Saturday, December 31, 2005
Happy Safe 'n' Sane New Year!
Debbie and I are relaxing and watching New Year coverage on our "we report, you decide" news station. To resist utter boredom, I'm also reading my recently-purchased unabridged copy of Tom Paine Maru, by L Neil Smith, downloaded from Payloadz.com through a link found here. The original, pubished by Del Rey in 1984, was edited by a heavy, non-libertarian hand.
While covering the mass party in Times Square in New York, it was mentioned that the partying millions filling the streets are not allowed to smoke or drink!?!
NOT ALLOWED TO SMOKE OR DRINK??? On the public streets of New York City on New Year's Eve?
I guess I know where I'll never be spending New Year's Eve. Or for sure I'll be spending it indoors at a party.
Of course, I quit cigarettes many years ago, but I do like an occasional nip o' the Irish. Or the odd bottle of Blue.
It's downright disgusting how far we've gone toward some shrivelled-up old fogey's idea of political correctness.
Anyway, here's to you all. Have a happy and prosperous New Year!
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
The Devolution of the Corporation
Have you noticed that the larger corporations seem to be wandering lost through the world economy? That corporate issues are far more important to the Boards of Directors than are the actual products and services produced? Corporations fill their home offices with unneeded executives--vice presidents and assistants to vice presidents--and their regional offices with regional managers and assistants to regional managers, not to mention area managers and their assistants, safety officers and human resources officers. Sexual harrassment officers, for cryin' out loud.
Scott Adams knows it, and I know it: his Dilbert cartoon series is a lot closer to the mark than many corporate officers would ever admit.
The dirty little secret is that the rank and file in many of these firms is given the short shrift, in the form of understaffing, underqualified staffing, a plethora of needless rules and a communications wall between lower and upper etchelons. Executive ranks regale themselves with high salaries, bodaceous benefits and luxurious working spaces. Even in non-union industries employees are treated as interchangeable ciphers when they're regarded at all.
Wow! This all sounds like an introduction to some Marxist tract, doesn't it? Well, that's not it at all, boys and girls. Attend!
There's an illness in the corporate structure. It'd be guesswork to try to say whence the illness began. Some say it was with greedy owners of the firms. That might be true in the isolated case, but I don't think it captures the root of the problem.
So, class, from what entity do nearly all of our problems eminate? Anyone?
Hermione gets it right once again. Government! Ten points for Gryffindor!
The beginnings of the current malaise coincide roughly with the beginnings of the rapid increases in the size and scope of government, not long after the War Between the States. During that period, encompassing roughly seventy-five years, we find that many of our favorite technological advances were begun. Automobiles. Transcontinental rail travel--and shipping. Aircraft. Telephones. Radio. The assembly line. It's a long list.
Why haven't automakers filled the skies with flying personal cars? Why hasn't the aeronautics industry made travel between the planets and asteroids a routine practice? Why aren't we living 150-year healthy, vigorous lives?
Virtually all of these industries and others had the following in common: The ownership of the firms comprising these industries were overwhelmingly hands-on builders. Henry Ford built automobiles, as did Ransom E Olds and most of the others. Alex Bell figured out the telephone. Thomas Edison....what can I say: he did everything. There are many more; I'll spare you the list.
Who are our corporate heads now? Lawyers. To a man. The only major exception that comes to mind is in computer software development. Not surprisingly, software development is just about the only industry in which there's still quite a bit of innovation. As the software industry turns more and more toward lawyers to head their firms, expect to see this innovation gradually go into decline (I'm thinking that Microsoft may have already begun the first dance).
We now have hundreds of large corporations, headed by lawyers, carrying relatively few engineers (or accountants or medical doctors or other scientists) in top management, doing what they've always done, by rote, with innovation largely stifled.
Now we come to the "why?" Why would movers and shakers; inventors and builders, turn their babies over to twentieth (now twenty-first) century mercenaries? Because, thanks to the huge and ever-heaping numbers of government taxation and regulation, it's become a major pain in the ass to innovate. You have to be a lawyer to be able to figure out whose palms to grease and how to skirt the worst of it.
Ask Preston Tucker. While he did take some shortcuts, they were shortcuts across government regulations. In a short time, I'm convinced he would've had a product that would cause the other automakers to make adjustments to compete. They didn't want to have to make adjustments, so the lawyers at GM used the lawyers in the government to eliminate the Tucker.
There's really only one cure for this mess. When one of these humungous corporations go belly-up, which occasionally happens, they should be let to die. Assets should be sold off to, one hopes, to smaller firms who can actually perform the work that might have been done by the failed corporation, had it remained capable.
Government needs to leave business alone. Government employees are drones. Unable to be productive on their own, they seek the shelter of government to provide them with their needs without need to produce. How can they be expected to improve the productivity of others? They cannot. They can only become impediments to productivity. Regulation by government must end.
Taxation must end. Anything government can't get We the People to finance by voluntary means shouldn't be done. During the aforementioned times of American productivity, there was little or no taxation. Members of productive firms were able to work unshackled, reinvesting as much of their profits to improve their productivity as they wished. Today, these same individuals proceed only after severe regulatory restrictions and approximately a fifty-percent "protection" rakeoff to government.
What a handicap! Fifty percent of everything everyone earns going to utter waste! Actually, it's worse than waste: those who get the fifty percent delight in using it to buy the shackles for those productive among us. Many governments have been taken down by their own citizens (read victims) for less!
The US Constitution would be a pretty good guide, if anyone in government would read and heed. Ok, I know the Constitution was written a long time ago by "libertarian pioneers," and we've learned a lot since those days, IF government followed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to the letter, we'd have a free society with which we'd have relatively few and minor complaints. We could do away with government regulation of money at our leisure, after that!
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Monday, December 26, 2005
A wonderful New Year's Resolution for the President
"I take my responsibility to protect the American people seriously. Therefore, starting January first, 2006, all of America's thousands of unConstitutional laws against self defense shall be repealed by Executive Order. The best way to protect the American people is to allow them to protect themselves."
Thus signed by a fictional President of the United States who has actually read, and who understands, the Bill of Rights.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Andre Rieu Christmas Concert
Having been a part-time classical music fan since high school, I'm always casually on the lookout for composers and works new to me. I suppose I've devoted the majority of my music listening to rock 'n'roll, but I keep coming back to classical, to the great surprise of most of my friends. You see, I don't give the impression that I'm a classical music afficianado to many.
About threee or fourrrr years ago, I stumbled onto Andre Rieu on the Arts Channel on TV. The station, which has since been removed by Adelpia for some reason known only to them, played videos, many of which were of classical orchestras playing famous classical pieces.
Some of the many MTV-style (back, for those of you old enough to remember, when MTV used to play music videos) bits they showed on the Arts Channel were Strauss waltzes played by an orchestra of relatively young, attractive and photogenic musicians that turned out to be the Andre Rieu Orchestra. I eventually learned that Rieu is a Dutchmen, tours a lot throughout Europe and has a number of DVD's and CD's on the market. I've bought several of them.
I've always loved Strauss music, even before I knew who Strauss was--or were, since there were more than one of them. Johann, the original Viennese Waltz King, and his sons Johann, Jr (the one we know best) and Josef (his brother). There was even more talent in the family, but they're not important.
What is important, is that waltzes are beautiful and Strauss, Jr became the king of the waltz following in the footsteps of his father.
Andre Rieu and his orchestra play Strauss waltzes very nicely!
For the first time ever, Andre Rieu took his tour here to the Los Angeles area. Debbie and I went, yesterday, to his concert at the LA Sports Arena.
I was a mite worried. The LA Sports Arena is the home of the USC Trojans baxabaw team. Horror! I had thoughts of a jock odor throughout the building.
No, it was fine. We had center aisle seats on the floor. They started with The entry of the Gladiators, during which the entire orchestra passed through the center aisle from the rear, to stairs up to the stage. The entire orchestra passed within a couple of feet of my own self! I'll tell you, some of the female musicians were absolutely stunning!
Being close to Christmas, the program called for a series of Christmas songs, played by the orchestra and sang by a trio of tenors and a trio of sopranoes. They included Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Winter Wonderland, Sleigh Ride and Silent Night. It was a lot of fun.
After an intermission, they played some waltzes and some opera selections (sung by the aforementioned singers). The climax of the evening was his arrangement of Strauss' The Blue Danube during which Rieu asked those who wish to dance, to do so in the aisles. Many did.
The orchestra followed all that with a loooong encore.
It was a very cool evening. I recommend Andre Rieu to anyone who loves the waltz.
Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
How I Learned to Read
The first credit goes to Mom. When we were crumb-crunchin' ankle biters, she used to read to us (I have two bros and a sis) from The Brothers Grimm: the old one in which Gretel killed the Wicked Witch, and the Big Bad Wolf ate Little Red Riding Hood's sweet old Granny, then was executed by the Good Woodsman. I've had a thing for girls in red hoodies ever since.
In the Frozen North, when I was a wee lad, there was no TV. Oh, we all saw the ads for Sylvania and RCA TVs in The Saturday Evening Post, and we sure wanted one. There were no TV stations in the area. So, no Howdy Doody and no Uncle Miltie.
I floated through school, learning to read, write and all the other stuff while investing as little of my time as possible, because there were so many other, more important things to do!
My next mentor was my Senior year English teacher, Mrs Steen. I don't think she did anything dramatic, but she had a way of teaching that got me reading. I finally began to see the value in books. I got acqainted with the early novels of Robert Heinlein and others.
In the Navy, there's an amazing amount of down time. There were several hours with nothing to do every day we were at sea. That's when I got acquainted with James Bond, Matt Helm, Mike Hammer and Shell Scott.
Soon after gettin out of the Navy, I moved to LA. While getting started on my career in construction, I stumbled on a book called "The Fountainhead." It changed my life. Over half the books I've read from then to this day have had to do with objectivism, libertarianism, free market economics and self-reliance. The rest of them were sci-fi, western and historical novels. I literally carry my current book with me wherever I go, in case I should find five or ten minutes to read a few pages.
They've enriched my life in more ways than I know and helped make me the charming, well-informed bon vivant I am today. I also have over a thousand volumes that I have to lug around with me whenever I move. Well, sometimes I want to reread one of them!
I read "Atlas Shrugged" about every year or so. I'm reading "The Order of the Phoenix" right now.
I'm not sure I'd recommend that everyone become as much the reading fanatic as I, but one could do worse. I find it distressing that today's schools don't seem to be able to teach many students how to read, and they teach even fewer of them to like reading. I guess that's why they put pictures of the hamburgers on the cash register keyboard at McDonald's.
Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Another Lynching in Mississippi
I'm still awaiting further information, but it's not necessary, really. The facts I have are enough.
A young man of the black persuasion, by the name of Cory Maye was accosted while he slept by one of those gangs of black armor-wearing jack-booted thugs known as SWAT teams. They apparently had some sort of a search warrant for the front half of a duplex, but also broke into the rear apartment at the same time. Whether there was a warrant for the rear apartment is still in question--the prosecutor says there was, but it has yet to be produced.
Maye, who had been sleeping in a chair, retreated to his baby daughter's room, found his handgun, loaded it and shot the first assailant to enter the bedroom, hitting the man in a vulnerable spot below his armor. He soon died. Maye states that he never heard the police knock nor announce themselves. Based on the reputation that Mississippi police departments have in black neighborhoods (and all police departments have in the so-called "War on Drugs) , I'm inclined to believe Mr Maye. You see, the officer who first to enter the apartment and who was killed was the son of the Chief or Police. More than enough facts to cause a Southern lynching are in place.
Maye was arrested, "tried," convicted and sentenced to be executed. The Agitator has written a far more detailed accout of the events than I, and has been following the story carefully as it progresses.
Whether or not there was a warrant, and whether or not the police tried to serve it properly is all beside the point.
No one has the right to dictate to any other what he may ingest. Whether or not there were drugs in the building is irrelevant. According to the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights, the police were guilty of breaking and entering and Mr Maye was fully within his rights to defend his home.
The government which presumes to order that the ownership and use of certain substances are illegal is wrong.
The goverment which presumes to send police into a neighborhood with which they're unfamiliar is wrong.
The government which presumes to issue pre-signed warrants from tear-off pads is wrong.
The government which presumes to send armored police into an individual's property without announcing is wrong.
The government which presumes to make nearly everything illegal so that they have an excuse to arrest anyone at any time is wrong.
It really doesn't matter if Mr. Maye happened to have a smoked roach in an ashtray (which was likely planted by the jack-booted thugs) or if the individuals in the front apartment were selling certain agricultural commodities, satisfying their customers' desires and making a profit in the process. That's the American way, is it not? Capitalism in its purest form.
Something has to be done about rogue cops and the immoral system that sanctions their existence.
Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!
Friday, December 09, 2005
Bill of Rights Day - December 15, 1791
I think it's time I wrote a little about the Bill of Rights, since it's the Document that makes the United States the economically powerful and relatively free nation it is today. I say relatively free because that's merely a comparison to other countries around the world. When compared to a model of ideal freedom, or even when compared to the freedom Americans enjoyed a century ago, we're not free. Not even close.
The Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15, 1791. It came into being at the behest of the delegations of several of the original thirteen states, who refused to join the union without it.
Now, after many decades of government schooling of children and the attending redefinition of the role of government in our lives, most people are only peripherally aware of the Bill of Rights, and have very little knowledge of its content and purpose. We also have to suffer the news media, the politicians and high-profile legal "experts" redefining Americans' rights and the proper relationship between us and our servants in government.
Thus, we have Bill of Rights Day. Many freedom-loving individuals, beginning (for me) with Aaron Zelman of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO), have suggested an annual recognition of this day. A part of his site details his views on the promotion of Bill of Rights Day.
Here are the Ten Amendments that are our Bill of Rights, with a very brief addendum for each by yours truly.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or preventing the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This is seemingly the only Amendment of which ACLU is aware, and toward which they invest nearly all of their efforts. On the other hand they are, more often than not, on the wrong side of the Amendment. Colleges and universities, once bastions of free speech and free inquiry, have become the worst violators of the free speech clause. Conservatives take great glee at enumerating the limitations on free speech. They are always wrong. Disgusting speech, or speech with which we disagree, is still protected by the Amendment. Government itself violates the right to free assembly in many, many cases. After all this and more, the First Amendment is where most of our freedom resides, and is nominally still respected--at least when it's convenient to do so.
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Freedom-loving individuals face a constant battle against government to keep this Amendment intact. There are thousands of (unConstitutional) laws that limit the right to arm and defend oneself, and more limitations appear fairly often, but the Amendment stands. Many individuals keep illegal weapons surreptitiously, in defiance of these illegal laws, within their rights as individuals. More power to 'em!
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law.
While the government takes more than enough money to supply our military with quarters, it could be suggested that, since they've militarized the nation's police agencies, separated them from the general population and started referring to them as other than civilians, the case can easily be made that they become an army, quartered among us. No law-abiding American feared the beat cop in blue; everyone fears those nazi-esque storm troopers in black armor that pop up at virtually any excuse (remember the Democrat and Republican Party Conventions a little over a year ago?) and terrorize neighborhoods. That's the steep part of a very slippery slope.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized.
Well, what can I say? This one has been so roundly violated that it might as well be stricken from the document. The real violations came with the so-called War on Drugs. Violations have increased by orders of magnitude with the addition of the horribly misnamed War on Terror--the portions of which are directed against the population of the United States. Search warrants are mass-produced in tear-off pads, already signed and sealed. Objects of the warrants are forbidden to disclose that they've been served (if, of course, they were actually told about the search themselves!).
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, of property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
The main difficulties here are with government's (both police and the courts) utter disregard for due process, particularly in drug and other contraband prosecutions and more recently, in the cases arising from the "War on Terror." Pundits and government spokesmen cite the urgency of the situation, but thrashing through the rights of both alleged violators of the (not usually rational) law, and uninvolved bystanders, is no substitute for good police work.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed; which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witrnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
The speedy trial has gone out the window many decades ago. As the number of (mostly irrational) possibilities of violations of the sensibilities of the government increases exponentially, and the numbers of accused criminals mounts alongside, pressure on the courts to handle these cases, along with the demands of attorneys, means an accused individual might wait years with a sword over his head before the arrival of his day in court. Government-inspired irregularities caused by inconsistencies between the law and the Constitution generally go in favor of law enforcement, at the expense of the individual.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Thanks to government's inflation of the money supply, particularly over the past eighty years or so, twenty dollars doesn't mean much anymore. Nonetheless, the right to a jury trial has become more difficult and tenuous--particularly in cases in which government is the plaintiff. Judges and prosecutors practice jury tampering routinely, lying to juries about their legal responsibilities, prerogatives under the law, and duties.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Setting of bail has deteriorated to an amount based upon the ability of the accused to pay, rather than the severity of the crime, as often do fines imposed. This had largely come about as a result of the so-called "War on Drugs."
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or desparage others retained by the prople.
When conservative pundits proclaim that there is no right to privacy, they're dead wrong. This Amendment is where that right (among others) resides. The source of the denial of the right to privacy began with the unConstitutional beginning of the federal income taxes (Amendment XVI doesn't even begin to address the Constitutional problems of this imposition) and carrries through to include any personal information the individual doesn't want known by government. Government's seeking out of private information released by the individual to private concerns for private purposes is as unConstitutional as their raiding and searching that person's home and effects without a duly executed warrant.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
What this catchall Amendment tells us is that government can do nothing, except what is specifically enumerated in the Constitution. Nothing. When the infamous and illegal Federal Bureau of Investigation was founded, the proper thing to ask was, "does the Constitution authorize the founding of a national police force?" No, it doesn't. Nor does the Constitution authorize any of the many other national police agencies that have been illegally created in the past few decades. Nor FEMA. Nor the Dept of Education. Nor any of the other big-spending bureaucracies created by various would-be dictators in Washington DC. The authorizations might be achieved by Constitutional Amendment, but wasn't. Laws might be implemented to allow easier communication and cooperation between the police departments of the cities and states, and private crime laboratories could be used for the sophisticated investigations. Private charities and accreditation firms might take on most of these other tasks, as well. Unfortunately for the constantly overburdened taxpayer, that was not the way government, in its compulsive desire to grow and involve itself in private affairs, decided to go.
Thus, I plan to mumble many obscenities on the 15th day of December, as I reflect upon freedom lost. I'll wear my Scott Beiser "Bill of Rights Enforcement" t-shirt, and generally be a pain in the ass to all, on the subject. May Thomas Paine have mercy on my soul.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
Friday, December 02, 2005
The Holiday Which Shall Not Be Named
As the PC gang attempts to generically rename everything that has a "white American" or "white European" name or tradition, in its self-destructive rush to destroy anything that reminds the world of Euro-American and particularly American mastery of nature and the happiness and well-being of the individual, we see, among many other things, an attempted denial of our many heroes, climactic events and traditions. Government schools (aka children's prisons) downplay or eliminate the teaching of history, particularly the parts of it of which Euro-Americans can be and ought to be most proud. Many US government children's prisons start the teaching of US history with the War Between the States--its PC name: the "Civil" War, and the reconstruction. That is, they start US History with the beginnings of the expansion of the federal government.
The segment of PC of which I speak today, however, is the renaming and general denouncement of the favorite holiday of many, particularly christians: Christmas. Christmas is, on the one hand, a celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The giving involved is said to commemorate the gifts brought by the three Magi kings and others to Jesus on the day of his birth. I have no idea how much of this story is historically accurate, but I conditionally accept it that far (and not much farther). On the other hand, an older celebration is the pagan observance of winter solstice. Jews observe Hannukah in the same time period and Black Americans have popped out with a largely irrelevant celebration they call Quanzaa, not to be outdone.
Thanks to the PC gang, everyone has to give extra thought to whether and how they publicly celebrate the season. Childrens' prisons have to be careful about the nature of their Christmas pageants, and many convert the shows in which the students participate to generic celebrations of....nothing in particular. Others eschew such celebrations entirely. Merchants wonder how to advertise. Nativity Scenes can no longer be placed in public areas (ok, so maybe that's all right--there is, after all, the Establishment Clause, with which I agree), and we have to ask whether the tree is a Christmas tree or a Holiday tree. And whether we'll be sued by the ACLU if we make the wrong choice.
My celebration of the season notes the significance of winter solstice: the shortest day of the year and the beginning of lengthening days--and an anticipation of the arrival of spring, but really centers on the uniquely American celebration of Immaculate Consumption. We give because we can. We like to give neat things to our loved ones and we like them to see the degree of our success. I like to get together with friends and family during the period surrounding Christmas and New Year's Day. I don't usually get gifts for many, mainly the kids, but I enjoy the get-togethers, the food, the drink (in moderate quantities, of course) and all of the extravagance that goes with it.
What the PC gang seems to dislike is our affluence. They dislike success. In the end, they dislike life. Perhaps the roots of the so-called "War on Christmas" originate with that.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!