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

Outlawing Fornication in Utah

Fornication

Legislators of Utah recently repealed a law that made having sex outside of marriage a crime, fornication. Interestingly, when the United States was founded no such laws existed but eventually sixteen states added them to the books. Punishment was rarely imposed and the Supreme Court largely made them unenforceable. Still, I wanted to examine the idea behind them and the danger they represent.

It’s pretty much summed up by the words of one of the Utah legislators against the repeal. Basically, Representative Kevin Stratton says that what is legal is below what is moral, and fornication is immoral. Far below, in his own words. I would guess there are people across the country who feel this same way, I would guess largely religious people. What Stratton is saying is that it’s true we cannot legally enforce the moral codes as laid about by various religious texts, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Thus, he voted, along with 31 other members of the Utah House, against the repeal.

This is the sort of thinking that has long held sway in both major parties. I think I know what is best for you and, when I have a majority position, I’m going to force you to do it against threat of criminal prosecution. In this case it’s certainly Republican based but I can offer examples of Democrats doing the same thing whether it be vaping or drinking sugary soda. Either way, it’s simply you telling someone else how to lead their life.

We must be cautious about how many things we make against the law or we will essentially turn our entire population in criminal. Oh, too late, we’ve already done it. There are so many traffic and drug laws I would guess that hardly a day goes by without everyone committing a crime of one nature or another. Here in my home state of Missouri, it’s illegal to use the wrong side of a crosswalk while crossing a street.

Imagine if the Supreme Court had decided it was perfectly acceptable to prosecute people for fornication. How many of you would be in jail? How many of you would have lost your freedom for having the audacity to believe you were actually free? Every time a law like this makes it onto the books, we put law enforcement officers in a position to selectively enforce their laws and that inevitably leads to inequity against whatever group is perceived to be the enemy. This is a danger to us all, because, eventually, someone who doesn’t like the way we conduct our lives is going to have the majority.

At some point a person is going to be in a position of power who doesn’t like something that you do and try to make it illegal. This is where the Constitution of the United States and its final arbiter, the Supreme Court, comes into play. They can strike down any law they believe violates the Constitution. Hooray!

We have limits expressed by the Constitution that people of both political parties really like and others that they hate. I find the Second and Fourth Amendments illustrate this nicely and I have a blog addressing that issue if you want to read it.

The point here is that Utah has, until the Governor signs the new legislation, a law that was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It is unenforceable both legally and pragmatically. Yet, some people want it still on the books. If that doesn’t make you appreciate the Constitution, all of it, then we are not of like minds.

Tom Liberman

Timothy Morrow and Stop Insulin Advice for Diabetics

Timothy Morrow

A fellow by the name of Timothy Morrow thinks insulin is a toxic agent that doesn’t help diabetics but instead hurts them. He recommends herbal remedies. He also promotes not giving children vaccines. He suggests alternative medical treatments for brain tumors and cancer. One of his clients had a child with diabetes and, on the advice of Morrow, didn’t give the boy insulin or call medical services. The child died. The question becomes if Morrow committed a crime.

This case reminds me in some ways of the Michelle Carter case in which she cajoled a friend to commit suicide. What Morrow did and continues to do is immoral and disgusting. He is dispensing bad medical advice for financial gain. The death of the young man in question is not the first time someone has died because they followed Morrow’s advice. However, is it criminal?

The herbal remedies that Morrow sells are labeled in a way indicating they are not approved for medical treatment and they are not intended to be used as medicine. He certainly advises people not to get vaccines, not to take insulin, not to go to doctors. His mantra is that the medical community is not interested in curing people but simply getting them sick and taking their money. Ironic to be certain as that exactly describes his own practice, but criminal?

It is reasonable to suggest that any person told not to give her or his child insulin for the child’s diabetic condition has plenty of information available to explain the folly of this advice. If the parent chooses to follow the bad advice despite ample and easily accessible proof to the contrary, who is at fault? The person who gave the bad advice or the person who followed it? Both?

Morrow pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse and has to pay for the cost of the funeral and an extra $5,000 in fines. The parents are not being charged with any crime at all.

Should the state met out punishment for people whose beliefs are unsupported by evidence and result in harm to a minor? Should the state seek criminal charges against those who offer medical advice that while perhaps heartfelt, leads to the death of a minor? These are important questions in this era when people forego vaccines and other life-saving medicines for their children because of, to be frank, completely ridiculous beliefs.

If I told you to drive off a cliff to cure your myopia and you did it, am I guilty of a crime? What remedy does the state have for people who do stupid things and people who dispense bad advice?

It’s a difficult question and cases need be evaluated individually but I’m not one to shirk away from a tough answer. In this case I’m sad to say I think the wrong people were charged. Don’t get me wrong, Morrow is vile, but he didn’t commit the crime, the parents did.

As I’ve said many times before, Freedom is free, it’s just not safe.

Tom Liberman

Suboxone Film Case Explains Drug Prices in a Nutshell

Suboxone Film

The United States Supreme Court just ruled that a drug called Suboxone Film, made by a company called Indivior, can no longer exist as a monopoly. Suboxone Film is used to treat opioid addicts and generated over a billion dollars in revenue for Indivior last year. That company has been fighting in the courts to keep generic, cheaper, versions of the drug unavailable. They lost.

I think a quote from spokespeople from Indivior pretty much explains the horrific situation we currently have in the United States when it comes to expensive medication. In arguing before the court, the company’s legal team stated: An entire business, and the jobs and livelihoods that depend on it, will be in peril.

Basically, what they are saying is that if a generic drug that does the same thing but at a far cheaper price were to be introduced it would hurt the company. This is actually quite true. However, it is not the government’s job to protect a company from being run out of business by competition, although that message has largely been lost when it comes to the Food and Drug Administration and our nation as a whole.

The government makes it incredibly difficult to introduce generic drugs in a number of ways and this leads to a lack of competition. The FDA is essentially a tool used by established pharmaceutical companies to make it difficult for competitors to gain a foothold in the market. The loser in all of this is the people of the United States.

Indivior says that if Dr. Reddy’s Laboratory is allowed to introduce their generic substitute for Suboxone Film to the market then they themselves will introduce their own authorized generic. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know then I’m not sure you will ever be convinced. Indivior has been more than able to introduce a cheap generic version of Suboxone Film for who knows how long. They haven’t done so because the United States has prevented competition. They say quite explicitly that if there is actual competition, they will introduce a cheap generic.

In the meantime, the people of the United States have been forced to buy an expensive drug in lieu of the cheaper substitute. This process subverts the glorious benefit of capitalism that Libertarians like myself extoll. If the market is allowed to operate largely in a free fashion then competition benefits everyone. It is when the government gets overly involved that everything gets messed up.

It’s important to understand that the FDA and the United States government as a whole are hurting us all the while claiming it is for our own protection. I’m not completely opposed to running trials for drugs to ensure their safety before allowing them to market, the problem is that the FDA isn’t doing that anymore. They are largely working for established companies and suppressing competition. They do this because they are bribed with fancy conferences, vacations for their families, and other benefits.

It took a lawsuit that made it all the way to the Supreme Court to change this particular instance and that should also tell you something. The case of Suboxone Film simply proves my point.

Tom Liberman

Nello Bans Single Women from the Bar Illustrating Compound Stupidity

Nello Restaurant

There’s a news story making the rounds about an upscale restaurant in New York City called Nello which has instituted a policy wherein they have banned single women from sitting at the bar. Such women must sit at a table. It’s a double-dipping, moronic, Libertarian Triggering, nightmare of epic proportions!

The reason for the new policy is that prostitutes sometimes sit at the bar in the hopes of attracting customer. The management of Nello doesn’t like having these ladies in their establishment so they’ve taken to seating single women at tables rather than the bar. Why is this so incredibly stupid, you might ask me? I’m so, so happy to tell you.

Nello is banning all women because women are engaging in a banned profession despite the fact that the banning of prostitutes is clearly not working in the first place! But, obviously, the banning of single women from the bar will work where the banning of prostitutes hasn’t. Oh, the joyous, glorious, Libertarian irony. I’m figurately giddy. Or is that literally giddy? You’ll have to read my recent blog on the difference between the two to know. As for me, I’m just so darned pleased with myself that I’m going to continue to ramble.

You see, the banning of women because the other banning isn’t working is not the only problem with the Nello policy. All single women wanting to dine at Nello are being punished for something someone else is doing. This is the misguided thinking behind the so many useless, freedom defying laws that dot the legislative slates across our country. Some people might waste their money playing poker or betting on sports, ban gambling! Someone might become addicted to a substance, ban marijuana! Kids might be vaping more than is good for them, ban Electronic Cigarettes! Someone might use a firearm in a crime, ban weapons!

Nello, my dear fascist enforcers of moronic policy, if there is a lady of the evening in your restaurant, kick her out. She’s the one causing the issue. Personally, I have no problem with prostitutes. They are providing a service to a willing clientele. However, I absolutely support Nello’s right to have in their establishment who they want; if they don’t want ladies of the evening so be it.

Now, before you start telling saying, ‘Hey, dumbass, you’re being hypocritical because Nello can ban single women at the bar and you should support their right to do so’. I agree Nello has every right to ban single women from the bar, the owner of the restaurant can make any decision in that regard he or she wants although Constitutional protections for gender might well be something to consider legally. I just think it’s a poor business decision. They are alienating a certain portion of their clientele.

Stupid decisions? Those are theirs to make as well. If it affects their business, perhaps they’ll change the policy. That’s the reality of the situation. I can’t tell Nello how they run their restaurants. I can choose which restaurants to patronize. That’s freedom.

Tom Liberman

Camp Fire Workers and Freedom of Speech

Camp Fire Workers
Camp Fire Workers Offensive Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Fluid Dynamics and Physics not Needed for Blood Spatter Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Cut Soccer Player Sues to be Put on Team

Ladue SoccerIs it legal when a coach decides to cut a high school junior soccer player from the Varsity team and the Junior Varsity team is generally reserved for freshman and sophomores who have more years to play, leaving the soccer player without a team? The parents don’t think so and are suing the school district for age discrimination. This is all happening right here in my hometown of St. Louis, MO at a Ladue Horton Watkins High School and thus catches my attention. There is a lot going on here worth discussing.

I have a long history of playing sports and I’ve had good coaches and bad coaches. I’ve had coaches who showed favoritism and coaches who simply wanted the best players at each position. There’s no doubt in my mind the coach might have unfairly or unjustly cut the player. It’s also clear that the age of the player is absolutely a factor in not being placed on the Junior Varsity team. The coach admits as much in a letter written explaining why the player was cut in the first place. If the youngster was on the bubble, as the letter says, then it is highly likely he has the skill necessary to help the Junior Varsity team.

Here’s the problem with all of that. It’s the soccer coach’s decision and the best player isn’t always the one that helps the team the most. There are all sorts of possibilities in play. Maybe the player in question is the fourth best forward and tenth best player on the team but there is only room for the top three forwards. So, despite being clearly one of the ten best players on the team, there is no room for him at his position. This happens all the time. At the college level a player in such a situation transfers to another school. At the professional level they are traded. At a private high school, they might move to a different school but a public school, such a Ladue, they are largely bound by the district in which their family lives.

The same rule applies to Junior Varsity. A player with three more years of eligibility has more to offer to the team in the long run than one with but a single year remaining even if they don’t currently have the skills of the older player.

It could be the player just has a bad attitude in the locker room and contributes to disharmony on the team. As I said, there are plenty of good reasons why the player was cut but there are also plenty of bad ones. Maybe the coach is friends with the family of another player who was kept on the team. We just don’t know. Maybe the coach is making a bad decision. Again, there is really little way to know.

In the sports world the thing that ends up mattering is results. If the Ladue soccer team fails to succeed in the coming years the coach will eventually be fired. If the coach makes a bunch of poor personnel decisions then failure is likely.

Life is filled with injustice but the final arbiter is generally success. This is nowhere more evident than in sport. I certainly feel badly for the player in question, particularly if the coach’s decision was based on anything other than merit, a possibility I not only admit exist but readily understand happens all too frequently. That being said, such personnel decisions must be left to the coach, not the state.

Tom Liberman

Does Ticketmaster Mind Scalpers Breaking Rules?

TicketmasterThere’s a fascinating story in the news involving Ticketmaster being complicit in scalpers reselling tickets. The idea is simple enough, Ticketmaster has a service called TradeDesk in which people who have tickets sell them to willing buyers. The problem is TradeDesk is largely a way for scalpers who purchase tickets on Ticketmaster to resell them at higher prices.

Why is this problem? At first glance it doesn’t seem as if Ticketmaster is doing anything wrong. They sell the tickets to whoever is first to purchase them and then are involved in the resale at a higher, or lower, price. This is obviously lucrative for Ticketmaster as they get a percentage of all sales; essentially, they are profiting twice off the same product. However, thanks to some undercover work from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, it seems Ticketmaster is making it very easy for scalpers to purchase large numbers of tickets to events before the public has a chance to do the same. Ticketmaster has a rule in which no one is allowed to buy more than a small block of tickets but they essentially ignore it when scalpers bypass it.

Thus, people who want to purchase tickets to an event never really have much of a chance and are forced, if they still want to attend, to buy the higher priced tickets at TradeDesk. Sales representatives for Ticketmaster told undercover investigators they pretty much were facilitating such transactions. The company is denying the allegation and said they are looking into the practice. They claim they attempt to stop such large purchases to the best of their abilities.

This entire thing intrigues me from a Libertarian perspective. Let’s imagine Ticketmaster doesn’t have the rule about blocks of tickets. Then what we are seeing is capitalism in action. The event promoters generally set the ticket prices and if resellers are able to get a higher price, it’s likely the promoters set the original price too low. That’s their bad. The scalpers are merely capitalizing on a mistake. The risk is all with the reseller. If they misjudge and have to resell the tickets at a lower price, because there is little interest for instance, they lose money.

I totally agree Ticketmaster is not being transparent if they are, indeed, allowing scalpers to purchase large blocks of tickets with the intent of reselling in violation of Ticketmaster rules. The reality of the supposed crime is more complex. Even if Ticketmaster cracks down on large blocks of tickets being sold to a single user, I’m fairly certain the scalpers will refine the technology they use to call and order and still scarf up the majority of the tickets.

Is it fair to the average user who just wants to go to the concert or see the game at the price of the original ticket? No. That’s clear. Then again, such a viewer can simply choose not to spend the extra money for the resold ticket.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman

Why is the United States Placing Cyanide Devices in Western States?

M-44 Cyanide DeviceThere’s an interesting legal case ongoing about a device called a M-44 Cyanide device which is used mainly in western states as a way to control coyote populations. One of the devices injured a young man from Pocatello, Idaho and killed his dog.

There are two elements to the situation that intrigue me. First is the case itself and second is the reason Wildlife Services places the devices at all.

The case is interesting in that the boy’s family describes the incident in which he was injured in a way that is largely impossible. They claim it exploded when he touched it but it has only a spring-loaded mechanism. It sprays cyanide when an animal bites the scented end and pulls with force.

The assumption here is that Canyon Mansfield likely did more than simply touch the device in order to set it off. That is the government’s argument for why they won’t pay damages. It’s probably true. They claim the Mansfield was negligent in handling the device and responsible for his own injuries.

Still, if I were in charge of the case I’d make the payment. It’s not going to set a precedent. People aren’t going to run out and mishandle the devices in order to get settlements. No one wants to be doused in cyanide.

The second thing I find interesting, from a Libertarian point of view, is why we are using the devices at all. Since the 1930s the United States has been placing the devices in order to kill coyotes and wild dogs. The M-44 Cyanide device killed over 12,000 coyotes in 2016 alone so they are clearly effective. This is out of the 76,000 the service killed overall. The reason we are killing such animals is they are a threat to livestock. Naturally they also kill pet dogs on occasion and at least 22 such animals were killed between 2013 and 2016.

I’m certain the Wildlife Service argues that far more pets and livestock would have been killed by coyotes if the devices were not used. My question is why is the government killing so many coyotes on public lands? The reason is simply because the United States leases these lands to ranchers in western states. The ranchers have livestock on the land and the government is spending your tax dollars to protect those animals.

This is at the heart of a number of problems, some of them having engendered major headlines in the last few years, associated with federally leasing such land. The ranchers depend on the land to feed their livestock. Without that land they couldn’t produce much of the beef we eat. Many of them have come to think of that land as theirs. However, if the land was owned by the ranchers they’d have to spend money to keep it up. As it stands, the government does all that work for them although the price of the leases mitigates the cost to some degree.

Basically, the government is killing millions of animals each year, yes, the number is that high, essentially to help out ranchers. There is pretty good evidence much of the killing is unnecessary. If the ranchers owned the land themselves they would probably carry out killings as well but because they don’t have an essentially unlimited budget, they’d probably only kill as many as necessary to protect their investment.

So why does the government own all this land which is being used largely by private industry? If you thought this problem was complex before, we haven’t even gotten started yet. That being said, I’ll give it a rest. I won’t bore you with the Bureau of Land Management, Native Americans, Public Land as a whole and the issues therein.

It’s not an easy issue to solve. I’ll say that much at least. Democrats largely wouldn’t want to turn the land over to private industry and Republicans largely wouldn’t want to force the ranchers to own and maintain that land. So, here we stand.

Tom Liberman

Cienega High and Senior Grad Trips Stealing Big

Senior Grad TripsThere’s an interesting story in the news about a travel company called Senior Grad Trips and various high schools including Cienega High in Tucson, Arizona. Basically, a company called Senior Grad Trips organizes high school senior trips to a variety of locations. They take the money and then apparently don’t deliver the trips. I don’t know all the details so I’m going to have to do some speculating but the basic idea is that stealing big is easy if you’ve got good legal advice.

The line from the story that really resonates with me comes from the mother of the one of the students from Cienega who had her money stolen, I could go to a grocery store and shoplift, and I would be put in jail that night. This man stole, and it’s taken more than a year for someone to say, ‘We’ll do something.’ What does it take for someone to care? Ronda Dillon made the comment after spending the last year trying to recoup the money her daughter and friends spent for the trip. So far to no avail.

Here’s what I’m guessing is the issue. Senior Grad Trips created their company with fraud in mind. The owners wanted to take money from various students, then use the profits on a party life. They had the contracts written with that in mind. They engaged in advertising designed to deceive. They covered their legal bases and there is little recourse against thieves of this nature. That’s why no one has been able to do anything as of yet.

Dillon is correct when she claims if she did some minor shoplifting she’d be charged and fined almost immediately. Our law enforcement agents are almost universally focused on petty crime while those who steal on a grander scale simply get away with it, smiling and nodding to our legal system all the while.

Deceptive contracts are the norm, not something unusual. Every contract you sign is designed with the idea of legally getting away with as much as possible. From your phone to your television viewing. Does anyone even dispute this?

Laws have been passed in recent years making it easier for a business to declare bankruptcy while individuals find it much more difficult. I wouldn’t be at all surprised, should there be an eventual resolution to this issue, if the students never get their money back and the owners of the Senior Grad Trips simply go on about their way, probably starting up some new scam.

That’s where we are. Practicing to deceive is not even fraud any more. It’s just a perfectly legal way to steal your money.

Tom Liberman

Stormy Daniels and Selective Enforcement of the Law

stormy danielsStormy Daniels was recently arrested when patrons at the strip club she was dancing at touched her in a non-sexual way. This is apparently against the law in Columbus, OH. Daniels is in the midst of a lawsuit against President Trump in regards to sexual relations between the two. The arrest is an egregious example of selective enforcement the likes of which is destroying the relationship between the police and the citizens they supposedly serve.

The idea is simple enough. The state or local government passes a law and law enforcement agents are tasked with enforcing it. We have a number of problems in this case.

The first of which is the law goes against almost everything for which a Libertarian stands. If two consenting adults want to touch one another then the government shouldn’t be involved in any way. I understand laws against lewd behavior in public but the location of this offense, a strip club, is specific enough that no one who goes there is going to see anything they don’t want to see. Certainly, they can leave if they do.

The second problem is perfectly clear, Daniels was not the only stripper touched in a non-sexual way during the course of the evening. It is obvious dancers and patrons touch one another in non-sexual, and likely sexual ways, every single night at Sirens. Police went to this strip club on a night where Daniels was guest dancing with a very specific target in mind. They were going to arrest Daniels for doing exactly the same thing that happens at that club every night, a fact law enforcement agents happily ignore. I’d be shocked if a few such agents haven’t done a little non-sexual touching of their own while out of uniform.

This blatant hypocrisy is undermining the entire community with not only law enforcement agents but the government itself. The law is stupid, this is true, but the selective enforcement of said law is dangerous. This selective enforcement is why arrests of minorities for minor traffic violations and drug transgressions are much higher than arrests for white people even while statistics show quite clearly there is no such discrepancy in those that commit such crimes.

This is a police force intent on attacking, I do not use that word lightly, targets of their ire and using the law to punish those they don’t like. The Constitution of the United States spends a great many words attempting to ensure this sort of behavior doesn’t occur. The Founding Fathers were subject to such selective enforcement by English agents of the law. They well-understood the dangers it presents and eventually rose up and violently ended such enforcement.

This targeting of someone at odds with the President of the United States is particularly disturbing. Could anyone who speaks out against their local Congressperson be so beset? If you vote against the Senator that wins might you be arrested for some minor legal violation while those who supported the Senator do it with impunity?

This is not as big a stretch as you might imagine. Once it becomes evident to politicians they can use the courts and law enforcement agents to imprison their political enemies the path is clear. Sadly, they don’t see the inevitable conclusion to this trail, they merely realize the immediate gain.

Dictators, even ones who espouse democratic ideals, often find themselves at the wrong end of an angry mob. Mayor Ginther, now you know.

Tom Liberman

Why Hate Crimes and Unmasking Antifa Legislation Show Political Hypocrisy

antifaThere is a new piece of legislation making its way through Congress that proposes an extra fifteen-year penalty for people who commit a crime while wearing a mask, Antifa. There is already similar such legislation in many states and the federal government for people who commit a crime motivated by hate. Who opposes and supports such legislation shows us the bankruptcy of the ethical philosophy of both Democrats and Republicans.

The gist of the problem is that government is trying to give extra penalties to people who commit similar crimes for different motivations or because they are wearing a mask. So now we have three classes of assault. If you assault someone you have committed a crime and are punished. However, if you do the same and are motivated by hate, you get an extra penalty. If you do the same and are wearing a mask, essentially Antifa, you get an extra penalty. The crime is the assault; not the motivation behind it or the clothes you wear while committing it.

Largely, Republicans are opposed to hate crime legislation because there is no need for it. Assault is a crime in itself. There is no need to add the person’s motivation to it. Democrats are, generally, for this legislation because people who commit such crimes deserve longer punishment and hopefully that will deter them.

Largely, Democrats are opposed to Unmasking legislation because there is no need for it. Assault is a crime in itself. There is no need to add the person’s choice of clothing to it. Republicans are, generally, for this legislation because people who commit such crimes deserve longer punishment and hopefully that will deter them.

I’m confident you can see the tremendous hypocrisy in this situation and I won’t spend any more time on that. What I will talk about is the enormous danger the government presents to all of us when it attempts to legislate such matters. What the government is attempting, in both cases, is to legislate against groups they see as aligned against their interests. In one instance it is Democrats against white supremacists and in the other it is Republicans against Antifa.

In both cases such legislation doesn’t reduce the risk of violence but increases both it and the danger of armed revolution. If enough people feel the government is willing to make up laws in order to put them in jail, they will simply attempt to create a new government. We see this path throughout history. In the United States we have the ability to vote in a new government and have largely avoided violent attempts at revolt.

Our government seems increasingly willing to imprison those they see as political enemies. This course of action is expressly forbidden in the Constitution of the United States. The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eight Amendments all attempt to prevent the government from enacting such legislation. They do so not only to protect the people but to save the nation from the inevitable violent revolt that such imprisonments eventually engender.

A politician must not take sides in political debate. She or he must simply present arguments and persuade people to vote accordingly. Anything else tempts disaster.

Don’t be a hypocrite, be a Libertarian.

Tom Liberman

A Study of Tariffs and Laws and the Tomato

tomatoWith all the talk of tariffs in the news these days, I’ve been doing a bit of research and came across an interesting Supreme Court case related to the Tariff of 1883 and the humble tomato. Our friend the tomato is almost universally referenced as a vegetable in common parlance, this despite the fact that it is undeniably a fruit in botanical definition. This became an issue when the two food categories were treated differently in said tariff legislation.

If you were a seller of produce back in 1883 and sold tomatoes the tariff became an enormous issue. You see, fruits were exempted from tariffs while vegetables were not. The government, being the government, decided to include as many things in its revenue scheme as possible and that included tomatoes.

A fellow named John Nix founded a company called John Nix & Co. which became the largest sellers of produce in New York. They shipped produce from Virginia, Florida, and Bermuda to the city. Naturally, Nix didn’t want to pay extra tariffs on tomatoes. This is one of the problems with such tariffs. They raise revenue, certainly, but that revenue is taken indirectly from tax payers. While Nix’s company certainly has to pay the tariff directly to the government, they recoup this loss by raising the price on their produce. Thus, any tariff is really just an indirect tax. That is beside the point.

The point here is that the case went all the way to the Supreme Court in Nix v. Hedden, Edward L. Hedden being the Collector of the Port of New York. Hedden collected that money and Nix wanted it back. From a botanical perspective, the tomato is undeniably a fruit and therefore clearly exempt from the vegetable tariff.

The Supreme Court decided, unanimously and against nature, the tomato is not a fruit, it is a vegetable. The argument being that it is commonly thought of as thus. It is eaten as dinner rather than dessert. Therefore, Nix had to pay the tariff.

Is there a moral anywhere to be found in all of this? I’m not sure. The government instituted a tariff that was vague in reference using simply the words fruits and vegetables in non-taxonomic terms. The Supreme Court decide what Congress was really trying to do was put a tariff on tomatoes even they are clearly fruit and thus changed the legal definition in regards to tariffs, although they had not the power to change the scientifically determined definition, for which we can all be thankful.

It does give us some insight into who is the one paying for these tariffs and why manufacturers and wholesalers tend to fight them to the bitter end.

And, of course, my summation. Even if the Supreme Court made Nix pay the tariff because the tomato is commonly thought of as a fruit, this does not change the nature of the tomato. It clearly fits the established definition of a fruit, like it or not. Me, I’ll go with science over government.

Tom Liberman

Amazon and Strict Liability Laws

Strict LiabilityThe judicial branch has ruled a woman named Megan Fox, who had her home destroyed in 2015 when her son’s hoverboard caught fire, is not entitled to damages under the Strict Liability laws enforced in the United States. The case is quite interesting for a number of reasons that, as a Libertarian, I’d like to examine closely.

Strict Liability law essentially mean that anyone who manufacturers, distributes, or sells a defective product is liable even if they were not negligent in causing said defect. The concept took root in California in the 1950s in a landmark legal case called Greenman v. Yuba Power Products. The idea being the individual harmed by the defective device often has little means to recover from a devastating injury. Prior to Greenman, liability required proof the user did not use the product in an unsafe manner. This sort of negative proof is extraordinarily difficult to show and cases that crisscrossed the United States ended up with horribly maimed victims unable to get even basic compensation.

This inequity meant that Strict Liability spread from state to state and is now established in federal law as well. Case closed, you might say. Amazon sold it and owes the Fox family for the damage. The problem is that Amazon didn’t really sell it or even list it, it was purchased on their Marketplace website. This allows third-party vendors to sell products directly to customers, Amazon merely being a common location where buyers and sellers can more easily find one another. Therefore, legally they are not part of the chain of liability. Case dismissed.

The company that manufactured the hoverboard is from China, maybe. The hoverboards ended up being extremely defective and there were any number of incidents. The company vanished. There is no one to sue. There are an increasing number of cases like this one and Amazon has won victory after victory in court.

The problem with finding Amazon liable in this situation is that such a law would then extend to any third party that facilitates the selling of goods from one person to another. Companies like eBay, eBid, and Bonanza would most likely have to shut their virtual doors immediately. Websites across the country would have to eliminate their classified sections. So, I think the courts ruled correctly.

I’ll go even a bit further in that I’d like to examine the idea of getting rid of Strict Liability altogether. The base concept is companies are more easily able to absorb the costs of catastrophic injuries related to products even if it wasn’t really their fault. They can simply budget this extra cost. Everyone pays a bit more for the product to compensate those few horribly injured. This is the idea expressed by the judge in the Greenman case which drove the concept of Strict Liability to dominate state law.

In the hoverboard case news of incidents involving the devices spread across the internet via social media almost immediately. Amazon eventually sent a warning about the devices and instituted a payment plan that anticipated many returns. You might say, well, goodness, all the more need for Strict Liability but I say the opposite. This ability to research the safety of products so quickly shifts the burden back onto the consumer. If you purchase an item without doing readily available and easily obtained information about it, then anything that happens is really your responsibility.

It’s important to understand that in this case removal of Strict Liability would make no difference. The product was manufactured with obvious defects and the company that made them would be responsible no matter what. In addition, if a person uses a product in an inherently unsafe manner and his harmed, Strict Liability does not apply.

Is it time to end Strict Liability, particular for products that have been readily available for a period of time and whose potential to cause harm has been established?

I think it’s an idea worth examining. What do you think?

Is it time to rexamine Strict Liability Laws?

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Tom Liberman

What Led to Twenty-Year-old Emily Weinman being Hit by Police

Emily WeinmanThere’s a viral video of a woman, Emily Weinman, being struck multiple times by a police officer that is making the news. Police have now released the bodycam video taken by the part-time officers who were at the crowded beach as extra security. Apparently, their job is to increase revenue in the region by harassing beachgoers.

Weinman is twenty-years-old and there were alcoholic beverages available where she was sitting. Officers didn’t actually see her drink anything. Despite this; they approached her, asked her age, shoved a breathalyzer in her mouth, and then tried to cite her for having drinks on the beach.

She was understandably upset at this bully tactic used by officers to extort money from citizens. Apparently, she wouldn’t cooperate and when they tried to grab her, kicked one of the officers. The video of him hitting her repeatedly is the result.

The problems here are many but the root issue is why police officers were trying to cite Weinman in the first place. It’s largely about revenue. The part-time officers are bullies most certainly. They enjoy enforcing their will on people unable to fight back. They are worse than schoolyard bullies. That fact is not the focus of this blog. What I’d like to try and convince people is these inane laws are driving a horrible wedge between law enforcement and the community they are supposed to be serving.

Who was in danger from Weinman having an alcoholic beverage near her? She clearly wasn’t drinking. We can be sure the breathalyzer came back negative, otherwise they would have ticketed her for underage drinking rather than simply having alcohol nearby.

The regulation itself is the problem and that is the case with so many laws. They are not designed to make us safer but simply to extract money from us. Most traffic laws are of the same ilk. Changing lanes without signaling, failing to come to a complete stop, running a red light at two in the morning when there is no traffic around.

Stupid laws of this nature give bully officers the opportunity to act out on their pseudo-sexual fantasies of dominating other people. If you don’t think the officers in question enjoy forcing other people to follow orders, you are sadly mistaken. There are plenty of wonderful officers out there who don’t try to enforce this nonsense. They are being slowly destroyed by their fellows.

The breakdown of trust between police and citizens results in terrible tragedies for all parties. The police are afraid, citizens are afraid. I belong to a number of Libertarian groups in which Anarchists make their feelings known. Well-armed and violence leaning anarchists. Police are enemy number one in their crosshairs, I don’t use that word lightly. We see this attitude growing in alt-right organizations as well.

The more trust breaks down the more society itself is harmed. What’s the solution? It’s certainly complex and there are many issues. Still, it is bad laws that drive a lot of it. The War on Drugs, the age restriction on alcohol and cigarette consumption, an absolute myriad of traffic laws. All of these things done supposedly for our safety but in reality, just revenue streams.

This leads us to the first step in solving this issue. Remove as many of the moronic laws as possible. This gives police less reason and fewer opportunities to harass and anger citizens. This in turn leads to better relations between the community and the law-enforcement arm of our government.

Our politicians have largely spent our municipalities and our states into bankruptcy. They can’t afford to pay teachers and need more revenue. How do they get it? By stealing from Emily Weinman.

Tom Liberman

Sports Gambling is Now Legal in Every State

Sports GamblingThe Supreme Court, in a 6 – 3 decision, struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 and made legal all gambling on sporting events in the United States. This is good news for the states who want to reap the profits therein. It is more of a mixed bag for those who wish to gamble because it is certain with this broadening of gambling there will be lives destroyed. I’d like to discuss that dual nature associated with gambling and what role the government has to play in it.

First, let’s examine how the bill got passed so we can dispense with blaming a particular political party. It’s an interesting case from a legal standpoint and the federal government used, as it often does, the Commerce Clause to provide legal justification for refusing to allow states to establish their own gambling guidelines.

The original bill passed through the Senate and the House of Representatives with little opposition from either party and the major professional sports leagues largely supported it. The Supreme Court has now ruled this was a violation of the Tenth Amendment power given to each state.

The Constitution is silent on gambling despite it being widespread at the time the Founding Fathers were writing the Constitution. They knew about gambling and the harmful effects therein, just as they knew about alcoholism and its damaging potential. I cannot in good conscience simply claim gambling is a victimless crime. People destroy their own lives and those of their families by leaving their estate bankrupt. People blow their children’s college funds which can and does have a major impact on their future earning, their entire lives.

Problem Betting is a terrible impulse control disorder, I’ve seen it in action on the few occasions I’ve visited casinos. The casinos here in the St. Louis area are largely not filled with happy people spending a night out with friends but with elderly and disabled people spending their disability and social security money. It is horrific to see and that’s why I largely don’t patronize casinos.

This is why politicians of both main political parties felt justified in passing the legislation that prohibited states from sports gambling. Well, they prohibited most states and most sports. Horse Racing, Dog Racing, and Jai-alai were exempted as was the state of Nevada.

Did this actually prevent people from gambling on sports? Of course not. People continue to gamble although not legally. They place wagers with bookies who are not bound by laws and regulations. Lives are destroyed despite the law. Will more lives be destroyed when gambling is made legal? It’s certainly possible.

The underlying question you must answer if you want to know if government has the right to prevent gambling is if you think people need to be protected from themselves. For a Libertarian like myself, the answer is an obvious no but the problem is more complex. People make horrible decisions and do tremendous damage to their own lives and those who care about them. Is there an obligation to help them, even if means others are prevented from doing something they enjoy?

Is my freedom to gamble worth the destruction of so many other lives? Is my freedom to drive a car at whatever speed I want if I’m very careful worth the lives that will be lost if others, less careful, do the same?

These are not easy questions to answer. I think gambling is a personal decision the government should not be involved in restricting. What do you think?

Does the government have the right to ban gambling to protect people?

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Tom Liberman

Jacqueline Ades and the 65K Texts

Jacqueline AdesA woman named Jacqueline Ades sent upwards of 65 thousand texts to a jilted love interest and the various stories seem focused on humor rather than it being an example of a terrible problem with our justice system.

Even a casual watching of her news conference clearly indicates someone in mental distress. She is clearly not capable of making competent decisions on her own. In layperson’s terms, she’s crazy. Not Ha-Ha crazy, but legitimately disturbed and desperately in need of help. Instead our justice system and our mental health facilities did not step in to do anything until long after the symptoms of her mental health were well in evidence.

We laugh at Ades and the thousands of texts but we lament when someone shoots up a school and kills dozens of people. When someone drives their car into a gathering and kills many of the assembled. Why didn’t someone do something? Let us look in the mirror. Let us look at our own uncomfortableness when it comes to mental illness.

Our ability to deal with mental health problems is abysmal. We don’t offer low level solutions when people first start to exhibit the problems. We just don’t care enough or want to turn the other way because it makes us feel uncomfortable.

Normally, I’m not one to absolve the perpetrator of an act from the consequences of their action, but insanity is a different matter. When someone truly cannot think in a rational way and commits crimes, we need to be better at finding them help.

We tend to ignore such problems or laugh them off. I’m not making accusations against others here, I do the same. I’ve seen people with clear mental issues wandering around the streets, had bizarre encounters in taverns. I’ve encountered people with obvious rage issues both in social media and on the road. Anger issues that might, someday, lead them to do something terrible.

I say to myself, there’s nothing I can do about it. That seems to be the solution we as a society have arrived upon as a way to deal with such problems.

I’m certainly not suggesting helping people with mental health issues is an easy path. I’m just saying it’s extremely sad that Ades has ended up in the criminal justice system, that it’s not funny. I like to think we can do better. Maybe I’m wrong.

Tom Liberman

Allison Mack and the Multi-Level Marketing Sex Traffickers

Allison MackA relatively famous actor named Allison Mack has been charged with sex trafficking for recruiting women to join a multi-level marketing company called NXIVM and an associated group called DOS. What is interesting about all of this is the supposed crimes were committed largely against eager and willing victims.

When it comes to the idea of human trafficking, the United States is currently in the midst of a Moral Panic. Supposedly 15,000 people are so trafficked every year but there is almost no actual evidence to support this number. That hasn’t stopped the government and a large number of well-meaning but largely self-deluded citizens from passing useless laws and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to combat the largely non-existent problem.

That’s where Mack and a fellow named Keith Raniere get involved. Raniere is a despicable fellow. He runs a multi-level marketing company called NXIVM which is slightly different than others of its kind. Instead of simply bilking people of their money with barely legal promises, he also uses the company to convince women to serve as his sexual slaves. Under his charismatic control they allowed themselves to be branded with his initials in their pubic regions. Mack served as leader of a subsidiary organization that recruited women to serve sexually. DOS stands for dominus obsequious sororium which is Latin for master over the slave women.

There are allegations that Mack and Raniere used blackmail to keep women in NXIVM and this is against the law. The fact that women joined a group and served as sex slaves is not, much as many would like it to be, a crime. Legally competent adults should be able to choose what they want to do with their lives, even if sexual perversions are involved. Where there are charges of coercion and blackmail, they should be investigated.

If Mack was involved with blackmail she should be so charged. The problem here is we are using laws created to stop a non-existent problem to prosecute people for a particular activity we find distasteful. Something that should never have been illegal in the first place. This is a microcosm of the entire War on Drugs and also the needless traffic crimes which result in the theft of billions of dollars from citizens.

I think it is telling when the government went to Mexico to arrest Raniere, the woman at his compound hopped into their cars and chased the police all the way to the airport trying to rescue him. They are clearly not victims here. Certainly, they are dupes and fools but they are participating in something and they eagerly want to continue to do so. The government should not be trying to prevent us from doing that which we desire, even if it isn’t in our best self-interest. That is our job.

Raniere is scum. Mack is as well. But unless they drug an unwilling victim and keep them imprisoned either physically or through blackmail, they haven’t committed a crime. I know the headlines are shrieking human trafficking but that’s not what happened.

As much as my stomach is turned by the behavior of Raniere and Mack, their freedom is my freedom. If they can be arrested for convincing someone to be a sex slave can I be arrested for convincing someone to purchase my books because the government might not like their content? It’s not as big a stretch as you might imagine.

We must guard not only our freedom, but those who we dislike as well, particularly those whose behavior is most disturbing.

Tom Liberman

Right is Right when it Comes to the Nuns and Katy Perry

Katy PerryAn ongoing story involving Katy Perry and a pair of nuns recently heated up again when one of the nuns passed away in court and the other claimed bankruptcy. I think what’s important to understand is Perry is completely in the right. Yet, there are clearly many who think she should give up her claim because the elderly nuns are a sympathetic pair. Bah humbug, says this scrooge.

I think the first step we should take is to examine the case itself. Five nuns lived at a property called Los Feliz for many years although moved away a few years back. The property is owned by the Los Angeles Archdiocese although two of the five nuns claim they were the actual owners because of their long years living there. The three other nuns are not part of the legal situation and support the Archdiocese’s right to sell.

Katy Perry expressed an interest in the property and was in negotiations to purchase it when the two nuns got wind of the sale. They watched a few of Perry’s videos and decided they didn’t approve of her. So, they contracted with a third party and quickly sold it for well under it’s value with a miniscule down payment.

The judge ruled that they had no right to sell the property and the third party was engaged in tampering and ordered Dana Hollister to pay Perry and the Archdiocese no small fee. “Clearly invalid,” was the term the judge used in regards to the sale.

It seems clear Perry is right from a legal aspect but I’m willing to go significantly further. I think she’s right from an ethical perspective. The nuns are behaving horribly and using their position to vilify Perry and break the law. They are acting in an incredibly entitled fashion. We don’t like Perry. They claim they are somehow breaking their vows by allowing the property, that they haven’t lived at for years, to be sold to someone so evil as Perry. Their behavior is despicable and filled with selfish and righteous horse manure.

The two, now one, are a playing on the sympathies of those who look at them and see a pair of elderly nuns being taken advantage of by a ruthless mogul when the opposite is closer to the truth. The nuns are acting ruthlessly and viciously exploiting their position to turn public opinion against Perry.

The surviving nun is now claiming she is bankrupt despite the fact the Archdiocese continues to pay all her living expenses and has expressed it will continue to do so until her death. She is saying terrible things about Perry.

I will not stand by. I’m calling her out! Try to be a decent human being in your last years of life you angry and bitter old woman. Yep, I’m yelling at a nun and I’m doing it because she is legally and ethically in the wrong.

Don’t give up the fight, Katy. And, if you ever happen to visit St. Louis, dinner and a drink? My treat.

Tom Liberman