Friday, June 30, 2017

White House Claims To Have 'Stopped' Chemical Weapon Attack On The Same Day That They Killed 82 Iraqi Civilians


On June 29th, Trump boasted about stopping Assad from carrying out a chemical weapons attack on the same day that the U.S. coalition killed 82 civilians in Iraq, which is equivalent to the death toll that supposedly resulted from Assad's last 'chemical weapons' attack in April, and a bit less than the number of civilians killed by the U.S. coalition's chemical weapons attack, using white phosphorus, in Raqqa at the beginning of June. On June 29th, U.S. coalition strikes on Mosul and Nineveh killed 82 civilians.

Summary: Local residents and press sources said that at least 80 civilians were killed and others injured – mostly children and women – after shelling and airstrikes hit their houses near the Nuri Mosque in the ongoing battle for the liberation of Old Mosul.Half of the civilians died as a result of air strikes, said Alaraby news.
Yaqein Agency put the death toll at 82 civilians and said this was the work of the Joint Forces and their militias.

Of course, to call this contested is patently absurd. ISIS does not have an air force, so if airstrikes killed these people then only the U.S. coalition could possibly be responsible for their deaths. While this high of a death toll is unusual, it is excepted that civilians will always die in war zones; this is why wars cannot logically be waged for 'humanitarian reasons'. Anyone who claims a 'humanitarian' motive is either a low IQ dupe who trusts the government in almost every matter or a defense industry shill who knows they're full of shit but maintains the lie anyway because it's profitable.

The Red Tape Times (article 35)

Louisville Forces Businesses To Ask Competitors' Permission Before Operating

Source: Institute for Justice

In this particular case, the city of Louisville has a statute on the books that prohibits food trucks from operating within 150 feet of the vicinity of a restaurant that sells similar food, unless they obtain prior permission from that restaurant. Of course, restaurants like any other business want as little competition as possible and are going to deny food trucks permission to do business nearby. In aggregate this has shut out food trucks from having a viable opportunity to do business in the city, and has threatened the livelihoods of many food truck owners. A lot entrepreneurs interested in getting into the food industry cannot afford to rent commercial space for a restaurant; owning a food truck makes it easier to become self-employed in the service industry. It would be understandable if the city prohibited food trucks from parking in front of restaurants, but baring them from parking across the street or a block down reeks of favoritism towards restaurants.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Trump's Most Deranged Tweet Yet

Not only is this comment completely asinine since it doesn't make sense, it's also fake news. The very opposite is true. In fact, Amazon paid lobbying firm Patton Boggs $500,000 to lobby congress for the enactment of the Marketplace Fairness Act in 2013, which would allow states to force out of state retail companies to collect sales taxes for them. Jeff Bezos stands to profit from internet sales taxes because it would force smaller competitors, who cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars filing monthly sales tax returns in every state, out of business. Internet sales taxes would also force consumers to pay taxes in states they do not reside in to governments they do not receive public services from. It would violate one of the very foundational principles of this country, one which emboldened Americans to throw off the chains of the British empire; no taxation without representation. The only truth Trump has revealed here is that he is a petty thug who has no principles nor concern for the common man, just grandiose promises he doesn't plan on keeping. He says he'll stand up for the middle class and cut red tape that holds small businesses back all while proposing legislation that would destroy small businesses owned by middle class people.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Separation Of Playground And State

This is a response to Matt Agorist's article on the Supreme Court ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia V. Comer. After the Missouri Department of Natural Resources denied Trinity Lutheran Church a grant to put a soft top on their playground, the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled that the state could not deny public benefits to religious organizations. While I agree with Matt Agorist's conclusion that the state should not provide funding for the church playground, his argument about separation of church and state misses a more crucial point; the state should not fund any playgrounds. This is not to dismiss the separation of church and state as an important issue, but this issue itself is symptomatic of a much broader issue: an overgenerous welfare state. As Bastiat once wrote The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else. What started out as a well intentioned endeavor to help those who had fallen on hard times has morphed into a free for all buffet with everyone trying to get their share of the handouts. Of course, when I talk about the welfare state, I'm not just talking about poor people as it is commonly conceived of in conservative circles (e.g. SNAP). I would consider the $24B dolled out in farm subsidies to be a form of welfare, since it fits the definition. When the state uses eminent domain to seize property from one private owner and transfer it to a private corporation I also consider it a form of welfare; robbing Peter to pay Paul. Churches themselves are integral to the welfare state. For instance, Catholic Charities USA receives $2B in federal grants to administer programs like WIC (Women, Infants and Children). Hundreds of faith based charities are given federal grants and contracts to provide services such as disaster relief in foreign nations with assistance from USAID, resettle refugees through assistance from USRAP, and teach abstinence only sex education; in fact, Trump devoted $300M to abstinence only education in his 2018 budget proposal. The role of church's in the welfare state should not surprise anyone. The main problem is that Christians have socialist tendencies; I mean, they do worship a guy that condemned the rich regardless of how they acquired their wealth and instructed his followers to give all of their possessions to the poor. But regardless of what their faith teaches, it is not the duty of governments to give them everything to their hearts content. A government in its limited capacity can properly serve only as an apparatus to secure to everyone equal freedom to pursue their desires. When governments exceed the boundaries of moral law, we are incrementally more likely to end up with fiscal quagmires like the 33 states (including my own state) that are facing revenue shortfalls, top heavy bureaucracy that gets next to nothing done, hyperinflation like in most socialist Latin American countries and diminishing control over our own lives. It's funny that I don't recall any bible passages that command government funding for church play grounds or abstinence only education; it must have been in one of those manuscripts that got left out of the New Testament.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Political Superstitions (part 6): The President Does Not Manage The Economy

Or at least he's not suppose to, unless you live in a country like Venezuela (in which case I would advise you to get the hell out of there). In fact, the constitution delegates very little to the president; Article II section 2 provides a very short summary of powers and duties delegated to the president:

  1. Commander and chief of the Armed Forces when called into service
  2. Power to grant reprieves and pardons for crimes against the U.S. except
    in cases of impeachment
  3. Make treaties with the concurrence of 2/3 of the senate
  4. Appoint Ambassadors, public Ministers, Consuls, and Judges of the supreme Court
    with the consent of the senate
  5. Fill any vacancies in the senate during recess

That's it. The president isn't suppose to be some kind of superhero out to save the world; he's not suppose to create (private sector) jobs, or bring peace to the world, or control gas prices, or help you pay your rent. The president was simply meant to be a constitutional officer who signs bills into law and protects us from foreign and domestic enemies. If Trump had only promised to eradicate ISIS and enforce immigration laws by building a wall on the southern border he would be tops in my books, but like the typical egomaniac he had to promise the moon. He promised to bring back coal mining, bring back manufacturing jobs (which have been on a slight uptick for the past 5 years), and now he wants to bring back apprenticeships. Trump recently signed an executive order to create a White House initiative to expand apprenticeships; the only problem is that it's based on the same fallacious reasoning as his other far fetched promises. It is private companies that generate profits that enable them to expand their businesses and hire more employees or apprentices. Now the president can certainly facilitate this process by cutting red tape and reducing fiscal burdens, but he in no way generates the profits of millions of companies that contribute to economic growth in the aggregate and increase the demand for labor. The president's job, and the function of the federal government as a whole, is to maintain a hospitable environment for the private sector. Trump would have to be omniscient in order to manage the economy. He would have to know the time and circumstances of every transaction, the daily output of every business in primary industry as well as those in secondary industry; he would always need to know final domestic demand, not just in aggregate, but for every consumer and capital good conceivable, including ones that have not been invented yet. He would have to manage thousands of assembly lines, oil wells, retail spaces, mutual funds etc. while also performing the duties assigned to him as president. The truth is that one man doesn't create jobs; millions of market actors pursuing disparate interests create jobs, and to the effect that the president can make this process easier he can be said to be a catalyst for job creation, but he is not creating jobs.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Miami Dade County Fines Uber Driver $250 For Not Speaking Proficient English

Source: The Free Thought Project

In May of last year, Miami Dade County issued a memorandum that requires all drivers of the transportation network to have the ability to speak English, a violation of the first amendment that prohibits governments from abridging freedom of speech, which includes dictating what language their constituents can use to communicate in personal and business matters (with the exception of legal documents). Fast forward to today and this draconian law has come to fruition as it is now being used to fine Uber driver Carmen Echevarria $250 for not being proficient in English. To be sure, Carmen Echevarria speaks and understands some english, but sometimes she needs a translation for words and phrases she doesn't understand. This apparently enraged one Uber customer enough that it prompted the customer to call the police on Carmen after she asked another passenger to translate what the customer had said. As a result, an officer from the Miami Dade County Department of Transportation ticketed Carmen and told her she needed to speak English to be an Uber driver. Prior to this incident, Carmen had no problems getting customers where they need to go since their payment, route, and destination information are entered before customers are even picked up.

Monday, June 19, 2017

U.S. Coalition Commits Another War Crime Killing 75 Civilians In Raqqa Using Chemical Weapons

Sources: Amnesty International and AirWars

Multiple sources and video evidence from Raqqa confirm that the U.S. Coalition is using white phosphorous munitions in densely populated residential areas of Raqqa. While white phosphorous is not banned outright by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 it becomes a chemical weapon when deployed directly against personnel targets. Its only permitted use is as a flare to illuminate targets or a smoke screen to hide people. Its use as a chemical weapon on a target within a concentration of civilians is prohibited by the 1980 Protocol on Incendiary Weapons, under Protocol III. In fact, U.S. intelligence first classified White Phosphorous as a chemical weapon in 1991 after Saddam (a Washington backed dictator gone rogue) used WP munitions to put down a Kurdish uprising. Of course, the fact that the federal government would violate its on rules and international law in pursuit of a supposedly noble cause is not a new development. The Army used white phosphorous munitions during the second battle of Fallujah. More recently, the U.S. Coalition in Syria targeted Al-Hason internet cafe in Raqqa with WP munitions, killing 14 civilians who were trying to contact relatives that had successfully fled the city. An additional 15 civilians were killed by U.S. air strikes on the 16th street and Al Jazra junction nearby. From Thursday June 8th until Friday June 9th, the U.S. Coalition carried out 25 raids using WP munitions on eastern and western neighborhoods of the city destroying 8 shops and killing 75 civilians.

The problem with having the most powerful military in the world is that you will also have a government that is above the law and the victims of their tyranny will be left without recourse. A republican form of government, as envisioned by our founders, necessitates definite constitutional limitations on the exercise of political power such as requiring a declaration of war by congress before going to war. They say they invaded Syria to eradicate ISIS and have no intentions of fighting the Syrian Arab Army or Russia, but as usual you can never take a politician's word at face value. ISIS is just a white phosphorus smoke screen. Their true intent, as John Kerry had let slipped last year, is to balkanize Syria along ethnic and religious lines, making it a failed state like Libya, which includes destroying the infrastructure, destroying businesses and demoralizing the populace.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Minnesota Bans Political T-Shirts In Polling Places No Matter How Ambiguous The Message

Source: Pacific Legal Foundation

Minnesota Statute 211B.11 prohibits voters from wearing any 'political badge, political button, or other political insignia' within 100 feet of a polling place. The law was meant to deter people from campaigning in polling places, but its scope is so broad that it even prohibits shirts that aren't inscribed with a particular candidate, but that express a philosophical idea such as freedom of speech. Essentially any apparel that could possibly be interpreted as a political message is banned from polling places. If a statute prohibits more activities than it was intended to it should either be scrapped altogether or amendment to make the language clearer. The color red could be interpreted as the political insignia of the Republican Party, but it would be absurd to prohibit voters from wearing red to polling places. For this reason, the Pacific Legal Foundation has asked the Supreme Court to review this statute and hopefully overturn the decision of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals who upheld the restriction.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Allow Homesteading on Public Land

If you are homeless your options for a place to stay are legally two-fold: a prison cell or a homeless shelter. Both options involve subjecting oneself to the capricious power and authority of another person. You are forced to live at the mercy of others. If the shelter doesn't accept you for whatever reason, even if it's not for any wrong doing on your own part, you are legally left with one option for vagrancy, loitering, trespassing (on Public property) or any number of trumped up charges. A third option is in order to secure equal freedom to the homeless. Allowing them to build shelter on public land would do this much and diminish their burden on taxpayers.

It is clear from repeated experience that municipal and state governments are not able to provide for all homeless people. For example, homelessness peaked during the 2008 recession and so did local and state government debt the next year. Thus, municipals and states are least able to shelter and provide for the homeless when homelessness is at its worst (due in large part to a drop in property values and consumer spending). Of course there are federal homeless assistance programs under HUD, such as those contained in the McKinney Vento act, but like all federal programs they propose a one size fits all solution to a complex problem and being appropriated as discretionary spending, are subject to cuts. There is no guarantee of shelter, even in a welfare state.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that 31% of homeless people are unsheltered, and the population of unsheltered homeless is growing in 32 states. About 37 percent of homeless people are families, but the vast majority of them live in emergency shelters or transitional housing. The majority of the unsheltered population, and homeless people in general, are single individuals with nothing to lose but their dignity (through panhandling) and are responsible for no one except themselves. If they are not allowed to live on public land, such as in the woods, their only other option would be living on the streets, presenting a nuisance to businesses and pedestrians. If they are not allowed to build make shift shelters on public land they are subject to the elements; they are prone to die of hypothermia, pneumonia or suffer heat stroke. They would also be left without a place to store enough belongings to survive. Shelter, much like food and water, is a necessity. Unless you live in a very mild climate, going without shelter will be fatal. If holding a person captive without food and water is murder it would also be immoral to prevent someone from finding or building shelter. Prohibiting someone from preserving their own life is clearly a violation of moral law; therefore, municipals violate moral law whenever they prohibit the homeless from building shelters on public land. Of course there are reasonable exceptions such as public parks that are readily accessible, but secluded woodlands should be fair game for homesteading.

Since all people move and have their being on land and cannot preserve their own lives without it, the right to use the earth logically follows from the law of equal liberty. A just society would afford everyone an equitable share of its natural opportunities, compensating those who are denied these privileges and ensuring that the value generated from them are put towards the public good. Furthermore, that this privilege could not exist without the support of a society seems obvious enough. Thus, they should be contingent upon both their utility to society as a whole and their direct beneficiaries. The homeless, being denied an equitable share of society's natural opportunities, should either be compensated for the value of the natural opportunities they have been excluded from or permitted to use enough of them to gratify their desires. The former resolution would take the form of a supplementary income called a citizen's dividend. The latter would permit homesteading of public land.