Saturday, July 11, 2009

Proud to be there.

There's a new Libertarian blog called Mindarchy. They only have one post at this point. I have no idea if they'll be any good or not.
But look at the blogroll.

Aldente Blog
Althouse Blog
Andrew Sullivan
Cafe Hayek
Cato @ Liberty
Lew Rockwell
Libertarian Anarchy
Ordinary Gentlemen
Reason: Hit and Run
The Whited Sepulchure
Volokh Conspiracy

There's the lowly Whited Sepulchre blog, stuck in the middle of all those libertarian heavy hitters like Reason, Samizdata, Volokh, Sullivan, etc. It looks like one of the easier "Which One Doesn't Fit?" questions on the ACT or the SAT.
Good luck, Mindarchy, whoever you are.

The Fair Labor Standards Act

Here's the Coyote Blog on the upcoming "Fair Labor Standards Act", one of the best Orwellian Newspeak names to adorn any legislation since the "Employee Free Choice Act.

"She (Ann Althouse) goes on to describe her voyage of discovery as to why so irrational-sounding a policy might exist, but I alredy knew. To furlough exempt (meaning exempt from hourly bookkeeping) workers, they must become non-exempt. And non-exempt workers have to be paid for time worked, even if the time worked was not ordered by the employer and even if the time worked was against the wishes of the employer.

Hit both links to read the complete posts. Fellow lovers of economic rationalism, please bookmark both sites to read daily.

Here's a little ad that the goombahs are trying to keep off the air. Enjoy.

Here's something I found via Facebook, just a few minutes after posting this. It's an interactive game.
My favorite line, which I've heard uttered by at least two YRC Worldwide drivers when describing sign-up tactics: "That's a really nice car you've got in the parking lot. I'd hate to see anything happen to it."

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Zeal For Truth" on the minimum wage

Colin at Zeal For Truth on the minimum wage:

I wasn’t surprised to see that Oregon’s unemployment numbers have steadily risen over the past five years. I’m even less surprised that it has reached a whopping 12.4% and is second in the country.

A lot of people will point to the recession as the chief culprit for high unemployment - not merely in Oregon, but around the world. And while it is true that businesses closing puts immediate pressure on unemployment figures, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The state of Oregon, for example, decided to tie the minimum wage to rising prices in 2004. This was put to the voters as a way to “lift all boats” in a rising tide of wage-increase and general prosperity. It was argued that the poorest would benefit as employers were forced to pay them more and that the increased wages would stimulate the economy.

Oregon now has the second highest minimum wage and the second highest unemployment rate (behind Michigan). These two statistics are directly correlated. The minimum wage is not a rising tide that lifts all boats - rather it is a barrier over which one has to jump to get a job. Raising the minimum wage does not force employers to pay their employees more - rather, it forces them to fire anyone who is not productive enough to earn for them at least their worth in the new minimum wage....

Go here to read the rest of the piece. I like these folks.
Go here to read about the ridiculously high levels of teenage unemployment and why government is to blame.
Go here to read a series of predictions that this would happen. Not that I like it or anything.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What kind of LIbertarian are you?

A guy named Peter Suderman has an interesting post up at the Reason magazine site....

Tyler Cowen reads Tom Palmer's new book on libertarianism and identifies five primary strands:

1. Cato-influenced (for lack of a better word). There is an orthodox reading of what "being libertarian" means, defined by the troika of free markets, non-interventionism, and civil liberties. It is based on individual rights but does not insist on anarchism. A ruling principle is that libertarians should not endorse state interventions. I read Palmer's book as belonging to this tradition, broadly speaking.

2. Rothbardian anarchism. Free-market protection agencies will replace government-as-we-know-it. War is evil and the problems of anarchy pale in comparison. David Friedman offered a more utilitarian-sounding version of this approach, shorn of Misesian influence.

3. Mises Institute nationalism. Gold standard, a priori reasoning, monetary apocalypse, and suspicious of immigration because maybe private landowners would not have let those people into their living rooms.

4. Jeff Friedman and Critical Review: Everything is up for grabs, let's be consequentialists and focus on the welfare state because that's where the action is. Marx is dead. The case for some version of libertarianism ultimately rests upon voter ignorance and, dare I say it, voter irrationality.

5. "Hayek libertarianism." All or most of the great libertarian thinkers are ultimately compatible with each other and we have a big tent of all sorts of classical liberal ideas. Hayek and Friedman are the chosen "public faces" of this approach. "There's a classical liberal tradition and classical liberal values and we can be fuzzy on a lot of other things."

These people at Zeal For Truth have added a few more:

Left-libertarian - sceptical of capitalism and corporatism, and possibly even private property.

6. Ron Paul bots - these guys are “libertarians” in that in their support of Ron Paul - probably because he was against the war - has blossomed into a general hate of the federal reserve. These are big on the constitution and “patriotism” and can be seen yelling at rallies or harrasing border guards.

7. Fake libertarians - Guys like Larry Elder and Ronald Regan. Anyone who calls themself a “republitarian.” Conservatives who happen to be a little more “free market” than your standard compassionate religious nut.

8. Libertarians who don’t know it or won’t admit it - People from the left and right who don’t to be associated with libertarians because of one of these groups, but hold a lot of libertarian beliefs.

9. Objectivists - Generally pro-war, radically atheist. Argues for “objective” standards of value (rather than subjective as in the Austrian school). Big on selfishness and a sceptical of utilitarianism.

10. Penn and Teller libertarians - Slightly left-ish, cynical and embracing libertarianism at least, in part, for it’s hedonistic/rebellious appeal. This is who conservatives think of when they realise we don’t like the war on drugs.

I like to think that I'm from the Hayek/Friedman wing. Am looking forward to seeing how TLG, Browncoat and others define themselves.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Paul Coelho - The Witch of Portobello

"As a historian, I attempt to collate all the data and analyze this confrontation between the freedom to worship and the duty to obey, between the God who controls the world and the Goddess who is part of the world, between people who join together in groups where celebration is a spontaneous affair and those who close ranks and learn only what they should and should not do."

"If God is mother, then we need only gather together with other people and adore her through rituals intended to satisfy the female soul, rituals involving dance, fire, water, air, earth, songs, music, flowers, and beauty. This has been a growing trend over the last few years. We may be witnessing a very important moment in the history of the world, when the Spirit finally emerges with the Material, and the two are united and transformed. At the same time, I imagine that there will be a very violent reaction from organized religious institutions, which are beginning to lose their followers. There will be a rise in fundamentalism."

"Anyone who believes they have failed will always fail. Anyone who has decided that they cannot behave any differently will be destroyed by routine. Anyone who has decided to block all changes will be transformed into dust. Cursed be those who do not dance and who prevent others from dancing."

- Paul Coelho, The Witch of Portobello

Caption Contest - Family Photo Edition

I need a caption for this family portrait.

The good people at Southeastern Freight (great rates to every state that seceded !) won last week's contest.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Libertarian Party Of Texas And Toll Roads

From my new friend Robert Butler, the Executive Director of the Texas Libertarian Party:

Libertarians Put the Brakes on Toll Road Transportation Bill

Twitter and Facebook Play a Role

AUSTIN, TEXAS - July 2, 2009 - The Texas Legislature left a controversial new toll road bill pending in committee today and Libertarians are claiming a major victory in stopping a billion dollar scheme to use taxes and pension funds to pay for private monopolies and foreign management of Texas toll roads.

I don't have a problem with foreign management of anything. The best factories in China sometimes have Taiwanese management. I recently had to go to the Tarrant County Department Of Motor Vehicles, and that place could've been better managed with 1970's Soviet-influenced Bulgarian Bureaucrats. Sheesh. Someone remind me to do a post about the DOMV Chair Nazi.
But if outsiders can do the job for less, bring 'em on. Unless, of course, there's a monopoly.
Oh, wait....there's a monopoly.

Libertarians worked together with TURF, Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, and Texans for Accountable Government (TAG), to stop what some have dubbed the largest tax increase in Texas history.

Robert is new to us, and is still learning our ways and our habits. The largest tax increase in Texas history hasn't been formally legislated. It's coming in the form of printing money to pay government expenses, and will show up in your neighborhood soon. But I'm quibbling here.

I like those TURF and TAG acronyms. Someone should start a group called "Never Open -Super Highways In Texas".

On Wednesday morning, Libertarians from across the state converged at the Texas Capitol, emailed, and called their state representatives to demand that public-private partnerships funded with Texas tax dollars and pension funds be stopped.

According to many Fundamentalist, Foot-Washing, Snake-Handling, Speaking-In-Tongues Libertarians, toll roads are a fundamentally good thing. It's when Austin takes your money and gives it to Company X for the development of toll roads that toll roads become a problem. If they are such a good idea, let Company X use their own money.

"We used our extensive email lists, Twitter, and Facebook accounts to activate thousands of freedom-loving Texans," said LPT Executive Director Robert Butler. "Our people called, emailed, and personally visited every member of the House and Senate. Our press conference and grassroots effort had a major impact in potentially killing this bill. We have to continue our public awareness campaign until the special session officially ends."

"Credit goes to the work of our staff and volunteers for discovering the ugly details behind this legislation," said Libertarian State Chair Patrick Dixon. "For an organization with just over $100k in revenue, we certainly do have an impact on policy."

A word about Patrick Dixon: Patrick is probably the most efficient human in the state of Texas. Watching him run a meeting is a delight (for the first three hours, anyway). I'd like to see Patrick and Kathy Madeja do a Parliamentary Procedure steel cage deathmatch smackdown.
And speaking of organizations with just over $100K in revenue....if you're worried about the way Owebama is spending money, but can't quite find a way to get behind the Republicans? Send us some money. We need it. There aren't a lot of us, but we make a lot of noise.

"Toll roads cost up to twice as much to build as non-tolled expressways," said LPT Executive Director Robert Butler. "The toll roads aren't a free market privatization plan. You're granting monopoly rights to private operators. The bonds backing these toll roads have clauses that prevent competition and are guaranteed with tax dollars."

To hell with anything that prevents competition, and that's an official position statement.

In 2005, the State of Texas entered a 50-year agreement with a Spanish company named Cintra to develop the Trans-Texas Corridor, a 4,000-mile network up to 1,200 feet wide to carry parallel links of tollways, rails, and utility lines. Cintra's parent company, Grupo Ferrovial, S.A, was a major collaborator with Spanish dictator Francisco Franco and depends upon its political connections to secure toll road contracts around the world.

Does the state of Texas already own this land? Nope. Texas would have had to take it via Eminent Domain. Not good. Property rights are something that distinguish the U.S. from governments like, well, Francisco Franco's.

In 2007, by a combined vote of 169-5, the Texas Legislature passed a moratorium on private toll contracts, called comprehensive development agreements (or CDAs) that privatize and sell Texas highways to the highest bidder. That moratorium ends August 31, 2009, and CDAs, except for approximately a dozen projects that were exempted, sunset with it. CDAs are the primary financial vehicle used to construct the Trans Texas Corridor.

Will Texas taxpayers get a check in the mail if a highway is ever sold? Will we get to set a "minimum bid"?

"I want to cut taxes and spending," declared Libertarian activist Wes Benedict. "They have refused to approve low-cost road improvements claiming they don't have the funds, then propose rail and toll roads which cost up to ten times more than buses and non-tolled roads per passenger mile of added capacity. Light rail and toll roads cost too much and do too little."
"We Libertarians and our friends at TURF and TAG have shown that an educated voter can change the course of legislation." noted Butler. "This bill will be a litmus test in the 2010 elections, we'll make sure of that.

And let's hope the people at TURF and TAG don't forget their allies at "Never Open Super Highways In Texas".

For Liberty,

Robert Butler
Executive Director
Libertarian Party of Texas

P.S. - Robert, I do this kind of thing a lot. You'll get used to it. Great job, sir ! ! !

Dallas and Tarrant Libertarian Party at the Vans Warped Tour

The Tarrant and Dallas County Libertarians joined forces to staff a booth at this year's Vans Warped tour. (Previous headliners at Vans Warped include No Doubt, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Rancid, Blink-182, Eminem, Good Charlotte, and well, you get the idea.)

Here's some video by John Jay Myers, the Dallas LP chair. Big Daddy John Spivey, the Tarrant LP chair (and "Tarrant Liberty Guy" on these pages) is in the red shirt.

Why, you ask, would the Libertarians spend a day peddling T-shirts, bumperstickers, and handing out political alignment questionnaires to a bunch of kids?

Because the kids are the ones who will eventually have to pay for the mess created by their parents, and the parents have already been co-opted by the system, and therefore are beyond hope. The sooner these little Mall Rats figure out the Hope 'n' Change scam, the better off they'll be.

And The Lion Shall Lie Down With The Lamb

In which Dr. Ralph and I hang out at a 4th of July parade....
Faces have been changed as a part of The Dr's witness protection program agreement.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Burning Hell, Part Six, Songs For Children edition

Another Sunday is upon us. That means it's time to visit the wonderful world of Reverend Estus Pirkle.
Back in the early 1970's, Pirkle's "The Burning Hell" terrified the crap out of every church youth group in the southeast. I'm posting excerpts from the film each week because I saw the movie when I was twelve or thirteen, believed every minute of it, built a lot of my life around it, and therefore suffered extreme mental, spiritual, psychic, and emotional harm.

Now I'm getting even by ripping the lid off of it every Sunday morning. This is cheaper than a psychotherapist.

To recap the previous episodes.... Two hippies, Ken and Tim, have a discussion with Brother Pirkle about the reality of hell. Their preacher has taught them that hell is only a metaphor. Pirkle disagrees. Pirkle vividly paints a picture of non-believers burning for eternity in a massive field of mud and slop. Ken and Tim object to Pirkle's reasoning and leave the church on their motorcycles.
Ken has an accident, and is decapitated.
Rather than wait around for the police or an ambulance, Tim decides to go to church.
You can hit the Pirkle label at the bottom of this post to see each episode in its entirety. Even if you're in a hurry, you've GOT to see episode #4 with the worms.
At the end of last week's clip, Pirkle was telling the biblical story of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:19).
If you find my commentary helpful, it continues after the clip.

:01 Wild debauchery, as conceived and filmed in a 1973 Myrtle Mississippi Baptist fellowship hall. The candlesticks have appeared in two generations of wedding photos. Check out Mrs. Dives at the :12 mark - her tiara betrays her as an Ole Miss Tri-Delta pledge.

1:45 The screenplay of Pirkle, the directing of B-movie king Ron Ormond, the acting of The Mississippi thespians, and the music of Handel. Which one doesn't fit?

2:10 Lazarus discovers that in the next life, everyone gets a pre-resurrection shave.

3:05 The Santa Claus beard is pressed back into service, and this time Abraham is wearing it. The shots of heaven were filmed in whichever Magnolia State property got "Yard Of The Month" during production.

4:29 Proof that at least two trips were made to Burger King.

4:40 The Roman soldier has a Pavolovian response to the wine. Priceless editing.

5:15 The Dives Funeral - "Mr. Dives was a personal friend of mine...." "and while he was not faithful to attend many of the services...." "I'm sure that God understands that he was a busy man" All of these are straw men that Pirkle is about to kick over. Plus, how many kings are addressed as "Mr" ????

5:50 Dives in hell. "Father Abraham, have mercy on me. Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame".
This doesn't sound like a typical Jesus parable, does it? The folks at The Jesus Seminar, my go-to guys for biblical scholarship, are divided on whether it's authentic. The doctrine of salvation through faith hadn't yet been developed by Paul, and John 3:16 wouldn't be written down for another 60 years after the death of Jesus. So who knows?

The story did inspire a catchy African-American spiritual called "Poor Man Lazrus". The lyrics are as follows:

Poor man Lazrus sick and disabled. Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue, 'cause I'm tormented in the flame. He had to eat crumbs from the rich man's table. Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue, ‘cause I'm tormented in the flame.

I'm tormented in the flame. I'm tormented in the flame.
Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue,
'cause I'm tormented in the flame.

Rich man Divies he lived so well. Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue, 'cause I'm tormented in the flame. And when he died he went straight to hell. Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue, 'cause I'm tormented in the flame. (Chorus)

I love to shout, I love to sing! Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue, 'cause I'm tormented in the flame.

Jester Hairston, the great choral composer, did the best arrangement of the song. Here's the Asbury College Men's Glee Club singing in the college chapel service. Kinda like singing an upbeat ditty about Abu Ghraib.

6:30 Tim remains in the congregation listening to Pirkle explain why it is that who goes where in the next life.

6:40 Dives asks for another chance, just to warn his family about the dangers of THE BURNING HELL.

7:00 Abraham shoots him down. In full Faulkner/Tennessee Williams mode, the father of his race says "They hayuv Moses 'n' thuh prophets. Let theyum hear theyum. If they heer not Moses 'n' thuh prophets,,,,

To hear what other words of comfort Father Abraham said to the burning Dives, come back next Sunday.