The Taliban from Freedom Fighters to Bounty Hunters

Taliban

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Small Turnout at the Trump Rally Shows Enlightened Self-Interest

Small Turnout at the Trump Rally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Liability Immunity is Wrong in so Many Ways

Liability Immunity

Federal and State governments provide liability immunity for a number of people and businesses and every single bit of it is wrong. Wrong! The topic of liability immunity is being discussed a great deal lately because of Covid-19 and President Trump’s social media spats but the problem is far deeper and more insidious than that.

State governments have largely made individual law enforcement officers immune from lawsuits in regards to actions taken while performing their duties. Thus, the officer who threw a flash-bang grenade into a crib during a no-knock search warrant couldn’t be sued by the parents whose baby had half its face burned off.

Gun manufacturers are immune to liability. Volunteers working for the government are immune to liability. The government has protected all sorts of people and businesses from liability over the years including social media outlets. If someone harms another person through negligent actions, the place to determine liability is in the courts, not in the legislatures. This seems self-evident to me.

Why should anyone get blanket liability immunity? It makes no sense to me; we have a judicial system to sort out these problems. Certainly, individual cases might be decided in a fashion I think is unfair but the old expression we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water seems perfectly relevant to me.

It’s important to note the liability immunity extended to social media by Congress means, by default, that such liability immunity can be removed, or a threat to remove it can be made. This gives government power they should not have; it gives government the ability to influence what content we see or don’t see. When we give government the ability to extend liability immunity, we explicitly give government officials the right to selectively remove it. They should have no such ability whatsoever.

When the government offers to give businesses liability immunity in regards to Covid-19 they are essentially engaging in force against We the People. If you don’t go back to work in a dangerous environment, we will punish you. We are taking away your right to get redress for crimes committed against you.

I’m horrified by all this liability immunity. If you harm through negligence, or other means, you must face your day in court. Anything else is tyranny.

Tom Liberman

The Unwanted Shake Shack Government Loan

Shake Shack Government Loan

What does it tell you a Shake Shack Government Loan was returned? For a lot of people, it’s a gesture of goodwill by Shake Shack to the other small businesses that need the money more. That’s not the way this anti-government Libertarian sees it. The Shake Shack Government Loan was simply a way to make the company obligated to the government, the owners didn’t seek it, didn’t want it, didn’t ask for it, but got it anyway. Forcing them to return it.

I’m proud to say the Shake Shack founder is St. Louis hometown hero Danny Meyer. Yet another illustrious graduate of John Burroughs, a fine school my lack of academic prowess disqualified me from attending. That is not the point of today’s article.

Why would anyone get a loan they didn’t want or need? That’s a question you must ask yourself. Why would any entity be given a check they didn’t ask to receive? One of the main reasons is the United States Government is big on giving out loans, our entire financial system is largely based on giving out taxpayer money as loans, this money generally having to be repaid with interest that goes to friends of politicians.

The government is certainly using Covid-19 as an excuse to further entangle the interests of its patrons into every aspect of citizens life. This unwanted intrusion didn’t start with Covid-19. President Trump created a Welfarm State with ridiculous tariffs, the Post Office was intentionally bankrupted, the Airline Industry has been a government subsidy since its inception and resulted in the planned destruction of the highly successful passenger rail system, the entire horse meat industry was destroyed. This is how government operates in a Republic.

In a Republic there are limits to what government officials can do. There are Checks and Balances. This being the case, government officials must wile their insidious evil in different ways. One of the ways they do this is to make people and businesses their unwitting partners. The government is happy to loan you money, purchase your products at inflated prices, because they then become a partner in your enterprise. You owe them.

The Shake Shack government loan is just another in a long line of takeover attempts that have reduced the United States to a system of Crony Capitalism. At least Shake Shack saw through the subterfuge although many others do not.

We no longer have a capitalistic system here in the United States and I suspect we won’t have a Republic for much longer either.

Tom Liberman

The Inherent Corruption of an Essential Business

Essential Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

United States Government now a Sopranos Associate

Sopranos Associate

With this latest, and unstoppable, economic bailout the United States now officially declares itself a Sopranos Associate. The government currently owes $22 trillion and, with the stimulus package in the works, that number is going to rise more rapidly that in any time in the history of the country. What you have to understand is that this is borrowed money on which interest is paid by taxpayers.

In the criminal world this is called Loan Sharking which was one of the main methods in which a Sopranos Associate made money, off which they pay a percentage to Tony Soprano and the rest of his criminal organization. In government, they call this debt service but it’s the same thing.

The United States borrows money from bankers and wealthy people, largely Chinese and Saudi Arabians, who purchase Treasury Bonds and then pay interest on this loan with the intent of eventually paying the principle amount back. As any good Sopranos Associate knows, you don’t ask for all the money back at once, you bleed them slowly with what is called vigorish, or vig, in the criminal world but interest in the banking world.

I wrote about how the Post Office of the United States was deliberately driven into bankruptcy in order to take out loans so taxpayer money could be used for the vig to bankers. This is essentially what has happened to the entire United States government and we the taxpayers are paying the bill for the degenerate gambling politicians who, it must be admitted, we elected in the first place.

I’ve said for many years now that there is no chance the principle amount of the loan will be paid off and the entire debt is largely a way to redistribute taxpayer money to friends of politicians. If you are unwilling to admit this reality now, well, I suppose I’ll never convince you and just stop reading.

The saddest part about all of this is that we are the ones getting run over by the $60K Lexus but it is our elected officials who borrowed all the damn money. We didn’t even get to do any gambling and that Sopranos Associate, the United States government, is having all the fun.

The end of the story? World governments go bankrupt and forgive all the debt. In the meantime, your money is going to a Loan Sharking Sopranos Associate who is buying vacation homes, renting yachts for family vacations, and generally doing all the things with your money that you should be doing yourself.

Tom Liberman

The Culpability of China and President Trump

Culpability of China

There is an interesting phenomenon going on in regards to the culpability of China and the culpability of President Trump in the spread of Coronavirus or Covid-19. The gist of the situation is that both China and President Trump committed largely the same sin but, from a political perspective, it is expedient to blame one side but not the other. Let me explain.

The first cases of Covid-19 started in China. Doctors and scientists in the region quickly realized this was an easily communicable and relatively deadly version of Coronavirus. This made it far more of a public health threat, particularly with the global nature of travel, than any other disease since perhaps the Spanish Flu.

The Chinese government refused to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and even punished doctors who tried to get the word out. This led to the disease having time to spread to a larger group of people before action was taken. This explains the culpability of China in the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, the quick and easy communication of the disease spread it around the world very quickly. The leaders of certain nations, Japan and South Korea come to mind, immediately accepted the scientific and medical advice they were given and began programs designed to stem the disease in their country.

In the United States, President Trump and many Republicans had the opposite reaction. They decided to make it a political talking point, downplaying the danger and even referring to it as a hoax perpetuated by the other party. They ignored the advice of medical professionals and scientists. This inaction, for several weeks, directly impacted, and continues to effect, how quickly the disease is spreading through the United States.

Now, to the point of my entire blog. It is clear those who rightfully wish to point out the culpability of China choose to completely ignore the fact that President Trump is equally guilty of malfeasance. Of putting his own interests in front of the people he is supposed to leading.

Meanwhile, those who correctly blame President Trump’s inaction for the deaths that are now happening across the United States choose to ignore the culpability of China in the spread of the disease.

I would like to say, hey, idiots, you can’t ignore the stupidity of one party when the person you support did exactly the same thing. That would be naïve of me. People can and are doing just that and not even thinking twice about it, they have a smile on their face while they attack one of the culprits while bending over backward to defend the other. Meanwhile, people are dying.

In my novel, the Gray Horn, I try to illustrate the idea we are often given a false choice. Heads or tails. One party is completely guilty and the other completely innocent. This is a lie. The coin has another side. The culpability of China does not absolve President Trump and vice-versa.

Tom Liberman

The Airline Industry is a Gigantic Government Boondoggle

Airline Industry

The Airline Industry in the United States was largely brought into existence and continues to be propped up by your tax dollars. It now looks like another $54 billion is going to be spent to keep it going. Yikes. Why are we propping up an industry that has largely failed to be profitable since its inception?

To fully understand how much of your tax dollars have gone into the airline industry we have to go back to the beginning. The Contract Air Mail Act of 1925 essentially allowed airlines to exist and they would not have turned a profit if not for government contracts. Since then the airline industry has continued to be largely dependent on the government for survival.

Without government contracts, military and government passengers paid for by you, employees trained at taxpayer expense, military breakthroughs in aviation, funding for research, the Essential Air Service, propping the industry up after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, ongoing payments to maintain staff and service airports, the industry would not exist in its current form.

In addition, the result of all these tax dollars put into the airline industry by the government was the utter destruction of the profitable and highly used passenger rail system that largely no longer exists in the United States but is functioning with great success in almost every other country in the world.

So, now, after all this, we are being asked to once again save the airline industry from bankruptcy. Hey, how about we let the unprofitable airlines fail, allow autonomous cars to transport us relatively short distances on our own schedule, and rebuild the passenger rail system without tax dollars? Those airlines that can run profitably without taxpayer dollars will do so.

Your tax dollars are the only reason many small airports across the country exist. That’s what the Essential Air Service act ensures. The government keeps small airports open even though they have no hope of ever being financially independent.

We never should have used tax payer dollars and government mandates to create the airline industry and now, all these years later, we’re continuing to pay for that mistake. Let’s put a stop to it, now is the opportunity to do so.

The mantra of a Libertarian: Let them fail.

Tom Liberman

Government Responsibility for Fake Coronavirus Cures

Fake Coronavirus Cures

Coronavirus, Covid-19, is big news around the world these days and I like to examine what responsibility government has to protect citizens from the plethora of fake Coronavirus cures that are being promulgated far and wide.

As a Libertarian I don’t think the government has much responsibility in protecting us from ourselves. I oft rail against the War on Drugs as a failed attempt to do so. I’ve likewise spoken out against gambling laws but it is quite clear the internet is filled with fake Coronavirus cures and anyone taking these puts themselves, and others, at risk.

The basic idea for government intervention goes back as far as con-artists have been trying to take advantage of people. Someone recognizes a situation in which people are desperate, perhaps not thinking clearly, and attempts to take financial advantage of them with fraudulent claims. This constitutes a crime, fraud. The snake-oil salesperson sold you something under false pretenses and you are entitled to compensation for damages rendered.

In this case, the potential for damage is quite high as Coronavirus can be lethal. Perhaps you purchase a fake Coronavirus cure and then engage in risky activities because you think you are immune. Soon you or someone you come in contact with gets sick and dies. That’s significant from a legal perspective in awarding damages for fraud. Good. Damages should be awarded. This is the judicial branch of government doing what it should.

However, this situation involves the law enforcement arm of government ordering fake Coronavirus cures removed from sale altogether. In New York, for example, a silver cure offered by a religious figure is no longer legal to sell.

The question for me becomes, if someone believes an absolutely nonsensical claim and wastes money on a fake cure, is it the responsibility of the government to protect that person. You’d think the answer was quite simple. The threat is real, the cure is obviously fake, what is the harm in removing it from the public eye?

Here are my issues. Fake Coronavirus cures aren’t going away because the government bans them. While one particular phony cure will be eliminated from the market, a dozen others, rebranded and marketed will appear.

Can the government stop people from offering prayer as a way to cure or ward off the disease? Trust me, there are religious groups across the country offering this method as a curative. Should preachers who offer it be subject to arrest and imprisonment?

This is where government tries to protect us from ourselves. I have no problem with government agencies speaking loudly and clearly about the efficacy of reported treatments. I have no problem with media entities refusing to run advertisements for these products, I applaud them for doing so.

The reality is the government cannot protect us from phony Coronavirus cures. Only we can do that with critical thinking. When the government attempts to do so, they actually give people the impression there are no more fake cures out there, seeing as they have been restricted. Therefore, when you do see a cure, it must be real, right, because the government hasn’t banned it yet.

The only real solution is to be a responsible adult and make good decisions. Will people make stupid decisions? Certainly. That’s life. Does that mean we all might be infected because someone is an idiot, yep.

Freedom is free, it just isn’t safe.

Tom Liberman

Garrison Brothers Whiskey and Governor Perry

Garrison Brothers Whiskey

I attended an event at the whiskey place down the street, Gamlin Whiskey House, to learn about Garrison Brothers Whiskey and during the talk found yet another reason to hate government. One of the Garrison brothers mentioned that it was illegal to distill whiskey in Texas when he and his brother started up their business. Only the personal intervention of Governor Perry allowed it to take place. You’d imagine I’m happy about that but you’d be wrong and I’m here to explain why.

Apparently, the Garrison lads were learning how to distill in those early years but not actually selling any product. They knew what they were doing was illegal in the state of Texas but nobody really cared as they weren’t in a commercial business.

The distillery is located in Hye, Texas which is not far from the state capital of Austin. This means that Perry happened across it one day. Perry also happens to be a whiskey drinker. Imagine, if you will, that the Garrison Brothers distillery was not located near Austin, that Perry was a teetotaler, that Perry’s wife had bad romance with one of the brothers. Where would Garrison Brothers be then? That’s the root of the problem.

Yes, it’s nice that the government of Texas allowed the Garrison Brothers to legally distill and sell their whiskey. However, it’s awful that the government is in a position to allow or disallow such activity. The Garrison Brothers should be able to distill their whiskey and sell it with or without government support. You only have to look at the horse meat industry to understand the government can put anyone out of business, at any time, with the stroke of a pen.

Certainly, the government has the right to obtain a sample of the whiskey, send it to a laboratory, analyze it, and publish the result of that analysis. Let the public know if the whiskey has so much alcohol that it is toxic. If the whiskey is toxic then the law enforcement arm of the government can spring into action.

Whiskey reviewers have the right to purchase the whiskey and assign it a grade and the government should be able to do the same thing.

The whiskey, you ask? It’s made with high desert water from Texas and local produce so it has a different overall feel than Kentucky or Tennessee whiskey. It is softer in the mouth and doesn’t have that immediate striking feel on the tongue and roof of the mouth but has a lingering and lovely flavor on the side of the mouth and down the throat.

My recommendation? Next time you go whiskey shopping, purchase a bottle. You might find it becomes a go to brand or you might not find it to your taste. That’s a choice for you to make, not the government.

Tom Liberman

Should Lynching be a Federal Crime

Lynching

Lynching will soon be a federal crime if President Trump signs a bill to that effect. The bill passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming 410-4 vote and passed through the Senate without opposition so it seems unlikely to be vetoed.

To understand my objection to this law I must explain that I think any law must have a well-defined, non-paternalistic, and useful purpose. If a law doesn’t have all these things, it is a danger to freedom.

A law that is not well-defined is, by its very nature, open to abuse. Law enforcement officials are put in the position of enforcing a law based on their judgment. This means that groups of people who are, for whatever reason, perceived as less important will suffer the brunt of enforcement. We need not look any further than poorly written traffic laws which result in a hugely disproportionate number of citations against minorities and poor people.

A paternalistic law is essentially the government telling an individual how to lead their own life because the majority thinks they know better. The War on Drugs is an example of this kind of law. This war has caused far more harm than it has prevented.

In this case the law is useless from a legal perspective. No one has been lynched in the United States since 1955 when Emmett Till was brutally killed. He is the last of the estimated 4,733 people so murdered. If no one has committed this crime in sixty years then what is the point of having a law against it? No lives will be saved and no criminals brought to justice who would have otherwise escaped penalty.

That is not to say the law is without purpose, it is just without useful purpose. The law has political purpose. It gives legislators a way to tell voters they are doing something, they care. It is a backward way of apologizing for allowing all of those lynching to take place at all.

If you want to apologize, and believe me, an apology is owed, then do so. I’m sorry that I am part of a government that allowed nearly five thousand people to be brutally murdered without any attempt to bring the criminals that did so to justice. It is a stain on the honor of my country, my state, and my municipality. It is a sickening example of the irrational hate and to the horror such hate allows people to engage in. The fact it was tolerated is vile and I am ashamed that it happened. This law does not make such an apology. It is almost an affront to a real apology. It is a fake apology designed purely for political gain.

What good will this law do? What criminal will it bring to justice? It is even possible it might be manipulated in the future to further penalize someone the government doesn’t like. Let us not pretend such things do not happen.

If a law does not have a well-defined, non-paternalistic purpose, let us not make the law. Even if the law is against an activity that should clearly never be tolerated, as is the case here. Lynching was and remains disgusting. This law doesn’t do anything to prevent it, it does nothing to bring criminals to justice and that must be the explicit purpose of any law.

If you are looking for a way to improve the plight of minorities in this country I’d suggest a look at traffic violations and the War on Drugs.

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

Article 3 and Killing Socialists

Killing Socialists

There’s been a rather boring story in the news about a moronic state Senator from Montana who thinks Article 3 in the Constitution of the United States expressly allows the government to begin killing socialists. It doesn’t but this misconception gives me a chance to wax poetic about the document in question and what I think is a great deal of misunderstanding about it.

The Founding Fathers who wrote, enacted, and ratified the Constitution of the United States came from a situation in which the state used its legal power to oppress citizens with few restrictions. They saw, first hand, the dangers of giving government tremendous power and wrote the Constitution with this in mind.

The Constitution, largely, is a document that does not grant the government power, but does the opposite, it limits such ability. Article 3, which State Representative Rodney Garcia of Montana poorly understands, is meant to prevent the government from imprisoning and murdering citizens for their political views. It does not enable the government to go about killing socialists, it protects such citizens.

It was written by a group of people who watched their friends, families, and like-minded strangers imprisoned and murdered regularly for expressing political opinions. The article in question allows for the imprisonment only of people who have waged war against the United States or giving aid and comfort to someone who does so. It requires witnesses of an overt act in that regard in order to be enacted.

Essentially, unless you actually raise an army and attempt to wage war against the government you cannot be imprisoned or killed. Waging war against the government obviously does not include attempting to win an election through the democratic processes established elsewhere in the Constitution but this hardly needs be said. What is vitally important to understand is that the purpose of the Constitution is largely to prevent the government from killing socialists, or any other perceived political opponent.

To prevent the government from having more power. To prevent the Executive doing things without the approval of Congress. To prevent Congress from doing things without approval of the Judiciary. That is the purpose of this great document.

Why was it written with such a purpose? For the simple reason I stated above. A government so emboldened will continually add to its enemies, continue to make things illegal and imprison such people, until the entire nation is oppressed under their jackboot.

And why do we want to prevent such an outcome? Because if we allow the government to proceed with the agenda of killing socialist and whomever is next on the list; bloody revolution becomes the only method to change the government.

The method preferred by the Founding Fathers was simply allowing We the People to propose different ideas, including socialism, and use the ballot box as the final arbiter. It seems like a good plan to me.

Tom Liberman

Cheap Razor Blades Saved by the FTC

Cheap Razor Blades

******* UPDATE *****

Edgewell dropped their attempt to purchase Harry’s. Congratulations big government lovers, the FTC has saved us.

**** END ******

The Federal Trade Commission is attempting to save cheap razor blades by preventing Edgewell Personal Care from purchasing Harry’s. Harry’s sells such blades along with other products. The government apparently considers Harry’s an industry disrupter and feels the need to step in and prevent the sale, which the owner of Harry’s deems necessary because the company is not profitable.

Yay, the government has come to save my cheap razor blades. The original low-priced razor companies; Dollar Shave Club and Walker and Company, were already purchased by larger razor manufacturers leaving only Harry’s to compete against the giants.

Let’s examine what’s really happening here. Why is Harry’s not profitable to begin with? Maybe because they sell razors so cheaply? It’s entirely possible Harry’s and the other sellers planned, from the very beginning, to sell out to the big names in industry. The principals knew their companies weren’t going to be profitable but wanted the bonanza at the end of the tunnel. If that is the case, then the FTC is preventing them from achieving this goal. It is undeniably true the owners of Harry’s want to sell and they are being prevented from doing so by the government.

The broader question, from a Libertarian perspective, does preventing the sale of Harry’s leave consumers better off? Does the government have a role to play thanks to the Anti-Trust laws established in the Constitution of the United States?

The answer is not easy to deduce. It is absolutely true that Harry’s is an industry disrupter because they sell cheap razor blades significantly below the price of the established companies. However, if their goal was to sell out in the long run, this action by the FTC actually prevents other start-ups from doing the same thing. If they can’t sell their companies and they know their business model is unsustainable, they will not bother starting up in the first place. If, on the other hand, they could make a profit selling the cheap razor blades, they would stay in business without being absorbed by a larger company.

Now, it is possible they are just poorly run businesses and blades at that price could be sold for a profit but the evidence we’ve seen so far doesn’t indicate as much. Therefore, it seems to me, the government shouldn’t be propping up companies that sell products at prices that are unsustainable simply because such is good for consumers.

This is, in essence, socialism. It’s almost as if the government themselves are selling us cheap razor blades which they purchase with our tax dollars. If I didn’t know better, I’d guess the government will eventually bail out Harry’s so they can keep selling us cheap razor blades, but, nah, that could never happen.

Tom Liberman

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