The Inherent Corruption of an Essential Business

Essential Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

The War in Afghanistan is a Libertarian Nightmare

War in Afghanistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

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

Utah to Make Polygamy a Misdemeanor

polygamy a misdemeanor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Kris Bryant and the Cubs test Libertarian Ideals

Kris Bryant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

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

Give the Gift of Peloton

Peloton Commercial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

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

Meghan McCain and Who is Talking

Meghan McCain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

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

Students on Phones are Bad or are they?

Students on Phones

Educational systems in the United States and all over the world are roiling with the constant reality of students on phones. From grammar school to college teachers, parents, administrators, and even law-makers are wrestling with the problem. It seems to me that the knee jerk reaction to students on phones is to take the phones away. I disagree.

The basic idea is students on phones are a distracting element taking away from the learning process and therefore the trend must be countered. Certainly, it can be argued cell phones are a useful tool in school for a number of reasons but the reality is students do get distracted while on their phone. It is within the purview of administrators and teachers to make rules about students on phone in their schools and classrooms. Being on a phone is not a constitutionally protected right so the state has the right to pass laws as well, that doesn’t mean it’s a proper thing for them to do.

It’s my opinion that each teacher should be allowed to make the rules in her or his classroom. Teachers are closest to the situation and can make the best determinations. Not to say all teachers are fair and equitable in their decision-making process. I’ve written about unfair teachers before so I’m under no illusion in that regard.

Now I’ll get to the point of this article. Were it my classroom, I would have no restrictions on students on phones. Believe me when I tell you I paid little or no attention to my teachers back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we didn’t have cell phones. You can’t make a student pay attention if she or he does not want to do so.

The final arbiter of learning is test results. Should we punish students who don’t seem to be paying attention but get high scores while rewarding students who seem to be listening to every word but get lower scores? That’s the fundamental question that goes far beyond the schoolyard and into our everyday life. We must value results more than perceived effort.

It’s true that students will be distracted by phones and miss out on lesson content but you cannot convince me the same student would have paid attention without a phone in her or his hand. That’s the reality of the world. The onus is on the teacher to make the lesson interesting and engaging for the student. I’m not living in a fantasy world in that regard either. I know some students won’t pay attention no matter how hard the teacher works.

We cannot control how people learn or even if they learn at all. We must trust the individual to do the most with their own life despite our inclination to the contrary.

Tom Liberman

How to Stop the Miami Dolphins from Playing to Lose

Playing to Lose

The Miami Dolphins are playing to lose and a lot of people don’t like it. The Dolphins have all but tacitly admitted they can’t make the playoffs this season and traded away their best players hoping to finish in last place and get good draft choices. This is not the first time we’ve observed such behavior and its been at least somewhat successful in the past.

The Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia 76ers have all employed the playing to lose strategy with varying degrees of success over the last decade. Many argue there is little that can be done to stop such behavior despite the obvious negatives associated with it. Mainly the players lose years out of very short careers and the fans have to sit through seasons of inept play with the hopes of victory at some undefined future point which sometimes never comes.

The way to change this behavior is simply to understand why it is being implemented in the first place. Teams try to lose because they will get better draft choices. The way sports leagues work in Canada and United States, but nowhere else in the world, is through drafts in which players are enslaved, that is say drafted, by a single employer and cannot negotiate with any other team. The worst teams draft first and the best teams draft last. I wrote about why the system is a Libertarian Hell already, please take a look at that article to understand the immorality of the system. Today I’m going to talk about how abolishing it also eliminates playing to lose.

Well, honestly, I don’t really have to do much explaining. If all players joining the professional ranks for the first time are allowed to shop their services to whatever team is willing to meet their price, there is no playing to lose. With a salary cap imposed by the various leagues it is up to each team to give the best contract to the player who will help her or his team the most. It’s done this way in college and across the world, so don’t fill my comments with suggestions on how it won’t work.

The best running back would certainly be incentivized to sign with a team that is in need of a running back and vice versa. This is the way it works for every other person first entering the work force and for all other businesses in the world.

Don’t like teams playing to lose? The solution is simple and ethically right. Win and win.

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

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

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

Anand and Kramnik

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Big Government Liberal Josh Hawley at it Again

Big Government

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

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

Enlightened Self-Interest and a Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001

Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Tiger Woods and the Wrongful Death Suit

Tiger Woods Lawsuit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman

Loot Boxes to be Outlawed by the Federal Government

Loot Boxes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Liberman