Monday, July 31, 2006

Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/31/2006

I know, it's been over a week since the last one. I was going to post them in the evenings but didn't even have time for those. In any case, the return:

- The sons of the prophet were valiant and bold
And quite unaccustomed to fear
But of all the most reckless, or so I am told
Was Abdul Abulbul Amir

- How do you feel?

- I always loved that ditty. I could never quite get the
cadence down before. Thank you, father.

Be afraid, for it might just save your life

One of my closest friends called me tonight, and we got to talking about security at the new house she's having built. It will be a big change, going from an apartment with two buffers (the building door and her own apartment door) to her own house with just one buffer. She's already thought, heaven forfend, of the possibility that someone might break into her home. It will be in a nice neighborhood, which can attract criminals looking for richer targets.

I asked her to check on a few things. Alarm system? Motion-activated lighting? How about the door frames? Metal will cost more money, but how can that extra cost compare to securing yourself against the possibility that someone can kick it in? I know from personal experience, having kicked one in myself, that even "hardwood" door frames are no guarantee against a determined criminal of sufficient strength. Throughout history, castle moats were crossed, and town gates were battered down.

There can be no substitute for my friend purchasing a good firearm. God knows when it's just her and her two little girls, a five-minute police response time might as well be an eternity. And most neighbors, especially disarmed ones, will also rely on the police to save them: a house alarm might be going off because of an actual intruder, but what could the neighbors do when they don't have guns but the criminal does? Besides, your neighbors (let alone the police) might accidentally shoot one of your legitimate visitors, who accidentally tripped your alarm. There can be no substitute for defending your own home yourself.

I love my friend dearly, and if I could, I'd be patrolling their house myself as a live-in bodyguard. There's no reason, however, that she can't defend herself as capably as anyone. She'd do well with a shotgun or high-powered rifle, and maybe a couple of small pieces for backup -- firearms with enough power that they make "shoot to kill" redundant. She said at one point, "Perry, you're scaring me!" That was not my intention, but I think it's for the best: she's now scared enough to do something, and it might save her loved ones' lives one day.

But, Sarah Brady would say, there's a far greater possibility that the gun will be used on one of her family instead of a criminal. Not if she teaches her children how to respect the firearms: "You know how you smash ants with a rock and they don't come back? That's what happens when you use these on people." Better yet, she can teach her daughters when they are of appropriate age. You never know when one might save the others' lives.

Even the Brookings Institution admitted, "National victimization surveys have found that the frequency of gun use in self-defense ranges from as high as 503,000 incidents in the preceding year to as low as 32,000 incidents, depending on how the survey is conducted and what questions are asked (Ikeda et al. 1997; Cook 1991)." Compare that to the approximately 1300 accidental gun deaths each year. I hate to boil issues down to mathematics, but would we trade those 1300 lives for half a million more crimes, some of which could be murders?

Some further reading:
NCPA: 15 myths about gun control
John Lott: "More guns, less crime"

Friday, July 28, 2006

Buying votes

Republicans are looking to raise the minimum wage before a five-week vacation, even to the absurd $7.25 per hour that Democrats are pushing.
The chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee said the GOP would embrace the increase to $7.25 per hour and probably attach a proposal passed last year that would make it easier for small business to band together and buy health insurance plans for employees at a lower cost. Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif., said the minimum wage bill probably will not include tax cuts such as a repeal of the estate tax.

It was not clear what other potential add-ons might soothe unhappy lawmakers and GOP opponents of a wage increase such as the small business lobby.
Like raising the minimum wage, a law to "make it easier for small business to band together and buy health insurance plans for employees at a lower cost" sounds good, but it's utter bullshit. Health insurers, as part of competing with each other, would already offer discount packages if it were possible. All the Republicans' bad idea would do is give discounts to small businesses at everybody else's expense: because insurers would be forced by law to give the discounts, they'd have to hike premiums for everyone else.

Republicans have to raise the minimum wage, but not because it's constitutional, not because it's economically sound, and not because it's the moral thing to do (if anything it is immoral). It's the politically expedient thing to do in this very tough election year: the Tradesports contract for a GOP Senate after the 2006 elections may still be 76.0 bid/77.0 ask, but the contract for a GOP House has fallen to 45.5 bid/46.0 ask. As Professor Bainbridge noted, a recent poll shows 48% of Americans want the Democrats to win back Congress, as opposed to 38% who favor Republicans.

There are a lot of mixed signals. The Democrats can't be consistent on the issues, and there's a lot of infighting that will only drain their campaign coffers. However, there's too much of a risk that Republicans could be defeating themselves, hence Republicans' move on the minimum wage. For the same reason, President Bush finally addressed the NAACP last week. Conservatives like Michelle Malkin and our friend Karol were more than upset, but Bush is a politician, so his loyalties are first and foremost to his party, and his speech was nothing more than stumping for his party. Bush may have gained among blacks in 2004 (both in absolute numbers and a percentage), but Republicans can't count on riding his coattails there. There's a real possibility they'll lose votes elsewhere, so it's critical they don't lose any of the black vote. Perhaps they'll even pick up a few from President Bush's "goodwill" visit, where he naturally denounced racism.

Both parties ignore the Constitution, so as part of buying the people's votes, they feel free to offer this program and that entitlement to every strata of society. In the end, though a particular socioeconomic group might think it benefits from its own special giveaways, it gets screwed as much as the rest of us.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Defeating Wal-Mart by committing consumer suicide

"We beat Wal-Mart" cried a bunch of damned fools, after Chicago's city council passed a law requiring large retailers to pay a minimum wage of $9.25 per hour. What they really should be saying is, "We won by screwing ourselves over!"

There's little hope that these morons, both the councilmen and supporters, will ever pull their heads out of their own asses. They should sign up as extras for the next time a Star Trek feature needs Pakleds: the intellectually challenged humanoids who believe themselves "strong" and "smart," and who thought they had a chance against the Enterprise-D. The anti-Wal-Mart crowd would do better to emulate the Ferengi, who were initially portrayed as comical and ridiculous, but who turned out to be a peaceful, prosperous civilization that fought no wars and never had any inquisitions.

Ignorant Federation critics believed that the Ferengi "exploited" people, but in fact, Quark never once forced (in the true sense of the word) his employees to work at his bar. What you "deserve" in pay is only what your employer believes you are worth, and besides, if it's not enough, why do you work there? Rom, Leeta and the others were always free to work elsewhere, or start up their own bar on DS9's Promenade (like Martus did in "Rivals"). It demonstrates that, barring physical coercion, no one is ever forced to work for anyone at any wage -- even the English who, in exchange for passage to the colonies, agreed to be indentured servants for several years.

The plain fact is that Chicago's city council, with union labor's blessing, just made it that much harder for everyone, especially the poor, to get the most for their money. Wal-Mart was going to build 20 more stores in Chicago, but who really thinks it still wants to develop a single square foot within the city limits? It'll build those stores out in the suburbs, like it did in Evergreen Park, requiring city residents, both customers and employees, to travel further. Nice job, City Council!
"People have bills, rent to pay, and $6 an hour is not going to work for them," says Kanisha Adams, a nursing student.
It sounds like Kanisha needs to learn that some people do not produce as much economic value as others, so they will need to work more. Let's also ignore the fact that only two percent of the American labor force earns minimum wage, and they're typically young people who are starting out -- in other words, contrary to what unions and other leftists claim, hardly the struggling breadwinners of a family.
In this part of the city, unemployment is in the double-digits. More than 9,000 people applied for the 450 jobs that Wal-Mart will offer when the Chicago store opens next month.
And just what do the minimum wage advocates think will happen when employers must pay more? No big retailers will move in now: no Target, no Home Depot, and that means no additional jobs. If they thought it was hard to find jobs now, they ain't seen nothin' yet. And they did it to themselves.

At least there are a couple of people with common sense:
But many fear higher wage costs could drive retailers and jobs out of the city, and that could have particular consequences for the city's minority workers.

"African-American, inner city people are in trouble — desperate trouble," says the Rev. Leon Finney, a community organizer. "We need to do everything we can to encourage business, not anything to discourage business."

Chicago mayor Richard Daley had also spoken out against the measure saying, "This is basically going to hurt the minority community, to be very frank."
Daley is only partially right. The minimum wage requirement is basically going to hurt everyone.
Supporters of the living wage law call that a scare tactic.

"Where are they going to build those stores?" asks Toni Foulkes, a neighborhood activist.

The suburbs, Foulkes says, are already saturated. "Are they going to build a Target next to a Target next to a Target?"
Foulkes could be correct, but she doesn't understand the true ramifications of what she's saying. If Wal-Mart doesn't build as many stores in the suburbs as it would have in the city, then Foulkes and her ilk have destroyed many thousands of potential jobs.

In the Danbury-Bethel area of northwest Connecticut, there's a new Target being built up the road from Wal-Mart. Target has calculated that it can still make a profit, even with its biggest rival a mere half-mile away, otherwise it wouldn't be investing all that money. Before either even thought to have a presence, there were many other stores that still compete, otherwise they wouldn't be there. And what's wrong with any of them competing, when it forces them to be their most efficient and thereby benefit the consumer?

What amazed me, when I visited some friends in Utah over the Fourth of July, was how many Wal-Marts have popped up since my last visit four years ago. Mushrooms. Charlie told me, I recall, that there are five from Ogden to Layton, and I also saw several in the Salt Lake valley. Are Wal-Mart's planning executives so stupid that the company is wasting untold millions to compete with itself, when stores are within a few miles of each other? Or are they crazy like a fox, knowing that the stores will bring in more customers and make the initial investment more than worth it?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A lot of things are worth paying others to do

The Star Stage Deli, on 55th Street just west of 6th Avenue, has quite good food. They make a very good cheeseburger, and their french fries are cut nice and thick, though I find their grilled panini lacking. Today, they had an excellent pepper steak that made quite a good lunch. I could have cooked some beef myself, cooked peppers and onions, and whipped some mashed potatoes, but at what cost? Paying $8.62 or so was quite a bargain considering how it freed me to do what I consider more valuable things.

That's the beauty of purely voluntary trade: everyone benefits. The deli workers earn more than if they simply produced food for themselves, leaving them that much more prosperous. I benefit by having much more free time, not to mention the convenience of not having to bring Tupperware containers from home, and of course the better taste of freshly cooked food.

I wrote last night about my intensive method of polishing shoes, which is an exception because no one else can do the job as I desire. However, when my shoes need new heels, it's much like buying lunch: I suppose I could order replacement Vibrams and appropriate nails, sand things, and do an overall job as well as any cobbler. However, someone did it for me for $16, and I'd have used far more than $16 worth of my time to do it myself. So at lunchtime, I dropped off my favorite dress shoes at the shoe-repair shop next door to the Star Stage Deli. They have a very fast turnaround; my shoes were ready by 5 o'clock, and if they weren't busy, maybe 10-15 minutes. Since I was in the vicinity anyway to buy lunch, and the shop is along the way to my usual subway station, the cost in terms of my time was minimal.

Believe it or not, there's a valuable economics lesson here. Today, I had a trade deficit of $8.62 with the deli, and $16 with the cobbler. Am I exporting my income to others? Did I really lose $24.62? Is my family being deprived of the opportunity to do that work for me? Wouldn't it be better if my family charged me $10 to cook my lunch, and $20 to put new heels on my shoes? After all, that would give them so much more money, and if they're restricted to buying things from me (at higher prices than others charge), I'll be better off too...right?

As my patron saint might have said, "Absurd!" The problem with restricting trade is that it may force higher wages, but it does not create higher wealth. So then why do Americans fear trading with China, or any other nation that offers us the same (even higher-quality) products and services for cheaper prices? If it's not a bad thing for me to run a "trade deficit" with a business, why is it so different when it's between nations? Also, why do so many Americans believe that we must keep our currency between ourselves? Do any of us worry about keeping money between ourselves and our friends, refraining from buying from anyone outside our circle? Whether it's buying more from China than the Chinese do from us, or immigrants mailing money to their families, the dollars will come back to us in one way or another.

Should government force delis to lower their prices, and force my employer to raise it, to "equalize" each transaction? That's completely absurd, of course. It's also absurd to think that anyone at the deli, or all people at the deli, should buy exactly as much from me as I do from them. Then why do people like Warren Buffett think the U.S. should force imports to be no more than our exports? And why do people, generally pseudo-economists and publicity-seeking politicians like Chuck Schumer, think it's economically sound to "correct" the trade deficit via currency manipulation?

Real economics does not recognize borders, and real economics is very scalar. Like two triangles of the same shape but different sizes, the principles behind transactions have the same shape, whether we're talking about two people or two nations.

Walter Williams on the trade deficit
Worrying about the trade deficit
So you wanna revalue the yuan?
A lesson for Warren Buffett on international investment

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The continued tyranny of Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president equivalent of Stalin, blames the West for his country's economic woes. It's an old tactic employed by all tyrants: they disguise their actions by distracting the people.
HARARE, Zimbabwe Jul 25, 2006 (AP)— President Robert Mugabe opened a new legislative year Tuesday with a speech to Parliament blaming economic problems on the U.S., Britain and other Western critics of his human rights record.

Zimbabwe is in a state of economic collapse, suffering from the world's highest inflation rate more than 1,000 percent and shortages of all basic goods. A quarter of its 16 million people has emigrated since 2000 and millions more are dependent on aid.

"My tribute goes to the gallant people of Zimbabwe for continuing to exhibit great fortitude despite the prevailing economic challenges which are orchestrated by the country's detractors," the 82-year-old president told legislators....

In what has become a ritual, Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, blamed the country's woes on his foreign critics.

"We note with concern the continued imposition of illegal sanctions by the European Union and the United States of America at the behest of our erstwhile colonizers," Mugabe said, in reference to Britain.

"We feel proud that we have defeated that strategy that was aimed at the collapse of our economy and the happening of regime change."

The United States and the European Union have imposed travel bans and other targeted sanctions against Mugabe and members of his government.
So in fact, the "sanctions" are not aimed at the people of Zimbabwe, but their oppressive ruler who has destroyed their homes, impoverished the already impoverished beyond all imagination, and engineered starvation. There is a special place in hell for this son of a bitch. As I've previously detailed, Mugabe and Mugabe alone is responsible for his country's crisis, which involves every type of assault on human liberty.

Mugabe's assault on the poor
Mugabe's assault on the poor, continued
Mugabe's assault on the poor, part III

Just like the Declaration of Independence was a list of George III's crimes, let us form a similar one about Mugabe:

From the beginning he has had dissidents tortured, and like any of Stalin's successors, having his henchmen torture and murder his opponents is not a rarity. Rigging elections is so expected that one hardly bats an eye, even to hear that voters are threatened with withheld aid should they elect Mugabe's opponents. This March, Mugabe threatened people with death if they tried to overthrow his government "unconstitutionally." Of course, "unconstitutionally" means anything that might break Mugabe's power, no matter how justifiable by the principles of freedom.

Sadly, mainstream media largely ignores these sins in favor of more visible ones. It was in 2000 when Mugabe commenced his policy of stealing arable farms from owners (because they were white) and redistributing the lands to his supporters; the shift from agricultural to residential use is the cause of Zimbabwe's famine. Last year, Mugabe began sending his thugs to raze hundreds of thousands of homes belonging to his rivals' supporters. He has people arrested for "informal" commerce. He has made it a crime to own foreign currency, so that when his cronies at the central bank continue with hyperinflation, the people are left as poor as possible. And this latest article reports that Mugabe's "national regulating authority" (a euphemism for secret police) will "monitor electronic communications" beginning next year.

Is there nothing left for him to trample? For the good of Zimbabwe, someone needs to assassinate this bastard.

The Jdate from hell

Regardless of your religious preferences, ladies, may you never run into a schmuck like Darren.

According to Snopes, apparently the story is true. It goes to show that there will always be jerks around. My feelings on the matter are that if you strike out on the first date, life goes on. If Darren is really as successful as he portrays himself, then a $120 dinner is a small sum to risk on the chance of a very rewarding relationship. The irony is that Joanne was going to go out again with the loser, but he, um...prematurely ejaculated. Via e-mail, that is, then by telephone.

That Darren pursued her as if she were a common debtor was particularly stupid because it destroyed any possibility for friendship. Advice to guys: you may be really disappointed that the outing didn't result in romance, but still, unless she's a bitch, do anything to hinder the possibility of friendship. I have personally learned that, with time, some feelings can be set aside so that both can enjoy a deep, rewarding friendship. "Let's be friends" are not dirty words! Darren, though, used extreme "scorched earth" tactics and foolishly denied himself everything Joanne has to offer: the pleasure of her company in a non-romantic way, advice on improving himself and his love life, perhaps even introducing him to one of her single friends.

It's easy and trite to engage in armchair psychoanalysis, but Darren really sounds like the secretly insecure type who has a need to impress someone on the first date, to blow her away from the get-go. The problem is that a woman he attracts will like him for his successful job, his nice possessions, etc., but not like him for him. Perhaps that is what he deserves. On the other hand, lunch or even coffee, or a walk in the park as Joanne suggested, has far less pressure and allows people to be themselves. I really wish Joanne well. She handled herself very well, pointing out that she offered to go dutch!

I'm old-fashioned and believe that if it's a real date (meaning the possibility of romance), the guy pays for the meal. Dutch is something that friends do, not a potential couple. And I therefore assume the very real risk of wasting money and time, but many other things in life are similarly a crapshoot. For first dates, I personally lean toward lunch at a nice restaurant, but nothing too fancy. Twenty to thirty dollars per person (before tax and tip) in Manhattan is plenty, enough so you can enjoy a good meal, but not so much that a genuinely sweet girl thinks you're trying too hard.

Regarding guys buying drinks as a way to initiate conversation with girls at bars or clubs, I recommend against it. Start talking to the girl first, and if things go for more than a few minutes, you can buy her a refill as a gentleman. If, however, you use a drink in an attempt to start things, beware. Barring that she does it to get back at an unchivalrous jerk (like a married man who's trying to hiton her), a girl who accepts a drink and immediately leaves is certainly rude and a bitch -- but it's her right. Really, you nice guys, exercise some common sense so you're not exposed as fools. I did once learn the hard way, I think when I was 25, but at least she wasn't too bad. It was actually nice chatting with someone for a bit while I bought her a couple of drinks. And no, I wasn't looking to get her intoxicated, for whatever reason. Any of my friends can attest that I'm too much of a gentleman for that.

Remember the girl outside my friend's club who asked if I'd pay for her cover charge? Had I paid for her, odds were a guaranteed 100% that I'd only see her back as she rushed inside without me. Unless, however, she thought she could get more money out of me, in which case she'd "deign" to talk with me for a minute while I bought her a drink. Her game was obviously to go from guy to guy, and even had she called me "cheapskate" at the top of her lungs, I wasn't going to be responsible for inflicting her on my fellow men.

To close, here is a slightly related guy's perspective on the different reasons that guys and girls go clubbing. Hilarious stuff, and true enough. Thank goodness I'm too old now for serious club action.

Some things are worth doing myself

As people get to know me, and Lord Boner could probably vouch for this, they notice that I have a few trademarks: cufflinks, pocket handkerchiefs, and very well-polished black dress shoes. The third is something that I do myself, because I insist on a good shine on my shoes, and no one does it the way I like.

I no longer use wax, which gives the best shine at the cost of drying out the leather. Kiwi has been a favorite for decades, but it contains napthalene. I like Lincoln polish, which I think also has some evaporative agent to make the wax spreadable. The best to use on quality shoes is a quality shoe cream. Bostonian makes an excellent one that is available in its stores. The lanolin base keeps leather supple, and if you really work in the cream before you break in the shoe, it can help reduce creasing. Additionally, after I've worn a pair of shoes, I apply cream a few times to the creases. That helps keep the leather strong where it undergoes the most stress, and it renews the leather's color to reduce creases' noticeability.

Kiwi's new shoe cream is terrific and my other favorite. It comes in a tube with a sponge applicator on top; twisting the bottom pushes the cream through a hole in the center of the sponge. Spread a thin layer over the shoes, let dry, then buff. There's no need for water, either, and it comes off very easily (reminiscent of a good car wax). It's just like Kiwi's old "Twist'n'Shine" that it stopped making several years ago, except that was a wax. Today's product is a cream, so it's better for leather, and several coats give a gloss almost as good as wax (unless you put in the effort for a mirror-like military shine).

Once in a while, I'll strip off the wax and start over. Kiwi's "scuff remover" spray (not the scuff cover liquid) is isopropyl-based, so you want to be careful using it, but it dissolves excess wax. Kiwi's leather lotion and saddle soap remove the rest while conditioning the leather, and Kiwi's gel cleaner will scrub the leather clean. The gel is meant for sport shoes, but it works nicely on smooth leather too. Then I apply lots of regular shoe cream for the leather's sake: rub it in hard, buff it all off, then do it a few more times. After that, if necessary, I'll apply a little of Kiwi's leather dye to give the leather a uniformly smooth finish. And to finish, Kiwi's shoe cream.

Yes, this is an awful lot of work, particularly when I could go to a shoe repair store, kick back for five minutes, and pay someone only $5 to polish my shoes. There are several places around where I work, but I'd rather do all this myself and get the shine on my shoes that I like. I also ensure it was all done to my exacting standards, rather than someone who won't even completely buff off the wax. For the same reason, I always change my car's oil myself. That was prompted by putting in some 0w30 synthetic at winter's onset, and discovering that the putz at the oil change shop tightened the oil drain plug so much that he nearly stripped the threads.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sympathize, but don't forget economic reality

It's a real tear-jerker of a "news" article: a West Virginia steel town gradually dies out. As steelworkers lost their jobs, they could no longer afford to patronize the local businesses, which depended on the steelworkers' income. The article describes how things used to be, when the steel mill jobs were steady and allowed a comfortable living. Then after touching on the effect of foreign steel exports to the U.S., the article obfuscates the real problem by laying the blame on those evil capitalists:

"The mill changed hands twice in the next 18 months, swapped by billionaires Wilbur Ross and Lakshmi Mittal like pieces on a Monopoly board."

"Decisions by executives studying spread sheets half a world away...[workers] thought they'd always have pride in a job well done and the power to control their own destinies."

The Weirton steel mill's troubles occurred while U.S. manufacturing output as a whole has soared. The rest of American manufacturing didn't seem to have as much trouble, because the successful companies excelled in where they had comparative advantages, or they shifted to products where they would excel. However, the Weirton mill and others failed only because it couldn't compete, and because the workers refused to move on. The companies were dinosaurs compared to foreigners who were more efficient and willing to sell for less. Yet rather than streamline operations, and perhaps produce only the types of steel in which they had a comparative advantage, the American steel mills instead clamored for government to "do something." They even held a rally in 1998, selfishly "demanding the federal government stop imports."

I say "selfishly" because protectionism ensures higher prices so that domestic manufacturers remain solvent, but everyone else suffers. Now, the steelworkers may consider their jobs a "birthright," but how is it their right to compel the rest of us to pay their higher prices because they abuse government's power to prevent us from buying cheaper substitutes? How is it their right to abuse government's power to protect their livelihoods, destroying the livelihoods of others in the process? President Bush's steel tariffs may have been modest, and they may have temporarily saved tens of thousands of steelworkers' jobs, but they still led to the loss of 200,000 jobs in the rest of the American economy. And that was before our European trading partners started enacting retaliatory tariffs!

One thing in the article that really bothered me is that when the couple met, he was 18 and she was 12. I could understand if meeting is all that happened, but "love at first sight" for him?! That was in the early 1970s, not the 19th century.

"The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded"

I realized yesterday that I forgot to post this picture. This is from July 12th, when referring Iran to the UN Security Council was the big news. John Bolton and his Japanese counterpart, Kenzo Oshima, were speaking at UN headquarters.

I don't read any left-wing sites, but I wonder if any have pointed to this picture and claimed that Bolton was using mind control on Oshima. Maybe Bolton is a Sith Lord! But is he the master...or the apprentice?

Jan Egeland: full of bullshit as always

Remember this putz, who accused the United States and other Western nations of being "stingy" in the tsunami relief efforts? Now the jerk says that "civilians pay a disproportionate price in Lebanon and northern Israel" during this new conflict.

Where was Jan after the countless suicide bombings that were specifically meant to kill Israel civilians, or were those not sufficiently "disproportionate" for him to criticize? There's just something about his statement that really, really grated me today. To hell with him and the rest of the UN -- the Lord reward them according to their works.

James Taranto made the best quote so far about Israel's methods: "Some have criticized Israel for not responding proportionately to the attacks, but we'd counsel patience. After all, the Israelis aren't done yet." (Hat tip to our friend Karol.) If Israel wanted to be perfectly proportional, then Damascus, Tehran and pre-Saddam Baghdad would have been leveled a long time ago beneath mushroom clouds. Israel can't go that far, of course, because of "international pressure."

This is the time for Israel to mop up. It's time for it to crush the terrorists, not by killing every one, but by using such force that every would-be jihadist will think twice about sticking his head outside his rathole. Syrians especially need to learn that if they want to continue supporting terrorists, Israel will destroy their way of life. And that's war: Israel didn't start it, but I want it to finish it this time.

Meanwhile, conservative moonbats are at it again. So what if the New York Times reveals that the U.S. is sending a new shipment of precision-guided missiles to Israel? The shipment is new, but not that we've sold such arms before to Israel. Hezbollah already knows what weaponry Israel has and what it can use; a lot of them have found out first-hand. liberal catnip has a great point: the Department of Defense's Defense Security Cooperation Agency already publishes arms sales on the WW. And she's Canadian!

Comparing the shipment to the first atomic bombs is as stupid an analogy as any liberal has ever made. We can publicize a shipment of precision-guided missiles because they are not new weapons. On the other hand, the Manhattan Project was kept strictly secret until after Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. So secret, in fact, that Harry Truman didn't know of the program until after FDR's death. Also, as anyone familiar with WWII history and/or military logistics would notice, there was no such thing as "US Pacific forces" that "requested the expedited shipment" of the first two bombs.

The Times is a den of vipers, to be sure, but why must conservatives resort to lies and half-truths to contend with devils? And why must they throw around "treason" when they clearly don't know what really constitutes it? Perhaps they do, which is all the more dangerous, since it demonstrates they'll trample the Constitution in waging purely ideological war.

It's Treason as Usual at the NYT

The Treasonous Times Befriends Hezbollah

Thankfully the Founding Fathers had the foresight to put this into Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." (emphasis added) They knew better than anyone else in history how "treason" can be misused, and not just by the Crown. They had the foresight to define "treason" very narrowly, knowing that for all our blood spilt, we'll always have "loyalists" who will hurl "treason" at anyone they accuse of not acting in the nation's interest.

Going by the one and only one definition of treason, how is anyone at the Times aiding Hezbollah by revealing what we can already find out from the Department of Defense? But I suppose the Times really is doing Hezbollah a favor, because then the terrorists will know precisely (pun intended) what hit them.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

King of the socialist moonbats, part III

He's the new king...of the socialist moonbats
King of the socialist moonbats, part II
What hath the free market wrought?
In Chavez's footsteps
"For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction"

First of all, guess who said the following:
These improvements [in Third World countries] have not taken place because well-meaning people in the West have done anything to help--foreign aid, never large, has lately shrunk to virtually nothing. Nor is it the result of the benign policies of national governments, which are as callous and corrupt as ever. It is the indirect and unintended result of the actions of soulless multinationals and rapacious local entrepreneurs, whose only concern was to take advantage of the profit opportunities offered by cheap labor. It is not an edifying spectacle; but no matter how base the motives of those involved, the result has been to move hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty to something still awful but nonetheless significantly better.
I'll give the answer at the end. The main story is that Venezuela's proto-dictator, Hugo Chavez, is at it again. This time, flanked by his Marxist godfather Fidel Castro, he blamed Latin America's economic troubles on the free market. Apparently their brother-in-collectivism, Bolivian President Evo Morales, wasn't there. We've heard their spiels before, like from Paul Krugman, who blamed Argentina's problems on laissez-faire. Neither could be further from the truth.

There are no economic problems from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego that couldn't be solved by the free market, which, contrary to intellectually bankrupt leftists, does require the rule of law. The free market simply cannot operate without principles like private property rights and the freedom from government coercion. So let's look at private property rights in Cuba...ok, bad example. On second thought, how about property rights in Venezuela? Heavy progressive taxation deprives people of their own earnings, and the oil industry, the country's main source of wealth, is nationalized. What nationalization really does is allow the government to distribute wealth to its leaders and cronies. The masses will get very little, but just enough of a taste so they think el presidente is a hero. And courtesy of the government's education monopoly, they're indoctrinated well enough that few ever consider that they'd be better off with private ownership: maybe you don't own the McDonald's, but working behind the counter is a better alternative to waiting for scraps at the back.

Remember that "nationalized" is just a euphemism for socialized: what's yours isn't officially everyone's, but it could be. Hopefully you don't own something or are involved in an enterprise that is too valuable, otherwise the military will come to seize it. Evo Morales demonstrated that back in June, when he sent in the military to take over the natural gas fields. That, of course, begets the question: if the government can take your wealth at its own discretion, why would anyone bother to do anything that creates prosperity?

How about a comparison of prosperity? The news article says that with Venezuela, "Mercosur [has] a combined market of 250 million people and a combined output of $1 trillion in goods and services annually." Big deal. The article adds, "NAFTA, combining the markets of the United States, Canada and Mexico, has 450 million consumers and a combined gross product of about $14 trillion." Now consider that the 300 million people in the United States accounts for $13 trillion of that. It's not like the United States has that much more natural wealth, nor does it use its military to force other nations into trade. So other than the U.S. accounting for the massive difference between NAFTA and Mercosur, what accounts for the difference between NAFTA and is the difference?

Well, the United States prospers because it is based on the free market. Our various levels of governments may not always act like it, but freedom was always the basis of this country. That includes the freedom of buyers and sellers to engage in commerce on their own terms, ideally without government telling them how to do things (sadly not the case, with all our regulations), and most certainly without the threat that government can just seize people's property (even more sadly not the case, as shown in the Kelo decision that sanctioned eminent domain at a tyrannical level. Things ought to be better, but until we can reclaim real liberty in this country, thankfully we're free enough that we still prosper as a country. If local, state or federal governments could simply seize a Wal-Mart store's inventory to distribute to a town, or "nationalize" financial firms that are at the heart of our wealth, what would that do to our economy? No one would bother to start up companies of any significance, and even if they wanted to, what investors, domestic or foreign, would want to risk their money? So we would all be left that much poorer.

Also, the United States, again for the most part, believes in freer trade with other nations. It's not true free trade, but it is at least liberalized. We will even trade with China, despite it being an ideological enemy that frequently does us no favors, because the benefits outweigh the costs. Both sides have more to gain than enacting trade restrictions, let alone going to war, and like all situations of liberalized trade, both sides are equally dependent. In fact, China has more competitors in producing than the U.S. has competitors in consuming, and its banking system would collapse if it couldn't buy all those U.S. Treasury bonds to use as collateral, so China is actually more dependent on Sino-U.S. trade than we are.

If Latin America wants to prosper, they will trade freely, not selectively. There's no such thing as "excess free trade," contrary to what some anti-globalists say. Why should I buy less food from my local grocer, so that I can purchase my own? The reason I don't is the same reason that part of my rent pays for people to mow the front lawn, or why people of low incomes still don't try to make their own clothes: it's far more profitable to work in what you specialize in, then buy what you want from others. Real economics knows no distinctions between individuals, families and borders, so ultimately there's no difference between buying from your neighbor and buying from someone halfway around the globe.

Did you make a guess as to who said what I quoted at the top? Was it Greg Mankiw, who was unfairly pilloried in mainstream media for pointing out the benefits of outsourcing? Perhaps Milton Friedman? Larry Kudlow, Don Luskin, or another supply-sider? If you guessed any of those names, you were wrong. It was Paul Krugman in a March 1997 article for Slate.

Yes, even Paul Krugman has ardently spoken for free trade to the extent that he defended sweatshops: "Bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all." I didn't realize until this afternoon that he even conceded their benefits. But there's a big difference between 1997 and now: a Democrat was in the White House then. Instead of pointing out today that large corporations, motivated by greed, have been guided by the Invisible Hand to improving the lives of low-end workers, Krugman has changed channels. Substitute "Wal-Mart" for "multi-national corporations," and Krugman suddenly sounds like those he criticized nine years ago:
There's no reason Wal-Mart couldn't have reasonably high wages...But they choose not to.
But as I pointed out a few nights ago, sweatshops can't pay workers more, because that necessitates increasing the products' prices, and therefore consumers won't buy as many. "Bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all." It's not a terribly profound or pithy thing to say, but pre-2000 Krugman was correct to say it.

Another difference between Krugman then and now, which I also didn't realize until today:

"But time has not been kind to [John Kenneth Galbraith's] theory [of giant corporations ruling society]. We have not become an economy of GM-sized corporations; in fact, large corporations play a considerably smaller role in the economy now than they did when he wrote his book, and for that matter GM itself is a lot less immune from market pressures than it used to be. Rather than evolving away from a market economy and the constraints it imposes, we are now more firmly ruled by the Invisible Hand than ever before." - Paul Krugman, September 1996

"Krugman noted that General Motors Corp. was the largest American company during the 1960s and paid good wages and benefits to its workers. Today, he said, the country's largest corporation is Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which pays its workers $17,000 a year." - Paul Krugman, June 2, 2006

What a difference a decade makes, doesn't it? Ten years ago, no big deal with GM: it's subject to free market forces like everyone else (though it always was and shall be), and big business isn't dominant anyway. Today, Krugman points to Wal-Mart, now the largest American corporation, as the benchmark for labor. It's no wonder Krugman would have gotten a top economics position had Kerry won the election: they're two flip-floppers made for each other.

To be fair, I've changed positions on various issues, but there's a difference here. I admit it, for one. I don't deny that I was once a protectionist, or that I was pretty Marxist for a short while in my teenage years. Also, I don't emphasize or ignore issues because of my loyalty to one party. Krugman rarely misses a chance to criticize Bush and the GOP, but I'm an equal-opportunity political basher who goes after both parties.

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The new Transformers movie

My friend Charlie just sent me a link that made me feel 20 years younger. It was announced today at Comic-Con that Peter Cullen, who was the voice of Optimus Prime (and Ironhide, as it was common for the voice actors to do multiple characters) in the original 1980s Transformers cartoon series, will again be Prime's voice in the upcoming live-action Transformers movie (!). reports the announcement here, and the trailer can be found on the official movie site.

I didn't see the trailer until today. Immediately I wondered how true the movie will be to the original series, which I consider canon. I stopped watching the cartoon after the 1986 animated movie, maybe because I was 10 years old and wanted to grow up too fast, but I think more because, well, they killed off Prime! It's a pity that the movie was released before the G.I. Joe movie was completed, instead of the other way around. Duke was originally supposed to die, but it was changed to a coma because of immense fan backlash from Prime's death. Duke was certainly cool, but Snake Eyes was the man anyway, and most importantly, there was no other Prime than Optimus. When I write "Prime," I mean only Optimus Prime, damn it. Hotrod/Rodimus was ok, but he was no Optimus.

The new movie could have brought Prime back, but that's too easy. A perfectly plausible plot could ignore the 1986 movie entirely, like the new "Superman" (which follows the second, ignoring the terrible third and fourth movies). Instead, the trailer makes it look like humans will be encoutering the Autobots and Decepticons for the first time. Hmm.

If it really ruins the storyline, then Peter Cullen's voice, even with a Prime faithful to the original character, would not be enough to save the movie for me. I've been meaning to do a review of the new "Superman" movie, which disappointed me in a few things; I don't think it's as good as the first two movies. Then again, the new Transformers movie must be made for a new generation that likely never saw the original cartoon. Some die-hard X-Men fans don't like the movie trilogy because of the deviations from the comics, which I can understand, but I never read the original comics and so have a much easier time accepting the movies.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/21/2006

I haven't been posting much in the last couple of weeks, I know. I hope to reverse that soon. Meanwhile, I'm taking five so that I can breathe and enjoy a nice cuppa. And that inspired me for today's quote:

"She served it as Earl Grey. I could swear it's Darjeeling."

(The difference shouldn't be that hard to tell, really. Earl Grey is my favorite because of its distinctive perfume from the bergamot oil.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/20/2006

- Is that it? Can I get out of here?

- What's your hurry? You don't really think something's gonna happen between you and Suzanne Dumont.

- At least I'm not spending the night with a good book like some people.

- What's that supposed to mean?

- Just what it sounds like.

- You'd get more action out of a good book than you'll ever see on this date, I guarantee it. She's not going to waste her time with someone like you.

- Someone like me?

- She's way out of your league.

- Since when did you become an expert on women?

- Compared to you, every man on this ship is an expert on women!

- At least I don't have to find my women in the Holodeck!

- What did you say?!

- You heard me!

I loved that exchange. If it weren't for a superior officer's entrance, things could have really turned nasty.

Daily Star Trek Challenge, 7/19/2006

I know it's now the 20th, but I hadn't had time all day to post this. If Lord Boner saw me at all today, he could see I was going through an awful lot of brokerage statements.

- Rest assured, ____. We will be victorious, at whatever the cost.

- Worf, it's just a game, a friendly little competition. You work up a sweat, you have a few laughs, and you make new friends.

- If winning is not important, then Commander, why keep score?

"Hustle": too perfect

The last few days have been exhausting. Tonight I found myself napping for a couple of hours, awaking just in time to catch the BBC series "Hustle" (which in the U.S. is shown on AMC). I find the show fascinating and underrated, with well-contrived scams and good character interplay -- the sort of interaction and banter that made some original Star Trek episodes watchable, even if the plots were ridiculous.

I had a problem with tonight's episode, not just because the end was a predictable, though nonetheless heart-warming wrap-up. The intended target's change of heart was pretty obvious to me once he was "stricken." "Too perfect" was what alerted the "mark" on tonight's episode, and it's my problem with the economic rationale. The crew selected their victim because he owns and runs...sweatshops. At one point, beginning to realize his supposed sins, he saw the hateful looks that his workers gave him and started examining his life.

But as I've asked before, if your compensation isn't enough, why do you work there? "Because I need the money" still doesn't give a "sweatshop" in the UK, Jakarta or India such power that it can coerce people into employment. People in most countries do have the freedom to refuse to do work that they think are beneath them. They also have the freedom to work for themselves, to rely on the charity of others (and possibly starve), or to find an employer who thinks they're worth hiring at higher wages and in better conditions. China can be a different matter because of its gulags, but that's another topic.

Now, remember that wages and benefits are not a matter of what the employees believe they are worth, but what the employer believes they are worth. Furthermore, the owners and managers of any business (whether a sweatshop, Wal-Mart or "mom & pop" store) will pay employees no more than what they believe the employees will produce. Let's say a worker produces a $30 item in one hour, and after all costs and expenditures (which includes management's salaries, who are necessary to run things, no matter what Marxists claim), only five dollars remain with which to pay the worker. Now if the worker wants $7 per hour, then the item must sell for at least $32, but what if the consumer isn't willing to pay $32? Something's gotta give, and it comes down to who wants it more: the employee and the job, or the consumer and the product.

You can't have it both ways: you can't suddenly begin to pay sweatshop workers significantly higher wages and still sell your products at the same prices. The low wages are what make a lot of "sweatshop products" affordable, which is to say it's what makes them able to sell in enough quantities that the workers have their jobs in the first place. If the consumer isn't willing to pay $32, then the worker who wants $7 is essentially asking too much, and he won't have a job at all. That's what minimum wage laws do: make people unemployable.

Am I defending sweatshops as an ideal workplace? Not at all. I simply point out that sweatshops as a part of the global economy are natural result of free commerce. The alternative is regulated commerce (i.e. socialist intervention), whose natural result is demonstrated by the Soviet Union, Mao's China and Mugabe's Zimbabwe: poor conditions for most everyone, except politicians and military leaders at the very top. We could look to France, a dying nation that somehow remains happy and blind to its crumbling civilization.

There will always be people who produce goods and services of less value than others, and the irony of government mandating higher wages and better working conditions is that companies won't hire as many. It's better that those willing to work for less be allowed to do so: let them compete with others for the jobs they want the most. Let's also not forget the benefits -- yes, benefits -- that sweatshops have for Third World nations. The "Hustle" episode referred to sweatshops in the UK, but all across Asia and Latin America, sweatshops represent opportunities for better money and even better working conditions. A 12-hour shift sewing shirts in a dirty factory is better than toiling for 16 hours outdoors with no guarantee of a successful harvest.

As for me, I generally buy what maximizes my happiness, and I let everyone else's chips fall where they may. My dress shirts are made in Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, and I'm not even sure where else. My only concern is that the shirt is worth more to me than the money I pay for it. The same principle applies to the worker who sewed it, who values the received wages more than his or her labor. It all ties in together, as opposed to government's purportedly benevolent attempts at regulation that actually put people out of work and make things more costly for the consumer. Who really wins in the latter?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/18/2006

- It's ironic. When the Klingons attacked this station, Gul Dukat and I fought side-by-side. At one point, when he was struggling with a Klingon, he turned his back to me, and I have to admit, for a moment, he made a very tempting target.

- You'd shoot a man in the back?

- That's the safest way, isn't it? But then I thought, "I can't fight all these Klingons by myself," so I let him live.

- And now you regret it.

- My dear ____, before this day is over, everyone on this station is going to regret it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/17/2006

- [Roars and suddenly stops] That is how the Klingon lures a mate.

- Are you telling me to go yell at Salia?

- No. Men do not roar. Women roar. Then they hurl heavy objects. And claw at you.

- What does the man do?

- He reads love poetry...He ducks a lot.

- Worf, it, it sounds like it works great for the Klingons, but I need to try something a little less...dangerous?

- Go to her door. Beg like a human.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The non-foolishness of paying for convenience, part II

Friday night at the Foundation for Economic Education, I was talking with one of the professors who conducts the summer student seminars and promised to send him a link to my entry on NYC's flower district. Brad left a comment criticizing FTD's business practice, and I continued things over at the Liberty Papers.

I hadn't noticed a couple of ignorant responses to my own. One came from a florist who is obviously miffed that FTD cuts into his profit margins. But of course: who wouldn't want to eliminate all "middlemen" and reap the full profit? "If you want REAL FLOWERS, seek out and find, A REAL FLORIST!" My friend received "REAL FLOWERS" that were just beautiful, and she'd be the first to dispute anyone who alleges they weren't "REAL." Moreover, it wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference had they come directly from a local florist, because ultimately it's the product that matters most.

It's foolish to claim that consumers are foolish to spend $30 plus $10 shipping because going straight through a florist would chave cost only $30. Microeconomics tells us that I was willing to pay $40 for the flowers, regardless of the total cost's individual components. Think about it: if a dozen roses, delivered, were only worth $30 to me, then why did I pay $40 for everything? Since I valued the entire product (which includes delivery) at $40, if there were no FTD, supply and demand tell us that florists would eventually charge higher prices. Perhaps not $40, because FTD doesn't

The guy's complaint boils down to the same as from the "mom & pop" stores who can't compete against Wal-Mart: they no longer make as much profit. Could you hear him crying any more loudly? If he's not making as much as he thinks he should, then he shouldn't do business with FTD. Perhaps he doesn't, but clearly he has many competitors who don't mind. And I don't mind going through FTD, which for me is easier than looking for a local flower shop.

The second, also a florist himself (and thus with an axe to grind), uses the misleading tactic of comparing percentages when we're talking about a relatively small sum. Were I buying a car, then I would have shopped around and perhaps looked for consumer ratings of various dealerships. On the other hand, we're talking about a dozen roses here. I buy flowers every so often, but not every day, so $10 is not a big difference at all. The same principle applies when I fill up my car. Since I commute to Manhattan by Metro-North, I mainly drive only on weekends and don't consume as much gasoline as when I drove to work in Westchester. Saving 5 or even 10 cents per gallon of gasoline is not that important to me, because I place a higher value on going to the most convenient station. As I've written about before, it's all part of the non-foolishness of paying for convenience.

In my last couple of semesters at college, I registered late for a few classes (after the first day), which carried a late fee of $30 each. That was fine by me, actually. Many of my classes required the instructor's approval, but I was working and couldn't always get the signatures in time. It was still worthwhile, since I gained on net: if I wanted the free time to meet my professors during their office hours, I wouldn't be able to work. Better to have income and lose a little than have no income at all. Moreover, as I put it to one of my professors, "Sixty dollars isn't that much in the overall scheme of things."

I mentioned before that when I bought my car, I knew the maximum I wanted to spend, so I went to the dealership with a cashier's check from my bank. I probably could have haggled some more, but it was a good enough price. It was a Saturday, I'd just returned a rental, and I wanted my new car that very day so I could drive to work Monday morning. Was I unreasonable, or did I simply decide that the aggravation of hours and hours of offers and counter-offers (and risking not getting my car in time) wasn't worth saving a few undred dollars?

And by the way, I hardly quoted Walter Williams oput of context. "Only unreasonable people pay unreasonable prices" is as plain English as you can get. Also, I'm still far from unreasonable with my own money. Now, Barnum may have made his famous maxim about "There's a sucker born every minute," but he was in fact erroneous to make such a blanket statement. When it comes to the economics of consumer preference, I'll put my money on what Walter Williams says: that people tend to be rational in their decisions, and "fair" in commerce simply means that both parties agreed on the terms of exchange. A true "sucker" is a victim of deception and misrepresentation, not someone who voluntarily chose to purchase something at an agreed-upon price.

Could I have used Citysearch or Google to find the best deal? Maybe, maybe not. I check reviews now and then, principally for restaurants. Perhaps I'm considering going to a restaurant for the first time, or I want to compare my experience with others' reviews. But for flowers, it's no longer worth ten minutes of my time to check reviews for a florist. It still comes down to how valuable your time is. When I bought a new raincoat and found a more expensive one that I decided I really wanted, I didn't bother to check other stores: there was the risk that a better deal (if I found one at all) might not be worth my time running around the city.

One more thing: since florists need my business more than I need theirs, if any would like to compete for my patronage, they can drop me a line. Except there's yet another problem: I receive so much e-mail that I can't reply to each one (and I don't believe in "Thanks for writing" form letters). It would take too much of my time to save an e-mail, with a definite risk about the florist's quality, than to pull up

Friday, July 14, 2006

Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/14/2006

- You're outmanned, you're outgunned, you're out-equipped. What else have you got?

- Guile.

- Join me.

- The honor is to serve.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/13/2006

- I will personally cut your tongue out...yintagh.

- Impudent wretch.

The big government traditions of the Republican Party

The following is what I just sent to the Life, Liberty, Property community e-mail list, in response to someone who said, "I'm going to have to stop telling people I'm a Republican with libertarian leanings. The Republican Party is leaving me. Like the Democratic Party did with Reagan. They may have different goals, but their solution is still government."

I've been meaning to write an entry about this for a while. The Republican Party was just a reincarnation of the Whigs, who were big-government types that believed in "internal improvements" and tariffs. Thus Republicans have always been about big government from the beginning. Abraham Lincon, Thomas DiLorenzo has pointed out, was "The Great Centralizer" in how he expanded federal powers during a time of war -- just like today. Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive, Herbert Hoover tried proto-Keynesian attempts to stimulate the economy, Nixon was a self-professed Keynesian, and then there's GWB. He has more than disappointed me because I still support him about Iraq, and I applaud his 2001 tax cuts as having come at the perfect time (keeping the recession from getting worse). But he's just a big government believer who is loyal to his party -- he's "conservative" when it helps the GOP, and he's an LBJ-class spender when it helps the GOP. If anyone had doubts, Katrina's aftermath proved that he doesn't think twice about new big government programs.

Reagan once said in an interview with Reason magazine that "libertarianism is the heart and soul of conservatism," but conservatism has never been the heart and soul of the Republican Party. Modern conservatives (genuine conservatives who are libertarian-leaning because they promote limited government) are actually a relatively new to the GOP in terms of having a major influence. Coolidge was quite free-market and worked with Congress to slash taxes, but Republicans as a whole didn't really emphasize limited government (Russell Kirk's 7th and 9th principles in particular) as the ideal until Goldwater and Reagan. That revolution didn't last long, because most Republicans hypocritically touted "limited government" only as a way to criticize Democrats and regain control of Congress. What's happened since 1994? After retaking Congress on a platform of limited government principles, Republicans learned that they can create more and more big government programs (which they always loved at heart) to stay in power.

I used to consider myself conservative, even one with libertarian leanings, but I realized that conservatives want limited government only as a means to an end. Prof. Bainbridge, a genuine conservative in the vein of Russell Kirk, has admitted as much. "Classic liberal" would serve well, and in fact that's what my patron saint Bastiat is described as. However, I refrain from using that because most people would confuse that with modern liberalism. So I call myself libertarian, but not a libertarian. Using the word as an adjective, instead of a noun, identifies my general leanings without giving me a label.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/12/2006

- ...there are a million things in this universe you can have and there are a million things you can't have. It's no fun facing that, but that's the way things are.

- What am I going to do?

- Hang on tight and survive. Everybody does.

- You don't!

- Everybody, [name deleted]. Me too.

Sorry for the delay. Today has been...bleh.

The double-standard of "human rights violations"

Israel bombed a house that militants were using, killing six. Naturally, Palestinians claimed that two children were among the victims. That's not to say Israel has never killed civilians, but consider the source: the way Palestinian authorities operate, they'd claim women and/or children were killed even if all the victims were terrorists who deservedly got blown to Allah.

On the other hand, if indeed there were two children, they may not have been innocent. It's not as if the Islamofascists don't use children as suicide bombers (kudos to Dan Abrams for asking "Where's the outrage?" from human rights groups). Remember the Iraqi child with Down Syndrome who was used as a suicide bomber? What about this BBC article from July 2001 about Islamic Jihad's terrorist training school for young teenage boys? And don't forget that women can be terrorists too. Recall the white Belgian woman who converted to Islam and later became the first Western female suicide bomber. In Jordan, a would-be suicide bomber is on trial for her life, desperate that her retraction of her early confession will be believed. At first she said she was unable to blow herself up, but her story changed quite dramatically when she found herself facing a death sentence.

"Human rights groups" naturally decried Israel's latest military action, but where are their "protests" about all the attacks on Israeli civilians? Israelis aren't the ones who creep into Palestinian settlements with the cowardly intent of murdering Muslim families -- including the women and children -- in their sleep. Israelis aren't the ones who strap on dynamite packs and blow themselves up in a Muslim-filled bazaar.

Some fall back on the rationalization, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Hogwash. Sometimes you cannot avoid collateral damage, but there's never justification for directly targetting civilians.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Marginalizing a true moron, part II

This entry is going to be a bit grittier than usual. Like a sign I once saw at a movie theatre, "We don't give refunds for content. Please choose your movies carefully." So, if you want to see just the nice side of me, if you don't like argumentative posts, or if you have a heart condition that can be aggravated by one my former commenter's inanity, please skip this entry.

Previous: Marginalizing a true moron

Some people can't leave things well enough alone, like Nuthead. It's a shame that someone like him, who can have good thoughts on a variety of subjects, instead chose to inject his vitriol into my blog. I noticed his rebuttal when Googling my name.

His "Self-Oblivious Example #1" boils down to, "OMG, look at all the uncivil language he used, when he said all he wants was civil discourse." First, I'm quite aware of myself, my opinions and what I've stated/written, so his description is quite a foolish one. Second, I never claimed that my responses were "civil" or "discourse"; I merely said that's all I want (when my readers post comments, of course). Third, and I hate to put it this way, but if he didn't want to participate in an "argument," then he should not have caused the "discussion" to degenerate in the first place. The original thread has all the evidence we need. Really, what kind of person expects to start an argument on someone else's blog, especially repeating such tripe as "You're a socialist" when he knows it's the furthest thing from reality, and not receive in kind?

As a battle-hardened veteran of Usenet flamewars, which made WWW forum flamewars look like kindergarten conflics, I must laugh at the accusations of bad language. I can string together a half-dozen epithets without a second thought, which still don't approach the worst of what some elementary schoolchildren say to each other (and what the rest hear on cable TV). Furthermore, if someone came onto my front lawn and fires a popgun, he should not be surprised when I pull out greater firepower. The same applies to my intellectual property, i.e. my blog. And should I write anything "unkind," "uncivil" or vulgar, my responses are all the evidence we need that my chosen words are not the basis of my argument. Consider them like adverbs, not really quite like Spock's "colorful metaphors."

As a fan of dialogue whereby participants filter out impurities to arrive at the truth, I welcome all points of view so long as we discuss and reason, not argue. However, if you want to start an argument, like Nuthead and Paul learned, my blog is not the place. When I was younger and had more free time, I'd have welcomed regular flamewars. Not now, though, not just because my time is too limited, but because that's not why I blog. Besides, aren't my other 700+ entries more worthy of an argument than one about American Idol? Really now, if this guy wants to expend keystrokes this way, I've written far more controversial things.

Nuthead's next point, if you can call it that, was an outright lie:
C-Nut's Wife: Perry is just plain nuts and probably has a man-crush on Chris Daughtry.

So how best to defend your manhood in the face of such an affront? Well, Perry insisted that he was “quite straight” but in fact his real man-crush was on Taylor Hicks. Thanks for clearing that up Perry.
Besides the fact that his wife is delusional (I'm a bit metrosexual but perfectly straight), note that I never said any such thing. But, that's lost on a liar like him.

By the same token, I wonder about the paternity of Nuthead's wife's new baby. We must wonder who the real father is, since, after all, Nuthead himself is clearly gay, based on the same Freud-ish psychobabble he spews. He probably has a man-crush on me, since he likes to point so much to my picture. (There was a homosexual on forums I used to post on, and it was creepy to learn he used hostility to disguise his crush on me.) Thanks for clearing that up, Nutty.
Also, I wouldn’t characterize my debates as “flamewars” if I was trying to defend my virility. But that's just me (and the rest of the self-conscious world).
Only self-aggrandizing ignoramuses think of something as a "debate" when it's merely a flamewar. I admit this is just a flamewar. The rest of you know it's a flamewar. When will reality bitch-slap Nuthead and tell him, "Hey yo, this was never a debate!"

Nuthead's third point includes the absurdity that I made a "socialist argument" by pointing out that Arthur Andersen audited Enron. There is, in fact, nothing socialist about what I said. Any thinking person can see that I merely alluded to the time-honored phrase, "Who watches the watchers?" What's so "socialist" about pointing out that big business can be corrupt? Any of you who read my blog know that I'm one of the most ardent capitalists on the planet, yet I don't deny the facts about human nature.

Nuthead is apparently light of brain when it comes to reading comprehension, but I think those of you who read the original flamewar understood that I accused him of using "socialist" the way others use "Nazi." So I didn't "lump" him with those who cry "Nazi," but I did compare him to those that overuse a term to describe anyone who disagrees with them.

Now, when I said the following,
Actually there are many fascist (i.e. Nazi) elements to our present government, from the Patriot Act to the NSA's long-time infiltration of people's private, lawful communications.
to which he replied
Who’s throwing “Nazi” around now?

How do you decry someone for doing something they actually didn’t do, and then turn around and do it yourself?
it was actually a statement of pure fact. Leave it to Nuthead to quote it out of context, particularly when he's a deer caught in the headlights. Once I called him onto the carpet to defend his trite use of "socialist," he was proven lacking:
By his “logic”, despite the presence of red-blooded Commi’s in their unions, nothing about General Motors or Ford could be deemed socialist – because strictly speaking, both management and the workers entered the contracts voluntarily.
Actually, there's a great deal of socialism there because of government, and only because of government. Were there no government to coerce the automakers (via laws to "strengthen" collective bargaining at the expense of automakers' private property rights), it could be Hugo Chavez himself leading the UAW, and it would still be purely free enterprise.

The big flaw in Nuthead's argument is going by an obviously subjective Wikipedia entry. If the entry said, "The pedophile blogging at is a socialist," would he believe that? I like Wikipedia for general reference, but as with all things that can be edited by anyone, take it with a grain of salt. There is a world of difference between a "common" definition and one that has no inherent credibility. I personally have corrected errors, from minor to major, in dozens of entries on a variety of topics.

But oh, what part did Nuthead forget to quote?
As an economic system, socialism is usually associated with state or collective ownership of the means of production, so as to fulfill the role of taking care of the citizens. This control, according to socialists, may be either direct, exercised through popular collectives such as workers' councils, or it may be indirect, exercised on behalf of the people by the state.
So am I really going by my own definition? How about Merriam-Webster?
1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done
And if you've studied your political theory, you'll know that Marxism's transitional stage is overseen by a "dictatorship of the proletariat," i.e. government. And that's what socialism requires: government coercion.

It may be a new or ludicrous concept to those who don't truly understand free markets, but as "socialist" as they claim the NBA is, it's still based on voluntary, contractual participation. If you don't like certain policies like alleged "wealth redistribution," then you have the choice to leave the league and establish your own. You don't have that freedom in socialism.

I will admit that I erred, however. I should have known better and clarified for Nuthead that "redistribution of wealth" implies government force. My apologies for assuming he'd understand that little...nuance.

Precise definitions are important. My best friend at work no longer tries to discuss economics with me, because I refuse to let conversations progress unless we have defined things carefully. "Force" is an especially important concept that progressives and interventionists (like my friend) tend to misuse. Now, if he and I presented our arguments based on different definitions and assumptions, then how could we be logical?

Nuthead even engages in a strawman, when he more than likely knows I've assailed the Kelo decision as just plain wrong:
I’d say that when interacting with society, a good general rule of thumb would be to adhere to shared definitions (i.e. Wiki) over personal ones. Intelligent debate needs at least some standards in order to proceed. What would Perry say to a homeowner who’s property is forcibly seized by eminent domain and redistributed to the government?

Would Perry chide the displaced with, “Well, nobody forced you to live in America...You voluntarily agreed to live by the laws of the country...You could have sold your house and moved after the Kelo ruling. This isn’t SOCIALISM.”???
What happened to Kelo and the others is nothing less than pure tyranny. Now, the difference between New London and the NBA is that in the Connecticut and the other several States collectively known as the United States, you have (or at least used to) a right to buy, own and use land, with the expectation that you can't be bullied into selling it.

On the other hand, the organization known as the NBA is private property. You do not have any rights there, no more than you have a right to your next-door neighbor's house. Entrance is by voluntary acceptance of terms set by contract; take it or leave it.
So why then did he stay up all night writing a retaliatory post? On planet Earth, staying up to 2:29am writing a blog response seems a most odd way to express apathy – especially for someone claiming to be “too busy”. Again, if he had an iota of self-awareness, he’d at least have fudged the timestamp on the post.
My, my, someone gives himself far too much credit, especially when responding to him requires more time for getting the links to old entries than actually refuting his nonsense. The reason I "stayed up" until 2:29 a.m. is because I am busy and don't get around to blogging until very, very late.

Someone once marveled how I typically blog "well after midnight" during the week. Some of you may have noticed the hours have progressed later and later, like our friend Josh, who once joked about my being the latest blogger in the LLP community. On weeknights, assuming I don't have social events, work or shopping and get home at a decent hour, there's so much to do: talking to friends on the phone and online, doing various things around the house, and preparing clothes for work the next day. I'll wander back to my computer to check ICQ and e-mail, but my only serious computer time comes very late. A consequence is that I can no longer read blogs like I used to.

Laundry last night took longer than expected, and I also decided to relax and watch "I, Robot" for the first time (great film, enjoyed it). When all was said and done, I still had to polish the shoes that I planned for today, so I couldn't devote more than several minutes to blogging (hence a light entry). It was 2:38, I think, when I finally hit the sack. That's been pretty typical, and some nights I'll be up past 3. However, it's rarely to write the 1000-, 2000-word entries that I've been known for. I'm not sure how long this entry will be, but I've been writing it during the All-Star Game's commercials.

I wonder, is Nutty so dishonest that he advocates putting a false timestamp on posts? I'm sure some of you notice when I occasionally forget to switch p.m. to a.m., which occurs when I start a post in the evening when I read the day's major news. That way I won't forget to blog about something I deem important, when I can sit uninterrupted at my computer some hours later. But I'm not going to lie and claim I wrote something at 9 p.m. instead of 1 a.m. Why should I? What would I gain from it?
Now I may have a face “made for radio”, but at least I am aware of it and spare my blog readers from seeing my mug each day. Look at this pic of himself Perry has displayed on his blog.

Once I showed that to my wife she scoffed, saying that it explained everything about him and admonished me to leave the poor guy alone.
It's a true indicator of Nuthead's intellectual inadequacy that he must resort to disparaging someone's looks. I won't dignify his absurdity by making the easy and obvious contradiction, but I'll point out that were this an actual debate like he claims, he'd have just lost by that inane remark alone.

Then he went fishing, trying to insult me for my valid criticism of the NYPD. You can read the followups here, here and hereOnce again. By the way, they still haven't been handing out tickets since those two days, and in fact I've hailed cabs in front of them. Gee, they're really enforcing the law now, aren't they? Like I said, they enforce the laws selectively, and it's not like the citizenry can really count on the police to protect them.

Nuthead used to live in New York City. Now he lives in Massachusetts, which, considering his apparent love of authority, suits him. That state has virtually forgotten its history as where those damned freedom-loving colonials first resisted George III's police state.

Now, Nuthead again created a strawman, specifically, putting words into my mouth. I never claimed to be a "Christian vanguard of civility." At times I have discussed my Christian faith, and as I stated several times already, I only ask that commenters keep things civil. Now, when Paul and his fellow pigs started leaving the most profanity-laden crap that made my own mild word usage seem like Ivory soap, as I explained, you're damn right I deleted them without a second thought, instituting comment moderation to stop their horseshit. Wouldn't any of you with blogs want to spare your readers from pure filth? Nuthead would have seen my explanation, were he not worse than the "morons" he claims others to be. Maybe I need to run a children's "Dick and Jane" version of my blog for his sake?

Now, I had written:
It's cops like Paul claims to be that make me wonder now how many future innocent victims are saved anytime a uniform is killed or left work-disabled.
To which Nuthead replied,
That's right, not only are all cops "pigs", Perry just said that cops kill innocent victims.
Only a complete idiot, a true moron, would think cops don't kill innocent people. I don't even want to imagine how big his mouth must be, since he's obviously fitting in a lot of pig cocks simultaneously. Or maybe it's his other orifice.

I, on the other hand, am a free man. Unlike the boot-licking Nuthead, I bow down for no man -- in any direction. Some people claim that they're slaves to their bosses, but aren't they free to quit? I've walked out on jobs before, as could most Americans, so employment is hardly slavery. Unless you're talking about armed revolution against a tyrant, there are few feelings of freedom comparable to walking to your boss' desk, plopping down your ID card, telling him off, then walking out the front door while he realizes, "Oh crap, I just lost another good tech."

Nuthead may wish that cops do something to me, but you know what, let them try. There are few things I will swear before Almighty God, and this is one: woe, and by God I promise woe, to any "officer of the law" who tries something on me or my family. Frankly, considering the attitude of these thugs masquerading as law enforcement, I'd like nothing better than returning righteous force for unrighteous force against the pigs. In the words of our friend Billy Beck, after he linked to more outrageous incidents that Radley Balko noted, "Good fucking morning. Hope it doesn't happen to you." I like the dual interpretations there, how Billy well-wishes the rest of us while also saying we should hope nothing like that happens to us.

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom--go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!" - Samuel Adams

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Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/11/2006

"I was thinking about a cabaret I know on Rigel II, and, uh, there were these two girls in a chorus line. And, well, here they are. Well, after all, I am on shore leave."

Good riddance

The leader of the Chechen rebels, the terrorist responsible for the murder of hundreds of Beslan schoolchildren and still hundreds more, was blown to hell (and I hope literally) on Monday. Apparently a vehicle in his convoy was carrying a couple hundred pounds of dynamite...

Like with Khomeini, Arafat and Zarqawi before him, my only regret is that the scum didn't suffer like his victims did. Nonetheless, the world lost nothing to see that bastard go. Also like the deaths of his fellow terrorists, particularly Zarqawi, no one really believes that their respective terrorist movements will die with them. There's always another to take the place of the fallen.

That's why the United States, Russia and other nations fighting terrorists can never let up on the leaders. Make them prime targets, never passing up an opportunity to flush them out, lure them out or blow up a house where they're hiding. It's important not to focus on one man and incur the expense of ignoring the rest -- for example, neutralizing Osama is quite sufficient. Still, make it known that a leader will lose his head if he so much as sticks it out a window, and his followers will think twice about becoming his successor. Killing this Hydra doesn't require preventing it from growing new heads, only making its body afraid to grow new ones.

A few pictures of Zarqawi had been floating around, but none showed his most recent visage. Then he finally showed his face just this April 26th, in a braggadocio videotape, and knowing exactly who we wanted, we were able to kill him not even a month later. If I were his successor, who we identified on June 15th, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night, lest one of my lieutenants decide I'm worth a few dinars in the pocket.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/10/2006

- The fault, dear Tain, is not in our stars, but in ourselves!

- What?

- Something I learned from Doctor Bashir!

A little late posting today; it's definitely a Monday.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/7/2006

After telling the story of the boy who cried wolf:

- If you lie all the time, no one is going to believe you, even when you're telling the truth.

- Are you sure that's the point, [deleted title]?

- Of course. What else would it be?

- That you should never tell the same lie twice.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Just to clear something up

Someone left a comment on one of my Star Wars entries that claims Admiral Motti was the one who told Vader, "You, my friend, are the last of their religion [the Jedi]."

Actually, that is incorrect. Check the original 1977 movie, and it was Peter Cushing who had that line, so I was indeed correct to name Moff Tarkin. Motti was the one who told Vader, "Don't try and frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebel's hidden fort--" (at this point Vader began a force-choke on Motti).

Also, Episode I depicts Anakin's piloting abilities as lucky during the battle, but his skill (as the result of Force reflexes) is quite evident during the earlier podrace. Episodes II and III also show why he really was "the best starpilot in the galaxy."

Daily Star Trek Quote Challenge, 7/6/2006

"It's perfectly normal. Most serious riders have their own saddles."

(There were a few who this was being said to, so for today just provide who said this, and the episode name.)

The freedom to assume risk

In its benevolence, government at all levels has uncountable regulations and statutes just for what we ingest. It's the tip of the iceberg that the FDA's legions must approve pharmaceuticals and inspect and/or supervise food production. New York City, for example, has decided that milk's usual expiration dates are too long. Once fluid milk is pasteurized, it's legal to sell it only within 96 hours of 6 a.m. on the next day (which is about three days earlier than what most dairy producers stamp on the containers). I have never heard an explanation for this that satisfied me. This New York Times article quotes an "Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Health" as saying, "There are too many variables, and we have no guarantee that proper care has been taken." In other words, just like Ronald Reagan warned, that guy is from the government, and he's here to help you.

Do delis not keep their refrigerators cool enough, in an effort to save money, making their milk riskier? (The doors are also opened and closed so frequently that a constant temperature is virtually impossible to maintain.) Does the city government not trust the trucks' refrigeration systems? Who knows. What I do know is that I'm intelligent enough, and my olfactory senses are of sufficient acuity, that when I open the bottle or carton, I can usually tell if it's spoiled. If there are curdles when I pour it out, yeah, most anyone would know it's gone bad.

Moreover, businesses build success upon gaining consumers' trust. Thus I generally will trust an established dairy's expiration date, and more so if I buy it in a reputable store, until I'm given reason to avoid it. If I keep my refrigerator on the coolest setting, but a certain brand still consistently sours very soon, then I'll simply stop buying it. A&P's milk is fine, but I don't like the Byrne Dairy milk that I occasionally picked up at Rite Aid. It could be the milk, the transportation, or Rite Aid's refrigerators. I don't know, nor do I care to find out: for me, it would be a very heavy cost in time to determine why. Since I rarely bought milk at Rite Aid anyway, it's cheaper that I buy only other brands at other stores.

Let's talk some more about trust. People apparently trust Arlie Stutzman, an Amish dairy farmer, to the extent that they buy his raw milk in unlabeled containers. Some participate in his "herd share," receiving milk in return for paying for cows' upkeep. The fact that this commerce is completely voluntary and harms no one is not good enough for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, who entrapped Stutzman in a sting operation. According to Jeffrey Quick, Stutzman got his milk license (a license is when the state gives you permission for something you already have a God-given right to do) back in April, but his latest court appearance is for running a herd share.

That's irrelevant, though, and with all respect to Stutzman, so is his defense based on "freedom of religion." The freedom to "share" (actually a better word is sell or trade) is not grounded in religion. Indeed, it's a dangerous precedent to base a basic right on freedom of religion. It's almost like Stutzman and his lawyer are grasping for straws, when they should argue something more fundamental. Then again, maybe they fall back on religion because the proper argument would be lost on most Americans, who have grown up believing government must protect us from ourselves and our mistakes. The real issue is the right of the individual to choose to engage in voluntary commerce that harms no one, free from others (especially government) hindering him. Hindering ranges from outright prevention to regulation, though bureaucrats and their lackeys like to claim that regulation allows you to do the same thing, only under government's direction.

Government tells us that only it can properly educate our children. Government tells us that only it can properly plan (via zoning laws and permits) where we can live and how we may build our houses. Apparently the necessity of state supervision extends to buying milk, too. I always thought it was a simple process, but according to government, only it can protect us from unsafe or fraudulent products -- on the one hand "persuading" us from childhood through public schools' indoctrination, and on the other, coercing merchants through criminal penalties. It does not matter that people buy Stutzman's milk in purely voluntary, peaceful transactions. Nor does it matter that Stutzman does not misrepresent his milk, like selling week-old milk that he claims was milked that morning, or telling them that it's pasteurized. Yet Stutzman isn't promoting his raw milk as anything but an unpasteurized product straight from his own cows. There's his herd, there's his machinery, so what you see is what you get.

Since there is no coercion or fraud, then beyond whatever marketing Stutzman may do, it becomes the consumer's responsibility to discover raw milk's properties and then determine its suitability. Stutzman is not forcing anyone to buy his milk; in fact, he was initially reluctant to sell to the Ohio undercover agent. However, government is ever populated by the socialist busybodies whom Bastiat described in The Law:
Moreover, even where they have consented to recognize a principle of action in the heart of man—and a principle of discernment in man's intellect—they have considered these gifts from God to be fatal gifts. They have thought that persons, under the impulse of these two gifts, would fatally tend to ruin themselves. They assume that if the legislators left persons free to follow their own inclinations, they would arrive at atheism instead of religion, ignorance instead of knowledge, poverty instead of production and exchange.

According to these writers, it is indeed fortunate that Heaven has bestowed upon certain men—governors and legislators—the exact opposite inclinations, not only for their own sake but also for the sake of the rest of the world! While mankind tends toward evil, the legislators yearn for good; while mankind advances toward darkness, the legislators aspire for enlightenment; while mankind is drawn toward vice, the legislators are attracted toward virtue. Since they have decided that this is the true state of affairs, they then demand the use of force in order to substitute their own inclinations for those of the human race.
Instead of Patrick Henry's exhortation that "liberty ought to be the direct end of your government," the members of government establish themselves as a worse nightmare than any micromanaging supervisor or nagging babysitter. It's really time we stopped calling them "leaders," because that only reinforces their fallacious belief that they are They Who Know Better Than Us.

Bastiat would no doubt sigh and shake his head over what our federal government, states and local municipalities do, all in the name of "public health" and "good government," which are euphemisms for "saving the people from themselves." He would remind us of the conclusion of The Law that our Creator hardly left us helpless:
God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies. He has provided a social form as well as a human form. And these social organs of persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty. Away, then, with quacks and organizers! A way with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.
God created man and endowed him with certain unalienable rights, also endowing him with the requisite abilities to acknowledge, use and enjoy those rights. So ask yourself: are you going to deny God's gifts of reason and faculties, or leave the direction of your life to a select few?