Dissent of the Governed

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes

Is government legitimate?

The most recent results of an annual Rasmussen poll indicate that only 21% of Americans believe that their government has the consent of the governed. That result, with whatever weight it carries, suggests that a whopping 79% are not even positive that this government is legitimate.

This shouldn’t come to much surprise considering the state’s inflating track record of abuse and brutality. Take, for example, how it has sought to force millions of us, at the threat of escalated theft and violence, to purchase the health care plans of the equally-corrupt corporations that use government privilege to pillage and destroy the free market. Take the enormity of the so-called justice system which serves no purpose other than to wage war both against competing criminal firms and against completely innocent people whom they kidnap and hold for ransom. Take the notion that the state now spies on every single electronic communication of everyone in the world at every second of the day. Take the nightmarish reality that we’ve handed the power to eradicate the entire planet in an instant to complete psychopaths. We are witnessing police state, security state, welfare and warfare state fully unveil itself as a monstrous beast from hell. [Read more…]

Central Planning Fails in America

soviet nail

America’s victory over the Soviet Union represented the great triumph of the free market over central planning. Now, the state-run economy is making a hilarious comeback. Unfortunately, the joke’s on us.

I’m talking, of course, about the ongoing unraveling of the so-called Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare (or a myriad of other significantly less charitable permutations). After endless controversy, debate, speculation, and all-around conflict split mostly along partisan lines, the ACA’s website is finally up and doing its own talking. And boy oh boy, is it ever shaping up to be a disastrous, broken, Soviet-era retro failure.

Beginning with the first word in the ACA acronym: affordable. The purpose of this whole legislative monstrosity was to make healthcare affordable to everyday Americans. Never mind that putting the government (which is immune to the market forces of competition) in charge of making something affordable is as effective as assigning a toddler to protect the cookie supply. Sure enough, the less astute of us have been shocked to see their insurance premiums spike.

And how’s that $300 million monster of a website working out so far? Laughably. Badly enough to merit a congressional hearing. And the problems are only beginning. In fact, it would seem that the only thing Healthcare.gov is really good at is soliciting comparisons with decades-old outdated technology.

All this is eerily reminiscent of Soviet-era production mishaps. These were immortalized by the giant nail joke, which posited that factories, charged with meeting the government’s arbitrary production quotas, would uselessly fulfill requirements to produce a certain weight of nails by creating one giant nail. The same principles which led to the collapse of the Soviet economy still hold true. In a free market economy, goods and services are produced to meet the exact, ever-changing needs of millions of consumers, highly sensitive to keeping costs low and production efficient. A state-run economy, on the other hand, is largely shielded from these market signals. Asking the government to provide affordable, effective, universal healthcare is just plain ridiculous. Unless, of course, your real goal was to nostalgically relive the glorious failures of the U.S.S.R.

I’m all out of “In Soviet Russia” jokes. Don’t worry, though: Congress and the Obama administration have provided one of titanic proportions. And just like said Titanic, it looks like the Obamacare ship has a date with the proverbial bottom of the ocean.

Rule of Law(lessness)

constitution

We are fast approaching an uncanny moment in American history, thanks to the lawless, authoritarian ways of current President Barack Obama’s administration.

Now, please don’t take me for a bitter Republican still being a sore loser about the last two presidential elections, or an opportunist taking advantage of scandals and missteps by the Administration in order to feel politically astute, for I assure you I am neither. No, I’m fascinated by this situation because of what it means for the future of government. It could be a turning point in history as far as the nature of the nation-state… or its existence altogether.

The ever-astute, knowledgeable, principled Judge Andrew Napolitano chronicles the many ways in which the Obama administration increasingly flat-out disregards the law, including unilaterally delaying enforcement of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and spying on the entire American people. Most recently, a new arms shipment to an Egypt in turmoil blatantly defies current law, without more than a half-hearted attempt at justification.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a case of government establishing increasingly abusive laws. It’s a case of operating outside of legality altogether. And that’s huge, for two main reasons.

It heralds the end of limited government. The limitations placed on the U.S. Federal Government mean little if they are ignored. The only limitations it now respects are how much extralegal activity it can get away with without the people rising up.

It signifies that the people will no longer view the government as representative of their will. This byproduct of the first point is especially important because it means that the people will no longer look to the government to solve their problems. The state will be viewed as an obstacle rather than an ally, meaning all solutions to societal problems will be approached in spite of, rather than through, the state. Questioning the existence of the state altogether is just a short stop over.

What we will see in the future is a growing cold war between the American people and their government. More on that next time…

Recycling Interrupted

CRTs

This article originally appeared in Doublethink Magazine

Sometimes, when presented with a global problem, humanity comes together in a beautiful way to deal with the challenge while benefiting all. Other times, government regulation prevents the problem from being solved. This is a story of the latter.

Technology has advanced at a furious pace over the past several decades, rendering electronics obsolete after just a few years. The panicked frenzy to keep up with the latest technological advancements has produced a unique and challenging consideration: recycling. As electronic equipment that was once top-of-the line is discarded in favor of the latest and greatest, all that outdated hardware has to end up somewhere. Every environmentalist’s worst nightmare is gargantuan heaps of electronic waste ending up in landfills, sickening the planet as the piles grow higher everyday.

Enter the market. A scrappy group of eco-friendly entrepreneurs has risen to the challenge of handling discarded electronics without causing an ecological disaster. One such individual is Robin Ingenthron, whose Vermont-based company Good Point Recycling tackles the e-waste problem by collecting used electronics and ensuring that they are either refurbished or responsibly recycled. Ingenthron and his kind have found a way to simultaneously deal with this environmental problem and create jobs.

All this good, clean, environmentally-friendly fun does hit one small snag: Cathode Ray Tube, or CRT, monitors and televisions. This piece of technology has the nasty combination of being both outdated and notoriously difficult to recycle on account of the leaded glass it leaves behind. The difficulty of disposing of CRTs is only amplified by the popular demand to get rid of them, with flat-screen TVs and monitors taking their place. A few intrepid recyclers have developed means of removing the lead from CRT glass so that it may be recycled properly, but they are few and far between. [Read more…]

Transparency on Trial

bradley manning

Bradley Manning’s trial began yesterday. And our very future is at stake.

If you don’t know who Pfc. Manning is yet, now is the time to learn. After all, the embattled U.S. Army private’s future is directly linked to your own, wherever you may live. His struggle is our struggle. If he fails, our world will become considerably darker.

Bradley Manning is a U.S. Army private who is responsible for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to transparency organization extraordinaire WikiLeaks. He now stands trial for numerous charges which may lead to a lifetime of imprisonment for the young soldier. Judging from that summary, it would appear that Manning’s case is nothing but an internal issue for the American military, and therefore of no consequence to the rest of the country, or the world at large. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. You absolutely should care, because:

Manning exposed genuine war crimes, the most egregious of which is a now-infamous instance of an American helicopter callously murdering a group of civilians later revealed to be journalists working for Reuters. This reality as to the occupation of Iraq, and the greater so-called War on Terror, casts into doubt the validity of those conflicts entirely. The American people would likely never have supported such a conflict if they knew the entire truth.

The leaks have been “avenged” with a fury of dubious legality. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, since immediately following the leaks, has spent nearly a year hunkering down in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to stand trial. The allegations facing Assange? Rape. At best, the charges, even if true, were too conveniently-timed to have had nothing to do with the WikiLeaks case. At worst, it’s what Assange claims he intercepted British intelligence saying it was: a set-up. Bradley Manning has had it even worse, languishing in detention for years leading up to his trial, suffering cruel and illegal treatment before even having been convicted of anything. Note that neither of these two men lied, and the government they exposed is not even trying to justify its actions. It is simply trying to silence those who would bring its unjustifiable actions to light.

This case threatens to criminalize investigative journalism regarding government actions. Bradley Manning is being charged with aiding the enemy, based on the assumption that al-Qaeda could end up having access to the leaked information and subsequently use it against its sworn enemy, the United States. The link between making known to the taxpayer the misdeeds of U.S. military and aiding the enemy is tenuous at best. Not to mention the fact that the U.S. government itself, according to Senator Rand Paul, seems hell-bent on aiding al-Qaeda to further its aims in Syria.

This is not about treason. This is not about operational military privacy. This is about transparency. The question that the trial of Bradley Manning seeks to address is simple: Is the government the servant of, and therefore accountable to, the people?

That’s why you should care about the Bradley Manning case. Your right to recourse against government abuse, whether you are an American citizen or a Pakistani tribesman hoping not to get drone bombed, hangs in the balance.

Photo credit: Thierry Ehrmann