Freedom is for Everyone

Freedom is for everyone

When you march for Freedom you are not marching just for your own freedom, freedom is for everyone. If you believe the government has no right to prevent you from getting your hair cut, if you believe the government has no right to kneel on your neck, if you believe the government has no right to send heavily-armed law enforcement officers to disperse you from assembling; well, you’re a Libertarian even if you don’t know it. Freedom is for everyone.

It’s important to realize this point because so many people out there marching for freedom see others marching for the same thing not as allies but as enemies. I wrote not long ago how Our Freedom is at stake, not your freedom and not my freedom. Freedom is for everyone.

When you stand up for freedom you are standing up for the people with whom you disagree. When you use your constitutionally guaranteed rights to refuse to be searched without a warrant, to practice your religion without restriction, to bear arms, to speak your mind in a blog; you are standing up for all the people who do the same thing even if not for the same cause.

I’m certain many people disagree with my Libertarian inspired, broad interpretation of freedom that includes open borders and the cessation of all economic sanctions but I hope to convince you when I stand up for my freedom, I do it with the full realization that I’m standing up for yours as well. When I write about issues important to me and demand freedom for them; I fully understand that I’m demanding freedom for the issues important to you. Freedom is for everyone.

You have the right to assemble. You have the right to speak your mind. You have the right to resist jackbooted thugs sent by officials in power to take away your freedom and you have the right to do it violently if threatened with violence. I condemn violence of all kinds but the most dangerous is that sponsored by the state and carried out by law-enforcement and military personnel. Many of whom, by the way, are strong proponents of freedom. They should be on the side of freedom and I encourage you who are so inclined to disobey unlawful orders, peacefully hopefully, but violently if necessary.

Freedom, my friends of all colors, all political ideologies, all religions, all genders, all sexual orientations, all ages, all ethnicities. Freedom is for all of us together, citizens, soldiers, law-enforcement officers, and all the rest. Together.

Brave citizens taught the world what freedom meant back in 1776. Let us teach the world what it means today.

Tom Liberman

Liability Immunity is Wrong in so Many Ways

Liability Immunity

Federal and State governments provide liability immunity for a number of people and businesses and every single bit of it is wrong. Wrong! The topic of liability immunity is being discussed a great deal lately because of Covid-19 and President Trump’s social media spats but the problem is far deeper and more insidious than that.

State governments have largely made individual law enforcement officers immune from lawsuits in regards to actions taken while performing their duties. Thus, the officer who threw a flash-bang grenade into a crib during a no-knock search warrant couldn’t be sued by the parents whose baby had half its face burned off.

Gun manufacturers are immune to liability. Volunteers working for the government are immune to liability. The government has protected all sorts of people and businesses from liability over the years including social media outlets. If someone harms another person through negligent actions, the place to determine liability is in the courts, not in the legislatures. This seems self-evident to me.

Why should anyone get blanket liability immunity? It makes no sense to me; we have a judicial system to sort out these problems. Certainly, individual cases might be decided in a fashion I think is unfair but the old expression we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water seems perfectly relevant to me.

It’s important to note the liability immunity extended to social media by Congress means, by default, that such liability immunity can be removed, or a threat to remove it can be made. This gives government power they should not have; it gives government the ability to influence what content we see or don’t see. When we give government the ability to extend liability immunity, we explicitly give government officials the right to selectively remove it. They should have no such ability whatsoever.

When the government offers to give businesses liability immunity in regards to Covid-19 they are essentially engaging in force against We the People. If you don’t go back to work in a dangerous environment, we will punish you. We are taking away your right to get redress for crimes committed against you.

I’m horrified by all this liability immunity. If you harm through negligence, or other means, you must face your day in court. Anything else is tyranny.

Tom Liberman

Amplifying the Bad on Holey Moley

Holey Moley

Producers of the miniature golf show Holey Moley decided that amplifying the bad segments from season one for the second year was a good idea. Sigh. I actually semi-enjoyed the first season which pairs miniature golf with obstacles. I hoped they would fix the issues and remove the problems for the second season. Wrong again, Tom. Wrong again.

I recently ranted about how Lego Masters was nearly unwatchable because of the format; at least it was the first season and, hopefully, they will make changes for next year. Holey Moley had that very opportunity and decided amplifying the bad segments of the show was the best way forward. If you enjoy my rant blogs then gear up. If not, well, move along, nothing to see here.

The show pits twelve, eight for season two, golfers against each other in head to head competitions on holes which run a wide gamut of challenges. This is a problem. One hole consisted of a straightforward four-foot putt. Whomever took more strokes to finish was dumped from the platform into a pond. Another hole had competitors making long putts through a windmill which they then navigated themselves, risking being pushed into the pond. In other words, the challenges were completely different.

This leads to three problems. Sometimes a competitor in the first round ended up playing the same hole in her or his second or third round while their competitor had never played the hole before. This is obviously unfair. The second problem is some of the holes were so complex it took the players long minutes to navigate them. This meant not all the first-round matches could be shown completely. Finally, some of the holes were so difficult they required more physical ability than golfing skill giving an advantage to coordinated and fit competitors.

The same problem of too much time spent on skits and jokes seen on Lego Masters was present in Holey Moley, although not nearly as bad. Overly long introductions, explanations, and long periods spent where the hosts set up complicated and, largely, unfunny jokes took away from gameplay. So much so that some of the competitions were not shown at all.

What did they do for season two? The made the complicated and difficult holes longer and more physical so that is now almost an American Gladiator like contest. They spend even more time on promotion, skits, and nonsense. The essentially decided amplifying the bad was what people wanted. They might be right.

Maybe people want more hype, more dunking in water, more smashing into things, more stupid jokes, and less miniature golf. I am not one of those. It’s what I despise about most movie sequels. They spend time amplifying the bad things in the first movie, or even amplifying the good features until they are badly overused and boring.

I couldn’t even make it to the end of the first episode of season two of Holey Moley. Oh well.

Tom Liberman

Destroying Some People by Paying College Athletes

Destroying Some People

Reggie Bush says paying college athletes will result in destroying some people screams the rather misleading headline. The idea that athletes will soon be paid for their name, image, and likeness (NIL) is the basis for the article. While Bush’s statement is accurate, the gist of his point is about how young athletes coming into large amounts of money will attract those who hope to steal it.

The point here is the headline is completely misrepresenting what Bush is saying. The inference from the headline is Bush is against paying young college athletes based on the idea it will be destroying some people. In reality he is simply stating a fact. If young athletes, or any person, comes into a fairly large amount of money and they don’t have a solid financial background, unsavory people will attempt to steal that money and it has the potential to be damaging.

Now, I’d like to get a little deeper into an analysis of this simple fact. Many people, not Bush to be clear, will use this premise to argue against young athletes receiving money for their NIL. We are protecting this poor, helpless athlete from the terrible dangers of having her or his money stolen and life destroyed. Who is the we? That is the important question for me. The answer is simple enough, we isn’t the one being paid, it’s someone else on their self-righteous pedestal. That is really all you need to know.

The person to be paid needs to be protected by not paying them. We’ll take care of you because there is danger in being wealthy. You’re just not old enough, wise enough, careful enough, wary enough so we’ll watch out for you. This is the paternalistic nonsense that both politicians and those who want to control our lives spout almost continuously. We know what is better for you than you do yourself.

The danger lies in the fact they are sometimes quite correct. This destroying some people by the sudden accumulation of wealth is no idle fantasy. It happens. There are several options here and if you read Bush’s comments in full, he goes into them with great clarity.

His main suggestion is that young athletes be given a solid financial foundation from which they will be able to properly manage their newfound wealth. This is, without question, the best course of action. Another option is to simply give them the money and some percentage will fall victim to rogues. The final option is to tell them they just are not capable of managing the money and therefore you are doing them a favor by prohibiting them from having it.

When you examine these three options with a clear mind, it is obvious the third choice, withholding the money, is far and away the must unethical and disgusting. The terrible part is this is exactly what we’ve been doing for the last who knows how many years. Even worse, I’m sure you can find any number of people who will still argue it right now and they’ll think Bush was doing the same. He wasn’t.

Let people make their own mistakes while giving them as many tools as you can to make good decisions. This is the only correct answer.

Tom Liberman

My Freedom or Our Freedom?

Our Freedom

The recent Covid-19 pandemic has brought out a lot of calls for freedom but, as usual, it’s all my freedom and not our freedom. By my freedom, I don’t mean me personally, I mean the person who is calling for it and those who think as she or he does. Everyone is all about my freedom but doesn’t seem to give much thought to ours. By our, I mean everyone who doesn’t fit into the first category.

I have the right to work in a hobby store but we can be denied the same. My medical condition should be covered by company insurance but ours should not be. I can serve in the military but we cannot. I can tell a police officer no, you can’t search my car, but we cannot. I can protest government overreach, social injustice, but we cannot.

I can tell you what to smoke, I can tell you who to marry, I can tell you what firearm to carry, I can tell you how to raise your children, what they can learn in schools, I can tell you if you can carry on your pregnancy. My freedom is of vital importance but yours is mine to control. I can dictate your ability to go into a restaurant during a pandemic. My freedom gives me the right to take away yours.

I accept this is the way the majority of people in the United States think. I accept someone will object to almost every one of the freedoms I listed above. You will come up with arguments to tell me why it’s so important one particular freedom is not really freedom at all and why you can have law enforcement assault me, imprison me, and take it away, ostensibly for the greater good.

That’s why Libertarians got a meager five percent of the vote in an election featuring an incompetent moron, incapable of stringing together a coherent sentence, and an out of touch elitist motivated largely by a sense of self-superiority.

You just don’t care about our freedom, and I despair you ever will.

Tom Liberman

You have been Buying Wine Properly All this Time

Buying Wine

Have you been buying wine properly? That’s the premise of a clickbait Facebook post from Naked Wines that’s circulating through my friends’ timeline. Lots of people are buying wine and there is certainly an interest in doing it properly. It’s not so much the article but the comments that interest me.

The premise of the article is that more expensive wines are largely the same as less expensive wine but you are paying for marketing, brand recognition, and overhead rather than the simply the wine in the bottle. The comment section was predictably filled with people who laughed at those fools who purchased expensive wine opposed to those who ridiculed bumpkins for their unsophisticated palate in cheap, sweet wines. What a surprise.

The reality of the situation is pretty clear. When buying wine, you should purchase what you want. While I might wax poetic that such is the mantra of the Libertarian, the reality is we all feel this way. We all, largely, buy the things we want to buy for a variety of different reason. Perhaps you like inexpensive wines, perhaps you don’t particularly like cheap wine but you lack the funds to purchase the wine you enjoy more, maybe you don’t have the money but want to treat yourself, maybe you find the taste of cheap wine vile and only purchase expensive bottles. In the immortal words of Tripper Harrison, it just doesn’t matter.

We can argue subjective versus objective but I’ve done that before. If you like the cheap wine then drink it. If you prefer buying wine of an expensive nature, for whatever reason, then do so. Most importantly, the kind of wines someone else purchases are their business and the only reason you are annoyed by that is feelings of inadequacy in yourself. Your underlying lack of self-worth is what drives you to criticize others in this regard, doing so makes you feel better. That’s the crime in all of this.

If you find yourself criticizing the choices of others; the wine they purchase, the sport they enjoy, their hobby, who they choose to ignore on Facebook, or any other choice, then you are the problem, not them. Look in the mirror.

If you find yourself constantly ridiculing those with different tastes than your own then you have a significant problem, not them. If you get enjoyment by putting others down, demeaning them, calling them names, it is you who is failing life.

If you want lead your life in this fashion, whatever. I’m happy with the way I am and I don’t really care all that much. Be a shit if you want but don’t expect me to care about your opinion.

As for buying wine and drinking it? My advice, enjoy.

Tom Liberman

Scot Peterson Misleading Headline

Scot Peterson Headline

Back in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Nikolas Cruz murdered seventeen young students and wounded seventeen others while the school’s resource officer, Scot Peterson, hid. A news story recently declared Scot Peterson has been reinstated and that part of the misleading headline is true, what isn’t is the picture of the Broward County Sheriff who announced it. The difference being that the sheriff pictured is a black man and Scot Peterson is a white man.

It’s entirely possible the person who chose to include the picture didn’t intend it to be misleading but there is no doubt it is just that. The picture presumably comes from the press conference in which Scot Peterson was reinstated but it seems pretty clear to me that posting a picture of someone who is not the primary person in the story is misleading at the least.

We live in an age where information is at our fingertips and those with particular agendas take advantage of this fact by putting out misleading information, twisted words, and simple lies in order to further their perceived goals. When we click on such stories, we help spread the misinformation.

I guarantee you right now, because of that picture, people think the person depicted is, in fact, Scot Peterson. I am also certain, for many people, opinions on his reinstatement is dependent on the color of his skin. If you were to show the headline with the accompanying image to people, some would demand he not be reinstated while others would insist upon doing so. However, if a picture of the real Scot Peterson was shown a percentage of those people would give the opposite answer. That’s how powerful a picture can be and that’s why it’s a Misleading Headline.

In this world of disinformation, it’s impossible to stop others from spreading their lies but you can do your best to tell the truth and point out Misleading Headlines where you can. That’s what I try to do.

Tom Liberman

Video Killed the Radio Star or Did it?

Video Killed the Radio Star

I was there the day video killed the radio star; watching in my neighbor’s room at Upham Dormitory at the University of Idaho. It was a glorious time to be alive when video killed the radio star. Momentous events that changed the world were going on all around me. Well, no, it’s all a bunch of hyperbolic nonsense, wistful memories, and wish fulfillment. Video didn’t kill the radio star and you’re not a special flower.

I’m reminded of the song Video Killed the Radio Star in relation to events going on in the world. People want to assign momentous meaning to anything and everything. This is the end! This is the beginning! Everything is different this time! It’s not. People are people and the answer to the question; did video kill the radio star is no, it didn’t.

If the radio star dies, it will be because people lose interest in the medium of radio. They listen to music on a music platform like Spotify or via internet. The musician lives on. Change is constant, nothing is the same as it was yesterday, at least if you view the world from anything other than a subatomic level, which we all do.

If the world changes it isn’t because of some external element, it’s because a whole bunch of individuals changed the way they go about their business. If the people of a country want a dictator who issues edicts with no checks and balances, no check and no balance will stop it from happening. If they believe in individual liberty with limited government control; by golly, we will have it.

The fight isn’t against a new technology but lazy minds that prefer comfort and safety over freedom. It’s just like Jonathon E told Ella in Rollerball: I’ve been thinking, Ella. Thinking a lot — and watching. It’s like people had a choice a long time ago between having all them nice things or freedom. Of course, they chose comfort.

The sky might well be falling but video didn’t kill the radio star, you did.

Tom Liberman

The Hays Code and its Effect on Strong Women in Hollywood

Strong Women in Hollywood

Way back in 1934 Hollywood Instituted the Hays Code which had a deleterious effect on the portrayal of Strong Women in Hollywood that seems to have lasted almost to present times. A while back, I wrote about the demise of the Hays Code but I didn’t examine its long-lasting negative impact on strong women at that time. My thoughts on the Hays Code and its correlation with the lack of strong women in Hollywood came to my attention last night when I was watched a Pre-Code movie called The Silver Cord.

In the Silver Cord a woman scientist, portrayed magnificently by Irene Dunn, is married to a young architect. He is offered a job at a prestigious New York architectural firm. She is, from the first moments of the film, a strong woman. She is a biologist working in a lab and clearly skilled and intelligent. When she makes it clear she will accompany her husband to New York and take a position at a laboratory that offered her a position some time ago, her boss laments her leaving but tells her she is the sort of woman who must have both a career and a marriage, that it is not a choice of one or the other.

I don’t want to get too wrapped up in the plot of the movie and how Christine, Dunn’s character, proves time and time again to be not only a strong woman but also a woman. She likes being married and very much cherishes the idea of motherhood. This is the sort of character long absent in Hollywood. She is not just a stereotypical male protagonist being portrayed by a female actor but she is a strong woman in every sense of the word.

Did the Hays Code destroy this sort of portrayal of women? It’s hard to argue against the idea. In 1933 a woman was being portrayed as a scientist, a wife, and a potential mother. She stands up to her husband and tells him if he cannot cut the Silver Cord of his overbearing mother, she will move on without him. That she cannot stand to see his career and life stifled, that is not the sort of man she can tolerate. Her soliloquy is bold, strong, and independent.

It was claimed the Hays Code was implemented to protect We the People from the degenerate influence of movies but one suspects it was fashioned, part and parcel, from the fear of white men that ideas, good ideas, were promulgating and influencing us. How often do we see that same mantra when it comes to censorship? We must be protected, like children, by the politicians.

If the Hays Code had not existed, how many movies portraying strong women might have been made in the ensuing eighty years? We will never know. We can only see the damage such paternalistic rules engender.

The Hays Code did far more damage than anyone can really calculate. Generations of strong women were not shown examples that might have fundamentally altered their lives. Generations of men did not learn of the sort of woman who makes a perfect and equal companion. What a terrible crime.

Tom Liberman

AMC Theaters versus Universal Films

AMC Theaters

AMC Theaters just announced they will no longer showcase Universal Film movies. Why are they doing it? Because Universal released Trolls World Tour directly to home viewers rather than offering it to theater chains first. Universal did this largely in response to the fact most theaters are closed because of the Covid-19 situation.

The stated problem for AMC Theaters and their CEO and President Adam Aron is simply the release of the movie in a way that bypasses the theaters. There is some truth in this but I suspect the bigger reason for the decision is that this particular release generated over $100 million in revenue. A number that is similar to the projected take for a widescreen release. This is a frightening confirmation of something the movie theater owners and operators have long feared, the end of their revenue stream.

More and more people watch their media at home and on their devices. This is undeniable. Hollywood revenue has remained relatively stable for the last eleven years after having nearly doubled in the same period prior to 2009.

Universal released Trolls World Tour directly to viewers and this is not particular strange. Plenty of content providers are doing the same but not for what are considered Blockbuster Movies. For companies like AMC Theaters the blockbuster has become the heart of their revenue stream. Independent movies continue to thrive but generate far less revenue than blockbusters. Meanwhile, streaming services like Netflix, HBO, and Amazon are taking a bigger and bigger bite out of their potential content.

AMC Theaters wants to stay in business. Universal Films wants to make as much money as possible and those two desires are now in conflict. Thus, the strongly worded letter from AMC Theaters. That letter, quite amusing if you read the whole thing, has this little gem within: Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way…. I chuckle. It is absolutely done out of pique and is punitive in nature. That boldfaced fib alone is enough to make me take Universal Film’s side in this issue.

AMC Theaters has legitimate concerns and they are desperately attempting to slow the movement of media consumption away from theaters and onto devices. Perhaps they will succeed. Maybe Universal, and other content providers, will ignore the fact they made as much from a non-theatrical release as they would have from putting the blockbuster in theaters.

Of course, if AMC Theaters goes through with this plan, they are also eliminating a major studio from their theaters and thus a large stream of revenue.

Personally, I think the steady decline of people viewing movies at the theater will continue and AMC Theaters will eventually go the way of Blockbuster Movie Rentals. Perhaps I’m wrong. Time will tell. What do you think?

Is AMC going to succeed in their threat to pull all Univeral Films?

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Tom Liberman

The Unwanted Shake Shack Government Loan

Shake Shack Government Loan

What does it tell you a Shake Shack Government Loan was returned? For a lot of people, it’s a gesture of goodwill by Shake Shack to the other small businesses that need the money more. That’s not the way this anti-government Libertarian sees it. The Shake Shack Government Loan was simply a way to make the company obligated to the government, the owners didn’t seek it, didn’t want it, didn’t ask for it, but got it anyway. Forcing them to return it.

I’m proud to say the Shake Shack founder is St. Louis hometown hero Danny Meyer. Yet another illustrious graduate of John Burroughs, a fine school my lack of academic prowess disqualified me from attending. That is not the point of today’s article.

Why would anyone get a loan they didn’t want or need? That’s a question you must ask yourself. Why would any entity be given a check they didn’t ask to receive? One of the main reasons is the United States Government is big on giving out loans, our entire financial system is largely based on giving out taxpayer money as loans, this money generally having to be repaid with interest that goes to friends of politicians.

The government is certainly using Covid-19 as an excuse to further entangle the interests of its patrons into every aspect of citizens life. This unwanted intrusion didn’t start with Covid-19. President Trump created a Welfarm State with ridiculous tariffs, the Post Office was intentionally bankrupted, the Airline Industry has been a government subsidy since its inception and resulted in the planned destruction of the highly successful passenger rail system, the entire horse meat industry was destroyed. This is how government operates in a Republic.

In a Republic there are limits to what government officials can do. There are Checks and Balances. This being the case, government officials must wile their insidious evil in different ways. One of the ways they do this is to make people and businesses their unwitting partners. The government is happy to loan you money, purchase your products at inflated prices, because they then become a partner in your enterprise. You owe them.

The Shake Shack government loan is just another in a long line of takeover attempts that have reduced the United States to a system of Crony Capitalism. At least Shake Shack saw through the subterfuge although many others do not.

We no longer have a capitalistic system here in the United States and I suspect we won’t have a Republic for much longer either.

Tom Liberman

The Daly Vodka Cure Misleading Headline

Daly Vodka Cure

Is the Daly Vodka Cure really what golfer Jon Daly was suggesting in his recent video? It’s an interesting Misleading Headline because Daly pretty much did say that his one drink a day, an entire bottle of Belvedere vodka, was the way to kill Covid-19. However, I don’t think he is really suggesting the Daly Vodka cure as a serious panacea.

If you watch the short video, he advises people to be careful and to be safe and appears, at least to me, to be joking about his Vodka Cure. Here is where it gets fairly interesting for me besides the simple Misleading Headline. I do think Daly is kidding and I think the vast majority of people will agree with me. However, I well-understand people will believe pretty much anything, regardless of how ludicrous, as long as it aligns with what they want to believe.

It’s entirely possible that thousands of people will take the Daly Vodka cure seriously. They will begin to drink a bottle of vodka, washed down with a McDonal’s diet Coke apparently, as a way to ward off the illness. I’m frankly surprised that Daly didn’t suggest his two-pack a day cigarette habit isn’t actually the miracle that warded off Covid-19 but that’s not really the point today.

Daly is a self-destructive person and his habits have wrecked his health and curtailed what was once a promising golf career. People like Daly and in many ways, he is a likeable personality. They find him humorous and entertaining. They see his life and think, why not. It’s not so bad, sure, I’ll likely die young from cancer or cirrhosis of the liver but what the heck, have fun now. And, they are right. That is to say they are right for them. Not for me.

I love life and want more of it. I don’t want to curtail my ability to go hiking, meet fit women at the gym, go out with friends, and enjoy the occasional cocktail. Daly is not of that opinion and I’m sure he is not alone. That’s none of my business. If you think drinking an entire bottle of vodka is a good idea for you, have at it. If you think it’s going to cure your case of Covid-19 when all evidence suggests heavy drinking makes you more susceptible to the disease, again, that’s your decision to make.

I’ll even turn a blind eye, although my favorite mixologist over at Sub-Zero might see it differently, to the horror of blending Belvedere Vodka with Diet Coke, though doing so offends my sensibilities greatly.

Do remember one thing, in addition to the Daly Vodka cure, Daly suggests staying safe and taking care. If you want to destroy your own life, have at it, but if you’re going to risk getting Covid-19 through risky behavior, do the rest of us the favor of staying away.

Tom Liberman

Lori Loughlin is the Covid-19 Response from the United States

Lori Loughlin

Do you want to be Lori Loughlin and fight for a long time or Felicity Huffman and take your punishment up front and move on? Sometimes in life you have a choice between suffering today or delaying the pain until later in the hopes of avoiding it altogether. It’s an interesting decision from a Game Theory perspective and I like to examine it today.

In the case of Covid-19, the United States trod the Lori Loughlin path of delaying the pain in the hopes it would go away. It didn’t and now we’re paying the price. Meanwhile countries like Japan and South Korea went the Felicity Huffman rout and took the punishment early, avoiding more disastrous consequences later.

Is one choice better than the other? If you choose to avoid punishment today there is always the chance the pain will never come. Perhaps Lori Loughlin will have the charges against her dismissed or she will not face any prison time. Felicity Huffman, on the other hand, pled guilty and served a few weeks in a minimum-security prison. She has that on her record forever but she is basically living her best life now and has been for a while.

There are arguments both ways. It’s sort of like staying in place when a hurricane is forecast for your region. If you don’t leave and the disaster doesn’t come, you’ve saved a lot of time and effort. However, if it does come, you might well die, be horribly injured, lose family members, or otherwise suffer for a long period of time.

In this case, President Trump and many of his political allies decided Covid-19 wasn’t that big a risk. That it probably wouldn’t get bad and we shouldn’t risk economic pain today for the uncertain forecasts of its dire consequences tomorrow. Some of them maintain that position even today despite the dying going on all over the country.

To be honest, we still face that very same decision right now. We are currently avoiding public gatherings but people are still getting sick and dying. The question we cannot answer is how many might have died; how bad would the economic impact be if the disease spread more quickly and widely throughout the United States? How bad might it get if we give up on social distancing too early?

It’s not unreasonable to conclude that had people continued to congregate normally the eventual economic impact could have been far worse. If huge numbers of people got sick then everyone would isolate without prompting from the government, merely out of self-preservation. This would hurt the economy far worse than we are currently experiencing.

Of course, it might not have been that bad. That’s the risk you take when you decide to avoid pain today in hopes it won’t arrive, and be significantly worse, tomorrow. It’s the decision you face right now in regards to social distancing. Accept the suffering today? Put it off and hope it won’t be so bad tomorrow?

Perhaps Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman might give us cogent answers to these questions. As for me, I think it’s better to take the consequences today rather than suffer later, you may disagree.

Tom Liberman

Should Christians Welcome Death?

Christians Welcome Death

The questions of should Christians Welcome Death is an interesting one and in the news of late because Reverend Tony Spell said exactly that in encouraging his religious followers to attend church amid the Covid-19 Pandemic. It’s important to understand that Spell is absolutely correct with his Christians welcome death sentiment. What, what, what?

There’s no denying it. The bible is clear what awaits Christians after their death and who would not want that? The question is the essence of Pascal’s Wager which I argued against in a previous blog. Those of you who argue for Pascal’s Wager must also agree that Christians welcome death.

Now, you might ask, why not just encourage Christians to commit suicide? Believe it or not, that’s exactly what Christians were doing before Saint Augustine decided to interpret, Thou Shall Not Kill to mean Thou Shall not Kill Thyself. I won’t go into his logic on the subject, let us just accept church doctrine.

What Spell is saying is that going to heaven, essentially dying, is a good thing in the mind of any true believer and I find no flaw in his logic. If that’s the case but Christians must also not commit suicide, we have a fairly clear path. Engage in behavior that is life-threatening as often as possible. A clear way to do this, particularly if you are elderly or health compromised, is to put yourself in a position to get a disease that might well kill you. Gather at churches to pray and if you get Covid-19, if you get sick, if you die, more the better.

Naturally, you are risking the lives of those around you as well, but that’s not a big deal because it’s all god’s will anyway. If he wants me to contract Covid-19 from you and then pass it along to my elderly mother, causing her death, that’s all good anyway, even though she doesn’t believe in your god.

If you believe that the bible is the word of god; you believe that adulterers should be stoned, rapists must be punished by being forced to marry their victim and pay the father, and that Christians welcome death.

To be clear, I don’t welcome death. I love life. I want more living. More pretty girls. More time at the gym. More time with my friends. More whiskey. More good food. More laughs. More, my friends, give me more! Then again, I’m not a Christian and I never will be.

Tom Liberman

Being a Good Christian

Good Christian

What do I see as Good Christian behavior? Selfish, angry, violent, intolerant, murderous, money-worshipping, self-righteous, arrogant, bereft of personal responsibility. These are the words the immediately leap to my mind. Now, I’m an Atheist so feel free to look at your disgusting religion through rose-colored glasses and ignore me. I’m telling you what I see.

I recognize there are many people, some my friends, who claim the Christian faith and are not these things, but those who think of themselves this way are the outliers. I’ve had many conversations with Christians who don’t agree with mainstream doctrine in regards to transgenders, Muslims, homosexuals, atheist, Democrats; yet you support the leaders that make statements against these people. Good Christians are you, and I see your vile behavior every day in media outlets of all kinds.

That’s not me, you say, I’m a good person. Yet, you sat in your churches day after day listening to the hatred and did nothing. It’s not that you are losing your religion, it’s lost. You sat in silence while it descended into hate fueled, fact ignoring, cruelty and outright evil. You did nothing and now it’s gone. So, don’t tell me you’re a decent human being, you are part and parcel of it all, don’t fool yourself.

Now you try and post kind, helpful things on your Social Media outlets in an effort to pretend you are not part of the disgusting, murderous, cult that, on those infrequent occasions you actually consult your morality, sickens your stomach. You are the problem; you are a Good Christian.

Good Christians are willing to sacrifice anyone who disagrees with their doctrine, they do not care, they do not help, they are invested in hurting anyone and everyone who they see as a threat. Good Christians fund this hate-machine that spews its bile on everything decent and kind.

A Good Christian really isn’t about religion anymore. They are a social movement, a political movement, a monolithic assault on freedom, which is a subject I take quite seriously.

Don’t fool yourself, you are a Good Christian and that’s not anything to brag about.

Tom Liberman

The Inherent Corruption of an Essential Business

Essential Business

What is an essential business? Covid-19 is forcing state and local governments across the United States to make this determination and the methodology being used once again gives me an opportunity to go on a Libertarian Rant.

Being designated an essential business means you continue to collect revenue when others cannot. This is an enormous incentive for owners to get the government to declare them an essential business. The idea is simple enough, what business must stay open in order for people to survive? Yet, the implementation, when handed to people who are susceptible to bribery, influence, and even threats becomes something entirely different.

In the world we live in, an essential business is simply one where the owners have enough influence with government officials to be declared such. I’m not picking on one business or another, frankly, they probably should be bribing and threatening local politicians to stay open as it means they continue their revenue stream when everyone else cannot.

The point is that essential is largely meaningless when government gets to define it. If we got together and talked about it or five minutes we’d come up with a pretty definitive list. Food and water, medical supplies and service, and HVAC depending on the season. As an aside, the preceding sentence demonstrates the necessity of the Oxford Comma.

Once government becomes involved, it’s all essential if you pay those making the decisions enough. All you have to do is have a friend in government and your business gains an enormous competitive advantage. Your employees can be forced to come into work and do their jobs. Now, for many employees this is a good thing although certainly some would prefer not to risk their lives doing so, that’s not really the point.

The reality of anything being an essential business at this time of Covid-19 illustrates the problem with having government make these decisions for us. If you run a business type that doesn’t have influence, you don’t get to decide for yourself if you should be open, the government makes that decision for you.

I’m not saying staying open is necessarily a good thing, if a bunch of your employees and customers get Covid-19 and die that’s horrific. I’m just saying when government decides what is an essential business rather than consumers, we get clearly non-essential businesses staying open. That’s the problem with having government make decisions for us. They force bad decisions on us. We should be free to make those bad decisions ourselves.

Tom Liberman

The Vulnerability of the Faithful to Scams

Vulnerability of the Faithful

With Covid-19 spreading around the United States and the rest of the world I wanted to address a topic that has long been on my radar, the vulnerability of the faithful to scams. People of deep religious convictions are considered faithful. This means they believe in their deity without proof, I do not mean to ridicule, that’s the necessity of faith. If their deity were to reveal itself in absolute terms, that would eliminate the nature of faith which is crucial to many of the devoted. This belief without proof makes those so inclined, in my opinion, vulnerable.

The vulnerability of the faithful is not something new. Turkey has an entire industry devoted to giving tours to the wreckage of Noah’s Ark. Confidence tricksters have long known that attaching the words “good Christian” to their endeavors will allow them to take money far more readily from the faithful.

This vulnerability of the faithful was first demonstrated to me years ago when an acquaintance of mine got involved in a patent scam. She paid tens of thousands of dollars to get the patent approved. I happen to know a very good patent attorney and when I tried to dissuade her from the path, to speak with him, she just looked at me and told me that it was a “good Christian company.” I gave up.

We are once again seeing the vulnerability of the faithful, this time in relation to a terrible disease. Cures are being peddled across the United States and often their targets are good Christians. They appeal to the faith of these people. This appeal is the main weapon such confidence tricksters have in their arsenal. Believe me, trust me, I know better than those other people, those scientists. I know you’re afraid but give me some of your money and I’ll make it all better.

I completely accept those of faith believe in their deity with absolute conviction and there is little or nothing I can say to dissuade them. That being said, please, keep your faith to religion. Do not let it drive your thinking in more practical matters. Don’t buy a car on faith. Don’t send your child to a daycare on faith. And, absolutely, do not buy a cure for Covid-19 based on faith. It’s not only your life at stake but those around you. Not to mention the money.

Tom Liberman

Lego Masters or how to Mess up a Good Idea

Lego Masters

Lego Masters reality show! I can’t tell you how excited I was when I saw the first promotion for this show. Teams of Lego Masters building complicated designs and being judged by professionals in the field? What isn’t to like about that? Elimination competition, cool Lego builds, reality drama! Bring it on! Let’s go! Today, I want the episodes to start now! I want Season Two!

It’s a wreck. I’m willing to admit my hatred of the result is certainly a product of my expectations. I thought it was going to be amazing and it leaves me bored, disappointed, and simply angry at the bad choices they’ve made. If I thought it was going to be awful and it was, I’d shrug my shoulders and move on. After last night’s episode, I’m so triggered that I have to write a blog. So, buckle your seatbelts, prepare for rants, gird your loins, build a Lego fallout shelter; I’m going to explain all the mistakes.

Problem number one is the challenges are completely unfair to the competitors. No one has the same challenge! Seriously. Everyone is given different objectives. The premier episode got it right. They were all to build a section of an amusement park centered around an epic ride. That gives the audience immediate understanding of the challenge and we get to see creative differences immediately arise. Who has a good idea? Who has a bad idea? How does each team implement their plan? Good stuff. We got it for one week.

Week three illustrates the problem. The competitors were given an object to cut in half and they were to fancifully build the second half. The problem? Everyone had different objects. Therefore, it’s completely unfair to the teams and judges. One gets an exciting and dynamic object while another gets a static and dull object. It’s also impossible for the judges to rate the teams. The third problem with this format is that ten to fifteen minutes of the show are wasted showing us each of the different objects for the teams. If there was one object for all to finish that takes a minute, the creativity of the teams is paramount, and judging is based on an equal scale.

It’s not hard. It’s really not. Create a store at a mall. Create a floor in a skyscraper. Create a bucolic country scene for a kid to view while traveling cross country on vacation. You had it right in the first episode and abandoned it. Yarg!!

The second issue is that Will Arnett is performing skits with guest hosts and others for about half the Lego Masters show. Meanwhile we don’t get to see anyone building. In the most recent episode, the winning team had a supervillain and sidekick that were a Pharaoh and Scorpion Queen. This gave them a huge advantage over the Bathtub Guy and Plant Girl team, see above for my rant about that. In any case, we saw them laying the groundwork for their structure and after all the skits and guest host nonsense, we see the finished product! Seriously, almost zero building, zero design, zero planning. Nothing.

The Golden Brick is a disaster. The idea is the team that wins one week gets a Golden Brick they can use to stave off elimination subsequently. They hold the brick for as long as they want. This created an enormous problem last week when the Superhero/Supervillain teams combined builds to make a battle between their original builds. Well, the team that had the Golden Brick had no pressure and the team paired with them and the other teams weren’t on a level playing field. Immunity, fine. But the Golden Brick just doesn’t work this late in the game or when there is a combined team competition. It’s fine for the first couple of weeks, maybe.

I’m willing to give the judges somewhat of a pass because problem number one makes their job all but impossible. Still, I will touch on the idea of their inherent unequal treatment of contestants. Two of the contestants, Aaron and Christian, were significantly more experienced and skilled than most of the other teams. The judges seemed to rate their efforts largely on the idea that their builds should be not better than the other teams, but much better! Anything less than awesome was bad.

This was illustrated in the last episode. Their build was clearly better than poor Bathtub and Plant team, who again, were at a huge disadvantage from the start. Still, the better build should win.

I hope they get Lego Masters right next season because it could be amazing. As it is, it’s unbearably sad to watch.

Tom Liberman

Candidates Chess Tournament Suspension is a Big Can of Worms

Candidates Chess Tournament

The 2020 Candidates Chess Tournament being held in Russia was suspended on March 26th upon reaching the halfway point and this is a big old giant mess. As my few loyal fans know, I’m a chess nerd, so this is big news for me. The Candidates Chess Tournament is held every two years with the winner going on to play the current World Chess Champion for the title.

As most people are aware, there is a pandemic spreading across the globe at the moment and this caused Russian officials to suspend all air flights. This means the players in the tournament will have no way to leave Russia at the conclusion of the tournament. This being the case, it was decided to suspend the Candidates Chess Tournament and resume after the crisis ends.

This series of events is a nightmare. First of all, the tournament is an eight-player round-robin event. One of the eight, Teimour Radjabov, had strong concerns about going on with the event in the first place and asked the FIDE, the governing body, to postpone the event. They said they could not do so and he decided to withdraw. In his place a fellow named Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was allowed to participate. MVL, as he is affectionally called, is currently tied for first place.

So, where does that leave us? A mess, that’s where. Radjabov has a legitimate complaint that he should be allowed into the tournament because it was suspended as he asked for it to be, essentially, he was right and the FIDE was wrong. Meanwhile, MVL shouldn’t have been there in the first place and if he wins then all the other players have complaints. Even if MVL loses, he defeated other players that perhaps Radjabov would not have beaten and the entire standings are essentially compromised.

The winner of the tournament will be tainted, through no fault of their own but that of circumstance. If the winner of the tournament is tainted then what happens if that person defeats reigning champion Magnus Carlsen and become the new world chess champion? As we of the tribe are prone to say, Oy Vey.

Preparation is thrown into flux as well. Carlsen has a much shorter time to prepare for his opponent whereas his foe can use this delay to work on a game plan against Carlsen. Does the can of worms ever end?

I can’t even lay all the blame on the FIDE, yes, they should have postponed the tournament from the start but there were legitimate reasons to continue. Postponing would have been a difficult decision that brought its own problems as far as scheduling and preparation work as mentioned above. There weren’t any good answers.

Honestly, at this point, I say forget it. Let Carlsen keep the trophy for two more years.

Tom Liberman

The False Choice of Economy or Lives

False Choice

People in the United States are being bombarded with the false choice of either ruining the economy or losing tens of thousands, if not more, lives to the novel coronavirus, Covid-19. Giving us a false choice is something government and fear mongers are quite fond of doing and we are seeing an extreme example of the tactic and the damage it does. Let me explain.

On one side of the false choice is the idea that millions will die if the government doesn’t force people to stay home and avoid spreading Covid-19 rapidly to the entire population. The opposite side of this coin is the impression if the government enforces such an order the economy of the United States will collapse and this will cause more damage than the lives lost.

That is the false choice being presented to the public and being championed on social media and online forums throughout the country and indeed the world. The problem is that neither is largely true or largely false. The reality is somewhere in between and the government has far less influence than you imagine.

Long before various local and state governments started to give shelter in place orders, before they started closing schools and businesses, people were practicing enlightened self-interest on their own. Many people don’t want to get the disease or pass it along to vulnerable members of their family or friends. Businesses were shutting down on their own. The economy suffered and continues to do so.

Meanwhile, despite orders not to congregate, people around the United States continue to gather in large crowds at churches, on beaches, in public transportation centers, and at shopping venues. No amount of government intervention can prevent people from acting to their own detriment. People are continuing to catch Covid-19, to fill hospitals, to overrun available resources, and to die.

In other words; no matter what the government does, the economy will suffer and people will die. If state and local government acts more aggressively or less, it is certain the suffering in lives or economic ruin will shift in one direction or the other but both outcomes are already assured, despite the false choice offered by those who wish to divide us for their own gain.

The central theme of my novel, The Gray Horn, is this false choice offered by those who wish to separate us, who desire us to fight so they might take away our freedom. Both sides claim the choice is vital, that our lives, our financial well-being, is at stake. We must choose one or the other. This is the false choice.

Act in your enlightened self-interest as best you can. Try to avoid places where you might catch Covid-19 and then pass it along to loved ones. Meanwhile do your best to support local businesses. Understand that some people will die, the economy will suffer. The false choice offered by government is actually no choice at all.

Tom Liberman