Monday, January 31, 2005

Why this blog will never contain a site meter

Before I begin, I'd like to apologize to any onlookers who are about to read this post. I'd like to refrain as much as possible from criticizing people in the manner that I am about to employ, although exceptions always exist (thugs, aggressively devout statists, etc.). I simply can not hold back the urge to do so any longer, given the increasing vulgarity and stupidity of this person's presence. Again, I apologize, since it's not my normal nature to be so spiteful.

The reason why this blog will never contain a site meter can be found here (scroll down to the entry titled "Put a Sitemeter on your blog").

Why is it that when I read something of hers, I'm reminded of Ashlee Simpson, certain Frank Zappa lyrics and the general repugnancy associated with the "high school mentality"?

If being respected by her Beltway "libertarian" in-crowd requires cheering on imperialistic aggression, supporting violations of federalism, questioning the intelligence of minorities, advocating a breast implant tax, parroting the government sanctioned version of history, claiming that people who question said history or Bush's foreign policy must simply "hate America", and looking down upon bloggers who don't place a site meter on their blogs, then I can proudly claim to be an icky outsider.

Since I'm an advocate of liberty, being an outsider is only natural.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Regulatus Infinitum

One of the tasks that I had to do at work yesterday (I work at a University library) was prepare a bunch of items to be sent out and bound. In front of me was literally tens of thousands of pages of federal regulations! These federal regulation code books were chock full of myriad infractions of our liberty and multiple volumns of these books are produced each year for each realm of policy that the government engages in.

While I don't have any interesting things to share concerning what was inside all of these books (since opening them would have made me too ill to perform my job), I did make one odd observation. Two of the books dealt with the topic of "Indians". Why am I not surprised to come across the government engaging in hypocrisy, since you know that they often promote the politically correct label of "Native American"? I use the term "Native American" out of respect to people of that cultural background, but I suppose the government never has to respect anyone, even when they laughably encourage others to do so.

As I stated above, multiple volumns of these voluminous vulgarities are churned out each year by the federal government for each and every subset of our lives that they feel inclined to violate. Each of these books range from a few hundred to over a thousand pages. Factor in the many copies of these books that they need to make for the various libraries and offices that they ship these books too, and you end up with an unfathomable amount of paper that is not only wasted, but perverted with the verbal pus of political pimps and prostitutes.

And people think that the government can be counted on to preserve and protect the environment?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I guess most Michiganders are criminals now!

There are many laws in existance that are poorly written, counterproductive, or just plain defy logic. In a northern state that recieves much snow on a yearly basis, such as Michigan, there is apparently one law that not only defies logic, but practically turns every resident of the state into a criminal.

A Springfield, MI man is now facing a $100 fine and up to 90 days in jail for pushing snow across the street. That's right folks... pushing snow across the street, in an attempt to clear a friend's driveway. You can read more about it by reading this story from the Detroit Free Press.

When there is such a massive onslaught of snow dumped on us at once and people need to clear their driveways in order to drive to work or school, there is one question that needs to be asked here: where the fock else is the snow supposed to go?!?

Who hasn't done this while trying to clear their driveways? I suppose that the people who own snow blowers recieve the blessings of the state for taking the alternative route of blowing their snow onto their neighbor's driveway, but what about everyone else? I knew that I was breaking the law as early as the age of 15 when I'd partake in the consumption of alcohol, but I didn't realize that I was already a criminal for shoveling snow across the street years before that!

Here is the explanation given as to why this ludicrous law exists:
Dennis Randolph, managing director of the Calhoun County Road Commission, said his staff tries to inform residents about the law. He said pushing snow across the road is a problem because it creates hazardous humps of ice and snow. He added that residents get angry when road crews plow the cleared snow back into driveways.

Um... road crews plow snow into people's driveways anyway, with or without any clearing taking place beforehand. These road crews then force people to go outside and shovel snow across the street yet again, since a cleared driveway isn't exactly smooth sailing when there is a huge lump of snow at the very end of it created by the road crews. Common sense also tells us that drivers should take caution while driving in winter weather because there will be ice and snow on the roads anyways, even without this ridiculous non-hazard of driveway clearing.

This little snippet is great, as this Andrew Rowland guy clearly has his mind screwed on correctly:
But Andrew Rowland, owner of Right Choice Lawn and Landscape of Battle Creek, said the law is "ridiculous." He said he has to push snow across the road in at least three places because there's nowhere else to put it, but he uses common sense and makes sure the road is clear.
Ah yes -- common sense. An apparent prerequisite to working for the government is that one must first remove all traces of common sense from their minds, which is why Mr. Rowland's common sense has been made a criminal act.

There's no denying it now...

Hat tip to Karen De Coster for providing a link to Amazon's page for a new book on neoconservatism. And I thought that such a term was only used by "hate-America lefties"! There's even a contribution by Ms. Oil Tanker herself, Condoleeza Rice.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Libertarianism ain't right-wing, left-wing, liberal or conservative -- it just is.

Anthony Gregory, serving as Strike The Root's guest editor for today, provides a link to an old article from Tech Central Station about political cyber-coalitions and how blogging may hopefully result in a revitalized libertarian/conservative coalition since the two sides are so gosh darned similar. He links to this article because he apparently has a particular beef with it, as do I. Below the link is this quote from the article:
"Conservatives and libertarians generally favor aggressive intervention in conducting the war on terrorism....While libertarian and conservative bloggers certainly do quibble from time to time with certain specific tactics in the war, they both believe that military action against terrorist groups is called for. In general, libertarian and conservative bloggers favored the military action in Afghanistan, and they favor it in Iraq as well....Needless to say, libertarians and conservatives generally favor a capitalist, free-market economic system, with low taxes, and little government regulation. There may be differences in degrees, but there certainly are not differences in general goals."
Following this quote is Mr. Gregory's response:
Give me a break. Libertarians are not pro-war, and conservatives do not share our economic goals of a market without coercion. I’m sick of people thinking that libertarians are simply far-right conservatives who want to legalize pot.
The tagline that he wrote for this link is "The Ongoing and Destructive Delusion That Libertarianism is Rightwing", and I agree about the troublesome and delusionary nature of such a line of thought. As someone who would like to see more dialogue and coalition building with the left, the misperception that libertarianism is right-wing is a major obstacle to overcome.

I've addressed the problem of certain right-wingers using free market rhetoric to mask some rather unlibertarian actions in previous posts, although what makes this article from Tech Central Station so noteworthy to me is it's source. Those who think that Tech Central Station is simply a site that innocently provides a space on the internet "Where Free Markets Meet Technology" needs to be aware of the old Latin phrase caveat emptor. If you want to know why I say this, may I suggest reading this article by Nicholas Confessore from the December 2003 issue of Washington Monthly. While some of the material on TCS, along with some of the contributors, may be first-rate and useful, the shilling that occurs on that site for corporations who finance it not only jeopardizes the site's committment to promoting free markets, but also serves to promote the misperception of libertarianism as being right-wing. It's also not surprising that a site that serves interests who are often in favor of preserving much of the status quo would attempt to insert a pro-interventionist message from time to time, such as Ryan Sager's "Rethinking Libertarian Minimalism". Tech Central Station, to me, seems to be more conservative than it is libertarian, which is why I say "caveat emptor" (although that advice really should be applied to any media outlet in existance). If you want to know where some of the funding for TCS comes from, check out the TCS entry at Sourcewatch (formerly known as Disinfopedia).

Rhetoric aside, libertarian goals conflict with the goals of both the left and the right since interventionism is a defining element of both sides. Defending free markets does not make us right-wing, and criticizing war does not make us left-wing. While some libertarians may be more friendly to right-wing causes, it does not mean that libertarianism in general is right-wing in nature. I don't want to be branded with that label, and I also don't want to be branded with the left-wing label for my stance on war or my critical position towards corporate power. I like to think of libertarianism as being neither left nor right, which allows libertarians to occasionally agree with or disagree with either side (or both sides simultaneously) on various issues.

While building alliances with the right may look increasingly bleak these days, I'm not trying to advocate that it be stopped. It makes far more sense to me though to reach out to the left and spend more time trying to align with them, which means that I'm naturally going to be distressed with the continued assertion of many that libertarianism is a right-wing phenomenom. I hope that explains why I'm not so cozy with those who sacrifice key principles such as opposition to war, or who continue to assert that libertarians are mere conservative offshoots while criticizing anything and everything that comes from the left. I don't mean for this to sort of imply that I'm questioning the libertarian credentials of some people. My goal is simply to put to bed, once and for all, the fallacious notion that libertarians are merely conservatives who want to do drugs in peace and occasionally speak out against war. The fact that there are many different types of libertarians, some of whom engage more with lefties and seem to be more "bleeding heart" in nature, apparently doesn't seem to be convincing enough as of yet.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Quote & Music of the day -- 1/17/05

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -- Martin Luther King Jr.
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Charles Mingus - Let My Children Hear Music

While MLK was certainly one of the main voices of social justice and political discontent during the 1960s, Charles Mingus chose to express his opinions on such matters on occasion in the jazz world. I have an unreleased live recording of his from 1965 where he concluded the show with a song called "Don't Let It Happen Here". He began the number by reciting an altered variation of Martin Niemoller's famous poem "First They Came...", which included a part he added on:
Then they took me, and I could say nothing
for I was as guilty as they were
for not speaking out, for saying that
all men have a right to freedom on any land
I was as guilty of genocide as you, all of you
for you know when a man is free
and when to set him free of slavery
so I charge you all with genocide
same as I

This particular album of his is not as highly touted as some others, but is my personal favorite aside from his most famous album, Mingus Ah Um. I especially enjoy listening to the piece entitled "Don't Be Afraid, The Clown's Afraid Too", which opens and closes with sound effects that evoke a circus atmosphere, complete with the roar of a lion and the trumpeting sound of an elephant. No other Mingus album in my collection is as complex and able to stir all of my emotions as this one.

Brown Equals Terrorist?

It does, if you're with the US government.

That is a lesson that Ian Spiers learned while trying to take pictures for his photography class. He has a blog called Brown Equals Terrorist that focuses on the shameful practice of racial profiling.

He encourages people to read his "Artist Statement" which documents the two separate run-ins he had with both Seattle policemen and Homeland Security for doing nothing more than taking pictures at tourist sites that are often photographed by tourists. The many white tourists taking pictures were left alone but he was targeted simply because his skin happens to be brown.

This is one of the many reasons why I am not at all fond of law enforcement officers. I used to know a couple of people from school who ended up becoming cops, and both of them were cocky, unintelligent bullies whom I guess chose their career based on the perks that go along with it (the power trip, carrying a gun, targeting people of a different skin color who they happen to be prejudiced against, etc.). In fact, I can remember my brother telling me that he also knew someone who became a cop in Detroit. The guy actually stated candidly that one of the reasons why he chose to work in Detroit was so that he could "beat up n*ggers". Talk about sickening!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

New Sidebar Section

As I mentioned in a comment earlier in the week in response to the post about a potential left/liberty alliance, I have made an update to my sidebar listing some recommended reading for lefties. The list has a focus on issues that are of interest to lefties, such as free trade and corporate power.

I'll be adding more links in the future as I come across them. If anyone knows of any that should be included on the list, please let me know.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Different schools of free market thought

Over at Independent Country, James Leroy Wilson is also interested in engaging with the left. His post from yesterday, Re-thinking Economics should be of interest to lefties who wish to do just that. The geolibertarian school of thought certainly seems like one that lefties would be much more open to.

On a more radical note, there is Kevin Carson. I've enjoyed reading some of his commentary on other blogs (such as this one) along with his essay "Austrian and Marxist Theories of Monopoly Capital: A Mutualist Synthesis". He has now entered the blogosphere with a blog of his own called Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism. I recommend checking it out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The anti-free market antics of the World Bank

According to this article from The Progress Report, the World Bank is pressuring the city government of Dakah, Bangladesh to crack down on bicycle rickshaws. These rickshaws represent the main form of vehicular transport there and are an efficient, non-polluting example of small scale private enterprise at work. In other words, these rickshaws represent something undesirable and threatening in the eyes of the corporatist clowns at the World Bank.

This is a direct attack on free enterprise. It is also an example of why people on the left have it so wrong when they claim that institutions like the World Bank are all about promoting free market ideology.

Hat tip to James Leroy Wilson for providing this link on his blog.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Quote & Music of the day -- 1/10/05

"What I must not do, my government must not do." -- Benjamin Tucker

Stephane Grappelli/David Grisman - Live

Simply put, this album presents joy in musical form. Grappelli is a jazz violin legend who made a name for himself playing with Django Reinhardt back in the '30s. He has collaborated with many other musicians in the many decades since, including pianist Oscar Peterson. On this album, he works his magic with David Grisman, a legend in his own right as a mandolin player who has bridged the gap between bluegrass and jazz and other improvisational forms of music.

Some good news in Jacksonville

As reported in the Florida Times-Union, a Duval County judge has ruled that Jacksonville's ordinance against drinking in public is unconstitutional and should not be enforced.

The article sites the arrest of two homeless men being challenged as being the reason for the court's review and rejection of the ordinance, although I think that the upcoming Super Bowl in Jacksonville may have more to do with it. Regardless of what's really behind the change in the law, this is some good news.

Party on!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Barrier to left/liberty alliance: Semantics

Given the increasingly troublesome nature of what is known as the right wing of the political spectrum, many libertarians have recently pondered the idea of opening up to the left. A recent example of this is Anthony Gregory's column on titled Libertarianism and the Left. For the most part, I'd agree that the left seems like a more appropriate target for potential outreach and alliance. Lefties are generally anti-war and are more concerned about civil liberties then most who are on the flip side of the statist coin.

A major roadblock to such outreach is the realm of semantics. The primary example that comes to mind concerns the issue of "free trade" and "free markets". There was a post on the Portland Indymedia website the other day that provided a critique of libertarianism. The critique itself laments the fact that many libertarians fail to acknowledge "the tyranny of the corporation", but what caught my attention was one of the comments below. Someone named StevetheGreen wrote the following:
While coalition building is an essential part of any winning strategy, I can not in good faith align myself with people who refuse to "recognize the tyranny of the corporation."

Today's Liberatarian believes in the magic of the "free market" to solve all ills!
As if giving corporations more power and holding them less accountable is something we should be working towards!

If the Libs want to work with Greens on the legalization of industrial hemp or implementing IRV, let's do it! Beyond that, their refusal to address the world in a viable realistic way makes their approach one that I not only can not support, but detest.

While many libertarians are quick to dismiss such criticism by correctly stating that such people are lacking in economic literacy, something needs to be done aside from just telling people to go read some Mises or Rothbard. There needs to be an attempt to forge dialogue that is sensitive to the language used by different groups. What people like StevetheGreen refer to as "free trade" is not what most libertarians would call "free trade". Simply clearing up the confusion here can go a long way toward possibly turning someone of a left orientation on to libertarian ideas. Providing links while engaging in online discussion will certainly help as well, such as this one which explains how free trade is the genuine form of fair trade (fair trade being a popular buzzword in leftie circles these days).

Regarding corporations, there is no doubt that the perception of the left is not very accurate since many libertarians do rail against the very state privledges that allow corporations to do many of the things that lefties object to. There are some libertarians who will always defend any corporation simply because they view critics as being anti-capitalists who wish to regulate the market to death. A far better approach would be to explain what the root of the problem is (government privledge and intervention) and apply it to the criticisms that lefties may have. Simply saying that "corporations don't worry me" or "what's wrong with corporations?" is only going to fuel the misperception amongst the left that we're nothing but shills for corporatism who only depart from the likes of George Bush on issues like war and drug policy. There are a number of writings out there on the interweb that we could point lefties toward to help break the various misperceptions. Here are just a few:
James Ostrowski's Same As It Ever Was: Libertarians Battle The Corporate State
bk Marcus's Straw Men and Ham Sandwiches
Anthony Gregory's Corporate State Socialism
Roy Childs's Big Business and the Rise of Statism (there are some libertarians who should read this one as well, since some of them buy into the conventional nonsense about government regulations being the enemy of big business)

While the typical claim that lefties need to learn more about economics is true, I place more blame for the current semantic problem on the right wing. No matter how removed their actual policies are from promoting free enterprise, conservatives continue to use free market rhetoric. This seems to serve two functions: it dupes conservative minded people into supporting Republicans who use such rhetoric, and it serves to villify the notion of free enterprise amongst the left. This is why people like StevetheGreen consider libertarians to be corporate shills who don't deserve respect. This is why columns appearing on sites like Common Dreams lash out at any call for market-based reforms or increased free trade. Caroline Arnold had a column published on there earlier this week called "Bush Should Take Heed, FDR Had It Right" that equates Bush's economic agenda with notions of economic freedom. She provides a definition of economic freedom from the Fraser Institute that equates it with "personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and protection of the person and property". How in the world could anyone with an accurate grasp of Bush's agenda equate it with such a definition?

The fact that the modern right uses such rhetorical deception of an Orwellian nature is yet another reason why libertarians need to look leftward if they want the message of liberty to blossom in the future. The right needs to be condemned for their rhetorical blasphemy along with their rejection of limited government by latching on to Bush's militaristic and nationalistic brand of corporate socialism. The swastika is a symbol that used to have a universally positive meaning, rooted in spirituality and found in many different cultures. The Nazis latched on to this symbol and tarnished it. As far as I'm concerned, those who falsely equate corporate socialism with "free markets" are tarnishing that term in a similar manner. For those of us who advocate genuine free enterprise, we need to recognize this and do something about it.

There are others out there who have recognized this semantic roadblock between libertarians and the left. BK Marcus blogged on this issue last month, while Cat Farmer wrote a piece awhile back where she addresses this issue in relation to a book written by Arundhati Roy. Farmer seemed to notice that Roy's conception of "democracy" is different than the one that libertarians often criticize, and that it seemed somewhat compatible with free markets. This makes me think that the rhetorical confusion may exist on both sides and that certain leftie ideas like "participatory democracy" may be at least compatible with our vision of voluntary free enterprise, as long as this form of democracy isn't forcibly rammed down all of our throats. I think it could co-exist with other forms of organization in a genuinely free market, which Cat Farmer eloquently defines as:
The "free market" (as I define it) is the ebb and flow of transactions that occur peacefully between people who have choices, and voices. It does not mean freedom for monstrous people-eating corporations to prey freely on a captive workforce; it means freedom for people to interact without coercion.

Now there's a definition that could make lefties reconsider free market ideas.

Cat Farmer also quoted George Orwell in her column. He once stated that "Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and give an appearance of solidity to pure wind". While statists of every variety do this on a regular basis, the continued perversion of free market language by right wing statists is particularly troublesome, and will also serve as a barrier between libertarians and the left.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Lincoln -- a libertarian?

Hardly, although you'd believe it if you took Fred Campbell's word for it.

Campbell is the Anderson County, KS county attorney, and has recently changed his party affiliation from Republican to Libertarian. While describing his introduction and conversion to libertarian ideas, Campbell claimed that:
"A year or two ago, I read the entire writings of Lincoln, seven or eight volumes of his works. And I decided (while reading what he wrote during the founding of the Republican Party) that in this day and age, Lincoln would be a Libertarian. From what he wrote about the origins of the Republican Party, it sounds much more like he was describing the Libertarian Party than the Republican Party we have now."

You're kidding, right? The U.S. may have been comparatively more libertarian in Lincoln's day, but him and his Republican Party had absolutely nothing to do with it.

If you beg to differ, I recommend checking out some of the essays contained in the King Lincoln archive over at This also reminds me of a piece written by Anthony Gregory a short while back that dissects the history of the Republican Party called Government Growth, the Party of Lincoln, and George W. Bush.