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

Twenty-One to Purchase E-Cigarettes or Tobacco Products

E-Cigarettes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Enlightened Self-Interest and a Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001

Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Tiger Woods and the Wrongful Death Suit

Tiger Woods Lawsuit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Alyssa Milano and Why a Sex Strike is Just Like Prohibition

Sex Strike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Loot Boxes to be Outlawed by the Federal Government

Loot Boxes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Why is Human Composting Illegal in the First Place?

Human Composting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Why Does the Justice Department Care about the Academy Awards?

Academy Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Jussie Smollett and Small Government Collide

Jussie Smollett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Stormy Daniels Brings down the Vice Unit in Columbus

stormy daniels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman