The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The People's Stimulus

Great interview by the Libertarian Lady of Break the Matrix.

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Abstain From Beans

by Robert LeFevre

In ancient Athens, those who admired the Stoic philosophy of individualism took as their motto: "Abstain from Beans." The phrase had a precise reference. It meant: don't vote. Balloting in Athens occurred by dropping various colored beans into a receptacle.

To vote is to express a preference. There is nothing implicitly evil in choosing. All of us in the ordinary course of our daily lives vote for or against dozens of products and services. When we vote for (buy) any good or service, it follows that by salutary neglect we vote against the goods or services we do not choose to buy. The great merit of market place choosing is that no one is bound by any other person's selection. I may choose Brand X. But this cannot prevent you from choosing Brand Y.

When we place voting into the framework of politics, however, a major change occurs. When we express a preference politically, we do so precisely because we intend to bind others to our will. Political voting is the legal method we have adopted and extolled for obtaining monopolies of power. Political voting is nothing more than the assumption that might makes right. There is a presumption that any decision wanted by the majority of those expressing a preference must be desirable, and the inference even goes so far as to presume that anyone who differs from a majority view is wrong or possibly immoral.

But history shows repeatedly the madness of crowds and the irrationality of majorities. The only conceivable merit relating to majority rule lies in the fact that if we obtain monopoly decisions by this process, we will coerce fewer persons than if we permit the minority to coerce the majority. But implicit in all political voting is the necessity to coerce some so that all are controlled. The direction taken by the control is academic. Control as a monopoly in the hands of the state is basic.

In times such as these, it is incumbent upon free men to reexamine their most cherished, long-established beliefs. There is only one truly moral position for an honest person to take. He must refrain from coercing his fellows. This means that he should refuse to participate in the process by means of which some men obtain power over others. If you value your right to life, liberty, and property, then clearly there is every reason to refrain from participating in a process that is calculated to remove the life, liberty, or property from any other person. Voting is the method for obtaining legal power to coerce others.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Ron Paul on Bill Maher

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Pro-Smuggling: Because I Have a Brain

by Cristina C. Espina

All it takes to convince one of the rightness of smuggling is coming face to face with the wrongness of the legal alternative.

It's the same principle all over the world, but every conversion story, as they say, is unique. There may be a few "cradle smugglers" out there who have been right in the head about free trade since birth – but they were probably raised by the kind of impassioned convert I have just become.

Here's what happened . . .

A nice American lady I know heard that I was having trouble finding several books by a certain author. She generously offered to send me her old copies of those titles as a gift – and I was thrilled at her kindness. I e-mailed her my home address and she packed up the books: not much in the way of trade, but certainly free, yes?

The books arrived in my city this week, but were not sent on to my house. This is how it has been for at least the past seven years. The packages I send to friends in other countries get delivered straight to their doors; but anything they send me is held at the Customs department of my city's central post office, so that I have to go across town to pick it up. This is to make it easier for the post office to shake me down for the "Customs Examination Fee" – something they charge for the service of opening my parcel and rifling through its contents before they finally hand it over to me.

It's like a highwayman charging you extra because he had to go through your stuff for your valuables – which takes so much more effort on his part than if you simply handed everything over to him, neatly wrapped and properly inventoried. It makes sense only if you think the highwayman has the right to rob you.

Yesterday, as I have every time I've submitted to a Customs search, I wondered what they were looking for and whether they ever found it. Just today, when a man shuffled out of a back room to thumb through my books, I ran the possibilities through my mind . . . Drugs? (How would those fit between the pages?) Incriminating documents? (How would Customs even know?) Money? (Wouldn't it be mine and therefore none of their business?)

Then I noticed the fellow showing some of the books to his superior, pointing to something on the covers. As usual, they had opened the package in front of me, but out of my reach, so I didn't have a clear view . . . but I knew enough of books to guess that he was pointing at price stickers my friend must have forgotten to peel off.

The superior muttered something I did not catch and the man shuffled away to punch some numbers into a computer.

A few seconds later, I was presented with a bill.

I nearly had a heart attack when I saw how much they were charging me. It was thirty times the usual Customs Examination Fee and I was floored.

I demanded an explanation and was quickly presented with a well-worn document that they clearly kept handy for such moments.

According to the fine print, I am to be charged for the value of the contents of the package plus the original cost of shipping them to me. So that was why the price stickers were so important. My friend had declared each book's value as one dollar, but the original retail price told a different story. The post office didn't want to let me get away with anything it could conceivably tax out of me. You see, whatever the sender already paid for the books and for the postal service, I would be paying again – as if I were buying my gift from her, which is absurd.

No, make that: as if I were buying my gift from the Philippine government, for which there are no words.

If my friend lived next door to me and literally handed me a dozen old books, "smuggling" them into my house, it wouldn't be anyone's business but ours. Some loser with no life might say it was not really fair trade because I paid nothing for the books – and apparently, the Philippine post office is run by such losers with no lives (and even less logic), because they couldn't hustle fast enough to make the exchange as "fair" as possible. Yet you won't see them sending my friend a cut of what they've stolen – yes, stolen – from me.

After they were done computing my taxes, the bill was so high that I didn't have enough cash with me to pay it; and since it was nearly closing time, I knew I'd have to go back today. The only reason I'll do that at all is the thought of how my friend will feel if the books get shipped back to her. I don't throw gifts back in people's faces, so I'll be damned if I let the Philippine government do that and claim it's on my behalf.

Before they taped the box up again, I asked for the letter I knew my friend would have included with the books. The man who did the inspection was about to pass it over, when the woman at the front desk suddenly snatched it out of his hand so she could read it first. Apparently, not even personal correspondence is private any longer.

Now, can anyone please tell me where I can sign up for lifetime membership in the International Smugglers Association? I'm sure they send everything by private courier.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pa. judges accused of jailing kids for cash

From: The Associated Press

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – For years, the juvenile court system in Wilkes-Barre operated like a conveyor belt: Youngsters were brought before judges without a lawyer, given hearings that lasted only a minute or two, and then sent off to juvenile prison for months for minor offenses.

The explanation, prosecutors say, was corruption on the bench.

In one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record, two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.

"I've never encountered, and I don't think that we will in our lifetimes, a case where literally thousands of kids' lives were just tossed aside in order for a couple of judges to make some money," said Marsha Levick, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, which is representing hundreds of youths sentenced in Wilkes-Barre.

Prosecutors say Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, Western PA Child Care LLC. The judges were charged on Jan. 26 and removed from the bench by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shortly afterward.

No company officials have been charged, but the investigation is still going on.

The high court, meanwhile, is looking into whether hundreds or even thousands of sentences should be overturned and the juveniles' records expunged.

Among the offenders were teenagers who were locked up for months for stealing loose change from cars, writing a prank note and possessing drug paraphernalia. Many had never been in trouble before. Some were imprisoned even after probation officers recommended against it.

Many appeared without lawyers, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1967 ruling that children have a constitutional right to counsel.

The judges are scheduled to plead guilty to fraud Thursday in federal court. Their plea agreements call for sentences of more than seven years behind bars.

Ciavarella, 58, who presided over Luzerne County's juvenile court for 12 years, acknowledged last week in a letter to his former colleagues, "I have disgraced my judgeship. My actions have destroyed everything I worked to accomplish and I have only myself to blame." Ciavarella, though, has denied he got kickbacks for sending youths to prison.

Conahan, 56, has remained silent about the case.

Many Pennsylvania counties contract with privately run juvenile detention centers, paying them either a fixed overall fee or a certain amount per youth, per day.

In Luzerne County, prosecutors say, Conahan shut down the county-run juvenile prison in 2002 and helped the two companies secure rich contracts worth tens of millions of dollars, at least some of that dependent on how many juveniles were locked up.

One of the contracts — a 20-year agreement with PA Child Care worth an estimated $58 million — was later canceled by the county as exorbitant.

The judges are accused of taking payoffs between 2003 and 2006.

Robert J. Powell co-owned PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care until June. His attorney, Mark Sheppard, said his client was the victim of an extortion scheme.

"Bob Powell never solicited a nickel from these judges and really was a victim of their demands," he said. "These judges made it very plain to Mr. Powell that he was going to be required to pay certain monies."

For years, youth advocacy groups complained that Ciavarella was ridiculously harsh and ran roughshod over youngsters' constitutional rights. Ciavarella sent a quarter of his juvenile defendants to detention centers from 2002 to 2006, compared with a statewide rate of one in 10.

The criminal charges confirmed the advocacy groups' worst suspicions and have called into question all the sentences he pronounced.

Hillary Transue did not have an attorney, nor was she told of her right to one, when she appeared in Ciavarella's courtroom in 2007 for building a MySpace page that lampooned her assistant principal.

Her mother, Laurene Transue, worked for 16 years in the child services department of another county and said she was certain Hillary would get a slap on the wrist. Instead, Ciavarella sentenced her to three months; she got out after a month, with help from a lawyer.

"I felt so disgraced for a while, like, what do people think of me now?" said Hillary, now 17 and a high school senior who plans to become an English teacher.

Laurene Transue said Ciavarella "was playing God. And not only was he doing that, he was getting money for it. He was betraying the trust put in him to do what is best for children."

Kurt Kruger, now 22, had never been in trouble with the law until the day police accused him of acting as a lookout while his friend shoplifted less than $200 worth of DVDs from Wal-Mart. He said he didn't know his friend was going to steal anything.

Kruger pleaded guilty before Ciavarella and spent three days in a company-run juvenile detention center, plus four months at a youth wilderness camp run by a different operator.

"Never in a million years did I think that I would actually get sent away. I was completely destroyed," said Kruger, who later dropped out of school. He said he wants to get his record expunged, earn his high school equivalency diploma and go to college.

"I got a raw deal, and yeah, it's not fair," he said, "but now it's 100 times bigger than me."

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The Nanny State

by Laurence M. Vance

Whenever some new perceived crisis comes along, Americans typically look to the state as a problem solver. Are we running out of oil? The government should increase CAFE standards so that cars are more fuel-efficient. Is gas too expensive? The government should limit the profits of oil companies. Is the planet getting warmer? The government should mandate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Are too many Americans without health insurance? The government should expand Medicaid and SCHIP to address the problem. Will taking drugs destroy your life? The government should ban them.

My applause is muted, however, for conservatives who rightly criticize the state’s decreeing solutions to these “problems.” Most conservatives never met a federal program they didn’t like as long as it furthered their agenda. As we have seen regarding its support for the Iraq war and lack of support for presidential candidate Ron Paul, the conservative movement has of late exalted the state and its leaders above all else, including liberty. As Lew Rockwell of the Ludwig von Mises Institute has explained,

“The problem with American conservatism is that it hates the left more than the state, loves the past more than liberty, feels a greater attachment to nationalism than to the idea of self-determination, believes brute force is the answer to all social problems, and thinks it is better to impose truth rather than risk losing one soul to heresy. It has never understood the idea of freedom as a self-ordering principle of society. It has never seen the state as the enemy of what conservatives purport to favor. It has always looked to presidential power as the saving grace of what is right and true about America.”

Thus, the same conservatives who condemn the welfare state (while typically accepting it anyway) have no trouble condoning the nanny state. Liberals, of course, generally accept both, although they can be quite selective when it comes to the extent of the nanny state’s reach.

A nanny state is a government that majors in micro-managing the behavior of its citizens. From federal warning labels to state seat-belt laws to local school-district bans on dodgeball and tag, instead of “father knows best” it is government that knows best.

Making people criminals

The nanny state garners the most support when it comes to criminalizing the advertising, sale, or use of what it deems to be harmful substances.

Although tobacco isn’t illegal (cigarette taxes are a nice source of revenue for federal and state governments), cigarette advertising has been banned on television and radio since 1971. Ads for smokeless tobacco ceased in 1986. On the state level and local level, more than 50 percent of Americans live in an area where smoking anywhere outside their own home – including bars and restaurants – has basically been banned completely. A law that took effect in California earlier this year outlawed smoking in a car in the presence of a minor.

I knew that the drinking age in my state (Florida) was 21. I knew that alcohol could not be sold after a certain time at night. I knew that alcohol could not be purchased on Sunday until after a certain time. But I didn’t know that many parents in Florida who probably support those laws were themselves criminals because they let their children have a beer or a glass of wine at home. I have seen posted in several convenience stores around the state of Florida the following sign:

“Notice. It is unlawful for anyone (including parents) to sell, give, or serve an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21 years of age.”

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Is the Breakup (Civil War) of the United States Imminent?

Is the break up of the "United States" at hand? From FEMA camps to globalization to Freedom, this hour-long interview covers a lot of ground. What's next for the USA? Is the break up of the "United States" at hand? What is the way forward to True Freedom and Sovereignty?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

END THE FED Bank Runs Planned for April 17th

Starting April 17th, plans to stage several "money bomb"-style actions geared towards forcing the American people to realize that the Federal Reserve is a sham. To do so, participants in this "bank run" are encouraged to withdraw the maximum amount possible from all accounts, leaving only $17.76 in checking, savings, etc.

Read more about it at

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Stimulus Watch: What Does Your State Get in Pork?

This is a great website that details, state-by-state, how much pork is getting sent your way thanks to Obama's "stimulus" plan. You know, the near-trillion dollars in Monopoly money they're dumping onto the economy?

Check it out here:

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Police hospitalize 7-year-old under Baker Act

Yet another reason not to put your kids in publik skul.

by Jonathan Abel, St. Petersburg Times

LARGO — Police this week removed an unruly 7-year-old from his classroom and forced him to be hospitalized under the state's Baker Act — against the wishes of his outraged parents.

The boy spent the night alone at Morton Plant Hospital before he was seen by a child psychologist the next day and discharged.

"This is a total abuse of police power," said the boy's father, Richard Smith, 41. "My son has no mental health problems. He's never hurt himself. He's never hurt anyone else."

Smith and his wife, Barbara, said they want to consult a lawyer.

But Largo deputy police Chief John Carroll said his officers did the right thing.

By all accounts, the second-grader threw a tantrum at Mildred Helms Elementary on Wednesday. Carroll said the boy tore up the room during his fit. In the process, he stepped on a teacher's foot and "battered" a school administrator.

Carroll said the tantrum was so bad that school officials had to evacuate students from the classroom.

School officials called the parents and police. When officers arrived, they decided the boy needed a mental health examination.

This was not the first time the boy had acted up, Carroll said, and the lead officer, Michael Kirkpatrick, decided the boy couldn't just go home again with his mother.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Security and Government Ineptitude

by Michael S. Rozeff

The ineptitude of the federal government during the current economic difficulties is monumental. After two years of floundering around, it still has not resolved the problem that is threatening its own survival, which is an insolvent banking system. It has not really recognized what the problem is. It has hastily devised solutions to this dimly perceived problem. The solutions it has come up with have then failed to come to grips with the problem.

The Obama administration is continuing the ineptitude of the Bush administration. Trillions of dollars have been and will be thrown at the problem without getting the federal government out of its mess, which is also our mess. Government acts slowly, lacks insight, chooses wrong policies, prolongs problems, and makes problems worse. This is all shown clearly in the current episode. It was shown just as clearly when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. It was shown in the New Deal, which failed to resolve the Great Depression. It has been shown in American foreign policy for a hundred years. Why else would millions of Americans have wondered why we are in Iraq or why an earlier generation wondered why we were in Vietnam? The inherent ineptitude of government can never be underestimated.

We Americans bear the costs of this ineptitude. We are made to fight in wars that are supposedly for national security but that are unnecessary. We are made to pay in blood and treasure. Every war substitutes investment in bombs and death for investment that would benefit us and our children. Every bailout burdens us with interest payments on perpetual debt while prolonging economic bad times. Even if the government were not now raising the odds of its own demise, we would need to be thinking seriously about what comes afterwards.

One of the basic needs of life is security. I suspect that most of us do not quite realize this in a fully conscious way. We almost automatically see to it that we get a measure of security. When we are young, we perhaps think a lot less about security. We are usually in good health, we can earn money, we can change jobs if we have to, old-age is a long ways off, we have parents to rely on and so on. This problem of security needs to be brought out into the open and discussed, because if people do not believe that they can get security when they have liberty, then they will not want liberty. If people believe that only the government can provide them with security and not they themselves, given liberty, then they will remain attached to government and spurn liberty.

Read the rest here.

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The Movie the Obamas Don't Want You To See

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Gullible or Cynical?

by Paul Hein

The first page headline was in the form of a question: "Saving the Economy?" The article described the plan to insert up to two trillion bucks into the banking system. The purpose, of course, is to "stimulate" the economy.

I was reminded of the lemonade stands we had as kids. One of our moms would donate a pitcher of lemonade (in those days, made with actual lemons!) and we’d haul a card table, the pitcher of lemonade, and some glasses down to the curb and shout "Lemonade!" at passing cars. On occasion, a motorist would actually stop and enjoy a glass of our delicious beverage, at a cost of a nickel or dime – I don’t remember the price we charged. In a short time, though, we’d lose interest in the beverage business, gulp down the lemonade ourselves, and go on to other enterprises.

But we were foolish! How could we expect our lemonade stand to prosper with such under-capitalization? We needed, at least, a sign at the end of the block, advising oncoming drivers of the lemonade oasis ahead. And the stand itself should have been more impressive, perhaps with lighting, and bold colors. We could improve our efficiency with an electric juicer, and the purchase of lemons and sugar in bulk.

What we needed, in a word (okay, two), was a stimulus package. Well, in theory, anyway. In actuality, we never even considered approaching our parents for such a package, knowing instinctively that the potential customers to make such a venture profitable just didn’t exist. Lemons by the bushel, sugar by the ton, and electric juicers whirring away, just weren’t going to make people who might be thirsty for lemonade drive down our street, looking for kids with a pitcher of lemonade on a card table.

The proposed bailout, of course, is infinitely more sophisticated, in that it is proposed by distinguished gentlemen in suits, instead of shorts and T-shirts. Big words are used. There are TV cameras everywhere. Really important!

Read the rest here.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Ron Paul Discusses Stimulus on CNN American Morning

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To Alter or Abolish

Received via email:

Dear Federal Government,

Drop dead.

Excuse us. Some may consider such bluntness to be indecorous, but why beat around the bush? In any case, we've been around this bush (Bush?) too many times to count already. It's time to let you know what we really think of you, what we say behind your back, what we whisper to each other when you leave the room.

We hate you. We want you to drop dead. Or, anyway, to go away and never come back. You are not welcome anymore. We have tolerated you – and we emphasize "tolerated" – for a long time, long after whatever romance there may have been was gone. We can pretend no more. You are disgraceful, boorish, nauseating, corrupt, shameful, arrogant, dishonest, self-serving, parasitic, disgusting, hypocritical, and rotten to the core. You have not even one redeeming quality. There is nothing you offer that we want any longer. We're not even sure what it is we ever saw in you to begin with.

We suppose you can be forgiven if this letter comes as a shock. "Why," you say, "what do you mean? I still command great respect and inspire widespread adulation. And I still care about you. Isn't it obvious?"

It's true that, in public, we often nod our heads and agree with you, even defer or appear to defer to you. But we assure you that this happens not out of respect; rather, it arises merely from the fact that you have a lot of guns and a bad temper. Inside, we are seething and resentful. Inside, we imagine your demise in the most vivid and gratifying of ways. We may fear your irrational and violent behavior, but we manifestly do not respect or agree with you. We don't love you. We don't even like you. (See the part about hate, above.)

At any rate, our revulsion toward you has finally come to outweigh any fear we have of you. We refuse to keep our real feelings in for even one more second. We want you gone from our lives. And we mean completely. Vamoose. Go. Die.

Please understand we aren't here to argue. No special new subsidy, tax break, or privileged "loophole" is going to sway our opinion or make us change our minds about this. We've been there, done that, for too many decades to count now. Likewise, your threats are starting to make us yawn and even laugh. You see, we know all your tricks now. We can see through your lies because we've heard them all so many times before. We are fully aware of your true nature, and we see that that nature is radioactive evil, wrapped in a tattered blanket of ignorance, foolishness, and stupidity.

Look, we know it's only a matter of time anyway. Your dimwittedness, greed, fraudulence, and moral bankruptcy are finally starting to catch up to you. Even your former employees admit as much. Do you remember Paul Craig Roberts, one of your past Treasury officials? Today he says of your latest economy-wrecking and warmongering efforts:

"The world has never seen such total mindlessness. Napoleon's and Hitler's marches into Russia were rational acts compared to the mindless idiocy of the United States government."

Mindless idiocy: We could not have said it better ourselves. Wait, yes, we could have, because we would have also mentioned your meanness and malevolence.

Our state governments are starting to feel the same way about you that we do. Many are openly refusing to obey your so-called "REAL ID" attempt at creating a national "your papers, please" regime of Hitlerian proportions. Some are even starting to make noises about the Tenth Amendment, which reiterates that you aren't allowed to just do anything you feel like doing. (We are not big fans of our state governments either, but at least they don't start wars, counterfeit our money, and prop up tyrannies across the globe.)

You see? Look in the mirror for once. The emperor not only hasn't got any clothes, he's a quadruple amputee demanding that everyone admire his muscular physique. We don't know whether to laugh at or feel pity for such a pathetic creature.

In conclusion and just so we're clear: We're done. Pack up and get out. Better yet, don't pack – all that stuff belongs to us in the first place. Just get out. And when you finally, mercifully, do kick the bucket, please make sure it is in some place far away from us, where we won't have to smell the stench of your hideous, rotting corpse.


Every Normal Human Being in America and the Rest of the World

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Obama's Stimulus

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CEO Pay Cap...Stayed in the "Stimulus" Bill for 1 Day

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You respect my rights and I'll respect yours

by J.D. Tuccille

In the comments to yesterday's jury nullification piece (yes, I read your comments) Smitty was especially on-point when he said, "The real problem might be toleration, or more accurately, the lack of it. We wish our preferred freedoms to be respected, while applauding governmental crackdowns upon those freedoms we dislike or are indifferent to." Frankly that's been an ongoing hurdle in the effort to preserve and extend liberty. Until pot-smokers and gun owners and low-taxers and sexual minorities recognize that liberty is indivisible and that we're all in this together, we're going to be picked off piecemeal by government officials all too happy to exploit our mutual antagonisms.

After World War II, Pastor Martin Niemöller voiced several variants of the following sentiments in his public speeches:

When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I was not a Jew.

When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.

Along the same lines, Benjamin Franklin once commented, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

It comes down to the same thing: When liberty is under attack, everybody is at risk. But that's not what the politicians and inspectors and tax collectors and police officers say, of course. No, they're all too happy to tell you that the queers next door are a threat to your way of life, or that the gun nuts are a public danger, or that the tax dodgers are greedy and not doing their fair share, or the store keepers are running amuck without entangling red tape, or that the pot heads are lazy parasites who will corrupt your kids.

But once the politicians and inspectors and tax collectors and police officers are done with the queers, they'll happily shift their sights to the gun nuts, then to the tax dodgers, the store keepers, and then the pot heads, and ...

Where were you planning to hide? Forget about it. Because you're some kind of menace, too, and you'll be fresh out of allies if you don't realize that the freedom of people you don't care very much about is just as important as your own.

The sort of people who make up the political class -- the control freaks of the world -- are experts at divide and conquer. They have all sorts of reasons why you should be glad that somebody else is being hemmed in by laws and threatened with prison. Those people are bad -- until it's you who's so bad. What the control freaks will never tell you is that they'd be entirely unable to impose those draconian laws and threats if you'd ally yourselves with those different folks and their peculiar interests to protect their liberty and your own at the same time.

You don't care about your neighbor's gun collection and he doesn't give a damn about your pot farm? So what? If you help each other out, everybody wins. If you don't, you'll both end up losing something you want, or else hiding it in the shadows and hoping for the best.

Keep that in mind the next time a politician promises to protect you from bogeymen who look an awful lot like the pleasant couple who live down the street. Maybe it's time to knock on their door and talk about an alliance of convenience.

Because you're not going to stay free if the only liberty you care about is your own.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Naomi Wolf on Real and Fake Mass Protests

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The Porn Bailout

by Doug French

With the federal government ladling out billions in bailout money to the financial and auto industries, a number of businesses now have their hands out. Home builders, retailers and commercial real estate developers all want a piece of the bailout pie. Not like there is an existing warm pie cooling on the window sill waiting to be cut and served. No, this money pie is created out of nowhere, to be paid for in higher prices as the inflation is forced upon the unwitting public.

Nobody could imagine that pornographers would be brazen enough to line up at the government trough. But sure enough, Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild fame have asked their local Congressman Henry Waxman for $5 billion because: "People are too depressed to be sexually active," according to Flynt. Ever the patriot, Flynt says an unsexed nation is an "unhealthy" nation. "Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex."

No doubt being depressed about losing your job or the general correction of the real estate bubble doesn’t do much for your get up and go. And if past escapades on Capitol Hill are any guide, this is a subject lawmakers are very interested in. However, the head Hustler honcho is stretching it a bit to think that a $5 billion injection into the porn industry will provide a lasting stimulus – economic or otherwise.

Upon hearing the news of Flynt and Francis’s panhandling, most people likely figured that it was all a big publicity stunt. But there really is a method to their madness. In an interview with Fox Business, Francis revealed what really has his business in a funk. When asked what he would do with the $5 billion, he said they would "invest in building new means of distribution, and shoring up our distribution right now to prevent further erosion from factors like Youporn and other internet content that has seriously affected our business over the past few years."

What Francis is talking about is that he and Flynt and others in the porn business have been unable to use copyright protections effectively to protect a monopoly on their content. Because pornographers don’t enjoy the same social approval that other businesses have, "the industry has not focused on using the legal system to protect its intellectual property," professors Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine explain in their new book against intellectual monopoly.

Unlike the mainstream Hollywood movie industry, the porn industry has had a tenuous legal status, according to the authors, making "it difficult for it to use copyright laws to inhibit competition, and so as technology has changed, pornography has become a cottage industry with many competing small-scale producers."

Indeed, Francis was once one of these small-scale producers until his Girls Gone Wild series took off. Now that his company employs 400 people and sales exceed $100 million, it sounds like he wants to use intellectual property laws to protect his content from pesky competitors like Youporn.

As Boldrin and Levine describe "The thousands of Internet sites distributing pornographic materials around the globe are, most of the time, imitators of the main initial producers, most often in violation of copyrights and licensing restrictions."

Because porn companies have trouble enforcing copyright laws, they must constantly innovate and because of this it is no secret that most web commerce innovations have come from the porn industry. "Their bold experimentation has helped make porn one of the most profitable online industries, and their ideas have spread to other legitimate companies and become the source of many successful and highly valuable imitations," note Boldrin and Levine.

So the jobs that Joe Francis assured Fox Business that he and Flynt would create are likely to be jobs for intellectual property law lawyers, in hopes of benefiting Hustler and Francis’s Mantra Films, Inc. at the expense of their innovative and creative competitors.

No matter what Larry Flynt contends there is no lack of inexpensive porn available to stimulate Americans. In fact, using $5 billion of taxpayer money "to prevent further erosion from factors like Youporn and other internet content that has seriously affected our business over the past few years," will only make his product more expensive and less accessible.

Throwing money at Flynt and Francis, like bailing out the automakers and the big banks, stifles innovation and new technologies in order to keep outmoded business models in place at the expense of taxpayers.

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