Clown Ban in Kemper County Mississippi

creepy-clown-sightingsSometimes it’s just too much and a Libertarian wants to throw his arms up in the air and scream, “Take it. Take this country and do what you will. You’ll be begging for help not long after I get out of your way and let you have what you want. Take it! Take it all.

Clowns. Clowns! For the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Clowns!!

I suppose not everyone has heard about the rash of clown sightings sweeping the western world. People dressed in clown costumes have apparently committed a few crimes and sightings of many more scary clowns have been reported although not substantiated.

Salem Witch Trials?

Mindless fear?

Legislation that prevents people from wearing a costume?

Sheer idiocy replacing any sense of rational thought, reason, the Constitution of the United States.

Freedom. Anyone heard of it?

Target has the right to stop selling clown suits, it’s their business, it’s stupid but they can do as they want. When there are actual laws against dressing in a clown suit then something is seriously wrong with this world.

Rant, rant, rant, rant, rant. Who cares. No one is listening. Safety has surpassed freedom. People will give up big freedoms and little ones for the illusion of safety. We’ll see how safe you are when you get what you want. Don’t come crying to me.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray


Britney Spears Getting it Together

britney-spears-wardrobe-malfunctionAbout the only place I get entertainment news is when I’m watching television at the gym and for the second time I’ve got a heartening Britney Spears story to talk about.

To put the news fully into perspective I think it’s important to know a little bit of history about Spears. She earned great success at 18 years of age with the hit song … Baby One More Time. This success brought her fame and fortune and all the good and bad attendant in those double-edged blades. By the age of 26 her life was beginning to unravel in a number of ways including drug addiction.

I’m not big on passing judgment. We’re all adults and responsible for our actions. Money and fame at a young age is not always easy to handle and many succumb to various temptations. Many are never able to recover. Spears made a mess of her life and she is responsible. Eventually her father took control of her finances and various other aspects of her life.

She is now performing in Las Vegas on a regular basis and that’s what this story is all about.

Spears suffered what is now called a wardrobe malfunction. Her top all but came off. It is quite likely there were many people in the audience who came to Las Vegas specifically to see Spears sing. Losing your top on stage in front of a large audience cannot be called anything other than traumatic. Spears handled it like a seasoned professional. She clutched her top to her chest and kept singing. Two of her dancers helped her button back up. The top malfunctioned again. Spears again went on with the show while a backup singer literally gave her the shirt off her back. She continued to sing throughout.

Now I’m sure many people will point out backup music was likely playing and Spears could probably have stopped for a moment with no serious repercussions. That’s certainly true but it makes no difference to my eyes.

She knew there were people in the audience who paid their money to see her. They traveled great distances to see her and she wasn’t going to let them down, even if it meant they got to see a little more of her than decorum would normally dictate.

I’m not a big fan of popular music but her spirit of professionalism is a shining example to everyone in all walks of life. The show must go on. Well done, young lady. Well done, indeed.

Tom Liberman

Friendship vs Politics

friendshipIt’s been a rather awful political season and I’ve seen any number of friendships tested because of political differences. I’m a Libertarian so that means most of my friends think I’m an idiot. And, obviously, most of my friends actually are idiots! 😉

So I’m pondering the nature of friendship.

It’s one of the most important concepts in human history. It is friendship that binds people together. Friends find one another and choose to stay together. You are born to a family but you pick your friends. You pick them. Over the course of your life you keep some and lose others. In this modern age of communication it’s possible to maintain friendships with no concern for physical proximity.

These good friends will be with you for the bulk of your life. They help you overcome adversity. They go forth on adventures with you. They work with you and help you succeed in every aspect of life. In many ways they are more important than family. I think it can be argued that your friends are the most valued and treasured things in your life. More than anything else.

Aside from physics and a bit of biology; friendship built this world upon which you reside. Friendship created virtually every thing you value. Friendship.

Politics? Whatever.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Sotomayor and Scalia Misleading Headline

supreme-court-justicesAh, one has to love those misleading headlines. This one involves Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and former Justice Antonin Scalia who passed away early in 2016.

The headline intimates that Sotomayor was so angry at Scalia that she wanted to hit him with a baseball bat. Those are the words she uses but the full quote gives a very different impression.

Here it is: I’ve told people there are things he said on the bench when if I had a baseball bat, I might have used it, but when you work so intimately with people, you get to know the really personal good side of them.

Essentially she is saying despite differences they grew to respect and like each other. Or at least she him although I suspect the feeling was mutual. Certainly the friendship between Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was well documented. They might disagree, vehemently, on a position but they didn’t let that get in the way of their personal relationships.

Reading the comments there are two themes. One that someone should take a baseball bat to Sotomayor. The other that Sotmayor should have actually taken the bat to Scalia. Both are commentaries about We the People. How we handle disagreement. It’s a shame so few of us can behave like Sotomayor, Scalia, Bader Ginsburg and their colleagues.

This willingness to take political and ideological differences into a deeply personal and hate fueled realm does not bode well for the future of the Grand Experiment.

We are, the all of us, in this together. So few seem to recognize it anymore.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

What is Loyalty?

loyaltyThe 2016 presidential election in the United State is certainly a depressing, if blog generating, affair. The latest turn has Donald Trump accusing Republicans like Paul Ryan of being disloyal. Loyalty is a topic that I examine thoroughly in several of my novels including The Broken Throne and The Gray Horn.

I can unequivocally state that loyalty is a quality that we should all admire. The dictionary definition of loyalty does not truly convey what the word means. It is one of the things that holds the fabric of society together.

The state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations.

Loyalty takes on many forms but at its essence it means that we trust and support people in our lives. It is being there when friends are in need. It is understanding that we can have disagreements but still be there. It is sacrificing our own well-being to ensure that those we love are safe or have things they need. It can be loyalty to a nation, to an idea, to a group, and to an individual.

I consider myself loyal to my Libertarian ideology. I take abuse for my thoughts. Quite a number of people who I consider friends have called me stupid to my face for such beliefs. I don’t hate them for it. I’m angry but if they needed my help I’d be there regardless. I’m loyal to the ideas of the United States even when things like the Patriot Act are part of that nation. I don’t agree. I fight against such things but I remain loyal to the ideas of the nation.

Loyalty is a good thing and we should surround ourselves with people who respect the idea. Who practice the idea. But we must be careful of those who speak most strenuously of loyalty and yet do not show any themselves. They are the thugs of the world who use words like loyalty and honor to manipulate those of us who respect such ideas into doing their bidding while in turn showing no such traits themselves.

In my novel The Sword of Water Jon Gray speaks rather directly to this idea in an important speech. I won’t repeat it here. Buy the book and read it. But the idea of his speech is very important.

There are certain people in this world who have no honor, no loyalty, who betray, back stab, and destroy anyone at anytime in order to further their own selfish ends. Thugs. They are to be particularly noted in that they condemn anyone who makes even the slightest objection to their rise as not having such traits. They understand the honorable and loyal will fall on the sword so to speak. That’s what good people do. Thugs manipulate that idea for their own gain.

I imagine you can see where I’m going with this. Donald Trump is the most disloyal human I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t pay his bills, he attacks former allies at the drop of a hat, he sues anyone at any time. He fires off hate filled diatribes at the slightest insult.

I understand there are many loyal people out there who defend Trump because they support the Republican Party or they support one or more causes in which they align with Trump. That’s fine. That’s your business. Vote for who you will.

I can only tell you one thing. Don’t expect that loyalty to be returned.

Tom Liberman

What is Locker Room Talk and What isn’t

locker-roomI don’t have to tell you what today’s blog is all about. Back in 2005 at the youthful age of 58, Donald Trump made some claims about how he behaves with women that are dominating the news cycle.

He has excused his words as Locker Room banter.

As many of my readers know I love sports but most are probably not aware that I played sports. I started at the age of 10 playing baseball and I was in locker rooms pretty consistently until I graduated college. I was no star but I can safely say I know a thing or two about locker rooms.

The following language is going to be harsh. If you are easily offended, triggered, or do not like vulgar talk then you should turn around and leave right now.

Locker room talk is largely men talking dirty about women. About what we’d like to do to a particular woman. I’m going to give some examples.

Example: “Did you see that bitch hanging out of her sweater in the front row? Tits as big as my head. I’d fuck her on the floor of a gas station bathroom.”

Response: “She was fine. Hellz ya.”

Example: “My wife is a dirty whore who sucks like a vacuum cleaner.”

Response: “Lucky bastard.” “Does she have any sisters?”

It is less often about actual activity but can be.

Example: “See that ho in green? I met her last night if you know what I mean.”

Response: “Damn, brother. You best be careful where you put your horse cock or that thing might fall off.”

If is often filthy jokes that have no basis in reality.

Example: “That bitch was so loose I fell in and got lost. Luckily I found a McDonald’s in there.”

Response: “Har har.”

Locker room talk is vulgar. It’s rude. It’s almost universally not meant to be taken seriously. The details of what happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom.

What Donald Trump said is not the kind of Locker Room talk with which I’m familiar. The locker rooms I frequented did not tolerate talking about other people’s wives, girlfriends, or sisters. It did not include bragging about actual acts of physical aggression toward women. The lockers rooms I spent much of youth in did not take lightly talk of assaulting women. The men in there have mothers and sisters. Anyone making the statements that Trump made would likely have found their head in the toilet.

To be very clear here. Locker rooms are filled with good looking, charismatic men, they often had sexual encounters with beautiful women. Only rarely did I hear even vague details about actual encounters. “Yeah, I made out with Karen last night.” Even telling other guys that you had sex with a particular girl was generally considered out of line. A real man doesn’t kiss and tell.

There is an enormous difference between, “I’d like to get my head between those legs” and “I grabbed her pussy. Because I’m rich, ha ha, she couldn’t stop me.”

Maybe those were just the locker rooms I was in. Maybe Trump was in different ones although I can find no record of him playing athletics at all.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Regulation Quagmire of EpiPen

epipenEpiPen is in the news and many people are angry.

There is, in fact, quite a lot to be angry about. The government encouraged the entire thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not absolving Mylan and CEO Heather Bresch of wrongdoing. They took advantages of a system to steal perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars from both the government and average people. But the system is all but designed to be abused.

EpiPen is a medical device that injects a measured dose of epinephrine. It was brought to market in 1987 after approval from the FDA. Things get quite complicated from there and I’ll try to summarize as best I can. If you want to know the entire sordid story read the Wiki article.

Basically the manufacturer of the device changed hands many times. Each time the new company aggressively sought to protect their patent, buy out competitors, and maximize their profit. The most recent company to acquire EpiPen is named Mylan.

The United States government helped Mylan greatly with draconian patent laws. In addition the FDA makes it extremely difficult and expensive to introduce competitive drugs to the market. Using these two factors to their advantage EpiPen managed to control a monopoly on the drug.

Price Gouging is largely not illegal so EpiPen can charge whatever they want for their product, and they did. However, if getting competitive products to the market was not so difficult, if the government did not tacitly help Mylan maintain their dominance in the market, bargain price manufacturers would certainly have undercut Mylan and restored the market to an equilibrium. In a word, capitalism.

In addition Mylan used a private non-profit called the National Association of State Boards of Education to influence, read bribe, state and local governments to pass laws protecting schools from all liability when using EpiPens. This meant schools across the nation purchased that particular product because it was legally, thanks to state government, less risky. The close ties between Mylan executives and the NASBE, Heather Bresch’s mother is the president having been appointed after large donations from Mylan, is disturbing if not illegal.

Into this mix comes Medicare. Medicare is an enormous government agency designed to make sure elderly people don’t go without medical care. Among their many regulations are different fees for generic and brand-name drugs. Generic drugs pay a significantly smaller rebate. Mylan listed the EpiPen as generic when it was clearly brand-name. This meant they didn’t rebate the government as much for purchases, to the tune of about $100 million. I can only guess agents in charge were bribed to ignore the listing.

How was all of this possible? I’ll tell you. Because the government is overly involved in business. If the government didn’t help Mylan get the monopoly in the first place the price issue wouldn’t exist. If the government didn’t have an insanely complex regulatory system associated with Medicare then taxpayers wouldn’t have paid Myland tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions for EpiPens. If state and local governments didn’t incentivize schools to purchase EpiPens in enormous numbers they wouldn’t have done so.

There aren’t simple answers to these problems. I don’t pretend there are. But I wouldn’t mind if people took note of the complicity of government in the EpiPen mess. In government’s integral role in the fraud. Mylan used the government but the government is designed to be used. It begs unscrupulous business owners to join the party.

Tom Liberman

Lessons from Trump Taxes

trump-tax-recordsThere’s an interesting story in the news about Donald Trump and his various corporations paying no taxes. Some people are outraged and others think he’s a genius. Those are not the conclusion I draw from the story.

I’ve written about this before but I’ll go over it again.

The current tax rate on corporations in the United States is 35%. Many people argue, correctly, that this is far too high but somehow nothing ever gets done. Even when Republicans are in charge of Congress and the Executive Branch the rate stays the same despite all the complaining. Why is that?

Simple. Enterprise Businesses and rich people pay comparatively very little in taxes in relation to their percentage of wealth. The actual paid rate for corporate taxes amounts to about 11%. Why is that? Because Enterprise Businesses have access to an army of tax lawyers to find shelters. They pay little or nothing in taxes for the most part. Just like Donald Trump. Trump isn’t a genius, he’s an average wealthy person with a business and good tax lawyers. None of them pay much in taxes and that’s why they love the current system. That’s why it doesn’t change. Lobbyists from Enterprise Businesses and wealthy people ensure that it won’t change.

So who is paying taxes? Small and Medium businesses, you and me. We don’t have access to high-powered tax attorneys. We don’t have access to offshore shelters. We pay the huge rate. There’s a reason why a higher and higher percentage of all business earnings and employers are from Enterprise Businesses. The system is set up to give them an advantage and they love it.

The more complex the tax code the more the person who doesn’t have access to tax lawyers pays. The more the code is designed to stop the wealthy and powerful from paying the more it actually benefits them. They find the loopholes in the increasingly complex system that the small business owners and regular people cannot.

People argue against a Flat Tax because the perception is that it will cost regular people more. On paper this is true. Paper isn’t reality. In reality if the tax code was simplified the wealthy and powerful would pay more even as their supposed tax rate goes down. It’s all a shell game of deceit. The wealthy and powerful love the tax code that supposedly has them paying high taxes.

Simplify the code. That’s the lesson to be learned.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray