Archive for the ‘You’re Doing it Right’ tag
I generally believe that the United States education system is a cesspool. But once in a while somebody emerges from the muck and becomes a hero to us all. Beth Elaine Allen is one such person:
According to 12 felony and gross misdemeanor counts filed Friday in Hennepin County District Court, Beth Elaine Allen, 64, is estimated to owe the state more than $50,000 in outstanding taxes, penalties and interest over a five-year period. Charges say Allen failed to pay income taxes since at least 2003, but due to the statute of limitations for tax crimes, charges are limited to years 2010 to 2015.
Five years of denying the State of Minnesota a portion of her revenue. That’s quite a streak! Of course, it could have been longer if she was more intelligent about it. If you’re going to forego paying taxes you should do everything you can to stay off of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) radar. For example, if you can’t pay your mortgage don’t spend lavishly after your home is foreclosed:
Investigators also found that Allen bought a Minneapolis condo in 1992 for $245,000 and made mortgage payments of $1,400 until it was foreclosed in 2011, that she paid $94 a day to live at the Residence Inn in Plymouth and pays $700 a month to store her belongings. Credit card receipts show she spent thousands on travel, restaurants, grocery stores, liquor and wineries.
That’s the kind of thing that raises red flags with revenuers and red flags can lead to investigations. So I commend Beth on refusing to pay money to the State but I think she could have gone about it better.
One of the reasons healthcare in the United States costs so much is because dealing with health insurance companies is a hassle. The cost of dealing with insurance companies gets pushed onto the consumer. Fortunately, some doctors are starting to see the light and moving towards doing business in cash:
In March, Business Insider reported on a new movement happening with primary care doctors. It’s called direct primary care, and it works like this: Instead of accepting insurance for routine visits and drugs, these practices charge a monthly membership fee that covers most of what the average patient needs, including visits and drugs at much lower prices.
It’s happening at a time when high-deductible health plans are on the rise — a survey in September found that 51% of workers had a plan that required them to pay up to $1,000 out of pocket for healthcare until insurance picks up most of the rest.
And it’s not just happening in primary care. A number of specialists — oncologists, physical therapists, and even some hospitals — are jumping on board as well.
As government entangles itself more in the health insurance market the costs will continue to increase. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, many people are already at the point where they can’t afford health insurance. I hope the continuously increasing cost of insurance will cause this slow trend of cash-only doctors to take off like a rocket. The more the medical industry divorces itself from the State the more healthcare quality will increase and costs will decrease.
Because most politicians today lack any kind of spine, most states have laws against public officials solving disputes by dueling. Oregon might changed that. There may be a ballot initiative in that state to remove the prohibition from the constitution:
Should ongoing discussions in Salem materialize, voters would see a question on their general-election ballots asking if a 172-year-old ban on dueling by public officials — as in, the old-fashioned way of resolving fights — should be erased from the Oregon Constitution.
The constitutional ban in question is Article II, Section 9, which says anyone who offers, accepts, knowingly participates in a “challenge to fight a duel … or who shall agree to go out of the State to fight a duel, shall be ineligible to any office of trust, or profit.” (this is exact language from the constitution)
I’m of the opinion that dueling between politicians shouldn’t only be legal, it should be mandatory! They’re constantly looking for ways to use the State’s capacity for violence to enforce their will upon the people. That being the case, they should have to face some of that government violence themselves. Although I have my doubts that this proposal will gain any traction, if it does I hope the people of Oregon eagerly support repealing the prohibition.
A lot of municipalities require residents to sign up for garbage removal service. As far as I can tell, the justification for such requirements is that residents are too lazy to haul their own trash to the dump so every one of them must pay somebody else to do it. But rules are for thee, not for me. When the State decides to leave trash on land it claims as its property what consequences befall it? Usually nothing. However, once in a while there are a handful of people who step in and take action:
Since December, clothes, syringes and other waste — remnants of a homeless camp — sat at the corner on the edge of downtown. St. Paul staff members said they repeatedly called the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the property, and asked them to clean it up. But the trash remained.
When Mische heard about the months of inaction, he rallied neighbors and family members and spent more than five hours on Saturday and Sunday cleaning it up.
On Saturday, he took about 50 bags of trash to an official dump site. The site was closed Sunday. Frustrated, he thought of an alternative for the additional two dozen bags.
“If City Hall is not going to come get it, we’ll bring it to City Hall,” he said.
He left a heap of trash bags at the doorstep of City Hall.
Personally, I’d have bypassed the dump entirely and went straight to City Hall but that’s just me nitpicking. I applaud Mr. Mische’s efforts. To add icing to the cake, the city has also decided again charging Mr. Mische with illegal dumping. I guess the city decided it would look bad if it fined somebody who did its work for it.
Little acts of civil disobedience such as this may not topple the State but they can act as a thorn in its side.
See? See?! Trump got elected and now grammar nazis around the world feel empowered to act!
A self-confessed “grammar vigilante” has been secretly correcting bad punctuation on street signs for more than a decade.
The anonymous crusader has even invented a special long-handled tool to help him carry out his work.
The tool, known as the ‘Apostrophiser’, helps him reach the highest signs.
Correcting rogue apostrophes is his speciality, and he uses stickers rather than paint to cover up the errors.
Election have consequences!
A common objection made by statists about anarchy is that the anarchists would quickly be conquered by a neighboring state. Apparently the only way to defend ourselves from criminal gangs is to have a criminal gang of our own. Except, as Robert Higgs points out, such objections are based on two flawed presumptions:
This thinking presumes at least two critical ideas: first, that defense of a population requires a government that rules that population; and, second, that if a government has the power to take over another country, it will do so.
As for the first assumption, it seems clear that a national government may prove an ineffective means of defense in any event, as many governments have demonstrated through the ages. Moreover, it is certainly conceivable that decentralized measures of defense, such as pervasive guerrilla groups operating more or less independently, might prove effective in preventing a foreign takeover.
As for the second assumption, the persistence of many small countries with weak governments, even in today’s world, certainly calls into question the idea that effectively defenseless countries cannot persist. Surely Brazil has the means to conquer Uruguay, but it does not do so. Surely Germany or France has the means to conquer Belgium, but neither does so. And so forth in regard to many other countries. Governments have various good reasons for refraining from such possible conquests.
The apocalyptic scenario predicted by statists should be playing out today since there are many states easily able to conquer their neighbors. Unless, of course, the statists are claiming that colored pieces of cloth hanging from poles have some kind of magical power to repel invaders. But even if that’s the case, each anarchist in an stateless society could fly their own piece of colored cloth to keep neighboring states off of their property.
The threat of military invasion as a justification for having a state may be one of the flimsiest arguments against anarchism. We have very good examples of a militarily inferior force holding a military superior force at bay in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries in the Middle East and Africa. Hell, the North Vietnamese showed the United States how successful guerrilla warfare is against a militarily superior force. Lacking a formal military doesn’t make a particular chunk of dirt more vulnerable to invasion. If anything, it makes that chunk of dirt more dangerous because there’s no centralized force to take out to break the inhabitant’s will to continue fighting.
It was brought to my attention that an Internet meme managed to nail a multi-million reality television show. This news didn’t surprise me because she became an Internet meme by being trashy and trashy television sells. Some people aren’t happy about this because they think everybody should watch highbrow television (i.e., whatever television show they like). But the market has spoken and while the market can’t give consumers taste, it does at least give them a choice:
According to reports, Danielle Bregoli, the 14-year-old girl who became a popular internet meme this year due to a failed intervention on the Dr. Phil show, has signed a deal for her own reality television show. On a personal level, there is much to find offensive in Bregoli’s fame, in spite of her obvious marketing prowess. She is, after all, internet-famous simply for her improper English, toxic personal behavior, and apparent lack of respect for anyone around her. On an economic level, however, her rise is an interesting example of how capitalism rewards the interests of the masses, regardless of the opinion of the cultural elite.
Capitalism cannot give consumers taste, just as democracy cannot give voters wisdom. What capitalism does do, however, is give consumers choice — and creates the incentives necessary for producers to meet the desires of the people. Democracy simply offers the masses the ability to enforce the whims of the majority against the wishes of the minority. In America no one will be forced to watch a minute of a reality show about Danielle Bregoli, but should it find commercial success, its viewers will have the ability to shape American policy going forward.
A lot of people believe that their preferences should be everybody’s preferences. State socialism is the ultimate expression of their attitude because the State controls all means of production and therefore dictates what will and will not be provided to consumers. Whoever controls the State, in that case, controls what options consumers have.
Markets work the other way. Anybody can possess means of production and therefore bring options to consumers. Whether one wants media that forces a particular viewpoint down consumers’ throats, show epic space battles, or feature annoying teenage girls being jackasses, they can have their show under a market economy. So while I might judge your for your tastes, the market won’t.
The University of California Berkeley posted 20,000 lectures online for free and there was great joy. Unfortunately, two students from another university decided to ruin the jovial atmosphere by brining a lawsuit against the university claiming that the videos weren’t accessible to everybody and therefore posting them was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The university ended up pulling the videos offline. While the two little bitches may have high-fived each other after their apparent victory, they were obviously too stupid to realize that the Internet is forever:
Today, the University of California at Berkeley has deleted 20,000 college lectures from its YouTube channel. Berkeley removed the videos because of a lawsuit brought by two students from another university under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
We copied all 20,000 and are making them permanently available for free via LBRY.
This makes the videos freely available and discoverable by all, without reliance on any one entity to provide them (even us!).
The full catalog is over 4 TB and will be synced over the next several days.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Internet works.
If you live somewhere that gets hammered by frequent snow storms, you’ve probably heard some statist tell you that the government is necessary to plow the roads. After all, without government, who would plow the roads? It turns out that porn websites will:
When Boston plow truck drivers get to work clearing snow during tomorrow’s big storm, they’ll have some help—from Pornhub.
Pledging to assist anyone who “wants to get plowed,” the adult entertainment site says it is sending out a fleet of branded trucks to clean the city’s streets and parking lots for free.
“The Pornhub team understands that by this time of year, most cities have run up their budget in snow removal,” Pornhub Vice President Corey Price tells Boston, “and we thought we’d lend a hand in getting our fans plowed.”
The trucks will also be available on demand to clear lots owned by small businesses, Price says. Requests for a plowing are being accepted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are not offering to plow driveways, he says.
And unlike government, Pornhub won’t force you to use its service or steal your fucking property if you refuse to pay it for services you’re not using.
Last week it was revealed that Uber developed a self-defense strategy against the State. Needless to say, this upset a lot of statists who were posting the #DeleteUber hashtag even harder than they were before. But those of us who don’t subscribe to the insanity that is statism can learn a lot from Uber’s example:
“SAN FRANCISCO — Uber has for years engaged in a worldwide program to deceive the authorities in markets where its low-cost ride-hailing service was being resisted by law enforcement or, in some instances, had been outright banned.
The program, involving a tool called Greyball, uses data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and circumvent officials. Uber used these methods to evade the authorities in cities such as Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China, Italy and South Korea.
Uber’s use of Greyball was recorded on video in late 2014, when Erich England, a code enforcement inspector in Portland, Ore., tried to hail an Uber car downtown as part of a sting operation against the company.
But unknown to Mr. England and other authorities, some of the digital cars they saw in the app did not represent actual vehicles. And the Uber drivers they were able to hail also quickly canceled. That was because Uber had tagged Mr. England and his colleagues — essentially Greyballing them as city officials — based on data collected from the app and in other ways. The company then served up a fake version of the app populated with ghost cars, to evade capture.”
How brilliant is that? The company identified a significant threat, government goons who were working to extort the company, and then screwed with them, which made their job of extortion more difficult.
This is a strategy more companies need to adopt. Imagine a world where services such as Facebook, Gmail, Google Maps, iCloud, SoundCloud, and other online services identified government goons and refused to work for them. It would be a tremendous strike against the quality of life of many government employees. In fact, the hit might be powerful enough to convince them to seek productive employment.
Companies like Facebook and Google have built their fortunes on surveilling customers. Why not use that massive store of data for good by identifying government employees, or at least the regulators that make their lives difficult, and either screw with them or outright refusing to do business with them? There’s no reason anybody should be expected to do business with extortionists.