Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why Penn Jillette is a Libertarian Nut instead of just a Nut, and other stuff

I'm reading magician/comedian Penn Jillette's "God, No".  The chapter "Why I'm A Libertarian Nut Instead Of Just A Nut" is so good, so spot-on, that I was going to pound it into the internet this morning. 

This guy beat me to it.  So all I have to do is copy and paste. 

I don’t speak for all Libertarians any more than Sean Penn speaks for all Democrats. I’m not even sure my LP membership card is up to date. I’ve voted Libertarian as long as I can remember but I don’t really remember much before the Clintons and the Bushes. Those clans made a lot of us bugnutty. When I go on Glenn’s show he calls me a Libertarian, I think that’s my only real credential.

There are historical reasons and pragmatic reasons to be a Libertarian, but there are historic and pragmatic reasons to be a Democrat, a Republican or a Socialist. I don’t know if everyone would be better off under a Libertarian government. I don’t know what would be best for anyone. I don’t even know what’s best for me. What makes me Libertarian is I don’t think anyone else really knows what’s best for anyone. My argument for Libertarianism is simple - personal morality.

I start with the Declaration of Independence: “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” So, essentially our government does what they do with my consent.

I know barely enough about Max Weber to type his name into Google, but it seems he’s credited with asserting the idea that the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. I put those two ideas together (my consent and use of physical force) and figure we all give our government the right to use force. So, the way I figure, it’s not okay for our government to use force in any situation where I personally wouldn’t use force.

For example, if I’m not willing to kill a cute cow, I shouldn’t eat steak. I don’t have to kill Bessy right now with my bare hands, but I have to be willing to snuff her if I want to chow down on a T-bone. If it’s not okay for me, it’s not okay for a slaughterhouse. Asking someone else to do something immoral is immoral. If it’s not okay for me to break David Blaine’s hands so my magic show has less competition, it’s not okay for me to ask someone else to beat him up. Someone else doing your dirty work is still your dirty work.

If I had a gun, and I knew a murder was happening, (we’re speaking hypothetically here, I’m not asking you to believe that I could accurately tell a murder from aggressive CPR), I would use that gun to stop that murder. I might be too much of a coward to use a gun myself to stop a murder or rape or robbery, but I think the use of a gun is justified. I’m even okay with using force to enforce voluntary contracts. If I were a hero, I would use a gun to protect the people who choose to live under this free system and to stop another country from attacking America. But I wouldn’t use a gun to force someone to love something like say…a library.

Look, I love libraries. I spent a lot of time in the Greenfield Public Library when I was a child. I would give money to build a library. I would ask you to give money to build a library. But, if for some reason you were crazy enough to think you had a better idea for your money than building my library, I wouldn’t pull a gun on you. I wouldn’t use a gun to build an art museum, look at the wonders of the universe through a big telescope, or even find a cure for cancer.

The fact that the majority wants something good does not give them the right to use force on the minority that don’t want to pay for it. If you have to use a gun, it’s not really a very good idea. Democracy without respect for individual rights sucks. It’s just ganging up on the weird kid, and I’m always the weird kid.

People try to argue that government isn’t really force. You believe that? Try not paying your taxes. (This is only a thought experiment though -- suggesting someone not pay their taxes is probably a federal offense, and while I may be a nut, I’m not crazy.) When they come to get you for not paying your taxes, try not going to court. Guns will be drawn. Government is force.

It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people yourself is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness. People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered. If we’re compassionate, we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.

I’m a Libertarian nut because I don’t want my government to do anything in my name that I wouldn’t do myself.

Here's another excerpt where Jillette explains the connection between his religious beliefs (none) and his Libertarianism.  He doesn't believe that he knows.  He has no freakin' clue what is best for you, sitting there in Clovis New Mexico, or Birmingham Alabama, or Birmingham England.  He doesn't know what you need !!  Neither does Barack Obama, or John Boehner, or Rick Perry, or David Cameron, or The Pope.  They are ALL ordinary people that some of you good folks want to put on pedestals.  Penn Jillette doesn't understand why. 

“What makes me libertarian is what makes me an atheist — I don’t know. If I don’t know, I don’t believe. I don’t know exactly how we got here, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. We have some of the pieces of the puzzle and we’ll get more, but I’m not going to use faith to fill in the gaps. I’m not going to believe things that TV hosts state without proof. I’ll wait for real evidence and then I’ll believe.

And I don’t think anyone really knows how to help everyone. I don’t even know what’s best for me. Take my uncertainty about what’s best for me and multiply that by every combination of the over 300 million people in the United States and I have no idea what the government should do.

President Obama sure looks and acts way smarter than me, but no one is 2 to the 300 millionth power times smarter than me. No one is even 2 to the 300 millionth times smarter than a squirrel. I sure don’t know what to do about an AA+ rating and if we should live beyond our means and about compromise and sacrifice. I have no idea. I’m scared to death of being in debt. I was a street juggler and carny trash — I couldn’t get my debt limit raised, I couldn’t even get a debt limit — my only choice was to live within my means. That’s all I understand from my experience, and that’s not much.

It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we’re compassionate we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.

Here's a random Penn Jillette video on the merits of Libertarianism as compared to the other choice.  If you are offended by F-bombs, don't hit "play".  The F-bombs are, however, appropriate. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Comedy Genius of Charlie Delta !!!!!!!!

My California friend Charlie Delta has written a blog post in which our political situation pushes me over the edge. 
Stolen Forklifts in heavy traffic are involved. 
Shiner beer is involved. 
I'm not going to tell you how much of this might be true.
Here's the video that inspired Charlie Delta's story.  It takes a few seconds to get started.  Be patient.  This thing is worth it.  Let this be the soundtrack for what you're about to enjoy....

I've been around the world twice.  I've been to China five times.   I've been Employee Of The Year at two different companies.  I'm the father of my daughter. 
I don't know that any of that is better than this.  Hit the link and enjoy the pure comedy gold of Charlie Delta ! 

God's comments on Rick Perry

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Something to think about

The documentation for this startling statement is in the fine print at the bottom of the poster. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Miss USA: Should Evolution Be Taught In Schools?

Humanity is fortunate that the answers to the question "evolve" as the video progresses.

Miss California (at the 2:00 mark, the self-professed science geek) won the pageant, BTW.

Since the other government departments have been so freakin' great....

Please allow me to beat the crap out of a few dead horses before getting to my point....

The Department of Education was founded in 1980. 

Here's a graph showing education spending vs. test scores.  Did you notice how test scores improved and lurched upward in 1980, when all the insane spending on education got started?  I didn't either. 

Next topic....The Department of Energy was founded shortly after the oil non-crisis of 1977 during the Carter administration, and now has 16,000 employees, 100,000 contract employees and an annual budget of over $24 billion.  The Department was created to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. 

(I firmly believe that wanting to reduce our dependence on foreign anything is a silly concept.  You can reduce your dependence on Proctor and Gamble by making your own soap.  You can reduce your dependence on Joseph A. Banks by sewing your own suits.  You can reduce your dependence on the internet by going to the library.  But that is no way to live your life.  Depending on others is good.  The only truly self-reliant people on our planet live in mud huts and have trouble keeping their feces out of their food.  But at least they don't depend on foreigners.  And they have a very small carbon footprint!!!) 

Sorry for the digression.  The Department of Energy was supposed to reduce our "dependence" on foreign oil.  Here's another chart.  Do you see the massive decrease in oil imports after the founding of the Department Of Energy?  I don't either. 

Let's pick on another recent Cabinet level Department, just for grins and giggles.  Lyndon Johnson birthed the Department Of Housing And Urban Development in 1965 because some government employees conducted a study that found there was a larger possible role for the Federal Government in solving urban problems, a role that would save and create jobs for more government employees. 

One of HUD's most notorious blunders was to round up large numbers of the urban poor, bulldoze their homes, and move them into high-rise hellholes where they had no connections to former neighbors, no sense of community, and no real reason to give a rip about their surroundings. 

Forget the charts.  Forget The Village Voice claiming that HUD was "the worst landlord" in New York City.  For these guys, we need video !!!!

Here's a time lapse of the destruction of the infamous Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago:

Why the demolition of a beautiful HUD project?

During the worst years of Cabrini–Green's problems, vandalism increased substantially. Gang members and miscreants covered interior walls with graffiti and damaged doors, windows, and elevators. Rat and cockroach infestations were commonplace, rotting garbage stacked up in clogged trash chutes (it once piled up to the 15th floor), and basic utilities (water, electricity, etc.) often malfunctioned and were left unrepaired. On the exterior, boarded-up windows, burned-out areas of the facade, and pavement instead of green space—all in the name of economizing on maintenance—created an atmosphere of neglect and decay. The high "open galleries" were enclosed with steel fencing along the entire height of the building to prevent residents from emptying rubbish bins into the yard, from falling, and from being thrown off to their deaths (giving the visual appearance of a large prison tier, or animal cages, which further enraged community leaders).

Here's a video of Missouri's Pruitt-Igoe housing project implosion:

To be fair, this particular hellhole was built prior to HUD's existence. But it was still a government housing project. You can scour the 'net in vain trying to find someone saying a good thing about the place.

If you're really into this kind of thing, you can go here to watch all the videos of the demolition of Chicago's Robert Taylor Housing Project. 

Now.  Just to cleanse the palate before our main course, here's the video of the last flights out of Saigon, April 1975. 

I could bring up ethanol subsidies, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, TARP, the Bailouts, the government-inflicted Housing Bubble, the looming bankruptcy of Social Security, the Porkulus Package, the 15 trillion dollar debt/bar tab we're going to leave to our unborn fetuses, and our government's thousands of other debacles.

I don't have time for those.

Here's the kicker.

Barack Freakin' Obama, who couldn't organize a dinner luncheon, is seriously thinking about creating a Department Of Jobs.

The administration may also merge the Department of Commerce, the Office of the United States Trade Representative and some economic divisions at the State Department into a new agency, administration officials said. Possible names include the Department of Jobs or the Department of Competitiveness.

May God have mercy on us all.  I can't imagine how badly he's going to screw that up. 
We've had a good run since 1776.  Maybe our time is over. 
It has been a pleasure writing for you.  Good luck, everyone. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

King Barack declares that fuel efficiency will improve, or we will face his displeasure

Having failed in his quest to lower sea levels around the world, Barack Obama has declared that big rigs will get  better mileage. 

WASHINGTON--President Obama announced the first-ever fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for long-haul rigs, work trucks, and other heavy duty vehicles Tuesday, the second mileage pact with manufacturers in less than a month.

The regulations call for reductions on fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 2018 of 9 to 23 percent, depending on the type of vehicle. Trucks and other heavy vehicles make up only 4 percent of the domestic vehicle fleet, but given the distance they travel, the time they spend idling and their low fuel efficiency, they end up consuming about 20% of all vehicle fuel, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

These things always puzzle me.  If you're going to go into the business of improving efficiency by Imperial Decree, why stop at 23% ?  Why not declare that "I, King Barack Of Chicago, hereby mandate that all semi-tractors will reduce fuel consumption by 50%, or ye shall face my wrath."

Experts say that a 20 percent reduction in heavy vehicle emissions would boost fuel efficiency to an average of 8 miles per gallon from 6 miles now.

Precisely.  And if the driver could be replaced by the Walt Disney Animatronic Driver, payrolls and other transportation costs would be slashed by 25%.  If tires could be made of Mississippi mud instead of rubber, replacement costs would be lowered by 89%.  If we ever get that big engineering breakthrough, the one where they make diesel engines out of Play-Do, vehicles will be 23% cheaper.  And on and on and on.....

Ok, rather than Fisk the rest of this piece of White House Boosterism, which would become tiresome, I'm just going to highlight the individual words that I think are funniest.  If you have any understanding of how the world works and why auto companies are going along with this crap, and the concepts of "collusion" and "corporatism", you'll get it. 

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Obama and the country’s automakers unveiled new fuel economy rules for passenger vehicles that would boost fleet-wide average gas mileage to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, from about 27.8 miles per gallon now.

The success of the Obama fuel efficiency program (!!!!!!!), some of it hard-won through difficult talks with car makers, stands in sharp contrast to the failure of other environmental initiatives, like climate change legislation.

At a time when nearly all major corporate lobbying groups and the Republican Party insist that the administration’s environmental regulations destroy jobs, the auto makers, the United Auto Workers union and now truck and large engine manufacturers are collaborating on rules they think could create jobs. Most environmental groups also praised the new truck standards.

The automobile industry has been more cooperative with the government since the federal bailout of two major car makers, General Motors and Chrysler. It is also mollified by the fact that the new, 2025 auto rules have what critics consider loopholes that allow the carmakers to improve fuel efficiency on their most popular models at a slower pace.

Moreover, the new standards encourage car and truck makers to use off-the-shelf technology, some of which they have already deployed, rather than invest in scientific breakthroughs.

“We’d be able to meet the standards by reducing weight, using low rolling-resistance tires to cut down on drag, making vehicles more aerodynamic and have less idling: those are available in the U.S. now,” said Jed Mandel, president of the Engine Manufacturers Association, the truck and engine makers’ trade group. The federal government has “done a great job in allowing flexibility for truck makers to build vehicles.”

Sorry.  I've got to interject something here.  The Federal Government has no damn business "allowing flexibility" in anything that doesn't harm someone else.  Period.  They've done a great job in allowing flexibility.  They've done a great job in allowing flexibility.  They've done a great job in allowing flexibility.  That's another way of saying "As long as we behave in the way they like, they'll let us get away with a few things." 
We're a nation of sheep, bleating about how our Master allows us greater flexibility. 

The new standards would increase the cost of heavy duty trucks, which cost tens of thousands of dollars, by several thousand dollars each, depending on the vehicle. But the administration and the manufacturers’ group estimated that the higher costs would be recouped very quickly, often within a year or two, because of savings at the pump, one of the biggest expenses for any cargo or trucking business.

The administration estimated that businesses using big trucks could save about $50 billion in fuel costs over the program’s duration.

And in the meantime, competition is decreased.  Barriers to entry are erected.  Choice is eliminated.  Government and trade group alliances are strengthened. 

Mission accomplished.  And it doesn't have a damn thing to do with fuel economy or the environment. 

End of rant. 

The pic of Ozymandias came from here.  The posters came from Dan McCall's Facebook page.