Reopening Schools and why Federal Money does not Mean Federal Control

Reopening Schools

The issue of reopening schools is making a lot of headlines and parents all over the United States are hopefully learning a Libertarian lesson. Just because the Federal Government gives money to a particular organization does not mean they should write the rules governing it. Schools in this case. I’ve written on this topic before but from a State rather than Federal level. The lesson still applies.

Increasingly both Democrats and Republicans have used federal purse strings to influence how both state and local governments go about their business. Both Republicans and Democrats are not shy about using the money they provide to local government to rationalize said organizations must follow the directives of the federal government. Reopening schools is just the latest salvo in the battle.

Way back when I was a youngster of 19 at the University of Idaho, the drinking age was 19 and the federal government didn’t like that. The National Minimum Age Drinking Act basically withheld highway funds provided by the federal government for those states not instituting a higher age. Before that the government successfully coerced states into lowering their speed limits.

Today the federal government has a financial interest in almost every aspect of our country and federal politicians use this fact to coerce the states and local governments into doing the bidding of whatever party happens to be in power in Washington D.C.

Now President Trump with the full support of the Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, is attempting to coerce the various local municipalities by insisting students and teachers begin reopening schools. It goes without saying the various school districts across our nation are in vastly different circumstances. Some are in the midst of a Covid-19 crisis with cases rising and available respirators and emergency care beds available in hospitals dwindling or gone. Other districts have no cases whatsoever. If this situation does not illuminate to you the inherent problem with federal control, federal mandates, federal oversight, and federal oversteps then I suspect nothing will do so.

President Trump is threatening to cut of funding. Vice President Pence says explicitly: We’re going to be looking for ways to give states a strong incentive and encouragement to get kids back to school. This is coercion. This is the federal government telling all local communities they must handle the crisis in the exactly same way despite the obvious different circumstances. If you don’t find this insane, I suggest you might be a totalitarian fascist.

In our current situation the local community should decide if, when, and under what circumstances they will begin reopening schools. Anything else borders on tyranny.

Tom Liberman

The Taliban from Freedom Fighters to Bounty Hunters

Taliban

The Taliban of Afghanistan are in the news once again it gives me the opportunity to, once again, beg my fellow citizens to adopt a Libertarian stance toward involving ourselves in foreign conflicts. You see, my devoted readers, the Taliban was founded by Freedom Fighting Mujahedeen warriors largely assembled, funded, and trained by your tax dollars. A sordid tale that is, sadly, nothing more than a repeated refrain throughout the modern history of our nation.

The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan way back in 1978 and we’ve been heavily involved in the situation ever since. President Carter boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics, President Reagan funded and trained the Freedom Fighting Mujahedeen who coalesced into the Taliban after the Soviet Union was evicted. That’s the picture you’re looking at above.

President George W. Bush and United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 in the oxymoronically named Operation Enduring Freedom. If by Enduring Freedom you mean creating an endless conflict that costs countless lives and brings limitless suffering to all parties involved then I suppose it’s not an oxymoron. Otherwise ….

Now the Russians are using the Freedom Fighting Taliban to hasten the eviction the United States after our failed occupation. We’re already in full retreat, make no mistake about that, as I wrote about another time. I’ve written about other failures of U.S. policy in this regard. Our abandonment of the Kurds, the creation of the Mexican Narcotic cartels, the overthrow of the legitimately elected Iranian government.

I humbly beseech you; friends, Romans, countrymen. Avoid foreign entanglements. The evidence is overwhelming. It leads to death. It leads to misery. It leads to pain. Stop bombing people with remote control toys. Stop trying to convince me to give up other people’s lives to ensure my own freedom when all you do is endanger me more. Stop! Just stop, please.

Every time a politician tries to scare you with threats about how dangerous is this group or that group, domestic or foreign, just give them a swift kick in the hind quarters, and by that, I mean don’t vote for that person. You control this country with your vote.

When you read about Russia and the Taliban just remember who created the Taliban and why.

Just give the Libertarians a chance. This is your chance, this is our chance, take it.

Tom Liberman

Why Racists Often think they are not

Racists

I just read what many people will find to be a horrific article about a group of racists who happen to be police officers. What struck me about it was that after being caught making virulently racist comments, the three racists claimed they were not racists. It’s a refrain I’ve heard many times from racists over the years.

I wrote about my experience sitting at the table with people who made racist comments right in front of me but I’d like to spend some time today discussing why these clearly racist people think they are not racists. It’s fairly simple, in their minds if they don’t hate every single person of a particular group; black, Muslim, Evangelical Christian, Jewish, Atheist, whatever, they are not racists or bigots.

This is what leads many racists to mention how they are friends with a black person. Being a racist is quite simple. Do you hate someone because of the color of their skin, the religion they practice or don’t practice, the circumstances of their birth? If you do, you’re a racist. If you believe every person is an individual and you cannot hate or have any feelings at all about a person before you know them, then it’s likely you have Libertarian leanings.

Racism is an interesting topic for Libertarians. It is an absolute foreign concept to the ideals of the philosophy. Each person is an individual and must be judged by their words and deeds. You can never make assumptions about a person based on meaningless external factors. However, racists are entitled to their stupid opinions and, if they want to express their idiocy for all to see, that’s their business.

What’s important to understand is the world is filled with people who pat themselves on the back thinking they are not racists, like the three officers in question, when they are quite clearly racist scum who have no business in any position of authority, let alone law enforcement. I’ve known any number of people exactly like this. I had a police chief say to my face that he had never met a racist police officer. Perhaps I should have asked him how he defined racism and pointed out how he was living in a world of self-delusion. I did not, blame me for that.

You might think you aren’t a racist. You might think you’re a good person. Your friends might like you. You might behave in largely kind and decent ways to your friends and family. That doesn’t mean you’re not a racist.

If you choose to acknowledge it or not is your business. I’m not going to tell you to wake up. If you want to face the reality of your beliefs and actions, that’s up to you. However, I do think you’re a piece of garbage and if you die tomorrow, the world will be a better place.

Tom Liberman

Small Turnout at the Trump Rally Shows Enlightened Self-Interest

Small Turnout at the Trump Rally

I wrote an article yesterday about Enlightened Self-Interest in regards to the Aston Villa futbol team and today I’m taking on the same topic in regards to the small turnout at the Trump Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

President Trump flaunted Covid-19 restrictions by holding a large, indoor, rally and it was poorly attended. This is going to be a major news story today in various outlets for all sorts of reasons but the underlying, and most vital, is the display of Enlightened Self-Interest by those who chose not to attend.

The small turnout at the Trump Rally is going to be cheered on by the left because they imagine it shows an erosion in his support. The small turnout at the Trump Rally is going to engender a million explanations from the right and particularly the president who will undoubtedly blame his perceived enemies as an excuse.

The libertarian community should be cheering on the small turnout at the Trump Rally as a triumph of enlightened self-interest. Trump still has many supporters, more than enough to fill BOK Center to capacity many times over. They didn’t show up and that is important but perhaps for reasons both of the mainstream political parties don’t understand.

President Trump in particular, certainly because he’s an absolute moron and viciously sadistic, doesn’t care about Covid-19. He doesn’t care about his supporter’s health and certainly enjoys the image of his many perceived enemies suffering. However, intelligent people are also against draconian restrictions in relation to Covid-19, not because they relish the suffering of enemies, as does Trump. Not because they don’t understand the nature of a highly infectious disease, but simply because they believe people have the ability to show their own Enlightened Self-Interest and should be trusted to do so because they are adults in charge of their own lives. Count me among such.

The small turnout at the Trump Rally displays our point. People care about their health and the safety of their loved ones more than any political figure. Trump supporters they certainly are; but they are people who are worried about their own safety and that is a wonderful thing. I applaud them for not showing up, not because they have abandoned Trump, but because they are acting like Libertarians. Good for you!

My hope, my dream, is that those who didn’t show up might consider the fact their chosen candidate doesn’t much care about their health, frankly, he doesn’t care much about anything other than himself and everyone is well-aware of it. You don’t have to vote for a Democrat, who have plenty of their own problems, there is another choice. Her name is Jo Jorgensen.

Tom Liberman

Freedom is for Everyone

Freedom is for everyone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

My Freedom or Our Freedom?

Our Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

You have been Buying Wine Properly All this Time

Buying Wine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Video Killed the Radio Star or Did it?

Video Killed the Radio Star

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

The Inherent Corruption of an Essential Business

Essential Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

The War in Afghanistan is a Libertarian Nightmare

War in Afghanistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Utah to Make Polygamy a Misdemeanor

polygamy a misdemeanor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Kris Bryant and the Cubs test Libertarian Ideals

Kris Bryant

There’s been an interesting story in the sports world involving Chicago Cub slugger Kris Bryant that has been simmering for five years. Bryant was a highly-touted young rookie for the Cubs that season but they kept him in the minor leagues for two weeks starting the season. This denial means Bryant must wait until 2021 to be a free agent and sign an enormous contract, rather than doing so this year.

Bryant lost an arbitration case in which he argued the Cubs made their move solely to deny him a year of service while the Cubs argue the two weeks were necessary seasoning for Bryant before being called to the major league club. As is my way, let us dispense with all nonsense. The Cubs kept him in the minor leagues back in 2015 for the sole-purpose of getting an extra year out of him without paying free agent prices. The argument the Cubs put forward is a lie. This is not the subject of my blog today.

What I want to examine is the Libertarian ideology that people, or organizations, generally do what is in their best interest. It can be argued the Cubs did what was in their best interest by holding back Bryant for two weeks. They basically got his services for almost the entire season and gained an extra year by doing so. However, Bryant is angry about it and has refused all long-term contracts the Cubs offered him. He wants out because he feels they cheated him. That is clearly not in the interest of the Cubs.

My beloved St. Louis Cardinals have a history of not resorting to this particular methodology as a way to keep players under contract. Often times, but not always, the player eventually signs a long-term contract under reasonable terms with the Cardinals. It can be argued that the strategy employed by both the Cardinals and Cubs is in their best interest. This is a problem with Libertarian Ideology in regards to enlightened self-interest.

We don’t always know what is in our best interest in the long run. It is also clear what is in the best interest of one side is not always in the best interest of the other, in this case Bryant and the Cubs are at odds over the subject.

Sometimes people and organizations behave in self-destructive ways that are not in their own interest. Where does this leave a Libertarian such as myself?

I understand that enlightened self-interest isn’t a line that can easily drawn and that sometimes it is impossible to do so. The question for me is if the arbitration committee gets to make that decision. Do they get to say the Cubs acted illegally and grant Bryant free agency immediately?

Major League baseball and the player’s union came up with a system. The Cubs manipulated that system. Bryant is the victim. It was a crappy thing for the Cubs to do to him but they followed the agreed upon system and that is really all we have to make any final determinations. Can a better system be implemented? Likely. Proceed to do so.

Tom Liberman

Give the Gift of Peloton

Peloton Commercial

As most of you probably know, there’s a Peloton commercial roiling the world and when there’s an opportunity to tell everyone they’re wrong, well, I’ll be there. You’re all wrong! Let’s take a look at the ad from my point of view.

The thirty second commercial shows a husband giving his wife a Peloton for Christmas. She soon begins a workout regime on the bike both complaining about the early mornings and the harshness of the instructor while clearly enjoying the exercise she gets as well. At the end of the commercial she tells her husband that she didn’t know how much the bike would change her life.

The complaints are largely centered around the idea that her husband gave her the bike presumably because he thought she needed to lose weight. That the man is forcing his wife to lose weight against her will in order to conform with his unreasonable standards of beauty, that she is bowing to his abusive behavior.

We can make as many speculations about his motives and her desires as we want. Maybe she wanted to lose weight and had complained to him about her size. Perhaps she wanted to gain fitness and strength. Maybe his motivation was exactly as the detractors are suggesting, all these things are possible but largely irrelevant.

The bottom line is that she got on the bike, rode, and apparently gained something from it. Perhaps it was simply to please her husband. Maybe it was to be an example of strength and fitness to her daughter who is seen cheering her mother on several times in the advertisement. Again, we don’t really know the answers to these questions. What we do know is that she wanted to ride and is happy with the results, that she thinks her life has changed for the better because of riding.

We must take her word for it. I cannot lead her life for her nor should I try. That’s the problem with everyone criticizing this ad and also with many who support it by making unprovable claims about the good intentions of the husband. Neither of their lives are ours to lead. They are adults. They make decisions about their lives.

He chose to buy the Peloton for her, we don’t know why but we must respect his decision to do so. It’s not a crime to buy someone a Peloton. She chose to ride the Peloton and we must respect her decision to do so, it’s not illegal to want to ride a Peloton.

It’s this attitude that we know better how other people should lead their lives that infuriates me. She chose to ride and that’s good enough for me, why isn’t it good enough for you?

Tom Liberman

Meghan McCain and Who is Talking

Meghan McCain

Meghan McCain recently gave an interview lamenting the fact that because she and fellow hosts on The View are women, their conversations and arguments are treated differently than if the same heated discussions were debated by men. McCain is absolutely right but the problem goes far beyond her assertion. Let me explain.

There is no doubt when McCain and Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg or other hosts get into a heated argument it is described as a cat-fight or they are being shrill with one another. There is an inherent sexism in the way she and her co-hosts are viewed. This is an enormous problem in the country and in the world. I don’t want to minimize her point but it’s the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Viewers of the show also dismiss one woman or the other because of their perceived political affiliation.

Many people dismiss gay men who speak in a high-pitched voice. Many people dismiss those who speak with a southern accent. Right here in my beloved home state of Missouri we dismiss people because of they way they pronounce it: Missouree or Missourah. If you say it one way, you’re just some city slicker who doesn’t understand rural issues and if the other then you’re a country bumpkin.

You can repeat a quote and attribute it to one president and get cheers but then explain it was actually a president from a different party and be showered with boos.

I don’t want to single you out but it is abundantly clear actions you consider egregious from a politician affiliated with your party would be excused if that person belonged to the other party. You can pretend the Emperor isn’t naked but the reality is completely the opposite. You know for a fact the horrors you accuse one person of committing, you would absolutely ignore if they were from the other party. Don’t even bother trying to lie to me, go ahead and lie to yourself if it makes you feel better.

There is a huge problem when the most attention is paid to who is saying something and not what is being said. McCain is a woman; this is true but irrelevant. When she gets into a debate with Goldberg or one of her co-hosts; listen to what they are both saying. Evaluate the words and concepts, not the person or the political ideology.

I’m reminded of a quote from a despicable fellow by the name of Martin Shkreli: “Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government,” he said after being grilled by Congress about a massive increase in drug prices. When a fellow is right, he’s right, no matter what I think of him personally.

Tom Liberman

Too Old to Trick or Treat Laws

Trick or Treat

There’s a viral story making the rounds about Chesapeake, Virginia and their ordinance against anyone over the age of 14 going out to Trick or Treat over Halloween. The city council passed the law which carries with it a fine of $250. People are outraged. I’ve written before how it’s within the purview of any local government to pass any law it wants. My problem with this law is that it creates criminals where there are none.

Most people think the government shouldn’t be out there checking on the age of children who are out on a Trick or Treat mission. I agree although, as I’ve written, it is certainly not a right granted by the Constitution of the United States and thus local municipalities can write laws banning the practice to people over a certain age.

The problem comes from why the law was written in the first place. In reading the article you find that way back in 1968 there were several Halloween pranks that went too far, including older children throwing firecrackers into the candy sacks of little Trick or Treaters. The ordinance was passed so that police could arrest those engaging in destructive behavior on Halloween.

The problem, for this Libertarian, is that engaging in mayhem is already against the law. Most municipalities have extensive rules and regulation on such things. If the law enforcement agents witnessed something like that happening, they already had plenty of legal backing for an arrest.

The good news is that the police in Chesapeake have engaged in incredible restraint in regards to this law. They have cited no one since it came into existence way back in 1970. I’m often critical of law enforcement officers here on this blog and I want to take time out to salute the fine women and men of Chesapeake who have shown wonderful judgement in refusing to enforce this stupid law. If only all police officers had such good sense.

The problem is the officers are allowing people to break the law every Halloween. I guarantee there are plenty of children over the legal age out there engaging in Trick or Treat candy collecting. This is where we get selective enforcement of the law and where police officers often run into charges of racism and other misbehavior.

The point is the law itself is stupid. It makes criminals of anyone over the age of 14 who wants to Trick or Treat. There are plenty of incredibly stupid laws on the books but, sadly, police don’t always ignore such ordinances.

If the city council of Chesapeake wants to prevent mayhem on Halloween, they need merely enforce existing laws preventing such. They do not need to create new laws and new criminals. This leads to far more trouble than the law was intended to stop.

Tom Liberman

TSA Bans Disney Thermal Detonator Soda Bottles

Thermal Detonator Soda Bottle

**** UPDATE ****

The TSA will allow the Disney Thermal Detonator Soda Bottles in stored luggage but not carry on.

**** END UPDATE ****

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently decided to ban people from bringing Disney Thermal Detonator Soda Bottles on planes because they apparently have a resemblance to hand-grenades. Why did this do this? Let’s examine the question.

The Thermal Detonator Soda Bottles are actually just soda bottles, not thermal detonators. They are designed to look like an explosive device set in the Star Wars universe and are being sold at Galaxy’s Edge, a themed area at Walt Disney World in Florida. The devices are rather neat looking and many people are keeping them after finishing the sugary beverage inside. Naturally, many of these people are travelers and want to bring them home.

The idea is that someone with the intention of committing a terrorist act might bring across a real weapon and claim that it is merely a toy, and in this way circumvent security guards. This appears to me to be patently nuts. Why would a terrorist disguise a bomb as something that looks like a bomb when they can disguise it as a barbie doll or any other plastic souvenir? The Thermal Detonator Soda Bottles are made of plastic, as are many things that don’t look like weapons.

The reality is the bottles don’t really look like a hand-grenade anyway. They look like a fictional weapon from the Star Wars universe. There are plenty of things that bear a vague resemblance to a weapon or a fictional weapon and are not banned by the TSA.

There are two other likely reasons the TSA has banned the Thermal Detonator Soda Bottles, at least in my opinion. The first is they enjoy hassling passengers. The second reason is they want to give people the illusion of safety without having to do any real work. The illusion of safety makes people feel better but doesn’t actually do anything to make their lives safer.

Does banning Thermal Detonator Soda Bottles make you any safer? No. Therefore, your freedom is being taken away for no discernable reason. And, you guessed it, I’m opposed.

Tom Liberman

Antonio Brown and the NFL Helmet Kerfuffle

NFL Helmet Antonio Brown

There’s in an interesting situation in the NFL involving wide receiver Antonio Brown’s desire to wear the NFL Helmet of his choice rather than that mandated by the league. Until this season the players were allowed to wear whatever helmet they wanted but new rules only allow certified NFL helmets to be used. Brown wants to wear the same helmet he’s worn for his entire career but the league prohibits doing so and therefore he is filing legal injunctions against the league.

Certainly, the league has the prerogative to dictate uniform requirements. Their new rules affected a number of players in the league including Tom Brady who has expressed displeasure with the situation but so far complied. To fully understand the situation, we have to delve more deeply into the history of the league and the nature of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and the role concussions play in it.

CTE is a terrible disease which seems to occur largely in athletes who play contact sports like boxing, football, ice hockey, and others. Players suffering from the symptoms of the disease and other difficulties sued the league and have won more than a billion dollars in various settlements to date. The league long denied any connection between brain injury and repeated concussions despite strong evidence suggesting otherwise.

The motivation for the change is clear. The league wants to do everything in their power to defend themselves from future lawsuit but also to protect players by using NFL helmets believed to be best for preventing head injuries.

It seems clear Brown should want to use a better helmet for his own self-interest but it must be remembered hockey players long fought against having to wear helmets and facemasks including even goalies. They didn’t feel comfortable in the new equipment and thought it impaired their ability to perform. People often do things that are largely self-destructive and what is the role of an employer in preventing such behavior? That’s essentially the question with which we are dealing.

I think the NFL helmet rule is perfectly reasonable. They are a private entity making uniform rules for their employees. If the same thing was being forced on the NFL by a government agency, I might well have a different opinion on the subject. In addition, the right to wear whatever NFL helmet you want is not protected by the Constitution of the United States so the league does not fall afoul of that important document.

As a Libertarian I sympathize with Brown. I think it’s unfortunate he doesn’t get to wear the helmet of his choice but the reasons his employer are enforcing new rules are more than compelling, even if the new helmets prove ineffective in preventing brain injury.

Tom Liberman

Anand and Kramnik or Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Anand and Kramnik

In the chess world, which I enjoy although about which I’m aware my loyal fans are somewhat less enthusiastic, there is an interesting dichotomy in the behavior of two former world champions, Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand. Anand is still playing top level chess while Kramnik decided to give up competitive chess. Whose decision is right and whose is wrong?

It is certain one must be a good decision while the other is bad because they are in opposition to each other. Is it proper to continue to play chess competitively when you were once world champion but have little or no chance of once against ascending those dizzying heights? Kramnik is five years younger than Anand but decided he’d had enough, while Anand is still playing and doing extremely well at top-level events.

Surely, we must decide one of the two is correct while the other made a terrible mistake. That is our job, after all. It is all but impossible that both adults are capable of making the best decision about their own life and that I shouldn’t be telling them how to go about living.

It’s impossible that Anand enjoys playing chess and feels he is a role-model for the many young Indian players who are making their presence known with some great chess. Therefore, the best decision for him was to keep playing the game he loves. No, I must inform him that his once greatness is gone and now, he must retire to save his dignity.

It is likewise quite clear that Kramnik, younger than Anand, still has some great chess in him. That just because he doesn’t enjoy playing as much and wants to pursue other avenues in his life is no reason to quit so young. I am just the person to tell him how to go about leading his life.

It’s impossible for mentally capable adults to make better decisions about their life than I can make for them. Frankly, I think the governments of India and Russia should interject themselves into this matter and pass a law forcing Anand to quit and Kramnik to return to the game. Or, wait, forcing them both to quit, or no, forcing them both to keep playing. Or something. We need government oversight; we need other people telling us how to lead our lives. Yes! I’m outraged at one of them, I’m not sure which, but there is wrongness here and it must be addressed! Who better to do it than me? Than the government?

Tom Liberman

Big Government Liberal Josh Hawley at it Again

Big Government

Once again big government liberals, Republicans that is, are proposing intrusive laws into an industry they barely understand. Senator Josh Hawley from my beloved home state of Missouri wants the federal government to tell Facebook how to arrange their page and limit you to thirty minutes of time on Facebook a day. Yay, saved by big government liberals again.

Hawley thinks endless scrolling and auto-playing advertisements play upon human addiction patterns and must be controlled by the government. His new bill in Congress goes so far as to force Facebook to inform you every thirty minutes that you’ve been on their site with a conspicuous pop-up, yes, I know, the bill rails against pop-ups but wants to enforce itself with pop-ups. Even if you specifically allow Facebook not to ban you after you’ve been on for more than thirty minutes, you’ll still get reminded about it if this law is passed.

Here is the reality about big government liberals. They are rampant in both the Republican and Democratic party and their goal is largely to legislate their perceived enemy out of business. Would you stand by if there was a law proposed about how many cigarettes you could smoke? How much alcohol you could drink in the privacy of your home? Why aren’t Hawley and his big government cohorts on board with sugary drink bans that play upon human addictions? Because the sugary drink companies aren’t in his crosshairs.

This is the problem with big government. It uses its power to attack perceived enemies rather than governing. This is why Libertarians rail against such, regardless of the good intentions espoused by the legislative branch. The more power we give government to control our personal lives, the more they will use it to hurt their foes, it matters not that they are Republicans or Democrats. There is only one party that largely wants to leave you to your own devices.

Libertarians trust you to spend as much time on Facebook as you want. They trust you to smoke as many cigarettes as you want, to drink as much alcohol and soda as you want, to purchase as many loot boxes in video games as you want; even if doing so is unhealthy or unwise. It’s your money, it’s your life, it’s your time; not mine. I absolutely do not know better how you should you lead your life than you do yourself. That’s the mantra we should all embrace. That’s the kind of women and men we should elect to avoid big government liberals of all political stripes taking away our freedom.

Cling to your big government party all you want, that’s your business, but don’t come crying to me when it’s your freedom they decide to take.

Tom Liberman

Nike and the Patriotic Shoe Flap

Patriotic Shoe

There’s a ridiculous news story flapping in the wind that gives me a chance to wax poetic about patriotic behavior, moral relativism, and general Libertarian ideology. It centers on the Nike company pulling a shoe with an old American flag on it. So-called patriotic politicians and others are slamming Nike for doing so, Nike’s reasoning being that a Nazi group has used that same symbol for their own rallies.

It’s an interesting situation because for the greater part of the history of the United States it was considered quite unpatriotic and disrespectful to wear the American flag on clothing. When the hippies in the 1960’s starting doing so it was the very same “patriotic” politicians, who today criticize Nike, then lambasting the counter-culture individuals for their horrible behavior. This displays, in no uncertain terms, moral relativism.

Basically, the idea of putting the American flag on clothing has gone from being unpatriotic to patriotic over the course of about fifty years. It’s interesting that those who most vehemently claimed it was disrespectful and unpatriotic now equally disparage Nike for not marketing the shoe. This is moral relativism. What was once immoral, or unpatriotic in this case, is now quite moral and patriotic. Wearing the American flag on your clothing is a symbol of being a patriot.

Another issue this particular flap bring to the forefront is the ideology of small government. For many years it was the mantra of the Republican party that government should not be involved in business decisions, or at least that involvement should be kept to a minimum. Meanwhile, Democrats insisted that government was necessary to curb the excesses of business leaders. Obviously, it is now Republicans threatening Nike with repercussions for their business decisions and Democrats insisting Nike should be allowed to do as they want.

For a Libertarian the answer is simple. Nike can make whatever decision they want and the governor of Arizona and the leader of the U.S. Senate are clearly big government Liberals in sheep’s clothing. Don’t like it? Reality hurts. The root problem stems from all the incentives businesses take from government in the first place which then gives said officials the feeling they have the right to tell companies how they should go about running their business. It seems simple to me, get out of it altogether. No tax breaks, no incentives, sink or swim on your business decisions.

Finally, as to the groups using the thirteen-star flag symbol to promote hatred and violence. Last I checked, this is a free country although perhaps I need to check again. They can use whatever symbol they want. Nike can market whatever shoe they want. People can wear whatever clothes they want. It’s not my business and it most certainly is not the government’s business.

Tom Liberman