A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Your Government Doesn’t Love You’ tag

Almost the Right Idea

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On Monday a group of individuals in Minneapolis held a solidarity march with the people in Charlottesville who protested the national socialists. This wasn’t surprising in the least. There is a pretty solid Antifa movement here in the Twin Cities as well as a large contingent of international socialists (although the two groups often overlap there are also people who are members of one but not the other). What was rather surprising though was that some of the marchers actually remove the Hennepin County flag at the Hennepin County Government Center and replaced it with an Antifa flag. Afterwards, the Hennepin County flag was burned along with an effigy of a Nazi.

I think that the protesters almost had the right idea. Had they simply remove the flag and called it a day I’d have given them serious kudos. After all, I’m in favor of removing the State’s symbolism. But replacing the State’s symbolism with more tribal symbolism is, in my opinion, pointless. So I guess I’ll give the protesters half credit for that one.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 16th, 2017 at 10:00 am

The Importance of Values

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Ken White wrote a great post that rebuts those who believe the government should curtail certain types of speech. It’s especially timely since, as he points out, we’ve reached the bottom of one hypothetical slippery slope brought up by proponents of government restricted speech: Nazis marching down the streets of American cities.

But you cannot destroy a value in order to save it. Nazis — like terrorists — hope that we will abandon principles and fundamentally change who we are out of fear. Assault is assault, threats are threats, murder is murder, and all of them should be vigorously investigated and prosecuted. The allowance for self-defense by those threatened by Nazis should reasonably be generous. But despicable speech is protected by the First Amendment, and should remain so. Our present circumstances show why it is sheer terrified madness to entrust a broad power to prevent or punish speech upon a fickle state. We’ve flirted with that madness of abandoning rights in pursuit of safety for our nation’s whole life. The flirtation has turned sordid and degrading during the War on Crime and frankly self-destructive after 9/11. It would be philosophical suicide to hasten it now by giving a government — a visibly terrible and amoral government — the power to regulate speech. This is the final hypothetical come to pass: if the state asked you to give up freedoms in exchange for a dubious promise it would make you safer, would you do it? Would you convince yourself that the state would only use the power against Them, and not you?

Handing the government more power always sounds like a good idea when the people you agree with are in charge of that government. But that power looks frightening when its in the hands of the people you disagree with.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 15th, 2017 at 10:00 am

When the First Amendment Applies

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Since there is some confusion about what free speech actually means, I gave an example of what doesn’t constitute a violate of free speech. Today I will give an example of what does count as a violation of free speech:

Can the government ban the text of the First Amendment itself on municipal transit ads because free speech is too “political” for public display?

If this sounds like some ridiculous brain teaser, it should. But unfortunately it’s not. It’s a core claim in a lawsuit we filed today challenging the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) restrictions on controversial advertising.

The ACLU, ACLU of D.C., and ACLU of Virginia are teaming up to represent a diverse group of plaintiffs whose ads were all branded as too hot for transit: the ACLU itself; Carafem, a health care network that specializes in getting women access to birth control and medication abortion; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); and Milo Worldwide LLC — the corporate entity of provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

WMATA is a government agency, which means its decisions to allow or prohibit certain forms of speech constitute government censorship and therefore fall under the First Amendment.

This case brings up something I’ve often wondered about. Public transport in the Twin Cities is operated by Metro Transit, which is part of the Metropolitan Council government organization. Metro Transit’s buses and trains are plastered with advertisements. If Metro Transit rejects a proposed advertisement, does that qualify as a violation of the First Amendment. I believe it does but I’ve been curious what the courts would say (not because I think the decisions of courts are meaningful but because I have a morbid curiosity).

Written by Christopher Burg

August 11th, 2017 at 10:30 am

A Disturbance in the Bordertarian Force

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Bordertarians, a term I like for referring to “libertarians” who advocate for closed borders, were on the receiving end of some rather hilarious karma. Members of the band Backwordz, a band that raps about libertarian concepts, was recently ejected from Canada:

One of the people sympathetic to this idea, Eric July of the libertarian-themed band Backwordz, was on his way to a gig in Canada with the rest of his bandmates when they were stopped and held at the border going into Canada.

They were denied entry into the country. They were turned around. They have to cancel their date in Toronto.

One of the members of the band had a DUI on his record and, according to Canadian law, enough time had not passed to allow him entry into the country with that mark on his record.

The border was closed to them.

Justifiably, Eric July was not at all happy about what had happened. That seems like a ridiculous rule to have in place. But more importantly, an uninvited third party, the government of Canada, stepped in between Eric July and the venue that was supposed to host Backwordz. Without any actual authority to do so, they prevented the concert from occurring even though none of the private property owners involved had any issue over the arrangement.

For some reason this has upset some bordertarians. It turns out that they didn’t quite understand what closed borders entail.

In the fantasy utopia of bordertarians, governments pass laws that prevent people they don’t like from entering the country but allow people they do like to enter the country. But that’s not how things work here in the real world. When governments can decide who can and cannot cross their imaginary lines the people aren’t given a say. If, for example, the government decides that people with a DUI charge are prohibited from entering the country even if a majority of the people living in that country find such a rule stupid, people with DUI charges don’t get to enter the country.

As a radical individualist, I oppose any interference with voluntary association, which means I necessarily oppose closed borders. In my world, unlike the world of bordertarians, Backwordz would have been able to play its show because the venue wanted them to play there. The venue’s desire to associate with the band is all that should be needed for Backwordz to play there.

You reap what you sow. If you’re a bordertarian, you should be jumping for joy at this news since a government did exactly what you advocated.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Voluntary Association

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If a homosexual couple asks a baker who is a devout Christian to bake their wedding cake and he refuses for religious reasons, should the State force him to bake the cake? A lot of people, predominantly those on the progressive side of the political spectrum but even some self-proclaimed libertarians, would say yes. Now let’s turn this around. Let’s say the mother of a child who is a fan of Donald Trump asks a baker who hates Trump to bake her son a Trump themed cake, should the baker be required to bake it:

Nine-year-old Dylan Harbin, aka “Pickle,” is such a big fan of President Donald Trump that his mother SueAnn tried to get him a Trump cake for his birthday. However, according to the Washington Post, bakeries in the Harbins’ home state of California have refused to make the cake, forcing the mother to bake the cake herself.

Interestingly enough, some of the people who wanted the State to force a Christian baker to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage don’t hold the same opinion in regards to this scenario.

I support the principle of voluntary association, which includes voluntary disassociation. A devout Christian should be allowed to not bake a cake for a wedding they morally disagree with. Sure, I find them foolish for not taking the job but my personal morals rate coercing somebody into action they don’t want to take far worse than personal discrimination. Likewise, I think the bakers who refused to bake a Trump themed cake are rather foolish, they’re just leaving money on the table, but I also believe they have the right to decided whether or not they want to associate with customers who oppose their political beliefs.

If voluntary association doesn’t exist, no other rights can really be said to exist. Moreover, if somebody can force you to do something against your will, you’re not really free.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 10:00 am

How Civil Asset Forfeiture Reduces Economic Mobility

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Believers in the American dream still talk about how people who had nothing managed to pull themselves up by their bootlaces and make it big. Proponents of socialism point out that such economic mobility almost never happens. Are believers in the American dream right? Can somebody from poverty elevate themselves to the middle class or higher? Are the socialist right? Is such economic mobility a pipe dream? They’re both correct.

In a free market and where property rights are recognized it is certainly possible for a person to elevate themselves from poverty to a comfortable or even luxurious life. However, such mobility seldom happens this day an age. Where both parties get things wrong is believing that the United States has a free market and property rights.

There is no free market in the United States and there sure as the fuck isn’t a concept of property rights:

Asset forfeiture primarily targets the poor. Most forfeitures are for small amounts: in 2012, the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that has focused heavily on asset forfeiture, analyzed forfeiture in 10 states and found that the median value of assets seized ranged from $451 (Minnesota) to $2,048 (Utah). Given that law enforcement routinely take everything they find in a forfeiture case, these small values suggest the relative poverty of the victims.

The procedural hurdles for challenging asset forfeiture also mean that poor people are less able to get their money back. The average forfeiture challenge requires four weekdays in court; missing four days of work can be a prohibitive expense for Americans living paycheck to paycheck. Additionally, claims are challenged in civil court, where the right to counsel doesn’t apply, meaning that claimants need to hire their own lawyer.

Asset forfeiture is especially dangerous for the unbanked, because police and federal agents consider high amounts of cash to be suspect. In 2013, half of all households with incomes of less than $15,000 were either unbanked or underbanked. In a report on non-criminal asset forfeiture, the Center for American Progress argues that “low-income individuals and communities of color are hit hardest” by forfeiture.

Civil asset forfeiture allows the State to seize your property if one of its law enforcers accuses you of a drug crime or affiliation with terrorism. The only time proof comes into play with civil asset forfeiture is when the accused party has to prove that the officer’s accusation was incorrect, which is nearly impossible to do under ideal circumstances. However, as the article notes, poor individuals aren’t operating under ideal circumstances. Many of them cannot afford to take several days off of work to plead their case in court. This makes them prime targets for civil asset forfeiture because law enforcers know that they chances of the property being returned to its rightful owner is practically zero.

As I noted, economic mobility requires property rights because you have to be able to keep what wealth you acquire. If you’re able to scrape together some capital to start a side business but then have that capital stolen, your ability to elevating yourself economically through entrepreneurship is also stolen.

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

Only a Fool Would Let His Enemy Teach His Children

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One of my friends posted this article on Facebook. The article is from a year ago but what it discusses is still valid today. Even though Venezuela is collapsing under the weight of socialism, socialism remains appealing to many people. The fact that a majority of people still support socialism even though it has been one of the greatest killers of the 20th and 21st centuries is probably the greatest argument against democracy but I digress.

How can people still love socialism even though it has caused so much death and misery? I think I can explain this fact using two quotes. Lenin one said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Malcom X said, “Only a fool would let his enemy teach his children.” The ideas of socialism usually take root in the minds of children in government schools indoctrination centers.

All states are socialist to some degree. Some countries, like the United States, have become extremely socialist in nature. Since government indoctrination centers are concerned with ensuring children in their confines develop a love of Big Brother, it’s not surprising that children subjected to a government “education” develop a love of socialism. It’s literally programmed into them at a young age.

People have a tendency to make things fit their bias. This is especially true with biases that were programmed in at a young ago such as political ideology and religion. Even if you present objective truth to somebody that one of their programmed beliefs is incorrect they will more often than not find a way to dismiss that truth so they can continue believing what they believe. The reason socialism remains appealing to so many even though mountains of evidence show that it’s a horrible idea is because parents have let socialists educate their children.

Lenin wasn’t even shy about the fact that he wanted to ability to educate children and why. Malcom X pointed out that it’s foolish to let your enemy educate your children. Yet people who should know better continue to subject to children to government indoctrination centers and are surprised when their children turn out to be mindless statists. That’s how you know Lenin was a strategic genius. He didn’t hide what he was doing and his enemies still fell into his trap.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 4th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Alabama Legislators Moves to Hasten Executions

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The State of Alabama found itself in an embarrassing position. A man who has been on death row for 30 years managed to prove his innocence. While the legislature won’t pass a bill to compensate the man for the three decades of his life the State stole from him, it did ensure that a mistake like this never happens again:

Meanwhile, since Hinton’s release the Alabama legislature has passed a different bill related to capital punishment — the Orwellian-named “Fair Justice Act,” which aims to limit the appeals of death row inmates and speed up executions. As Hinton himself wrote in an op-ed, had the Fair Justice Act been in place at the time of his conviction, he’d almost certainly be dead.

If the State can execute inmates quicker, it doesn’t have to worry about them possibly proving their innocence and thus embarrassing it. See? Problem solved!

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