip a democratically elected government of its “legitimacy” is to join the rest of us who stay home on election day. After all, if the president was actually decided by the choice made by the plurality of eligible voters then Donald Trump wouldn’t be in office nor would anybody else because the plurality said that they didn’t want a ruler (See how easy it is to point out that the president doesn’t actually represent the people?).

Written by Christopher Burg

July 18th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Government Doesn’t Care About Your Privacy

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If you leak personal, often referred to as classified, information about the government you may get kidnapped by its enforcers and thrown in a cage for decades. But the government doesn’t treat your personal information in the same regard as its own:

People who spoke up about their concerns over privacy suddenly found key private details, including their email and sometimes even home addresses, released by none other than President Donald Trump’s administration. The presidential commission charged with investigating alleged fraud that has been plagued by controversy from the start published a 112-page document of unredacted emails of public comment on its work, which to no surprise are largely negative of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. When it published the comments, the White House didn’t remove any of the personal information, meaning many of the comments are accompanied by personal details of the person who wrote it.

This is another reason why I don’t waste my time responding to government requests for public input. Not only is it a waste of time since the government doesn’t actually care about the public’s input but the personal information of anybody who does respond often ends up being publicly released. This is especially dangerous for people who have legitimate threats to their lives such as women who are hiding from abusive exes or a public figure who is being stalked by an obsessive fan.

While Slate implied that this was unique to the Trump administration, it’s actually quite common for the government to release personal information about people who submit comments to its requests as part of the public record. My recommendation for government requests for comment is the same as my recommendation for voting, don’t waste your time interacting with the government.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 18th, 2017 at 10:00 am