What Led to Twenty-Year-old Emily Weinman being Hit by Police

Emily WeinmanThere’s a viral video of a woman, Emily Weinman, being struck multiple times by a police officer that is making the news. Police have now released the bodycam video taken by the part-time officers who were at the crowded beach as extra security. Apparently, their job is to increase revenue in the region by harassing beachgoers.

Weinman is twenty-years-old and there were alcoholic beverages available where she was sitting. Officers didn’t actually see her drink anything. Despite this; they approached her, asked her age, shoved a breathalyzer in her mouth, and then tried to cite her for having drinks on the beach.

She was understandably upset at this bully tactic used by officers to extort money from citizens. Apparently, she wouldn’t cooperate and when they tried to grab her, kicked one of the officers. The video of him hitting her repeatedly is the result.

The problems here are many but the root issue is why police officers were trying to cite Weinman in the first place. It’s largely about revenue. The part-time officers are bullies most certainly. They enjoy enforcing their will on people unable to fight back. They are worse than schoolyard bullies. That fact is not the focus of this blog. What I’d like to try and convince people is these inane laws are driving a horrible wedge between law enforcement and the community they are supposed to be serving.

Who was in danger from Weinman having an alcoholic beverage near her? She clearly wasn’t drinking. We can be sure the breathalyzer came back negative, otherwise they would have ticketed her for underage drinking rather than simply having alcohol nearby.

The regulation itself is the problem and that is the case with so many laws. They are not designed to make us safer but simply to extract money from us. Most traffic laws are of the same ilk. Changing lanes without signaling, failing to come to a complete stop, running a red light at two in the morning when there is no traffic around.

Stupid laws of this nature give bully officers the opportunity to act out on their pseudo-sexual fantasies of dominating other people. If you don’t think the officers in question enjoy forcing other people to follow orders, you are sadly mistaken. There are plenty of wonderful officers out there who don’t try to enforce this nonsense. They are being slowly destroyed by their fellows.

The breakdown of trust between police and citizens results in terrible tragedies for all parties. The police are afraid, citizens are afraid. I belong to a number of Libertarian groups in which Anarchists make their feelings known. Well-armed and violence leaning anarchists. Police are enemy number one in their crosshairs, I don’t use that word lightly. We see this attitude growing in alt-right organizations as well.

The more trust breaks down the more society itself is harmed. What’s the solution? It’s certainly complex and there are many issues. Still, it is bad laws that drive a lot of it. The War on Drugs, the age restriction on alcohol and cigarette consumption, an absolute myriad of traffic laws. All of these things done supposedly for our safety but in reality, just revenue streams.

This leads us to the first step in solving this issue. Remove as many of the moronic laws as possible. This gives police less reason and fewer opportunities to harass and anger citizens. This in turn leads to better relations between the community and the law-enforcement arm of our government.

Our politicians have largely spent our municipalities and our states into bankruptcy. They can’t afford to pay teachers and need more revenue. How do they get it? By stealing from Emily Weinman.

Tom Liberman

The Warriors Libertarian Movie Review

The WarriorsIn my frequent YouTube perusals, I came across a wonderful video of the actors who played the Warriors in the movie of the same name riding a subway to commemorate an anniversary of the release of the film. It’s a wonderful movie and that means it’s time for a Libertarian Movie Review.

The film is set in New York which is broken down into many territories controlled by various gangs, much like the world is broken down into many regions controlled by various gangs, that is to say, nations. The Warriors, and most of the other gangs in the city, have come to Van Cortland Park under a truce to listen to the leader of the Grammercy Riffs make a proposal.

Cyrus suggests all the warring between nations over non-existent borders drawn on a map is an enormous waste of time and effort. Oops. I wrote that incorrectly. What I meant to say is: Cyrus suggests that all the warring between gangs over non-existent borders drawn on a map is an enormous waste of time and effort. He suggests it would be a much more profitable enterprise to work together for the mutual benefit of everyone.

Cyrus is shot and killed in the midst of his speech which essentially ends the truce. The Warriors are blamed for killing Cyrus and the rest of the movie tracks them as they attempt to make it back to their home base, Coney Island. They must battle various colorfully attired gang members including the iconic Baseball Furies.

The film is certainly action based but does a superb job of character development in that we learn about the various Warriors via their actions rather than any exposition. Ajax is wild and impulsive. The sort of jerk you hate on the other team and love when he’s on yours. Swan is a thoughtful and intelligent natural leader. Rembrandt is an artist who is unskilled in combat but valuable nonetheless.

Eventually the Warriors make it home where the duplicitous gang responsible for the death of Cyrus attempts a final vengeance before the truth can be discovered, only to be defeated. The Riffs exact their vengeance and acknowledge the martial prowess of the Warriors.

The movie has many qualities that appeal to a Libertarian. Particularly pleasing is the overarching theme against nationalism. The gangs do themselves no service by the constant warring when they would be better off cooperating. The idea of removing borders and working toward goals of mutual interest regardless of national origin, gender, race, sexual orientation or other artificial difference is also a major Libertarian policy point.

The biggest negative is when Cyrus appeals to the gangs to take over the city and defeat the local establishment. This will put them in power, simply replacing the existing structure with one that will be equally problematic. A more Libertarian ideology would have Cyrus appealing to the gangs to cooperate with the police and the establishment to make everyone’s lives better.

That being said, The Warriors largely exemplifies Libertarian ideology and I give it 4.3 Freedoms. Can you dig it?

Tom Liberman

Syria Leads the Conference on Disarmament, So What?

Conference on DisarmamentThere’s an interesting little story in the news in that an organization known as the Conference on Disarmament is being led, for the next four weeks, by Syria. “… one of the darkest days in the history …” of the conference according to United States ambassador to the conference, Robert Wood. I’m less outraged.

Let’s face facts. The country that has the most arms and inflicts the most harm with those arms is the United States. Where’s your outrage about that, Ambassador Wood? The United States has military bases all over the world and we interfere in the affairs of other nations militarily far more than any other country in the world. We have troops fighting in Syria right now. Do they have troops in the United States?

Don’t get me wrong. Syria as a nation has no moral authority to lead any sort of Conference on Disarmament but what country should be in charge? Switzerland? Actually, they were in charge just before Syria. How exactly this conference determines which of the sixty-five nations that belong to it is the leader gives us an interesting insight into the entire farce. Basically, each of the nations that belongs gets to be in charge for twenty-eight days before turning leadership over to the next in line. The idea was that smaller nations were to have some say in matters instead of letting the large nations dictate policy.

Good plan. Well, it’s difficult to write sarcastically so let me speak more plainly: Really bad plan. If the leadership of an organization changes every twenty-eight days how difficult is it to not only legislate policy but simply to come up with a plan? Apparently not easy, the Conference on Disarmament hasn’t been able to make a single policy in ten years simply because it can’t come to an agreement. Don’t mistake what I’m saying. It’s not that they haven’t been able to implement policy, it’s that they have no policy at all. They do nothing and will continue to do same for the foreseeable future.

That’s why I’m not particularly outraged Syria is leading a useless organization. If the nations of the world had a real interest in limiting the proliferation of weapons we’d probably see some movement on that front. The problem is they only want to remove weapons that are advantageous for those they perceive as enemies. Our own very useful weapons? We’ll keep those.

The United States wants to denuclearize the Korean peninsula? Would that include all the weapons aboard submarines and ships that traverse those waterways? Hardly.

It’s an organization that does nothing and has almost no chance of doing anything. Early on it passed some treatise banning nuclear weapon proliferation, chemical weapons, and biological weapons. That hasn’t stopped anyone from pursuing these things or prevented said weapons from proliferating to any degree. Nations simply ignore it when it is in their interest to do so.

What’s the point? None that I see. I’ll save my outrage for the refereeing in the NBA finals, I’m sure there will be something to actually complain about.

Tom Liberman

Toke Back Mountain Banned by Feds

Toke Back MountainSan Francisco establishment Black Hammer Brewery has been ordered by the federal government to stop brewing Toke Back Mountain. Now, many people will look at this as a marijuana-based issue but for me it’s all about freedom and the government overstepping its authority. Toke Back Mountain beer is brewed with a hemp-derived extract known as CBD or Cannabidiol which is not an approved ingredient in beer.

The reason the federal government has a list of approved ingredients is for safety. At least that’s the excuse the government uses to enforce their rules on people just trying to make a living or drink a delightful beer like Toke Back Mountain. For example, on the LD50 scale, caffeine is more toxic than cannabidiol. Caffeine is an approved substance. This fact shatters the façade of reasoning proposed by the government.

I do not understand why the government should list what can and cannot go into beer. I understand putting deadly toxins into food and beverages is a bad idea, I’m just mystified as to how these regulations prevent such behavior. Anyone who did put something horribly toxic into a product would instantly be discovered because people were getting sick. The only brewer that would do such a thing is clearly of criminal intentions or potentially just really stupid. Either way the government regulations don’t protect anybody. I guarantee brewers insert all sorts of things into beers they don’t list, particularly with the huge number of microbreweries all over the United States. Thank you, Jimmy Carter!

People die from food poisoning all the time in the United States and across the world. It is a serious issue but one which government regulations largely do more harm than good. It is painfully apparent to me why the federal government of the United States feels the need to tell every brewer in the country what they can and cannot put into their beer. It doesn’t have to do with safety but with revenue collection and authoritarian control.

I’m not sure exactly what hoops are required to get a substance on the approved list but I guarantee it isn’t cheap. I do know that it costs a great deal of money to get a new flavor approved in the vaping industry. I imagine the brewing industry is the same.

This is the heart of most regulations, revenue generation, not safety. Black Hammer Brewery pays no small amount of money just to be able to serve alcohol legally, liquor license prices vary by municipality. The cost of these licenses and regulations is passed directly onto the consumer. When you buy a beer a fairly significant part of the money is going to government agencies in the form of licenses.

I don’t want to get too far afield from my original topic. The banning of the non-intoxicating substance like CBD is simply government overreach. The federal, state, and local authorities have no legitimate reason to maintain a list of ingredients allowed into beer. This list, and the enforcement therein, costs me money every time I purchase a beer. This is encroachment upon my freedom.

I’m aware it seems trivial and statists argue the government needs to protect us from beer that might make us ill. I disagree and I think it’s not petty at all. We allow this sort of overreach in virtually every aspect of our lives and it makes us less free and less safe.

The free citizens of San Francisco are no longer able to enjoy Toke Back Mountain beer. That makes me sad. And angry.

Tom Liberman

Kelly’s Heroes Libertarian Movie Review

Kelly's HeroesMy daily forays to various Internet website brought my attention to a movie I enjoyed years ago called Kelly’s Heroes. At the time I watched it I was probably of a Libertarian mindset but I had not really given much consideration to such ideas. That being the case, I thought a review of Kelly’s Heroes from a Libertarian perspective was in order. Let’s get started.

The movie covers a period of time in late World War II as the Germans are retreating from allied forces. The basic plot involves Private Kelly, portrayed by Clint Eastwood, and his attempt to recover a cache of gold hidden by the German military. He is a private because he was scapegoated for a failed assault taking place before the events of the movie. Here we see of the state punishing the individual for its own failures.

Kelly is bitter over this turn of events and his loyalty has shifted from patriotic support of the war effort to a more self-centered mindset. In this he is joined by supply sergeant Crapgame, played by the great Don Rickles, who is also not particularly interested in winning the war but rather enriching himself. This is a theme we see throughout the movie and includes the cynical captain of the unit.

Several scenes which were cut from the movie show soldiers for both the German and U.S. units spending their time with attractive women and trying their best to enjoy life amidst the horrors forced upon them by the war.

This attitude is best displayed by tank commander Oddball, played effectively by Donald Sutherland. Oddball has little interest in putting his life on the line for his country but the mention of riches quickly garners his attention and he joins Kelly and his band.

On the way, the realities of war are not ignored as several of Kelly’s cohorts are killed in an encounter with German troops.

As Kelly and the others battle their way through German lines to the gold their communications reach allied headquarters where Major General Colt, played by Carrol O’Connor, mistakes their enthusiastic quest for money to actually be fighting spirit. He applauds their efforts and wishes he had more soldiers with this kind of attitude. This directly speaks to Libertarian sensibilities as the quest for personal enrichment, be it money or other endeavors, is what drives people forward. The artificial substitution of patriotism and hatred of another people pales by comparison.

It is certainly true the Nazi threat to the world was great and real but that danger was driven by the same zealous xenophobia that led to the war in the first place. Although the allies and their soldiers were certainly on the “right” side of the war, they and the Germans were on the wrong side of motivational reality.

We see this stark reality when Kelly and the survivors of his band confront a German tank commander at the denouement of their quest. The commander, played by Karl-Otto Alberty, defends the hidden cache simply because he has been ordered to do so. He sees the U.S. soldiers as the enemy.

Kelly and his associates risk their lives to approach the commander and explain the reality of the situation to him. Once he understands what is inside the building, he quickly changes his attitude in exchange for a fair share of the loot.

Then, in what I consider the defining moment of the film, Kelly holds true to his word and allows the German tank crew to leave with their cut, despite the fact Kelly and his associates could easily cut the Germans down without repercussions. They are all people in this world and their loyalty to self-interest far surpasses their patriotism to any contrived state.

Without question, Kelly’s Heroes gets the highest Libertarian rating available. Five Freedoms with gold clusters.

Tom Liberman

Summa Cum Laude and Censoring Cakes in South Carolina

summa cum laudeThere’s a humorous story making the rounds of social media about a graduation cake that was censored for the word Cum in Summa Cum Laude. The software that prints the lettering on cakes had that particular word on its banned list. Cum is a common word used to describe the moment of orgasm.

The question I ask Publix market, or any other cake supplier, is why shouldn’t someone be able to have an obscene cake? Who does it hurt to have obscene, racist, anti-Semitic, politically incorrect, insulting, culturally insensitive, or otherwise inflammatory words on a cake?

Sure, if the Ku Klux Klan were to send a birthday cake to President Obama with vile and racist words written on it, that would be disgusting and all, but it would reflect badly on them, not the former president. If someone sends a cake with something horrible written on it to a rival, that is a testament to their own lack of decency.

Certainly, someone who received such a cake has every right to expose the sender to public ridicule. The sender might face consequences for making threatening statements. There are legal avenues available for pursuit in such situations.

That is all besides my main point here. Why should I not have an obscene cake for my upcoming birthday? Or a Summa Cum Laude cake? Who is hurt by such a thing? I am the one who wanted the cake or perhaps it was ordered by family and friends with a wicked sense of humor.

There are no laws against using obscene words when communicating with one another, unless the FCC decides to get involved. Don’t get me started on that outdated and irrelevant agency. I can write obscene words in this blog. I choose not to do so because I find delight in using my Brobdingnagian vocabulary to insult, demean, and otherwise humiliate without vulgarity those who annoy me.

Freedom is not always pretty and is most certainly vulgar at times. I’ve been called all sorts of names. I’ve had my intelligence questioned in crude ways more than once. People are not always nice to me, often in response to my various articles. I can take it.

If we allow people to have whatever words they want, including Summa Cum Laude, written on their cake, we completely avoid situations like the one in South Carolina.

This Libertarian implores the bakeries of the world: Let them have their obscene cake and eat it too.

Tom Liberman

Ban on Ice Cream Trucks in Elgin

ice cream truckBack in 1973 an ice cream truck hit and killed a child in the city of Elgin in Illinois. Dismayed by this horrible accident the politicians decided to ban ice cream trucks altogether in the hopes of preventing another such incident. Now in 2018 the ban has been lifted to much joy.

I’d like to examine this situation from a Libertarian perspective. It’s fairly difficult to find common ground amongst Libertarians but the general idea is less government and more freedom.

There is no doubt ice cream trucks attract children to them. They also move fairly slowly and block roads. There are risks of accidents because of the trucks. Going by the ice cream truck industry in St. Louis there is also a large amount of bribery of city officials and strong-arming of competition to get and keep licenses in the lucrative business.

What if the Elgin ban was taken up by the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, or even the federal government of the United States. The ban was instated to protect children after all. Do we not see many other laws with the exact same logic applied to them?

This series of events would ensure people have slightly less access to ice cream. In this modern age you can order ice cream bars from Amazon and have it delivered to your door. You can purchase it at every local market. The inconvenience is relatively small. We the people would still have access to ice cream. This is the argument of statists for the most part. We are taking away a tiny sliver of your freedom for an incremental increase in safety. If there are no ice cream trucks, no children will be struck and killed by them.

It’s true no children were struck by ice cream trucks in the ensuing years but there is no way to know if any would have been without the ban. The real impact was the people in Elgin were not able to purchase ice cream from such trucks. People in surrounding communities were able to do so. The ban had other consequences as well. It not only prevented people from purchasing ice cream but also gave ice cream vendors in fixed locations a competitive advantage. It prevented companies from providing a service to a willing population. It resulted in an economic environment that would otherwise not have existed.

That being said, it’s certainly within the scope of Elgin’s politicians to instate the ban. It is equally within the power of voters to cast their ballot for those who want to remove the ban. This is all a good thing. This is an example of a Representative Republic in action.

If the people truly care about economic and personal freedom they will vote for politicians who propose, or fail to propose, certain kinds of laws. If people care less they will vote for different politicians. We get what we want in this country, not what we deserve.

The question you must ask yourself is if you believe the tiny amount of freedom given up is worth the safety guaranteed by that action.

Tom Liberman

Go Ahead and Party Like It’s 1776

party like it's 1776The latest affront to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness took place at Cherry Hills High School in New Jersey when the prom committee decided to have a Party Like It’s 1776 theme. People were offended because the Declaration of Independence did not free slaves. The reasoning being that slaves were unable to party in 1776 and therefore black people, presumably descended from those slaves, were being forced to participate in a culturally offensive prom.

This ignores important factors. The first being that the Declaration of Independence is about the people who lived in the Colonies declaring they would no longer live by rules of the British Empire. If anyone should be offended by a Party Like It’s 1776 Prom it should be people who lived under the banner of said Empire. English, Irish, Scots, Canadians, Australians, Rhodesians, Indians, South Africans; the list goes on and on.

Another factor is that many black people in the Colonies were free and living in the northern states. Recent estimates suggest that the Patriot military was made up of four percent blacks. Crispus Attucks is believed to be the first person killed at the Boston Massacre that was one of the inciting incidents of the declaration. Many of these heroes gave their lives for Independence. Their descendants deserve to celebrate 1776 far more than me, whose Jewish ancestors fled antisemitism to America around the turn of the century.

Speaking of my Jewish roots. Should I be offended by any Egyptian themed celebration? Should Christians be offended by any Roman themed party? Is there any culture that is not guilty of some horrific crime or another?

Now, I’m not suggesting people can’t be offended by whatever they choose; I’m just telling you not to expect me to feel equal outrage or to bow to your unreasonable demands. If the offense is great enough and people join your cause, I will suffer the consequences. However, if we are talking about a bunch of young men and women who just want to party and don’t really care about your cause, then let them go about their business without interjecting your agenda into their fun.

I’m pained I feel the need to state my disgust at the enslavement of blacks in the Colonies and eventually the United States. It is a stain upon our nation. Those who defended it then or justify it today are vile. This should go without saying, sadly it does not.

In any case, the point I’m trying to make is that the prom committee of Cherry Hills is free to choose the theme of their desires. If it was Egyptian or Roman I would not be offended, there might be Jews and Christians who feel differently and they can choose to boycott said prom. That’s their business.

As for the rest of the fine young folks at Cherry Hills, go ahead and Party Like It’s 1776 and don’t worry about the attitudes a bunch of old people are trying to force upon you. If you look hard enough, life is filled with things that give offense. My advice, stop looking and start partying.

Tom Liberman

Yanny and Laurel and the Nature of Reality

Yanny LaurelThere has arisen a large kerfuffle amongst people who hear either Yanny or Laurel when a particular sound is played. It seems impossible to those listening and hearing one of the two that those who claim to hear the other are being completely honest. This gives us an interesting opportunity to peer into the realm of what we think of as Reality. Of Subjectivity versus Objectivity.

There is both an objective and subjective reality in this situation. The sound being played is propagating through the air as an audible wave of pressure. Devices can measure this wave and display it visually as a wavelength. With some small variances depending on the sensitivity of such devices and also the variance of the sound projecting machine this Yanny or Laurel wave has an objective reality.

However, every human ear is of a different shape and the tiny bones that detect those audible waves are not the same from person to person. Everyone likely hears the sound slightly differently. Our brains are all configured differently and interpret the sounds with slight variances. The fact people seem to hear one of the two, Yanny or Laurel is interesting but not surprising. We have no problem accepting the fact that groups of people have various levels of color blindness. That many groups see green in one way and others in another fashion.

The reality of the sound wave is objectively true. The reality of our interpretation of that wave is subjectively true. I might hear Yanny and be perfectly correct while another person might hear Laurel and be equally without error. A third person might hear something completely different or relatively close to Yanny or Laurel, they also would be right.

This presents me no discomfort. Communication is not at all about the sound wave but, instead, the meaning behind it. Words are merely grunts to which we assign meaning in order to communicate ideas with one another. It’s difficult for me to order lunch if the waitperson doesn’t speak the same language as I do. This is the entire purpose of communication and, to a certain degree, defines our reality.

The sound wave that generates Yanny or Laurel is the same either way and yet what we hear is slightly different. As long as we can come to some mutual understanding of the sound and its meaning, then everything is perfectly fine. Now, let’s imagine I’m having a conversation with the leader of a belligerent power and I use a word meaning one thing to me but she interprets it to mean something else. Then we’ve got a problem.

When we speak different languages, we are using two completely dissimilar sounds to convey the same idea. As long as the idea is effectively communicated that is the entirety of our concern. The objective reality of the sound wave is meaningless, it is our subjective understanding of it that is of paramount importance.

Much of the life we lead follows this exact same principle. A red light means nothing without our interpretation of it to stop the car. The red light is objectively what it is. It is a truth. In our society we have learned to stop at a red light but other societies might have completely different rules in regards to traffic. Both are subjectively right for the circumstances.

This is not to discount objective reality. There is such a thing and our common understanding of it largely determines the subjective reality we experience. Most words don’t have the duality of Laurel and Yanny. Most words are understandable to everyone and have particular subjective meaning that aligns directly with the objective sound wave. When two different people hear the same word, they assign the same meaning to it. This is important.

It’s possible for someone to interpret the word, “Hello” to mean something derogatory and punch me in the face after I utter it to them. Subjectively they might be hearing the derogatory word but objectively it has meaning and law is based upon that meaning. When the ensuing court case, or my return fist, lands, the law will be on the side of the objective meaning of the word. Consequences will be meted out.

What does all this mean? You hear what you perceive but it’s not reality. It’s your interpretation of the real sound. Or, to be more succinct: It’s fine either way. Go have an ice cream.

Tom Liberman

Sports Gambling is Now Legal in Every State

Sports GamblingThe Supreme Court, in a 6 – 3 decision, struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 and made legal all gambling on sporting events in the United States. This is good news for the states who want to reap the profits therein. It is more of a mixed bag for those who wish to gamble because it is certain with this broadening of gambling there will be lives destroyed. I’d like to discuss that dual nature associated with gambling and what role the government has to play in it.

First, let’s examine how the bill got passed so we can dispense with blaming a particular political party. It’s an interesting case from a legal standpoint and the federal government used, as it often does, the Commerce Clause to provide legal justification for refusing to allow states to establish their own gambling guidelines.

The original bill passed through the Senate and the House of Representatives with little opposition from either party and the major professional sports leagues largely supported it. The Supreme Court has now ruled this was a violation of the Tenth Amendment power given to each state.

The Constitution is silent on gambling despite it being widespread at the time the Founding Fathers were writing the Constitution. They knew about gambling and the harmful effects therein, just as they knew about alcoholism and its damaging potential. I cannot in good conscience simply claim gambling is a victimless crime. People destroy their own lives and those of their families by leaving their estate bankrupt. People blow their children’s college funds which can and does have a major impact on their future earning, their entire lives.

Problem Betting is a terrible impulse control disorder, I’ve seen it in action on the few occasions I’ve visited casinos. The casinos here in the St. Louis area are largely not filled with happy people spending a night out with friends but with elderly and disabled people spending their disability and social security money. It is horrific to see and that’s why I largely don’t patronize casinos.

This is why politicians of both main political parties felt justified in passing the legislation that prohibited states from sports gambling. Well, they prohibited most states and most sports. Horse Racing, Dog Racing, and Jai-alai were exempted as was the state of Nevada.

Did this actually prevent people from gambling on sports? Of course not. People continue to gamble although not legally. They place wagers with bookies who are not bound by laws and regulations. Lives are destroyed despite the law. Will more lives be destroyed when gambling is made legal? It’s certainly possible.

The underlying question you must answer if you want to know if government has the right to prevent gambling is if you think people need to be protected from themselves. For a Libertarian like myself, the answer is an obvious no but the problem is more complex. People make horrible decisions and do tremendous damage to their own lives and those who care about them. Is there an obligation to help them, even if means others are prevented from doing something they enjoy?

Is my freedom to gamble worth the destruction of so many other lives? Is my freedom to drive a car at whatever speed I want if I’m very careful worth the lives that will be lost if others, less careful, do the same?

These are not easy questions to answer. I think gambling is a personal decision the government should not be involved in restricting. What do you think?

Does the government have the right to ban gambling to protect people?

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Tom Liberman

Jacqueline Ades and the 65K Texts

Jacqueline AdesA woman named Jacqueline Ades sent upwards of 65 thousand texts to a jilted love interest and the various stories seem focused on humor rather than it being an example of a terrible problem with our justice system.

Even a casual watching of her news conference clearly indicates someone in mental distress. She is clearly not capable of making competent decisions on her own. In layperson’s terms, she’s crazy. Not Ha-Ha crazy, but legitimately disturbed and desperately in need of help. Instead our justice system and our mental health facilities did not step in to do anything until long after the symptoms of her mental health were well in evidence.

We laugh at Ades and the thousands of texts but we lament when someone shoots up a school and kills dozens of people. When someone drives their car into a gathering and kills many of the assembled. Why didn’t someone do something? Let us look in the mirror. Let us look at our own uncomfortableness when it comes to mental illness.

Our ability to deal with mental health problems is abysmal. We don’t offer low level solutions when people first start to exhibit the problems. We just don’t care enough or want to turn the other way because it makes us feel uncomfortable.

Normally, I’m not one to absolve the perpetrator of an act from the consequences of their action, but insanity is a different matter. When someone truly cannot think in a rational way and commits crimes, we need to be better at finding them help.

We tend to ignore such problems or laugh them off. I’m not making accusations against others here, I do the same. I’ve seen people with clear mental issues wandering around the streets, had bizarre encounters in taverns. I’ve encountered people with obvious rage issues both in social media and on the road. Anger issues that might, someday, lead them to do something terrible.

I say to myself, there’s nothing I can do about it. That seems to be the solution we as a society have arrived upon as a way to deal with such problems.

I’m certainly not suggesting helping people with mental health issues is an easy path. I’m just saying it’s extremely sad that Ades has ended up in the criminal justice system, that it’s not funny. I like to think we can do better. Maybe I’m wrong.

Tom Liberman

Rage at Incel focused on Chad but not Stacy

stacy incelThe murders of ten people by Alek Minassian in Toronto has brought to light a group of self-centered jerks calling themselves Incel. These men rage against society for their inability to have successful sexual relations with women. There’s a lot of ridicule for Incel on Facebook, and rightly so, but it largely seems focused on the Incel version of the ideal man, Chad, rather than about their ideal woman, Stacy. In this era of #MeToo and gender equality I think it speaks volume as to inequalities that persist.

I’m not going to discuss the complete lack of personal responsibility espoused by Incel. What I’d like to talk about is the public’s apparent fixation on Chad at the expense of Stacy. That’s not to say the generalizations attributed to the Chads of the world are less egregious than those of the Stacys, just that we men seem utterly determined to clear our name while women seem less compelled to speak up on their behalf.

Basically, those who call themselves Incel make wild generalizations about men and women. Virtually everyone is insulted by these terms but I’m only reading articles about how horrible these simplifications are when it comes to men. When it comes to the Stacys of the world or other generalizations about women there seems to be utter silence.

What’s that about? There are probably a lot of factors involved and there is no simple explanation but I think the underlying pathology is that we still largely live in a male-centric world. For most of the history of humanity women were largely tied to the fact, should they want to have regular sex, they got pregnant and then produced food for babies. This genetic reality gave very different roles in society to men and women. Again, I don’t want to get too involved in all of this type of thing.

Men are horribly offended by Incels, well, men like me and most of men I know feel that way. We despise the fact we’re either lumped into the Chad category or some other group that hardly represents us in any way. We rather like women and all their lovely bits. We feel the need to defend our gender against these losers. Rightly so. That being said, where are the women? Why aren’t they writing about how they too have been horribly insulted.

Are women used to being lumped into unfair and unrealistic categories? Are attractive women used to being generalized? Are they not at all surprised by the ridiculous terms used by Incel? Is it perfectly normal for them to be treated as a caricature rather than a person? Is this why we don’t see more rage coming from attractive women?

We men certainly aren’t used to such attacks. I’ve been called a nerd but that isn’t gender specific. The idea of either being a Chad or some or subclass of a Chad pissed me off. I wanted to write a blog about how we men shouldn’t be so categorized but plenty of other people took up the pen and did it for me. I had nothing of interest to add to the plethora of enraged fellows, so I wrote nothing.

Wherefore art thou, Stacy?

Tom Liberman

Private Placement for the Casual Investor

private placementThere is a type of investment called a Private Placement that, over the last few years, has found an increasing market share in the financial world. Instead of investing in a stock or bond, a Private Placement is an investment opportunity offered to a limited group. It is sort of like Crowd Sourcing for finance.

There is nothing wrong with a Private Placement as long as it is backed by reputable investors. The problem is, more and more of these investment opportunities are really just scams. I recently read an article about a company called Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC that went bankrupt leaving a large number of investors in difficult financial situations.

The idea is simple enough. I plan on making various purchases which will generate a good amount of income. I don’t have the capital to do it. I enlist the aid of accredited investors to advertise my plan and attract investors. They give me money, I use the money on various investments, then I pay back the money as interest on the principal. After a period of time I return the principle to the investors and everyone wins.

Naturally, some people see this as a way to bilk unwary investors out of their money. They enlist others of a shady nature to do the selling and pay them excellent commissions. Eventually the investments don’t earn enough money to pay back to the investors so a Ponzi Scheme begins wherein new investors have their money transferred to previous purchasers. That’s what reportedly happened with Woodbridge.

One of the things that struck me about the Woodbridge case is they were not making outlandish claims of riches. The advertisements were offering a modest 8% return on investment which, in this Bull Market, is actually below what I’ve experienced over the last eight years or so. This level of sophistication might attract a savvier investor who is wary of get rich quick schemes. Certainly, the list of Woodbridge investors has some prominent names.

What does all this mean? For investors who don’t go through brokers, it means a lot. For people like me who use a financial advisor with an excellent track record, not so much. My advisors can spot these sorts of schemes from a mile away. Me? I wouldn’t know a good investment from a hole in the wall. I’m good at writing. That’s why I don’t do my own financials.

Something to think about if you’re considering a Private Placement.

Tom Liberman

The Woodchuck Conundrum

woodchuckI usually write articles about topics of little importance relating to Libertarian ideals but I thought I’d get serious for a moment and consider the age-old Woodchuck Conundrum. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

The problems largely lie within the question itself and make it all but impossible to answer. Not that some more intelligent minds than my own haven’t made the attempt. The first problem lies in the nature of the marmot in general. What exactly is a woodchuck? The generally accepted culprit is the groundhog. We might accept this as our answer but there is a thin layer of mistrust already hovering over our final answer. Might it actually be a beaver or even a termite?

Now, the groundhog is a fine fellow to be sure but according to Wikipedia its diet consists of grasses and berries. This becomes an issue when we examine the nature of chucking. What is it to chuck? Eat? Vomit? Excavate? Hurl over a fence? There seems to be no consensus on the issue and groundhogs in general don’t seem to have a particularly compelling correlation to trees or even lumber. Clearly chucking involves wood in some form. However, the riddle itself seems to indicate the groundhog might not able to perform the activity. That is to say, “if” a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Were we to ask, if Tom Liberman could date Jennifer Aniston, how long would they kiss? You might say, well, Mr. Liberman, handsome and witty as he might be, is not capable of dating Ms. Aniston. I beg to differ. While the odds are somewhat in the same realm as randomly guessing a 128-bit encryption key, they are not, to say, impossible. It could happen. So, perhaps, in the same way, the groundhog can chuck wood. This throws yet another difficulty at the feet of our query.

What if the woodchuck was actually a termite which does interact with wood? This leads us to our final problem. There is no timeframe in evidence. Even if we assume the nature of the beast and its relationship with wood and ability to chuck therein, we still can’t properly answer. Are we chucking for an hour? A day? A month? A year? Without this vital information we cannot with good conscience assay an answer to the conundrum.

This brings a light upon many such questions. If you ask a question in a certain way that makes it impossible to answer, and yet you demand an answer anyway, is not the problem your own? Should the burden be upon the questioner to ask a good and fair question? I think so.

The next time someone asks you a question that cannot be properly answered, insist they reword their query. Refuse to play their game!

Now, having arrived at this revelation, I think there is but a single conclusion to the Woodchuck Conundrum. For us to answer properly and fairly; Ms. Aniston must give me a call. I’ll be waiting.

Tom Liberman