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

The Philosophy of Pasta Sauce

Pasta Sauce

A philosophically inclined friend of mine recently posited a tongue in cheek question about her batch of pasta sauce and her family’s disinterest in eating said treat. Is it delicious if no one eats it? While frivolous and fun, it is also an interesting question from a philosophical standpoint and, because I am unable or unwilling to resist the temptation to dive into such a feast, I shall attempt to examine it.

It is obviously a twist on the old if a tree falls in the forest question but there is an important difference. When a tree falls in the forest there is a sound save and this is a measurable phenomenon. Even if no one is there to hear the noise, it exists on a physical realm. Now, certainly pasta sauce exists in a physical way and taste buds in our mouths react to those flavors. But the idea of delicious is a construct, it does not exist physically but metaphysically.

Deliciousness itself is a subjective idea, its nature as a construct defines it as such. I find certain whiskeys quite delicious while others describe the taste of the same beverage in less favorable terms. If no one eats the pasta sauce then it cannot be delicious nor can it be vile. Yet, the pasta sauce is clearly made up of physical things that have flavors. If we compare those flavors with others that people have described as delicious, then it is certainly fair to suggest that Ellen’s pasta sauce most certainly is delicious despite it not having been tasted by her ungrateful family.

Much like Schrodinger’s cat, the pasta sauce appears to be in a state of quantum superposition. I know this will appeal to my friend whose dissertation is entitled, Mental Disorder in a Biomedical Age: Problems with Symptoms, Perils of Reduction. Yes, I know I’m a cyberstalker. Before she married herself off to a great fellow, before she gave birth to a pair of lovely children, and before she prepared her batch of pasta sauce, I was crushing on her at the gym. That is neither here nor there and we must return to the topic at hand.

Is the pasta sauce delicious? I think I’ve shown, with some logical consistency, that it is not delicious at all and it is quite delicious at the same time. I suspect you will find this conclusion as unsatisfying as a bowl of pasta, dripping with delightful sauce, of which you are not allowed to partake. Philosophy can be that way.

Take care and attempt to eat the pasta we call life with as much gusto as you can manage.

Tom Liberman

United States Government now a Sopranos Associate

Sopranos Associate

With this latest, and unstoppable, economic bailout the United States now officially declares itself a Sopranos Associate. The government currently owes $22 trillion and, with the stimulus package in the works, that number is going to rise more rapidly that in any time in the history of the country. What you have to understand is that this is borrowed money on which interest is paid by taxpayers.

In the criminal world this is called Loan Sharking which was one of the main methods in which a Sopranos Associate made money, off which they pay a percentage to Tony Soprano and the rest of his criminal organization. In government, they call this debt service but it’s the same thing.

The United States borrows money from bankers and wealthy people, largely Chinese and Saudi Arabians, who purchase Treasury Bonds and then pay interest on this loan with the intent of eventually paying the principle amount back. As any good Sopranos Associate knows, you don’t ask for all the money back at once, you bleed them slowly with what is called vigorish, or vig, in the criminal world but interest in the banking world.

I wrote about how the Post Office of the United States was deliberately driven into bankruptcy in order to take out loans so taxpayer money could be used for the vig to bankers. This is essentially what has happened to the entire United States government and we the taxpayers are paying the bill for the degenerate gambling politicians who, it must be admitted, we elected in the first place.

I’ve said for many years now that there is no chance the principle amount of the loan will be paid off and the entire debt is largely a way to redistribute taxpayer money to friends of politicians. If you are unwilling to admit this reality now, well, I suppose I’ll never convince you and just stop reading.

The saddest part about all of this is that we are the ones getting run over by the $60K Lexus but it is our elected officials who borrowed all the damn money. We didn’t even get to do any gambling and that Sopranos Associate, the United States government, is having all the fun.

The end of the story? World governments go bankrupt and forgive all the debt. In the meantime, your money is going to a Loan Sharking Sopranos Associate who is buying vacation homes, renting yachts for family vacations, and generally doing all the things with your money that you should be doing yourself.

Tom Liberman

The Culpability of China and President Trump

Culpability of China

There is an interesting phenomenon going on in regards to the culpability of China and the culpability of President Trump in the spread of Coronavirus or Covid-19. The gist of the situation is that both China and President Trump committed largely the same sin but, from a political perspective, it is expedient to blame one side but not the other. Let me explain.

The first cases of Covid-19 started in China. Doctors and scientists in the region quickly realized this was an easily communicable and relatively deadly version of Coronavirus. This made it far more of a public health threat, particularly with the global nature of travel, than any other disease since perhaps the Spanish Flu.

The Chinese government refused to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and even punished doctors who tried to get the word out. This led to the disease having time to spread to a larger group of people before action was taken. This explains the culpability of China in the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, the quick and easy communication of the disease spread it around the world very quickly. The leaders of certain nations, Japan and South Korea come to mind, immediately accepted the scientific and medical advice they were given and began programs designed to stem the disease in their country.

In the United States, President Trump and many Republicans had the opposite reaction. They decided to make it a political talking point, downplaying the danger and even referring to it as a hoax perpetuated by the other party. They ignored the advice of medical professionals and scientists. This inaction, for several weeks, directly impacted, and continues to effect, how quickly the disease is spreading through the United States.

Now, to the point of my entire blog. It is clear those who rightfully wish to point out the culpability of China choose to completely ignore the fact that President Trump is equally guilty of malfeasance. Of putting his own interests in front of the people he is supposed to leading.

Meanwhile, those who correctly blame President Trump’s inaction for the deaths that are now happening across the United States choose to ignore the culpability of China in the spread of the disease.

I would like to say, hey, idiots, you can’t ignore the stupidity of one party when the person you support did exactly the same thing. That would be naïve of me. People can and are doing just that and not even thinking twice about it, they have a smile on their face while they attack one of the culprits while bending over backward to defend the other. Meanwhile, people are dying.

In my novel, the Gray Horn, I try to illustrate the idea we are often given a false choice. Heads or tails. One party is completely guilty and the other completely innocent. This is a lie. The coin has another side. The culpability of China does not absolve President Trump and vice-versa.

Tom Liberman

The Airline Industry is a Gigantic Government Boondoggle

Airline Industry

The Airline Industry in the United States was largely brought into existence and continues to be propped up by your tax dollars. It now looks like another $54 billion is going to be spent to keep it going. Yikes. Why are we propping up an industry that has largely failed to be profitable since its inception?

To fully understand how much of your tax dollars have gone into the airline industry we have to go back to the beginning. The Contract Air Mail Act of 1925 essentially allowed airlines to exist and they would not have turned a profit if not for government contracts. Since then the airline industry has continued to be largely dependent on the government for survival.

Without government contracts, military and government passengers paid for by you, employees trained at taxpayer expense, military breakthroughs in aviation, funding for research, the Essential Air Service, propping the industry up after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, ongoing payments to maintain staff and service airports, the industry would not exist in its current form.

In addition, the result of all these tax dollars put into the airline industry by the government was the utter destruction of the profitable and highly used passenger rail system that largely no longer exists in the United States but is functioning with great success in almost every other country in the world.

So, now, after all this, we are being asked to once again save the airline industry from bankruptcy. Hey, how about we let the unprofitable airlines fail, allow autonomous cars to transport us relatively short distances on our own schedule, and rebuild the passenger rail system without tax dollars? Those airlines that can run profitably without taxpayer dollars will do so.

Your tax dollars are the only reason many small airports across the country exist. That’s what the Essential Air Service act ensures. The government keeps small airports open even though they have no hope of ever being financially independent.

We never should have used tax payer dollars and government mandates to create the airline industry and now, all these years later, we’re continuing to pay for that mistake. Let’s put a stop to it, now is the opportunity to do so.

The mantra of a Libertarian: Let them fail.

Tom Liberman

The War in Afghanistan is a Libertarian Nightmare

War in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan is coming to an end, or is it? This war is a realized nightmare from a Libertarian perspective. We never should have started the War in Afghanistan. We should not still be prosecuting it. President Trump has announced an agreement to withdraw U.S. troops and I applaud the sentiment but the execution is going to lead to horrific consequences for many, particular those opposed to the draconic Taliban rule of Sharia Law.

This nightmare has it roots with President Reagan and the fact he essentially created the Taliban because they fought against Russian occupation. It wends its insidious horrors through the presidencies of all who followed escalating with President Bush’s invasion. U.S. soldiers have been giving life and limb in that country for nearly twenty years and now we are planning a full retreat.

Make no mistake about this so-called agreement with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan. The Trump administration claims details of the treaty must be kept secret from the people of the United States in order to save the lives of U.S. soldiers. This is a lie on its face. You must remember, the people who signed it are the enemy. They know all its contents and we the people of the United States do not. Taliban leadership is fully aware of every crossed t and dotted i in the document.

The agreement asks the Taliban not to support terrorist organizations but how on earth are you going to check for that? What, those rascals blew up a convoy of girls going to school? Well, we didn’t support that, it was rogue elements. So sorry. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Meanwhile, with the agreement supposedly in place, they are attacking Afghani government sites at an increased pace. They’ve temporarily ramped down attacks on U.S. soldiers because they correctly surmise, we just don’t give a poop about Afghani citizens or their government, only about us. Harsh truths.

We are running away and leaving the country in a far more terrible position than we found it. The Taliban are going to take over, women and those who believe in freedom are going to suffer and die. Terrorist and anti-U.S. elements will flock the nation and gain support in their attacks against us.

Is continuing the war in Afghanistan any better? Will losing more lives, alienating people through endless drone attacks that kill more civilians than terrorist, that radicalize far more people than they kill, will that make the situation better? No, no it won’t.

President Trump is correct, it’s time to leave. I wish he’d stop pretending this isn’t a full retreat. I wish he’d stop lying about enforcing the unenforceable. I wish we’d just get out and admit we lost. There will be hell to pay, as the saying goes. It’s a mess and the only solution is as WOPR so eloquently suggested, “Strange game, the only winning move is not to play.”

Tom Liberman

Government Responsibility for Fake Coronavirus Cures

Fake Coronavirus Cures

Coronavirus, Covid-19, is big news around the world these days and I like to examine what responsibility government has to protect citizens from the plethora of fake Coronavirus cures that are being promulgated far and wide.

As a Libertarian I don’t think the government has much responsibility in protecting us from ourselves. I oft rail against the War on Drugs as a failed attempt to do so. I’ve likewise spoken out against gambling laws but it is quite clear the internet is filled with fake Coronavirus cures and anyone taking these puts themselves, and others, at risk.

The basic idea for government intervention goes back as far as con-artists have been trying to take advantage of people. Someone recognizes a situation in which people are desperate, perhaps not thinking clearly, and attempts to take financial advantage of them with fraudulent claims. This constitutes a crime, fraud. The snake-oil salesperson sold you something under false pretenses and you are entitled to compensation for damages rendered.

In this case, the potential for damage is quite high as Coronavirus can be lethal. Perhaps you purchase a fake Coronavirus cure and then engage in risky activities because you think you are immune. Soon you or someone you come in contact with gets sick and dies. That’s significant from a legal perspective in awarding damages for fraud. Good. Damages should be awarded. This is the judicial branch of government doing what it should.

However, this situation involves the law enforcement arm of government ordering fake Coronavirus cures removed from sale altogether. In New York, for example, a silver cure offered by a religious figure is no longer legal to sell.

The question for me becomes, if someone believes an absolutely nonsensical claim and wastes money on a fake cure, is it the responsibility of the government to protect that person. You’d think the answer was quite simple. The threat is real, the cure is obviously fake, what is the harm in removing it from the public eye?

Here are my issues. Fake Coronavirus cures aren’t going away because the government bans them. While one particular phony cure will be eliminated from the market, a dozen others, rebranded and marketed will appear.

Can the government stop people from offering prayer as a way to cure or ward off the disease? Trust me, there are religious groups across the country offering this method as a curative. Should preachers who offer it be subject to arrest and imprisonment?

This is where government tries to protect us from ourselves. I have no problem with government agencies speaking loudly and clearly about the efficacy of reported treatments. I have no problem with media entities refusing to run advertisements for these products, I applaud them for doing so.

The reality is the government cannot protect us from phony Coronavirus cures. Only we can do that with critical thinking. When the government attempts to do so, they actually give people the impression there are no more fake cures out there, seeing as they have been restricted. Therefore, when you do see a cure, it must be real, right, because the government hasn’t banned it yet.

The only real solution is to be a responsible adult and make good decisions. Will people make stupid decisions? Certainly. That’s life. Does that mean we all might be infected because someone is an idiot, yep.

Freedom is free, it just isn’t safe.

Tom Liberman

Garrison Brothers Whiskey and Governor Perry

Garrison Brothers Whiskey

I attended an event at the whiskey place down the street, Gamlin Whiskey House, to learn about Garrison Brothers Whiskey and during the talk found yet another reason to hate government. One of the Garrison brothers mentioned that it was illegal to distill whiskey in Texas when he and his brother started up their business. Only the personal intervention of Governor Perry allowed it to take place. You’d imagine I’m happy about that but you’d be wrong and I’m here to explain why.

Apparently, the Garrison lads were learning how to distill in those early years but not actually selling any product. They knew what they were doing was illegal in the state of Texas but nobody really cared as they weren’t in a commercial business.

The distillery is located in Hye, Texas which is not far from the state capital of Austin. This means that Perry happened across it one day. Perry also happens to be a whiskey drinker. Imagine, if you will, that the Garrison Brothers distillery was not located near Austin, that Perry was a teetotaler, that Perry’s wife had bad romance with one of the brothers. Where would Garrison Brothers be then? That’s the root of the problem.

Yes, it’s nice that the government of Texas allowed the Garrison Brothers to legally distill and sell their whiskey. However, it’s awful that the government is in a position to allow or disallow such activity. The Garrison Brothers should be able to distill their whiskey and sell it with or without government support. You only have to look at the horse meat industry to understand the government can put anyone out of business, at any time, with the stroke of a pen.

Certainly, the government has the right to obtain a sample of the whiskey, send it to a laboratory, analyze it, and publish the result of that analysis. Let the public know if the whiskey has so much alcohol that it is toxic. If the whiskey is toxic then the law enforcement arm of the government can spring into action.

Whiskey reviewers have the right to purchase the whiskey and assign it a grade and the government should be able to do the same thing.

The whiskey, you ask? It’s made with high desert water from Texas and local produce so it has a different overall feel than Kentucky or Tennessee whiskey. It is softer in the mouth and doesn’t have that immediate striking feel on the tongue and roof of the mouth but has a lingering and lovely flavor on the side of the mouth and down the throat.

My recommendation? Next time you go whiskey shopping, purchase a bottle. You might find it becomes a go to brand or you might not find it to your taste. That’s a choice for you to make, not the government.

Tom Liberman

Should Lynching be a Federal Crime

Lynching

Lynching will soon be a federal crime if President Trump signs a bill to that effect. The bill passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming 410-4 vote and passed through the Senate without opposition so it seems unlikely to be vetoed.

To understand my objection to this law I must explain that I think any law must have a well-defined, non-paternalistic, and useful purpose. If a law doesn’t have all these things, it is a danger to freedom.

A law that is not well-defined is, by its very nature, open to abuse. Law enforcement officials are put in the position of enforcing a law based on their judgment. This means that groups of people who are, for whatever reason, perceived as less important will suffer the brunt of enforcement. We need not look any further than poorly written traffic laws which result in a hugely disproportionate number of citations against minorities and poor people.

A paternalistic law is essentially the government telling an individual how to lead their own life because the majority thinks they know better. The War on Drugs is an example of this kind of law. This war has caused far more harm than it has prevented.

In this case the law is useless from a legal perspective. No one has been lynched in the United States since 1955 when Emmett Till was brutally killed. He is the last of the estimated 4,733 people so murdered. If no one has committed this crime in sixty years then what is the point of having a law against it? No lives will be saved and no criminals brought to justice who would have otherwise escaped penalty.

That is not to say the law is without purpose, it is just without useful purpose. The law has political purpose. It gives legislators a way to tell voters they are doing something, they care. It is a backward way of apologizing for allowing all of those lynching to take place at all.

If you want to apologize, and believe me, an apology is owed, then do so. I’m sorry that I am part of a government that allowed nearly five thousand people to be brutally murdered without any attempt to bring the criminals that did so to justice. It is a stain on the honor of my country, my state, and my municipality. It is a sickening example of the irrational hate and to the horror such hate allows people to engage in. The fact it was tolerated is vile and I am ashamed that it happened. This law does not make such an apology. It is almost an affront to a real apology. It is a fake apology designed purely for political gain.

What good will this law do? What criminal will it bring to justice? It is even possible it might be manipulated in the future to further penalize someone the government doesn’t like. Let us not pretend such things do not happen.

If a law does not have a well-defined, non-paternalistic purpose, let us not make the law. Even if the law is against an activity that should clearly never be tolerated, as is the case here. Lynching was and remains disgusting. This law doesn’t do anything to prevent it, it does nothing to bring criminals to justice and that must be the explicit purpose of any law.

If you are looking for a way to improve the plight of minorities in this country I’d suggest a look at traffic violations and the War on Drugs.

Tom Liberman

Planetary Economics 102 with Professor Blortstein

Planetary Economics

“Welcome to Planetary Economics 102,” said the squat figure sitting in a comfortable chair and wearing starched blue shirt that matched his azure gills nicely. “I’m professor Blortstein.” He stared at a halo of images that floated around him and waved a long appendage which caused one of them to glow a bright green.

“Yuvurl,” he said with a glance at the image which had a long and flexible neck topped by a large head and bulbous eyes. “Last semester we discussed planetary economics leading to the demise of a commodity-based currency. Please give us a recap.”

“Improved medical technology increases live birth rates and extends life in general. This obviously results in a large increase in total population. This growth cannot be matched by new discoveries of the commodity to which the currency is tied.”

“Which results in …,” said Blortstein with another wave of his appendage causing a second image, this of a young woman with bright purple skin, a narrow head, two green eyes, and an unusually large number of metallic pieces attached to her face. “Miss Mie?”

“The total economic outlay the world requires is limited by the supply of the commodity and thus growth is restricted and becomes increasingly so as populations increase. One nation, generally the most populous, begins to distribute loans not backed by the commodity.”

“Very good,” said Blortstein. “Now, what happens next?”

Mie continued with a flick of her long hair, “The nations that original enforced the commodity-based economy, generally those that emerged victorious in some particular virulent and global conflict, are pressured into withdrawing the system.”

“What causes this pressure?” said Blortstein with a wave which caused yet another image to glow green.

That student, a golden creature with a long and narrow neck and a mouth capped by a narrow and sharp beak continued, “The pressure comes in several fashions. In one case the leaders of the country who are trying to enforce the commodity-based currency realize they are falling behind because they cannot proceed with enterprise projects. Another factor is many of the large business entities within that country see the enormous profits to be had and begin investing large sums in the aforementioned country.”

“Excellent,” said Blortstein with a nod of his head. “So, now we get to the subject of this semester’s class of Planetary Economics. What happens next?” Another wave of his hand and yet another student chosen to speak.

A round-faced fellow with many freckles on his pale skin took up the conversation, “The leaders of the various countries show sensible restraint and refuse to excessively commit the nation’s treasury to a fiat currency system and growth continues but at a sustainable pace.”

The class erupted in laughter.

“Very good, Mr. Lebushi. Very good. Now, Miss Mei, do you have an alternate conjecture?

“As a crisis arises …,” she started.

“A real crisis?” asked Blortstein.

The girl smiled and shook her head with a clink-clank of her adornments. “I suppose it might be a real crisis but more like a perceived crisis or even a manufactured crisis designed to enrich the friends and backers of the leaders of the country. In any case, the nature of the crisis little matters, what is important is that the nations of the world start an inevitable splurge of spending.”

Blortstein nodded his head and smiled, “This spending quickly outpaces the economic wealth of first one nation then the next and eventually the entire system of planetary economics. The new system relies on loaned money; that is to say, money promised to be repaid but not actually in existence. Enterprise projects proceed apace, loans to the general population for shelter, mobility, and other basic needs continue as well. Debt piles up in a manner that cannot possibly be repaid.”

There was silence in the class for a moment as they waited for the professor to proceed.

“Now,” continued Blortstein. “We come to the subject of this semester’s class. What happens next? Some worlds are able navigate this treacherous period and emerge with an economy based on abundance and join the galactic community. Others are not as fortunate.”

Tom Liberman

Will Vegetarians Eat Cultured Meat?

Cultured Meat

Have you heard of cultured meat? It’s a process of growing meat from the cells of animals. Cultured meat is coming to a market near you probably within the next five to ten years. There are a number of questions about the product but I’m mainly curious about the attitude of Vegans and Vegetarians; although everyone’s comments are welcome.

There are any number of benefits that cultured meat provides and one of these is that animals don’t suffer in the process. I think even animal husbandry die-hards will admit animals suffer in their industry. We have to admit billions of male chicks being summarily tossed into the incinerator isn’t a pleasant thought, even for those of us that enjoy eating the animals. I will not venture further down that path as it is not the point of my article.

Certainly, many vegetarians don’t eat meat for health reasons rather than concern for the welfare of animals but I think most people who eschew eating meat do so, at least partially, because of the suffering animals must endure. People also do so because of the negative environmental impacts associated with raising so many animals. Both of these concerns are at least largely removed if we eat such meat.

That leads to the question I posed in the title of this post. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, would you eat cultured meat? Naturally, I’d like to hear from those who eat meat regularly also. I’m sure there are meat eaters out there who see cultured meat as a threat to the livelihood of those who raise cattle and chickens and would refuse to eat it for that reason. The situation is somewhat muddy as to who will partake in cultured meat and why they would be willing to do so.

One thing seems certain, like it or not, cultured meat is coming to a grocery shelf near you and it’s coming pretty quickly.

Will you eat Cultured Meat?

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Tom Liberman

Utah to Make Polygamy a Misdemeanor

polygamy a misdemeanor

Mormon hotbed Utah is poised to make polygamy a misdemeanor crime instead of a felony and this Libertarian applauds them. I’ve written several posts about why the government should not be involved in the marriage game; either to promote it or make certain types illegal. This new legislation is particularly interesting from a historical perspective because Utah was allowed to become a state only if a ban on polygamy was written into their constitution.

This law is being promoted as a good thing because women and girls, primarily, are being victimized in a variety of ways but are afraid to come forward because the polygamy laws could potential put them in jail. The argument being that making polygamy a misdemeanor will encourage women who are raped, kidnapped, and otherwise victimized more willing to come forward.

It’s important to understand this argument is completely true but not only for making polygamy a misdemeanor. Laws against prostitution and the war on drugs have little effect to stop either but anyone who engages in these trades can more easily be victimized because they cannot come forward to report such a crime. Remember when Omar robbed the Co-op? What were they going to do, call the police?

I just read a story about how the Coast Guard is proudly offloading twenty tons of seized cocaine in San Diego. I feel the vomit rising in my throat when I read how this evil drug will never make it into the schools and communities. Meanwhile, far more of the stuff under a pharmaceutical brand name is prescribed and sold legally throughout the United States. But, the War on Drugs, one of my favorite topics is not the subject of today’s conversation.

This is the reality we must confront when creating laws that ban a practice or product from willing consumers. We essentially create an entire criminal enterprise where there might be a simple capitalistic market. This inhibits those who engage in the activity from seeking the protection of law enforcement and makes it more likely they will be victim to horrific crimes.

Young girls are forced into polygamous marriage and subject to serial rape. They don’t come forward readily because they are criminals also, in the eyes of the law, and fear being imprisoned. If that doesn’t resonate with you, it’s hard for me to imagine anything will.

Making polygamy a misdemeanor is a step in the right direction but the reality is clear to me. Consenting, legally capable adults should be able to marry anyone, of any gender or number, they desire. The government should have no role in the enterprise.

Tom Liberman

The Sins of Others do not Absolve You

The Sins of Others

I consume a fairly large amount of news, videos, and comments on the internet and something I see often from people who are accused of misbehavior is bringing up the sins of others. The idea is if you accuse me or some famous personality I like of wrongdoing, the basic defense is to bring up the sins of others to excuse, exonerate, or muddle the conversation about the behavior.

If you claim I did something wrong I’ll mention all the things you’ve done wrong in your life as a way to discredit you without having to defend myself. If you accuse someone I like of something, then I’ll bring up the behavior of people that you like to defend that person. The argument is the sins of others absolve me of my poor behavior or at least excuse it.

I most recently witnessed a truly horrific example of this while watching a marathon session of an atheist I follow on YouTube named Jaclyn Glenn. She has a long running feud with a deranged fellow whose YouTube personality name is Onision. This fellow has come to prominence recently because Chris Hansen began an investigation involving him grooming underage girls for eventual sexual abuse.

The fellow in question has been posting many videos trying to explain his side of the story. Glenn watched eight hours of these videos and Livestreamed herself and her fiancé doing so. I certainly didn’t watch the entire thing but from the first seconds, the methodology of Onision became apparent.

Meanwhile, of course, I’ve been following various political and news events and many of my Facebook friends have strong opinions on subjects. When a commenter comes on defending against one accusation or the other their methods follow the exact same pattern: the sins of others.

I wrote a post about Lance Armstrong some time ago that sums up my opinion on this tactic. I don’t really care about what other people have done, I’m here to examine your behavior or the actions of some politician or celebrity. What mistakes the accuser has made in the past are largely irrelevant.

Let’s take the most extreme example possible. Let’s imagine the accuser lied about someone else regarding the same sort of thing they are now accusing you of doing. Even something this blatant doesn’t absolve you of guilt. The sins of the others never absolve you. Certainly, other people are guilty of misbehavior in their lives. I’m guilty, you’re guilty, everyone has acted in regrettable fashion, no one is innocent of past crimes and that is what makes the arguments of Onision and others like him such a ready option.

Such people are aware accusing others is a great way to deflect the conversation away from their own sins. If the politician I like did something heinous then I can point to something the politician you like has done as a way to excuse it.

The bottom line is quite simple, the sins of others have no bearing on your behavior or that of the celebrity or politician you choose to support. Wrong is wrong.

Tom Liberman

Article 3 and Killing Socialists

Killing Socialists

There’s been a rather boring story in the news about a moronic state Senator from Montana who thinks Article 3 in the Constitution of the United States expressly allows the government to begin killing socialists. It doesn’t but this misconception gives me a chance to wax poetic about the document in question and what I think is a great deal of misunderstanding about it.

The Founding Fathers who wrote, enacted, and ratified the Constitution of the United States came from a situation in which the state used its legal power to oppress citizens with few restrictions. They saw, first hand, the dangers of giving government tremendous power and wrote the Constitution with this in mind.

The Constitution, largely, is a document that does not grant the government power, but does the opposite, it limits such ability. Article 3, which State Representative Rodney Garcia of Montana poorly understands, is meant to prevent the government from imprisoning and murdering citizens for their political views. It does not enable the government to go about killing socialists, it protects such citizens.

It was written by a group of people who watched their friends, families, and like-minded strangers imprisoned and murdered regularly for expressing political opinions. The article in question allows for the imprisonment only of people who have waged war against the United States or giving aid and comfort to someone who does so. It requires witnesses of an overt act in that regard in order to be enacted.

Essentially, unless you actually raise an army and attempt to wage war against the government you cannot be imprisoned or killed. Waging war against the government obviously does not include attempting to win an election through the democratic processes established elsewhere in the Constitution but this hardly needs be said. What is vitally important to understand is that the purpose of the Constitution is largely to prevent the government from killing socialists, or any other perceived political opponent.

To prevent the government from having more power. To prevent the Executive doing things without the approval of Congress. To prevent Congress from doing things without approval of the Judiciary. That is the purpose of this great document.

Why was it written with such a purpose? For the simple reason I stated above. A government so emboldened will continually add to its enemies, continue to make things illegal and imprison such people, until the entire nation is oppressed under their jackboot.

And why do we want to prevent such an outcome? Because if we allow the government to proceed with the agenda of killing socialist and whomever is next on the list; bloody revolution becomes the only method to change the government.

The method preferred by the Founding Fathers was simply allowing We the People to propose different ideas, including socialism, and use the ballot box as the final arbiter. It seems like a good plan to me.

Tom Liberman

Cheap Razor Blades Saved by the FTC

Cheap Razor Blades

******* UPDATE *****

Edgewell dropped their attempt to purchase Harry’s. Congratulations big government lovers, the FTC has saved us.

**** END ******

The Federal Trade Commission is attempting to save cheap razor blades by preventing Edgewell Personal Care from purchasing Harry’s. Harry’s sells such blades along with other products. The government apparently considers Harry’s an industry disrupter and feels the need to step in and prevent the sale, which the owner of Harry’s deems necessary because the company is not profitable.

Yay, the government has come to save my cheap razor blades. The original low-priced razor companies; Dollar Shave Club and Walker and Company, were already purchased by larger razor manufacturers leaving only Harry’s to compete against the giants.

Let’s examine what’s really happening here. Why is Harry’s not profitable to begin with? Maybe because they sell razors so cheaply? It’s entirely possible Harry’s and the other sellers planned, from the very beginning, to sell out to the big names in industry. The principals knew their companies weren’t going to be profitable but wanted the bonanza at the end of the tunnel. If that is the case, then the FTC is preventing them from achieving this goal. It is undeniably true the owners of Harry’s want to sell and they are being prevented from doing so by the government.

The broader question, from a Libertarian perspective, does preventing the sale of Harry’s leave consumers better off? Does the government have a role to play thanks to the Anti-Trust laws established in the Constitution of the United States?

The answer is not easy to deduce. It is absolutely true that Harry’s is an industry disrupter because they sell cheap razor blades significantly below the price of the established companies. However, if their goal was to sell out in the long run, this action by the FTC actually prevents other start-ups from doing the same thing. If they can’t sell their companies and they know their business model is unsustainable, they will not bother starting up in the first place. If, on the other hand, they could make a profit selling the cheap razor blades, they would stay in business without being absorbed by a larger company.

Now, it is possible they are just poorly run businesses and blades at that price could be sold for a profit but the evidence we’ve seen so far doesn’t indicate as much. Therefore, it seems to me, the government shouldn’t be propping up companies that sell products at prices that are unsustainable simply because such is good for consumers.

This is, in essence, socialism. It’s almost as if the government themselves are selling us cheap razor blades which they purchase with our tax dollars. If I didn’t know better, I’d guess the government will eventually bail out Harry’s so they can keep selling us cheap razor blades, but, nah, that could never happen.

Tom Liberman