Ron Paul Cures What Ails Ya

Politics, Internet 2008-01-02 01:54

I’ve always suspected that there’s an untapped vein of libertarians in this country - far beyond the 3 million or so votes that the Libertarain presidential candidate typically pulls in each election. These potential libertarians are people that believe in individual liberty and a fiscally responsible government, and understand that one-size-fits-all government mandates will never accommodate the needs of a diverse population. But most of these people don’t know the word “libertarian,” or if they do, they may be scared off from some of the Libertarian party’s more controversial positions.

The result is that these folks don’t feel any particular affiliation to any political party, and usually don’t even bother to vote. Politics is just something they’d rather avoid, because none of the choices really fit with their own beliefs. And they think that they are alone, because they don’t know many other people who feel the way that they do.

The meteoric rise of the Ron Paul revolution has been a deeply satisfying and uplifting experience for me. Just as I had always thought, there are far more than just those 3 million big-L libertarians out there. Ron Paul has given a voice to many of them. Ron Paul supporters are very often people who have never before felt connected to the political process or any particular candidate.
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How We All Break The Law - And Get Away With It

Politics, Culture 2007-12-24 12:37

“Why are there dead zones in U.S. law? The answer goes beyond the simple expense of enforcement but betrays a deeper, underlying logic. Tolerated lawbreaking is almost always a response to a political failure—the inability of our political institutions to adapt to social change or reach a rational compromise that reflects the interests of the nation and all concerned parties. That’s why the American statutes are full of laws that no one wants to see fully enforced—or even enforced at all.”

From American Lawbreaking by Tim Wu, a five-part series which covers the legal gray areas of obscenity, copyright, and drug use. That last item (covered in the second section) is particularly interesting: the author makes a compelling case for how the War on Drugs, rather than being reformed head-on, is instead being completely sidestepped via the pharmaceutical industry.

Special Interests

Politics 2007-10-31 02:11

“Special interest politics is a simple game. A hundred people sit in a circle, each with his pocket full of pennies. A politician walks around the outside of the circle, taking a penny from each person. No one minds; who cares about a penny? When he has gotten all the way around the circle, the politician throws fifty cents down in front of one person, who is overjoyed at the unexpected windfall. The process is repeated, ending with a different person. After a hundred rounds everyone is a hundred cents poorer, fifty cents richer, and happy.”

From The Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman

The TSA, and Air Travel Goofiness

Technology, Politics, Travel 2007-08-20 02:51

Bruce Schneier interviews Kip Hawley, the head of the TSA. They don’t shy away from the hard topics: taking off your shoes, confiscation of liquids over 3oz, ID checks, the no-fly list, etc. I’m impressed with Mr. Hawley’s answers and his willingness to speak publicly on the topic, even though I don’t agree with most of his positions.

By the way, the current spate of airlines telling passengers that they can’t use electronic devices at certain times during the flight seems to be utter bull. This post captures my feelings on the subject nicely. Though perhaps my dad (a professional pilot with 40 years experience in the cockpit) put it best: “Nah, cell phones don’t interfere with the instruments. I make cell phone calls from the cockpit all the time. I think the real reason is that it would be annoying to have a bunch of passengers yammering on their phones during the flight!”

State-Sanctioned Poly Marriage

Politics, Dating 2007-08-17 07:17

Two developing lines of legal argument may someday bring about state recognition for polyamorous marriage: the argument from polyamory, and the argument from bisexuality. In a 2004 law review article, Elizabeth F. Emens, of the University of Chicago Law School, offers the argument from polyamory (see “Monogamy’s Law: Compulsory Monogamy and Polyamorous Existence,” New York University Review of Law & Social Change). Polyamory is more than the mere practice of multiple sexual partnership, says Emens. Polyamory is also a disposition, broadly analogous to the disposition toward homosexuality. Insofar as laws of marriage, partnership, or housing discriminate against polyamorous partnerships, maintains Emens, they place unfair burdens on people with “poly” dispositions. Emens takes her cue here from the polyamorists themselves, who talk about their “poly” inclinations the way gays talk about homosexuality. For example, polyamorists debate whether to keep their poly dispositions “in the closet” or to “come out.”

From Here Comes the Brides by Stanley Kurtz

Dance

Politics, Spirituality, Culture, Liberty 2007-07-09 02:12

Does anyone else think it’s odd that you need a permit from the government to dance? Not individual dancers, but the owner of any venue in which people might choose to dance. That’s right, if you stop and do a quick jig at your local market, you could be placing the owner in legal jeopardy.

A ban on dancing in New York bars was upheld in court recently, and the Institute for Justice is fighting a case for a restaurant allow square-dancing despite the fact that it is not in the proper zone for dancing.

Dancing permits come from the fire marshal, who is certainly the first person that comes to my mind when I think “dancing authority.” The idea is that venues which have people regularly dancing in them will have a different occupancy level (as determined for safe evacuation in case of fire) than those that don’t.

My concern that government decides when and where we may dance in semi-public venues may seem like a small point. And it is - kind of. But I also think that you can look at this another way. This the most basic and fundamental exercise of human liberty: people gathering together to express themselves in an emotional and, for many, spiritual way. Freedom of expression, peaceable assembly, and religion: together these comprise the very first amendment to the US Bill of Rights.
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Omit Needless Laws

Politics, Language 2007-06-13 04:55

“The Lord’s Prayer contains 56 words; the Gettysburg Address, 266; the Ten Commandments, 297; the Declaration of Independence, 300; and a recent US government order setting the price of cabbage, 26,911.

At the state level, over 250,000 bills are introduced each year. And 25,000 pass the legislatures to disappear into the labyrinths of the law.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Ignorance of lawmakers apparently is. Our legislators continue to pass thousands of laws that you can’t possibly keep track of. And even if you could, you couldn’t possibly remember how a law might differ from one of our 50 states to another.”

From Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout

The Prize

Economics, Politics 2007-04-15 10:51

“The rules by which society decides wheter to select or reject a given invention are part of its institutional structure. Any change in technology leads almost inevitably to an improvement in the welfare of some and to a deterioration in that of others. […] Unless all individuals accept the ‘verdict’ of the market outcome, the decision whether to adopt an innovation is likely to be resisted by losers through non-market mechanism and political activism. […]

‘The old must nearly always win, but the few newcomers that score an upset victory carry away the prize of the future.’”

From The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy by Joel Mokyr

When you spot a corporation trying to win its battles through politics instead of in the market, that means the market has chosen against it. That corporation’s product or technology is inferior to some other available choice on the market, and is destined to die in the face of its superior competition.

Ron Paul for President

Politics 2007-04-08 09:11

Ron Paul for president? I’ve got just two words for that: Fuck. Yeah.

In case you don’t know Ron Paul already, he’s a strongly libertarian congressman who managed to get elected to the House as a Republican. This is the one congressman, the only one, who voted against the Patriot Act. Now that’s what I call a hero.

Check out Paul pummeling Bill Maher on his own show. (I generally like Maher, but he trips all over the questionable logic of left-wing arguments in the clip.)

Paul ran for president once before, on the Libertarian ticket; this time, he’ll be asking the hard questions from inside the incumbant political party. Of course I don’t necessarily expect him to win, but asking those questions from the position he’s in should go a long way for the cause of liberty.

Popes, Presidents, and Zombies

Philosophy, Politics 2007-02-27 03:50

Some time ago, I watched a documentary about the Vatican, which gave a peek at the highly ritualistic lifestyle of the pope. One aspect in particular jumped out at me: once elected, every single moment of the pope’s life from that day forward is planned. He never has a moment to himself, or some free time to sit and think. He can’t pursue his own interests or take a vacation. In short, he is always the pope, for every minute between election and death.

This seemed to explain something I had always noticed, when watching video footage of the guy. He seems lifeless. An animated corpus, moving through a series of motions and activities predefined long before, but with no inner passion or spirit of his own.

And it makes sense - I think we would all react that way, given a guided lifestyle like his. Always on display, always performing a role. Every moment is a potential photo-op. (Seriously: the guy has his own photographer that follows him around all day, snapping pictures of nearly every waking moment.)

I guess it just wouldn’t do to have the pope ever caught scratching his ass, or making a funny face while laughing at a joke, or displaying the least bit of emotion about his own life or circumstance. What can one do, when one must constantly suppress their thoughts, feelings, and desires, 24 hours a day? I think those thoughts and feelings simply become lost. The best way to suppress them is never to have them in the first place.
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