Sports Leagues Draft Systems are Libertarian Hell

Draft

With the conclusion of the NFL regular season we are once again talking about the draft. The draft exists for all professional sports leagues in the United States and it is a horrific affront to my Libertarian sensibilities on a number of fronts. I figured I’d spend the last day of 2018 tilting against that indestructible monstrosity that is the draft.

The very idea that a young professional exiting their schooling is drafted by one company and they are only allowed to negotiate and sign with that company should bother anyone who believes in freedom. The courts somehow decided because collective bargaining agreements were made between unions and the various sports leagues this means entry drafts are not subject to anti-trust and restraint of trade laws. Poppycock! If someone writes up a contract that gives me permission to kill, roast, and eat them, that doesn’t exempt me from murder laws.

Many people will argue that sports leagues could not survive without the draft. At the risk of repeating myself, poppycock! This sort of draft system largely only exists in North America. Everywhere else in the world the teams sign players from development leagues according to their financial capabilities. Even here in the United States, college athletics works on this type of system. Every top high school athlete is recruited by a number of colleges and the player decides freely where to play. It seems to work well enough everywhere else so the idea it can’t work in the United States is nonsense.

Then there is the very nature of the vile atrocity itself. The team that finishes in last place gets the first pick! What sort of horrible system is this? We reward failure and punish success? Where else would such a system be tolerated? At your work place? In your home? Hardly.

The solution is ridiculously simple. Get rid of the draft altogether. Each young player can negotiate with whatever team they want for a spot on the roster. If they don’t get a good offer, they can go to another team and try again. Eventually the market will find equilibrium. This is how life works everywhere else except in sports.

Tom Liberman

Bread and Water because Mom Did it that Way

Bread and Water

I just read an intriguing article about the elimination of Bread and Water as a punishment in the United States Navy. I’m not amazed by the punishment itself but rather how it started and why, until recently, it was still being used.

Bread and Water is a disciplinary action available to captains of naval vessels where they can punish a sailor by restricting her or his diet to simply bread and water. The modern terms of the punishment limit the amount of time to three days and ensure that the sailor in question is given as much bread and water as they desire. In 1909 the maximum time was reduced from thirty days to seven and sailors could no longer be chained while undergoing the punishment.

The bit I found most interesting is the idea for Bread and Water punishment was derived from a similar practice in the British Navy. At the time that naval power was largely considered the finest in the world so adopting some of their practices made a great deal of sense. However, the British Navy outlawed the punishment in 1891. That’s not 1981 in case you are a little bit dyslexic, as am I. It was banned in the British Navy over one-hundred years ago. Yet the Bread and Water punishment persisted in the U.S. Navy until 2019.

This is the equivalent of doing something for the sole reason that your mother or father did it that way. That is, to a large degree, an enormous component of human psychology. I wrote sometime ago about why so many people feel it should be required to teach cursive writing in school when it has little practical use in the modern world, particularly when it takes so much time from other, more useful, subjects.

We do many, many things simply because they have been done that way in the past. It’s not necessarily wrong to do something the same as it’s always been done, but it is important to examine what you are doing, why you are doing it, and the results generated therein. The fact that it’s been done a certain way for a hundred years or more has no bearing on whether or not you should continue to do it. True though this may be, it is not something most people are willing to accept.

If it was good enough for my father than it’s good enough for me. Wrong. If it’s good, then it’s good. If it’s not, then it’s not. Sometimes something that worked well in the past just isn’t useful today. Sometimes it was awful back then and it remains awful now. We must take the time to examine why we are doing things and the results generated from doing so.

The fact that U.S. Navy finally got around to fixing this is a good thing. The fact that it took a century to do it is a lesson for us all. Just because mom did it that way doesn’t mean you should as well.

Tom Liberman

Welfarm and the Demise of the Family Farmer

Family Farmer

I just read an article written by a family farmer, Jim Goodman, who recently sold his herd of forty-five cows because economic conditions made continuing untenable. The article laments the steady demise of the family farmer in the United States and the growth of both factory farms and what the writer calls Land Barons. These are wealthy individuals who purchase smaller farms but don’t actually work on them, they own them simply as investments. While I feel sorry for Goodman, I won’t shed a tear for a group of people who vote for the bed they sleep in with unwavering devotion.

Let me explain. Welfarm caused this entire mess and Goodman acknowledges all the factors that caused the problem without once accepting the slightest bit of responsibility for it. Goodman contradicts himself in almost every paragraph. He blames ineffective government subsidies, apparently wanting more, when it is this very Welfarm that caused the oversupply he so passionately understands is the root of the issue.

The United States has a system of government that includes the Senate. The Senate doesn’t care about population. There are two senators per state and this gives rural states disproportionate power in Congress. This power has been used since the 1970s to expand a policy of get big or get out. Those who own small farms eagerly and continuously voted for politicians who perpetuated this policy as they handed out enormous sums of money to the family farmer. I need say no more than Ethanol and cheese although there are many, many more examples of this strategy.

Basically, the taxpayers of the United States have been pouring money into the pockets of farmers encouraging them to grow more and more. These policies have encouraged the family farmer to produce more milk. These policies have aided the enormous growth of factory farms.What needs to be done? Stop Welfarm. Yes, it will hurt farmers initially, I do not deny this fact. However, what will happen is output will shrink to match actual demand and only then will farmers get what Goodman says is the only thing they want, fair prices. Sadly, that’s not the only thing they want. They want tax dollars by the bushel and this dependence on government has destroyed them. They got exactly that for which they voted.

If a Libertarian Revolution is to sweep this country, and I hold out high hopes that it someday will, it will begin in rural areas only when people like Goodman recognize the policies of their picked politicians led to the destruction of the family farmer. Goodman recognizes the problem but his vote perpetuates it.

Tom Liberman

Why Does the Federal Reserve Raise Interest Rates?

Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve and the President of the United States seem to be at odds over the idea of raising interest rates. I’m of the opinion that most people, including many of my fellow Libertarians, don’t really understand the base purpose of the Federal Reserve and the point of increasing interest rates. I’m not an economist by trade but the issue is relatively straight-forward and I thought I’d take a few moments to go over it.

As I said, it’s relatively simple. Pretty much since the beginning of human history there has been something called the business cycle, or in common parlance, the boom-bust cycle. Basically, when times are good and people have plenty of money, they tend to spend it on speculative interests in the hope of gaining much more money. In contrast, when times are not good and money is in short supply, people have a tendency to hoard what they have. These two things exacerbate the business cycle.

Essentially, because people are spending more money on potentially enriching schemes during boom times the bubble goes to extremely high levels before it bursts and creates devastating economic destruction. Once the bust takes hold it is difficult to stop the downward spiral because people are reluctant to borrow money.

The solution created by Alexander Hamilton and the founders was the First Bank of the United States. Its primary idea was to raise interest rates during boom times thus curtailing people’s willingness to borrow money and fuel the boom and to lower interest rates during times of bust to encourage people to take out loans and pull the economy from its collapse.

It did not stop the business cycle altogether and thus its opponents, who felt there was artificial manipulation of the economy at the expense of growth abolished it. The booms and bust then grew much worse and so the Second Bank of the United States was formed with essentially the same goals as the first. Once again, the business cycle continued although with tempered effects because of the policies of the bank. As can be expected, people grew unhappy with the bank because they felt it was impacting the booming economy negatively and so it was abolished.

Immediately thereafter there again began a more virulent series of business cycles until Congress established the Federal Reserve which still exists to this day. As expected, the business cycles continue to be a problem as we have seen recently. One of the things that has happened since President Reagan is that the Federal Reserve has acted more to promote economic growth but not to slow it. This means, naturally that the boom cycle is not properly tempered.

That is the point of the Federal Reserve in their recent raising of interest rates. They desire to slow economic growth to temper the boom section of the business cycle. These actions anger the President of the United States in the midst of that cycle. Politicians desire to brag about the good they have done and lay blame for the bad, but the business cycle is beyond their control. The Federal Reserve cannot stop the cycle, the people who make policy can only hope to temper the catastrophic effects of the inevitable bust.

That is why it is generally considered a bad idea for politicians to dictate policy to the Federal Reserve. Their actions are often, and for good reason, opposite of those wished by the politicians.

Tom Liberman

Camp Fire Workers and Freedom of Speech

Camp Fire Workers
Camp Fire Workers Offensive Images

A news story making the rounds about Rob Freestone, and other Camp Fire Workers, who took vile pictures of themselves amongst the ruins of people’s lives after the tragic wildfire in Paradise, California, perfectly illustrates the concept of Free Speech as outlined in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Freestone and two other workers took pictures of themselves laughing it up over the corpses of beloved pets, in destroyed homes, jumping on burned out trampolines with captions denigrating the owners, along with other pictures. That these pictures might upset the owners of the homes and their neighbors who had recently lost everything, including friends and family, is not at all surprising. What can be done about people who do such things? That is where the Freedom of Speech of the camp fire workers comes into play.

One group of people seems to think the men are free to say what they want without repercussions based on the First Amendment. A second group of people want the camp fire workers to be arrested and charged with a crime for their vile behavior. Both groups are incorrect. The concept of the First Amendment seems relatively simple to me. People are protected against an overly aggressive government attempting to incarcerate or fine them because of their words. However, the camp fire workers are in no way protected from ramifications devised by sources not the state.

The company that employed the men, Bigge Crane and Rigging Co. and their contractors PG&E are entitled to do as they will. They have done so. Bigge announced the three men were fired from their jobs and wrote an apology to the residents of Paradise published as a press release.

I don’t necessarily fully support Bigge for this decision, nor disagree with it, but I absolutely think Bigge has the authority to fire the men. If law enforcement agencies bring charges against the camp fire workers, which they are looking into doing, then I find myself on the side of the workers. The police should not be allowed to charge people with a crime for posting deeply offensive photographs.

Now, to demonstrate the difficulty of law, let’s suppose Bigge didn’t fire the workers and the state subsequently refused to give future contracts to the company because of that decision. This is where law becomes problematic and why we have a judicial branch. This situation not being the case, I won’t wade into the thorny issue.

The outcome as it stands cleanly and neatly illustrates the protections of the First Amendment. We are entitled to say what we will, with exceptions carved out over time by the courts, without fear of arrest or fine by the state. We are not free to say what we want without repercussions from our employers, family, friends, and random strangers on the internet.

You might find particular words to be offensive while another person supports and agrees with those same utterances. That is the point of the First Amendment to a large degree. The state, in the form of whatever political party is currently in power, will always like certain speech and find other words to be dangerous. The state, and the state alone, is very limited in how it can respond to such speech, this is a good thing.

Tom Liberman

Baby It’s Cold Outside and Political Affiliation

Baby It's Cold Outside

The latest political controversy involves the song Baby It’s Cold Outside and whether or not radio stations should be playing it this Christmas season. I think the divide neatly illustrates a strong political division that embroils our nation. Basically, we have Democrats and Republicans on one side and Libertarians on the other. This is the special frustration of Libertarians because if you ask most Republicans and Democrats, they will vehemently deny they are on the same side of this issue. I’ll explain.

Whether your want a radio station to play Baby It’s Cold Outside or not is irrelevant. If you are making posts on Social Media, urging people to listen to or boycott a station because they are or are not playing the song; you are attempting to enforce your sensibilities on other people. You are one in the same either way. You are a force of coercion. Republicans and Democrats will come up with every excuse in the book to pretend they are not part of this concerted effort to enforce their will upon others who disagree. I’m not actually telling them, I’m not holding a gun to their head, I’m not passing a law about it. You are bringing pressure to bear in order to force others to do as you want.

The other side of that coin is a Libertarian. If a radio stations wants to play the song, go right ahead. If you don’t want to play Baby It’s cold Outside, that’s just fine also. If I have strong feelings one way or the other, I will listen to that song when it comes on or I will turn the channel. I will not attempt through boycott or other method of coercion to force my sensibilities on you. I trust you, as an adult, to make your own decision on the matter.

This misconception about Democrats and Republicans being on the opposite of issues is apparent in many different musical ways. One group has no problem with a country song that glorifies killing one’s wife and watching her bleed to death while the second has no problem with a hip-hop song encouraging the killing of law enforcement officers. And, of course, they absolutely decry and attempt the reverse from playing on any radio station because we must protect the children!

In summary: You are a lowly worm, afraid of your own shadow, thinking you are better and kinder than others, you believe that which you support should be forced upon everyone and that which you despise should be forbidden to all. I am a Champion of Freedom. When someone comes to take your music, I will stand against them regardless of the nature of that music. Despite this I extend my hand to you, join me, climb aboard, you are welcome here.

Should you decline my offer and continue on your current course; that’s fine also, you be you.

Tom Liberman

Fluid Dynamics and Physics not Needed for Blood Spatter Analysis

blood spatter analysisIf you’re a fan of crime drama then you’ve almost certainly heard of Blood Spatter Analysis. It’s a technique used to determine how a crime happened. It doesn’t work. That’s very clear. The experts testifying about it generally know nothing of Fluid Dynamics or Physics and earn a certification after a forty-hour course. Yet, it’s an accepted science in almost every part of the United States. Lovely.

I just read an amazing article about how all of this came to be. Basically, one fellow invented the so-called science in his basement and was convincing in the courtroom despite having no scientifically backed evidence to back it. Now a horde of experts, almost all of whom trained with and were certified by him at his forty-hour course are testifying against one another in cases across the country. It’s not hard to find someone who will testify a blood spatter is evidence of absolute guilt while another person from the same discipline argues for complete innocence.

People’s blood is different in consistency and even different throughout the body. Weather can play an enormous role in fluid dynamics. Gravity plays a part. The setting on the air conditioner will make a difference in how blood behaves in various circumstances. There is good reason no readily repeatable experimentation on blood spatters exists. Yet, the testimony has resulted in any number of people being exonerated or convicted.

There is currently an effort by scientists with strong backgrounds in fluid dynamics and physics to try and make this actually work but the problems persist. It’s largely a field mired in confirmation bias. The result you want to get is the one you get. There just isn’t enough consistency in results to come to reliable conclusions.

There is a lot of sad in all of this. But, being the Libertarian that I am, I’m going to reserve my outrage mostly for myself. Why didn’t I realize this entire methodology is bunk? There is nothing in the article that I couldn’t have figured out simply by thinking about it for a bit. Obviously, blood splatters are going to have huge inconsistences based on wind, temperature, pressure, blood thickness, angles, and who knows what else.

Yet I ate it up on crime shows and assumed it was based on scientific principles all this time. Bad Tom! Do better.

Tom Liberman