Saturday, January 3, 2009

My design proposal for The Department Of Culture

Here's Bill Wilson, writing at Get Liberty:

But now comes yet another cause du’jour that is both ludicrous and deathly dangerous all at the same time. From the editorial pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times has come the clarion call for an entire new Department of Government: a Department of Culture.
Now, seeing what has happened to education since the creation of the Department of Education, or the state of Housing under the guidance of that august agency, I can understand those who are a bit nervous about a Department of Culture. And well they should be nervous, if not in a downright state of panic.

Bill, I think you need to relax.

I'll admit that governmental goofiness in the public schools is creating a plethora of private academies and an exodus to the suburbs.
Government housing boondoggles have long been a corrupt landlord honeypot.
V.A. Hospitals are the warm-up act for the medical care we'll get if [the President-elect] is true to his word on socialized medicine.
People seldom use the U.S. Mail for anything vital. The Department of Agriculture never met a millionaire farmer that it didn't abolutely adore.
But a cabinet level Department of Culture could be wonderful, IF they would allow me to design the facility in which it is housed.
I want to design the place, inside and out, as a living, breathing symbol of government involvement in our national culture.
I want to model the facility along the lines of Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing project. I can't build an exact replica because the Cabrini-Green building won't sit still long enough to be properly imitated. That place has been morphing into various screwed-up shapes and sizes ever since the government realized they'd screwed up by building it in the first place. If you're not familiar with Cabrini-Green, here's Wikipedia:

Cabrini-Green is a Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) public housing development on Chicago's North Side.... At its height, Cabrini-Green was home to 15,000 people, living in mid- and high-rise apartment buildings. Over the years, gang violence and neglect created terrible conditions for the residents, and the name "Cabrini-Green" became synonymous with the problems associated with public housing in the United States.

Eventually, the Federal Government had to take control of the place from the Chicago Housing Authority. The Feds, leaving no crisis unexploited, are taking advantage of the situation by slowly tearing down Cabrini-Green. And rebuilding it. (Never do it once if you can do it twice for double the money.)

My architectural homage to the Cabrini-Green facility will never be finished either, symbolizing the constant re-birthing of Art and Culture. A statue of a giant wrecking ball near the entrance would also symbolize constant employment for all my contractor donors and buddies, which is all that matters.

At the top of the steps leading to the Department of Culture (D.O.C.), I intend to place a duplicate of this truly godawful statue from the FDR memorial.

You might remember some controversy about this sculpture. FDR went to great lengths to conceal his partial paralysis from the public (only two photos of him in his wheelchair are known to exist). But various special interest groups lobbied for the wheelchair to be included in any and all sculptures of FDR. Like it or dislike it, the result would horrify FDR.

Two years ago, as the controversy over the monument was fomenting, David Roosevelt said the memorial should not be ''a vehicle for making a social statement.''
But as Mr. Clinton noted today, 16 of Roosevelt's grandchildren have now called for a more vivid depiction of his disability, as have former Presidents George Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald R. Ford.

Hence the cape around the (assumed) wheelchair on this particular statue at the memorial. Art by compromise. You gotta love it.

So if my Department is going to advocate "vivid depictions of disabilities", I want to have another statue in the rotunda of the D.O.C. to vividly depict the disabilities endured by Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford.

After leaving the rotunda, visitors and employees will encounter the "Piss Christ" fountain, based on the government-rewarded artwork by American photographer Andres Serrano, which depicts a small plastic Christ On The Cross submerged in a glass of Serrano's urine. Serrano got $15,000.00 from the National Endowment for the Arts as a reward for producing this photo. The Piss Christ Fountain will be immediately behind the D.O.C. rotunda, eliminating the need for restrooms in that area, but slightly increasing the space required for the mop closet.

(Like many of you, I think $15,000.00 was too high of a price for a mere photograph. If Andres Serrano is going to have any more works funded by my D.O.C., he's going to have to fill the fountain first. The hard way. We'll provide him with plenty of water for, ummm, processing.)

As visitors leave the P.C. fountain, they will be drawn into the corridor of Lighght. Yes, Lighght.

"Lighght" is both the title and the complete text of a one-word poem by Aram Saroyan, for which Saroyan received $750 from the NEA, way back in 1970 when that was real money. But think about it. Lighght. Lighght.

So perfect.

That poem'll make you throw rocks at Shakespeare, The Psalms, or almost any limerick you can think of. Lighght. I'll have it on the walls. It'll be written on the floor. Lighght. Lighght.

In the midst of all the Lighght, I'll construct a small podium which will give two paragraphs of additional information about the Lighght poem. I don't have room to reproduce the text here, but hit on this link to be enlighghtened, and ghghet back to me after readinghgh. It's O So Serious, and very much worth the trip.

Look below. Very closely. Lighght is there. This is a signed and numbered silkscreened print of the lighght poem that you can purchase through The Paris Review. They don't list the price - they only give an email address to which you can send enquiries. It's available in a limited edition of 150.

Damn, I wish I had typed that.
Visitors ghghoing throughgh throughgh the ghghlass hall of lighght will be ghghiven a chance to ghghive ghghenerous donations toward fundinghgh more of Saroyan's work.
After leaving the hall of lighght, visitors will enter a vast network of administrative offices. There will be thousands and thousands of offices, so I will need thousands and thousands of government bureaucrats to staff these offices. Otherwise, I will be perceived as wasting office space (government waste is a BIG no-no at my D.O.C.) Plus, as the currently fashionable logic goes, this will create jobs.

Every office will have a flatscreen TV playing Ken Burns' series on The Civil War, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is an homage to the importance of Ken Burns' documentaries in obtaining funding for the National Endowment For The Humanities every year at renewal time. Without Ken Burns, the NEH would have very little except a motley band of performance artists who sing the ingredients of cereal boxes while shaving a gong with an electric razor. (I don't know if the performance artist shown below gets any NEA or NEH funding for his art, but when I open the Department Of Culture to the general public, this guy's going to play a role in the opening ceremony. I hope he uses a gong.)

Of course, no government ripoff can ever be fully funded without saccharine pleas that the boondoggle/bailout/subsidy/giveaway under discussion is "for the children". I'll have a large Children's Art Center near the exit of the Department Of Culture, fully equipped with modeling clay, fingerpaint, brushes, canvas, poster board, easels, drum sets, fighter pilot helmets, and toilets. After a long day spent touring the D.O.C., the little kiddos can create their own piece of American Culture !

The kids will have to pay a small fee to participate. They'll have to pay another fee to have their art considered in the Best Of The D.O.C. competition. And to have a shot at winning, they'll voluntarily make an additional contribution to each judge's re-appointment campaign. Therefore, I'm going to name the children's area The Rod Blagojevich "Pay To Play" Pavillion.

All guests and employees will leave The Department Of Culture through the base of a giant mural called "The Robert Mapplethorpe Exit".

So please write your representatives, and let them know that you're in favor of creating The Department Of Culture.
It's for the children.
pics from here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

Great Moments in Anti-Semitism

A tip o' the hat to Denny at The Grouchy Old Cripple.

Friday, January 2, 2009

What Makes America Great

This is from the inaugural shoot-out of the American Zootsuiters Association.
You won't be missing much by scooting up to the one minute mark.
They guy at the 2:00 mark is waaaay to big to be doing anything on an obstacle course.
Anyone with a 1920's Flapper Shooting Heavy Artillery fetish can fast forward to 3:00.
Whoever filmed the 3:30 to 4:30 stretch deserves the Congressional Medal Of Honor for bravery, even if the camera was mounted on a tripod.

Who are they hurting?
No one.
Whose lives are they endangering?
Their own.
Whose choice should that be?
Their own.

HT to Keyboard and a .45

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Ron Paul Page-A-Day recently announced that Dr. Ron Paul's "The Revolution: A Manifesto" was the most positively reviewed book (by Amazon customers) of 2008.
I've read it twice, and am currently plowing through it a third time.

I'm going to skip a groove here, but hang with me for a second. VampE recently sent me a link to a Tom Robbins website on which a blogger posts a few paragraphs from a Robbins novel every week, and the readers have a chance to discuss it. Devotees of that site are going through the current book (Jitterbug Perfume) at the same pace, discussing and commenting as they go.

This blogger only posts a few random paragraphs from each chapter, just as a frame of reference to get a conversation going or to draw new readers into the Tom Robbins universe.

I hope to do the same thing with "The Revolution: A Manifesto", but in an all-inclusive manner. I'd like to post a couple of pages per week until the entire book is on this site, or until the Grand Central Publishing group tells me to cease and desist (for copyright reasons).

Warning: Do not read any of this if you want to remain comfortable while voting for The Mommy Party and Daddy Party candidates.

So with no further ado, here's Chapter One, Page One and Two of the Ron Paul Page-A-Day service.

"Every election season America is presented with a series of false choices. Should we launch preemptive wars against this country or that one? Should every American neighborhood live under this social policy or that one? Should a third of our income be taken away by an income tax or a national sales tax? The shared assumptions behind these questions, on the other hand, are never cast in doubt, or even raised. And anyone who wants to ask different questions or who suggests that the questions as framed exclude attractive, humane alternatives, is ipso facto excluded from mainstream discussion.

And so every four years we are treated to the same tired, predictable routine: two candidates with few disagreements on fundamentals pretend that they represent dramatically different philosophies of government.

The supposedly conservative candidate tells us us about "waste" in government, and ticks off $10 million in frivolous pork-barrel projects that outrage him - the inevitable bridge-to-nowhere project, or a study of the effects of celery consumption on arresting memory loss - in order to elicit laughter and applause from partisan audiences. All right, so that's 0.00045 percent of the federal budget dealt with; what does he propose to do with the other 99.99955 percent, in order to return our country to living within its means? Not a word. Those same three or four silly programs will be brought up all campaign long, and that's all we'll hear about where the candidate stands on spending. But conservatives are told that they must support these candidates, and so they do, hoping for the best. And nothing changes.

Even war doesn't really distinguish the two parties from each other. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry voted for the Iraq war. With the exception of Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, even the Democrats who postured as antiwar candidates for the 2008 primary elections are not especially opposed to needless wars. They typically have a laundry list of other military interventions they would support, none of which make any sense, would make our country any safer, or would do a thing to return our country to fiscal sanity. But liberals are told that they must support these candidates, and so they do, hoping for the best. And nothing changes.

Social Security, and other Ponzi schemes

Here's Tim Slagle, writing in the December issue of Liberty magazine:

Here’s the reason why a private insurance program will always be a better option than Social Security: there was a slump in the market this week, but it will recover. Almost all the value it had will come back in time. On the other hand, everything you have ever paid into Social Security has been spent. It’s gone. Social Security is completely bankrupt, and trillions of dollars in debt. If it were a private corporation, its administrators would all be in jail.
So if you had your choice, whether to put 15% of your income into Social Security, or the stock market, where would you put it? And in a free country, shouldn’t you be entitled to make that choice?

First off, the total bankruptcy of Social Security has been brought to you by the same people who think they can regulate the stock market. But, I digress.

Let's take Mr. Slagle's statement a few steps further..... Given the total lack of accountability in the Social Security system, I think that all of us - Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, members of the Green Party, and the Flat Earth Society - all of us would've prefered to put all of our money into the stock market from Day One, and do without Social Security altogether, right? There is no money at all in the S.S. fund. It's now a troubled Ponzi scheme. Surely we can agree on that much.

But what if you were only given the choice of withdrawing all of your contributions to Social Security and putting it into the market on the day before the recent financial meltdown? Would you still do it?

Of course you would. Unless we immediately open the border to a jillion Mexican teen-agers, there simply aren't enough people coming into the workforce to keep the current Bernie Madoff-style Social Security scheme afloat. It's doomed.

One last question.... Is there ANY scenario in which you wouldn't prefer to have all of your Social Security payments put into stocks/mutual funds/etc. ?

So why aren't we allowed to do it?

Happy New Year !

Happy New Year !

Photo from here.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Photo Opportunity

Does anyone in Fort Worth know the location of one of these billboards?

A mortuary transport service owner named Donald Short was ordered by the courts to pay for them as part of a corpse abuse plea bargain deal.
I have a deep, genuine need to climb onto one of these billboards and have my picture taken while holding a bucket of white paint and a brush. If anyone has an old hearse that I could rent for the day, I'd like to park it underneath. It would draw a crowd, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On The Inconvenience Of Prosperity

Here's John Stossel on [the President-elect's] plans to remake the economy because of the recession.
He begins with a couple of quotes:
"Painful crisis also provides us with an opportunity to transform our economy to improve the lives of ordinary people," - Barack Obama
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste" - Rahm Emmanuel

So they will "transform our economy." [the President-elect's] nearly trillion-dollar plan will not merely repair bridges, fill potholes and fix up schools; it will also impose a utopian vision based on the belief that an economy is a thing to be planned from above. But this is an arrogant conceit. No one can possibly know enough to redesign something as complex as "an economy," which really is people engaging in exchanges to achieve their goals. Planning it means planning them.
[the President-elect] and Emanuel want us to believe that their blueprint for reform will bring recovery from the recession. Yet we have recovered from past recessions without undertaking a radical social and economic transformation.
In fact, reform would impede recovery.
This is not the first time a president chose reform over recovery. Franklin Roosevelt did it with his New Deal, and the result was long years of depression and deprivation.

Later on, he digs up the scariest quote of all. This is from FDR's 2nd Inaugural address:

"To hold to progress today, however, is more difficult. Dulled conscience, irresponsibility and ruthless self-interest already reappear. Such symptoms of prosperity may become portents of disaster! Prosperity already tests the persistence of our progressive purpose."

We're already seeing grousing that the current stretch of cold weather is going to interfere with funding for initiatives to fight Global Warming. Is there anything that would be more disheartening to the current batch of "Progressives", whose economic and governmental ideals shouldn't have survived the age of feudalism, than a nice, quick economic turnaround?

The Dallas Cowboys and the instruments of God's wrath - The Philadelphia Eagles

As predicted, there was a problem with #9 on Sunday. Hit this link and come back to me.

I feel like the Prophet Isaiah. Or at least a Vegas odds-maker. Tony Romo, #9 for The Dallas Cowboys, had the worst game I can remember from a Dallas quarterback since the Ryan Leaf experiment. The Cowboys, at one point early in the season, were favored to go to the freakin' Super Bowl. Now they won't even be in the playoffs. They got spanked by the Philadelphia Eagles, 44-6.

Every year, I have a wager with a co-worker that the Cowboys won't win a playoff game. They never, ever do. I always eat well in January, because of all that extra money.

Why won't they win a playoff game? (Do you know what the difference is between God and Jerry Jones? God doesn't think that he's Jerry Jones.)
God doesn't like Cowboys owner/General Manager Jerry Jones.
There's no other way to explain it. How else do you explain the Romo Butterfingers on the field goal two years ago, the total meltdowns every December, or the masterpiece that Philly's Donovan McNabb put together last Sunday?

Jerry Jones and the City of Arlington have seized/stolen/taken houses and business via Eminent Domain. They've used the bulldozed space to start construction of a temple in honor of a team that is now 0-12 in the last dozen years' worth of playoff games.

As long as Jones is owner and General Manager, they're not going to win a playoff game. More than anything else, Jones wants to be known as a football X's and O's guy.
But he's not.
Jerry Jones is a brilliant businessman but a crappy evaluator of football talent and team chemistry. He needs to turn the G.M. responsibilities over to someone who doesn't labor under an Old Testament curse. (I work in the shipping, logistics, and freight industry, and that qualifies me to comment on these things.)
Those early Super Bowl wins were because of a team put together by coach Jimmy Johnson. Deal with it.
(Full disclosure: I loved the Johnson era Cowboys, and thought that Jimmy's "Turning The Thing Around" was the best sports-as-metaphor-for-life book I'd ever read.)

Jones fired Johnson because of nothing but ego.

Is there any other franchise in baseball, football, basketball or hockey whose G.M. has gone 12 years without a playoff victory? (Maybe Al Davis, the owner/G.M. of the Oakland Raiders?) Somebody help us out on this....

Next year, the citizens of Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington Texas will be able to watch an even crappier team, but with the luxury of nicer toilets.

Hardly an even trade-off.

Jerry Jones, you have taken what was not yours. You will atone. God is not mocked.

Thanks To All Of The Designated Hitters

I can't thank everyone enough for filling in for me during my vacation.

Here are a few comments about the posts and the comments that they generated.

Stephen Smith's Prediction of Stormy Weather for Free Markets was the first post to go up, and it was dead on accurate. Not only does Stephen stand up for his principles, he stands up for them while running for office. Easier said than done. And yes, Stephen had rather be right than popular.
Let me try a medical analogy..... There was a time when the popular medical decision was to "bleed" patients, or apply leeches to infections. The "right" decision was to refrain from doing so. Sometimes the best action is no action, even if that means being accused of having no solutions.

"First, do no harm". I think Hippocrates said it.
Especially when the leeches cost $700 billion dollars.

On Tuesday, The Browncoat Libertarian's post on cigar smoking generated a ton o' controversy, thanks to the Doctor Formerly Known As Trotsky, Now Recognizable As Ralph Barr.

My response to The Good Doctor's Nanny State ideal would run as follows:
1) Libertarianism is based on the idea that you are the owner of your "self".
2) No one else should have responsibility for you, and vice-versa except in voluntary situations (such as charity, family, friendship, or other non-coercive relationships).
3) Red Adair made a small fortune risking his life to put out oil well fires. Tony Romo is making a large fortune by entrusting his physical well-being to the Dallas Cowboys' offensive line (heh heh). Carpenters make less money by risking their fingers, but that's the skill they swap for cash. Millions of data entry clerks risk Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the course of their daily duties. Michaelangelo went near-blind from painting the inside of the Pope's roof. Entrepreneurs risk heart attacks, ulcers, bankruptcy, and nervous breakdowns.
4) Do we really need government arbitrarily deciding that this occupation or environment is too risky, when Jeff Gordon is allowed to drive more than 100-MPH for our entertainment?
5) I propose that all restaurant and bar owners be given a choice of providing a smoking and non-smoking areas or not doing so. Customers could take it or leave it. Ditto for employees.
6) Cigarette and Cigar smoke can't possibly be harmful, especially in their 2nd-hand manifestations. Why? Because our government supports tobacco farmers with huge price supports, subsidies, and outright payments of your dollars. And our government wouldn't do anything like that if tobacco was really harmful.
7) For further discussion of this topic, see "Scared To Death" by Christopher Booker and Richard North. Chapter 12, Smoke and Mirrors - How They Turned "Passive Smoking" Into A Killer, 1950-2007.
8) BTW, I think The Aggie bought me some Cubans as a belated Christmas gift. If that's the case, I plan to put them aside to smoke when Castro dies.

VampE's likening of this dispute to Freud's explanation of the true nature of cigars summed up everything nicely.

On Wednesday, my friend Gar wrote a great post about the idea of a Higher Power conflicting with the idea of Liberty. What it boils down to is that if you believe that God is in his heaven making the decisions for you, you have no responsibility for your own freedom. The implication is that any belief in a God who intervenes is incompatible with Liberty. This was also the post where my arch-nemesis (and doppelganger) Fembuttx decided to regale us with his/her tales of bedroom hardware. (Thank you, B, for deleting these when necessary.)

So on Christmas Eve, I was blessed with an anti-religion post with an additional discussion of sexual perversions. (Stay with me, I'm going somewhere with this.....)
Then, out of the blue, a huge right-wing conservative outfit called The Conservative Grapevine decided to make me their Site Of The Day. Check out December 24th on the link above. You might have to hit "Archives" to get there.

At last count, at least 588 God fearing, Limbaugh listening, Republican voting, Salt Of The Earth conservatives were innocently sent to this site to experience Gar slamming religion and Fembuttx describing penile prosthetics. Unbelieveable. Nowhere but here.
In the words of Barack Obama, "In no other country on earth is my story even possible".

Tim Lebsack's post the Friday after Christmas didn't generate a lot of commentary (I guess everyone was busy with post-holiday stuff), but it got a lot of hits.
I was disturbed when Dr. Ralph Barr couldn't find anything disagreeable in Tim's content.

Therefore, Tim, there must be something wrong with you. Turn in your Libertarian Party Badge and Secret Decoder Ring on your way out the door.

On Saturday, I applied The Fairness Doctrine, and ran a post of Dr. Ralph's that I had already responded to on his site.
The only thing I can add at this point is that I spend a substantial part of my online blog-browsing asking people what the recent Community Re-investment Act disaster has to do with 1) Free Markets, and 2) De-regulation.

Tarrant County Liberty Guy's post on Sunday about the recent improvement in the TCLP didn't generate a lot of commentary, but then it was more about statistics than doctrine. While I was on vacation I happened to read the issue of Liberty magazine that he recommends, and it was excellent. (Yes, I'm a geek.)

Andrew Ian Dodge sent me a post about mandatory payments going to the BBC, which apparently everyone on that side of the English-speaking pond has to pay IF they own a television. That didn't generate much controversy or commentary since 1) we have no idea what Channel 4 is, and 2) if anyone in the U.S. were automatically charged for anything regarding television viewing, we would rise up from our Barcaloungers and revolt. I can't get people worked up over farm subsidies, import quotas, or The Fed printing monopoly money, but charging money to watch TV? That would cause a revolt.

One more interesting thing about Andrew's post..... someone named Yunshui logged on to comment. Yunshui runs a freethought/skepticism site called Right To Think. DO NOT READ THIS POST OF YUNSHUI'S IF YOU EVER WANT TO ENJOY THE MOVIE "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE" AGAIN. DO NOT READ IT. IF YOU LIKE JIMMY STEWART AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE", DON'T GO THERE. (but he says some really funny things about angels.)

NickM of Counting Cats provided Today's post, the one immediately below this one. He begs everyone in the U.S. not to screw up the good thing that we've got going on. I bet we find a way.

Thanks again to everyone who sent in this great stuff.

The Free Market and Service

Unless my boat was torpedoed by Castro (the agenda calls for us to go to Cozumel, The Caymans, Jamaica, and then circle around the north of Cuba) I should be back from vacation by now.
(Sorry. I can't help myself. I just thought of this. Wouldn't it be great if Castro were to die, and we could bring the cruise ship close enough to see the island celebrations brought on by the passing of that murderous bastard? Wouldn't that just be freakin' great? But I digress....)

I can't thank everyone enough for Guest Blogging in my absence. One of the joys of doing this has been corresponding with people all over the U.S., England, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, and elsewhere about the shared goals we have for our planet.

The last guest blogger is my Brother from Another Mother, NickM of the Counting Cats blog. I asked my overseas guests to write on the difference between libertarianism over there and over here, as they understand it.
Nick's got some things to say about the U.S. as compared to England on the subject of "service", and the idea that all honest work is honorable.

Liberty in the UK and the USA? Compare and contrast! I know the USA quite well. Of course I know the UK very well being a Brit and all.

Well... I think the USA is much freerer. But fundamentally I think it is becoming much more like Europe which is of course the desiderata of the US Left (yes, Mr Obama that means you).

When I first pitched-up in the USA in 1996 I fell in love with the country. The last time I was there (2006) the TSA X-rayed my shoes and shouted at me - what a start to a honeymoon!

It improved. Off Key West I felt the hydrodynamical fluence of a 2.5m Nurse Shark... Now that's cool. And I was there for "Fantasy Fest" and the streets were full of people wearing nothing but bodypaint and flip-flops. And that was in Florida! In the South! People don't get it over here. They think of The South as being filled with viper-eyed, Bible-banging nutjobs... The idea (on this side of the pond) that not all Americans are religious or especially that even the religous ones aren't raving mad "young earthers" does not compute.

And therein lies the disconnect. I have spent many weeks in Georgia and Florida and a great many folks over here just assume I was made to "squeel like a pig" when in fact I was made extremely welcome and received excellent customer service. People over here just don't believe it because they just know whsat Ameria is like despite never having been there.

That is a problem. And it is one which spreads beyond those two Great States I mention because, at base, it is a disbelief in the idea that a free market can ever create anything beyond facile, "Have a Nice Day" pseudo-service. The freerer the market the more service matters. My wife was once a waitress in a City bar and I've worked similar jobs. It is only the left that regards serving people (doesn't everyone with a job serve people in some sense?) as demeaning? when my wife served cocktails to bankers she took pride in her work (and it paid for her MA) and when I worked telesales (which kept body and soul together) it paid for the first PC I built from scratch...

There is nothing demeaning about service. And therein lies the difference. The USA is much less snobby than we are. I hope to hell you stay that way because in that direction freedom lies because whatever depredations government carries out either having a few quid or being able to make a few quid is the safest way to rise above governmental pillage.

I love the USA (I keep on going) and America don't screw it up as we did in Europe, Please.

Nick, thanks for contributing. We'll try hard not to screw it up, but we've got some serious opposition.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Imagine getting a bill from Big Bird

If you're in the U.S., you might occasional contribute to Public Radio and Public Television pledge drives.

How would you feel if you got a bill in the mail, whether you wanted to contribute or not?

That's currently the largest burr under the saddle of the U.K.'s Andrew Ian Dodge, of Dodgeblogium and Pajamas Media. (To read more about Andrew's diverse media outlets, click here. We've also been corresponding about music and a few other topics, all of which will be published when I get back from vacation.)

Read this about
a BBC and Channel 4 merger. Get back to us.....

Here's Andrew:

“John Whittingdale MP, the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, criticized the plan for its knock-on effect on the BBC's funding.
"This is essentially a plan aimed at taking public money surreptitiously, because it takes profits away from the BBC, and forces the license fee to go up.
"Channel 4 is keen on it because it thinks that it would be difficult for it to justify taking public money directly."”

This quote will probably shock many people in the UK who care about their television service and the drreaded TV license fee. If someone were to poll British taxpayers a vast majority would have no idea that Channel 4 was not a private concern.

There is much discussion about the licence fee these days in the UK. There is even a strong movement to avoid paying it to either have it reformed or to end it all together. Their inflation beating rises in the tax on televisions and the Stasi-like behaviour of those tasked with collecting it annoy many Britons in the age of 500 channels most of which are not the BBC.

The most recent iteration of fiddling the taxpayers money for television is to combine Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide, the part of the BBC that actually makes money. BBCW is the one that flogs their programs worldwide whether it means selling aged sit-coms to Public Television in the US, doing joint ventures with A&E or running the successful BBC America.

Needless to say the BBC is rather against this idea and will fight it tooth and nail. To counter this proposal this BBC is proposing a variety of arrangements with other parts of the public service broadcasting arena. They are clearly worried by all of this, no doubt partly stunkg by the variety of scandals of late whether it be the sacking/suspension of Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand for their behaviour or kicking rubbish but lovable John Sargeant off their “entertainment” program “Dancing with the Stars”.

The public mood is quite poor towards the BBC and the hyenas are circling in various guises. Many believe that the BBC will not retain its current form for much longer. The BBC is merely making its best efforts to keep the damage to a minimum.

And you thought the annual “donation drive” from public television was annoying. Imagine if you had no choice but to pony up every year.

Written by Andrew Ian Dodge with the help of Steve Bettison of the Adam Smith Institute.

Wow. The Adam Smith Institute. Thanks for contributing, guys ! Hope you enjoy contributing to government sponsored programming !

Sunday, December 28, 2008

And now, a word from Big Daddy

John Spivey is the Big Daddy of the Tarrant County Libertarian Party and the Tarrant County Libertarian Meetup Group. I don't know anyone who has been working harder to advance the Freedom-Lover agenda. He's a frequent commenter on these pages, under the name "Tarrant Liberty Guy".

John doesn't have a website, but when I asked him to Guest Post (while I'm on vacation) about what libertarians need to do differently, he sent in this gem, prefaced with a shot across the bow of the ideologically creaky vessel manned by yesterday's guest blogger, Dr. Ralph:

Being asked to guest type for The Whited Sepulchre is somewhat intimidating as I typically enjoy reading his original witty takes on current events and then making outlandishly long and snarky commentary not unlike the closeted communist, Dr. Ralph. But I digress... I believe I was asked to give my $.02 on the future of the Libertarian Party or libertarianism in general. So here's my take:

As Chair of a County Libertarian Party, I've seen tremendous gains in our local libertarian scene. We've gone from 6 members meeting every two years to affirm a handful of pre-nominated and non-contested candidates to a group whose grassroots ranks are numbering in the triple digits, alliances with philosophically aligned 'major' political party campaigns and supporting candidates who, doggone it, looks like they have a very legitimate chance to win an election to a high office in the county's largest city (population 700,000-ish)! Libertarian straight ticket voters increased by a greater margin than the overall increase in total voters in this Obama-fueled electionapalooza. Straight ticket Democrats increased, but not as much as the overall total. Even with the total turnout increasing by over 60% in our county, straigh ticket GOP voters, DECREASED by about 4%. Seems like the GOP's message of warfare state, daddy-state smack downs of civil liberties and personal freedoms, exclusivity and intolerance is wearing thin. Even in this formerly deeply red county.

However, truth be told, in saying that, it's like saying that our regular savage beatings by two large giants are slightly less savage and by slightly smaller giants. Until we do a few things, we're still going to get smacked, but, as you may have read, David gets his eventually. First, since the LP caters to no special interest group, we're not going to get much in the way of mega-corporate/union 'sponsorship'. No biggie, since Ron Paul showed that you can raise $35 million, one person at a time. The trick is getting those donors over to our side. Tough to do when the LP Presidential candidate, Bob Barr, basically bitch slapped the good Doctor during election time. However, I believe with time, that wound will heal and those Republicans will leave the GOP and find their proper home with us. They bring money, volunteerism and best of all - infectious and rabid enthusiasm!

Also, we're going to have to work to improve our image. Taking the "Apple vs. PC" advertisement as an example, we're definitely the 'PC' guy. We HAVE to get 'cool'. Generally speaking, that means getting celebrities to flog our message. Penn and Teller are OK, John Stossel is better, but what we really need is a Leo DiCaprio or two to bang our drum like they do for Rev. Al Gore. Cultural relevancy.

It will take time. Hopefully not as much time as Cato Insitute studies report that New Deal programs prolonged The Great Depression (eight extra years). But eventually, our message of sound monetary policy, sane fiscal policies, peace and personal freedom will find its place in the mainstream of American politics. It may take some failures of nationalized industries first. Ayn Rand may have not been too far off the mark. I hope we can get going before Atlas goes into full shrug.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that we must take a bottom up approach. We're just going to have to win some local races first folks. That means locally, you'll need to support our candidates with your time and money - and of course, votes! My toast for the new year and for libertarian victory nationally? Bottom(s) up!

John, thanks for contributing, and for all you do. Bottom(s) up, right back atcha.