Georgia and the 4th Amendment Vs the 2nd Amendment

Constitution of United StatesAs a Libertarian I’m a supporter of the Constitution of the United States. That’s a period at the end of that sentence.

I find it extremely discouraging that people seem to increasingly care very little about that document, regardless if whether a Democrat or a Republican. In elections Libertarians generally get about 1% or less of the vote; this means that 99% of voters in this country vote for Democrats or Republicans.

If people only care about the parts of the Constitution that are expedient to their cause of the moment it means the document doesn’t have any real meaning at all. We live in a Representative Republic wherein the people choose their elected officials. If the people don’t care about the Constitution then the duly elected representatives will not either.

Georgia is a case in point that strikes home so powerful, so undeniably that I’m using it as an example. This doesn’t mean that Georgia is alone in their cherry-picking of Constitutional Rights, it just means that it’s the example I’m using. I think the problem extends to every state and every district in this country.

Here are two news stories:

The Georgia legislature wants to drug test welfare recipients.

The Georgia legislature allows firearms to be carried just about anywhere.

Here are two Amendments:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This absolute insistence on following the Constitution when it promotes a policy you agree with and utter disregard for the Constitution when it protects someone you don’t like is extraordinarily disturbing to me. Even worse, the proponents and opponents of these two policies are inversely related to the political party to which they belong, unless they’re in the 1% with me.

This means that 99% of the people don’t care at all about Constitution, they care about political expediency.

The people who argue both sides of both situations can rationalize their position all they want. I’m not hearing it.

Here’s the deal. People are allowed to have guns. The government cannot search me without probable cause.

If you’ve got a problem with either of those things then you’re in the majority. If you love freedom then that should cause you great concern.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

Frank Phillips Fired for Choking Student

Officer Choking StudentI’ve posted a number of times about how important it is for people in authority to not only reward good behavior but also discipline those under their command. Too often we read about police agencies bending over backwards to protect officers to keep pure the reputation of the force.

Well, thanks to Sheriff Jimmy “J. J.” Jones of the Knoxville, Tennessee county police department I’ve got a different story for you today. Sheriff Jones doesn’t put up with rogue officers and fired Officer Frank Phillips upon reviewing photographic evidence of his abuse of a handcuffed student.

Jones made it clear his office does not tolerate excessive force and also promoted the idea of body-worn cameras on officers uniforms as a way to keep such abuses in check.

I have no doubt that many people will suggest that Jones is merely firing Phillips because there is photographic evidence and that such abuse goes on frequently. That Jones generally tolerates such use of force.

I don’t doubt that officers do abuse suspects but proving such cases is difficult because many criminals make up stories of attacks. I’m more than willing to give Jones the benefit of the doubt and I hope the people of Tennessee recognize that they’ve got one of the good guys in charge of their force.

There is no doubt in my mind that the action by Jones will attract a better class of person to his department. When leaders stand idly by or even actively protect such sadistic officers it is to the detriment of all good police officials. Every officer in Knoxville who takes seriously his or her oath to protect and serve will applaud this action. More good men and women will be attracted to a leader like Jones who expects his subordinates to behave with ethics and morality.

Law enforcement officers must be seen as a force of good in any country or they slowly become a force of evil. They stop protecting and serving and start abusing and degrading.

Every time someone like former officer Phillips is allowed to treat suspects in this manner is another nail in the coffin of our country. When we stop respecting police and the courts we start to become a lawless nation where anyone will do anything to get ahead.

A big tip of the hat to Sheriff Jones from this blogger. Well done, sir. You’ve not only improved your police force in Knoxville but you’ve set a shining example for the rest of the command officers around the United States. You’ve made our country a better, safer place.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

Privacy and the Tweeting Vending Machine

Tweeting Vending MachineThere’s what’s meant to be an light and amusing story making the rounds in the news these days about a hacking group in England that broke into a vending machine and programmed it to tweet messages about who purchased what. In England they have something called an RFID card which when used identifies the name of the person making the purchase.

A lot of comments on the story expressed the idea that it was no one’s business what food they ate and this was an invasion of their privacy.

It’s an interesting privacy issue. I agree that it’s no one’s business what I eat but there is no constitutional protection here in the United States to prevent anyone from watching your purchases and learning your dietary habits. Whenever you use any form of electronic payment there is a real trail of what you have purchased and when.

Even if you use cash to avoid such a trail there are cameras in the stores and the transactions were recorded. Anyone with appropriate rights could access the receipt from the time you were in the line and determine what you purchased. It’s perfectly legal and in many ways quite helpful. If the grocery store knows your purchasing habits they can offer you coupons for the products you use.

It’s a similar situation on the internet when you visit Amazon to purchase my latest novel, The Broken Throne (which I’m sure you’ll be doing right now, yes now, come back and finish the blog later).

When you arrive at Amazon, after you make the purchase, scroll to the bottom of the screen and note that there are a bunch of recommendations. This is because Amazon tracks you when you enter the website and keeps a forever record of all the purchases you’ve made. They correlate this against their database and algorithms offer suggestions.

The same is true when you visit almost any major website and sign-in. These daily conveniences are quite helpful and useful but they do bring forth the startling reality that our expectation of privacy does not equate to reality. You can choose to live “off the grid” but that means you don’t get access to many of the very nice things the grid offers.

Modern society allows us to keep track of vast amounts of information that would otherwise not have been available. This raises privacy concerns. Should the local law-enforcement division be aware of how much bourbon I purchase? Might it be used against me in some criminal case down the road? Might a person with a grudge against me simply broadcast the information far and wide in an attempt to embarrass me?

The answer is yes. Those things might happen. That’s why we have laws against slander and defamation. We have laws to restrain police agencies from harassing citizens.

That’s why Libertarians like myself worry when police and government agencies are given more authority in an effort to “make us safe”. I recently wrote that seizure laws are out of control in this country and that’s just one example of our liberties being eroded under the guise of protection.

One of the things I find most distressing is the absolute willingness, nay eagerness, to take away freedoms from those who support the opposite political party. Be it trying to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for taking her Constitutionally granted right to avoid self-incrimination or animal lovers using the government to destroy legitimate business.

The people of this country leap up and applaud when the rights of their political foes are stripped and, because we live in a Representative Republic, the politicians are quick to follow suit.

As far as I’m concerned; your rights are my rights. It’s just as important now as it was two-hundred and twenty-six years ago.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

Silicon Valley Settlement

apple-pixar-google-lawsuitAn extremely interesting anti-trust case was just settled by Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe for about $300 million. It’s a case that will have serious repercussions throughout the industry and I’m of the opinion that the resolution is just. There are those that will argue the companies got off lightly and others that the employees got too much compensation.

Let’s examine the situation. With the advent of the information age and the coming of the automation age there was and will continue to be a huge need for a highly educated workforce. The best and brightest workers are in high demand and will be increasingly so in the future. I spoke about the need for an educated workforce in this blog.

As the need for sophisticated workers increases so does the value of the workers who meet the requirements. Employers must then pay these employees increasingly large sums for their services. This is good and natural and everything that we Libertarians expect from a capitalistic system.

In this case the major players including those who just settled but also including Pixar, Lucasfilms, and Intel, who admitted guilt earlier, agreed not to try to hire top talent away from each other. There is a trail of emails that make it clear this was happening. Steve Jobs of Apple was particularly aggressive to the point of writing threatening emails to competitors. At least two of these, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Edward Colligan of Palm told Jobs to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine, or used words to those effect. Good for them!

The collusion of the companies in the lawsuit is undeniable. The question is whether or not the technical employees were allowed to sue as a group. There are a number of legal hurdles that might have derailed the case on appeals. On the other hand, the guilt of the companies in denying their employees a fair opportunity to shop their worth is undeniable and the series of emails and likely testimony from the likes of Sandberg and Colligan made a much, much larger resolution possible. The lawsuit cited a figure of $3 billion which could have tripled to $9 billion.

Therefore I think the final outcome is just. The employees were certainly not recompensed the value of their services during the years of collusion but it is likely they could have gotten nothing at all and, even worse, the companies exonerated for their vile, anti-capitalistic behavior.

This resolution makes it clear that workers are absolutely entitled to the whatever wage anyone is willing to pay them. That companies cannot collude in this fashion because it undermines the entire capitalistic system. Employees benefit greatly as do companies like Facebook and Palm who agree to honor the tenants of capitalism.

This case is an excellent example to my fundamental Libertarian friends that a completely laissez-faire attitude from government towards business is naive and dangerous to the people and to liberty as a whole.

As a Libertarian I am neither pro-business nor am I pro-worker. I want everyone and every business to succeed on their or its merits. Capitalism is an excellent system but some government regulation is required to make sure it doesn’t become corrupted by anti-trust activities.

The resolution arrived at in this case is the sort that serves capitalism, serves business, serves workers, and in the long run, serves us all.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere


Vending Machine Service Guy

Vending Machine techI was teaching today in a large office building and because we started class early we also went to lunch early. This meant I was in the cafeteria when the vending machine service technician was at work. I came away inspired and somewhat dismayed.

I watched as the technician opened each machine and began to fill them from cartons stuffed with various bags of chips and other supplies. I asked him how he knew what was needed in each machine. He replied that he came up and counted what was needed, went back to his truck, loaded the appropriate supplies, and then returned to load the machines.

“Who loads your truck,” I asked wondering how they knew the amount to put in each truck. I was interested because it was clear that some items were much more popular than others and whoever loaded the truck needed to know this to supply it properly. “I do,” he said. “It makes for long days.”

He mentioned that some new machines index what is needed and report to him when he plugs into them. I found the entire process inefficient although the fellow was certainly hard-working and conscientious. After he loaded the food into the machine he painstakingly put $5 dollar bills into the bill scanner one at a time so that it would be able to change $20 bills put in by patrons. He then loaded the change dispenser by cracking open rolls of quarters, dimes, and nickles and feeding them into the tubes stopping only to pick up spilled coins. It looked to me as if he knew his job quite well and was proceeding at a rapid pace considering what he had to do to each machine.

Yikes! I thought to myself. This is insane. An employee inexperienced on a particular route is going to load the wrong supplies in the wrong amount and end up not having enough of one thing and too much of another. Even someone who really knows the route isn’t going to hit the numbers perfectly.

We’ve got guys at work that could write a software program to report everything that came out of each machine. It could easily broadcast this information back to the warehouse. Employees could come in at midnight, load cartons with what was needed, and mark the boxes by business, floor, and machine. Loaders could load up the trucks when they arrived.

The driver would stop at each location, take the box indicated, load the machines, and be done with it. It would speed up the entire process by at least 50% if not more.

It would take a mechanical engineer or two to design a speedier system for loading coins and bills but I don’t think it would be that difficult. Someone still needs to manufacture the devices and place them into the machines but that could be done as new machines rolled off the assembly line and eventually you’d have an army of smart vending machines reporting exactly what they needed at all times.

As far as payment goes; I can see the vending machine company supplying refillable swipe cards to all workers in an office and then equipping the machines to take the cards. Anyone could fill the cards at home by transferring money through a website and then swipe as necessary. This would dramatically reduced the need to fill the machines with bills and change; an extremely time-consuming process for the technician.

So anyway, that’s what I did today besides teach a great group of people how to use Microsoft Project 2010.

How was your day?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

Mt. Everest – Am I Orville Wright if I fly a Plane?

Norgay atop EverestThere’s an awful story in the news about a group of people killed in an avalanche at Mount Everest and it made me consider the nature of achievement.

The tragedy killed at least thirteen Sherpa guides on the mountain last week. When I first read the story I wondered why only guides were killed and no climbers. It’s because climbing Mount Everest has become more of an expensive tourist attraction than a glorious achievement.

The Sherpas were setting up ropes and supply camps along the route that the “climbers” were to take later this year. Getting to the summit of Mount Everest was once a very difficult thing and required tremendous skill, stamina, and sheer guts. The first men atop the mountain were Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and his companion New Zealand mountain climber Edmund Hillary on May 29, 1953. The courage of those men and the others before them who failed or died trying is not to be doubted.

On May 23, 2010 a total of 169 people reached the summit. That one day total represented more people than had been to the top since the first summit in 1953.

At this point the well-funded tourists wait in line to get to the top aided by the Sherpas who set up equipment and ropes for them to use. It is still an arduous trip to be certain but is it an achievement? That’s my question.

Orville and Wilbur Wright were the first to fly a plane. A lot of people fly planes today and it is still an accomplishment. Getting your pilot’s license is not easy. Ascending to the top of Mount Everest is not easy.

A real achiever by the name of Reinhold Messner said, … a mountain without danger is not a mountain.

So why are people with little to no climbing experience paying up to $80,000 to get to the top of Mount Everest? Why are they waiting in line on the few good days a year it’s possible to reach the peak?

I think it’s because they yearn to achieve something great. That’s a fantastic and deeply ingrained human desire. Each time I near the completion of a new novel I dream that it will be lauded as a great piece of literature to be read throughout the ages. I dream about making riches as well, but the underpinning is always the idea that I will have accomplished something that gives others inspiration and joy.

This is a wellspring of humanity that Ayn Rand speaks about in her novels. This is the underlying force that drives the philosophy of Objectivism. It’s not about gaining wealth and fame, it’s about driving oneself to the be the best human one can be. It’s about doing great things and the sense of worth that it gives us. It’s about achieving.

I’m convinced this fundamental drive is in each of us. That in order to make this world a Utopia we just need to convince everyone that their happiness derives from their achievements in life. That as more people become like Norgay, like Hillary, and like Messner, the rest of us will join them for the ride!

Follow your dreams. Dare to be great but do it in a practical way. Make your plans and carry them out with determination.

Greatness awaits and the reward is a life filled with joy.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

Not Enough to Eat for Scholarship Athletes

Follow the MoneyThe true nature of the NCAA was on full display when the president of that organization agreed that certain rules about food were “absurd”.

What I’d like to talk about today is why the NCAA has rules about how much food the student-athlete gets. Before I talk about that I’d like to honestly discuss many of the misconceptions people have about the “full-ride” scholarship that the student-athlete receives.

When I read through the comments on stories like the one above, I find there are many people honestly misinformed. Here are some of the most basic misconceptions.


The scholarship entitles the student-athlete to a free college experience including books, classes, food, room, and travel to games.


An athletic scholarship is based on a certain formula and the average Division I scholarship student-athlete pays $2,951 to attend the school.


The student-athlete receives a four-year scholarship.


Four year scholarships ended in 1973 and all athletic scholarships are for one year. When a student-athlete is injured or sees a performance drop such that they will not be able to compete for the team, they are generally not offered a scholarship for the subsequent year. This is waived if the injury appears to be short-term in nature and the student-athlete will recover to be able to contribute the following season.


A four-year education is worth millions of dollars.


Tuition inflation means that most students do not pay anywhere near the full tuition to attend a university. As an example, my niece attends Case Western University which has a stated total annual expense of $60,129 of which $42,766 is tuition. The reality is that almost 98% of the students receive financial aid that cut costs more than in half. The stated cost of an education in this country is far higher than its real cost.

My Point

What I really want to talk about today is why the NCAA has a rule about whether putting cream cheese on a bagel constitutes a meal. Yes, that’s the rule that the original article is about.

The NCAA argues that they are defending the integrity of the sport by preventing schools from “bidding” on a student athlete’s service. That if the field is anything other than exactly equal those schools with a larger a financial base will get the best players to the detriment of the sport in general.

Thus they have a massive rule book filled with things that define how much food a school is allowed to provide to a student. A school is allowed to feed them three times a day and student-athletes are forbidden to remove any food from the cafeteria to be eaten at a later time (another misconception). Students are allowed to be given snacks although the amount of food is strictly regulated to prevent rule-breakers from sneaking food to the kids.

These kids are young, growing men spending a great part of their day in vigorous physical exercise. I was once a young man who spent hours a day practicing and playing sports. I was hungry constantly. From the time I arrived home from school until I went to bed I was basically eating. I’m 5′ 7″ and weighed 130 at the time (not anymore).

My point is that the NCAA’s stated goal of keeping one school from having a competitive advantage over another school is merely a smokescreen. The reality is that college football and basketball generates huge amounts of revenue from sources that will be a surprise to many of my readers.

Texas A&M auctioned off replica helmets signed by Johnny Manziel and other team stars for $15K each. Johnny Manziel, unlike every other non-student-athlete, is not allowed to sell his signature.

Schools auction off seats at their various alumni dinners for thousands of dollars. The more someone pays the better table they get with the star athletes sitting with them.

Athletic apparel companies give millions to the schools which “redistribute” it to the coaches. This new strategy came into being in 2010 when the nature of Shoe Contracts became public. The athletic companies used to give the money directly to the coaches but the rank hypocrisy turned people off.

Coaches get paid in exclusive country club memberships, “Ask the Coach” media contracts, and a plethora of other non-salary revenue. The President of the NCAA is paid well over seven figures. The entire organization is tax-exempt.

I think it’s important not to lie to ourselves. The NCAA is not in the business of keeping the integrity of the sport intact. They are in the business of ensuring their cash-cow keeps churning dollars.

A lot of people benefit from the way the NCAA currently operates from the fans, to the construction companies building stadium, to politicians sitting for free in luxury boxes, to NCAA employees jetting around the country on private jets provided by the wealthy who want access to the glory of the athletes, to the seven-figure salaried announcers, to the fans who enjoy the game, and to the players who get to go to school.

All I’m asking for is a little equity between all those interested parties.

I don’t begrudge the networks their advertising revenue, the construction companies their profits, the coaches, athletic directors, sideline reporters, and countless others their salaries.

The current system strikes me as grossly unfair to the student-athletes who are the underpinnings upon which all other profits are based. It’s strikes me as anti-American. It hits me in my Libertarian guts.

The value of a NCAA Division I football and basketball player has increased by an almost astronomical amount in the last twenty years and their remuneration remains unchanged.

I don’t like it and I don’t like the lie the NCAA tells to justify it.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

Scientists Clone Two People – Misleading Headline

Clone Adult CellsAnd we have a winner!

U.S. Scientists Clone Two Adults screams the headline looking for clicks.

I generally read the Science sections of various news outlets and have been following this story for a few days. It’s hardly what the headline purports.

The real idea here is that they took genetic information from adults and produced embryonic cells identical to the adults in question. This has actually been done before but the success ratio in this particular experiment was significantly higher than in other attempts and thus represents a step forward. The idea being that we will eventually be able to use the cells within our own bodies to heal various ailments.

Here is a more realistic article that explains the process.

The headline is even more misleading in suggesting that it was U.S. scientists responsible for the new study. While the work did take place at the Research Institute for Stem Cell Research at CHA Health Systems in Los Angeles it was funded by the government of South Korea.

I’m not saying that such medical science doesn’t have ethical repercussions. It does. There is the potential to take such embryonic cells and attempt to grow them into an exact genetic replica of the donor. That’s just not the case here.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere



Kim Dotcom Gets his Stuff back – Two Years Later

Kim Dotcom Gets StuffThere’s a lot going on in the news lately with insane people murdering strangers and babies. I’m letting all that stuff sink in before I write anything. In the meantime there is a news story where I know exactly how I feel. Over two years ago at the behest of the big money in the United States the police in New Zealand set up an illegal surveillance operation on a man named Kim Dotcom. They eventually raided his house and stole, I mean seized, all his stuff.

Well, the courts have finally ruled that the police can’t keep his stuff forever. Hooray. It only took two+ years!

I’ve written about this case on several occasions but I’ll recap quickly for those not fully aware of the circumstances of the legal trouble in which Dotcom finds himself embroiled.

Dotcom was the main owner of a file sharing site called Megaupload. The site was used by many legitimate people and businesses to store various files in a secure, cloud environment. It was also used by many others to share files illegally. One person purchased a song or an eBook or a movie and then shared it with other people who had not made such a purchase.

This sort of file sharing has long been regarded by the movie and music industry as a drain on their profits. The argument over whether sharing reduces actual purchases is quite interesting in its own right but most of what I’ve read indicates it has little or no effect on overall sales. While some people download a file they would have otherwise purchased the evidence suggests this is generally not the case. The person who downloads either ends up making the purchase later or would never have made the purchase at all. This can be argued but it’s not really the point of my blog.

The point here is that people with a lot of money, the recording and movie industry, decided to put pressure on U.S. politicians and politicians in New Zealand to put an end to Megaupload. This money and influence purchased police action. Dotcom was raided and still faces extradition orders from the United States. His business was destroyed. Servers with information were taken and the files eventually destroyed.

This in itself is frightening. That people with money can influence a government into arresting people and destroying their livelihood. The corruption of the enforcement and judicial branch of any government is not something to be taken lightly. If a wealthy person can buy the arrest of another person, are any of us safe?

Even worse, in my opinion, is that the authorities held onto Dotcom’s possessions for well over two years and he still hasn’t been brought to trial. They illegally watched his home, raided it in an extremely overzealous and publicity minded fashion, took his stuff, and still haven’t brought him to trial.

Whether you support file sharing or not it seems to be me that anyone who believes in freedom cannot support a government acting in this manner, particularly at the behest of moneyed interests.

When politicians have too much influence over the judicial and enforcement agencies of our government there is the real possibility of freedom being taken from us. Where justice is just a word, not a beloved and cherished idea, there is danger to everyone.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

German Tank Sale Story – Stupid Headline

Leopard 2It’s a bit of a stretch but I’m awarding my stupid headline of the week to an article about how Germany recently refused to sell up to 800 of their mainline battle tanks to Saudi Arabia. The article itself is interesting and there is nothing wrong with the headline which actually describes the contents pretty well.

So, what’s my problem with the story? The picture accompanying the story is a World War II Tiger tank! I’ve included a picture of the Leopard II, to which the article refers here in this blog (click the picture or my link above to see the original article).

It’s an interesting decision by the German government based on the fact that Saudi Arabia is a totalitarian state that exports terrorism all over the world. The thinking being that maybe Germany should not be selling Saudi Arabia formidable weapon’s systems like the Leopard II even if it means foregoing as much as $25 billion dollars.

There are a lot of other countries in the world where they turn a blind eye to the politics of the nation as long as the cash is green and the gold … well, gold.

I’m not sure who gets the congratulations for the stupid headline victory though. The article was written by Agence France-Presse but reprinted in Yahoo. Either way, nice story but getting the proper picture would not have been difficult.

And to our true allies the Germans I say: Gut gemacht.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

To Protect and Serve or to Raise Funds?

Policing for ProfitAll across this great country of ours police officers are being put into a terrible position and the situation grows worse every day. The double attack of less money available to run the department and more money spent on fancy equipment is leaving more and more police departments with revenue shortages.

The solution to this gap seems to be to fleece as many people as possible.

For communities along major thoroughfares the best method is to charge passersby with small crimes and impound everything they have and extort them for more money. This directive comes from corrupt politicians and departmental leaders who see dollar signs in their eyes.

Even communities who are nowhere near criminals now gear up and scour the country not looking to make arrests but simply to seize money from as many people as possible.

It is very likely that your state politicians have passed laws allowing police to seize anything and everything from your car under the flimsiest of suspicions. Trying to get back your property and money will take a huge amount of time and effort.

That’s hardly the end of the story. More and more police departments are funded almost entirely through their ticketing systems. Not only are the departments funding themselves but they are funneling that money back to City Hall. As politicians see this revenue stream increase they place money-seeking officers in charge of departments and these leaders create quotas that insist upon more and more traffic stops. Officers who simply want to Protect and Serve are ostracized, put on desk jobs, and fired.

In order for a police department to be legally forced to stop this scam the entire municipality must get 50% or more of their revenue from such stops. Anything less than 50% and they can continue to steal your money.

After reading what I’ve written so far I’m sure some people will leap to the conclusion that I’m against the police and law-enforcement in general. This could not be further from the truth. I think the police do a dangerous job and I well appreciate their efforts. I’m of the opinion that this revenue grab hurts the police department and the officers tremendously. They are prevented from Protecting and Serving but more importantly they lose the trust of those upon whom they depend.

Without the trust of We the People the police become nothing more than a thuggish paramilitary operation preying on the weakest members of society. Officers generally join the force out of idealism and hope. When they throw away these wonderful ideas they destroy their own sense of self-worth.

I’ve ranted now about the problem for a while and I’d like to offer a few solutions before I get ready to watch The Masters golf tournament today.

I largely think it’s a matter of where the seized money goes. If the money doesn’t go into the coffers of the politicians then we solve most of the problem. All money obtained from traffic violations should go immediately back to the community as a refund. None of it should be used for any other purpose. Communities should apply tax dollars to completely fund their departments with no consideration towards eventual ticketing revenue.

Seizure money presents a bigger issue because even if said money was to go to the community, voters would feel monetary pressure to seize as much as possible. I think the best solution might be to have all seized money and assets go to various national charitable organizations. Communities could vote on which organizations to fund based on some sort of list of reputable charities.

I think the key is to remove the element of profit from the situation. When we do this I think both We the People and the law-enforcement officers will be the better. Money might not be the root of all evil but I’m hard pressed to argue that it isn’t.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

A Glint of Light Equals Aliens … Why?

Mars speck of lightThere’s a news story making the rounds which I’ve been ignoring because I didn’t think I had anything interesting to add to the conversation. I’ve changed my mind.

About a week ago Curiosity took a picture on Mars in which there is a glint of light on the horizon. A picture taken a day later from the same position did not show the glint. There are a number of explanations as to what caused the glint but I’m not going to talk about the rational explanations. Nor am I going to spend much time talking about the theories that it represents aliens living underground on Mars who somehow caused the anomaly.

I want to talk about why anyone would think that a speck of a light in a picture taken on Mars might be evidence of alien life. Not whether or not the light is or isn’t such evidence, but why anyone would think that it was such proof.

Mars is a barren world with barely any atmosphere. We’ve landed any number of vessels on the planet itself and spaceships with high-resolution cameras are constantly orbiting Mars taking pictures. We first sent a robotic ship by Mars in 1965.

Earth bound telescopes have been trained on Mars since 1672 and have only gotten sharper in resolution and more available to amateurs. Radiation bombards the planet relentlessly. Water is likely present but only deep below the surface. There are no signs of a civilization on the surface, no signs of animals or plants, no chemical signatures indicating living creatures.

So why, why would anyone think that a glint of light in one picture is anything other than sunlight bouncing off a shiny rock? Or an illusion of photography? Anyone who has taken a picture with a camera on earth knows that light is a tricky fellow.

When you go to the store and a somethings inexplicably falls off a shelf nearby do you assume that it was Bigfoot lurking in the next aisle using telekinetic powers to alert you of an upcoming Supervolcanic eruption? Or do you shrug your shoulders and assume that something was perched precariously and a small vibration sent it to the ground?

What is the psychological makeup of someone who immediately leaps to the most unlikely explanation? What are they thinking? Are they thinking at all?

That’s my question. I don’t know that I have a good answer. I know that my mind always looks for the most logical explanation to any event and a thriving community of intelligent creatures living beneath the surface of Mars and pointing their flashy lights at the rover would never, ever, have crossed my mind when I saw that picture.

That being said, I think this sort of thinking is not unusual. Everyday I read about or actually experience someone who believes absolutely unlikely things in lieu of a very reasonable explanation.

I’m of the opinion that people largely believe what they want to believe over factual evidence. If a person wants there to be Martians then that person is going to grasp at every ridiculous explanation to believe Martians exist.

I ask you an important question: What would the world be like if people only believed what the evidenced suggested and threw out their preconceived notions?

It’s a world I dream about. It’s a world that I believe can exist. I’m certain people are capable of thinking rationally all the time. Of making decisions based on factual evidence.

I see a world like this in our future. When disease is eradicated, energy is abundant and cheap, the population static with food for all. Automated machines doing the work people don’t want to do. Free people living eternal lives dedicated to achievement.

The novels I write are about a Sword and Sorcery fantasy world but there are characters in that world seeking the same thing I’m seeking in this one. There are those that thwart them. You should read my books and maybe you’ll see that same world I see in my mind’s eye. That endless Utopia where humans stand astride the galaxy always striving to be better, ever better.

Do you want to live in that world?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere


The Broken Throne – Available Now!

The-Broken-ThroneIs it better to rule in Tyranny or live in Freedom?

My new novel, The Broken Throne, is now available to everyone for only $2.99.

Read about the book, download a sample, watch a video, join my Goodreads Author group, like me on Facebook, and most of all – Purchase a copy today!

Thanks for your interest!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere


Running Bison and how you Can Save Our Country

Bison Running SupervolcanoIn my endless pursuit of fascinating stories to blog about I read an awful lot of news stories and I’ve just come across one that has got a lot of people talking.

Someone took a video back in the middle of March of a bunch of bison trotting down a road. Herd animals do that sort of thing on a pretty regular basis. Meanwhile on April 4th there was an earthquake in Yellowstone National Park.

Herd animals, I mean people, immediately drew an erroneous conclusion. The idea is that the bison knew, back on March 20th, that there was going to be a big earthquake in Yellowstone and were running away from the foretold event. That an even bigger Supervolcano eruption is imminent. That we are DOOMED!

The video has been viewed over a million and a half times since the earthquake and there are a huge number of comments from people telling their own stories about the prescient nature of animals before natural disasters. I’m quite certain a healthy percentage of the people reading this blog actually believe animals have such abilities.

If you’ll permit me to demonstrate a bit of what is called the Socratic Method I’d like to ask those of you who believe such nonsense a series of leading questions.

  1. If animals have this ability and we have tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters on an almost daily basis worldwide, wouldn’t we see such behavior all the time?
  2. Has your pet ever dashed wildly about the house for no reason?
  3. With the regular occurrences of natural disasters and the more common phenomenon of animals acting strangely isn’t it likely the two events will happen near to each other occasionally even if they are completely unrelated?

Now, that’s all said and I’m sure I’m not going to change the minds of the true-believers but I there is an important lesson in all of this. When you give credence to the idea that a bunch of bison running, further into the park as the facts have it, is an indicator of a Supervolcanic eruption are you not scaring people, predominantly children?

Are you not passing along nonsensical ideas. It seems harmless and fun but when we make a statement that has no validity and isn’t supported by any evidence, you are feeding ignorance. Do you want your children to be ignorant?

If we have a nation where people absolutely believe that which is not true; is it not only a matter of time before we make such disastrous decisions that we are destroyed?

When you make a decision about what car to purchase or what loan to take out on your house do you consult a Tarot Deck for answers? Do you look at the facts available and make the best decision possible? People who make good decisions do better in life. Nations that engage in good decision-making succeed.

Bison like to run. They travel in herds. They run in groups all the time. Eventually there will be a Supervolcano explosion at Yellowstone and it’s darn likely that some bison might be running a few days before it happens. Will their running have predicted the explosion?

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

Golf Digest Giving Us What We Want – Sexy

paulina-gretzkyGolf Digest is a sports magazine dedicated to golfing that has been around since 1950. They’ve just released a new cover that has some people a little upset and I think it’s a topic worth examining.

The magazine has articles about golf courses, golf vacations, golf instruction, golf equipment, golf news, and generally all things golf related. Which largely makes sense as it is a magazine about golf. On the cover of the magazine they often have professional golf players although since 1969 only eleven female professionals have made the cover.

The cover of this month’s issue features the girlfriend of PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson. Her name is Paulina Gretzky and she is the daughter of famed hockey player Wayne Gretzky. Some people find her very attractive and she is wearing sheer pants and a sports bra in the cover image.

This has upset a number of women golfers. They think female golfers who are having excellent years on the LPGA Tour are more qualified to be on the cover. They are, of course, correct … if you gauge “qualified” is someone who has importance in the world of golf. Another view of “qualified” might be someone who will attract publicity and sell magazines. In which case Paulina is clearly far more qualified than one of the top players in the world, Stacy Lewis

The cover is generating all sorts of news which is clearly a good thing for Golf Digest. There is no way to judge how much a cover of Stacy Lewis might have sold as compared to the one of Paulina but I think it’s safe to guess that Stacy, as fantastic a golfer as she is, is not going to sell as many.

Sex, as they say, sells.

Men apparently enjoy looking at pictures of Paulina and will apparently shell out money to purchase a magazine with her picture on the cover. I don’t find her particularly attractive but that’s not the point. What is the point?

Actually, good question. The point is that if Golf Digest wants to become Playboy magazine that’s their business. I find it grossly manipulative towards men in general and incredibly rude to all those women on the LPGA Tour who are out there working really hard to make a living. However, let’s not kid ourselves, attractive women athletes make the cover of sports magazines all the time. From Anna Kournikova to Danica Patrick to sexed up Olympians.

What is there to be done about this sort of thing? Hope that men change their nature, I suppose. Yeah, so, anyway.

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

Seat Belt Violation leads to Arrest

Greg ReidThere is what many people would call a sports story making very small waves here in St. Louis about a player the Rams recently signed who has been arrested.

I don’t really think it is a sports story, it’s more an erosion of our rights story. It’s not a huge thing but it just makes me shake my head at our nation’s descent into a police state.

The Rams recently signed a fellow named Greg Reid who was once a top football prospect at Florida State but got into some trouble and was kicked off the team for unspecified violations. He then suffered a major injury while playing at a small school and eventually was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana offense some years ago. As is common for municipalities across the U.S. there was a large fine for the offense and in addition Reid was put on probation. Reid either missed a probation phone call about six months ago or still had $400 to pay on his fine and a bench warrant was put out for his arrest in October of 2013.

None of this bothers me that much although I find excessive fines for minor crimes to be rampant in many districts because communities use it as a way to fund their law enforcement officers without having to pay taxes. There are many horror stories of this sort of extortion for things as small as crossing the center line but that’s a topic for another day.

What bothers me is that Reid was a passenger in a car that was stopped because the driver wasn’t wearing his seat belt. The officer in question had absolutely no right to question Reid or identify him in any way. The driver of the car should have been given a small fine and the story ended there.

Don’t get me wrong, Reid had a bench warrant in his name and the arrest itself is justified. It’s the manner in which it took place that bothers me. I cannot find justification for the officer to even talk to Reid, let alone get his name, run it through his computer, and make the arrest. It doesn’t matter that the arrest was legal and proper. It’s a violation of all our rights when the police are allowed to do this sort of thing. It’s an abuse of the power we give them! We give them the power, they don’t just have it.

This is not an isolated incident. As we become more frightened we tend to give power to the police and this erodes our freedom and is the real threat to our nation.

If the police are allowed to search, seize, and arrest for something as small as a seat belt violation; who is safe?

This may seem like a small deal and in many ways it is, but I’m still bothered by it. I think that if a police officers ever asks me a question, my answer will always be “I have nothing to say, sir”. That’s not a good feeling for me to have. I think the police largely do a difficult job and do it well. I respect our officers and admire them. When someone like me, a law-abiding citizen, finds himself afraid of the police, there is a problem.

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

Dogs, Butter, Marijuana, the DEA, and Stupidity

Michele LeonhartThe people have spoken in Colorado and Washington State in regards to making marijuana legal. Polls indicate that most people accept the idea it will eventually be legal nationally. There are those who disagree.

Michele Leonhart is one of those. She heads up the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and has come up with a … well … novel argument to try to persuade people. More on that in a moment. Why should we care about what she says?

One good reason is that you’ve been paying her salary since 1980 when she joined the DEA. Her current remuneration for coming up with the incredible nonsense I’m going to explain to you is apparently a secret. I can’t find out how much she makes. My Search-Foo is strong and after fifteen minutes I gave up.

This afternoon in a committee meeting in which she is trying to justify the $3 billion annual budget of the DEA she mentioned that edible marijuana products, which will be increasingly available in homes to be snarfed up by hungry dogs, might pose a threat to them. She justified this by mentioning a study done from 2005 to 2010 in which two dogs that ate a large amount of a “baked product” that used medical marijuana laced butter died. Could it have been a “chocolate” baked product? Maybe? The article doesn’t say. The last line of the study, you might ask?

UDST may be unreliable for the detection of marijuana toxicosis in dogs.

UDST being the test they used to figure out that in five years two dogs died, maybe because they ate chocolate or maybe because the chocolate had marijuana in it. The study found a significant correlation between increased numbers of pot brownies in the house and dogs eating pot brownies, therefore, we need to outlaw pot; brownies are apparently still legal but you never know!

According to Leonhart it’s all about her compassion for the terrible fate that awaits our canine friends should they eat marijuana, which, by the way, is completely non-toxic to dogs, unlike, say, chocolate. Yes, your dog can eat a pile of marijuana with no ill effects. It’s not toxic for dogs or people. The convoluted logic Leonhart relies upon is that a dog high on marijuana might not be able to throw-up the toxic chocolate he ate!

It couldn’t possibly be that Leonhart is grasping at straws so she and her friends can keep their lucrative jobs in the War on Drugs. No, of course not, it’s about the dogs! The poor dogs!

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

Money Grubbing Jews are the new Poster Child for Christianity

Pat Robertson and Daniel LapinThere’s an interesting story hitting the news sites these days in which evangelist Pat Robertson started talking about money-grubbing Jews. It’s not what you think.

Robertson was speaking with a wealthy Rabbi about money issues when he wondered what it was that made Jewish people prone to wealth (I’ll tell you why, they value education. End of story). Why they polish diamonds rather than fix their cars or mow their lawns. The Rabbi immediately recognized it was a compliment and began preening away about how he pays someone else to mow the lawn and fix the car.

What I find fascinating is that a thousand years ago, a hundred years ago, even fifty years ago such a statement would have been made as an insult. The predominate feeling was that Jewish people were more concerned with making money than with doing the right thing. That money was more important than leading a good life. That Jews put the pursuit of money before all else.

The new Christian paradigm is that greed is good. Pat Robertson was unequivocally complimenting Jewish people. He wanted his own flock to emulate their wealthy ways.

This is largely not what religious Christians believed until fairly recently. There are a number of factors driving this change in attitude, not in the least is the very close relationship between Evangelical Christians and the Republican Party. I don’t want to get overly involved in why attitudes are changing. It’s just an interesting phenomenon.

I do want to say that greed is not good. I’m a fan of Ayn Rand and it pains me when I see people equating greed with her central message of Objectivism.

I absolutely believe people should be rewarded for achievements. That by rewarding people for doing well we encourage more people to do well. But I think the Republican Party, and their allies, have it in reverse. We should do great things because it makes us feel good. We should achieve because when we achieve we help ourselves and everyone around us. If rewards come to us from these achievements that is natural and good. But we don’t set out for the rewards.

I write my books because it makes me feel great. I love the sense of accomplishment when I finish a new book. I love hearing that people get enjoyment from reading my books. I haven’t yet gotten any financial reward for writing my books. Would I love to make millions? Yes. Will I keep writing even if no one ever buys my novels? Yes.

Why? Because doing what you love will make you happy, regardless of the reward. Life is long and if you don’t spend it doing things you love, longer yet.

If I wrote books with an eye to making money I might succeed. Perhaps I should have written a moody vampire novel and maybe I’d have made millions. I’m not sure. But I know the books wouldn’t have been any good. I wouldn’t have poured my passion into them, my love. Books like that wouldn’t have made me happy, no matter the financial gain they gave me.

In the end you have happiness. Are you enjoying your life? Will chasing money bring enjoyment or will doing the things you love bring it?

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