BitCoin and the Value of Fake Money

BitCoinThere are a lot of stories in the news these days about BitCoin and the idea of digital currency as a whole. After a few conversations with people I’ve found there is a lot of confusion about how it works and the potential benefits and liabilities of such systems.

I’ll tell you immediately that I’m a huge proponent of digital currency although I agree that in its early stages there are many dangers. I think the forces arrayed against digital currency do not have the best interests of the individual in mind.

To understand digital currency we really have to understand modern currency as a whole. The coins and bills in your pocket, wallet, and purse have little to no intrinsic value. Even if made of real silver and gold they just don’t. See my post about Elastic Currency and my other post about the Gold Standard for more in-depth discussion on this idea.

What makes such currency valuable is that other people are willing to trade you goods and services in exchange for that currency. This is achieved through backing of the currency, generally by a government agency although not always.

When you win tickets at Dave & Busters you are purchasing currency which can be used buy things. Resort towns sometimes have a currency system for tourists. It’s all the same idea. Rather than carrying around a chicken to trade for something else of value, we use currency.

When a currency backing agency fails then the people who own that currency have nothing of value anymore. Confederate Money after the Civil War for example. When you purchase stock in a company that goes bankrupt so too is your money gone. During the Bank Runs that precipitated the Great Depression people lost all their money because the banks could not back it up. What happened to your retirement account during the recent financial crisis? You didn’t spend the money, you didn’t lose the money, but it still lost value.

No currency is perfectly secure; some are more secure than others and the U.S. Dollar has been among the most secure since the end of World War II.

Digital Currency is like other currencies except it has no physical presence. It is merely a number in an account that you can draw upon. In this it’s not much different from about 99% of your wealth. You don’t have bills and coins; you have bank statements, stocks, equity, homes, etc.

So, why is digital currency better? Because it means your wealth is with you at all time but cannot be stolen, at least in the traditional sense of the word. Yes, your account might be broken into but no one can mug you of digital currency. When you need to go into town to make purchases you are not subject to bandits.

The biggest advantage from a Libertarian point of view is that encrypted digital money is anonymous money. Government officials do not know who holds what. Governments can’t easily control the flow of money and have few if any regulatory powers. Purchases with such currency cannot be involuntarily taxed because of this complete anonymity.

There are dangers in the early days as we see in the headlines. Backing agencies can be corrupt and fail. But this is not a reason to give up on this form of currency.

Imagine a world in which every person has instant and complete access to all their money. You can go anywhere and purchase anything without worrying about tariffs and taxes. It is, after all, your money.

I’ve only touched the very surface of benefits and drawbacks to digital currencies. There are legitimate law enforcement issues in regards to illegal transactions. There are astounding possibilities about alleviating wealth inequality.

It’s a complex subject with no simple answers. I’m of the opinion that those who wish to control money, control freedom, and control the individual don’t like the idea of digital currency. Therefore it appeals to me.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

India’s $75 Million Mangalyaan Mission

India Mars missionThe other day I read in interesting article about a mission to Mars that you probably haven’t heard about and a few days later a friend of mine linked her blog to a Siemens seminar about manufacturing. An item in each of those links dovetailed into something that struck me.

The entire Mars mission is costing India the equivalent of $75 million dollars and a large part of this is because they have such a glut of incredibly intelligent young engineers that their starting salary is less than one-third of their counterparts in the United States. The team that designed the satellite has two people on it over the age of 31.

Meanwhile I read this quote from the Siemens article.

High-tech factories require a dependable supply of a well-trained, technically adept labor force. By one estimate, America will need over 120 million workers with advanced skills by 2020 – and may be on pace to prepare less than half of what’s required with adequate qualifications.

Not long ago I wrote a blog about how last year China unleashed seven million college graduates onto the world.

It’s my opinion that the Automation Age is coming and if you want a good job you need to have technical skills. Robots will be doing the vast majority of menial jobs in the future.

If the United States cannot provide businesses with a workforce that can do the job, businesses will look elsewhere. That’s the bottom line.

I’m happy to see this incredible wealth of intelligence arising in China and India. I don’t think this has to be a dire threat to the United States. As the world becomes smarter so too will our lives become better. But let’s not kid ourselves; we must continue to produce a highly qualified and technically advanced workforce. If we do not we risk being left behind.

We can’t be complacent. We can’t lie to ourselves and say, well, those Asian and Indian kids might get good grades but they can’t plan, design, and manufacturer a robotic mission to Mars. Trust me, they can.

No matter your political party try to refrain from attacking scientists even when they don’t agree with your political agenda. Read a science article now and again. Download an astronomy app so when you see a bright object in the sky you can identify it.

You might not be able to tell a youngster to become a scientist but you sure can inspire them.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

PacSun Shirts were Obscene so Mom bought them All

PacSun t-shirtsThere’s a really interesting story making news in the little town of Orem, Utah. At the local University Mall they had a bunch shirts on display made by a company called PacSun.

A woman browsing through the mall with her son found pictures on the shirts to be obscene. The shirts that Judy Cox found offensive are from a campaign called Visual by Van Styles.

Cox started off by complaining to the store manager who explained that they would have to get approval from company management to remove the shirts from the display. Not satisfied with this answer Cox purchased all nineteen shirts.

No problem, right, her money. However, her plan is to return the shirts after 59 days thus meeting the store’s return policy. There’s my issue.

She has, in my opinion, committed larceny by false pretenses. The store will be unable to sell those shirts for 59 days and this represents a loss to them even if she returns them.

If you’re a lawyer, I’d really like to hear from you about the legality of making a purchase with the intent to return it.

I do think a community has the right to determine what is obscene and if an ordinance passed by the city prohibited shirts of women with bikinis from being displayed, that is their business. The right to sell a shirt with a particular image is not protected by the Constitution of the United States.

That should have been the route Cox took rather than her approach which is, to my way of thinking, theft. If she goes through with her plan of returning the shirts she should be tried and, if found guilty, put in jail. A crime is a crime.

My major complaint here is that one person should not be allowed to make such a determination for a community. We live in a Representative Republic. If Cox wanted to protect the children of her community from such images there are legal and reasonable methods to achieve that. She could have brought a motion to her City Council and if enough people agreed with her then such displays would be banned.

Those of you who will defend Cox please keep in mind that there is someone out there who finds something that you enjoy to be offensive.

Should a vegan be allowed to purchase every wool and leather item in the store and return in 59 days later?

Should a PETA member be allowed to purchase every fur coat and return it 59 days later?

Should a devout christian be able to purchase every copy of various Harry Potter novels and return them 59 days later?

We live in this fantastic country wherein the people vote and have a voice in their government. When you resort to criminal activity to enact your own brand of justice; take a moment to consider the kind of country you would live in if everyone felt the same way.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Jen Welter a Woman on the Football Field

Jen Welter FootballWhile all this Olympic stuff is going on there’s an interesting story out of the Indoor Football League 8 on 8 division.

A young woman named Jen Welter apparently became the first woman to play in a professional football game at a position other than kicker or holder. She came in at running back and ran three plays which I think can be best described in the following way.

1. Ouch!
2. Please get out before that happens again
3. Is she alive?

Video here.

I’ve played a lot of sports in my life including hockey, rugby, and water polo which are pretty “manly” games. I’m 5’7.5″ tall and currently weigh about 165 lbs although was lighter in college when playing rugby. There are a lot of women bigger and stronger than me.

The difference, of course, is that I was playing high school and college ball, not professional sports where the athletes tend to be quite big and strong.

Personally I don’t have a problem with Welter playing although after watching the video of her three plays I am concerned that at 5′ 2″ and 130 lbs she might get seriously hurt. That’s her decision though. She wants to play, apparently is good enough to play, and the league and team are willing to let her play. Maybe it’s largely a publicity stunt to get people to the games but its clear that no one is coercing Welter.

We live in an era when women are essentially treated as equals to men and this is a sword that cuts both ways. Women are employed as the CEOs at major companies. They are in the workplace at historic numbers. Fewer women want to get married and fewer want to have children.

I think this emancipation of women is an extremely good thing for society and the countries where women are largely free are clearly better for it. It relieves the population stress and will eventually end growth altogether and allow the planet to stabilize at a sustainable level.

Anyway, I have no big points to make here. No rants. No admonishment. If Welter wants to play, let her play. Plenty of female athletes get hurt playing against other women. So if she gets hurt, then she gets hurt.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

St. Louis Assault Via Foam Dart

Foam Dart Attack St. LouisIt’s been a while since I’ve done a feature in my Critical Thinking Fail category but I have a winner!

Apparently my hometown is making national news with a rather ridiculous story. A young couple drove their car up to the checkout window at the drive-through of a St. Louis Lion’s Choice restaurant not with the intent of purchasing anything but so that they could shoot the attendant with a foam dart.

With the prevalence of video cameras it was all caught on tape and after investigation by the police the couple was apprehended and is now being charged with felony assault.

The Failure of Critical Thinking in this story is pretty much across the board.

Who in their right mind thinks it’s okay in this day and age to point a gun-like object at an unsuspecting person? Have you not been reading the news? The couple is lucky the attendant didn’t open fire with a real gun. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with shooting games and shooting toys. I played plenty of such games when I was a child but with people who knew we were playing. Even then I didn’t go around pointing toy guns at people who were not in the game.

Secondly, someone needs a lesson in Nerf. Nerf darts are not yellow. It’s not a big deal but can’t we at least get the story right?

Apparently the restaurant brought the police into the matter and I’m not totally opposed to their role in all of this. I think if someone is shooting anything through the drive-through window it’s not unreasonable to alert the police to the activity even if it was a harmless foam dart. Still, it seems excessive.

I don’t blame the officers in question for tracking down the fugitives. They were likely called by the restaurant and it’s their job to investigate crime. I do have an objection to charging the couple with felony assault. I suspect this a product of our zero-tolerance, no personal responsibility world. If the officer in charge of the investigation didn’t charge the couple he might have feared being accused of not doing his job. In this world he might have been reprimanded or even fired. Who knows.

What should have happened? The officer should have dragged the couple back to the Lion’s Choice, made them apologize to the worker, made them shake hands, and finally had them order a delicious roast beef sandwich. Problem solved.

This is the way we used to solve a lot of problems in this country. We don’t any more because we fear repercussions. A teacher cannot discipline a child in school for fear of being charged by the outraged parents with assault. An officer can’t walk a criminal around the block.

I’m not going to pretend there isn’t a rationale behind the zero-tolerance policies. There are teachers who physically and emotionally abuse students for their own sadistic pleasure. There are police officers look the other way for those from whom they curry favor.

My point is that these zero-tolerance policies aren’t helping. There are still individuals doing those things. The real solution is to spend the time and effort to prosecute those who are dangerously criminal in their actions. This involves giving discretion and responsibility to people in charge. To administrators, to teachers, to police officers, to judges, and many others.

If those people fail in their duties then they must be appropriately punished.

The problem is that we seem to think zero-tolerance, zero-responsibility rules will solve the problem. They won’t and they create their own issues as well. As we see in this case.

The less responsibility we give people, the less responsible they will become.

The Libertarian Ideal is a world in which the vast majority understand their actions and take responsibility for them. When there are those that do not; they must be reprimanded, educated, and often given another opportunity. This is not an easily arrived at state of affairs. It requires that everyone understand the principles of critical thinking and have the ability to apply them to their day-to-day lives and actions.

In this sort of world we wouldn’t be talking about foam dart assaults but might be focused on more important things.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Navy Seal Outed – Misleading Headline

Gay Navy SealThis week’s misleading or stupid headline is a double-header! The teaser from Yahoo is really misleading and the headline itself doubles down on the idiocy.

The story itself is about a U.S. Navy Seal who, eleven years ago, was found to be serving while a homosexual. At the time this was against the rules and he faced discharged.Gay Navy Seal

Yahoo runs a scroll in which stories are teased. Here is that image:

This clearly seems to indicate that American hero Brett Jones was discharged from the Navy over his sexual persuasion. That when they found out he was gay they discharged him. This isn’t true but I’m getting there.

Once you click the scroll you get to the image I have at the top of the story.

Accidental ‘I Love You’ Derails Gay Navy SEAL’s Career

This again seems to indicate that Jones had his career ended when it was determined he was a homosexual.

Now as to why the headlines are so misleading. When I read the article I found at that yes, there was an investigation after Jones said “I Love You” on a recorded message to his significant other and this was overheard by a secretary who then reported it.

The result of the investigation? Humiliation in having his security clearance revoked certainly but a discharge? No. The case was dropped and Jones eventually took Honorable Discharge in 2003. Perhaps he took it earlier than he would have but that is speculation. In talking about the experience Jones makes it clear that his Brothers-in-Arms were almost completely supportive. He thanks them for their acceptance.

This fact makes me, if possible, even prouder of the men and women who serve our country and of those in the Navy SEALs even at a time when being gay was not allowed. The fact that they openly accepted him is an incredible example of everything about which I try to write in my novels. What we do is the important thing and nowhere is this more important than on hazardous combat missions.

Brandon Webb, editor of a Special Operations Veteran website, said it very nicely when asked for his opinion on Jones.

The people with whom I’ve worked in the Special Operations community are more concerned with an individual’s contribution to the team, and their ability to do their job exceptionally well, than their race or sexual preferences …,

Would that everyone thought this way.

Jones, by the way, is doing well in civilian life with a husband and son.

The story is wonderful. It’s too bad they had to mislead me with the headline.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Camels, the Bible, and Belief

Domesticated CamelsThere’s an article making the rounds about how domesticated camels are mentioned in biblical books all the way from Genesis forward.

Here’s the problem. According to archeological, scientific, and written records; the beasts weren’t domesticated at that time. The first evidence of camels being used in a domesticated fashion comes in the 10th century BCE. This invalidates all biblical accounts which mention domesticated camels before that time.

The biblical scholars who admit this anachronism say that just because camels were interjected incorrectly into early biblical stories doesn’t mean that anything else in the stories is inaccurate. Really? This seems to fly in the face of logic. If the people who wrote the bible decided to add contemporary facts to an existing account doesn’t that mean the entire account is likely fiction? Sure, there could be parts that are accurate but it is clear that whoever wrote the books of the bible in question wrote them hundreds and possibly thousands of years after the events they depict. How can that be considered accurate?

Normally the fact that the bible is filled with inaccuracies is not something that I’d blog about. It’s evident to me that the thing is largely fiction. I’m also not bothered by religious fanatics who claim that the overwhelming evidence of camel domestication is incorrect because the stories in the bible overrule any scientific or archaeological findings. Those people are insane. I can’t reason with them nor will I try.

My problem is with those who want to believe the bible tells true stories but admit that the camel business is a mistake. It’s not one mistake. Domesticated camels are mentioned more than twenty times in early biblical stories at a time before they were actually domesticated. This means that whoever wrote those stories had no idea what they were talking about.

If I wrote a story about the Roman Empire that mentioned combustion engine driven trucks transporting goods across the Empire would you take the rest of my accounts seriously? No, of course not. Everything I wrote about would be immediately cast in doubt, and rightly so.

I see this brain trick more and more these days. Perhaps I’m just getting old and it’s been around for as long as the domesticated camel, or longer. It just seems to me that people are more willing to ignore facts so that they can believe what they want to be true. The old Is-Ought fallacy. I suppose the fact that David Hume came up with this idea some 300 years ago would suggest we are, perhaps, not living in unusual times. Maybe people have always used this little trick of the mind.

Even so, it is something my brain can’t understand. When someone brings facts forward that I had not considered; I adjust my position accordingly. To do otherwise would be to lie to myself. It would be to base my logical conclusions on my beliefs, not the other way around.

Anyway, I realize I’m not going to convince anyone today. Have a great Valentine’s Day!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne


Jack Clark Apologizes!

Clark PujolsThere was a fairly big story here in St. Louis last summer when former player Jack Clark said he knew for a fact that Albert Pujols used Performance Enhancing Drugs.

Pujols filed a defamation lawsuit and there is now a resolution.

Clark has offered an apology.

I would like to address Albert Pujols’ pending defamation lawsuit and re-confirm that I have no knowledge whatsoever that Mr. Pujols has ever used illegal or banned PEDs,” Clark said in a statement that was initially reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I publicly retract my statements that Albert Pujols used such substances. During a heated discussion on air, I misspoke and for that I sincerely apologize.

Pujols has accepted the apology and dropped what would have been a difficult lawsuit.

End of story!

Moral of story? Two adults are actually capable of coming up with a resolution to a problem without federal intervention. Nobody tell Congress, they might make a law against such behavior.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Airline Phone Calling to be Banned by Act of Congress

Talking on a PlaneThe FCC is finally loosening rules on using your phone while flying. These rules are ridiculous and I wrote a blog about why. But now that the rules are changing your friends at Congress want to get involved.

The United States Congress is considering a bill sponsored by Bill Shuster (R – Pennsylvania) and co-sponsored by 29 members (18 Republicans and 11 Democrats) to make talking on the phone during a commercial flight a crime. The Prohibiting In-Flight Voice Communications on Mobile Wireless Devices Act of 2013 is coming to an airline near you. Hooray!

The federal government is poised to make me safe from obnoxious phone callers, fathers and mothers wanting to talk to their kids, business travelers who need to keep up with projects, friends who want to touch base, and anyone who wants to talk on the phone.

Why have they taken on this potential crisis issue? Because their focus groups tell them it will be popular, that’s why.

Well Congressman Shuster, I hate to break the bad news to you but we don’t live in a Democracy (thank goodness). We live in a Representative Republic and there is a little document called the Constitution of the United States that supposedly limits your power.

Judging by the comments below the article the focus groups are doing their job well. Most people apparently want the government to ban talking on phones during a flight.

I’ve got a crazy idea. If the person next to you on the plane is talking too loudly you could ask them to stop. If they refuse you can get a flight attendant to ask them to stop.

Should we pass a law to prevent someone from snoring too loudly on a plane? How about a law to prevent someone listening to headphones from singing too loudly on a plane? How about a law to prevent someone from kicking my seat back?

Is talking loudly on the phone in a movie theater or at the table next to me such an offense the federal government needs to get involved?

My gym has a rule about cell phones and somehow they didn’t need Representative Shuster to come in and do it for them. Airlines themselves are considering such a ban. Fine and dandy. The gym can and should make that call and so should the airlines. If they make such a rule and I decide to fly that airline or go to that gym then I should abide by that rule, but the federal government? A law? Presumably to be subject to imprisonment for violation therein?

Are you kidding me?

If they can pass a law like this; what can’t they outlaw?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Marcus Smart and the Fan who said Something

marcus-smart-shoveOne of the top non-Olympic (yawn) stories today is about a basketball player for Oklahoma State who gave a fairly mild shove to a fan at the tail end of the game between OSU and Texas Tech.

Smart fell into the stands after rushing down court to block a shot and something was said that infuriated him enough to get first into a shouting match with the fan and then shove him.

It’s a bad situation all the way around. It’s my opinion that fans are becoming increasingly crude, vile, and nasty towards not only opposing players but their own team. That they feel because they paid for their tickets they can say and do just about anything they want. I wrote about it in a blog after I had a pretty bad experience at a Rams game.

The fan who raised the ire of Smart, Jeff Orr, is apparently well-known to the Texas Tech Athletic Department. He travels to many away games and roots for the Red Raiders. I don’t know what he said. It could have been anything. Smart and the Cowboys have been struggling lately and that can lead to frustration. Smart is a 19-year-old young man, a kid from my perspective. I remember being pretty volatile at that age as well.

Maybe what was said was innocuous and Smart overreacted.

Maybe the fan made an incredibly vile comment and deserved to have his teeth knocked down his throat. I don’t know.

I do know that the situation is dangerous, particularly where the fans are very close to the athletes and basketball is probably the prime example of this. Players spill off the court into the stands fairly regularly and this is not the first such interaction of this nature. The NBA had an extremely high-profile incident a few years back and others since. The NHL has had incidents.

In college sports these are very young men and women who perhaps are not mentally mature.

What’s the solution? A little decency is all it takes. If you’re a fan and want to express your unhappiness with an opposing player or a player on your team, do it with a little control. Boo all you want. Call them a bum. Don’t talk about their race, their religion, their mother or sisters, or the fact that they have a DUI on their record. I’m not just talking of sparing the opposing player, I’m talking about showing a little respect for the fans next to you, they paid for their seats also.

If you are a fan and someone is behaving in a disgusting fashion say something. Don’t be rude like them, that is what they want. Just ask politely if they could not use disgusting language, racial slurs, religious slurs, or some human failing of the athlete involved. Remind them that you paid for your ticket also. If they continue then it’s probably time to get security involved.

Don’t we all just want to have a good time at the game? Root for our team, boo the best player on the opponent’s squad while recognizing their athletic ability, enjoy a beer without getting sloppy drunk, and then go home and have the memories?

If you’re yelling vile things during a largely meaningless sporting event, what does that say about you as a human being? As a father? As a role-model?

Again, I’m not saying Orr is guilty in all of this, it’s possible he didn’t say anything wrong. I think Smart was absolutely wrong to even acknowledge the fan, let alone shove him. I’m just suggesting that incidents like this can be avoided if people choose to show a little something called personal responsibility.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Postal Service huge Windfall is really a Loss?

Postal Service FraudMy stupid headline of the week goes the Associated Press. I’ve spoken about this particular story often in the past but it just keeps making headlines.

Postal Service had $354 million first-quarter loss screams the headline.

That includes the $1.4 billion payment the Postal Service must make to the U.S. Congress to cover the pensions of employees for the next seventy-five years. Yes, seventy-five years.

Read this blog to understand the depths of the massive fraud Congress is playing with the Postal Service and your tax dollars.

Math is not my strong suit but it’s not difficult to take 354 -1,400 to understand that the Postal Service turned a nice little quarterly profit of $1.046 billion.

But I guess Postal Service had $1,046 billion first-quarter profit isn’t such a great headline. Sigh.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne


California Eggs and the Commerce Clause

Commerce ClauseThe Attorney General of my home state of Missouri just filed a case in federal court over a California law concerning purchasing chicken eggs. The basic premise is that the California legislature has decided that chickens kept in small coops are being abused. Having watched a few videos (graphic content, beware) I can’t say I disagree.

No one is disputing that California can pass laws regulating their own state but what Missouri, Iowa, and other chicken egg producing states are questioning is the effect that it will have on them. Missouri sells about 1.7 billion eggs to California consumers. This represents about 33% of their total sales. When California passes regulations about purchasing it affects states like Missouri.

If Missouri wants to keep those sales it must comply with the California regulation. Thus the lawsuit. Missouri says they are being forced by California to comply with regulations designed for that state. That California is forcing many states to comply with its own regulations. This all falls under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The clause is short and sweet but has had a huge impact on laws in the United States. I will end the suspense right away as to where I stand on this issue. As a Libertarian it is my opinion that the Commerce Clause has been stretched, twisted, and maimed beyond all recognition. It is used in all manner of things well beyond what I consider to be its original intent. It reads: [The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;

In this case largely republicans dominated states are angry that they can’t sell to California without abiding by its rules. If you feel that way, go sell your eggs elsewhere. California is a massive state with a huge population and a giant impact on our economy. If you want to do business with them then abide by their laws. The same goes for Texas where there is much debate about the content of schoolbooks based upon Texas laws. If you decide their laws are burdensome and you don’t wish to participate, then don’t. If the price of eggs in California skyrocket maybe they will change their regulatory laws. Maybe other states will decide that the torturing of chickens is disgusting beyond description and pass the same laws themselves. It’s not up to Missouri to decide what California should do or vice-versa.

Anyone wishing to lambaste one party or the other over the implementation of the Commerce Clause merely needs to look at the various cases that include everything from milk, to guns, to health care, to marijuana. Both sides have eagerly and repeatedly attempted to use the clause to extend their own view of government power while attacking the other side for doing the same.

It is an incredible complex question and directly affects the power of the Judicial Branch to overrule the Legislative Branch. It speaks to State’s Rights. When the Judiciary restricts a law it means that judges are overriding the power of elected officials. When states pass laws that hurt other states and this is overruled it means that Congress has power over the states. There are many, many cases and a great deal of literature on the Clause.

I think where the law often goes wrong is when it assumes the federal government has the authority to create a “fair” commercial field. There are examples of the Commerce Clause being used for ostensibly “good” reasons. Result of which made commerce easier and better for American citizens. This is not, in my opinion, a legitimate reason to grant the federal government this power.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Why you Should Ignore Rules and Procedures

Slavish Insistence on Following RulesI’m a big fan of rules and procedures. I’m rather a pest in the office when it comes to such things. Well written procedures are extremely useful in running an efficient operation. There are any number of ways to do something but generally one method has emerged as the best. When rules and procedures are not followed there are often problems.

I’m a proponent of stop-signs and no right hand turn on red regulations at particular intersections. There are generally good reasons for these things and following the rules and regulations is a benefit for everyone. When people stop following the rules things can become chaotic, inefficient, and error-prone.

So, why am I writing about ignoring rules and procedures? Because rules and procedures don’t exist without purpose. They are merely an attempt to codify a method by which things are most efficiently done and to prevent mistakes and even tragedy. If we do not understand the purpose of rules and procedures and follow them slavishly under all circumstances then we not only undermine efficiency and safety but we give up our freedom.

This is the world of zero-tolerance. This is a world bereft of personal responsibility. This is a world where creativity is crushed and mindless obligation to duty praised.

In my office we have a lot of computer equipment. This equipment ends up coming into the office and going out of the office. It moves from location to location in our office. It is very easy to lose track of this equipment and then there is a problem. Projectors go missing, laptops go missing, servers go missing. These things cost a lot of money and where there is inadequate tracking there is the opportunity for theft.

I teach training classes and we have a group of machines that have Microsoft Office 2007 on them and another with Office 2010. This week I have a very small class, two students, for Office 2007 followed immediately by a very large class for 2010.

The room where I teach is generally setup for Office 2010 with thirteen machines. For the small class I had to get three (one for the instructor) computers from our lockup and put them in the room. I wrote down the asset tag numbers for these computers and notified the appropriate person that they had been moved.

I was asked what happened to the three machines that had been removed, did they go back into lockup? No, I just stashed them behind my podium as the next day I’d be returning them to their original station.

That’s not the procedure I was told.

It’s not a big deal but this what I’m getting at. I wasn’t punished, no one is in trouble. Those three machines were in the room, stayed in the room, and will be replaced in their original position after being displaced for about 48 hours. The purpose of the procedure was to make sure they weren’t misplaced. It is my assertion that there was no danger of that in this case, and therefore the procedures can safely be ignored. It was agreed I was correct and the tracking was not performed on those three machines.

This is a reasonable outcome. The procedure didn’t make sense in this particular case. If we had followed procedure it would have taken time for me to note the three moved machines and taken time for the tracking person to fill out the appropriate forms in SharePoint both “moving” from the room and the back into the same place. This would have been a waste of time with no gain. Not a huge thing but an effort nonetheless.

This is the sort of slavish reliance on regulation that a fearful society embraces, that a tyrant embraces. This is a police officer giving you a ticket for an illegal right-hand turn on red early on a Sunday morning when there is no traffic for miles. This is a student suspended from school for cutting a cookie into the shape of a firearm. This is a society afraid of personal responsibility.

It’s a recipe for tyranny and I don’t like it, much though I love rules and regulations.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Websites Designed to Deceive – Modern Politics

Misleading WebsiteI just read an interesting story about how the National Republican Congressional Committee has launched a series of websites designed to raise funds. What’s interesting about the sites is that a quick perusal suggests that are designed to raise donations for a Democratic candidate.

If you go to the site that is mentioned in the article you will see that at first glance it pretty clearly associates itself with the Democratic candidate and only when you notice one word do you realize that it is actually a fundraising site for Republicans.

There is a picture of the democratic candidate with her name and the word Congress on it. It apparently uses the same color scheme as the candidates own website but it notes that you will be contributing to defeat that candidate, not to that candidate.

The article mentions that democrats are not innocent in all this nonsense as there is this site that is designed to deceive.

I’m sure my democratic friends will call the republicans evil lying schemers and my republican friends will laugh at how stupid and gullible are democrats. If the situation was reversed the reaction would be the same from opposite sides.

People don’t care if you lie, steal, and cheat to win an election. They expect it. They pat you on the back when you win. As long as its your side doing it, it’s fine.

Any news story that has factual information crediting one side is dismissed by the other. Any movement in a reasonable direction by one side is attacked by the other.

There is little rational discourse. The talking heads blame each other and the citizens of our nation get down on their knees, lap up the lies, and beg for more. As long as the lies come from their side.

There is an unwillingness to play fair, to behave with honor.

In the United States greed is good. Winning is the only thing. Integrity has no place in our nation anymore and certainly not at the voting booth.

Then the voters are absolutely stunned to find someone from their party is involved in campaign finance shenanigans. Dismayed I tell you!

Well, if you keep voting for the best liar, what sort of person do you expect will represent you in Congress?

Here’s the thing. For all my gloom and doom; we vote in an entirely new government every six years. Two years for the House of Representatives, four for the Presidency, and six for the Senate.

At the end of every six-year period we have had a chance to elect men and women with integrity. Men and women who want what’s best for our nation, not their political party.

I’m not giving up! I’m going to continue to vote entirely Independent be it Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, or Gary Johnson. I’m going to continue to write this blog.

Maybe my votes and my blog won’t solve what ails this nation, but they sure can’t make it worse.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Fellatio, Homosexual Couples, SodaStream, and the Super Bowl

Fellatio InnuendoI wrote earlier last week that Fox Network refused to air an advertisement from a company that sells soda making equipment because it referenced rivals Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

They didn’t give any explanation as to why they refused to air the ad but the assumption is that they didn’t want to offend two of their largest sponsors; Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Certainly both of those companies mention each other in advertisement and significantly more negatively than the Soda Stream ad mentions them.

However, Soda Stream is a small company that doesn’t spend millions of dollars on advertisement on many other shows; therefore Fox made their decision. Offending Soda Stream will not cost Fox potentially huge amounts of revenue. I explained in the first article why I thought Fox had the right to advertise what they wanted but that this forced alteration smacked of censorship and was certainly an example of the Crony Capitalism that is subverting the economic principles of our country.

That is not the focus of today’s blog. Today I want to talk about how it is apparently perfectly acceptable for an advertisement to state pretty openly that a man wants oral sex from the woman next to him. That it’s completely all right to have a homosexual couple in an advertisement. That a halftime show can be filled with sexually suggestive songs and dances (this year was largely bereft of such displays but I’m talking more generally). There can even be wardrobe malfunctions that are intentionally planned to expose a woman’s breast.

Personally I don’t have a problem with any of these things. I’m actually rather fond of women’s breasts. I’m not opposed to fellatio from an attractive woman, and I don’t have a problem with a homosexual couple. Let’s face reality; some people will have problems with all of these things. I have a problem with commercials where couples (gay or straight) are sticking tongues down each other’s throats. There are always going to be some things, that someone, somewhere, will find objectionable.

The question I want to explore is the remedy to this problem. The people who find these things objectionable now go to our government, namely the FCC, to try to get that agency to penalize those who create and display the content.

I don’t doubt that the FCC will see a litany of complaints this morning. To me this is the heart of the problem. We look to the government to redress grievances over which they should have no jurisdiction. You don’t like seeing a man ask a woman for oral sex and the woman apparently relishing the idea? Then organize a few friends and boycott the network or the product. It’s easy today with the internet to find like-minded people. If enough of you make a fuss, there will be changes.

If you don’t like seeing homosexual couples on your television during the Super Bowl but the majority of people have decided that it’s ok to show them? Well, don’t watch the Super Bowl.

If a friend makes a very sweet comment about breastfeeding her newborn son and that offends you, then tell your friend. If you think it’s sweet then Like the post. The internet is the age of the individual. It is a Libertarian’s dream world.

Take charge of your life and don’t look to the government to do it for you. If you empower the government to ban things, don’t be surprised when they ban something you like. Power to the people! Better yet, power to me!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Say What? Bad Oppo Dump Stupid Headline

Oppo DumpIn an era of bad journalism, sensational headlines, and opinion pieces that masquerade as news, The Daily Beast stands out for the latter. It’s almost a joke of a website with their articles so biased and slanted I’ve largely ignored it for stupid headlines.

But I couldn’t pass up this one:

Chris Christie’s Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Oppo Dump.

Huh? I’m guessing it has to do with the bridge incident in New Jersey wherein aides of Christie ordered a major commuter bridge closed as punishment for a rival’s actions.

After trying to read the article and failing because it makes about as much sense as the headline; I present to you the Stupid or Misleading headline of the week!

Congratulations on your first winning entry Daily Beast!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Kansas and the Anti-Google Bill – Capitalism at its Finest

Ban GoogleI’ve been railing against Crony Capitalism on this blog for about as long as I’ve been writing it. There are any number of instances where a business decides that the best way to get a bigger market share is to bribe legislatures to pass laws destroying their competition.

There’s an blatant case of this going on in Kansas although because the company that was being legislated out of business is a big boy, Google, the fight just got ugly.

Basically the large cable companies that “serve” the people of Kansas; Comcast, Cox, Eagle Communications, and Time Warner Cable, submitted, on their own, a bill to the Kansas State legislature. You can read all about the bill but it basically prevents any municipality in Kansas from providing broadband service to their customers or hiring anyone to do it.

The stated reason for the bill is that legislatures, bought by campaign funds from cable companies, don’t think it’s fair for tax dollars to be used in competition with private companies. It seems reasonable on the surface but try to remember how you get your water, electric, and gas. The real reason for the bill is that communities are starting to provide, on their own, wireless access to the internet. Kansas City partnered with Google to provide fiber-optic speed internet access to their community.

This bill hasn’t passed yet and the uproar has already forced the legislature to offer tweaks but the reality is that is the way business is done in the United States and it’s not good for consumers.

The cable companies have essentially had monopolies in their communities since their inception. Read this article from the Cato Institute. Basically cable providers pay municipalities huge sums of money so they can be the only source of television in an area. Yet somehow the legislation being proposed doesn’t outlaw this sweetheart deal.

Changing technology in the form of broadband internet is altering the game organically but cable companies fear they will lose their audience because people are unhappy with the service they get. The solution, of course, is to try to legislate away competition, not actually provide a service that people like.

I strongly suspect that this particular piece of legislation will fail and their will be general rejoicing. However, the reality is that this is the way business is done in the United States and it is destroying capitalism, destroying our faith in our country, destroying our faith in elected officials, destroying our trust of the judiciary, and contributing greatly to the trend of monetary inequality.

Liberals argue that big business is the source of this inequality while conservatives cite over-regulation. The real culprit is Crony Capitalism. When a business conspires with a government agency to eliminate competition through legislation rather than providing a better product the fallout is dangerous to us all.

True competition is the best wealth distributor. Crony Capitalism concentrates wealth in the hands not of the best business but with those businesses that know best how to bribe their legislatures into eliminating competition.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne