Oct 27, 2014

Cannabis a Treatment for Ebola?

David B. Allen, M.D. thinks so.  See:

CBD Protective Against Ebola Virus

"In Summation; The US Patents prove down regulation of the immune system by cannabinoids may be a key in survival of HIV and may indeed translate into survival for Ebola patients. The direct Killing or Cidal effect of Cannabinoids is proven in HIV infections,(4) but not yet in Ebola. Inhibition of VEGF is crucial to prevent endothelial leakage and haemorrhage.

Because cannabis is so very safe especially under doctor supervision, I believe it is crucial for the medical community to start human trials on survivability of Ebola infected patients regardless of the political restraints."

Unfortunately, (as The Jewish Libertarian points out) this possible treatment for Ebola is not and will not be pursued under the current regime, as Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I narcotic by the United States Government (USG):

"There is indirect evidence that cannabinoids, specifically CBD, help treat Ebola by calming the immune system which overreacts to the virus, causing internal bleeding and death.

But since marijuana is a schedule 1 drug with no health benefits WHATSOEVER according to a group of politicians who have no medical expertise WHATSOEVER, it’s illegal, so all Ebola victims can bleed to death for all they care."

(h/t The Jewish Libertarian)

Oct 24, 2014

The Libertarian Solution to Catching a Cold

As the weather gets colder, the likelihood one will catch a cold or flu during everyday interactions increases tenfold or more.  Few things are as ordinary, yet dreaded, as catching a cold or flu.  One that is much less commonplace, yet far more serious to acquire is a disease like Ebola- as has been shown by recent events.

There can be no more personal of an issue than what goes in to one's own body, as the body is the cornerstone of private property.  When a sick person breathes their germs into the air, they are wittingly exposing everyone around them to an invasion of their body.  This is the definition of an reckless violation of property.  Such an act is similar to kidnapping, as the person who is infected is oftentimes bedridden for days or weeks upon illness.  In the case of more serious diseases like Ebola, the act of infecting another is tantamount to manslaughter.  It is, therefore, the responsibility of the sick to attempt to contain the illness to the best of their ability, also known as self-quarantine.

Socialization of Disease

Without holding people personally responsible for causing the illness of others, a socialization of risk occurs.  In the collective society we live in, getting sick is just one of those things that happens and there is absolutely no recourse for the person who has been infected.  When sick people have no personal disincentive to spread disease around, a higher risk of outbreak will occur.

As with any action, people tend to weigh the risks vs. the benefits when choosing to stay at home when they are sick, or to go about their daily business.  This is similar to the drunk, who has a choice upon leaving the tavern- will they drive, or call a cab?  Driving is (in the short run) more convenient, less costly and takes less time.  However, if they crash their car into another driver, they will cause injury or death, and (at the very least) destruction of property.  The drunk who decides to drive is clearly acting foolishly; similar short run thinking and irrationality can be found in the person who is ill.  Furthermore, the drunk is likely to only cause one crash in the act of driving home; the sick person's capacity to infect is only limited by how many people are around them while contagious.

If the person who were sick would, instead, seek out a friend, family member, or concierge service to get the things they needed while they are recover from illness, much less risk of outbreak would occur.  As such, far fewer people are put at risk while the sick person recovers away from others.  In addition, private health insurance agencies could offer solutions similar to auto insurance agencies by offering protective coverage for those injured by their clients (the equivalent of "full coverage").  This would reduce the chance that someone would go out when they are sick because if they habitually incur claims by formerly well people who they have caused illness or death, their premium will increase.  These agencies could assess the risk they are bearing with each individual client they cover by identifying relevant factors, much like auto insurance currently does by offering higher rates for those who pose a greater threat to other drivers.

This "crisis" of a looming Ebola pandemic will bring about a typical response from many, which is to implore the State- that institution which has failed, as usual, to provide protection against such crises- to "do something".  Even some who would normally favor a reduction in State power will grant an exemption for Ebola, as with any other punctuated crisis.  At this time, these folks will say, the State must do what it has to do to "save us"; we can get back to whittling down government power when things are back to normal.

In actuality, the "fend for yourself" mentality (otherwise known as personal responsibility) would provide a much greater protection against a potential outbreak because there is no way for the State to control said outbreaks short of totalitarianism.  Instead of socializing these risks, it would be much more prudent to hold those who spread disease, wittingly or unwittingly, accountable for the lives they affect or end.  This is not a moment for libertarians to yield in the quest to greatly reduce or end the State.  Indeed, of all instances, is the most important time to be critical of the State, and equally vociferous and radical in demanding it gets out of the way, as the States ineptitude is a clear and present danger.  A libertarian society would firmly defend property from aggression.  In this case, it is the ultimate personal property- our bodies.  Such a society would not only be more free, but it would severely quell the spread of pandemic outbreaks whether it be cold, flu, or a truly dangerous disease like Ebola.

*Update 10/27*

Upon searching Google for "Libertarian Solution Ebola", I came across an article about the exact subject:

How Libertarians Would Handle an Ebola Outbreak in Texas

This article contains several quotes from various libertarians discussing the issue.  Here I found a quote from Libertarian candidate for governor, Kathie Glass, which gets pretty close to my analysis in the above article:

"Kathie Glass, a Libertarian candidate for Texas governor, says that forced isolation is OK if it’s absolutely necessary. 'If you are a threat to other innocent people, that’s an act of aggression,' she says. 'When someone has fatal disease, a deadly communicable disease, that’s an act of aggression to go around and expose other people to it.' But, she adds, we should be careful that we are not just wantonly violating someone’s liberty."
Unfortunately, all of the libertarians interviewed could properly be described as "beltarians" who offer decent enough analysis of the way to view the subject (property rights), and then proceed to advocate a coercive governmental solution.  (Also, see:NY and NJ Institute Mandatory Quarantines for At-Risk Travelers from Ebola Hot Spots: A Libertarian Perspective )* This blunder is to deny a fundamental tenant of libertarianism, which is that coercion is not justifiable- even in the face of an Ebola outbreak.  However radical this may seem, it is questions like protecting against outbreak which separate the wheat from the chaff, as they say.  Many libertarians (and conservatives) who rightly advocate against big government will quickly abandon their principles when faced with big questions such as how to address an outbreak scenario, when the proper libertarian response is to double-down against coercion.

*I have my suspicions that Robert Wenzel, author of the linked article, was simply taking a strange quasi-pro government position to bait readers into a commenting frenzy.  For the record, Wenzel is not really advocating government rightness on the subject.  Rather, he is simply arguing that a non-coercive society would take similar steps to NY and NJ to prevent Ebola outbreak.  Unfortunately, in doing so, he is IMO muddying the waters as to what the libertarian position is on the subject.

Sep 2, 2014


Robert Wenzel has used the example of jaywalking recently to highlight a way one can express dissent, as well as show that individuals can do just fine without the majority of the State's rules.  This was on my mind recently when I had an encounter at an intersection with someone who was patiently waiting for the little white "walk" man to flash on the screen indicating that it was time to walk across the street.  Because there was no traffic present, I proceeded to cross even though the little orange man was still lit up.  The person said sarcastically, "Really?!"- dumbfounded that someone would commit such a horrible atrocity as deciding for himself if it was safe to cross.  I just kept on a goin'!  Apparently, I didn't die from this, as I am here writing this article...

Government's silly proclamations should be ignored completely to the extent that it is possible.  This is a way for individuals to take control, and (in nearly all cases) cause no harm to another person.  In the case of jaywalking, it is possible for one to commit this grievous offense without another person being aware or inconvenienced in any way.  In evaluating one's actions through the lens of the Non Aggression Principle, it is plain to see there are many, many proclamations set by various levels of government which are arbitrary, silly, stupid, and have very little effect toward promoting a safe society.  Rather, these silly laws are intended to foster a deep bond between the ruling class and individuals, entrenching fully the concept of who is in control.

Secondly, these silly laws are designed to be revenue generating devices for the various government agencies who can only acquire money by extracting it from the public.  Although the effect is the same (extracting money), it is far easier to make a "public safety" argument than to come, hat-in-hand, to the public to ask for money in the form of higher taxes.  If all the revenue generating laws which have to do with control of the individual (speeding, jaywalking, drug-use, etc.1)- and that have no victim- were eliminated tomorrow, many intolerable government agencies and actions would go by the wayside- a positive thing!


1.  To illustrate, imagine someone is driving and decides to change lanes without signaling.  This person crashes into another person, causing an accident.  What is the real crime in this scenario?  The government would contend that two crimes have been committed- failing to signal, and wrecking into the other person.  However, only one of these crimes is an aggression of person and/or property- wrecking into the other person.  What if the reckless driver had signaled, then proceeded to wreck into the other person?  The effect is still the same.  The only valid crimes are ones in which someone harms another via their person or property- i.e. crimes of aggression.  Failing to signal is not an aggressive act, it is merely breaking a rule.  (And it is also quite annoying!)

The quintessential example is drug-use.  A person passing our on the couch after ingesting mind-altering drugs while devouring an entire bag of chips and a jumbo soda is doing no harm to another person, even if they are arguably harming themselves.  The State claims the right to put such an individual in a cage for such an act.  If the individual resists his captors, the State will execute him with zero recourse for his murder.  Of course, if this individual goes into a Reefer Madness-like conniption fit, and causes damage to someone or their property, they have committed aggression only in the sense that they have broken something or hurt somebody.  The presence of a victim is a crucial element indicating if a crime has been committed; true crimes involve property.

Aug 31, 2014

You Can't Handle the Truth...

Justin Raimondo has written an interesting piece about the recent decision to resume bombing in Iraq called Iraq: Why Bomb Now? which takes a deeper look at the US government's claim that bombing must be resumed to avert a humanitarian crisis.  Turns out saving an obscure religious clan named the Yazidi sect is perhaps not the main driver, and Raimondo provides some great background material to consider when analyzing this policy.  I am reminded of the famous scene in "A Few Good Men" where Jack Nicholson barks, "You want the truth?!  You can't handle the truth!".  It is amazing that seemingly every policy governments take on seem to have a hidden agenda never discussed by those proposing said policy.  It is also amazing to me that people seem to be hoodwinked over and over again, and continue to turn to government for the narrative which will shape their perspective of a particular event.

The truth is, most people probably can't handle the truth.  Namely, that (despite all its humanitarian rhetoric) the intention of the US government is to dominate every square inch of the Earth.  Such humanitarian bombing campaigns as the one the US government is currently embarking upon reminds me of Rothbard's famous article from September of 1994, Invade the World.  Indeed, Rothbard sheds light on the implications such policies contain, and the absurdity which must be believed by those who are taken in by the latest "need" to bomb some group here or there into submission:

"We must face the fact that there is not a single country in the world that measures up to the lofty moral and social standards that are the hallmark of the U.S.A.: even Canada is delinquent and deserves a whiff of grape.  There is not a single country in the world which, like the U.S., reeks of democracy and "human rights," and is free of crime and murder and hate thoughts and undemocratic deeds.  Very few other countries are as Politically Correct as the U.S., or have the wit to impose a massively statist program in the name of "freedom," "free trade," "multiculturalism," and "expanding democracy:"   And so, since no other countries shape up to U.S. standards in a World of Sole Superpower they must be severely chastised by the U.S., I make a Modest Proposal for the only possible consistent and coherent foreign policy: the U.S. must, very soon, Invade the Entire World!"
Indeed, since 1945 the US government has been on a crusade- with or without public support- to make Rothbard's absurdity the reality of foreign policy.  This seemingly boundless perpetual war by the US is a scourge on all people inhabiting the planet- not just the unfortunate innocents whose lives are cut short (collateral damage), the poor and misguided soldiers killed, maimed, and psychologically destroyed, or the people living in the US who watch as more and more of their liberty and money go down the drain.  Unfortunately, the people affected by such policies (all people directly or indirectly) have not shown the ability or inclination to resist such domination; actually such dissenters will predictably be cast as "Terrorists" just as during the Cold War dissenters would be labeled "Communists", or simply be seen as "aiding the enemy".  Are these old saws really so persuasive that people can continue to be fooled over and over again until the end of time, or will there be a moment in the near future where people will actually be able to "handle the truth", and will see the warmongers in the US government and in the media for the liars they are?  Or, will people just continue along the same path- distracted, neutered, and irrelevant until the entire world is turned inside out?

Aug 3, 2014

Comparison of the War on Drugs and Poverty

has an interesting piece at the Mises Institute called The War on Drugs is Not Like the War on Poverty, which contrasts these two domestic wars the US government has been engaged in from the late 20th century to present. 

The War on Drugs is, of course, a total failure which has ruined the lives of so many, and empowered and entangled smaller governmental jurisdictions with the federal government via grants, training, and equipment.  It is impossible to imagine these small agencies (which have the most power and presence in their communities) providing a counterbalance to federal power when they are "in cahoots" with the federal government in such a fundamental way.  The War on Drugs has been an opportunity for the Federal government to form a synergy with State, County, and Local governments- a clear threat to the liberties of individuals within said jurisdictions to the extent in which the governments collude.  Most of these governments are more than happy to oblige a generous Federal government- especially in recent years.  This development, in light of an ever ambitious Federal government overseeing an economy pumped up with funny money, is a shaky one indeed...

Aug 1, 2014

Whidbey Island Transit Woes

Here on Whidbey Island, there is a public bus system that runs from the ferries on the south end- who take commuters and vacationers to and from the island- all the way up the island and beyond.  This is all funded via sales taxes (9/10%) and is provided to riders at no charge for the ride.  Recently, the routes have been significantly reduced following an major accounting error which revealed Island Transit to be financially insolvent.

Because this is a taxpayer-funded public measure, the island community is rightly upset at this mismanagement of resources.  Specifically, I am interested in the investments Island Transit holds as revealed by former finance manager Sandra Kuykendall:
"During an interview this week, Kuykendall explained that she’s audited the records and developed a picture of what went wrong.  She said Island Transit had $6.2 million in investments when she retired in January of 2010. Of that, $4 million was earmarked for the construction of a new facility. The rest essentially served as a reserve for the operating budget."
 Later, Kuykendall explained what she found after performing an audit:
"To cover the shortfall in operating expenses, (scapegoated former Finance Manager) Savary spent large portions of the investments as they matured, instead of reinvesting everything.  By the end of 2010, about $500,000 of the investments were gone; another $700,000 was spent on operations in 2011, Kuykendall said."
What are these "investments" and how could Island Transit dip into funds that were "earmarked for the construction of a new facility"?  When she says "$500,000 of the investments were gone", where is "gone"?  I wonder what audits for 2012-2014 reveal?  I also wonder if Island Transit has a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report*.

Another interesting article regarding the current state of Island Transit can be found on the Washington Policy Center (WPC) blog which reported:

"Earlier this year, Island Transit officials announced plans to cut the Camano Island to Everett bus route, citing a lack of state tax money as the primary reason...Yet new information reveals budget mismanagement and poor decisions may be the real reason bus service will be slashed. 

According to an op-ed by State Representative Dave Hayes (R-Camano Island),the Camano to Everett route started when Island Transit officials successfully lobbied Olympia for “start-up funds” from a $1.9 million state grant in 2006. The grant required “other funding sources must ultimately replace” the temporary grant money. Yet Island Transit officials continued to apply and receive temporary grants for years.  Nearly $7 million in start-up grants and “legislative bailouts” kept the Camano to Everett route running, despite promises from Island Transit officials of their intent to secure local funding to maintain service."
Considering this happened earlier this year, it is surprising to hear Kuykendall indicate that  "(Executive Director) Rose had every reason to believe the money earmarked for the facility was still there and was understandably 'blindsided' when the bills came due and Island Transit came up short."  Clearly, either Rose was completely out of touch or was aware at least to a certain extent that a serious problem was developing and failed to execute a proper plan to deal with the problem.  The article at WPC makes this point as well:
"Island Transit leaders have failed to perform their duty to run this agency responsibly. Rose was 'blindsided' when she heard the news of financial mismanagement.  The article says the Island Transit Board also failed to review the financial statements. Both Rose and the Board assumed the agency had sound financial footing. However, Island Transit’s annual reporting to the Washington State Department of Transportation clearly show reserve funds being spent.

Additionally, yearly cash flow statements sent to the State Auditor’s Office also show the sale of investments outpacing the purchase of new investments, netting the agency millions of dollars in cash."  (Emphasis mine, see note below)
This is such a curious situation that it seems there is something amiss.  How can such a major oversight have occurred, and where is all the money?  Island Transit is notoriously impenetrable, but there are quite a few public meetings scheduled in the near future to discuss the changes that are being made.  I hope a little more clarity will come to this story as the agency is scrutinized.


One can find the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of many different cities, counties, and states and other public entities which (if one is particularly savvy in accounting and/or knows what sections to analyze) reveal the financial condition that particular city is in.  Cities are overwhelmingly involved in financial investments, and these investments as a source of revenue are shown in a CAFR.  It is simply amazing to see the assets these entities have amassed with such investments- at a time when most governmental entities are cutting services, demanding more revenue, or both!


Comprehensive Annual Financial Report--Wikipedia

"The primary difference between a budget and a CAFR is that where the budget is a plan for the a fiscal period (often a year) primarily showing where tax income is to be allocated, the CAFR contains the results of the period (year) with previous years accumulations. A CAFR shows the total of all financial accounting that a general purpose budget reports does not. The CAFR contains a section that provides a comparison of period budget and actual. Additionally, the CAFR gives a detailed showing of investment accounts by category reflecting balances over previous years."

Good article explaining CAFRs--Carl Herman

The Biggest Game in Town--Walter Burien

Listing of example State CAFRs--Walter Burien

Walter Burien's Website

CAFR Network (More links to CAFRs)--Gerald R. Klatt


Apr 20, 2014

The Skyscraper Curse

Once again, EPJ has an interesting piece out about what is called the "Skyscraper Curse".  This is the weird phenomenon that whenever a record setting tall building is constructed, an economic downturn or "bust" cycle occurs.  Here is an interesting graphic to illustrate the point:

Mark Thornton of the Mises Institute has dedicated a portion of his scholarly efforts to illustrating this interesting correlation.  A sampling of his work can be found here:

Skyscraper Index--Mises Wiki

As well, one could listen to Thornton's analysis in this interview with Tom Woods:

Mark Thornton: The Skyscraper Curse

At first blush, it seems improbable that skyscrapers could be an indicator or predictor of economic downturns.  However, once it is understood how business cycles occur- namely the economic effects of Federal Reserve money printing- the phenomenon makes perfect sense.