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.

Apr 15, 2014

Dog-Eat-Dog Statism

Bretigne Shaffer recently wrote a brilliant article regarding a conference she attended for parents of special needs children:

Dog-Eat-Dog Statism for Special-Needs Families: You’re Either at the Table or You’re on the Menu

From the article:

"My husband and I are interested in starting a special-needs school based on Montessori or DIR principles. Nothing big, just a little school where our daughter and some of her peers could have an alternative to mainstream special education. But governments put a lot of roadblocks in the way of people doing things like this. Usually you have to get permission from members of your city government, who decide whether there is a “need” for your school in your area. And it is no secret that California is one of the most onerous states for small businesses. My idea was to get the state and local governments to stop interfering with people coming up with their own solutions for special-needs families."
"I asked Dr. Vismara whether the Senator Steinberg would be interested in such a proposal, in working to get government out of the way of people creating solutions. He gave me one of those smiles reserved for people who really don’t understand how the game is played, who are neither at the table nor on the menu, but probably somewhere in the kitchen sweeping up. He said, very definitely, 'no.' When I asked him why, he said because 'it’s a non issue.'
"...In the world in which he operates, the concern about too much government interference in business and other activities is indeed a 'non-issue.' Why? Because you don’t win at the game of government by reducing the powers of government. More specifically: If you are a candidate for public office, running against other candidates, you are going to gain more votes and more campaign contributions by giving your constituents what they want. And generally, what people want from their politicians is not 'free and open markets' or 'unhampered competition.' What they want is special favors for themselves - very often in forms that restrict their competition."
Read the whole article- it's brilliant!

(Thanks to EPJ)

Mar 16, 2014

Busybodies and Authoritarianism

EPJ recently informed followers of a debate which took place in San Fransisco about the legalization of Marijuana.  The pro-legalization side was represented by Dr. Michael Edelstein, and prohibition was advocated by Marty Nemko.  The idea of a modern prohibitionist led me to search out Nemko, where I found an article he wrote on his blog entitled, "The Case Against Legalizing Marijuana."  While I anticipated reading some fresh insights regarding the topic of Cannabis, I was dismayed to see Nemko's analysis is the same old saw- the kind of distortions and myths one might find in that cult classic propaganda film, Reefer Madness.

Throughout the article, Nemko presents pictures of people who are acting silly after (presumably) consuming Cannabis.  This is similar to the technique used in Reefer Madness, a portrayal of Cannabis users as wild- indeed, out of control; these people need to be reigned in before they destroy their lives and harm others, say the prohibitionists.  This siren song- one which has been sung for time immemorial by "Dudley Do-Right" and tyrannical dictators alike- makes the case for prohibition as the just solution to what the controllers see as a problem.  However, careful analysis reveals the Cannabis trade to be innocuous, and prohibition as neither just or solvent.  In contrast, social control is a heap of injustices- something to be avoided at all costs.

The first thing to realize about the Cannabis trade is that such exchanges are an inevitability.  Prohibition laws or any other attempts to stifle trade among willing parties will always come up short.  This is because an intrinsic part of human nature is to satisfy desires.  For any product that is in demand, entrepreneurs will spring up to satisfy consumers- children or adults.  Under prohibition law, only the most unsavory types- those who are willing to flout the law- will participate in the market as suppliers.  Thus, prohibition yields gangland activities, and nefarious dealers who settle disputes with violence.1  Bolstering these violent criminals is a greater social harm than any increase in teenage Cannabis use that Nemko presumes will happen without prohibition.  Further, the black-market drug dealer is the person who teenagers and others will buy from under prohibition.  Because of prohibition law, these transactions are carried out in less visible and more dangerous places such as the dealers house, unlit parking lots, and back alleys.  To turn around a phrase which Nemko uses, "is that what you want for your child, your sibling, your spouse, your parent, for America?"

Even the US government admits the approach of prohibition is a failure.  After spending $1 Trillion over 40 years, with harsh penalties for those supplying and purchasing Cannabis, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other outlawed substances no real progress has been made to squelch the drug trade.  However, Nemko's approach actually softens the punitive blow to Cannabis prohibition by keeping the staunch penalties for distributing the substance, but reducing the possession charge:

"You can significantly reduce pot and alcohol's damage to humankind by not making it legally purchasable, with law enforcement only going after big producers and distributors, with law enforcement against users only in response to citizen complaints, in which case the punishment would be a ticket that costs about the same as a carpool violation: $500."

It is unclear how he expects this approach to be much different than the status quo.  Law enforcement has been- since the very beginning- "going after big producers and distributors" will little effect to the overall market.  Because of the demand for Cannabis, a new producer will always step in to fill the void.  Further, slaps on the wrist to consumers such as "a ticket that costs about the same as a carpool violation: $500" will hardly serve as a deterrent.  Prohibition- especially Nemko's version of it- will not affect the fundamental human instinct to trade.

What if prohibition law could be designed to fundamentally affect such human instincts, and prevent trade?  Perhaps the penalty for Cannabis possession could be castration, and the penalty for sale could be death.  This approach would, undoubtedly, make those who desire to trade in such an environment to think twice!  Even if prohibition could affect the desire to trade, the notion of prohibiting trade is an injustice by an outside party to the trade- neither the buyer or seller- who has, thus far, been unaffected by such an activity.

The cloth of Nemko's argument for prohibiting trades such as Cannabis is woven from the thread of preventing social harm.  He uses pictures of teens acting like fools after using Cannabis, as well as the Bieber plane incident to imply that Cannabis users are miscreants who will inevitably harm others- and must be stopped before they do so.  Preventing social harm is the central tenant of the controllers approach to social policy, an intellectual bedfellow of such things as female genital mutilation, forced sterilization, and genocide.

Furthermore, such an approach is arbitrary- based on the whims of those who will control social policy- the controllers.  If Nemko was king, Cannabis and other substances deemed harmful would be prohibited, but ice cream would be allowed:
"A pothead, trying to play gotcha, asked me, "Hey dude, would you outlaw alcohol?" Yes, I would. Alcohol causes harm wildly in excess of its benefits...I enjoy a glass of wine but would gladly give it up for the societal benefits that would derive from a new Prohibition. At the risk of using a term that is becoming obsolete, I believe we've become a too permissive society, prioritizing "do what the hell you want" over "be responsible." And that message filters right down to children.

Our Socratic pothead then tried, "Next you're going to want to outlaw ice cream?!" Marijuana's risk profile is far worse."
Nemko dismisses the "pothead" when he is providing a fundamentally important criticism of Nemko's philosophy- namely, the arbitrary nature of it.  Why does Nemko desire to "outlaw alcohol", while he likes to "enjoy a glass of wine"?  And, why not ban ice cream?  Some folks think ice cream is a devilishly sinful thing to indulge- which damages the glutton's health and yields higher cost to health care for the non-indulgent.  This arbitrary approach to social policy- one based on whims rather than emanating from a concrete principle- is the hallmark of the controller.

Nemko's disrespect for individual rights is shown in his acknowledgement and dismissal of the libertarian case for decriminalization:
"But what about the libertarian argument that people should be able to do what they want as long as it doesn't harm others? Well, pot harms everyone: the user, his or her family, employer, the drivers and pedestrians who are in accidents because of the slow-reflexed, often glacial-driving pothead. How often do you see a car creeping on the freeway? Yes, some are old people who should have their licenses revoked but many are blitzed.  A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 18 percent of drivers in fatal accidents tested positive for a non-alcoholic mind-altering drug, mainly marijuana. And this 2013 study found almost twice as many drivers in fatal car accidents tested positive versus a control group. And since legalization in Washington, data from the Washington State Patrol and Toxicologist shows a 40% increase in the share of driver cases in which the driver tested positive."
As you can see, according to Nemko's philosophy the "user" is not allowed to have control over the personal decision of what can go in his body- an outright denial of the person's right to their body.  For, what is ownership of the body without sole discretion as to what one can consume?  Further, if a person does not own his body, who does?  Nemko seemingly skips right over this, as if it has no relevance compared to his annoyance at being slowed down by the "glacial-driving pothead."  The individual's ownership of his body is absolutely sacrosanct.  For, this property right is the cornerstone of his individual rights; the controller attempting to usurp this principle of self-ownership is fundamentally totalitarian.As Doug Casey has said, controllers such as Nemko "...think they know best and are perfectly willing to put a gun to your head to make sure that you do what they think is right."

The act of producing, selling, buying or using a euphoric substance is, of course, not- in and of itself- a violation of the rights of others.  Therefore, the prohibition of such activities (victimless crimes) is a clear injustice.  Instead of focusing on the "glacial-driving pothead", or silly stoned teenyboppers, Nemko- if he is truly concerned for the welfare of society- can advocate a much nobler social cause: property rights, and the abolition of the authoritarian State.


1.  See Dr. Walter Block, Defending the Undefendable Pg. 123:

"Whenever the government outlaws a commodity for which there are consumers, be it whiskey, drugs, gambling, prostitution, or high interest loans, the underworld enters the industry that law-abiding entrepreneurs fear to service. There is nothing in whiskey, drugs, gambling, prostitution, or moneylending that is intrinsically criminal. It is solely because of a legal prohibition that gangland methods become associated with these fields."
2.  To sanction a coercive State, and assert that the individual has no ownership rights to his own body is the invalidation of individual rights, per se.  Busybodies such as Nemko- by advocating the dismissal of individual rights and empowerment of the State as owner of the individual - provide the crucial underpinnings of the authoritarian State.  Such an institution is a serious threat to society, as has been documented by Professor R.J Rummel who points out:
"In total, during the first eighty-eight years of this (20th) century, almost 170,000,000 men, women, and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed, or worked to death; or buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed, or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens or foreigners. The dead even could conceivably be near 360,000,000 people. This is as though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague. And indeed it has, but a plague of Power and not germs"

"Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, if all these bodies were laid head to toe, with the average height being 5', then they would circle the earth ten times. Also, this democide murdered 6 times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the century. Finally, given popular estimates of the dead in a major nuclear war, this total democide is as though such a war did occur, but with its dead spread over a century." (emphasis added)
 See Professor R.J. Rummel  Democide

Mar 11, 2014

9/11 and the Military Industrial Complex

While many naively believe that the US government (or any government, for that matter) has the interest of the citizenry in mind, the policies which inevitably come to fruition reveal quite a different story.  Although so-called representatives of the people are enthroned in their respective positions by voters, government officials are always loyal to special interest groups which pave the way to their current and future success.  To understand why this is so, one must first look at the incentive system in place, and come to grips with the implications that follow.

The State has the ability to create monopolies within the economy, and can be directed to this effect by forces outside of public control or scrutiny.  One only has to examine the revolving door between large corporations and the regulatory bodies to understand that policy can be driven by powerful interests looking to plunder, rather than out of an altruistic desire to protect or further the interests of the citizenry.  The regulators in this crony environment have a very clear incentive to pursue the interests of the industry which they are regulating- specifically the companies they worked for or dream of working for- and are in no way responsible to the public interest.  The same holds true for elected positions, as they pander to the corporations and special interest groups which gave them large amounts of money to become elected (or re-elected).  Proponents of policies and regulations never willingly reveal their ties to the powerful interests which guide policy decisions, for this would reveal the true motive embedded in policy making.  Such honesty would mean, of course, that much of the agenda would never come to fruition!

Another form of dishonesty comes from the citizenry itself, namely the lack of interest in scrutinizing the theories propagated by government which pertain to the cause of important events, as well as considering the crucial cui bono of government "solutions" to deal with the crisis.  Alas, the notion that the US government would be engaged in a "cover-up" regarding 9/11 is a serious challenge for those who are taught to believe that this organization has their best interests at heart.  It is one thing for someone to understand and concede that cronyism is inherent in government, and that those who represent a powerful companies could influence government to help protect their position in the marketplace.  It is quite another for someone to accept that the government would actually go so far as to murder it's own citizens to pursue such ends. 

To begin to delve into this possibility, we can examine this article from ABC news, which describes a military plan called Operation Northwoods.  This was an operation created in the 1960's, which-if pursued- would have involved a false flag event1 to legitimize a military invasion for the purpose of overthrowing Fidel Castro in Cuba.  From the article:

"In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.

The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba's then new leader, communist Fidel Castro."

Author of the book Body of Secrets James Bamford says in the ABC article about Northwoods:

"The whole point of a democracy is to have leaders responding to the public will, and here this is the complete reverse, the military trying to trick the American people into a war that they want but that nobody else wants."

Indeed, in his farewell address2, President Eisenhower presented a stark warning about the danger which the Military/Industrial Complex (MIC)posed to the nation.  He first described how "an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience."

"Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.  Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.  This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society." (italics added)

Eisenhower then warns that the US government must defend against the potential abuse of power that this reality poses:

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial (sic) complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.  We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

While one must admire Eisenhower for his honesty and insights regarding the existence of the MIC, his presumption of its legitimacy and lack of foresight regarding the ability of the US government to contain it is disdainful.3  Surely Eisenhower wasn't so steeped in militarism that he forgot Lord Acton's famous quip that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".  Indeed, the MIC revealed its malicious Northwoods plan just a few short years after Eisenhower's remarks!  However, Bamford shows that Eisenhower's faith in the US government to stifle the hunger of the MIC to initiate conflict was correct, at least in the case of Operation Northwoods:

"There really was a worry at the time about the military going off crazy and they did, but they never succeeded, but it wasn't for lack of trying."

Eisenhower's warning came when the MIC was merely a toddler, and the Northwoods plan followed rather quickly.  JFK's rejection of this plan understandably caused tension between himself and the military establishment- who apparently were willing to consider murder of US citizens in order to achieve their goal of overthrowing the Cuban government.  Now that the MIC has grown into a well established influence on government as well as a fundamental player in the economic environment in the US, it is much more likely to conceive that something like an Operation Northwoods would be pursued rather than quashed.4

In the case of 9/11, the Project for a New American Century published a policy paper in September 2000 entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses which supported "...the belief that America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces."  In the paper the authors lament that "the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor."  Indeed, 9/11 was just such an event.

The events of 9/11 were, undoubtedly, the most important and influential moments in directing the contemporary state of affairs in the US.  For, this is the watershed from which all of the horrors and injustices of modern US civil society- free speech "zones", police militarization, government intrusions into privacy, and TSA fondling- were either created or exacerbated to absurd proportions.  These programs by the US government have, indeed, become the "new normal", and life in the US has been so fundamentally altered that the the old phrase, "it's a free country" is laughable in the extreme.

The post-9/11 environment has been fruitful for the MIC, and equally abhorrent for the people unfortunate enough to reside in the modern US.  Contrasting the adventures the MIC pursued during the "Cold War" years, an open war (such as the "War on Terrorism") yields a far greater sum of power and influence, as well as wealth. With over a decade worth of war debt, the burden that will be shouldered by the mulcted taxpayer- who now has a severely limited capacity to protest, lest he be called an "extremist" and caged- is monumental.  Justice demands an end to warmongering abroad, as well as oppression at home.  As Randolph Bourne pointed out in 1918, "war is the health of the State", and in the same light, peace is the health of free people.  If peace is desired, it can only come by dismantling the State, and thus its wicked cicerone- the Military Industrial Complex.


1.   A "false flag" event is when a government attacks its own territory or interests and places the blame on another government or organization to initiate a cause to go to war.

2.  Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

3.  One must also wonder if he is consciously referring to Benjamin Franklin's statement that "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." when Eisenhower states that "liberty and security may prosper together".

4.  Consider what Bill Hicks said about becoming the new President:

"A handful, a very small elite, run and own these corporations, which include the mainstream media. I have this feeling that whoever is elected president, like Clinton was, no matter what you promise on the campaign trail – blah, blah, blah – when you win, you go into this smokey room with the twelve industrialist capitalist scum-fucks who got you in there.  And you're in this smoky room, and this little film screen comes down … and a big guy with a cigar goes, 'Roll the film.' And it's a shot of the Kennedy assassination from an angle you've never seen before … that looks suspiciously off the grassy knoll. And then the screen goes up and the lights come up, and they go to the new president, 'Any questions?'"

Mar 9, 2014

Studies Indicate I am Not Insane!

Before you ask, I have not been seeing a personal psychologist!  However, when discussing various topics with others, I oftentimes feel that I must have come from another planet, or something- especially when the topic is an event that is extremely important.  Indeed, the visceral and malicious reaction someone receives when offering up a viewpoint that differs from what one could call "conventional wisdom" or the "official" history of a particular subject can caused one to reflect upon their own psychological state.  Turns out, this is all by design!

EPJ highlighted an interesting article by Dr. Kevin Barrett entitled "New studies: 'Conspiracy theorists sane, Government Dupes crazy, hostile".  In this article, Barret discusses a study released this year "by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent (UK).  Entitled 'What about Building 7? A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories,' the study compared 'conspiracist' (pro-conspiracy theory) and 'conventionalist' (anti-conspiracy) comments at news websites."  He also cites a book recently published entitled Conspiracy Theory in America by political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith.  Of course, the very term "conspiracy theorist" conjures up images of someone who is psychologically unbalanced.  But in the article, Barrett sheds some light on the origins of this label, which is designed to invalidate and marginalize the viewpoints of those who disagree with an "official" rendering of major events:

"Professor deHaven-Smith explains why people don’t like being called 'conspiracy theorists': The term was invented and put into wide circulation by the CIA to smear and defame people questioning the JFK assassination! 'The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.'”

Interestingly, the study conducted by Wood and Douglas shows that those who choose not to believe the unbelievable story of 9/11 as depicted by the government indicate a far more psychologically balanced mindset than their counterparts, and-in actuality embody the mainstream opinion of various controversial topics:

The authors were surprised to discover that it is now more conventional to leave so-called conspiracist comments than conventionalist ones: “Of the 2174 comments collected, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist.” In other words, among people who comment on news articles, those who disbelieve government accounts of such events as 9/11 and the JFK assassination outnumber believers by more than two to one. That means it is the pro-conspiracy commenters who are expressing what is now the conventional wisdom, while the anti-conspiracy commenters are becoming a small, beleaguered minority.

Perhaps because their supposedly mainstream views no longer represent the majority, the anti-conspiracy commenters often displayed anger and hostility: “The research… showed that people who favoured (sic) the official account of 9/11 were generally more hostile when trying to persuade their rivals.”

Additionally, it turned out that the anti-conspiracy people were not only hostile, but fanatically attached to their own conspiracy theories as well. According to them, their own theory of 9/11 – a conspiracy theory holding that 19 Arabs, none of whom could fly planes with any proficiency, pulled off the crime of the century under the direction of a guy on dialysis in a cave in Afghanistan – was indisputably true. The so-called conspirators, on the other hand, did not pretend to have a theory that completely explained the events of 9/11: “For people who think 9/11 was a government conspiracy, the focus is not on promoting a specific rival theory, but in trying to debunk the official account.”

In examination of the unbelievable 9/11 story, James Corbett has put together a 5 minute video which describes that event as the government does.  There is very little commentary in the video; it simply explains the event as depicted by the US government in the 9/11 commission report.  Of course, much like the Warren Commission report of the assassination of JFK, the government story leaves much to be desired with regards to plausibility.  In fact, because of the absurdity of the US government's 9/11 fable, the Corbett video comes off as hilarious!  Thus, it is not surprising that those who question the official 9/11 story are found by the above research to come out in the "sane" category, while the defenders of the government story are found to be more fanatical and hostile.

Although questioning the government story (especially regarding the watershed events of JFK and 9/11) can be frightening to citizens who have been trained that their rulers are benevolent, it is especially important to do so if one would like to have an accurate picture of what type of government assumes authority in their particular geographic area.  If the government simply meant the organization who gives everyone puppies and flowers, it would not matter that much.  However, in the previous century, governments around the world murdered over 200 million of their own citizens!  Skepticism of government is of paramount importance in light of the violent and destructive track record which the State has earned as a form of governance.

There can be no doubt that the State- with the monopoly of force over a defined geographic area, and the likelihood of acting against the interests of the citizenry and for the interests of powerful political forces- poses the gravest danger to the common people who live within it. The fables the State propagates must be viewed not as the gospel truth, but with the utmost suspicion.

Mar 5, 2014

The Unpredictability of Freedom

I wanted to share a great article I read from The Ludwig von Mises Institute by Gary Galles:

We Cannot Predict the Many Ways Freedom Will Improve Our Lives 

In the article, Galles discusses a tactic that is often used against proponents of freedom when advocating for an unfettered marketplace. These people would like to hear a detailed analysis from points A to Z- a symptom of their flawed "planner" mentality. Galles points out the absurdity of this approach:

"In the face of such questions, it is nonetheless important to recognize that such questions are rhetorical traps designed to put an unachievable burden of proof on voluntary arrangements, short-circuiting the need to deal with the many valid criticisms of coercive policies.

The trap works because answers to such questions are beyond our competence. But that does not mean statism wins by default. It only means that detailed prediction of what would happen in a future where some government-imposed constraints on freedom are eased is beyond anyone’s knowledge."

Later, Galles offers a few examples of progress which occurred in the market:

"To see this, simply reflect on what freedom has produced in the past. The miracles that freedom has produced, unknown in advance, offer overwhelming testimony for faith in freedom.
For example, compare the Post Office with any other form of communication. Its snail’s pace changes contrast with advances in digital communication possibilities beyond even recent fantasies. In fact, freedom has produced miracles all around us whose nature we fail to understand, because we now take them for granted and forget their genesis (e.g., in a world of digital copying, few remember the lost “joys” of carbon paper and its purple progeny).
We need only revisit the revolutions involved to see that no one ever knew exactly what would happen beforehand. If people had only pursued what could be clearly foreseen, none of those miracles would have happened and we would be immeasurably poorer."(Emphasis added.)

Another example of an unplanned invention is the "sticky note", as described by Wikipedia:

"In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M in the United States, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive, but instead he accidentally created a 'low-tack', reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive that has been characterized as 'a solution without a problem'. For five years, Silver promoted his invention within 3M, both informally and through seminars, but without much success.

In 1974, a colleague of his, Art Fry, who had attended one of Silver's seminars, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymnbook.  Fry then developed the idea by taking advantage of 3M's officially sanctioned "permitted bootlegging" policy.  3M launched the product in stores in 1977 in four cities under the name 'Press 'n Peel', but its results were disappointing.  A year later, in 1978, 3M issued free samples to residents of Boise, Idaho, and 94 percent of the people who tried them said that they would buy the product.  On April 6, 1980, the product debuted in US stores as 'Post-It Notes'."

While Galles is correct in pointing out how a free market is wonderfully spontaneous, it is important to remember that many libertarian scholars have visualized a truly free market in great detail.  Walter Block discusses the concept of removing the government's monopoly on transportation in his book, The Privatization of Roads and Highways.1  Murray Rothbard discusses the privatization of courts and police, among many other things, in For a New Liberty.

 "Ra ta ta ta!"

When faced with a reasoned presentation of the workability of free choice in various aspects of life, many skeptics of the free market will make an intellectual "final stand", fixating on the caricatured notion of the "greedy capitalist".  This emotional appeal is typically based in jealousy of those who have acquired large sums of wealth, rather than a sincere desire to improve the standard of living.  Indeed, in a system of capitalism, cascades of wealth will be generated by those who invent useful products, and head up the companies which produce them!  This is a result of consumers clamoring to acquire the things that are deemed important to them, and impeccable foresight by some in bringing precisely the right goods and/or services to market in the right place and at the right time.  Anyone with gumption and inventiveness can achieve such grandeur, and those who have it can only hold on to their status by continuing to woo the consumer with relevant products and/or services produced in a productive, and efficient manner.

A centrally planned economic system cannot altruistically purge from the human spirit the inherent motivator often referred to as "greed".  Rather, such an economy can only result in entrenching those who serve the omnipresent state, as political leaders and powerful business interests engage in a continuum of backscratching.  Even worse, the coercive nature of the centrally planned economy means that those producers who are not "in the loop" are forced to the black market- where eager consumers are made to suffer through artificially lower quality products, shortages, and high-risk transactions.  In short, central planning results in an environment in which the unscrupulous thrive- in both the "legal" market and the black market, innovation and price deflation are stymied by coercive monopoly, and consumers and producers who wish to engage in voluntary market transactions can be transformed into criminals.  In contrast, a free market embraces the human condition- and achieves the maximum improvement to the standard of living in societies who embrace it- as "greedy" consumers constantly demand lower prices, innovation, and abundance from "greedy" producers who fall all over themselves to most adequately provide the goods and services the consumers desire!


1.  Both of the books in this paragraph are graciously offered for free at Mises.org in PDF form.