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Friday, June 24, 2011

A note on style.

I agree with the overall sentiment of Wilton D. Alston's recent article "How Can Anyone Not Realize the War on (Some) Drugs Is Racist?"

Unfortunately, the writing is atrocious. It contains far too many parentheticals, disjointed sentences, too many commas and too few periods.

Worse than that is the tone. Mr. Alston is justifiably passionate about the racial injustices of the drug war. The tone, however, is not designed to win converts to his point of view. It is designed to inflame the passions of those that already agree with him.

I have never found that a wise strategic choice. Inflaming passions has its place, but it is far less helpful in the long run than a reasoned appeal to the logic of those that disagree. I want to increase the overall number of lions in the zoo, not merely throw red meat to the lions already there.

Angry rhetoric, even when justified, turns people away from the message. A strong, reasoned argument brings people to the message.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A little help translating "social conservative" into "limited government," please.

I am a fan of former state Senator Dave Schultheis.

However, this will have to be explained to me - Senator Schultheis was quoted in a Colorado Springs Independent article by Chet Hardin, "Anarchy in the GOP," thusly:

"They [liberty groups] realize that if they start bringing in some of these cultural issues, that they will lose their momentum," he says. "They are trying to find a common ground where they can at least agree. But what they don't understand is that the cultural is all intertwined. You can't have limited government be totally successful without the cultural issues."

I do not grasp the last sentence. It seems contradictory to me. I interpret it as saying, "you can't have limited government be totally successful without the government having the authority to tell adults how they must act in the privacy of their own home and the power to enforce that authority."

Senator Schulteiss, as described in the article, is a supporter of the liberty groups. He is on their side. For that, he gets major props.

I, however, need some help in understanding his position in this instance.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Colorado GOP Press Release

I am posting this because it is one of the few "task forces" I favor. Public schools' "zero tolerance" policies are moronic, unjust and costly.

Contact: Owen Loftus, 303-866-5679
Contact: Michelle Yi, 303-866-2988

Nikkel, Szabo Named to Task Force to Study School Discipline

DENVER – Speaker of the House Frank McNulty named state Reps. B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland, and Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, to the Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline.

Senate Bill 133 created the Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline, which is responsible for reviewing issues related to juvenile justice and school discipline in the pursuit of ensuring a safe environment in Colorado schools. McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, appointed House Majority Whip Nikkel as the vice chair of the task force and Szabo as one of the task force members.

“This legislative task force takes on the multifaceted challenge of finding appropriate and meaningful discipline in our schools,” said Nikkel. “Colorado’s zero-tolerance policies have led to over 10,000 referrals from schools to law enforcement last year alone and research has shown that taking students out of the classroom can lead to low graduation rates and achievement gaps.”

Colorado received national attention for cases of school and law enforcement discipline measures that many deemed as overly aggressive. Earlier this year, a 10-year-old who found a broken toy gun and brought it to school was arrested and detained for several days.

“Every situation involving the safety of our schools is different and enforcing a universal discipline policy may not always yield the best results,” said Szabo. “This task force is designed to find the balance between fair but effective policies so that schools can be a safe place for our children while ensuring those who require more disciplinary action are treated fairly.”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Capitalism is freedom.

In his article on criminal charges against self-described anarchist Amelia Nicol ("Short Fuse"), author Josiah M. Hesse used the phrase "the authoritarian demands of capitalism."

He was describing the mindset of Nicol, so I will not attribute the belief behind the phrase to Hesse himself. Nevertheless, the belief is pervasive. And the belief is patently wrong.

Capitalism is not authoritarian. It is the opposite of authoritarian. Capitalism describes nothing more than a system where people make mutually beneficial voluntary transactions. To wit:

I bake bread. I give some to you for some money. I had more bread than I could eat myself, so I am better off getting money for the bread. I win. You had money and could not eat it, so you are better off with the bread. You win.

There is no authoritarianism involved.

It is the self-described and completely misnamed "anarchist" that wants to use force (i.e. "authority," the root word of "authoritarian"), to stop the baker from making "too much" money. It is the statist, not the anarchist, that wants to determine how much money to forcibly take from the baker so he can pay his "fair share" to the collective. It is the statist, not the anarchist, that wants to use force to appropriate the "ill-gotten wealth" of the rich who "exploited the working poor."

Much to the chagrin of my anarcho-capitalist friends, I believe anarchy is neither desirable nor achievable within the next millennium or so. Nevertheless, if a truly stateless society is achieved, it will be based on the mutually beneficial voluntary transactions of its members, and not some ill-defined notion of "fairness" imposed by force on behalf of the collective by those not party to the voluntary transactions of individuals.

Facepalm of the day.

Susan Altenhofen, of Fort Collins, had her letter to the editor published in today's Denver Post. ("Blaming the victims for economic woes.")

She concludes with this question:

What’s wrong with soaking the rich for their fair share of tax revenue when they have all made their fortunes on the backs of the working poor?


I'm afraid Ms. Altenhofen is beyond hope. Nevertheless, there are many others who may well be saved from such ignorance. For those that can still be saved, keep citing F. A. Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, Thomas Jefferson, Frederic Bastiat and others. Cite those who, unlike the hopeless Ms. Altenhofen, understand it is the government that decides what is a "fair share" and uses guns to extract it; that without the "rich" there would be no job jobs for the "working poor;" that taking money from one group to give to another is not "compassion;" and that wanting to keep one's own money earned from voluntary exchange is not "greed."

Friday, June 10, 2011

Protectionist arguments against free markets disguised as immigration concerns.

Alabama has now passed legislation tougher than Arizona's on illegal immigration.

One of the bill's sponsors, Republican Sen. Scott Beason, said the law "will put thousands of Alabamians back in the workforce."

Beason believes that thousands of Alabamians have lost jobs to illegal immigrants who are willing to do the same job for less money. That's called "competition" and it lowers the prices for goods and services needed by good Alabamians.

He believes that Alabamian employers - good Americans among them, many of whom are probably season ticket holders for the Crimson Tide - should be prohibited from voluntarily hiring those that provide the best service at the best price.

These Republican arguments sound familiar, don't they? I think we hear them from unions that want to keep competition out of the workforce. I think we hear them from protectionists that don't understand Adam Smith's concept of division of labor.

Like other Big Government politicians, he wants to use the force of the state to keep American citizens from entering into voluntary transactions. He wants to force his judgment on others and threaten those that do not comply with his judgment with state force.

Yes, we need immigration laws. We need to keep out criminals. We need to keep out members of anti-American groups. But we do not need to keep someone out just because they are cheap labor.

That's the best reason to let them in.

Save the prairie dogs?

A front page story on today's Denver Post is about efforts to save prairie dogs from the wake of habitat destroying construction of a train to the airport. (See "Wanted: prairie dog homes.")

Someone wants to spend money on relocating prairie dogs? They are just big rats, people. They cover the ground like kudzu. But if people really want to save them, I suggest stopping the light rail project and refunding the taxes collected for the boondoggle.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Cult of Global Warming predicting CANNIBALS if we don't DO something!

David K. Williams, Jr.

I have often kidded about and exaggerated the horrible apocalyptic warnings from the Al Gore Cult of Global Warming if we humans do not reduce our comparatively miniscule contributions to "greenhouse gases" and implement some policy akin to Cap and Trade.

It is no longer an exaggeration. Auden Schendler, the Vice-president of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company (no, I did NOT make up that title, I swear), says we are doomed to "a world like Cormac McCarthy described in his novel 'The Road'" if we do not shape up and become better stewards of Mother Earth. (See "The first casualty of climate change" in today's Denver Post.)

For those unfamiliar with Mr McCarthy's novel, it is perhaps the most depressing novel ever written. At least I thought it was until I read his other novels. Let's just say Mr McCarthy has a bleak view of humanity. I doubt he would be much fun at a cocktail party. But I digress...

Mr McCarthy never describes the cause of his post-apocalyptic world in "The Road." Somehow, however, the entire planet is covered with ash. Nothing grows. Nothing. The sun, blocked out by a gray sky, is never seen. Never. Things are so bad, people have become cannibals. Yep, cannibals.

And Aspen's VP of Sustainability says this is our fate within 50 years if we do not ACT NOW! He and his Chicken Little ilk want the government to control all carbon dioxide emissions, no matter the effect on the world economy. I mean, c'mon! After all, living in a hut without running water or heat is far superior to an ashy, gray world rife with cannibals!

When the government decides how much CO2 each company can produce, the world will be safe. Of course, the intellectually privileged in the government will make those decisions. After all, they are far smarter than us mere citizens and have our best interests at heart. Of course, these intellectuals would never hand out preferable CO2 allowances to favored companies that make big donations, would they? Since this never, ever happens in government it really should be of no concern.

In any event, carbon dioxide, including both the man made and naturally occurring kind, makes up 3.6% of all greenhouse gases. The man made contribution to the CO2 in the atmosphere is 3.2%. The remaining CO2 in the atmosphere occurs naturally. You know, from, like, breathing. And rain forests decaying. So destroying the rain forests actually helps curb greenhouse gases. Wouldn't a world without rain forests be superior to an ashy, gray world rife with cannibals? I guess not, but I am no intellectual. I will leave those decisions to my intellectual betters. You know, like Charley Rangel and Joe Biden and Sean Penn.

Water vapor makes up 95% of all greenhouse gases. Putting a lid on the Great Lakes would be more effective and less costly than Cap and Trade. I demand a lid! Or at least ketchup for my first meal as a cannibal.

Do we taste like chicken?