The President Cannot Legally Implement Tariffs

Tariffs

It is important to understand that the President of the United States absolutely, without question, does not have the power to implement tariffs without approval from Congress. This power is designated specifically to Congress by Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States. Nowhere in the Constitution is the president given any power to do so alone.

I find it amazing that congress has allowed President Trump, the first president to ever unilaterally implement tariffs, to do so. They have largely done so because they either like giving the president such power or they have completely given up on the responsibilities the Constitution grants them.

In either case, President Trump is now implementing new tariffs that business leaders across the United States, like the Chamber of Commerce, and most of Congress itself oppose. They are threatening, finally, to bring the matter to the courts where it seems impossible to me that such actions will be not be struck down as illegal. Why have they waited so long? Why do they still hesitate?

This action by the president, the past actions by the president in regards to tariffs, are clearly illegal. If the president wants to implement tariffs then said president must go to Congress and get them to pass the law through the normal process or get them to grant him the ability to do so.

The precedent set by these illegal tariffs is enormously damaging. One does not have to strain the mind at all to imagine a time when a Democratic President simply bypasses a Republican Congress by acting illegally. I’m certain Republicans would be crying foul at that point but perhaps, just maybe, yesterday is when they should have been squawking.

This willingness to support illegal policies because they come from a party for whom you vote or even because you support the political ideology of the action is baffling to this Libertarian. Cannot you see what is good for the goose is good for the gander? By allowing such illegal acts you set yourself up for future retribution?

If the Constitution of the United States is to be ignored so blatantly in one part, what is to stop a president from ignoring all of it?

Tom Liberman

Deputy Marco Lopez Fired for Running for Office Against his Boss

Marco Lopez Fired

In Osceola County, Florida, a deputy named Marco Lopez decided to run for the position of sheriff against his boss, Sheriff Russ Gibson. He was summarily fired. When I read the headline, I was rather disturbed but then I read the entire story and my agitation reached new levels. You see, what was done is mandated by law.

You read that correctly, it is illegal in Florida to run for sheriff against your current boss while maintaining position as a deputy. The reason being that it is a sign of disloyalty. What Gibson did was not only legal, but actually required by the law, although perhaps he did it several months before he was required to do so. The idea that you cannot run for political office against a superior without being fired because you are disloyal is an affront to my sensibilities.

Of course, you can run against your immediate superior for such a position. Such is done every single day in every other profession across this country of ours and the world in general. Can you imagine telling a young athlete they are not allowed to try for a starting position on the team against the established veteran? Can you imagine being told the state mandates you’re not allowed to apply for the position your boss currently holds without first being fired?

It’s ludicrous. It’s madness. Of course, you can seek a higher position while remaining fully loyal and hardworking at your current job. It goes without saying that you can do your current job with skill and dedication while seeking a better one. We should all do our best at all times, regardless of what future position we might seek.

It is only natural we seek a better job, a promotion. If we did not there would be something wrong. If I were sheriff, I’d be upset if those under me didn’t want to eventually have my job. It would show a lack of initiative and ambition if they did not.

If Lopez defeats Gibson for the job of sheriff it is because he will have run a better campaign and the people think he is better suited for the position. Competition is the backbone of capitalism, even within the government. How many times are elected officials replaced by those who were once or remain their underlings?

Now, to be clear, Florida has every right to pass whatever law they desire. If Lopez was actually disloyal or performing his job badly, then Gibson should fire Lopez. Otherwise, let the voters decide.

Tom Liberman

Twenty-One to Purchase E-Cigarettes or Tobacco Products

E-Cigarettes

Senators Mitch McConnell and Tim Kaine are co-sponsoring a bill to increase the federally mandated age for people to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21. It has bi-partisan support and is being done to protect the children so I expect it will pass. You’ll not be surprised to find I oppose such legislation.

I could talk about how e-cigarettes are not even a tobacco product by nature or how the federal age to purchase is already 18, the age at which we become legally adults. Instead I want to focus on the idea the federal government should have no control at all over what we voluntarily put into our bodies.

I can hear you now: but, Tom, it’s to protect the poor, innocent children. The federal government must save them from the terrible scourge of tobacco. They are too young to make a decision for themselves. They will ruin their lives if the federal government doesn’t step in to save them. You can’t be against saving children? Do you want children to die? Are you a cruel, heartless, child-murdering monster?

No, I’m a Libertarian. The Constitution of the United States grants the government certain powers and they do not have any outside those as decided by the courts. The Constitution is also quite clear about who has these rights. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution declares explicitly that powers not delegated to it are for the States and the people to decide. Whether or not your child buys an e-cigarette or any form of tobacco is up to you to decide.

It seems so simple to me. If community wants to prevent a store from selling such products to people under 21, the local politicians can pass an ordinance to that effect. If they do so and the people are unhappy with that decision, they can make their opinions known in the next local election. If the state makes such a law then the municipality can counter it with a law allowing such merchants to sell e-cigarettes and tobacco products within the jurisdiction of their city.

There are specific limits to the Constitution of the United States and if the federal government is not granted the ability to pass a law in certain regards, then it falls to the States and to the people. It seems obvious to me that the entity closest in relation to the effect of the law should have precedent. This gives the greatest control to the people, where the framers largely wanted it.

Frankly, there should be no such law at all. If someone wants to purchase e-cigarettes or tobacco products it should be up to the local merchant if they want to sell them or not. If the people in a town don’t like it, their representatives can pass a law.

Another important thing to remember is that a ban on a particular product doesn’t generally have the effect of preventing people from purchasing it; it just creates a black market. Let’s imagine the federal law passes. Does anyone imagine there won’t instantly spring up a black market for 19 to 21-year-olds to purchase as many e-cigarettes or tobacco products as they want?

The only thing the law does is give power to the federal government over aspects of our lives they should not have. If we allow the federal government to tell a legal adult of 20 they can’t purchase an e-cigarette, and the state and local community has no right to override such a rule, then what power are we not granting it?

Tom Liberman

Enlightened Self-Interest and a Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001

Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001

There’s an interesting story making the rounds about a bottle of wine called Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001 sold at Hawksmoor restaurant in Manchester, England. The Chateau le Pin Pomerol is a rare wine; a customer ordered a $300 bottle of a similar vintage but a mistake led to said customer being served the Chateau le Pin Pomerol which lists at $5,772.

That’s a significant loss for the restaurant although the price they charge is certainly less than that listed. In response, the restaurant put out a tweet expressing hope the customer enjoyed the finer vintage. They also explained the two bottles are quite similar and an employee made an honest mistake on a crowded evening.

I think this is a good chance to explain a subtle nuance in Libertarian philosophy; which many people mistakenly think is all about earning more money, even many Libertarians themselves. It’s not about the money even though money is used as a scorekeeper to some degree.

The owners of Hawksmoor had a choice when they found out about the mistake. They could have attempted to charge the customer the difference. They could have docked the wages of the employee for the mistake. Both of these actions would seem to fit in with the perceived Libertarian philosophy of making as much money as possible.

The reality is, naturally, quite different. What is in the enlightened self-interest of the Hawksmoor? Alienating a customer or losing presumably a good employee? Certainly, the media coverage they get for accepting the mistake and wishing all parties well is worth more than the loss garnered by putting out the Chateau Le Pin Pomerol. It seems quite obvious to me their actions will not only result in more revenue in the long run, but even this is really not enlightened self-interest.

The real beneficiaries of this acceptance of the mistake are not the employee and the customer but the owners who made the decision. I cannot say for certain why management decided to behave in such a way but I’d like to think it is because they respect themselves.

A mistake was made, it happens, I understand that I also make poor decisions, that my errors affect others in negative way both personally and financially. One of my loyal customers got an amazing treat and I’m happy for them even though it cost me some money. My employee probably feels terrible about what happened and piling on isn’t going to make her or him a better person. A pat on the back and an understanding smile makes the world a better place and me a better person.

It seems to me many people are eager to lay blame, to lash out loudly against the stupidity of those who disagree, to attempt to gain retribution against those who make mistakes, to emotionally punish and hurt anyone who dares disagree. All of these actions make you a worse person. They tear you down because you know, somewhere deep inside, how awful you are being.

Being a decent human being is enlightened self-interest and so was smiling at the mistaken bottle of Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001.

Tom Liberman

NPS or Net Promoter Score and What it Means

NPS

I just became aware of a tool used by many S&P 500 companies called NPS or Net Promoter Score. The basic idea is to find out how many of your customers are so-called Promoters. The thought being if your customers give a product a 9 or 10 rating on a ten-point scale, they are promoters. Those who give it a 7 or 8 are passives and those who give it a 0 through 6 are detractors. That is what I want to examine today, the idea of promoters, passives, and detractors.

The idea was created by a fellow named Fred Reichheld although he doesn’t approve of the way it is currently being used by management in many companies. There is a lot to said for the NPS system both for and against but that’s not going to be the gist of my blog today. I want to look at NPS from a different angle.

I used to work as an instructor and we often gave out those one to ten rating scales for students to evaluate their experience in the class. I’ve also filled out many of them for various products that I’ve purchased over the years. I’ve come to a completely different conclusion than Reichheld although the practical implications may be about the same.

The idea of promoters is, of itself quite interesting. There is an underrated movie called The Joneses which examines this idea in fairly great detail. I wrote a Libertarian review of the movie not long ago should you wish to read it. In any case, the idea is that promoters go out and tell other people how great is your product and influence them into purchasing it.

The NPS system lumps people who give a product a 9 or 10 rating as promoters. My experience is fairly different. People who habitually rate a product that high are almost always True Believers who either lack critical thinking skills or simply choose not to apply them. People who rate a good product as 7 or 8 generally are more inclined to be skeptical. My own thinking is that I would almost never rate anything a perfect ten as nothing is without flaws.

The bottom end of the scale is where I radically differ from ideology of the NPS. I think people who give a product a 0 through 2 rating are generally exactly the same as those who give it a 9 or 10. They are True Haters. They don’t like either the product or its manufacturer for some personal reason and no amount quality is going to change their mind. They are, in essence, exactly the same as the people who rate the product highly. It is my opinion it is these people who should be targeted by the manufacturer for they, if swayed through some small act of kindness, will become True Believers for life.

I would be interested in a study of NPS scores compared to religious and political beliefs to see if there is a correlation between individuals who give extreme scores and those who espouse extreme political ideas.

In summation, I actually agree with some of the principles of the NPS. The system might call them Promoters while I use the term True Believers. The system calls middle scorer givers Passives whereas I call them Skeptics. The end result is; however, valid. The True Believers will promote and purchase the product no matter the quality, whereas the Skeptics will purchase products from competitors if they are objectively better. It is only with the low scorers where my disagreement with the NPS conflicts with the actions of business leaders.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman

Tiger Woods and the Wrongful Death Suit

Tiger Woods Lawsuit

There’s a story in the news about Tiger Woods and his involvement in the death of Nicholas Immesberger I find interesting. Woods owns a restaurant in Jupiter, Florida called The Woods Jupiter, and Immesberger worked there. He was drinking during his shift and afterwards and died when his car overturned later that night. His blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit when he died.

At issue is the Florida statute which holds a person liable for damages if they knowingly serve someone who is habitually addicted to alcohol. Immesberger attended Alcoholic Anonymous meetings in the past and had crashed his car previously while drunk. The people who worked with Immesberger knew of this and thus are potentially liable for the harm caused.

Woods owns the establishment and his girlfriend, who is the general manager of the bar and restaurant, drank with Immesberger a few nights before the fatal accident. Therefore, the lawsuit seeks to hold them accountable for the death even though neither of them actually served drinks to Immesberger the night of his death.

Many states have laws fairly similar to Florida in that it is illegal to serve someone who is a known alcoholic or who is obviously quite intoxicated. I personally agree doing so is not a particularly kind thing. If a person is stumbling drunk, she or he probably shouldn’t be served any more alcohol. If a person is an alcoholic, it would be somewhat of a service to refuse to provide drinks to her or him. That being said, I don’t think either action should be a matter for the state to adjudicate.

There are many problems with the law but the first and foremost from this Libertarian’s perspective is that it largely absolves the drunkard from responsibility. If a person chooses to drink to the point of intoxication and then hurts or kills someone else, or themselves, in an accident; that is completely the responsibility of said person. The statute seeks to put accountability on the server.

Another enormous issue is the law, by its very nature, is going to be applied unevenly and can easily be used by the state to persecute perceived enemies. It is quite certain people habitually addicted to alcohol are served in such establishments every minute of every day. Oftentimes it is quite well known the person has a problem. Basically, prosecutors get to choose when and if they are going to use the law.

The purpose of the law is an attempt to get people to stop serving alcoholics. A noble resolve but a clear attempt at social engineering. Good intentions are often the precursors of bad laws. Immesberger is dead because he chose to drink and drive.

If you think the lawsuit is egregious and without merit then you necessarily think the law is such. The letter of the law indicates at least the bartenders are liable if not Woods and the general manager.

I certainly think the employees of The Woods Jupiter should not have served him so much alcohol over the course of the day and evening. They should not have stood by while he drove off. That’s a moral failing, not a legal one.

Tom Liberman

Alyssa Milano and Why a Sex Strike is Just Like Prohibition

Sex Strike

Actress Alyssa Milano is upset various states are creating prohibitions to abortion and wants her fellow women to deny men access to sex, a Sex Strike. This so-called solution is essentially the same logic people use for the war on the drugs, prohibition, and an attempt to ban Loot Boxes in video games. It’s punishing everyone for the sins of a few.

The state of Georgia, and several others, are passing what are called Heartbeat Laws in which an abortion is made illegal as soon as the fetus’s heartbeat is detected. Seeing as this detection can occur before a woman even realizes she is pregnant it essentially makes abortion completely illegal. Milano is being called out for a number of problems with her Sex Strike but I’d like to focus on the one more associated with my own Libertarian beliefs.

I’ll let others spend time explaining to Milano that a Sex Strike is a negative for women who enjoy sex, which, my limited experience tells me, is damn near all of them. It suggests women should essentially extort men for legislative favors in exchange for sex. It simply ignores homosexual men, asexual men, and lesbians altogether because, I guess, they don’t count. In addition, a fairly healthy percentage of women voted for and support these laws, so I’m not sure how the plan is going to work in that regard.

My problem is simply that you are attempting to punish an entire category of people because some of them are doing something you don’t like. There are a great number of men who support a woman’s right to have an abortion. The plan to go on a Sex Strike punishes those men indiscriminately for nothing they have done or even support. Some of those men voted directly against the bans in various states and certainly, many of them support politicians who actively work against such laws.

This logic is the same as behind our failed and violently destructive War on Drugs. Some people abuse drugs and therefore we must restrict them for all. Some people abuse alcohol and therefore we need Prohibition. Some people misuse guns and therefore they must be restricted for all. This lack of critical thinking is faulty and exhibited on both the Democratic and Republican side of the political fence.

Basically, you are calling for a lot of people to lose their freedom because other people are doing something you don’t like. It’s a vicious way of thinking. I’ll pass a draconian law, Sex Strike, in the hopes people will cave to my demands in order to avoid the effects, lack of sex, of the legislation. I want to make a whole bunch of people suffer in order to get my way. That’s not cool.

How about you organize and get women and men elected who support your point of view? Or is that too much to ask?

Tom Liberman

Loot Boxes to be Outlawed by the Federal Government

Loot Boxes

Once again, an overreaching, big government loving politician is trying to intrude into the lives of citizens, this time by banning so-called loot boxes. The Senator in question happens to be Republican Josh Hawley from my beloved home state of Missouri. I have one thing to say but I can’t say it or the FCC will fine me. Poop on you, Senator Hawley and I’ll be happy to tell you why.

Loot Boxes are in game transactions where game players can purchase various things. Games like Fortnite, Candy Crush, and many others rely on these purchases for revenue. The games are otherwise free to download and play. People make the purchases for a variety of things like cosmetic skins to make their character look cool, extra items to help progress the game, and things of that nature.

Senator Hawley uses the fact that children are part of the market for such games as an excuse to foist his morality upon us. We must save the children he says; ignoring the fact that the majority of people who play the games and spend money on them are over 18. Ignoring the fact that children can’t make such purchases without a credit card on which their parents can easily place limits. No, good old big government Senator Hawley thinks he knows best how we should lead our lives and isn’t at all shy about forcing us to do it by his rules.

If Senator Hawley is successful then games like Fortnite, which have generated an enormous amount of revenue for not only the makers of the game but many ancillary companies and millions of hours of fun for willing gamers, will no longer be free to play. Double poop and a Libertarian pox upon thee!

If someone wants to pump money into a video game then it’s their right to do so. If a kid does so then it’s up to that child’s parents to control their spending. It is absolutely, positively, not the government’s job to protect us from spending money on video games.

You, Senator Hawley and all the rest like you, are not our guardians. You do not get to dictate how we lead our lives or how we spend our money. It’s this paternalistic gobbledygook that created the entire overreaching, nanny state in which we currently reside. There is a law against everything and every citizen is a criminal. The state simply gets to decide who to arrest and when.

If I don’t want to pay a microtransaction on loot boxes then I won’t do so. If I don’t want my non-existent child to do so then I’ll restrict her or his credit card. Get out of my personal life, Senator Hawley.

Tom Liberman

Steve Stricker and the Dmitrii Donskoi a Tale of Two Scams

Stricker

I recently read a pair of articles one involving Steve Stricker and the other a Russian ship named the Dmitrii Donskoi I think illustrate the difference between a fool and a victim. Both stories involve scam artists taking money from people but there is a fundamental difference in my opinion of those who fell for the tricks.

Stricker is a notable golfer who is captain of this year’s Ryder Cup team. A con-artists contacted a charity hosting a golf tournament and promised them that Stricker, his cousin, would be happy to attend and support the organization. The golf course and the charity accepted the story and promoted the event. People paid $7,500 to support the charity and spend time with Stricker. Unfortunately, Stricker knew nothing of the event and the con-artist skipped town with the money.

Back in 1905 a Russian fleet was sent to the Pacific in order to support Russian activity in the region and the Dmitrii Donskoi, an armored cruiser built in the 1880s, was part of that armada. She was sunk near an island in what is now South Korea. Back in 1999 a South Korean construction company in financial trouble claimed they had found the wreck and that it had on it 200 tons of gold coins. The share price of the company went up briefly but the claim was found to be false.

Recently another South Korean company, this a treasure hunting business, made the same claim about the Dmitrii Donskoi. They collected millions of dollars from investors and their stock price rose precipitously. As like the first claim, nothing came of it and investors were out large sums of money.

What do these two scam incidents have in common? Victims. People paid money to the charity in order to play with Stricker. People paid money for stocks and invested money in the hopes of recouping their cash and more. In both cases people lost their money.

Here is the difference. The charity event and the golf course promoting Stricker’s appearance made claims that were not unreasonable. I’m certain Stricker does attend such events over the course of the year. Fans expectation of seeing Stricker were reasonable. Certainly, the charity and the golf course should have done more diligence in ensuring Stricker was going to attend but the individuals who paid to see Stricker, and were scammed, behaved reasonable. I feel bad for them.

Meanwhile the Dmitrii Donskoi was never purported to have any gold on it and there was absolutely no reason to suspect it might. It was an older ship, slow and vulnerable, being sent into a war zone. The Russian government, if they needed to transfer gold, could have done it by rail with significantly greater ease. The amount of gold claimed to be aboard the Dmitrii Donskoi was equivalent to ten percent of all the gold mined in the history of the planet. The idea that there was, or is, gold aboard the wreck is patently ridiculous and anyone who spends ten minutes researching the project can learn this fact quite easily. I have no sympathy for any fool that fell for this scam.

The sad part is both scams will most certainly be used again. I suspect unwise, gold mad, morons will be pumping money into the pockets of con-artists mentioning the Dmitrii Donskoi. I also imagine that charities and their donators will be duped.

Not that it much matters, but idiots need not apply for my sympathy. For all others, I’m sorry some asshole used your good intentions to steal your money.

Tom Liberman

Women with Small Breasts Face Discrimination in Australian Pornography

Small Breasts

There’s an interesting story making the rounds in social media about Australian women with small breasts being banned from appearing in pornographic material which illustrates an important point about how poorly written laws attack freedom. Basically, in an attempt to eliminate child pornography, the government of Australia ruled that women who appear to be under 18 are not allowed to appear in such material. This law has largely affected women with small breasts.

The idea being that if a small breasted woman wants to appear in pornographic material there is a chance a pedophile might fantasize the woman is a young girl. There are any number of problems with this law including the idea that a woman’s breast size is somehow a predictor of her age.

Another question that arises is who makes the decision on what makes a woman appear to be under eighteen? It is clearly an arbitrary choice based not only on breast size but facial appearance and body size as a whole. It would also seem to suggest men in general that women with larger breasts are womanlier. As a fellow who loves sporty ladies, I find this rather offensive but that is beside the point.

The net result is that women with small breasts are being systematically removed from pornographic material in Australia. This is obviously unfair to women with small breasts. They are clearly being discriminated against and their professional lives taken from them by an overbearing government bent on saving us from pedophiles.

This situation is an extremely nice microcosm of the many ridiculous laws foisted off on us by a government claiming they are only doing it to protect us. I’m not opposed to all laws but ludicrous laws, selectively enforced, are a danger to all of our freedoms. Ask a minority driver in the United States who owns an older car how many times she or he has been pulled over for making a wide turn or not signaling within 100 feet of a turn. Then ask a non-minority driver in a new car the same question.

I’ve written any number of articles associated with the miscarriage of not only justice but complete lack of human decency engendered by stupid laws. There is no doubt in my mind this new ruling in Australia will do absolutely nothing to curtail the use of children in pornographic material and will do actual harm to citizens of that country who have nothing to do with such an industry.

Congratulations do-gooders of Australia, you’ve made the situation worse with a stupid law. That’s what bad laws do. Let’s try to avoid them.

Tom Liberman

Why is Human Composting Illegal in the First Place?

Human Composting

The State of Washington is poised to make Human Composting legal. Human Composting is a method of disposing of a corpse by simply covering it with compostable materials where it is broken down over the course of a month or two. The process is currently illegal in most states and this Libertarian asks the obvious question, why?

I’m of the opinion that the ban on any procedure other than burial or cremation speaks to the heart of the idea of limited government and reasonable regulation. I think it’s perfectly rational to have restrictions on how to properly dispose of a human corpse. Dumping a body along a main thoroughfare is clearly something against the general interests of the people. Government officials have a responsibility to carry out the will of the people and while someone might find it convenient to throw grandma’s body onto the highway, most of us will be severely inconvenienced by such an action.

The problem is the regulation that prevents any other method except those approved by the state. Instead the limitations should be much vaguer and allow people the freedom to dispose of their loved ones in a variety of ways. The regulation could simply read that corpses should be disposed of in designated regions in a manner that doesn’t inconvenience others. That way people would be free to conduct the process as they saw fit with the minor limitations as stated. Judges could make common sense rulings in regards to those who failed to obey the law.

A regulation so worded would allow Human Composting without any sort of government intervention. We wouldn’t need someone to sponsor a bill, to lobby politicians, or to fight against the existing purveyors of cremation and burial who have a vested interest in preventing the legalization of Human Composting as an economic threat.

This is what Libertarians mean when we speak of limited government. We don’t advocate anarchy and the dumping of human corpses wherever might be convenient. The problem is that regulations are so specific they make doing business impossible unless you bribe politicians into passing rules that benefit your company. This is Crony Capitalism and it is rampant in our nation from Federal to State to Local government.

Ask yourself, why is Human Composting illegal? It’s a perfectly reasonable method of disposing of a corpse and, frankly, the choice I think many people would make if given the option. I know I do.

Tom Liberman

Hockey Fights are Long Overdue for Termination

Hockey Fights

I know most fans cheer on hockey fights and there was a time when I at least tolerated them even if I didn’t jump out of my seat and root them on. That time is over. Way past over. We don’t tolerate such bare-fisted fighting in any other sport, even boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. We certainly call such fighting assault when it happens in a bar or on the street. It’s a crime there and it should be on the ice as well.

The horrific fight between Alex Ovechkin and Andrei Svechnikov in the playoff game between the Washington Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes illustrates the point. The video that’s being seen far and wide on every sports station and most regular news channels shows Ovechkin knocking Svechnikov out with a vicious punch to the face.

I’ve long been opposed to fighting in hockey and the game itself is slowly coming around to that point of view. There are fewer fights every year in the NHL and that’s a good thing. The players are more aware of the dangers of such violence to their future careers and even lives and more and more reluctant to engage in such behavior. All that is needed now is for the league to met out long suspensions for anyone who engages in hockey fights.

Frankly, if you watch a playoff game or even games in the regular season it’s filled with players punching one another with gloves on, shoving their fists in the face of other players, grabbing the face of opponents with open palms, and general stick work that is both dangerous and unnecessary.

Listen, I played hockey as a kid. I got into one fight when an opposing player hit me in the neck with his stick. It was exhilarating. I get it. I understand why people like it and why players engage in such behavior. That doesn’t make it right.

The reality is that it is not needed. Hockey is a great sport, fast paced, tremendously skilled players, action, and hard checks. The fighting is wrong, plain and simple. I’m not going to get into some logical debate about why trying to punch someone else into unconsciousness, even if both parties are willing, is wrong. It is. That’s the bottom line. I’m sick of seeing it and you should be as well.

You can claim I’m ruining the manly nature of the sport. Call me a wimp and a loser. I don’t care. Hockey fights were wrong back then and they are wrong today. Let’s put an end to them once and for all.

Tom Liberman

EB-5 Program and Buying United States Citizenship

EB-5 Hudson Yards

Until I read a fascinating story, I had not heard of something called the EB-5 Visa Program for foreign investors. The idea is simple enough. If a foreign investor pumps $500,000 to a $1,000,000 into a project targeting a rural or poor urban area, their children are given legal rights to live in the United States. What could go wrong? Exactly what you would expect.

Basically, the meaning of jobs being created and poor regions as defined by the EB-5 was stretched so that most of the money went to fund luxury projects in wealthy cities. Districts were drawn to include poor regions but the vast majority of the construction took place in wealthy areas. That along with the fact that some of the developers simply absconded with large sums of money.

Most of the investors appear to come from China and individuals of enormous wealth found a way to invest their money not only with a financial return but also a pathway to United States citizenship for their children.

Personally, I’m not convinced the EB-5 program was created with the best of intentions at all. The politicians back in 1990, when it was implemented, most likely well-understand where the money would go and created a system by which it could flow to wealthy regions while following the loose guidelines of the program.

I’m not even upset the money went to fund luxury projects like Hudson Yards. I’m also not opposed to foreign nationals purchasing U.S. citizenship, which is exactly what is going on despite any arguments to the contrary. What makes me angry is pretending to be doing a good and wonderful thing by helping out the poor in rural regions and urban cities when there was never any such intention.

Some of the money did, in fact, go to projects of the nature for which they were intended but I strongly suspect that would have been the case even if the base purpose of the program was to simply attract foreign investments. When money comes into the United States for various projects it is a good thing. It would be nice if more money was spent to help poor rural areas and poverty ridden urban regions but reality is a tough mistress.

People largely don’t want luxury apartments in rural regions or the poor areas of the inner city. However, when a region undergoes development the area around it often improves as well. This reality is the best we can hope to accomplish.

Creating a program like EB-5 with unrealistic expectations of development in rural and poor regions is an exercise in deceit. I’m here to help, said the politician while stuffing their stomach at the trough. My Libertarian sensibilities say, go ahead and stuff your face, but be honest about it.

If the EB-5 program was created honestly, I’m certain organizations like Asian Americans for Equality would have found a way to use that money to help the poor in both rural and urban regions. I’m sure many investors believed they were doing a good thing because the project was under the mantle of the EB-5.

Tell investors the truth. This project is in a wealthy region and this other one is in a disadvantaged region. You decide which one in which to invest. I’d guess you’d have had more money going to the sorts of projects the entire program was designed to fund in the first place.

Tom Liberman

Just Let Kids Like Olivia Jade Giannulli into College

Olivia Jade

I know it won’t be a popular opinion but I think the only real way to stop the behavior associated with the college admission scandal is to simply let kids like Olivia Jade Giannulli into school in their own category. If Olivia Jade and the legion of kids like her, who have the wherewithal to not only pay for their education but eventually fund many other students through future donations, want to attend a particular college, just let them in, no questions asked.

Simply create a category separate from normal admission so they don’t take anyone else’s spot. We’ve got some wealthy kids with rich parents who want their kid at a particular institution. If the school lets them in, they pay lots of money today and much more in the future. This allows the educational institution to flourish. The downside? I suppose all the people who are getting money off the bribery, such as Mark Riddell, will have to find a new way to finance their lives but other than that, I don’t see a problem.

The issue is basically that kids like Olivia Jade have always had, and always will have, every advantage in life. They get special tutoring, the best instructors, training at elite institutions, and other perks that less wealthy kids do not. It’s reality whether we like it or not. Some of those super-wealthy kids will do great things with the advantages they are given while others will squander them but that’s their business.

I know many people will complain about the inherent unfairness of a system such as I propose. Poor and middle-class kids have to work extremely hard under disadvantageous conditions to get the same thing being given to rich kids in exchange for lots of money. I agree, it’s unfair. Welcome to life.

Rich kids, children of important people within the academic institution, excellent athletes, and others have always been given far more breaks than those without such connections. It doesn’t stop at school either. Such children get better jobs with less effort and receive more chances when they fail.

My point is there is no stopping such behavior so we might as well allow it under a stated structure. Olivia Jade is allowed into USC with all the advantages such an education entails but she doesn’t take up a spot some other kid earned.

In the end, as the expression goes, the cream rises to the top. If such rich children are allowed into school along with their poor but harder working counterparts, eventually the one who does the best job will rise the highest. Maybe Olivia Jade will find great success in life but I’d guess someone like Rose Campion will achieve more. In the end, it’s up to them. Sometimes having to work harder for something is a good thing, even if it’s unfair.

Tom Liberman

Why Does the Justice Department Care about the Academy Awards?

Academy Awards

The United States Justice Department just warned the Motion Picture Academy that a proposed rule change about eligibility to receive Academy Awards might result in Anti-Trust legal ramifications. Really? This is what the Justice Department of the United States of America is spending their time doing? Threatening award ceremonies about how they decide eligibility? I’ll give you a small hint, the executives of Amazon and Netflix are opposed to the changes and they just might have a dollar or two spend.

First, let’s examine what is being proposed. With the advent and enormous growth of streaming services there are more and more movies spending little or no time in the theaters. They are developed and sold directly for television. Recently the Netflix film Roma received a nomination for Best Picture and this triggered a response from the Academy and particularly influential filmmaker Steven Spielberg. They believe such films should be eligible for Emmy Awards but not Academy Awards. The idea being that the Academy Awards are for movies while the Emmy Awards are for television.

I think there are argument to be made both ways. The made for streaming movies are not in the theaters for any appreciable amount of time, mostly just so they can be eligible for movie awards. However, they are in the traditional movie format and home theaters are more and more becoming a venue for audiences to view first run movies.

We can argue back and forth about whether or not such productions are movies or television shows but it’s beyond my comprehension that the Justice Departments thinks they have a say in this matter. A major award certainly increases publicity and thus revenue for a particular show or movie but it is up to the agency that runs the ceremony to decide upon the rules for inclusion. Just because they choose to exclude a group isn’t an anti-trust violation. They are not engaged in collusion, price-fixing, bid-rigging, or even group boycotting which is, I suspect, the justification for the warning.

Group boycotting is when several companies refuse to do business with a third party unless they stop doing business with a competitor. An example would be a clothing store that refused to purchase a particular line because it was being sold to a competitor of that business.

Despite any Justice Department claims to the contrary, what it is doing is damning in the eyes of this Libertarian. The government is attempting to flex its muscles at the behest of bribes, that is to say campaign contributions and lobbyist gifts, to force an independent company to do business in a way that is favorable to a third party, in this case Amazon and Netflix.

This is a stark example of Crony Capitalism. The government decides how a company does business. It’s destroying the capitalistic spirt of our nation and I’ve written about it elsewhere.

Out, out, foul government. Back to your closet where you belong.

Tom Liberman

Jussie Smollett and Small Government Collide

Jussie Smollett

If you hadn’t heard the news that charges against Jussie Smollett for filing a false police report were dropped then you aren’t paying attention. The case tickled the fancies of the two main sides in our political spectrum and unfolding events proved interesting to this Libertarian. I’ll review for those not fully up on the Smollett case.

Smollett reported being physically assaulted during which racial insults were used and a noose was placed around his neck. In the course of the investigation Chicago police eventually determined that Smollett actually paid his supposed attackers presumably in some sort of publicity scheme. After the case was turned over to prosecutors, they dropped charges when Smollett agreed to forfeit his bond money.

Now for the Libertarian take on matters. After reports of the original assault, democrats largely called for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to step in and treat it as a hate crime. When the evidence began to shift, they fell silent. Meanwhile, Republicans had no interest in the federal government getting involved in a local assault case. When charges were dropped, they immediately wanted federal involvement to punish Smollett for his crimes.

This is essentially a microcosm of the belief system of the people associated with our two main political parties. They want as much federal intervention in your life as possible as long as they are punishing or rewarding people they consider enemies or friends. When such federal intervention goes against their interests, they immediately fall silent. This is the problem with giving federal and even state government power over such matters. It is only a matter of time before someone uses that power to punish enemies or reward allies. Both are bad.

Assault is assault whether or not someone hated the victim because they are part of a particular group. I’m completely opposed to hate crimes in general and the local police should handle such matters. Likewise, decisions to prosecute or not should be left completely up to the prosecuting attorney in the particular municipality. They can best determine what should be done, not an overreaching federal government intent on punishing perceived enemies.

I’m certainly not pretending that injustice doesn’t happen. That a prosecuting attorney in a case might give preferential treatment to a friend or use her or his power to punish an enemy. We have a remedy for such incidents and it’s called the Judicial Branch. All is not perfect and corrupt officials do considerable harm at the local and state level, I admit as much. Still, it is my opinion the harm they can inflict locally pales in comparison to the harm that can be done by federal authorities with unlimited funds and a grudge.

As things stand, it appears to me that Democrats and Republicans alike consider federal power a useful bludgeon to be used indiscriminately to reward and punish. I disagree.

Tom Liberman

Stormy Daniels Brings down the Vice Unit in Columbus

stormy daniels

Back in July of 2018 a woman with the stage name of Stormy Daniels was arrested for non-sexual touching in a strip club in Columbus, Ohio. I wrote an article at the time expressing my Libertarian outrage at the event and now the entire vice unit that ran the operation has been disbanded because of a series of events that sadly do not boggle the mind; frankly, it’s the sort of behavior I expect out of law enforcement agents these days, and that’s a tragic thing.

You can read about the incident with Stormy Daniels that caused the vice unit to come under scrutiny in my original blog so I won’t reiterate it here. The tragedy currently unfolding sadly reinforces my opinion of the continuing downfall of law enforcement to an agency of oppression.

Officer Andrew K. Mitchell is under indictment for any number of abuses he allegedly committed during his thirty-year career as an officer. He is accused of forcing women in custody to provide sexual services in exchange for release. Two other members of the former unit are under investigation for similar activities. The entire unit blatantly disregarded the prosecutor’s office that warned them specifically against the sort of behavior they engaged in during the arrest of Stormy Daniels.

Mitchell also apparently owns properties in which he extorted tenants for sex in exchange for a discount on their rent. In addition, he killed a woman in August 2018 in which he and a fellow officer claimed she attacked them.

This is police enforcement in the era of the War on Drugs. It’s the police versus the community rather than the police with the community. There was a time this wasn’t the case and I’m sure there are plenty of officers out there who don’t behave this way. The reality is tragic for communities and law enforcement.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. If we ended the War on Drugs, removed moronic laws from the books, and essentially allowed adults to do as they pleased within reason, the relationship between law enforcement and we the people would begin to be repaired. There is also good news in that more and more law enforcement agencies are recognizing the rift that exists and taking concrete steps to improve the situation.

Right here in my hometown of St. Louis, MO the police and local communities are engaged in a terrific program in which officers play chess with young students.

I recognize that my statements in these blogs can be misconstrued as anti-law enforcement. Nothing could be further from my intent. What I want is for law enforcement officers to be seen as a force of good in the communities they serve, not the enemy. Also, for such officers to view the citizens as people to befriend and protect, not as cash meat bags to be used and discarded.

The fact the vice squad is being dismantled is a good thing and the role Stormy Daniels had in it is to be applauded. It’s just a sad statement of fact that it took such a high-profile incident to expose the vile underbelly that has been consuming law enforcement for the last thirty plus years.

Reality often hurts but it is better to expose a painful truth than allow a lie to grow and fester.

Tom Liberman

Lakers Superfan Happy to See Team Lose Misleading Headline

Lakers Superfan Misleading Headline

I just read a fascinating article about a fellow named Jimmy Goldstein who is identified as a Lakers Superfan in a Misleading Headline about the Los Angeles Lakers missing the playoffs for the sixth season in a row. The problem is that Goldstein is not a Lakers fan at all, although he loves NBA basketball, claiming to spend nearly half a million dollars a year traveling around the country to see various games.

The implication of the Misleading Headline is that Goldstein wants to see the Lakers miss the playoffs perhaps because he doesn’t like the current coach, because he thinks LeBron James was not a good acquisition, or is unhappy with the direction ownership is taking the team. At least that’s what I thought when I was baited into clicking on the article and perusing it.

It turns out Goldstein, who has had courtside season tickets to the Lakers since 1962, doesn’t like the team and enjoys watching them lose. He hasn’t had much to be cheerful about since the Lakers moved to the City of Angels all those years ago as they’ve been arguably the most successful franchise in the league. So, he’s enjoying the current losing streak immensely and pointedly says that: Lakers fans deserve it.

Now, I certainly question Goldstein going to all those games if he doesn’t like the Lakers. Even if they were a horrible team it seems like an odd way to spend your time. I certainly wouldn’t want to watch games at Wrigley Field for the rest of my life whilst rooting against the Cubs, even if they lost most of the time, a practice I hope they resume again soon. Still, he’s a big NBA fan who lives in Los Angeles and so attends the games. That’s his business. Odd as it seems to me.

In the end, the Misleading Headline should not have called Goldstein a Lakers superfan.

Tom Liberman

Hot Tea Cancer Misleading Headline

Hot Tea

Does drinking hot tea cause esophageal cancer? That’s what my Misleading Headline of the week certainly seems to suggest. Once you spend the time to read the article a different reality emerges.

Putting something scalding hot in your throat, regardless of its composition, causes irritation with in turn leads to an increased risk of cancer. Certainly it’s more common to burn your throat with a liquid than a solid and lots of people drink tea hot therefore it’s a likely culprit, but it’s not the tea causing the problem.

In order to burn your throat with hot items they have to be quite hot, so hot that such tea is rarely drunk in most places in the world. In a few cultures the tea or coffee is kept in a samovar which is continuously heated and it is in these places the studies took places.

Most people wait for their tea, or coffee, or hot toddy, to cool enough where they aren’t burning their throat. Don’t always believe the headline and keep coming back for more Misleading Headlines!

Tom Liberman

Jack the Ripper and Our Love of Closure

 Jack the Ripper

I see headlines all over the news about how Jack the Ripper has finally been conclusively identified. I heard radio talk show hosts talking about how wonderful it was that we finally knew Jack the Ripper identity. I was immediately skeptical but I would guess the majority of people were not so. I just read a wonderfully written article from Ars Technica indicating my skepticism was well-founded. Exceptionally good work, Jennifer Ouellette!

In any case, I leave it to you to read the article yourself and come to a conclusion. I don’t really want to talk about the guilt or innocence of Aaron Kosminski but instead the seemingly inherent human desire for closure. People want closure and, to a large degree, don’t really seem to care if it comes at the expense of critical thinking. Judging by what I’ve heard and read in media articles most people are thrilled to know that a conclusive result has been determined in the Jack the Ripper murders. Spoiler if you didn’t read the article, the case is far from closed.

Why do people care? The murders happened a hundred and thirty years ago. Solving the murders isn’t going to help or hurt anyone in any way. The descendants of victims are not going have their lives changed in any way. The descendants of the supposed murderer, who was a prime suspect to begin with, are not going to be arrested or punished. Yet, it’s clear to me, people are absolutely giddy with the idea that Jack the Ripper has been identified. Despite such knowledge having no practical effect.

I think the underlying cause is the satisfaction we get at a job well done, whether it is solving a murder or mowing the grass just right. Humans enjoy accomplishment and the identification of Jack the Ripper is just that. Not directly for me, not directly for anyone reading the article, but indirectly, very indirectly for people as a group. The case remains in the public conscious all these years later and there is a satisfaction derived from solving it.

I understand why people are happy with the news but I warn you to be aware of this human tendency and take it into account. Yes, you would be happy to know that Jack the Ripper has been identified but take into account you want this outcome. Be skeptical of people who understand human nature, in this case the people who released this supposedly conclusive proof. They are taking advantage of your desire to see something come to completion. The evidence is terrible and result is largely unsupportable. You’ve been duped.

In conclusion, be skeptical and do your research, particularly when it comes to something you want to believe.

Tom Liberman