Zero Tolerance

Have you seen this one? A ten-year-old girl in Ocala, Florida, was arrested and stuck with felony weapons charges after bringing a small steak knife to school and using it...to cut her steak.

I gotta tell you, folks, this whole Zero Tolerance issue really boils down to the fact that our schools are run by the government. When you look at private schools, there are almost no instances of ZT policies to be found. The reason for that is simple: market pressure forces these private schools to be more judicious in their handling of incidents. If the parents of the kids in a private school don't like how the administration handles incidents like this, they can easily pull their kid - along with their tuition money - out of the school.

These market pressures don't exist in the government education system. Public schools are funded through tax money that is forcibly taken from the local residents, regardless of their use of the school, so there is no incentive for the school to provide any real service. Bad teachers are effectively impossible to fire, local elections are almost universally ignored (causing bad incumbent school board members to easily win reelection with vote totals in the double digits), and the people don't really have the option of withholding their funding in order to effect change.

Now, if more people could homeschool their kids or send them to private school, we could at least minimize the number of kids ruined by these bad 'educators'. Unfortunately, due to the massive amount of money we pay in taxes and the value of our dollar going into the toilet, not many people can afford to either pay private school tuition or have one parent stay home to handle the schooling. Most families in America are forced to have both parents working full time just to make ends meet - which is understandable considering that the average wage earner works nearly half the year just to pay their tax bill! That may sound high, but when you take into account federal, state, and sometimes local income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, gas tax, cigarette tax (for smokers), car registrations and licensing fees, and all of the other money that has to go to government at all levels, it's about spot on.

Add to all that the hidden inflation tax which hits the lower and middle class the hardest, destroys the value of any savings they might have, and causes them to run faster and faster just to stay in one place, and it's no wonder that we have such huge problems with crime, drugs, and destroyed families! People turn to crime because it frequently pays more than any honest work job they can get after exiting our useless education system, turn to drugs to escape the horrible realities we face every day, and can't hold families together because they have no time outside of working (to support the ever-growing weight of the state) to spend together and bond.

And that's why I support Ron Paul.



I promise, I'll have a substantive new post up soon - I've been swamped with everything else on my plate, but I will get something out.

Until then, I've tweaked the links there on your left, so feel free to check them out - Reason.tv is excellent in particular. There's a fantastic video hosted by Drew Carey regarding free-market roads which is well worth a watch.


Oops - sorry about that, folks

Hiya, readers!

Sorry I disappeared on you there for a few weeks - I've been a bit busy with some Ron Paul activism, and to be perfectly honest, I burned out pretty quickly doing the whole Liberty 101 thing. There's really enough of that on the Internet now.

So, I'll be changing my focus a little bit - the blog might become a little harder to follow for those not already comfortable with the concepts of liberty, but I'll do my best to explain as I go along.

I've got a few posts planned, and I do intend to finish the Daddy Knows Best series at some point, for those who may have had their hopes up on that.


Daddy knows best, kids - part 2

So, on to drug laws. I suppose the best way to start any discussion of our government's "War on Drugs" is to point you to Wikipedia's article on alcohol prohibition in the United States. You can skip ahead to the "End of Prohibition" section if you want to get to the meat of the horrible effects alcohol prohibition had on the country; things like organized crime, racketeering, police corruption, and murder became rampant due to the massive black market opened up by the ban. The quality of alcohol dropped and the potency increased, due to its being more profitable to manufacture and transport high-test liquors (moonshine), causing illnesses and death.

Does this sound familiar? How often have you heard in the news stories about drug-related police corruption scandals, drug-related gang turf wars, mafia involvement in the drug black market, etc.? There is good reason to believe that most drug overdoses are due to the varying purity of street drugs - a user may prepare what seems to be a reasonable dose, only to discover (too late) that the batch of whatever drugs they purchased is much purer than they expected.

All in all, the bulk of the "drug problem" in this country is because of the drug laws, not in spite of them. Were these drugs legal to manufacture, sell and use, there would be no black market, no massive profits for organized crime. Dosages would be easy to determine, violent crime rates would plummet as they did after the end of Prohibition in 1933 (and they continued to drop for 30 years!).

To wrap this back into the point I made in part 1, can anybody explain to me why it's wrong to use drugs recreationally? I'm not asking about the legality, but the morality. I just don't see it.


Daddy knows best, kids - part 1

Here's a topic that's irked me for a long time: so called "vice" laws. I'll do deeper explorations on the individual items in later posts, but I wanted to do an overview of the whole mess for now. Vice laws generally boil down to three topics. Substance vice laws cover drugs of all kinds, including alcohol and tobacco. Sex vice laws restrict things like sodomy (which, by the by, covers anything other than coital sex between one male and one female) to prostitution to pornography. Gambling vice laws cover any type of business that facilitates gambling, be it sports booking, casinos, or bingo halls.

What is wrong with all of these laws is that they presume to enforce one group's moral code upon everyone through legislation. I covered the logical problem with this in my earlier post, Legality Vs. Morality. Gambling, prostitution, drug abuse, pornography, etc. - these are what we call "victimless" crimes. But riddle me this: what is a victimless crime? How can there be a crime if there is no victim?

Let's try the American Heritage Dictionary for a definition of crime - ah, I get it now. The good old AHD says the definition of crime, in this context, is:

"1. An act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it and for which punishment is imposed upon conviction."
So, you don't have to have done anything actually wrong to have committed a crime, just something illegal. Make a note of that - there is frequently a big difference between "right and wrong" and "legal and illegal", and this difference is nowhere more glaring and apparent than in the area of vice laws. The whole thing just smacks of the paternalistic "Because I said so, and what I say goes, because I know what's best for you and you don't" attitude that our wonderful government has developed over the last hundred and fifty years or so.

You know, I can see that I really don't have room to cover this massive topic in one post, so check back later. I'll cover each of these areas - drug laws, sex laws, and gambling laws - in that order over my next three posts.


Don't shut that gate!

I heard a great point while listening to a back episode of Free Talk Live today (specifically, the show from 2007-06-30) - "illegal" immigration is a welfare problem, not an immigration problem. If you put out a bowl of milk every night for the stray cats in your neighborhood, don't complain when the strays from other neighborhoods start turning up for the free meal. Of course they're going to come for the handouts - if it's there, and there's a reasonably low chance of getting caught, there's no compelling reason not to. If you take away the free food, the strays will stop showing up and learn to procure their own food (or go somewhere else that offers handouts).

The real problem here, then, is not immigration itself, but our welfare state. For my part, I don't much care who comes to the United States, as long as they're willing to work and contribute. The people who come to this country for a free ride, however, are indeed a problem. I have enough of a problem with my tax dollars going to support lazy American citizens - the idea of lazy people from other countries showing up to take even more of the money stolen from us by the taxman is even worse. As far as people who legitimately can't work, there are private charitable organizations who are able to do a much better job than the government can (which, really, isn't all that hard). These people, however, are relatively very few. With things like the Internet and telecommuting, you'd really have to be bad off for there to be truly no job you could do.

As for the immigrants who do show up here to work and provide better for their families, I say more power to 'em. So many people complain that "They're taking our jobs!" but, really, they're not. They're just willing to work hard for minimum wage (or lower, in some cases), because they understand that a good work ethic is more important than a good flat-screen TV or a good sports car. For these people, the reason they come illegally is because it's so ridiculously hard and expensive to go through all the red tape and fees in our current system.

I apologize for the cliché, but this one happens to be true - this country was built on the backs of immigrants from all over the world. Unfortunately, with every wave there has been discrimination from the bulk of the citizenry. Many of these people forget that they themselves are only 2 or 3 generations removed from immigrants themselves. Since when does being born on one side of an imaginary line make a person better or more worthy than those born on the other side of that imaginary line?

So, taking these points into consideration, what reason could we really have to stop people from coming here from other countries to work? More workers means more production, more production means more wealth to be spread around, more wealth to be spread around is better for everybody. I'd very much like to hear from anybody who can give me a good reason why we really need to limit and regulate immigration, as opposed to just eliminating welfare.


Clearing the air

I was over at a buddy's house the other day, shooting the breeze and having some drinks, when he mentioned that he was having some trouble with his 5 year old truck. He made the comment, "It's a good thing the government made it so car manufacturers have to warranty their exhaust systems for 10 years or 100,000 miles." [note: he's wrong about that, by the way. It's 2 years/24,000 miles or 8 years/80,000 miles for certain specified components.]

This blew me away.

"You really think that it's the government's job to force manufacturers to do that?" I asked him.

"Of course, " he told me (with a straight face!), "otherwise all the manufacturers would put out crappy exhausts made of regular steel instead of the stainless steel they use now, now that they have to cover them for 10 years."

That kind of thinking always confuses me. "Are you saying that you think no manufacturer would use better quality materials in order to differentiate themselves from the others?"

"No, they wouldn't."

"What about companies like Cadillac, Jaguar, Bentley? Don't you think they'd want to advertise that their cars' exhausts are made with better steel than GMC or Chevy?"


"Of course they would, man - don't be stupid [another note: we're good buddies, so I'm allowed to say that]. The market will always come around to meet any given consumer demand even without the government forcing their way into it - hell, especially if the government stays out of it. What you get with the government forcing manufacturers to warranty things they wouldn't normally cover is higher consumer prices. The government didn't say 'You must provide warranty service for this many years or miles, and you can't raise your prices either.' They also didn't say that manufacturers are required to make good quality product. If some car manufacturer decided it would be in his best interest to lower both production costs and materials costs enough to cover the difference in his warranty service costs, he's perfectly well allowed to do that. On the other hand, if it was left up to the market, and consumers were buying cars based on their warranties, manufacturers would compete on warranty coverage and maybe now we'd have cars warrantied for 12 or even 15 years."

He tried changing the subject. "Anyway, the point of it is that the government passed that law to protect the environment. They don't want all the nasty emissions in the air."

I chuckled. I like it when he lowers the fruit for me. "The government has no interest in anything but the appearance of caring for the environment. I just told you a minute ago that the warranty law doesn't force manufacturers to improve their products, only to raise prices or cut costs. If the government was really interested in saving the environment through arbitrary mandates, why didn't they just ban the internal combustion engine and force manufacturers to build only zero-emission electric cars?"

His jaw dropped. "They'd never get away with that! Everybody would have to buy new cars."

"It would sure cut down on those nasty emissions, though, wouldn't it?"

He just looked at me. He hates it when I play the absurd card to make a point.

"It's all about votes to them, is all I'm saying. They're not worried any environment but the one in their plush Congressional offices, and how they can hold onto it for as long as possible. Passing a law that seems to stick it to the 'big, greedy car manufacturers' gets them votes, even if the law really just comes back to bite consumers on the ass."

"I don't know about that..."

"Would you want to give it up? Think about it - nice, big office, with the great leather chair, the bar full of expensive booze in a drawer on the wall, the cute 19 year old intern..."

"...Yeah, I see your point."