The Problem with Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished

The phrase Mission Accomplished is irrevocably tied to President George W. Bush in association with his victory speech in May of 2003 in regards to combat operations in Iraq but I think it can easily be applied to the recent assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. The idea being because the shooting war with Iran didn’t escalate, the worst is over.

I see people of the two main political sides of the fence sighing with relief or declaring mission accomplished. Neither reaction is warranted. I was opposed to the War in Iraq from the beginning. I stand firmly behind the idea the United States would be safer, the world would be better, and our political divide would be less if Saddam Hussein were still alive and in power. I know that I have the benefit of hindsight but I said it then and I’ll repeat it now.

The problem is that this assassination will have consequences down the road. Upon hearing the news, I immediately imagined that Iraq might demand we remove our military presence in their country. My mind does not distinguish between a car bomb blowing up a U.S. dignitary and a missile doing the same to an Iranian. We have just legitimized any such action as being reasonable. Other countries that house U.S. troops are certainly pondering the idea that we might launch assassination from those bases, they might be considering expelling our presence.

Certainly, our reaction to Iran firing missiles at our bases in Iraq, or lack thereof, was partially predicated on the idea that the nations where we have military assets might have refused to allow us to strike back from those location.

Just as after mission accomplished in Iraq, I imagined a prolonged occupation of the country along with geopolitical turmoil, I imagine long term negative consequences to these actions. The faces I see lauding this mission accomplished are familiar to me, they were the same ones cheering before. The voices are the same as before. Perhaps they lack the imagination to understand this was no solution and almost certainly created more problems than it solved. Perhaps they have the ability but enjoy the warm-fuzzy feeling they get by ignoring it as compared to the horrible sinking pit that I feel in my stomach.

Way back in 1953 we overthrew the duly elected government of Iran and installed a brutal dictator in its place. I’m sure people were cheering the wisdom of President Eisenhower then. Today we favor Saudi Arabia and vilify Iran as people cheer on and on, but the long-term reality of those actions has yet to fully play out.

Despite all my imagination I did not envision an Arabic Caliphate in the form of ISIS or the terror it continues to perpetuate. What horrors will this latest action unleash? I don’t know. I am quite certain it isn’t mission accomplished; it never is.

Avoid foreign entanglements.

Tom Liberman

Nicole Franklin Running Over a Mexican Girl

Running over a Mexican girl

Nicole Franklin is accused of running over a Mexican girl who was walking on the sidewalk. Franklin is now being charged with attempted murder. Franklin admitted to doing so because she thought the victim was of Mexican nationality. A number of groups want to charge Franklin with a Hate Crime in addition to attempted murder but Polk County Attorney John Sarcone is resisting such efforts. Good for him I say.

I wrote about my objection to hate crimes not long ago but this gives me an opportunity to reexamine the situation. What Sarcone says is very instructive in this regard. A hate crime charge enhances other charges, such as arson and assault, but doesn’t apply to attempted murder. The gist is the idea we should punish people extra for crimes based on the criminal’s motivation.

Sarcone argues that attempted murder is a heinous crime and the charge stands alone. That enhancing that charge is useless. I agree with Sarcone in regards to attempted murder but I disagree in regards to arson or assault. Both of those crimes also should stand alone. Running over a Mexican girl is plenty of reason to put someone in jail. We don’t need to know what was Franklin’s motivation in order to charge her appropriately. Is running over a Mexican girl more of a crime because Franklin hated Mexicans? I hardly think so. What if Franklin ran her over because she was wearing a dress purchased at Walmart and Franklin was once fired from a Walmart?

This illustrates the problem with the very idea of a hate crime. It gives our government, and their law enforcement arm, a way to punish particular members of our society differently depending on their mindset. Everyone who intentionally drives their vehicle onto a sidewalk and attempts to run over a Mexican girl, or anyone else for that matter, is equally guilty. The police must not be allowed to take our thoughts into account, even if we admit to them.

Is Franklin a vile human being? Certainly. Did she allow political rhetoric to destroy her own life and almost murder an innocent? Yes, and yes again. Are there others out there like Franklin? Absolutely. The question is if we serve society by giving Franklin a bigger penalty because of her hatred of Mexicans. There I must answer a resounding no. We actually harm society.

If authorities can charge Franklin with a more serious crime because she hates a group of people, we are giving the government a power they should not, must not have.

Let’s imagine the government decides it has a vested interest in putting Anarchists in jail. They can now charge someone with a more serious crime, say jaywalking while an Anarchist, than they can any other jaywalker. Anarchist hate laws, Anarchist commit crimes more heinously than others. This allows the government to favor one group over another simply because of their mindset or the organization to which they belong.

This is a road, pardon the pun, that leads to very bad places and I understand such, I hope you do as well. Charge Franklin with attempted murder for running over a Mexican girl, that is what she did, and that is what she should be charged with doing. Nothing more or less.

Tom Liberman

Pete Buttigieg and the Wine Cave Kerfuffle

Wine Cave

There’s an interesting political story making the rounds about a wine cave fund-raiser attended by presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. An opponent of his in the Democratic Primary, Elizabeth Warren, described an event he attended as being held in a wine cave and hosted by a billionaire; these being bad things in Warren’s mind.

It can be argued, and I have, that groups should not be able to contribute to a campaign but we will never be able to stop individuals from giving as much as they desire.

Actor Jane Lynch, a Buttigieg supporter, commented that billionaires have as much right to say who gets to be president as waitresses and plumbers. Lynch received a great deal of criticism for this comment although so has Warren for hers. The wine cave comment is interesting on its face and both sides have legitimate points, that’s what I’d like to discuss.

What Warren says is undeniably true. Wealthy people hold fund-raisers, sometimes in a wine cave and sometimes not, which political candidates attend. The goal being, not surprisingly, raising funds. Warren portrays this as a bad thing, that billionaires have an oversized influence on who wins an election. It is undeniable that billionaires help raise money and contribute huge amounts to campaigns. This being true, it doesn’t make a bit of difference when it comes to casting my ballot. I vote for whom I want to, regardless of how much money they raise or whom a billionaire happens to supports.

However, it is also certain that many potential candidates are eliminated from the election in part because they can’t raise enough funds. I argue the inability to raise funds is more a product of being an uninspiring candidate than anything else but there is truth to the accusation. A candidate who doesn’t attract wealthy backers is in serious jeopardy of being unable to finance a campaign.

Warren is correct that billionaires influence campaigns far more than waitresses or plumbers when it comes to fund-raising. Lynch is right in suggesting that each person can vote a single time and a plumber’s vote counts for exactly the same as a billionaire’s vote.

What’s most important about this issue is that each side is right in their own way. If Warren doesn’t want to attend billionaire, wine cave fundraising events she should not. If Buttigieg and other candidates want to do so, they should. What we as voters must decide is if it bothers us. For some the answer will be yes and for others no.

Wealthy people have always had an outsized influence on political elections and political policy. The biggest problem is not that wealthy people have a say, it’s what those wealthy people are saying. Are they interested in a better United States of America today or do they want a better bottom line at the expense of tomorrow?

Wealthy and charismatic individuals will always have a bigger say in the outcome of elections. You may not like it, but it’s reality.

Tom Liberman

Zoo Regulations and the USDA

Zoo Regulations

Most of you may not realize it but the United States Department of Agriculture is in charge of enforcing zoo regulations and citations on over 10,000 zoos, circuses, breeders, and research facilities. They are now in charge of, for some reason, inspecting and citing for violations of zoo regulations the aforementioned 10,000 locations. Zoos obviously have nothing to do with agriculture and yet, here we are.

The reason I know about this is because, as a Libertarian, I tend to have friends on both ends of the political spectrum and some of them are quite passionate. One of my animal activist friends posted a horrific story about an Animal Park in Virginia. To say what was happening to the animals would shock and dismay any decent human being, no matter their political affiliation, is an understatement.

The article focused on the fact that the USDA gave the park a clean inspection just the day before local authorities accompanied by veterinarians and zoologists found the all too human negligence. The problem, according to the article, is that the USDA used to perform comprehensive inspections and issue citations regularly. This has been curtailed under the Trump Administration and led to the problems.

What the article also mentions, but glosses quickly over, is that the animal park in question was cited frequently by the USDA under previous administrations but it is clear, despite these admonishments, the place was still a disgusting and vile animal torture chamber. Basically, they paid the fine, and went on their merry, torturous way regardless of any zoo regulations.

My home state of Missouri is well-known for our many, and oft poorly run, puppy-mills this despite all the zoo regulations in effect. Not a month goes by without one of my local friends posting an article about some horror or the other perpetrated by the owners of such facilities.

What it took to actually address the issue was local government along with expert and caring individuals like my friend, coming in and performing an inspection. The place is now closed and the proprietors face numerous criminal charges. The federal government just looks to these zoos, circuses, breeders and research labs as revenue generators and zoo regulations are the way to collect.

I’m all for treating animals ethically but I’m certain when we trust the Federal Government to do it, we simply apply a placebo to the problem. The animal horrors continue unabated.

I understand the need for government oversight and without the aid of local law enforcement, people like my friend would be unable to effectively prevent the owners of such establishment from continuing their nefarious activities. It is when the two work together, at as local a level as possible, that real change can be affected.

Let’s imagine local government allows animal loving law enforcement officers to inspect all such facilities with camera wielding animal experts and the videos are posted far and wide? Would we not see far better results than a simple citation from the USDA? Would we also not create an alliance between two groups that normally see each other as the enemy? That’s a win in my book.

When we give power to Federal Government to address a wrong, they generally fail to do much. They simply charge the offenders money and come back the next year, hand out, for more.

Tom Liberman

Congress Tries to Save Minor League Baseball

Minor League Baseball

A bi-partisan group of legislators from the United States Congress is angry that Major League Baseball is losing money on their Minor League System and wants to eliminate 42 teams. The reason members of Congress are mad is because the teams headed for oblivion are in their districts. So what? You might say if you have Libertarian leanings. What can Congress do? Plenty, and that’s the problem.

Congress has the ability to make or break a business by passing legislation and that is not what the Founding Fathers wanted and it is not a power Congress should have. What can they do? They might refuse to grant visas to international players, they might change broadcasting rights to not allow teams to have exclusive home territorial rights, they could even repeal Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption. This is the power that Congress wields when we grant its members far more authority than they should have.

First off, I’ve railed against the antitrust exemption before, but it’s important to understand by allowing Congress to “help” baseball in the past, major league executives are de facto telling Congress they can hurt them in the future.

When Congress establishes a system which fast tracks talented athletes through the system while gifted computer analysists are held up, we are agreeing that Congress members can help one industry and hurt another. We then don’t get to be angry when Congress members changes their minds.

This is the root problem with granting government too much power in the first place. We generally give them such authority to right a wrong and often have the best intentions in mind. However, eventually someone comes into office who doesn’t agree with prior legislation but now they have been given the power to use that cudgel in any way they see fit. We cheered when they used it to help us but, oops, now they are going to hold it over our heads unless we do as they want. This is legislative tyranny, this is not freedom.

Baseball should be allowed to run their minor league baseball teams, largely, in any way they desire. If those minor league baseball teams are unprofitable, then so be it. It’s their call whether to keep them, it cannot be the job of government. And yet it apparently is. That’s how far we’ve slipped in this country. Our elected officials believe they should have the authority to tell Major League Baseball executives how to run their farm system.

It boggles the mind.

Tom Liberman

Cattle Ranchers Fight Plant Alternatives with Legislation

Cattle Ranchers Fight Meat Free

I just read an interesting story from the Wall Street Journal which highlights how the cattle ranchers are reacting to the threat of plant-based meat alternatives. The threat is real and the ranchers have every reason to be worried. One part of their fight illustrates what is wrong with our supposedly capitalistic financial system. The cattle ranchers have enlisted the help of federal, state, and local governments.

Competition is good. The fact that we now have plant-based alternatives to beef means there is a healthy competitive market. This is good for consumers. If cattle ranchers want our business, they have to improve their product and their prices. Sadly, that’s largely not the course they are taking.

Right here in my home state of Missouri a law was recently passed by legislators that prevents any plant-based product from having the word meat on its product packaging. Basically, you can’t have a product using the words “meat-like”, “meat flavored”, or “meaty”. This is not capitalism. It’s an attempt to use political machinations to stifle a competitor and it’s all too common in this country. It’s destroying capitalism.

The other thing the cattle ranchers are doing is sponsoring so-called studies that disparage their competitors by making largely unsupported claims about the healthiness of the product. This is also a threat to true capitalism. Meanwhile, the plant-based meat producers are being forced to hire their own team of lobbyists and studies to fight these political and underhanded tactics. Both sides are having their lobbyists buy expensive trips and who knows what else for legislators in order to woo them into passing or not passing legislation that will help or harm their industry. Doesn’t anyone else see a problem with this?

We look to politicians to legislate our competitors out of business and that is hurting this country although, unsurprisingly, our politicians are happy to take gifts and cash from business owners who crawl to the politicians and piteously beg for favors.

You have a competitor? Make a better product. Market it better. Work harder. That’s capitalism.

Tom Liberman

National Park Rangers Working on Border Patrol

National Park Rangers

There’s an interesting story making the rounds about how National Park Rangers will be moving from their normal jobs to that of patrolling the border with Mexico. The reason this is being done, and has been done since last year, is because President Trump needs more money to build a Border Wall and is saving money by using employees from another department rather than hiring new Border Patrol Agents. I’m mad about this but my reasons are somewhat different than those being presented by those against this shift.

There are any number of Democrats opposed to this plan. For the most part their argument is the resources being used, that is to say National Park Rangers, are not trained to be Border Patrol agents. They are ill-equipped to do the job. In addition, National Park Rangers taken away from their normal job leads to understaffing.

Both of these things are largely true; however, the underlying problem and the disrespect both parties show for the Constitution of the United States is what bother me. I pay taxes. A lot of people pay taxes. We vote for representatives to determine how to best spend those dollars. There are going to be disputes among our elected officials as to how to spend the money and certainly I’m not going to agree with many of the decisions that are made, that being said, those decisions should be final.

When you take National Park Rangers away from their job patrolling the parks you are spending money in ways that Congress has not authorized. It’s my opinion, which I’ve written about elsewhere, that taxes should go to appropriate agencies. A gasoline tax should be spent on road and bridge infrastructure. An airline tax should be spent on our federally funded air travel industry. When we shuffle money around like this there is no longer any accountability.

Imagine you were getting married and I gave you $100 gift card to purchase a wedding present. You then sold the card to someone else for $90 and took the cash to go on a bender. I’d be angry and rightfully so. We had a contract and you reneged on it. I could take you to court and attempt to get my money back. So too should I be able to sue the government for spending my money on things not authorized by Congress.

The government has become so accustomed to moving money from one account to the other without any care of how it was actually meant to be spent that those in charge take it for granted they can do so.

In my home state of Missouri; money people spend on Lottery Tickets is supposed to go into the Education fund. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that’s not what happens. Politicians budget no or little money for education and use lottery proceeds to fill in the gap. They are taking our tax dollars, which were largely paid via Property Taxes under the Education line item on our state tax bill, and spending it on whatever they want.

Congress authorized a particular amount of money for the National Parks Service and another amount for Border Patrol. It must be illegal to simply swap money from one endeavor to the other. It cannot be anything other than that.

If you cannot get Congress members to appropriate the money you want, then you need to go back and convince them differently, not simply steal from Parks to pay Border.

Tom Liberman

Why did Katie Hill Resign?

Katie Hill

There’s been a fascinating story in the news about United States Representative Katie Hill who resigned from her position after having sexual relations with a campaign aide, having lurid photos of her published in various news outlets, and being accused of having relations with a member of her staff. Why did she resign? Why is this even a story? Who actually cares? These are the things I hope to examine today.

Of all the things that Hill did, or has been accused of doing, the only one that presents a legal problem is engaging in consensual sexual relations with a staffer. In 2018 Congress enacted rules against doing so, this largely in response to the #MeToo movement in which generally women were coerced into sexual relations with their, often male, elected officials or faced retribution for refusing to do so.

The second issue involved the fact that the male aide she had sex with was twenty-two years old. Some people have a problem with that. The final problem is the lurid pictures of Hill that appeared in various outlets, generally from those of an opposing political philosophy. Some think Hill showed bad judgement in taking the pictures.

As a Libertarian I don’t have a problem with anything Hill did and I have a problem with anyone who does, although that is certainly their right. If Hill wants to have sexual relations with a staffer then she should do so, as should anyone who works with anyone else. I understand that someone in a supervisory position can coerce an underling with various threats and I understand why members of Congress passed such rules. That being said, I think consenting adults should have as much sex in as many positions as possible. It’s no one else’s business.

If someone behaves in an illegal way; firing the underling for cutting off the relationship, blackmailing someone into having sex, that should be pursued with due diligence. The problem isn’t people having consensual sex, it’s that the legal establishment has long ignored those who were coerced or lost their jobs because they refused such advances. The rules preventing such behavior are clearly being selectively applied, every member of Congress, male and female, is aware of other members having consensual relationships with staffers and does nothing because everyone is happy as rabbits, as well they should be.

As for Hill having sex with a man ten years her junior. Good for both of them! I wrote an article about a woman having sex with an eighteen-year-old friend of her daughter some years back and my opinion has not changed. We have decided, for whatever reason, eighteen is the age of consent. Perhaps we find a fifty-year-old man dating an eighteen-year-old woman distasteful but that’s their business, not mine, and not yours.

Finally, as to the naked photos, I have a very strong opinion on that. If Hill or anyone else wants to take lurid pictures of themselves that is their business. The despicable people in this are those who chose to publish the pictures without Hill’s consent. Their behavior is both criminal and immoral from where I’m sitting. Posting lurid pictures of another person without getting permission first? Sick, disgusting. Doing so for political gain? I’d honestly like to put a bullet in the head of whoever made that decision but I’ll restrain myself because I know doing so is illegal.

Hill should not have resigned, she did, as far as I’m concerned, nothing wrong.

Tom Liberman

Brexit Vote is the Origin of the Problem

Brexit Vote

The Brexit Vote is the main culprit in the convulsive process that has largely paralyzed the United Kingdom for the last three years. There are a lot of things that can be said about the issue but from this Libertarian’s perspective the entire problem comes down to a single cause. They let people vote.

It’s important to understand that we live in a Representative Democracy and not a Direct Democracy. We elect politicians who decide policy. After a period of time new elections take place and we can replace anyone whose decisions we don’t like. In a Direct Democracy the people vote for policy decisions much in the way they did with the Brexit Vote.

We only need to see the results of that Brexit Vote to understand why having the people make political decisions is a bad idea. Not that leaving the European Union was a bad idea or a good idea, but the politicians weren’t committed one way or the other. The vote lead to exactly where we are today.

Would you have the people vote for any decision in your life? Would you have the people vote for important moments in your life? The answer is obviously no. If we take a poll of people across your region, what restaurant would be deemed the best? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Cracker Barrel, it’s just not really all that good. If I’m taking a sexy, dark-haired girl with a wicked sense of humor, impressive intellect, disdainful attitude, and a barrel full of crazy to a nice dinner, well, Cracker Barrel isn’t going to be my choice. No offense.

This problem is not only associated with the Brexit Vote but with referendums across the United States and a general lack of will in politicians. It’s the impetus to the War Powers Act which I wrote about not long ago. It’s related to the Emergency Powers Act. Our politicians lack the will to make difficult decisions and therefore they pass the decision on either to the people or to the Executive. Both choices are bad. One gives the important decision-making power to the average person and the other invests one person with far too much power.

We elect people to make decisions; from local School Boards to the United States Congress and all the places in between. Those elected officials need to make decisions and then face the voters later based on their choices.

Anything else leads to a mess. The evidence of the Brexit Vote is clear.

Tom Liberman

Colonial Injustice and the Border Wall

Colonial Injustice

I just read an interesting article about how President Trump is diverting a large amount of money from various military projects in Guam in order to build the Border Wall and how it illustrates Colonial Injustice.

In the article the spokesperson for Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian expresses the following sentiment: Our organization is conflicted about the means in which the pause was achieved because these are two instances of colonial injustice, one impacting the other. Let me explain.

The United States is in the process of moving about 5,000 Marines from the island of Okinawa in Japan to Guam. The reason they are doing this is because the Marines and everything required to support them is causing a great deal of congestion on the island. The cost of the move is over $8 billion dollars which includes building all sorts of support infrastructure on Guam including a well, a live-fire training range, and a munitions storage facility.

How is all of this related to Colonial Injustice? It’s a bit complex but basically there are people both in Japan and Guam who have no desire to host a large group of Marines along with their attendant requirements. Now, to be fair, there are also people from those nations who eagerly embrace the U.S. Military presence because of the tax dollars that come with it. That enormous amount of money buys us foreign support but also creates a great deal of resentment.

Imagine the government of France decided to put a huge military base in St. Louis, Missouri. There would be those who would welcome the influx of money but others who would not appreciate the presence of a foreign power’s military arm on their land. The soldiers so housed would certainly commit some crimes as has happened in Okinawa and Guam.

This is part and parcel of Colonial Injustice. We use our money to house our military in foreign lands against the will of some of the people of those nations. We essentially bribe our way into their country.

Some of the people in Guam, the group aforementioned specifically, is unhappy their nation is being further occupied by U.S. troops and their land is being taken for the facilities to house and train the Marines. Again, to be fair, the government of Guam is more than happy to take our money and not everyone is opposed to the expansion. Still, I think it’s reasonable to call how we base our soldiers all over the world against the wishes of at least some of the people of those nations Colonial Injustice.

Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian doesn’t want the United States in Guam and they are happy the money for the project is being diverted and delaying the move. They delay means the Marines will reside on Okinawa for longer than was planned. Thus, the conflict of emotions for the group because they empathize with the people of Japan who don’t want the Marines there anymore.

The United States has become a colonial power committing injustices in foreign lands on a scale almost beyond imagination. This engenders a great deal of resentment in the populations of those countries but serves us by extending our military capabilities.

I’m not saying there are easy answers here, but I absolutely think we have far too many foreign bases and, in the long run, the activities associated with being a colonial power do not serve our interests.

Tom Liberman

Government Plans to Ban Vaping Flavors and People are Overjoyed

Vaping Flavors

The latest assault on freedom is the Food and Drug Administration’s plan to ban Vaping Flavors. That’s right, the government wants to tell adults they are not allowed to use flavored tobacco products. Everyone is overjoyed because it will save the children. Sigh, it’s hard to be a small government Libertarian in this day and age.

I mean, seriously. The federal government of the United States has grown so bloated, so enamored of its own vile power that officials think it’s perfectly acceptable to ban Vaping Flavors. Flavors! The people of this nation have become completely complicit in our own enslavement. We are so frightened, so unwilling to stand up for our rights that we willingly vote in totalitarian fascists who won’t let us smoke mint flavored tobacco, and pat themselves on the back for the wonderful good they are doing in saving us from ourselves.

The First Lady is horrified by teenage vaping and the administration wants to put an end to it. Let me quote President Trump: People are going to watch what we’re saying and parents are going to be a lot tougher with respect to their children. Parse that, if you dare. It’s important to understand that by teenage vaping they are talking about people eighteen and nineteen. They’ve already outlawed most tobacco products for people under eighteen.

What Trump is saying is that the Federal Government knows better what is right for your children, and for you, than you do yourself. That once the Federal Government leads the way in banning Vaping Flavors the people will immediately see the error of their ways and stop allowing their children to do it. This doesn’t even take into account that every adult who enjoys vaping mint flavored tobacco will instantly become a criminal.

If you want to vape a tasty flavor you will be a criminal. You will have to go to some black-market purveyor of Bubble Gum Flavored Tobacco Vape and, in a dark alley watching out for gun toting law enforcement officers, slip money to a shady operator who shipped in the dangerous product from the mint producing nations of the world where there is still some freedom.

I’m flat out disgusted by our politicians and by the voters who put them into office. I’m baffled as to how this is happening. We will soon no longer be free to enjoy flavored tobacco. How can the people of this country look themselves in the mirror? Have we no understanding of freedom left?

Tom Liberman

Forced Evacuations and Government Responsibility

Forced Evacuations Hurricane

With the tropical storm season underway and our first Forced Evacuations occurring in Florida, I thought it a good time to chime in on the subject. What responsibility does government; local, state, and federal, have in protecting us from dangerous natural disasters? Should they be able to take us from our homes in forced evacuations?

There are arguments to be made on both sides of the issue. The unpredictability of natural disasters like hurricanes and volcanic eruptions often mean that many people were forced to leave their homes when the calamity never arrived. This is essentially government protecting people who do not want or presumably need such shielding.

On the other hand, it is often the case that citizens refuse to evacuate a location and end up in a situation where government agents spend time and effort rescuing such people. This costs money and, of course, there are those who cannot be rescued and die. These people would all have been better off if they complied with the evacuation order. Thus, government officials feel justified in a forced evacuation. If you won’t leave on your own, you’ll leave at the barrel of a gun wielded by your friendly law enforcement officers. If you’re too stupid to save yourself, we’ll do it for you.

It’s obviously not just forced evacuations but all sorts of mandatory actions the government puts on its citizens in the face of potential emergency. Stores are closed, businesses lose revenue, people lose salary, and various other economic consequences occur when the government makes such decisions for us. Yet, the amount of money lost is miniscule compared to the dollars spent if the businesses remained open and occupied and the potential disaster came to fruition.

The answer for this Libertarian is not so simple and certainly painful. In today’s world there is no excuse not to know a dangerous situation is impending. The government has every right to warn citizens and make suggestions about their behavior. If people refuse, they should not expect the government to make any attempt to rescue them. It’s easy to say something like that but what if thousands of people are about to drown? Would I send in a rescue team? Of course, I would. Therein lies the problem.

Were I in charge in such a situation I would simply make that reality plain to all. There is the potential for a disaster. I recommend you leave. If you choose to stay you might not be rescued but I will do my best to rescue you in any case. It will cost money and that will be paid for out of taxes from all the people who did heed the warning, and everyone else in the region.

The other option is to force evacuations when most of the time they are unwarranted. This also costs money. Neither option is perfect, neither is life, or tracking the path of a hurricane.

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

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

Fake Guacamole on the Rise Because of High Priced Avocados

Fake Guacamole

If you’re like me, you love guacamole and avocados. Yum. The price for avocados is skyrocketing and this is causing a lot of pain in restaurants who use the delicious fruit in various dishes. It strikes particular hard for Mexican establishments who tend to use it across a wide array of menu items but other restaurants are suffering as well. What do they do? Use other ingredients and create Fake Guacamole.

If you weren’t against tariffs because you’re a freedom loving Libertarian who promotes open and free trade then this phrase almost certainly hits somewhere most likely even more important, your stomach. The very words Fake Guacamole should be as rage inducing as trying to Get Over It. Ok, that’s a video game reference and sometimes I just can’t help but let my inner nerd out for all to see. Well, actually, it’s pretty much always on display but I won’t get sidetracked from my mission to free you from Fake Guacamole.

I’ve written about why protectionism hurts consumers far more than it helps those industries it purports to protect so I won’t reiterate here. The results are plain to see. Avocados cost a lot more today because tariffs have exacerbated a poor harvest and increasing demand. Today’s issue is the sort of punch to the gut that I think economic philosophy and Libertarian ideology don’t impart. You, the consumer, have most likely eaten Fake Guacamole in the last few months. You are certainly paying more for what avocados you still purchase although it’s almost certain you’ve cut down on that particularly delightful and healthy food.

This is the direct result of policies that promote protectionism and their attendant tariffs. How does it feel to know you’ve been tricked? That you’ve been served something under false pretenses because politically motivated economic policies forced the restaurant to do so in order to survive? Perhaps you think it’s worth it, that the trade off is worth the horror of fake guacamole. I disagree because I see no benefit from the policies of protectionism. They are merely political rallying points to inspire a group of citizens who are not happy with the direction of government.

If you are not happy with where our government is going, more bad policies are not going help. Things are hardly perfect in the United States but don’t let that encourage you to vote for politicians who enact policies detrimental both in the short and long term. Don’t let your rabble be raised in negative ways. Demand good decisions from your leaders with your votes. They’ll listen, I promise.

Free trade means cheaper avocados and real guacamole. How can you be against that?

Tom Liberman

State of Missouri Enforces Start Date for School

School Start Date

My home state of Missouri just voted in a new law that forces local school districts to start their year no earlier than fourteen days before the first Monday of September. The basic idea is to extend the summer vacation so families will spend more on tourism. Here’s the problem. It should be up to the school district and their duly elected board to make that decision. If school board members want to have year-round education, that’s their business and they are accountable to the voters in their region.

It’s interesting, although unsurprising, to note that Missouri is dominated by small government Republican politicians and governor Mike Parson is part and parcel of that group. Their excuse, as usual, is it’s for the children. We want to help families spend more time together in summer. If you’ll excuse my crass language, nonsense. Someone convinced politicians an early start date cut into revenue and therefore they want to force local communities away from such.

In addition, the old rules allowed for school districts to start earlier if they gave notice and held a vote, the new rule prevents them from starting early for any reason. This is big, intrusive government in action.

This is exactly what the Constitution of the United States was designed to prevent. Those rights not given to government by the Constitution are reserved to the States or the People. That’s the Tenth Amendment and its meaning is very clear to this Libertarian. Those closest to the situation must have the right to pass their own laws. A school district can start sessions on any date it desires and the board members are then held accountable by local voters.

When the state steps in to enforce their rules onto local municipalities the voters have much less say in the matter. I’m sure there are many parents angry at their State Representatives and Senators over this action but a vote against such takes on a much broader range of issues. The school board is directly responsible for the operation of the school and local voters are in the best position to affirm or reject their decisions. The further removed we become from the local, the less likely we are to get a result in line with voter desires.

Now, to be certain, this means if a school board wanted to have a one-day school year because the majority of members didn’t believe in education, I would support their right to make such a foolish decision.

The freedom to be a moron is an important freedom. The state should not, and frankly cannot, protect us from our own stupidity. The state certainly should not be making school decisions for us when the main rational for doing so is financially motivated. Which is exactly what the Republican led legislature of Missouri just did.

Tom Liberman

The Resignation of Sir Kim Darroch does No One Any Good

Sir Kim Darroch

Recently some messages from the former British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, were leaked to the public and the resulting chain of events are an interesting study in diplomacy, secrecy, and foreign relations.

There are a number of problems with the events as they came to pass that may or may not have long term repercussions on the way the world’s powers deal with one another. As an ambassador it is important to report back honest assessments to your superiors. Then they can make informed decisions about the future. If an ambassador reports a rosy picture or a bleak picture that doesn’t match up with their understanding of the situation, bad decisions are the likely result.

Imagine for a moment you are about to make a major purchase. Someone you trust gives you all sorts of information but it turns out much of that is inaccurate. Maybe it was what they thought you wanted to hear, perhaps it was done at the behest of the manufacturer of the item in question, maybe the person so reporting just can’t be counted on to give an accurate assessment. The result is the same in all cases. You make a major purchase lacking truthful knowledge. Maybe it turns out to be a fine purchase but the chances it turns out to be a mistake are much higher.

That’s the problem with what just happened with Darroch. The information he sent back was his honest opinion of the situation but because it was leaked to the public, his position with the mercurial President Trump became untenable. He could no longer do his job satisfactorily.

This leads us to the results of what happened. Will the next ambassador be less likely to paint a negative picture if there is a chance her or his job is on the line? She or he might lose their salary which pays for the food on the table? This is not just about England and the United States but all ambassadors. What if an ambassador for the United States was removed from her or his position in a volatile region and replaced with someone who, out of fear of losing her or his job, reported nothing but good news? I think you can see how this adversely affects our nation.

We live in an age where information like that revealed in the Darroch situation is more and more likely to be released. Such situations are increasingly common which, it seems to me, have a chilling impact on the ability of nations to accurately understand each other and make proper political and strategic decisions.

What’s to be done about it? No easy answers to that one, at least not from me. Once something like that is released, it cannot be easily ignored. Even if Darroch stayed in his position it is likely those who dealt with him on a regular basis would change their behavior to account for his assessments. Certainly, President Trump is a childish and vindictive man but so too are other world leaders.

The idea the world would be a better place if we were all completely open and honest with one another is utter nonsense. Some things need to be left unsaid to the person’s face in order to get along. It is in all our best interest if nations get along well with one another. The world is a better place when men like Darroch are allowed to do their difficult jobs and make their reports in secret.

My final conclusion? It’s a bad situation and I’m sorry it happened.

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

Government Bans Vaping for Teens Because it is Popular

Vaping

The various states and municipalities across the country are quite busy enacting laws to ban vaping for people under the age of 21. The federal government has gotten involved as well, regulating it as if it was a tobacco product. These laws are largely being enacted because of the rise in popularity of vaping among teenagers.

Let’s be very clear about what municipalities, states, and the federal government are doing: vaping is popular and therefore we are making it a crime to do. We’re not yet willing to start yet another War on Drugs by banning it for adults but we must protect the poor, deluded and innocent children. It is our job as politicians to tell parents they can’t let their children vape. It is our job as politicians to tell nineteen and twenty-year old, legal adults, we know better for them then they do themselves.

Is vaping bad for you? The evidence is still out for non-tobacco products but the use of tobacco is clearly unhealthy as is the use of alcohol. The question becomes if it is acceptable for the various levels of government to decide for your children what they should and shouldn’t be doing in that regard.

As you might be able guess, in general I’m opposed to such bans from an ideological point of view. I’m for the legalization of all drugs but the question becomes a little bit stickier when we are talking about people not legally competent, children in this case. I’m clearly and unreservedly against laws preventing adults from knowingly and eagerly ingesting whatever substance they want, even if it is unhealthy.

The government does have some responsibility to protect children but that largely should be invoked when parents are abusive or irresponsible. It is largely a parent’s responsibility to ensure their child behaves in particular ways. When we involve law enforcement officers, we are making an enormous problem for ourselves, one that dwarfs the issue it is designed to prevent.

Imagine, fanciful as it might seem, a nineteen-year-old wants to vape and her or his parents have no problem with it. We are now making that person a criminal. Law enforcement must now arrest and steal from, that is to say fine, that person.

In addition, we are potentially legislating a business into bankruptcy with all its attendant casualties. We don’t like vaping and therefore we shall attempt to remove a category of consumers from being able to purchase and use the product. This has an enormous impact on the vendors, suppliers, retail outlets, transporters, and varied other players.

All laws are not bad but we must balance the freedom they take from us and the harm they do against the benefit they promise. In this case I see some benefit, it is certain less teens will vape if there is a law against such. I also see harm in the criminality that will be spawned and the black markets that will certainly arise to sell such products to teens. I absolutely oppose the idea nineteen and twenty-year-old women and men are unable to make informed decisions about their vaping habits.

I shouldn’t be telling them to vape or not to vape and neither should the government.

Tom Liberman

Clean Energy Revolution not Fueled by Government

Clean Energy v Coal

About ten or so years ago a friend of mine told me with absolute certainty that Clean Energy would never amount to more than two percent of the United States energy needs and that I was an idiot for saying otherwise. Well, in April 2019 clean energy accounted for a greater percentage of our energy than did coal. Bub, you were wrong and will continue to be more wrong with every passing year.

I’m not here to gloat about my clean energy predictions but to talk about how this revolution is happening not because of government but in spite of it. Various groups have long promoted solar, wind, and natural gas as better sources for energy because they don’t cause nearly the pollution as generated by coal. To hasten this transition of energy away from coal, such people advocated massive government encouragement, read tax breaks and subsidies, to the purveyors of clean energy. I argued that instead of subsidizing clean energy, we should simply stop doing so for coal and oil.

President Obama and the democrats largely agreed with the sentiments expressed by the clean energy crowd. They implemented plans to help spread the use of such energy and had some successes and some failures.

Enter President Trump. He essentially has the opposite plan. He wants to encourage the use of coal and dispense with helping clean energy. He has had some successes and some failures in his plans.

The reality of the situation is quite easy to see from any graph showing production associated with coal and clean energy in the last twenty years. Coal rarely dropped below 150 gigawatt-hours of energy prior to 2010. Now they never even reach this level and it is unlikely to ever rise that high again. The trend is obvious but what is driving it?

I’m happy to tell you; capitalism completely disassociated from government. Investors, builders, and entrepreneurs have no desire to invest in coal-based plants because there is more money to be made from clean energy power plants. If you’re mining coal, working at a coal-fired plant, hauling coal on the railroad, or doing anything associated with coal; start making plans to do something else. Not today, not tomorrow, but eventually; capitalism is talking and it’s not mincing words.

The most important thing to understand is this is all good and natural, as was the rise of coal in the first place. If government just stayed out of the energy business altogether, we’d likely be much further along in this process. If you enjoy breathing air and drinking water, you should be sad we are not.

Did the Obama era clean energy policies help promote them? Certainly. Have the Trump era coal energy policies helped extend the coal era? Certainly. Neither has a chance against the true forces of capitalism. Stop subsidizing energy altogether. It’s best for all of us.

Tom Liberman