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Hiding Behind the Rules

Craig Newmark has an excellent post about the inherent flaws in government regulation of commerce, and those who put their faith in regulators (re-quoting his quotes…go read the whole thing):

…it’s hard to think of a recent disaster in the business world that wasn’t abetted by inept regulation. Mining regulators allowed operators like Massey Energy to flout safety rules. Financial regulators let A.I.G. write more than half a trillion dollars of credit-default protection without making a noise. The S.E.C. failed to spot the frauds at Enron and WorldCom, gave Bernie Madoff a clean bill of health…

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Selecting Perception

From an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal comes a stark illustration of how Big Media works according to a narrative:

In news reporting, it's not unusual to encounter constructions such as this AP dispatch from the presidential campaign about Sarah Palin: "She has worshipped at a nondenominational Bible church since 2002, opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and supports classroom discussions about creationism."

That's fair as far as it goes. Just once, however, wouldn't it be interesting to see a leading newspaper write something like, "Nancy Pelosi, who opposes any restrictions on abortion, even in cases where a pregnant minor is taken across state lines without a parent's permission or where the fetus is halfway out the mother"?

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Voting on What to Steal

A recurring thought which I hope to develop someday…

Americans are trained to worship democracy. But the brilliance behind the U.S. Consititution is not that some most people get a vote. The true political innovation was that the Founders put limits on what government could do. Those limits mean the people do not get to vote on everything.

We’ve all become accumstomed to having our opinions catered to. Although the elected politicians almost universally fail our expectations, they still invoke the rituals of democratic religion. Those who wish to sell us goods ask our opinion both as a method of improving their product and as a sales technique. Once we are engaged, we are open to persuasion.

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Does Marriage Matter?

TJIC suggests that a rise in out-of-wedlock births correlates to a decline in civilization.

A commenter counters that marriage, which makes births “legitimate”, is a function of class and custom. Civilization has progressed even as legitimacy fluctuated, so the correlation does not mean what TJIC thinks it means.

I chimed in:

It’s not the state endorsement [of formal marriage] that matters. That endorsement, like the religious endorsement, strongly suggests that the parties have considered the depth of the obligation they are entering. The religious sanction still usually means the parties have deeply considered their choice. The underlying issue is personal integrity.

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Panopticopolis

The City Assessor is photographing every property in Minneapolis:

The purpose of this project is to help improve the overall quality and accuracy of property appraisals in Minneapolis and to allow the Assessor’s Office to fine tune its property data, by confirming property addresses and other information about the structure/s on a given property.

Additionally, these photographs will have a number of public safety purposes including:

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Your Government Gassed Babies

We heard a lot about evil Republicans and their willingness to use torture to protect Americans against terrorism. It seems many have forgotten that the same government, under Democrat leadership, used terrorism and tortured American children near Waco in 1993:

CS gas was used at the compound, in order, as senior White House adviser George Stephanopoulos said, echoing senior Justice Department statements, to “try and pressure” those in the compound. It was hoped, he said, that as this “pressure was increased, the maternal instincts of the mothers might take over and they might try to leave with their kids” (Washington Times, April 23, 1995).

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Nothing to be Proud Of

The stereotype of the Catholic church as haven for perverts has no basis in fact:

Since the mid-1980s, insurance companies have offered sexual misconduct coverage as a rider on liability insurance, and their own studies indicate that Catholic churches are not higher risk than other congregations. Insurance companies that cover all denominations, such as Guide One Center for Risk Management, which has more than 40,000 church clients, does not charge Catholic churches higher premiums. "We don't see vast difference in the incidence rate between one denomination and another," says Sarah Buckley, assistant vice president of corporate communications. "It's pretty even across the denominations." It's been that way for decades.

Every group has a share of abusers. Catholics are not an exception, neither worse nor better than anyone else. They are a big group, so the raw numbers may lead to more frequent headlines. The Church of the SubGenius for example, with maybe 10,000 members, just will not include that many pederasts or yield many headlines about abuse.

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Treason

The current President has decided his government can kill U.S. Citizens without trial:

The Obama administration has authorized operations to capture or kill a U.S.-born Muslim cleric based in Yemen, who is described by a key lawmaker as America's top terrorist threat, officials said on Tuesday.

The decision to add Anwar al-Awlaki, of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, to the target list followed a National Security Council review prompted by his status as a U.S. citizen.

Officials said Awlaki directly threatened the United States. "Awlaki is a proven threat," said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "He's being targeted."

The 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stipulates:

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A Statute Declaring the Existence of Unicorns

It’s easy to reduce the deficit, drop tax rates, and provide better services to more people. I could do all three at once.

Just mandate that people buy that better service and tax any non-government providers of it.

Et, voila!

Economically, we’re worse off. But financially, the government looks like gold.

Imagine the only kind of car legal to be owned and sold was a Cadillac. And that every adult had to buy one.

General Motors would be immensely profitable. And all that profit could be spent paying down GM’s debt. Or the government could take it to pay for other services, leaving GM at break-even (although with enough for lavish executive lifestyles, luxurious labor contracts and robust lobbying endowments).

Meanwhile, taxes could be reduced, as there would be no need for communal transport. And sales tax collection would be up with all those people buying expensive cars.

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The Eve of Civil War?

Tomorrow Congress is expected to use its own rules to pass a health care bill that has not yet been written. If this happens, we are no longer a nation of laws.

A nation where law is subordinate to government is tyranny. And windows will be broken:

When the Sons of Liberty wanted to express their opposition to the actions of the King's ministers, they would gather in front of the homes and offices of his tax-collectors and government officials in Boston or New York and break their windows.

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Rhetorical Theater

Remember, when you're debating with someone, always keep in mind that what you're really trying to do is teach the audience.

Quoted from: Difster (in a comment at Vox Popoli)

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Landlord Stifles Bill of Rights

Citizens in the U.S. are supposed to be protected from the government interfering with peaceable assemblies. We’re also supposed to be able to petition our government for redress. But a crafty landlord can use property law to nullify those principles:

The Jefferson Area Tea Party has been officially banned from the area around Congressman Tom Perriello’s office. The landlord of the building where Perriello’s office is located, Lisa Murphy, has convince the local officials that recent protests outside the office is negatively affecting the other tenants in the building.

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MN Supremes O.K. Punishing the Innocent

This ludicrous ruling turns our legal custom upside down:

If two Minnesotans own something together, and one of them commits a crime that causes that property to be seized, the innocent co-owner is not entitled to get it back, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled this week.

The case inolved a wife who was driving drunk. The husband argued that their vehicle should remain in his possession.

"The idea that someone who is completely, utterly innocent -- and the state never disputed that Mr. Laase was innocent -- can have their property taken away by the government is a scary thing," Karalus said.

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Barry Sidesteps Constitution

The U.S. Constitution empowers and limits the government to protect and defend rights. The particular rights, powers, and limits depend on whether a person is a citizen or just a person.

According to Article One, only Citizens can be elected to Congress. But the 6th Amendment dictates that all persons—not just citizens—are owed a speedy trial with an impartial jury.

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Somehow Relevant

It ain’t stealin’ if you do it fast.

Quoted from: Moe Szyslak

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Free-Market Regulation

Before the government became our collective nanny, insurance companies were primary defenders of our health and safety.

A house built to low standards, for example, would either be uninsurable or face premium surcharges. One might still build the shoddy house, but in case of fire, the loss would fall totally on the owner. And that owner would have to finance construction out-of-pocket, as no lender would make a loan against an uninsurable building.

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Original Sin

A discussion not worth linking to reminded me of an important point. Our courts do not declare anyone to be innocent. All a jury or judge can do is find someone to be “not guilty”.

The way our common mindset operates, being arrested taints a person’s reputation. An arrest may not lead to any formal charges, but the arrest is public record, and thanks to the internet, the taint is forever.

One who is formally charged suffers a stained reputation. Even if the court returns a verdict of not guilty, that person will not be regarded as possessing the same innocence of one who was not tried or never arrested.

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War is Defined by the Aggressor

A commenter on Neo-neocon’s post about granting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a trial in Manhattan broadens the view:

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Add an Epithet

I have been accused of being a birther. My accusers never seem to understand the established fact that the current President has a long-form birth certificate which he has never revealed to the public. I don’t agree with their high opinion of Barry, so they apparently feel a need to call me bad names.

Funny thing is, I’m not insulted. Others who challenge the facts of Barry’s birth seem more concerned with the conclusions and fallout should we eventually discover that Barack is exactly as African as he seems. I’m not jumping to those conclusions. I want better facts first.

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Equally Exclusive

Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.

Quoted from: Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty

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