The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012


June 30, 2005


Urinal Etiquette

(I wonder what Google searches that title will ping)

From No Government Cheese, a quick test:

The Urinal Game: Know your urinal etiquette

It’s not as easy as you’d think. I got almost all of them right, but a few at the end were tricky. For my female readers, understanding these answers are a good portion of the key to understanding male psychology.

In unrelated news (but something I thought of with the Google mention), I downloaded Google Earth. Always fun to look at satellite photos of where you live, grew up, etc…

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Constitution Death Pool

Found a new blog (hat tip: Quincy) called the Constitution Death Pool. It’s a group blog formed immediately after Kelo, and looks like it will be a force to be reckoned with. I highly recommend checking them out.

Notable posts:

Kelo Aftermath:

Gives quite a few examples of just what Kelo has done to several pending eminent domain cases. This decision has emboldened the statists, because while cities may have thought before they might get tied up in legal battles based on eminent domain, Kelo may have taken a big chunk out of that possibility.

Bloggers plead for freedom from election laws

Discussing the testimony of bloggers before the FEC in a very eloquent manner.

Check them out. They’ll end up on the blogroll soon. I’ve informed them of the existence of the LLP community, and if they choose not to try for that, they’ll be on the manual blogroll. Too good to pass up.

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Government admitting failure

Wow. In my last post, I asked why our politicians don’t have the ability to admit when they’ve failed. Well, they’re not explicitly admitting failure, but any time government takes something that was public and privatizes it, it’s an admission that they can no longer handle it.

US Congress seen paving way for private toll roads

Looking for ways to finance highway projects without hitting the public trough, the U.S. Congress appears set to pass a proposal to encourage private ownership of new toll roads.

The provision, part of the highway spending bill now being hammered out by a Senate and House conference committee, would allow private companies to raise up to $15 billion for highway projects with bonds that are exempt from federal income taxes.

While the proposal has broad support in Washington and the business community, the idea of private highways has incited grassroots opposition in some states, with some saying the government — not a profit-seeking company — is the proper owner of the public’s roads.

This is something that libertarians have been talking about for years. It’s one of those things that every rational non-libertarian has said to us that it’ll never work, which is understandable, since we’ve watched our entire lives as government had a monopoly on the highway business.

For pragmatic libertarians like myself, I’ve always thought there is a convincing argument that roads are a public good, and thus it is easily argued that it may be a legitimate purpose for taxation. I’ve taken the middle position against the anarcho-capitalists and more extreme libertarians, in that I would absolutely slash federal involvement in the process, but not necessarily fight local and state government spending on roads. This is due both to the inability to manage something properly that you’re a thousand miles away from, and the ease at which the Federal Government oversteps states’ rights by taxing them for highway funds and then withholding those funds unless the states are cooperative in other matters.

But although I see a legitimate need for public roads, I think augmenting those roads with private toll roads makes a lot of sense. Roads, to a certain extent, benefit everyone. Most people drive on roads, and those who don’t at least receive deliveries, benefit from the shipment of food and other goods, and thus it is a truly public good. Often, however, the entire population is forced to pay for roads that are very rarely used, or that benefit certain classes of people much more than others. As an example, when I lived in California, I had two routes to get into the mountains on the weekend. One route cost me $3, and got me a good portion of the way there in 15-20 minutes on a Friday afternoon. The other route cost me nothing, and got me to the same point, but in Friday afternoon traffic, could easily take more than an hour. On a Friday afternoon, I’d gladly pay the money and save the aggravation of LA traffic. On Sunday when coming back, I would often choose the free route, because faster traffic made the $3 more valuable than saving only 5-10 minutes in shorter distance.

Of course, there is a quick response to this. Someone could say that the public would be better served if both roads were opened to the public for free. To them I say yes, that is true. And if both roads were completely funded through public means, I would strongly agree. But the toll road, in the long run, is not a necessary road. It is a convenience and an advantage. It provides a route between two points that already has a major freeway between them, and since it is routed through non-developed land, it serves no local businesses or groups. It is the perfect example of a road that would be better to develop privately than publically. It is a non-essential highway, and thus it is paid for by its users, rather than the general public. (For those familiar with SoCal, I’m talking about the 241/261 freeway complex between Orange County and the 91 freeway).

I’m not that big of a fan of funding these through tax-exempt bonds, but that’s not a major issue, as they mention:

And while the private-activity bonds will not require any outlay of public funds, the government would pay for the plan in the form of reduced tax rolls, estimated at $500 million over six years.

In a highway bill that would cost $275 billion or more in that time, $500 million is a small price to pay for a novel financing mechanism that could pay for dozens of projects, said Katherine Hedlund, an Arlington, Virginia-based partner at Nossaman, Guthner, Knox & Elliott LLP, which advises state governments on transportation issues.

So the ramifications to taxes on those bonds are paltry in comparison to the savings to already-stretched highway budgets.

As completely expected, Reuters throws in a bone to those who are upset at the Bush tax cuts as well:

But Ellen Danning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit who has written on privatization, said private companies are not necessarily more efficient at running roads, and their tolls amount to a regressive tax on highway building.

A better solution to public underfunding of the road system may be to roll back tax cuts that are squeezing the federal budget, Danning said.

“One of the things to ask yourself is, why doesn’t the government have the money to spend on the infrastructure that we need?” she said.

Ahh, the quick response of a liberal to inefficient, bloated government. No, they shouldn’t try to figure out whether there is waste. They shouldn’t try to ask why the government doesn’t use their money more wisely. They should simply ask that we, the taxpayers, trust that they’re being efficient, and with the largest federal transportation budget in this nation’s history, that they just simply need more to work with.

No. The fact that this is being pushed at all shows that the government has realized that federal control is not the most efficient method for disbursing money for local projects. I believe that we not only need to encourage more of this practice, but we need to ask our elected officials just where all that money is going. It is fine when the government realizes they can’t provide services to us. But I wish someday they’d understand that they should stop charging us for those services as well.

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June 29, 2005


Ego in Washington

Peggy Noonan has a great op-ed asking “Why are our politicians so full of themselves?

A few weeks ago it was the senators who announced the judicial compromise. There is nothing wrong with compromise and nothing wrong with announcements, but the senators who spoke referred to themselves with such flights of vanity and conceit–we’re so brave, so farsighted, so high-minded–that it was embarrassing. They patted themselves on the back so hard they looked like a bevy of big breasted pigeons in a mass wing-flap. Little grey feathers and bits of corn came through my TV screen, and I had to sweep up when they were done.

How exactly does it work? How does legitimate self-confidence become wildly inflated self-regard? How does self respect become unblinking conceit? How exactly does one’s character become destabilized in Washington?

The Supreme Court this week and last issued many rulings, and though they were on different issues the decisions themselves had at least one thing in common: They seemed to reflect a lack of basic human modesty on the part of many of the justices. Many are famously very old, and they have been together as a court for a very long time. One wonders if they have lost all understanding of how privileged they are to have lifetime sinecures of power and authority. Do they have any sense anymore of common human wisdom, of the normal human arrangements by which Americans live?

Maybe a lot of them aren’t bothering to think. Maybe Ruth Bader Ginsburg is no longer in the habit of listening to arguments but only of watching William Rehnquist, and if he nods up and down she knows to vote “no,” and if he shakes his head she knows to vote “yes.” That might explain some of the lack of seriousness in the decisions. Local government can bulldoze Grandma’s house because it’s in the way of a future strip mall that will add more to the tax base? The Ten Commandments can appear on public land but not in a courthouse, but Moses, who received the Ten Commandments can appear in the frieze of the House but he’ll be sandblasted off the Supreme Court? Or do I have that the other way around?

A better question: Why do these politicians, whose programs never live up to their promises, and whose private lives are oftentimes worthy of time on Jerry Springer, still feel the nerve to walk around acting like successes? Let’s face it, if you’re a CEO, and you run a company into the ground, you’ll never get hired again. If you’re a sports figure, and you bumble and stumble and lose a big game for your team, you’ll be pilloried from all sides. If you’re a church figure, and you’re caught gambling and whoring it up, you’re called a hypocrite and marginalized by all.

But if you’re a politician, and you’re the author of major legislation that’s full of unintended consequences, and still doesn’t achieve its objective, how can you not only not resign or apologize for your failure, but actually hold your head up high like you’re a success? The McCain-Feingold legislation, which was purported to “get the money out of politics” and to “cut the negative compaigning” led to unbridled money being funneled into 527 organizations which took the nastiness up a few notches. In addition, it has major free-speech implications which could dramatically affect us lowly citizen bloggers.

I’m sorry, but good intentions don’t cut it. I want to see results. Just because you’ve been lucky (and popular) enough to get yourself elected to public office doesn’t absolve you from actual performance.

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Georgia is funny

Coming to Georgia, I was reminded that here in the Bible Belt, most states don’t let you buy alcohol on Sunday. While I think that is an unnecessary annoyance, as you can just buy more on a Saturday, it doesn’t get on my nerves too bad. Not to mention the fact that it’s completely legal to go to a bar and get hammered, but you can’t buy booze to take home.

But I was struck by something as the wife and I were were doing a little shopping on Sunday, that gave me a new perspective. You can’t buy any alcohol in the whole state, but the gun counter at Wal-Mart is fully staffed. Apparently, God doesn’t want you drinking on the Sabbath, but you can get some guns and go shoot stuff!

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June 28, 2005


Quickies

QandO brings us the story about how US Senate candidate Harold Ford of Tennessee supports the Kelo decision. Tennessee voters, you need to make sure this guy doesn’t ever see the US Senate.

No Government Cheese has an excellent parody of the Tom Cruise/Matt Lauer interview. Scientologists are wacky.

Eidelblog explains how government cronyism forces people flying into Dallas to use American Airlines, because it’s illegal for Southwest to fly there.

Oh, and sorry for the downtime. It appears my hosting company had to perform an upgrade, and there was about 15-30 minutes of spotty service.

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Feeding Frenzy, part I

My apologies for the wait, my last week and weekend were swallowed whole by my company’s Annual Meeting (30+ hours in less than 3 full days) and an emergency appendectomy thoroughly enjoyed by my father (he’s fine, no need for well-wishing). So without further ado, here is part one of my argument for a “single-payer healthcare system”.

This basis of my idea that we should have a single-payer system begins with the idea that everyone should have access to healthcare. I will stop short of calling healthcare a right, but I do believe that the United States and its citizens have a responsibility to provide for the care of all its citizens.

Read more of this entry… »


T. F. Stern's Rantings linked with Free, Did You Say Free?
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June 27, 2005


Carnival of Liberty #1

Libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, and general anti-government types have long had a serious problem: we spend more time arguing amongst ourselves than arguing against the state. But Kelo has reminded us that while we argue, the government isn’t getting any smaller. And Kelo has pushed us over the edge, it’s time to fight back.

So, without further ado, let me introduce the first Carnival of Liberty. This is a collection of posts for those who believe that our current government has overstepped its bounds and is now stepping on our toes. Unsurprisingly, we’re striking our first blow on the Fourth of July.

Here’s how it works. Submit your posts to the above link, email them to carnivalofliberty@gmail.com, or submit them to me in a comment to this post or at Eric’s post here. Please submit your entries by 3PM on Sunday, July 3.

As this week’s host, I will choose a winner, as well as second and third place. All entries will be linked on the Life, Liberty, Property Group Blog, linked in a post here, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them linked at Eric’s or Quincy’s blogs. (BTW, future Carnivals may or may not be a competition with a winner, that will be up to the host that week.)

For my readers, and for libertarian-minded blogs all around, I ask that you do what you can to help publicize this first Carnival. If you’ve got a post you particularly like, submit it. Finally, I’d like to thank Eric, Quincy, and NZ Bear for all work they’ve done to kick off the Life, Liberty, and Property community, and for allowing me to host the Carnival in its inaugural week. My only regret is that as the first host, I can’t submit any of my own posts for consideration!


Life, Liberty, and Property Group Blog linked with Carnival of Liberty Guidelines
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God, make way for CostCo!

When I suggested last week that Churches should feel worried about Kelo, and that they might be replaced by strip clubs and adult book stores for tax revenues, I was intentionally being facetious. I figured it’d take some ballsy politicians to use eminent domain to go after churches.

Of course, I should expect no less from California. Paul Jacob writes:

Churches, Beware
Politicians’ lust for money doesn’t stop with homeowners and small businesses, though. Sometimes churches get in the way. Churches don’t even pay taxes. No revenue stream for politicians at all. Uh-oh.

In Cypress, California, the city pushed the Cottonwood Christian Center off its land to make way for a Costco superstore. The church paid no taxes; Costco and its customers would pay plenty.

Steve Greenhut, author of Abuse of Power: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain (Seven Locks Press, 311 pages, $17.95), highlighted the arrogance of eminent domain power run amok in Cypress:

“City officials did not dress up what they were doing in legalistic language. They were brazen in their goals. They ridiculed church members at public meetings. They bragged about their ability to use eminent domain for whatever reason they chose, and they made it clear that the government’s desires should take precedence over the desires of “a narrow special interest,” which is how city officials repeatedly referred to the church.”

Recently, the Washington Post ran a story about growing friction between churches and government in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Churches and synagogues, mosques and temples are operating on property that, if taxed, would give local politicians $9 million more dollars to spend each year. Already, the council has been using zoning regulations to block the growth of churches.

“We don’t oppose churches,” Council Chairman Samuel Dean told The Post. “The concern we have is that sometimes churches eat up a lot of land that could be used for other things.”

Another council member offered, “None of us are against God.” But added: “We’re losing tax money and retail.”

What protection do the churches have now?

Well, as I’ve said before, I’m not that big on religion. But I know how important it is to virtually everyone who takes part in it. Churches are anchors of communities. They are truly one of those things that, by their nature, improve a community. I’ve seen throughout my life that the bonds between community members are only strengthened by becoming part of a parish, they are a way for someone to truly put down roots and care about a community, and that they are wonderful vehicles for charity and good will. I see no such benefits from CostCo.

So what’s the bigger “public purpose”? An anchor that brings the community together? An anchor that, no doubt, improves the lives of its members, creates a sense of community and the sort of atmosphere that gives people pride in where they live? Pride that may help to stem the flow of gangs, graffiti, and general nastiness flowing from south central LA county into a place like Cypress? Or tax revenue? Surprise, surprise, the local thieves government chooses tax revenue every time.

Hat Tip: Quincy

Update: Welcome Neolibertarian.net readers.

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Prime Minister’s Questions

Last Sunday night, I was flipping through the channels. I hit C-SPAN, which is usually a must-skip. All of a sudden, however, I saw animated discussion! People whooping and hollering! And then I realized, it must be the House of Commons

I stumbled across a show called Prime Minister’s Questions. Every week, Tony Blair goes before the House of Commons and is blasted with direct questions from all sides. Some are funny, some are serious, most are contentious. I have to think that if our government actually did this, people might occasionally pay attention.

I posted a while back about how our politicians have a thinly veiled hatred for each other in this country, and they act like a bunch of catty, teenage cheerleaders fighting over who gets Friday night with the star quarterback. The Brits, on the other hand, are much different. There’s no thin veil involved.

But I was struck by one thing here. Can you imagine what would happen if Bush had to get in front of the House of Representatives for that treatment every week? I think that’d be so entertaining, you could charge pay-per-view for it!

(FYI, on the C-SPAN site you can watch streaming versions of past Prime Minister’s Questions)

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June 26, 2005


Originalism as ISO9000

Our favorite Grumbler, Eric, gave a very strong explanation of why we, as libertarians, advocate originalism so strongly. Generally, he talks about setting up corporations, groups, etc, and how the structure of bylaws and the rules of operation work together. An excellent piece, and I suggest you read it.

I’ve mentioned before that I work in the electronics industry. In our industry (and in a great many others) there is a group called ISO (Industry Standards Organization) that ensures that companies are set up properly. Let me first point out, that ISO is not a government organization. It is like a much more advanced and stringent form of the Better Business Bureau. For people in manufacturing/design of products, a company can go through “ISO9000″ certification, which signifies to your customers that you have jumped through some hoops to prove that you’re worth doing business with.

So here’s how it works. To acheive ISO9000 certification, they don’t come in and tell you how to run your company. They don’t look at your company and ask you whether the way you do things is the right way to do something, the most efficient way to do it, or the most customer-centric way to do it. All they do is ask that you have written procedures for how you conduct business, and verify through regular audits that you are indeed doing what is in your procedure documents. It gets a little more in-depth than this, in that they require that you have ways to correct deficiencies in your process, how to change those procedures, and a few other issues that affect every company, regardless of type. But for the most part, they ensure that you carry out your duties in the same way that your written procedures state.

How does this apply to the Constitution? Well, the Constitution is our ISO procedure. All the Constitution provides us, as a nation, is a procedural document for how things are done. It explains how the government is set up, what its powers and restrictions are. That’s it. It may be right or wrong, that’s not the issue. The issue is that it is our procedure for what our government does. As Eric points out, part of the Constitution spells out what needs to be done to change that procedure, by the amendment process.

There were several flaws in that original document. The 13th Amendment rectified one major flaw. The 18th Amendment was a fully proper change to the Constitution, although we didn’t like it much and had to repeal it. The 19th Amendment was a significant process change, that some folks (such as myself) think was a bad idea, but it’s the law of the land, and we’re willing to deal with it. We, as libertarians, are not saying that the Constitution is always right. But where it is wrong, it should be changed, not ignored.

That is the one absolutely major flaw that needs to be rectified. Who decides whether or not a government’s law is Constitutional? Of course, everyone who has passed high school civics (if they still teach that!) will answer “The Supreme Court.” But I ask you, where in the Constitution does it provide for the Supreme Court to perform Judicial Review? Nowhere. It was a power assumed by the Supreme Court under Marbury v. Madison. We need someone to do this crucial function in our government, but it has never been expressly written that the Supreme Court holds that responsibility, nor what their limitations are.

So what would we do in the ISO9000 world, if we saw a systemic issue such as this? We’d institute a Corrective Action. Meaning, that we would either rewrite our procedure to establish Judicial Review as part of the Constitution, or we would stop the process altogether. I don’t know what we need to do to fix the problem of our blatant disregard for the Constitution, but there’s a significant disconnect between what’s spelled out in the Constitution and what our government is now doing. The crucial factor is that we have a constant, written procedure, we follow that procedure, and when we think that procedure needs to be modified, we have a way to do so. The Constitution is not, by it’s very nature, holy writ. It is a strong template for a country governed by the rule of law, an excellent starting point. The rule of law has now been subjected to the rule of 9 justices who are the “guardians” of the law. But when the guardians are no longer trusted, the whole system can come crashing down.


Eric's Grumbles Before The Grave linked with Wow, What a Bunch of Busy Beavers
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War of the Worlds

No doubt if you follow any sort of popular culture, you’ve heard about the upcoming movie “War of the Worlds“. After all, the publicity surrounding former Oompa Loompa Tom Cruise and his half-starved fiancee, Katie Holmes, it’s hard to miss it.

I’ve already decided that this movie is not worth my time. And no, it’s not a boycott of “TomKat“, nor related to the fact that I don’t like paying attention to people whacked out on Scientology. You don’t use Scientology to improve your acting; that’s what drugs are for. All those are certainly valid reasons for not watching the movie, but I’ve got a better one.

This just looks like it will either be a “remake” of a bad story, or have nothing to do with the original story to begin with.

The original War of the Worlds novel was a political statement about European colonialism. In the end of the book, the all-powerful destructive Martians were destroyed not by the humans fighting against them, but by the diseases they caught from humans. Tremendously anti-climactic, don’t you think? Of course, from the perspective of a story, you would think that a civilization capable of transporting themselves from Mars to Earth, and developing a “heat ray” capable of incinerating humans, would also have the medical technology to withstand our germs. Or, you would think that they would have brought equally dangerous germs along with them that would have further decimated the humans.

From a story standpoint, it’s not a lot to work with. So how did it become such a cultural landmark ripe for exploitation by Spielberg and Cruise? Because of the radio show version. This is not to say that the radio show in any way improved the story, but the presentation was such that a lot of listeners missed the portions where it was explained that this wasn’t real. The “news” format and realistic reporting style caused mass hysteria, because many radio listeners started to believe we were being invaded by Martians (with voters like these, kinda explains the “New Deal”, huh?). The only reason that people today even know that the “War of the Worlds” is a remake of an earlier story is that there was an enormous cultural event surrounding the radio version, not because the story itself is worthwhile.

If the movie, then, follows the storyline, there’s not much point to seeing it. At least with “Independence Day“, a movie full of bad speeches and tremendous cliches (Area 51, anyone?) you have a story line that ends in human triumph, rather than alien failure. So that leaves the other option. The movie will likely be so far removed from the original story line of War of the Worlds to be completely unrecognizable. Which will turn it into a garden-variety “When Aliens Attack!” movie. Sorry, but that genre’s been done a few million times.

Of course, when you listen to Spielberg, you see that it’s not really about story or acting at all. It’s all about the effects, man!

Spielberg told the web site Dark Horizons: “I’m more interested in concept shots and money shots than I am in tons of MTV coverage, which certainly takes a lot of time. But if I can put something on the screen that is sustained where you get to study it and you get to say, ‘How did they do that?’ That’s happening before my eyes and the shot’s not over yet, it’s still going and it’s still going and my God, it’s an effects shot and it’s lasting seemingly forever. I enjoy that more than creating illusion with sixteen different camera angles, where no shot lasts longer than six seconds on the screen. To pull a rabbit out of a hat, because you are really a smart audience and you’re in the fastest media, the fastest growing new media today and you know the difference between sleight of hand visually and the real thing. I think what makes War of the Worlds, at least the version that we’re making, really exciting, is you get to really see what’s happening. There’s not a lot of visual tricks. We tell it like it is, we shot it to you, and we put you inside the experience. “

Yeah, because I’ve never seen CGI before. No matter how much he tries to compliment his audience’s intelligence, it means a lot when he thinks the effects are the key to a good movie, not the story or acting.

I think I’ll pass on this one.


The Unrepentant Individual linked with Egg on face
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June 25, 2005


Gamble et. al. v. City of Norwood, OH

Take a look at all these houses. All slated to be seized by eminent domain in Norwood, Ohio, so that developer Jeff Anderson can make room for a Crate & Barrel.

gambles_norwood

Anderson—who has $500 million in real estate holdings and his own private jet—asked the Cincinnati suburb of Norwood to condemn five (for now, but the number will expand) homes and small businesses so he can expand his complex of private offices, condominiums and chain stores. He asked and paid for the “study” Norwood City Council used to declare “blighted” the 99 perfectly fine buildings bounded by Edwards and Edmondson Roads—a charade that enables the City to condemn any and all land in the neighborhood. The Norwood “blight study” itself admitted that not one of the 99 homes or businesses in the area was dilapidated or delinquent on taxes. Not one.

This happened while Kelo as a court case was still pending. The supposed lawsuit, after the Kelo ruling, will go nowhere. But let’s look at this in light of Sandra Day O’Connor’s dissent:

Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result. “[T]hat alone is a just government,” wrote James Madison, “which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.”

Citizen with disproportionate influence and power in the political process? Check. Transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more? Check.

Just how in the hell does anyone think this is what the founders intended? This isn’t going to end, people. The groups trying to seize property aren’t going to quit anytime soon. Let’s make sure we at least keep shining the light on them.

Hat Tip: Coyote Blog


T. F. Stern's Rantings linked with State’s Right Issue, Not!!!
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June 24, 2005


Yay, beef!

Tests Confirm Second Mad Cow Case in U.S.

Exhaustive tests have confirmed mad cow disease in an animal apparently born in the United States, officials said Friday. It is the second case of the disease confirmed in this country, but Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns stressed there was no threat to public health.

The animal, a “downer” that could not walk, was not killed at a slaughterhouse but at a rendering plant for animals unfit for human consumption, officials said. Johanns would not say where the case turned up, but he said there was no evidence the cow was imported.

If you want a quick idea of just the sort of person I am, you need to understand my reaction to this.

I love beef. Steak, burgers, roast beef sandwiches, tacos, sloppy joes, I’m getting hungry already. So another case of mad cow? I welcome it.

Lss of you now normal people will now want to eat beef. So the law of supply and demand swings back into my favor, and the price will drop. More steak for me!

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Quick thoughts from others on Kelo

I’ve said most of what I can say about this. I’m still enraged, but it’s simply ratcheted up my simmering rage against the government. But I am hopeful, that if we can get someone as mild-mannered as Lucy angry about this, that maybe liberty isn’t dead, it just needs to be woken up.

So let’s look at some other responses. First is Stephen at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds. He suggests that we amend the constitution to limit eminent domain power. I fully support that, but specifically I suggest that even if we can’t get that, we enact, by act of Congress, one clause of his amendment:

Section 2: ‘Just compensation’ shall be defined as no less than double the fair market value of the property being taken for local, State, and Federal governments to carry out their legally prescribed functions.

Frankly, I’d triple it, but that’s just me. At the very least, this will give a little bit of pause to those who want to steal your land “on the cheap”. If you can get millions from the tabacco for smoking yourself into the cancer ward, you should at least be able to get compensation for the “emotional distress” of being tossed from your home.

Next, we have both Catallarchy and Quincy suggesting what will happen in California. California has what is called Proposition 13, which limits the assessment of property taxes to the value of the land at purchase. The local and state politicians there have hated this since it was enacted, because with the meteoric rise on property values there, they can’t get their hands on the taxes unless the property changes hands. Well, they’ve now got the power to force that property to change hands.

Third, Coyote Blog takes this to the next level, bringing up a scenario where the government will support stealing newspaper advertising space used for people arguing against tax increases, since tax increases are in the “public interest” and thus trump free speech. I’d call it a reductio ad absurdum, if I wasn’t scared that it might actually happen someday.

Last, this has absolutely swept the blogosphere like nothing I’ve ever seen. If you look at many of those blogs on my blogroll (specifically Eric, TF Stern, Rossputin, No Government Cheese), you’ll find a lot of people talking about this.

Oh, and as of this writing, there has been no response from Dada on this. I don’t know if we’re going to get agreement or disagreement from him on this decision, but I am very interested to hear what someone who doesn’t believe in private property rights thinks of this ruling, and what he’ll think of it when the poor are getting tossed out of their homes to make room for developments targeted at the rich.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 11:03 am || Permalink || Comments (1) || Trackback URL || Categories: Uncategorized

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