A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Not So Crazy Libertarian Ideals’ tag

Buying Less for More

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The Trump administration has decided to devalue your dollars even more by placing additional tariffs on Chinese goods:

The US is imposing new tariffs on $200bn (£150bn) of Chinese goods as it escalates its trade war with Beijing.

These will apply to almost 6,000 items, marking the biggest round of US tariffs so far.

Handbags, rice and textiles will be included, but some items expected to be targeted such as smart watches and high chairs have been excluded.

The Chinese commerce ministry said it had no choice but to retaliate but is yet to detail what action it will take.

The US taxes will take effect from 24 September, starting at 10% and increasing to 25% from the start of next year unless the two countries agree a deal.

The upside of trade wars is that they don’t start out as shooting wars. The downside of trade wars is that they’re a war on consumers. Every tariff means that consumers are stuck paying more for less. A bag of rice that costs $5.00 can suddenly cost $6.25 for no reason other than where it was produced. A cell phone that costs $500 can suddenly cost $625. What makes tariffs a real gut punch though is that since they’re usually calculated by the price of a good, they increase as inflation causes prices to increase. If that $500 cell pone begins to cost $600 due to inflation, the cost with the tariff tax included will be $750.

The only winner in a trade war is the government because it pockets the tariffs.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 18th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Capitalism is Having to…

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A popular meme amongst socialists is “Capitalism is having to,” followed by something that one needs to do to survive. For example, capitalism is having to enslave yourself to a corporation just so you can eat. This meme would be a lot more effective if the alternative was actually better but as Robert Higgs points out, the alternative sucks:

All honest people recognize that when push comes to shove, state functionaries will kill people who steadfastly refuse to pay the tribute (“taxes”) that the rulers demand. Yet people whose very survival hinges on their paying what amounts to rent on their own lives persist in calling themselves free.

Under a capitalist system you have to sell your labor to an employer, become an entrepreneur, appeal to a patron, or find some other means of obtaining the means of survival. Under a socialist system the State is supposed to provide your means of survival but it needs the resources to do so since nobody has figured out how to conjure food, water, shelter, and clothing from ether. It acquires those resources through a system of taxation. The difference between the capitalist and socialist systems is that the capitalist system puts your survival in your own hands whereas the socialist system requires you to first pay rent on your very life and only then can you hope that the State will deem you worthy of receiving the resources you need to survive.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 31st, 2018 at 11:00 am

Optimism

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which finds its spine from time to time, is pointing out what it believes are limitations of Amazon’s facial recognition system:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said Thursday that in its new test of Amazon’s facial recognition system known as Rekognition, the software erroneously identified 28 members of Congress as people who have been arrested for a crime.

Emphasis mine.

The only flaw I see in Amazon’s facial recognition system is that it’s too optimistic. As the identified members of Congress are members of Congress they deserve to be arrested.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 26th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Court Rules in Favor of Right to Carry

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Gun control advocates have a problem with simple English. Consider the text of the Second Amendment:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The words “shall not be infringed” are straight forward. Somehow gun control advocates can read that and come to the conclusion that the text means that any and all restrictions can be placed on gun ownership. Oftentimes their belief is taken to an absolutely absurd level. For example, the government of Hawaii believed that that text meant that an individual is only allows to carry a firearm in their home. A United States appeals court didn’t buy it:

(Reuters) – A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees a right to openly carry a gun in public for self-defense, finding that Hawaii overstepped its authority to regulate firearms possession outside the home.

[…]

In a 2-1 decision on Tuesday, the panel found Hawaii infringed on the rights of plaintiff George Young when it twice denied him a permit the state requires to openly carry a gun in public.

“We do not take lightly the problem of gun violence,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote in Tuesday’s ruling. “But, for better or for worse, the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.”

Cue the gun control advocates screaming that blood will soon be flowing through the streets of Hawaii even though the exact same prediction has failed to come true every single time they have made it.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 25th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Domestic Tariffs

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Tariffs are in the news after Trump decided that the playing field between the bureaucratically choked United States and the rest of the world needed leveling. But what about domestic tariffs? The states that make up the United States aren’t supposed to implement tariffs against each other but thanks to the Supreme Court they now can:

If an internet retailer in Pasadena, CA sells a good or service to a resident of Washington, D.C., simple logic dictates that the transaction not be sales-taxed in Washington, D.C. It shouldn’t because the business isn’t in Washington. It’s on the other side of the country, and there the business will pay Pasadena taxes. So when judges and politicians talk about the importance of levying sales taxes on outside vendors, what they’re really saying is that they want government to dip its hands into our pockets twice.

Stating the obvious, the internet sales tax isn’t about leveling the tax playing field as much as it’s yet another grab of the economy by politicians. “Grab of the economy” is an apt phrase simply because politicians don’t tax away our dollars to stare lovingly at them; rather they take our dollars for what they can be exchanged for. The more tax dollars that politicians collect, the greater their ability to be size buyers of cars, trucks, land, buildings, and most economy-suffocating of all, human labor. Having decided they’re not collecting enough of what we earn, and plainly averse to competing with other locales when it comes to keeping taxes down, gluttonous local governments naturally love the idea of using internet commerce as another way to take.

About all this, let’s make no mistake about what these tax-thirsty governments are doing. Much like businesses that seek protection from competition, they’re seeking protection from lower-tax cities, states and countries. To be very clear, they’re seeking tariff-protection. Let’s call them domestic protectionists.

The reason the issue of online sales taxes arose is because politicians in tax heavy states were losing out to states with less burdensome taxes. Online retailers can operate anywhere in the world, which means many operate in states with relatively low sales tax. For example, an online retailer could headquarter in Montana, which has no sales tax and sell to somebody living in Minnesota, which has an absurdly high 6.875 percent sales tax. The person in Minnesota will be encouraged to purchase from the online retailer over a local sellers because the local seller will charge an addition 6.875 percent on top of the cost of the good or service. This arrangement upsets the politicians in Minnesota because they lose the opportunity to pocket some of the buyer’s money. If Minnesota can force the retailer in Montana to collect sales tax for it, it wins (and, of course, retailers throughout the country lose because they have to become experts on Minnesota sales tax laws along with the sales tax laws of their own state).

A lot of people believe that arrangement sounds fair (funny enough, they’re often the same people who are currently bitching about federal tariffs). But the alternative, states with high sales taxes having to lower their taxes in order to compete with states with low sales taxes, would be far fairer to consumers, especially poorer consumers to whom an additional 6.875 percent isn’t chump change.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 24th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Mr. Musk’s Greater South Africa

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Elon Musk has two transportation programs, as space program, and now he’s working on a utilities program. At this point he has enough traditionally government programs to basically be a government:

For around four years now, the water supply to the city of Flint, Michigan, has been contaminated with lead. Now, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has promised to help. Replying to a request on Twitter, Musk pledged to fund remediation work to houses with contaminated water supplies.

Snowcrash’s future is actually one of the more pleasant ones and I don’t think that I’d mind being a citizen of Mr. Musk’s Greater South Africa. At least it’ll have a space presence, high-speed underground transportation, and clean drinking water.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 13th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Public Schools Aren’t About Educating

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I take every opportunity that I can to point out that government indoctrination centers, often mistakenly called public schools, aren’t about education. However, no matter what evidence I provide to back up my argument people continue believing otherwise. But now even the government itself is admitting that its indoctrination centers aren’t about educating children:

A federal judge has concluded that the Constitution doesn’t require schools to promote students’ literacy.

This is something that you don’t see every day, a government goon being forthright and honest.

The core of this story involves a group of Detroit students suing the government because it failed to even teach them their ABCs:

The lawyers filing the suit—from the pro bono Los Angeles firm Public Counsel—contend that the students (who attend five of Detroit’s lowest-performing schools) are receiving an education so inferior and underfunded that it’s as if they’re not attending school at all. The 100-page-plus complaint alleges that the state of Michigan (which has overseen Detroit’s public schools for nearly two decades) is depriving these children—97 percent of whom are students of color—of their constitutional rights to liberty and nondiscrimination by denying them access to basic literacy.

I don’t see their case going well for the students. The deck is already stacked against them since they’re suing the government in the government’s own court system. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to sue the government without dealing with that conflict of interest. The other problem the students will likely run into is the Constitution itself. If you look at enough court decisions based on the language of the Constitution, you quickly learn that the Constitution more often than not means whatever is convenient for the government. Take the language in the Second Amendment as an example. The phrase, “Shall not be infringed,” seems pretty straight forward. The language itself seems to clearly state that the federal government cannot restrict firearm ownership in any way. But the federal government restricts firearm ownership in a multitude of ways and most of the time when those restrictions have been challenged in court judges have decide that “Shall not be infringed,” means that the federal government can infringe gun ownership in almost any manner it wants.

As far as I recall, the Constitution doesn’t mention education. Since it doesn’t mention education and it’s far more convenience for the government in this case if it has no responsibility to provide an education, you can feel safe betting money that judges will rule against the students.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 10th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Another Socialist Paradise

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The best argument against socialism is socialism itself. Socialists will often argue that socialist nations ensure that their people have access to shelter, food, clean water, healthcare, and so on. That may be the case initially, though even that is extremely rare, but eventually the iron rule of TANSTAAFL comes into play and the price of all of those “free” things makes itself apparent and, unfortunately, that price is very high:

Venezuelan security forces have carried out hundreds of arbitrary killings under the guise of fighting crime, the UN says in a new report.

The UN’s human rights body says it has credible accounts of security forces raiding poor neighbourhoods and killing young men, often in their homes.

The rule of law was “virtually absent” in the country, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.

Somebody has to pay for all of those “free” goods and services. If there is a great deal of wealth in a nation, its government can pilfer that wealth for quite some time to provide its promised “free” goods and services (which is how many European countries are getting away with it). However, the government eventually pilfers all of the wealth. When that happens, people begin to starve and starving people have a habit of not starving to death quietly. They tend to rebel. When that happens, the government has only one option to maintain its power: brute force.

Things get ugly when men with guns go against men without guns. But the men with guns who are employed by collapsing governments tend to only stay loyal so long as they’re receiving paychecks. Since the Venezuelan government is running out of money, it will soon be unable to pay its soldiers. Once the soldiers aren’t being paid, they will likely turn on everybody (they have the guns so they can take whatever they want from those without guns) and a warlord or two will eventually gain enough support to become the new government. It’s a messy process but the inevitable one for socialist nations.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 22nd, 2018 at 10:00 am

Civitates Foederatae Americae Delendae Sunt

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Since I’m on the topic of perspective, let’s take a moment to consider the current crisis, immigrant children being held in concentration camps:

Reporters and Democratic lawmakers have been allowed inside a detention centre that lies at the heart of a growing storm over a new US policy separating migrant children from their parents.

Authorities did not allow photos or videos to be taken inside the centre, but US Customs and Border Protection later released several images. Former First Lady Laura Bush has compared it to the internment camps used for Japanese-Americans during World War Two. A Democratic congressman who visited the site said it was “nothing short of a prison”.

If you listen to many partisans, you may be lead to believe that Trump is personally kidnapping these children to put them in concentration camps. The first red flag in this article should be that photos were not allowed. Why should that be a read flag? Because it raises an awkward question, from where have all of the pictures of these concentration camps come? Awkward questions often have awkward answers:

There’s also precedent for warehousing immigrant children at military bases. In 2014, Obama temporarily held kids at an emergency shelter at Lackland AFB in San Antonio — a development that Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott were appalled by at the time. The photo at the top of this story — of Central American kids at a Border Patrol processing center — has been repeatedly mistaken as a recent, Trump-era image. In fact, it’s from 2014, during the Central American refugee surge.

Many of the pictures being passed around supposedly from current concentration camps full of children are actually from concentration camps full of children that existed under the previous president. Yes, you read correctly, concentration camps that existed under Obama.

If it wasn’t for humanity’s wonderful feature referred to as cognitive dissonance, this news might shake some partisain’s political faith in their party. Fortunately for them, cognitive dissonance will guard most of them from having to accept this difficult information. However, all of us should keep in mind that human rights abuse is nothing new for the United States of America.

From kidnapping Native American children and forcing them to abandon their heritage and language under the guide of civilizing and educating them to interring Japanese Americans during World War II for no other reason than their descent to the continuous abuse of black individuals from slavery to Jim Crow laws to the drug war, there hasn’t been a single instance in the United States’ history where the federal government wasn’t abusing large swaths of people.

None of the human rights abuses being perpetrated under Trump are new or without precedence. Moreover, if voting could fix this, as most partisans either outright claim or imply, this issue would have been fixed already.

If you’re actually looking for a solution to the human rights abuses perpetrated by the United States government, there is only one solution.

Civitates Foederatae Americae delendae sunt!

Written by Christopher Burg

June 19th, 2018 at 11:00 am

The End of Enforceable Prohibitions

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I’m fond of pointing out to prohibitionists that the era of enforceable prohibitions is over:

In the very near future, governments will lose the ability to keep guns, drones, and other forbidden goods out of the hands of their subjects. They’ll also be rendered impotent to enforce trade and technology embargoes. Power is shifting from the state to individuals and small groups courtesy of additive manufacturing—aka 3D printing—technology.

Additive manufacturing is poised to revolutionize whole industries—destroying some jobs while creating new opportunities. That’s according to a recent report from the prestigious RAND Corporation, and there’s plenty of evidence to support the dynamic and “disruptive” view of the future that the report promises.

Throughout history power has ebbed and flowed. At times centralized authorities are able to wield their significant power to oppress the masses. At other times events weaken those centralized authorities and the average person once again finds themselves holding a great deal of power.

Technological advancements are quickly weakening the power of the centralized nation-states. Encryption technology is making their surveillance apparatus less effective. Cryptocurrencies are making it difficult for nation-states to monitor and block transactions. Manufacturing technology is allowing individuals to make increasingly complex objects from the comfort of their own homes. The Internet has made freely trading information so easy that censorship is quickly becoming impossible.

We live in exciting times.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 12th, 2018 at 11:00 am