Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Political Superstitions (part 1): Anti-Desecration Laws

 I addressed this particular sentiment back on August 16th and I didn't think it was a particularly contentious issue in our day and age, regarding it as a remnant of a more authoritarian past, until the future president expressed support for it on Twitter and his lackeys chimed in agreement. It's apparent that Trump, like his 'constitutional lawyer' predecessor, understands neither constitutional law nor, more importantly, moral law. Both are explicit about the restraints on government power in regards to free speech and expression.

'CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR OF THE PRESS; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.'

In fact the SCOTUS has already made this much clear regarding flag desecration in Texas vs. Johnson
(a) Under the circumstances, Johnson's burning of the flag constituted expressive conduct, permitting him to invoke the First Amendment. The State conceded that the conduct was expressive. Occurring as it did at the end of a demonstration coinciding with the Republican National Convention, the expressive, overtly political nature of the conduct was both intentional and overwhelmingly apparent.
(b) Texas has not asserted an interest in support of Johnson's conviction that is unrelated to the suppression of expression and would therefore permit application of the test set forth in United States v. O'Brien, 391 U. S. 367, whereby an important governmental interest in regulating nonspeech can justify incidental limitations on First Amendment freedoms when speech and nonspeech elements are combined in the same course of conduct. An interest in preventing breaches of the peace is not implicated on this record. Expression may not be prohibited.
The Government may not prohibit the verbal or nonverbal expression of an idea merely because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable, even where our flag is involved.
More importantly, Moral Law also places the same restraints on the exercise of power: that every person should have the freedom to do all that he/she wills provided he/she does not infringe on the same freedom of any other person.

It is instantly obvious that if a person burns an American flag, that they own, and especially if they do so on their own property, they are not preventing other people from exercising the same freedom to do what they wish with their own American flags. No person or group of people is therefore justified in initiating violence against them. They may ridicule, scorn, ostracize, and use all other manner of social pressure to change that person's behavior, but they may not initiate violence against that person. Any resort to initiatory violence is a regression to the law of the jungle or 'might makes right', regardless of what phony pretense they may cook up to justify violating another person's natural rights.

This sentiment that the American flag is sacred and 'represents American values' is no different in character than the divine right of kings, anti-blasphemy laws, the labor theory of value, the belief that governments create rights and all other political superstitions: it's rank nonsense. Furthermore, performing rituals to 'revere the flag' is really nothing more than a crude form of idolatry. Historically, the U.S. has had several different flags, the first one being the Gadsden flag, each no more sacred than its predecessor.

What Trump's sentiment really amounts to is this: the government should kidnap anyone who burns a piece of colored fabric, they own, that has a certain pattern. Implicit in this is the belief that a piece of colored fabric with a certain pattern is more valuable than human life, which contradicts his pro-life stance. What Trump has made clear is that leftists aren't the only enemies of natural rights and since conservatives have taken the helm of power in Washington the next four years will require combating the power grabbing right. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Red Tape Times (article 10)

Could there be anything stranger than the sentiment that governments should dictate the aesthetic values of their citizens? Imagine if a government were to prohibit certain styles of painting or certain genres of music. That would be fascism you say? But that is the same line of reasoning that municipal governments across the country use to prohibit their citizens from living in houses under a certain arbitrary square footage minimum. The Etowah City Commission amended an ordinance that prohibits houses under 600 square feet on the grounds that it is "not in Etowah's best interest to have 200 square foot housing on a lot that had two regular sized houses on either side"and the slippery slope argument that if allowed tiny homes (under 600 square feet) would become commonplace, instead of remaining the rare exception as they are in cities where they are allowed, and significantly lower property values, consequently reducing city revenue. The Wasilla City Council placed a temporary moratorium on the construction of single family dwellings smaller than 700 square feet. Their reason was an appeal to a time in the past when a tiny home tenement became crime ridden, which was really a result of their own policy failures. The drug epidemics that spur crime waves result from government policy failures, not anything that emerges organically from society. The same is true of poverty and all other social ills. Similarly, the construction code of Boise does not permit homes under a few hundred square feet because the city's central planner is concerned with "the health and safety" of their residents, even thought they are still much safer and healthier than Idaho's 2,247 homeless people and the rapidly growing unsheltered population in Boise, which has increased by 122% in the last year to be sure. In light of this abysmal failure, it seems to me that the wisest thing for these Boise bureaucrats to do would be to swallow their pride and step out of the way of entrepreneurial types who've thought up a new solution to the problem of finding affordable housing.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Preview of the Trump Presidency

A year ago, I said this clown would fade into irrelevancy once the Iowa caucuses came around. I have never been more wrong in my life. His make it up on the fly policies will truly work wonders for this country.

Side Note: Being critical of Trump does not necessarily imply prior support for Clinton or Obama. Not everyone is confined to the false dialectic.

In some regards, Trump is more Hawkish than both Hillary and Obama. All of his pre-election speeches indicate that he plans to dramatically increase defense spending and revamp both the army and Navy. Although he is not as hostile to Russia and Syria, he is the only candidate that supports a ground invasion of Libya and Syria. On top of this, he supports all seven drone wars currently being carried out and will probably expand the CIA program to more countries. A man who talks openly about murdering non-combatant civilians (i.e. 'take out their families') and invading sovereign nations is not an isolationist by any stretch of the imagination (the term itself is a strawman). He is also the only candidate that holds the frightening belief that nuclear weapons should be used liberally.

Trump has shown as much disregard for our constitutional rights as he has shown for human life. His police state will be several fold worse than Obama's police state. Trump has voiced support for bringing back torture, even if it doesn't work, and believes that Americans citizens accused of terrorism should be tried in military courts. He is on record as supporting the continuation of the PRISM program and wants to re-authourize the Patriot Act. He has no qualms with using the terrorist watch list and no fly list to restrict our liberties without due process and a chance to appeal, and has suggested that people who appear on the no fly list and terrorist watch list should be prohibited from buying firearms. His reflexive authoritarian appeals to expediency, and consequently, absolute police power, only gets worse because he is the only candidate to propose a national stop and frisk. Only God knows what else lies at the bottom of the Pandora's box that is this man's twisted mind.

Most of Trump's domestic policy proposals indicate that he will be a bigger spendthrift president than both Obama (-10T) and Bush (-5T), even though he has promised to reduce the federal deficit. He will, in his own words, double the amount Hillary would have spent renovating national infrastructure, from $275B to $550 - 500B and perhaps even more. He will also dramatically increase defense spending, expanding the army and Navy, which Forbes estimated will cost an additional $500B to 1T. His proposed block grant for school vouchers will cost an additional 20B. This is just the tip of the iceberg. He has proposed to do much more while also cutting taxes. This is the same man that thinks imposing high tariffs on imported goods from China will bring back manufacturing jobs even though manufacturing has shifted to automation. Tariffs are ultimately a tax on wages; the brunt of his boneheaded trade policies will be felt by the working class who spend the greatest proportion of their income on consumer goods. Even the Chinese labor force, who presumably 'stole our jobs', are being displaced by automation.
The Changying Precision Technology Company factory in Dongguan has automated production lines that use robotic arms to produce parts for cell phones. The factory also has automated machining equipment, autonomous transport trucks, and other automated equipment in the warehouse.Previously, there were 650 employees at the factory. With the new robots, there's now only 60.
The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labour costs,” said the department’s head Xu Yulian. As many as 600 major companies in Kunshan have similar plans, according to a government survey.

His promise to bring back a manufacturing based economy is pure fantasy. If he was truly concerned about chronic unemployment he would address the skills gap and not attempt to turn back the clock 40 years.

The fact that he supports the Kelo vs. City of New London decision only further shows that he is unprincipled. His precept is the law of the jungle. Whatever benefits him is permissible at any cost, even if it means seizing someone's home because it stands in the way of potential profits. If he abused his power as a real-estate mogul with political connections, which he used to get generous subsidies from NY city (885M to be exact) and tried to seize a widow's home, then we cannot begin to imagine the nightmare that lies ahead.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Red Tape Times (article 9)

Single mother arrested for selling home cooked food without the government's permission
A Stockton woman faces an impending trial and potential jail time after she joined a social media community food group, and sold some of the meals she cooked, which San Joaquin County officials say is against the law. 
Mariza Reulas was cited by San Joaquin County for selling an illegal substance, but it wasn't a powder, a pill or a plant. It was her bowl of homemade Ceviche.
She, along with about a dozen others, were cited for two misdemeanors for operating a food facility and engaging in business without a permit.

In order to get the government's permission to trade home cooked meals, Mariza would have needed to pay the good for nothing paper pushers $139 for food consultation, and depending on how big her house/apartment is, any where from $318 to $342 for a Food Establishment permit. More than likely, complying with the arbitrary rules of parasitic bureaucrats would have rendered Mariza Reulas' Facebook food group infeasible because overhead costs would have exceeded any profits. One has to wonder if she would have been arrested for carrying out her food trade through barter or by giving her dishes out to friends for free with the expectation that they would reciprocate. The only likely motive is that the parasites felt gypped because they weren't getting their cut of her earnings.

If permission to sell, barter, or give away food can be denied based on someone's inability to pay extortion fees, it can be denied for any other life sustaining activity. In fact, it was not too long ago that an elderly man was arrested for feeding the homeless. All moral rights are corollaries of the basic fact that an individual cannot sustain his/her life without being allowed the freedom of action to do so. An obvious example of being deprived of the freedom of action requisite to engage in life sustaining activity is being incarcerated or detained. Being required to pay for permits to engage in life sustaining activity is a more subtle example, but the principle remains the same. In both cases the law of equal freedom is violated unless the victim is compensated for his/her loss.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Corporate Propaganda About DAPL Exposed (Part 3)

Energy Transfer Partners likes to tout the slogan "100% domestic production, for 100% domestic consumption," but their stated goal of bringing energy independence to the US appears dubious at best when we examine what they've said and done after congress lifted the ban on exporting unrefined crude in December 2015.
“We will not own the oil that is transported through the pipeline. We are like FedEx. We will deliver the oil to the refineries for the producers.”
- ETP spokesperson, Vickie Granado 
Now how could Energy Transfer Partners make such a guarantee when 1) it's not their oil and 2) the company that will be refining the oil and shipping it to the Port of Beaumont has considered exporting and was one of the few refiners that supported lifting the export ban.
Phillips 66 is in a joint venture agreement with ETP and Sunoco Logistics Partners on two pipelines that would transfer Bakken crude to Beaumont, Texas. The Illinois-to-Texas portion of the pipeline route would retrofit an existing natural gas line to handle crude.
 Phillips 66 President Tim Taylor believes the North Dakota-to-Illinois portion of the pipeline route will be able to supply the company’s Bayway refinery in New Jersey. From there it could be moved via tanker to Texas. Once you get the Bakken crude there, Taylor said, it “creates the opportunity to export should that develop.”