Free Form

"Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it." --Milton Friedman, R.I.P., 1912-2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

UPDATE: War on Drugs Claims the Life of a 92 Year Old Woman

I just read an update on the 92 year old lady that was murdered during the drug raid in Atlanta while she was sleeping. A drug informant that had previously said that he purchased drugs from the lady's house has now come forward and claims that the police involved made him say that in order to cover their asses.

In the end, a family's matriarch has lost her life. Someone must be held to account for the debacle and serious compensation must be made. This situation is a complete shame. Thanks can be given to the war on drugs and an out of control police force for this disaster.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

John Edwards: Hypocrisy Gone Wild

The Other America has hopefully forgiven John Edwards since he attempted to obtain a Playstation 3 from Big Wal -Mart.  Now, Mr. Edwards is attempting his penance by choosing to have a book signing at a NH Barnes & Noble instead of a nearby Wal-Mart.  This move will most definitely provide the Barnes & Noble with much appreciated revenue and allow him to continue his call for a nationwide boycott of Wal-Mart due to its low wages.  The ridiculous hypocrisy of this charade is that the added revenue created for Barnes & Noble will go to support entry level jobs that pay $7/hour, less than Wal-mart's rate of $7.50/hour. 

In a perfect world John Edwards would simply be an entertaining muse that celebrates his wedding anniversary at Wendy's .  However, the fact is that John Edwards and his Other America cabal threaten free enterprise and the liberty of all Americans by imposing their version of morality on the rest of society.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

War on Drugs Claims the Life of a 92 Year Old Woman

In one of the most egregious and dispicable results of the costly, worthless, and statist "war" on drugs a 92, yes NINETY-TWO, year old woman was gunned down in the middle of the night as undercover NARCs busted into her house to serve a drug search warrant.  To her credit, the woman went down defending herself and her property shooting at what she surely thoughts were intruders, harming three of the police officers.  

I cannot even imagine the horror felt by the elderly woman as the events unfolded much less the grief of the woman's family members who have to come to grips with the murder of a family member at the hands of an out of control police force prosecuting this ridiculous war on drugs.   The most frightening aspect of the story is that this is most likely not an uncommon practice where drug warrants are served on the wrong address or person resulting in the fatalities of innocent people.   The CATO Institute has an excellent interactive resource that maps botched paramilitary and SWAT style raids across the country, the results are chilling.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Please Forgive John Edwards

Dear Lord,

On behalf of that Other America that Mr. Edwards talks so much about, I ask you to forgive him.  He knew not what he did when he had a staffer request Wal-mart help him obtain a Play Station 3 instead of camping overnight like the mindless zombies that Big Electronics has managed to manipulate.  You alone know Mr. Edward's heart and know that he would never support a business whose labor practices are so horrific that thousands of people apply for only a few hundred jobs when a new Wal-mart is opened. 

He was merely used, drugged by capitalist marketing techniques, and forced to secure a PS3 for his 6 year old son, a PS3 that he did not know was not made or developed in the U.S.  The people of the Other America know that as a leader and fighter against oppression he must himself become like an oppressor, forcing his will on others.  Lord, please continue to give Mr. Edwards the strength to ignore the free choices and liberty of other individuals while he leads the revolution towards a true state of being free.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Control via Regulation in NYC

Recently, the largest residential property sale in history was completed when Tishman Speyer, in a joint venture with BlackRock Realty, purchased Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town for $5.4 billion.  While that news can make headlines in business and real estate journals, the ongoing issue about the sale is the ability of the new owners to bypass decades of rent control that has been maintained on the properties.  The classic rhetoric of "affordable housing advocates" was front and center in a recent Washington Post article about the sale:

 "But if we're not willing to use regulatory tools in a smart way, we won't have the city we want." -Brad Lander, the director of the Pratt Center for Community Development

Point well made, if Mr. Lander does not use the coercive force of government to control the actions of free people to make private contracts between one another, then, no, Mr. Lander and his motley crew of so called advocates that somehow speak for The Peopleā„¢ will not have the city they want. 

Without the regulatory nightmare of rent control NYC would not have such a large shortage in housing.  For your reading entertainment, a free economics lesson: 

1. The price of something is a way to allocate scare goods.

2. Housing is a scarce good.

3. By capping rents, housing rates are made to be artificially low and recklessly distort the supply of housing for two reasons:

A. Developers have no incentive to build new housing to meet demand because the increasing price indicator, which signals developers to build more units, is cut off due to the cap in rents and new housing is not built at a rate sufficient to meet demand.     

B. When the price of housing is lower than market rates people have no incentive to have roommates and/or consolidate there living space.  For example, a person is more likely to live alone if he/she can live in a rent controlled one-bedroom unit for $1,500/month versus a market rate of $3,000/month, which would more than likely require a roommate.  This effectively decreases the number of people per rental unit ratio and inevitably leads to housing shortages. 

 Here is a great article by the economist Thomas Sowell about rent control.   

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Failings of the Republicans

This is how I would rank the problems of the Republicans and why they lost last night:

They have been in power as a unified government too long. This has inevitbly led to the notion of wanting to stay in power solely for the sake of staying in power, as opposed to staying in power to reduce spending and limit government. There seems to be a tipping point where governments and parties come to power on change and reform only to eventually get sucked into the same system that hobbled the previous government or party.

Iraq. Here the Republicans have simply not confronted the President on the need for some type of change whether it is military strategy, investigations into the various charges of torture and abuse, or demanding the resignation of Rumsfeld. It is no surprise that most people are upset with the situation in Iraq and "staying the course" is not an adequate response.

3. Excessive spending and growth of government. A significant base of the Republican party are people who want lower taxes, smaller government, and less spending. On two of the three points those voters have been completely ignored. There was no incentive for that type of voter to vote Republican, especially considering the following chart from the Economist showing the spending increases that have happened under Bush:

4. Illegal immigration became was a huge red herring.
Republicans really thought that being hardcore on shutting down the borders only without making other necessary changes in our immigration system would bring out the votes, but in the 2 prominent competitive races where Republicans advocated a strict anti-immigration stance vs. a more comprehensive approach, the Republicans both lost, Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) and Randy Graf who was attempting to replace Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ). I have said this for a while now and that is that the anti-immigration Tancredo (R-CO) types are a loud obnoxious minority in the Republican party that are given way too much credibility.

In the end, the Republicans deserved to loose, hopefully it shakes things up and makes them realize that advocating limited government is what brought them to power in the first place and the ensuing gridlock will simply prevent the government from doing anything, which is probably the best possible outcome.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Liberty, Libertarians, and the Lesser of Two Evils

Election season is here in less than two weeks and libertarians are faced with a very mediocre/depressing set of choices between the two major parties and their respective nominees.  This inevitably fuels the fire of apathy and/or cynicism leading one to not vote, or it forces the eventual voter to decide which candidate would be a better friend of individual freedoms and liberty.  I have chosen to stay engaged and vote regardless of the choices, writing myself in when necessary.  Therefore, I must somehow decide which candidate is the lesser of two evils. 

The most realistic scenario libertarians can hope for is one of the two following: A Republican who strongly advocates free markets and economic freedom and is "generally" favorable to protecting civil liberties but will likely cave in to party demands on occasion versus a Democrat who is a crusader for civil liberties and respects the free market in general but is not philosophically committed to it. 

My general theory is that economic freedom serves as necessary precursor and defender of civil liberties because it allows power to be distributed, via wealth accumulation, to entities other than the state.   This type of power distribution is also relevant in relation to the right to bear arms, which happens to be the one civil liberty that civil libertarian Democrats usually do not recognize (I am using the ACLU as a reference to civil libertarian Democrats).  Under my general theory of power distribution a candidate who is a civil libertarian Democrat offers no way for individual actors to be a counter balance to excessive state power except by continuing to vote for him or her.  While a free market Republican (I use Milton Friedman as a reference to free market Republicans) will also usually support the right to bear arms giving individual actors two ways to counter excessive intrusion into personal matters. 

Obviously, there can be exceptions to my "most realistic" scenarios where a civil libertarian democrat strongly supports gun rights (supposedly this is the case with Jim Webb in Virginia and Jon Tester in Montana but Webb does not even mention gun rights on his campaign site in contrast to Tester) or a free market Republican that strongly supports civil liberties, such as Congressman Ron Paul.  However, in this case you still have pro-gun civil libertarian Democrats that lean populist on economics versus a libertarian who runs for congress as a Republican.  In the end I have concluded that there is no hope of a libertarian finding a voice in today's Democratic party (see the running debate at Cato Unbound) while a libertarian can at least exist, if only marginally, in the Republican party.  When given a "most realistic" scenario the lesser of two evils for me ends up being the Republican; however, when given a choice between populists and social conservatives (where neither support economic freedom), I am not able to logically distinguish a lesser of the two evils and Tip Tucker suddenly announces his candidacy.

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