Pragmatic Libertarianism

  • Is there any reason?

    How come the only thing the government seems capable of doing with any competence is spying on and tracking ordinary citizens with nothing to hide?  Terror plots are foiled by incompetence on the terrorist rather than the deftness of the security.  The government is at a loss to find the illegal aliens that are violating our laws, and that is to say nothing of how resilient the “resistance” is to the war on drugs.

    When they block FOIA for “national security” it is almost certainly to avoid showing how utterly incompetent they are at finding people that spend more than 5 minutes trying not to be found.  Google probably has a better idea where the illegal aliens, drug mules, street dealers, etc are than the government.  But why should ordinary citzens suffer when the government has no particular interest in serving anymore?

    Just as a matter of protection we should have open access to everything it does.  However, they are using methodologies strait out of the 1800s.  In this day and age it is absolutely asinine to have FOIA the way it is.  By default every e-mail, document, memo, doodle on a napkin made by a government employee should be dumped into a searchable database within 6 months, unless the government wants to impanel a jury of ordinary citizens to review the material and authorize that it be kept secret for a period of 5 years, which the government would then have the option of renewing every 5 years to a maximum of 20 with a different jury.

     



  • Beauty Standards, Now versus Then

    Somebody got it in their head that going back through famous paintings out of the 1400’s and altering them to meet today’s beauty standards would be a good idea.  This has naturally lead to comments along the lines of “ these nudes wouldn’t be considered paintable by today’s standards. And that today’s standards are stupid.”  To which I respond to the first with a resounding no doubt, and to the second with a “you must be trying to bed a feminist”.

    Putting aside the modern conveniences of cosmetics, including surgery, and the technical such as Photoshop, today’s women simply outclass those from 500-600 years ago.  That is just the nature of the modern world.  Things like better nutrition, less disfigurement due to disease, and less exposure to the elements play a huge part on improving beauty of today’s women.  Times were rough back then and 90% of the women out there were engaged in manual labor from sun up to sun down.  Outside the wealthy merchant class or the nobility the toll on the body began at 7 or 8 not the late teens.  In fact most women were pregnant by the mid-teens back then leaving a very short window in which everything was tight, so to speak.  No doubt the reason for many of the relatively slender nudes save for the post-pregnancy pouch was because many of them were in fact post pregnancy.  With a mean first child age of 28+ in Western Europe the window of opportunity also increases.

    The second reason why today’s subjects of beauty outclass those of the past in terms of looks is just math.  There are 10 times as many Europeans walking around the continent today than when those painters were painting.  Moreover, communication has moved past the horse and sailboat stage.  So if you are looking for the top 1% in beauty instead of 400,000 women there are no 4 million, and they are easier to find.



  • Class Distinction

    Middle class is an outdated term and is used to encompass pretty much everybody that gets 90%+ of their income from their job. In practice however, the societal breakdown looks something like:

    0-5% – mentally incapable of functioning.

    5-20% -the poor. A high degree of lazy coupled with lower levels of intelligence, those suffering black swan events

    20-40% – the working class. Those just starting out, debt slaves, or lower levels of intelligence coupled with a decent work ethic

    40-85% – the middle class.  Slow wealth accumulation that takes a lifetime, modest luxury.

    85-98% – the affluent.  Substantial luxury, capable of wealth creation

    98-99.9% – the rich.  Allows for constant luxury or exceptionally fast wealth creation, typically this group generates substantial unearned income.

    0.1% – the owners.

    This is in stark contrast to what politicians mean when they say the following terms.

    Poor – the bottom 20% if you are the GOP, anybody in the bottom 40% without a job if Dem.

    Working class – 20-40% GOP, democrat anybody in the bottom 40% with a job

    Middle class – 40-97% if you are GOP, 20-80% if you are a democrat

    Rich – top 2% GOP, top 20% democrat

    Keep these distinctions in mind when you hear somebody propose legislation.



  • Beauty Standards

    This morphing video is fascinating in the amount of work that could be done to transform a female of 4-5 into 7-8 and then using Photoshop to push her all the way up to 10 on the beauty scale.  I take issue with the caption however.

    It is not our standards of beauty that are ridiculous.  Difficulty and rarity are not metrics by which one should judge ridiculousness.  Take quarterbacking in the NFL for example.  Our standards for the perfect quarterback are made no more ridiculous by the fact that there aren’t any perfect quarterbacks.  In fact, there are only a handful of elite quarterbacks in any generation that come even close.  The difference however is that one cannot fake elite quarterback play the way one can fake high quality beauty.  And that is where I feel this video is incredibly important for women and that the caption could be fixed by adding the word “obtainable”.

    “See Why We Have An Absolutely Ridiculous Standard Of Obtainable Beauty In Just 37 Seconds”

    As is clearly demonstrated in this video, most the ads you see in magazines have a team of professionals working to make the model look as best as possible, and then Photoshop is used to take it the rest of the way.  This is of course by design because if one believed that being a 9 or 10 were impossible; one would be less inclined to try, and its the trying that is a 100+ billion dollar a year industry.



  • Can’t they find a better victim?

    Contrary to its author’s belief, this is an example of why Obamacare shouldn’t exist.  This isn’t a guy who did everything right, he is a guy that willfully made bad choices.  And not only does Mr. Kristof feel that this man deserves to be spared the consequences of his actions, he feels that it is our obligation to pay for it.  There is a flip side to Kristof stance that is necessary in order to preserve the fundamental fairness he so desperately desires.  If society has a duty to cover your hardship, then you have a duty to minimize your hardship.  But it is patently obvious from the article that this did not happen.

    First, Mr. Streeter isn’t somebody who is poor and on Medicaid.  He is an able bodied adult who could afford some level of coverage, he just chose not to.  His excuse was that as a lifelong smoker he couldn’t afford the smokers premium.  But that was 2008.  He had 4+ years to quit smoking and get the normal premium.  Not only that, Mr. Streeter didn’t even bother to put in a vault the money he saved not buying normal premiums.

    We aren’t talking chump change here.  The premium on a healthy adult male in his 40’s runs ~$200 a month.  That means he should come into 2013 with over $10,000 saved up.   Is that going to cover his cancer? Not likely, but it does mean he goes sees the doctor when he starts to feel the symptoms and gets the colonoscopy in time to do something about it.  At which point he can think about his options such as debt financing, raiding retirement funds, falling off on to public aid, charity from friends, family, and church, etc.

    It is important to note that there is a truly horrible tragedy going on in this story.  Mr. Streeter is a lifelong smoker, which means he has been smoking since the mid 80’s.  In the late 90’s the states entered into a master settlement with the tobacco companies that paid the states hundreds of billions, but also barred private action.  As such the states should be on the hook for the smoker premium for everybody that was smoking prior to the late 90’s but they spent that money on other vote buying schemes, and avoiding tough decisions about governance.  In a further kick in the nuts to the smoking community they upped the taxes on tobacco justifying it primary as a means to pay for the state’s additional healthcare costs, but that also is a big fat lie.  So the money that was supposed to take care of this guy was collected by our beloved governments not once but twice, they just spent it on their favored constituents of which he isn’t.  That sounds suspiciously like what is going on in Obamacare, but this time it will be different…



  • Oddities of the French Law

    Posted on by JM

    This is an old article, but I think it is worth exploring.  The short of it is, that a judge ruled that a man was supposed to have sex with his wife more than he did over the course of their 21-year marriage and ordered him to pay ~$12,000 in compensation for the diminished amount of sex the wife received.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne … f-sex.html

    While this is french nonsense. The lawyer in me has a few follow up questions. No doubt these will be expanded on in years to come…

    1) How does this square with the rape laws? Presumably the man had all the consenual sex with his wife that they could mutually agree upon. Any more than that would constitute rape. Thus isn’t the woman being rewarded because she refrained from raping her husband? and the husband being fined for not raping his wife?

    2) In light of the potential for increasing incidents of rape, was the reward sufficiently discounted by times where he was in the mood and she wasn’t?

    3) Is there an absolute number, such that a man could preform his acts in a single year and never have to provide sex again? If there is a min. annual amount is there a carry over from prior periods? or is it a trailing average? Is the relative attractiveness of the the participants a factor in how much sex is required? What about age? relative opportunity?

    4) Is quanity the only benchmark or is quality a factor? Can the man for instance be a passive participant just allowing woman on top to meet his “burden of sex” or must he also provide some degree of thrusting and or caressing? Is it a requirement that she achieve orgasim? Is penetration required or are oral/manual stimulation acceptable?

    5) If penetration is required how does that square against the mans rights to not concieve a child using the only form of birth control that is 100% effective? Is he allowed to disengage if he even feels like he is getting close? Would the enhanced frustration of the wife felt in such an abrupt stop aggravate the quality issue?

    6) Given that a man has a right to conception which he is apparently forfeiting with marriage under these rules, does he in exchange gain reproductive rights in his wife?



  • Pandering Reps or Just Insane

    Posted on by JM

    My Congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill) gave a speech not long ago at some woman power fundraiser.  The quote of ire being:

    Today I am asserting that humanity is at a crossroads on this small planet and that our survival as a species is dependent on women taking charge, taking the world in our own hands. I really do believe that we are at a tipping point from which there could be no turning back — a turning point that the traditional male hierarchy of the world ignores at their own peril. A peril that puts us all in the unacceptable danger — actually of extinction, so let us begin the era of the woman.

    For starters, I don’t exactly get the idea that she has listened to my interests and attempted to weigh them against the interests of the rest of the people she represents.

    Second, it appears to me, that if one were genuinely worried about extinction the first step would be to stop aborting our young.  This would be followed closely by stop encouraging women to delay marriage and conception thereby reducing their fertility window.  These aren’t the steps that Ms. Schakowsky has in mind however.

    Third, if feminism really is supposed to mean equality for all, how is the upcoming age supposed to be the era of woman?  Shouldn’t it be the era of equality?  The obvious answer is that feminism doesn’t actually mean equality for all.  That has been true for some while which is why younger women are abandoning the term.  The truth is that modern feminism is about letting women do whatever they want and then not judging them on their actions or the consequences that stem from those actions.  If anything is going to lead to extinction that seems to be it.  So Ms. Schakowskey is right in a sense.  The male hierarchy, in whatever form it actually exists, has been ignoring the problem.

    Lastly, she picked a really good week to say something insane.  On that note is anybody watching the alphabet soup or congress to make sure they aren’t also doing something insane?



  • On the Housework Thing

    Posted on by JM

    Just as an experiment write down all the chores you think are house work

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    Does your list include any of the following:

    • Anything that requires a screwdriver, hammer, putty knife, ladder, saw or power tool
    • Anything that requires a person to lift something heavier than 20 pounds
    • Anything involving being outside (such as mowing grass, raking, or shoveling snow)
    • Anything involving numbers (financial planning, taxes, bookkeeping)

     

    Now answer this, is the division of labor in your household still skewed as badly as you think?



  • Paying People to Eat Better

    Posted on by JM

    The NYTimes has an oped stating that the way to get people eat healthier at home is to pay people to eat at home, or for housework generally.  This is insane both as a means of making us healthier and as feminist nanny state coddling.

    First off we provide the poor with EBT cards so they can live on something other than ramen.  But in proverbial horse to water fashion they spend it on chips and pastries rather than nutritional food.  Granted this isn’t exactly the same as paying them to bust out their cutting boards and turn on their stoves, but how does one actually plan on policing the house work? Track their receipts? Analyze their urine for dietary changes? Examine their smart meters to see if the stove or dishwasher was used?  And that is generally the problem with paying the stay at home parent a wage even if it was a good idea, which it isn’t.

    There is widespread abuse in every government program, because people no longer are ashamed of being on those programs and they feel entitled to the benefits.  It helps that they can rationalize it as not stealing because they aren’t even taking it from the taxpayers anymore with us borrowing about 1/3rd of what we spend.  In truth, however, that is how government wants us to think about government because the more we accept government the more government they can sell us later.  But the result is, with no viable means of keeping people honest, we are just going to be paying people to do whatever they want to do.

    Very few people don’t have the time.  Sure there are a few days a month where you can’t find the time, but unless you are regularly pulling 12.5 hour days (including travel time) you really do have the time to cook, clean and manage your house.  It is just that the TV, Internet, or perhaps even your kids are more enjoyable.  In fact, the way to get people doing more housework and outdoor activity wouldn’t be to pay them, it would be to tax their data usage and electric consumption for nonconforming appliance (aka TV, PS3) etc. like tobacco which you could ferret out if you in fact had smart meters installed on their homes.

    This brings me to my last gripe about the article, which is the concept of house work not being appreciated and needing payment.  No house work is not appreciated in the general sense, and really it shouldn’t be.  House work is the same as basic hygiene and dressing for the weather.  There are min. thresholds necessary for functioning but above that it is more about individual comfort levels.  Nobody should be paid for keeping themselves functional, and if you think that is a good idea then you might as well just hand people a check for being alive.  Getting paid to do something that others want to be done is appreciated because it moves beyond just keeping yourself functional into genuine productivity.

    That being said, just because generally I shouldn’t appreciate house work, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t appreciate housework when it is done for me as it reduces my burden on maintaining myself.  And really that is the way it ought to be because as soon as people start sticking dollar values on it all of a sudden there is $100-200,000 of untaxed income inside my household and the IRS will start licking its chops.



  • The Government and You

    Posted on by JM

    The apology from the IRS didn’t really mean anything because the “rogue” agents weren’t being fired (and really they should serve lots of jail time).  But as it turns out the only reason the IRS apologized is because the Inspector General caught them and is releasing a report to Congress.

    None of this is of course a surprise to anybody.  After all a GOP supporter on Obama’s Enemies List was audited not just by the IRS but the Dept of Labor as well within a couple months of each other.  I am sure it was a coincidence even with the probability of such running in the hundreds of millions if not billions.  Its not like Obama has ever publicly said that sort of thing should happen.

    But the biggest problem with dealing with the IRS is that they have resources that aren’t even available to multimillionaires, and there isn’t a whole lot you can do if they want to freeze your money and dare you to get it back.  In a just world such behavior wouldn’t be allowed, but then cheating the government is truly the most heinous crime imaginable.  As order must be maintained so justice might have to take a back seat every now and then.

    It is the same reason the government shut down Boston.  Two jihadists, or wannabe jihadists embarrassed the American Intelligence Community after multiple warnings and that sort of thing is unacceptable.  The government will do whatever it takes even if it has to burn the Constitution in order to accomplish it.  If you somehow think that is an overreaction I invite you to compare the body count from Boston to a weekend in Chicago, Detroit, or NYC.  But the bombers were still a threat!!! So are the Latin Kings, Gangster Disciples, etc.  But the gangs in a perverted sense help maintain order and do their killings in politically useful ways (ie. with guns).