Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why are journalists so liberal?

Why are journalists so liberal?

(For readers in the UK and elsewhere, I'm using the word "liberal" in the American sense, meaning that they generally support turning over the economy, education, healthcare and self-protection over to charismatic social-climbers who can win elections.) 

Why are journalists so liberal? 

They aren't.  Governments are. 

I've had a glorious time for the last couple of months supporting a trio of candidates for our local River/Water Development Board.  In my mind, the opposing sides couldn't be more starkly divided.  Our opponents are planning to take over a lot of land via Eminent Domain and make sweetheart deals with developers.  If past history is any guide, there will be plenty of no-bid contracts.  There will be restaurants and apartment buildings built INSIDE the flood plain.  There's a project we call "Lake Granger" that is so far over budget that....hell, I give up.  Go here to read about the condition of the project three years ago.  No idea how much they've blown so far, but it's huge.  The project manager, JD Granger, is the son of congresswoman Kay Granger.  He's a former Assistant D.A. and his previous project management experience was a science project in the 9th grade.   

In the meantime, the river water isn't fit for recreation, much less drinking, and the government won't allow you to eat any fish caught in the river. 

The candidates that I've been supporting just want to provide plenty of drinkable water, populated with fish that won't kill you.  They want to honor property rights.  That's it. 

The local journalists at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram overwhelmingly support the land thefts and the bloated make-work projects.  Go figure. 

But think about it....  Governments get themselves elected by giving out gifts.  It's what they do.  And sometimes, that's exciting.  The group of Barking Seals currently on the water board have already opened up a Flood Control BBQ joint, and there are plans for a Flood Control Drive-In Movie Theatre.  Fun, fun, fun.  Their supporters include most of the major engineering firms that will be involved in the boondoggle. 

Which group would you prefer to write about?  The happy-happy party crowd, slipping their Bar Tabs into the diapers of the infants?  Or the puritans who just want a clean river? 

Hey, guys, I'm trying to write a story.  Can you tell me anything about your big plans? 
Nope.  We're not going to do much.  Just keep human feces out of the Trinity River. 
Oh.... Never mind. 

Plus, the big-spending incumbents are already on speed-dial. 

And that is why journalists are generally liberal. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What happens when you ignore the Libertarian Party's Economic Platform?

Here's part of the preamble to the Libertarian Party's Economic Platform
The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society. 
 Back in 2008, the voters put in a president and a congress who didn't believe in those simple principles.  Or, to put it more accurately, Obama and congress wanted to back a few trailers up to The Treasury and start hauling off some loot.

They used Keynesian economic theories to justify their spending, wasting, thieving and stimulating.  They would have been just as happy to use the hidden messages in the inspirational poetry of Helen Steiner Rice.  (Seriously.... I don't believe anyone in government truly believes in Keynesian economics.  It's a convenient moral cover for giveaways to supporters.) 

We were supposedly on the edge of a cliff back in 2008. 
Certain institutions were declared "too big to fail" and got massive bailouts. 
Quasi-government entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which had been pumping billions into the housing market because (hell, who knows?) suddenly had no more chips to cash in. 
We received a massive, record-setting stimulus package.  It was the largest experiment in Keynesian Pork ever attempted. 
We paid people to destroy their cars and gave them credit for new ones. 
Ben Bernanke and Timmy "Tax Dodger" Geithner started pumping another $63,000,000,000.00 per month into the cash supply, and The Fed is still doing it. 
They had to do this because of "what we inherited". 
Hell, what we inherited looks pretty good compared to where we are now. 
Here you go.  This is from the notorious Tea Party rag, The Washington Post

Since Obama’s first full month in office in February 2009, the unemployment rate has gone from terrible (8.3 percent) to very bad (7.5 percent). But a true picture of just how bad the unemployment situation is in our country is revealed by the fact that more than 9.5 million people have dropped out of the labor force since the president took office in 2009. Undoubtedly, the impact of this number is reflected in some of the other indices and statistics that we can use to objectively measure the success of the Obama presidency.

In the past five years, 9.5 million people have quit working and the current labor force participation rate is just 63.6 percent, the lowest it’s been since May 1979. More than 15.2 million more people are on food stamps today than were in February 2009, and during the same time frame, the poverty rate has increased by 0.7 percent.

Gasoline prices have almost doubled under Obama, and there’s nothing more corrosive for the middle class than when more cash comes out of everyone’s pockets at the pump. This is especially true given that the median household income has dropped more than $3,000 during the Obama presidency.

All the while we have experienced the biggest jump in our national debt in history under Obama, with the debt exploding from $11 trillion at the end of 2008 to almost $17 trillion today. And I’ll point out once again that if we look at this huge number in more relatable terms, our current national debt translates to a cost of more than $148,000 per taxpayer, up from just over $90,000 per taxpayer in 2008.

Even the infamous “Misery Index,” created by Jimmy Carter, has gotten worse under the Obama presidency. Remember, the Misery Index is the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate. In January 2009, the index was 7.83, but as of March 2013, it increased to 9.07.

It’s safe to say that the above statistics are key benchmarks of the U.S. economy. You can pick through other available figures and try to find some small pieces of good news, but by any measure, what these data show is that things have gotten worse rather than better for many Americans during Obama’s tenure.
 Well, the Washington Post should've mentioned who has done well under The Coming Of The Obamassiah, just to be fair.  Here's Investor's Business Daily
Using Census data on net worth, the Pew report found that from 2009 to 2011, the richest 7% of Americans saw their net worth climb an average $697,651 — equal to a 28% gain.

The rest of the country saw their net worth drop an average $6,079 — equal to a 4% loss.

As a result, far from making the country more equal, Obama's policies have produced a greater concentration of wealth, with the share of wealth held by the top 7% rising to 63% in 2011, up from 56% in 2009, Pew found.
As I've noted before on these pages, if you look at the top 1% of wealthy counties in the U.S., half of them are the 13 or so surrounding Washington D.C.  The government spend more than $60,000.00 per poor family on anti-poverty programs.  Somehow, I think a lot of money gets sent to D.C. and stays in D.C.   

So, in summary....
The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why I hope you'll vote for Basham, Nold and Kelleher in the May 11th Tarrant Regional Water District Board election

The Trinity River is a big, fat, hairy deal in Fort Worth TX.

A small board of Fort Worth property owners controls a significant amount of the water supply for about 10 other counties.

They're also instrumental in trying to turn the Trinity into something that we Libertarians call "Lake Granger", after Congresswoman Kay Granger, and her son J.D. Granger, a project that, if completed, will be the #1 Google Search Result for the term "Crony Capitalism".

We're supporting a slate of candidates who think the Tarrant Regional Water District should concern itself with the drinking water supply, and ensuring that the fish aren't harmful to human health.

These candidates are John Basham, Timothy Nold, and Mary Kelleher. If you're a Fort Worth resident, you have the blessed privilege of voting out a large % of the current board. You can vote for all three open spots.

Here's what your ballot oughta look like if you oppose Eminent Domain abuse, cronyism, contractor-supported election campaigns, and plans for apartment complexes built inside the flood plain.

The BNK slate has been attacked from the usual suspects, of course, and that's prompted John Basham (wounded military veteran) to issue the following statement.....


TRWD Candidate John Austin Basham addresses campaign finance

Fort Worth, Texas – May 7, 2013 – Over the past few days much has been made by political elites and media insiders about campaign finance during this Tarrant Regional Water District election. TRWD challenger and part of the Basham-Nold-Kelleher (BNK) slate couldn’t agree more. “I absolutely agree campaign finance is an issue in this race,” says Basham, “I have been vigorously supported by an open government PAC and private land owners since day one.”

When asked about his opponents financial backing Mr. Basham had some serious questions. “The current board members list of donors reads like a friends and family plan,” says Basham, “When I looked at their list I couldn’t believe 95% of the donors receive our tax money in contract awards.” Mr. Basham went on to say, “It’s no wonder they want to try to paint my private donors as evil, anything to take the focus off the fact that YOU the taxpayer are funding their campaign.” A review of campaign finance reports called “8-day reports” do in fact show none of Mr. Basham’s donors receive any contracts or awards from the Tarrant Regional Water District. This cannot be said for the incumbent’s reports which show over 30 donors who are paid contractors or lobbyists for the Tarrant Regional Water District.

“It sickens me that these people get away with this every election,” says Basham, “They drag every opponent through the mud and take focus off the real issue.” Basham continued,” They are getting paybacks for the political decisions they make on the board in the form taxpayer cash laundered through contractors!”

Opponents of Mr. Basham and the BNK slate of challengers have been in quite a “tizzy” about donors from “out of town” donating to his campaign. Mr. Basham responded, “I have donors who are affected by TRWD decisions across their 11 county service area, their only say in any election is by supporting open and honest challengers,” Basham continued, “My opponents have received donations from 4 different states from as far away as Arizona and Colorado. Voters should decide which is worse; out-of-state TRWD contractors giving kick-backs or normal land owners affected by TRWD decisions.”

Contact: Layla Caraway
Ph: 817-307-1374

You have a chance to make a difference, folks. 
The current board's project to convert Cowtown into Jerusalem On The Trinity should be abandoned. Now.
VOTE Bassham, Nold and Kelleher on May 11th!!!! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Why I hope you'll become a member of the National Organization For The Reform Of Marijuana Laws

My fellow libertarian and fellow NORML member Tristan Tucker gave this speech at a liberty-oriented event about a month ago.  Tristan is a U.S. Navy veteran, BTW.   
It's the best speech I've heard for marijuana legalization. 
It won't work if we just de-criminalize it. 
It won't work if the government artifically limits who can and can't grow and sell it. 
We can only end the monopolies of the Afghan and Mexican Drug Lords if we legalize marijuana. 
Here's Tristan:

My name is Tristan Tucker. I’d like to start with this by a brief quote to segue into why I am here. Rand Paul recently filibustered the US Senate to address our crucial liberties. He started his historic filibuster by saying “ I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, and that your rights are precious…” I am here today to represent the students. I am here to represent the veterans of our latest immoral and illegal wars. I am here to represent the people and our right to choose what we do with our bodies.

I see marijuana criminality as a human rights issue. I do not believe that our continued support for incarcerating disproportionate numbers of our minority youth in a vain attempt to arrest our way out of our drug problem is an adequate solution. I do not believe that continuing to fund Mexican drug cartels via drug prohibition is a humanitarian approach to one of the West’s most deadly international incidents. Myself, NORML, and most of you would agree that a legal, taxed and regulated marijuana industry is the sole solution to ending epidemic in our nation. We must make strides toward addressing our drug prohibition problem as human rights infractions and health issues in order to actually progress in this nation. I am here to talk not only about the necessity for drug policy reform as it pertains to cannabis use but also drug prohibition as a whole.

Drug prohibition is by-and-large a modern set of Jim Crow laws. According to LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, 70% of the drugs used in the United States are consumed by whites whereas 70% of the people incarcerated for drug use and possession are African Americans. The areas most ravaged by the drug war have been low-poverty areas – specifically where larger concentrations of African Americans tend to live. According to the FBI, one in eleven blacks are currently serving prison sentences for drug related crimes. That is 9.2% of the total population of African Americans in our country.

Marijuana was originally made illegal in the 1930s and the racism involved with the legality of the plant has never ceased. The plant was made illegal, in part from Harry Anslinger and the government’s affiliation with the movie production, Reefer Madness, which blatantly said that smoking “the devil’s lettuce” caused “negroes” to fornicate and rape white women. What are the results of being incarcerated with a felony? You lose your political voice and your right to vote and effect legislation is taken away, effectively silencing a large group of Americans. There are no lobby organizations for convicted felons to interact with the congress, the courts or the president, so essentially, once the right to vote is taken, your real right to speech has been stripped. As time progressed and civil liberties were afforded to African Americans in the late 1960s, the drug war was officially launched.

The most commonly used argument by bureaucrats, in favor of the war on drugs is that using drugs will destroy your lives. I ask you, which does more harm? Smoking marijuana or the legal repercussions for smoking marijuana? The side effects of cannabis are far and inclusive, including, but not limited to repairing brain cells damaged by alcohol consumption and helping to heal the alveoli in your lungs after years of abuse from cigarettes. The side effects to being prosecuted for drug crimes includes never being eligible for financial aid to attend college, losing your children to the court system, never being able to find gainful employment and even, in most cases, being barred from joining the military. I must ask you…which is more dangerous? The drug? Or the drug law?

Since 1972, our incarceration rates for drug possession have gone through the roof. Our incarceration rates were fairly low through the remainder of the 1970s but really caught fire under Ronald Reagan, partially in response to his and Nancy’s nationwide DARE program coupled with the president’s incessant public service announcements, in regard, particularly, to cannabis. Programs like DARE and various other government subsidized rehabilitation programs were actually proven years later, in the early 2000’s, to provide the “real” gateway to hard drug use and provided “patients of the rehabilitation centers and programs with a host of mental disorders including anxiety, PTSD and, in the worst cases, suicide.

After George H. W. Bush’s short tenure in the white house, Bill Clinton vowed to drastically scale back the federal government’s involvement and efforts at curtailing drug use and the international drug trade. Contrary to Clinton’s campaign promises, he racked up the largest number of drug-related incarcerations EVER .

Until President Barack Obama, at least.

President George W. Bush continued the failed practices that Clinton used. Although Bush Jr. frequently catches a lot of flak for his involvement in drug-related incarcerations, the country saw fewer dispensary raids and less incarcerations for marijuana possession than the previous four presidents.

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama campaigned on promises of leaving medical marijuana patients alone and legislating via facts based on science vice myth and propaganda. Since he took office in 2009, we have seen constant increases in our incarceration rates, 855,000 people in 2011 and just shy of 900,000 people in 2012 for marijuana related crimes. His administration is directly responsible for the most rapidly growing incarceration rates of LEGAL, REGULATED medical marijuana patients in states that have medical marijuana programs.

I am the elected executive director of the University of North Texas chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. I got started with NORML by volunteering and being appointed the Veteran Outreach Coordinator with DFWNORML. Since I have been involved with NORML, we have made great strides in Texas. Some of our accomplishments include hosting the Global Marijuana March on the front lawn of Dallas City Hall and changing dorm policies at UNT regarding paraphernalia in the dorms. Lately we have been working on lobbying our state legislature regarding two bills, HB184 and HB594, both of which directly relate to marijuana possession in the state of Texas.

HB184 is a bill related to the decriminalization of marijuana in the state up to one ounce. Essentially, marijuana possession would become a ticketable offense rather than a jailable offense. The other bill, HB594 relates to an affirmative defense. Essentially, HB594 helps strengthen Texas’ existed medical necessity defense law. 594 would also provide limited protections to doctors that recommend marijuana to their patients.

Recent news regarding marijuana, both recreationally and medicinally, has been overwhelming. On March 14, cable media networks released statements from the federal government that marijuana is proving successful in treating AIDS and cancer. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have both legalized marijuana, thanks to huge grassroots efforts in their respective states. Thanks to legalization in those states, new research can be conducted into the healing properties of this wonderful plant. Hemp will soon be planted again legally on American soil. Cannabis is helping this country heal – not only from it’s prescription medication addiction, but also it’s addiction to ignorance, propaganda and poor economic decisions. As our country continues to progress forward on important issues like cannabis legalization we will also progress forward on other human rights issues.

The times are changing. NORML has been successfully changing the climate and culture related to cannabis in Texas. We are no longer seen as stoners doing something immoral that actually damages society. Marijuana and marijuana advocates are becoming dinner table conversation, not just in Texas, but all across the country. The advent of mass communication via the internet has greatly furthered our agenda. The new wave of Ron Paul Republicans and young libertarians are also furthering our agenda.

So as I close out this speech, I’d like to ask all of you to do something – not for me, not for your neighbors, not for the troops, the veterans, students, teachers or anyone other than yourself. I want you all to be loud. I want you to be vocal. Live up to the responsibility bestowed upon you by 237 years of American excellence and tradition. Call your representatives. Send them letters and emails. Set and make appointments with them. None of the atrocities in our country will ever change if we do not make our voices heard. The status quo can only remain if we allow it to remain. The louder we are about the agendas that WE want to push, the more this great nation will progress into the twenty first century.

I’d like to leave you all with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Ayn Rand, whom even during the height of government propaganda, was able to see past the moral issue and realize that it’s your life and you should live it as you see fit.
"I do not approve of any government controls over consumption, so all restrictions on drugs should be removed (except, of course, on the sale to minors). The government has no right to tell an adult what to do with his own health and life. That places a much greater moral responsibility on the individual; but adults should be free to kill themselves in any way they want. I would fight for your legal right to use marijuana; I would fight you to the death that you morally should not do it, because it destroys the mind. What the government should do is protect citizens from the criminal consequences of those who take drugs. But drugs would be much cheaper if it weren't for government."
 Well said, Tristan.  Well said. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How Nations Succeed: What's the secret to ending poverty?

Ever since I started going to China for work, I've been haunted by the bone-grinding poverty that my Chinese friends endured for decades while places like Taiwan and Hong Kong (with almost no natural resources but the same language and ethnicity) were able to thrive and prosper. 

So I've been taking the Marginal University online course in Developmental Economics.  I want to know more about why El Paso and Juarez have such radically different standards of living.  Yes, I am a geek.  Check it out when time permits.  You watch a video, you take a test.  You watch another video, you take another test.  You take a mid-term.  Repeat.  With a final. 

And for those who don't have a couple of months to watch videos on why The Bahamas prosper and Cuba fails, this is a quick alternative.... Thanks to the Fund for American Studies, here's a six-minute video  which tells the story of a nation whose typical citizen had to work 6-7 days a week, with no cell phones, virtually no indoor plumbing, no internet and very few automobiles, and how those people were able to pull themselves out of abject poverty in a relatively short amount of time. 

Enjoy !