Thursday, December 27, 2012

Another Sandy Hook cannot be prevented by the State

It must be We the People who protect ourselves, our children, and the children of our neighbors, just as the state's giant security apparatus failed to stop the shoe bomber or the underwear bomber, and citizens succeeded.  If we are to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook, we must be willing to act as these brave civilians did, and we must be empowered to do so.

With this in mind, I suggest a we implement a federal level Unrestricted Concealed Carry law - all handgun owners may carry concealed at any time in any public place, except police stations, courts, and jails.  This law will ban "Gun Free Zones" at all other public properties - again, excepting police stations, courts, and jails.  It will be enforced via the 2nd and 14th Amendments and the supremacy clause, and thus would preempt any and all state law with regards to the carrying of firearms.

Furthermore, this law should state explicitly that private property owners have the right to designate their property as "gun free zones," and that if they do so they are fully responsible for the protection of their visitors and patrons and are fully liable for any injury sustained during an act of violence - with no exceptions.

I'm also interested in some kind of regularly provided shooting practice for handgun owners, but not quite sure how to implement it.  Perhaps the National Guards can be reverted to state militias and all citizens can train through them.

Update:
Such an excellent letter dug up by the Smallest Minority:
Freedom takes practice...
It's not just that rights are useless if they are not exercised, not even that rights must be used or be lost. It's that exercising your rights, constantly, is what instructs you in how to be worthy of them.

Being armed goes far beyond simple self-protection against thugs or even tyrants - it's an unequivocal and unmatched lesson that you are politically and morally sovereign; that you, and not the state, are responsible for your life and your fate. This absolute personal sovereignty is the founding stone of the Republic.
"A well-regulated militia" (where the militia is "the whole people") isn't just "necessary to the security of a free state" because it provides a backup to (and defense against) the police and the army. More importantly, keeping and bearing arms trains sovereign citizens in the art of freedom, and accustoms us to our authority and duty.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Voltaire!

Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort.

It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong.  Simple and profound, Voltaire explains in one sentence the danger faced by dissenters in the presense of a powerful, authoritarian central government.  Bradley Manning found out just how dangerous it can be.  So will many of us bloggers, if the oligarchy gets it's way.

Happy Birthday Voltaire, you were a true visionary.

Housing starts are bouncing back nicely!

Or so says a poster on one of the forums I frequent, referring to the news reports about same.  Captain Capitalism disagrees, pointing out that the reported "surge" in housing starts is a simple statistical manipulation of the data reported by the St. Louis Fed.  In fact all you need to do is limit the dataset and it paints a grand picture. 

Here is the surge that the oligarchs and their lackeys are proffering:



That certainly is a promising looking graph, and might make you feel good about the FED's MBS purchases (QE3 forever) and the actions of the federal government, but if you show all of the data, will you still feel that way?  What does it look like when you take off the limiter?



Owch, that sure looks like we're sitting square at the bottom, barely matching the lowest starts of the last 60 years worth of monthly starts.  When you take the same data but sum it up annually, it is even more telling.



So, is this a surge?  Or are we looking at the lowest number of housing starts since the FED started collecting the data?

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Constitution has no teeth

Without teeth the Constitution is just a piece of paper, conveniently ignored by the oligarchs and neither understood or studied by the people.  Some say the 2nd Amendment is what provides the teeth, and fundamentally I agree, but when your population has become so numb and dumb, what good are such a dull set of teeth?  We need real teeth.  Instead of relying on the vigilance of the population, the Constitution should be loaded with high-tension bear traps to catch politicians and prevent their tyranny.

As you know I've had lots of ideas for Constitutional Amendments.  Have a look, and tell me what you think.  Send me some of your own ideas too.

  • A Constitutional Amendment to require an annual balanced budget
  • A Constitutional Amendment to clarify the Necessary and Proper Clause
  • A Constitutional Amendment to define the term "General Welfare"
  • A Constitutional Amendment to prohibit Line Item Vetos, Signing Statements, and to Clarify Limits on Executive Orders
  • A Constitutional Amendment to clarify the terms of and to amend the Commerce Clause
  • A Constitutional Amendment to strengthen the Second Amendment
  • A Constitutional Amendment to strengthen the Tenth Amendment
  • A Constitutional Amendment to restore sovereignty to the States
 
 
  • A Constitutional Amendment to strengthen the Ninth Amendment
  • A Constitutional Amendment to clarify the Supremacy Clause
  • A Constitutional Amendment to bind Senators and Representatives to the Rule of Law
  • A Constitutional Amendment to expand the definition of Treason
  • A Constitutional Amendment to Codify Jury Nullification
  • A Constitutional Amendment to Strengthen Habeas Corpus
 
 
  • A Constitutional Amendment to restrict growth of government
 
 
  • A Constitutional Amendment to tie borrowing to tax increases

 
  • A Constitutional Amendment to Prevent Unread bills from becoming Law
  • A Constitutional Amendment to Limit the terms of elected officials
 
 
  • Ideas for budget reforms.  About $1 trillion in cuts.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Please support Detective Ali Perez and his family

Update:
The bake sale was a great success, pulling in a little over $500 in half an afternoon.  Thank you to everyone who participated, and thanks again to anyone who has donated. :)

***

My cousin Ali is a Detective with the San Diego Sheriffs.  Unfortunately, last month while arresting a child molestor he was shot in the shoulder and abdomen.  He's recovering well, but the family needs some help, as he's lost his overtime and his wife stopped working to stay with him in the hospital.  You can read about it here, here, and hereThis is the Deputy Sheriff's Association press release.

What we're going to do hold a bake sale to support the family. It's going to be held at Ali's and Gracie's Church, The Rock Church 2277 Rosecrans Street, San Diego, CA 92106 Room 232 from 12 PM to 3 PM on Saturday, November 10th.

If you're in the neighborhood, please come!  If you don't live nearby, please consider donating. The Deputy Sheriffs’ Association has set up an account for his family through San Diego County Credit Union, under “Detective Ali Perez Support Fund.” You can call the DSA Office at (858) 486-9009 x 100 to make a donation with a credit card.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Entitlements

In an earlier post I talked about cutting spending to reduce the deficit.  I put together a list of suggestions that would reduce the deficit by at least eight hundred billion dollars.

  • End all wars and military operations in the Middle East, Asia (Korea, Japan, etc), Europe (Germany, France, Poland, Italy, etc), Africa, and South America. Permanently shutter all bases in same countries - return equipment to the USL48, and sell bases to those countries. Cancel all contracts for new weapons programs. Replace them with maintenance programs for existing equipment. (Save $500-600B+/yr)
  • End all foreign aid. (Save $50-60B/yr)
  • End all energy, agriculture (sugar, corn, etc), military-industrial, prison-industrial and big-pharma subsidies. (Save $37-40B/yr)
  • Abolish the TSA, FDA, ATF, DEA, EPA, FCC, FTC, DOE (edu), HUD, FHA, Fannie and Freddie and all rules and regulations created by those departments or by the executive branch in the name of those departments. (Save $190.5-200B/yr)
  • Abolish the US Postal service - or spin it off completely. No subsidies. (Save $12-15B/yr)
  • End the drug war. (Save $15-20B/yr)
  • Leave the UN and NATO. (Save $0.5-1B/yr)
Minimum savings: $804.5 Billion

While this would be a great way to reduce the size of our government, in reality it will not be able to solve the spending problems we are facing.  Note that I specifically limited my cuts to discretionary spending.  These expenditures exclude mandatory programs such as social security, medicare, etc, and the interest on the national debt.  The problem is, the mandatory expenditures now exceed the total revenue of the United States government, as you can see by reviewing the annual budget.  In 2012 total federal revenues stood at $2,469 billion.  Mandatory expenditures were $2,252 billion and interest was $225 billion.

So though my suggestions would "halve the size" of the government, we cannot balance the budget by cutting discretionary spending.  Even if we eliminated all such spending, and just paid for social insurance programs and interest, we'd still have to borrow eight billion dollars.  And this number will grow over time.  This is the uncomfortable fact that social security defenders don't want to confront.  The programs are not even sustainable right now, let alone out into the future.

The consequences of this unsustainable debt load are going to hit this country like a freight train, and the rest of the world will follow our collapse. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The "Real" unemployment rate?

Update:
Businessweek just ran an article about an increase in Social Security benefits for retirees. The article notes the total number of benefit recipients: 56 million. If we add this to the BLS statistic of 155 million for the labor force, we get 211 million - and there are another 100 million Americans who are not counted. Clearly many of those are children, (75 million under 18 years in 2010, according to the Census Bureau). So now there are an additional 25 million who are not retired, not disabled, and not receiving social security benefits, but also not counted in the labor pool, and thus not counted as unemployed. If we take out 1.6 million or so for our prison population we've cut this down to 23.4 million adults.  Next let's take out 7.8 million full time college students (61% of the 12.8 million college youths) and that brings us down to 16.6 million. 

Another article has come to my attention today.  It discusses stay at home parents and includes census data.  The numbers provided for 2011 are stay-at-home dads make reached "176,000, or 3.4 percent" of stay-at-home parents.  Dividing one by the other gives us a little less than 5.2 million stay at home parents, so let's also drop those out of the uncounted.  16.6 million less 5.2 million means there are 11.4 million  additional adults that are not employed but simply not counted. 

The bottom line is, if these uncounted people were added to the labor force and factored into the unemployment rate, it would be 14.1%, not even counting underemployment.


***


I've long been adamant that the government statisticians cook their books.  I decided to review the unemployment numbers and see whether I could determine, from their data, how different the numbers should be.  While this is purely an exercise in skepticism, it does provide some interesting insights into the labor market.

First I took a look at the labor participation rate, and noted that it's been in decline since October 2008. This data is used to separate out those who are counted as job-seekers (employed or unemployed), or just not counted.  Now a decline of 3% sounds pretty small, but when you apply it to ~200 million people it turns out to be pretty big - about 6 million. 

What I did next was pull the raw data for the civilian labor force and apply the participation rate from earlier to it, which gave me a calculated total number of "able-bodied" men and women who might seek employment.  I then calculated the average participlation rate up from October 2002 to the September 2008 (66.1%) and applied that to the "able-bodied" numbers, which gave me an adjusted labor pool.  This adjusted labor pool revealed those who are unemployed but not counted as such.  The number that started low (230k) but as time went on and the participation rate dropped, it reached upwards of 6 million people in 2012.  These people have simply been dropped off of the rolls.


Next I took the raw data for unemployment and adjusted it upwards by adding back those people who had been dropped off the rolls.  Finally I did two calculations - using BLS's original number for labor pool and unemployment, I calculated the unemployment rate.  I did the same with my revised labor pool and unemployment numbers. 

 
The difference is huge.  The unemployment rate is steady around 12%, and has been since December, 2009.  There are close to 19 million people fully unemployed, a full 6 million more than are being reported.  It's pretty crazy.


Now remember this is just an exercise.  It's important to realize that a portion of those I added back in probably did retire.  But given the steady participation rate of the 20 years (we've been above 66% since 1989) I think that number is small.

Anyway, just having fun here, questioning authority as usual.  Hope you've enjoyed the read.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Solutions"

The world is full of problems, but more and more I notice it is also full of "solutions."  These "solutions" are people's grand schemes for handling some real or imagined problem.  I say grand because they are almost always big, gaudy solutions.  People like to tell them around the dinner table or while sipping on a latte at Starbucks.  Almost always these "solutions" are short sighted, foolishly stupid, or even downright dangerous.

The proposals come from people who never seem to ask themselves these four questions:
  1. Is the problem well defined?
  2. Is your solution thoughtful?
  3. Is your solution practical?
  4. Is your solution consistent?
If you want to solve a problem, it must be a specific problem.  Symptoms are not problems.  Corollaries are not the right problems.  If you want to solve a problem you must think carefully on the solution.  You must understand the causes, the sources, any cascading problems, consequences that could occur with your proposed solution, you have to think of failure, and how to respond.  If you want to solve a problem, you must be pragmatic.  What are the costs, in time, labor, capital?  Do you have the time?  Can you gather the labor?  Do you have that money?  Finally, if you want to solve a problem you should be consistent across your entire narrative.  That is, your solution should work with every solution you've proposed, and not cause other problems that you will have to "solve" again.

Take drug use for example.  The problem is well defined. People are use dangerous, mind-altering drugs. The cascading problems are well known, ranging from mental issues such as loss of concentration to impairment while driving, to outright criminality.  The big government solution was the "War on Drugs."  But is this solution thoughtful?  Did our government attempt to understand the cause of drug use - the reason people turn to drugs?  Did they consider the consequences of caging people for their addiction?  Did they think of how to respond to the failure of their solution?  Clearly not.  Government talks about the "War on Drugs" as if drug dealers are forcibly injecting their helpless victims with heroin.  Only in their view the victims are criminals too.  They don't understand the root causes of drug use.  They don't understand the consequences of putting non-violent people in jails.  They don't even understand that their program has failed, let alone what to do in case of such failure.  If they are forced to see their failure, it is only seen as a reason to increase their funding.  They've never considered the great cost of this program.   Is the Drug War consistent with the American narrative?  No!  Resoundingly.  The Constitution gives no authority to punish people for vices.  It gives no authority to criminalize the personal behavior of individuals in private settings.  The drug war was not created by Constitutional Amendment, as was prohibition (which also failed).  It is not consistent with freedom.

This is just one example.  The reason I wanted to write about this today is that earlier I read a suggestion that we erect an electrified border fence, with armed soldiers every 500 yards along the fence, "in order to  keep out the drug dealers and illegal immigrants."  Clearly his "solution" is aimed at two different problems - drug use and illegal immigration.  It is also neither thoughtful or practical.  For reasons that should be obvious to everyone.  This "solution" was posted on a pro-Second Amendment website.  As such it is horribly inconsistent.  The idea that a group that by rights ought to understand the true purpose of the Second Amendment - to protect our final defense against a government turned tyranny, would, at the same time propose building an "iron curtain" around our own country is ludicrous. 

Think people!  You are capable of it.  You just need to do it.  Cast aside reactive emotion and ask yourself:
  1. Is the problem well defined?
  2. Is your solution thoughtful?
  3. Is your solution practical?
  4. Is your solution consistent?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Judge finds NDAA section 1021 Unconstitutional! Issues a permanent injunction!!

I'm very happy!  For the first time in months there is some truly great news on the liberty front!  NDAA 2012 section 1021 (indefinite detention of US Citizens) has been struck down!  If you don't know what the NDAA is, here's my earlier post on it.

You may recall that Judge Forrest issued a temporary injunction in May.  Some months later, she enjoined the lawyers for the government to assure her that the NDAA injunction had been followed, and the lawyers refused, essentially admitting that the government was unwilling to follow the orders of the court.

From Wikipedia:
Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint January 13, 2012, in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on the behalf of Chris Hedges against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31. Additionally plaintiffs were also included into the suit such as Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Naomi Wolf, and Cornel West.

The federal court in New York City issued an order blocking the indefinite detention powers of the NDAA for American citizens after finding it unconstitutional. On May 16, 2012, in response to the lawsuit filed by journalist Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf and others, US District Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled in a 68-page opinion that Section 1021 of the NDAA was unconstitutional because it violates the 1st and 5th Amendments. Judge Forrest struck down language in the law that she said gave the government the ability to incarcerate people based on what they said or wrote. “At the hearing on this motion, the government was unwilling or unable to state that these plaintiffs would not be subject to indefinite detention under [Section] 1021,” Judge Forrest noted. “Plaintiffs are therefore at risk of detention, of losing their liberty, potentially for many years.” Judge Forrest therefore issued a preliminary injunction which prevents the US government from enforcing section 1021 of the NDAA's "Homeland Battlefield" provisions pending further order of the court or an amendment to the statute by US Congress.

Judge Forrest was requested by the Obama administration to undo her ruling. In a footnote of the request, the Administration claimed "The government construes this Court’s Order as applying only as to the named plaintiffs in this suit".

In an opinion and order filed June 6, 2012, Judge Forrest clarified her statement, saying that her injunction applies not just to the named plaintiffs in the suit, contrary to government's narrow interpretation. She wrote, “Put more bluntly, the May 16 order enjoined enforcement of Section 1021(b)(2) against anyone until further action by this, or a higher, court — or by Congress...This order should eliminate any doubt as to the May 16 order’s scope”. The detention provision is not blocked for any persons connected to the September 11 attacks.

The U.S. government appealed Judge's Forrest preliminary injunction which prevents the U.S. government from enforcing section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act's "Homeland Battlefield" provisions on August 6, 2012. The Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office, which represents the government in this case, along with named defendants Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta filed its notice of appeal with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The federal government argues in its appeal that in cases dealing with “militants” and those offering “substantial support” to them indefinite detention without due process is appropriate. According to Reuters the US government believes they are justified to have the authorization to lock alleged belligerents up indefinitely because cases involving militants directly aligned against the good of the US government warrants such punishment.

In a court hearing chaired by Judge Forrest on August 7, 2012 the plaintiffs were asking the court for a permanent injunction of the indefinite detention powers of the NDAA. During this hearing Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Torrance admitted that the government doesn't specify whether detainees are held under the NDAA provisions or under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force. Consequently, the government was continuing to detain people covered by the challenged provisions in spite of the court's injunction. One of the plaintiff's attorneys, Carl Mayer, said later that he and his colleagues were considering bringing contempt of court charges over what he called an apparent disregard for the court injunction. Judge Forrest closed the hearing with a promise that she had not yet made her mind up i.e. that she had not yet reached a decision regarding making her preliminary injunction permanent.

On August 9th, 2012 Tangerine Bolen, one of the plaintiffs in the trial, reported that the attorneys for the US government were unwilling or unable to answer whether or not the US government has complied with Judge Forrest's court order: "in this hearing, Obama’s attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned, that the NDAA’s provision – one that permits reporters and others who have not committed crimes to be detained without trial -- has not been applied by the US government anywhere in the world -- AFTER Judge Forrest’s injunction. In other words, they were saying to a US judge that they could not or would not state whether Obama’s government had complied with the legal injunction that she had lain down before them. To this, Judge Forrest responded that if the provision has indeed been applied, the United States government itself will be in contempt of court."
Press:
An anti-terrorism law was struck down Wednesday by a federal judge who said she saw legitimate fears in claims by journalists, scholars and political activists that they could face indefinite detention for exercising First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan said the government has softened its position toward those who filed suit challenging the law, but she said the “shifting view” could not erase the threat of indefinite military detention. She urged Congress to make the law more specific or consider whether it is needed at all.


“First Amendment rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and cannot be legislated away,” Forrest wrote. “This Court rejects the Government’s suggestion that American citizens can be placed in military detention indefinitely, for acts they could not predict might subject them to detention.”

....

But she said the Constitution places limits on the president’s power to act and requires courts to safeguard core Constitutional rights. She noted that scattered cases during World War II when the Supreme Court sanctioned undue deference to the executive and legislative branches resulted in actions that “are generally now considered an embarrassment,” such as the internment of Japanese Americans based on wartime security concerns.

Forrest called the government’s suggestion that the court’s role be limited to a post-detention habeas review “without merit and, indeed, dangerous” because cases would take years to be resolved and are reviewed under a lesser legal standard.

She said if habeas petitions that allow prisoners to challenge their detention are the only way for those detained under the law to gain freedom — even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil — then “core Constitutional rights available in criminal matters would simply be eliminated.”

She added: “No court can accept this proposition and adhere truthfully to its oath."

Read more at the washington post.

From the SDNY Blog:
Today, Judge Forrest permanently enjoined enforcement of a portion of the National Defense Authorization Act, a federal law President Obama signed on December 31, 2011, authorizing the government to detain persons, including U.S. citizens, who “substantial[ly] support” Al-Qaeda, the Taliban or their “associated forces.” Judge Forrest had issued a preliminary injunction in May, and the ruling today, which is 112 pages, follows similar reasoning. She was particularly forceful in rejecting the Government’s argument that the Court should “essentially ‘stay out of it’–that is, exercise deference to the executive and legislative branches and decline to rule on the statute’s constitutionality”

The Court is mindful of the extraordinary importance of the Government’s efforts to safeguard the country from terrorism. In light of the high stakes of those efforts as well as the executive branch’s expertise, courts undoubtedly owe the political branches a great deal of deference in the area of national security. See Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 130 S. Ct. 2705, 2711 (2010). Moreover, these same considerations counsel particular attention to the Court’s obligation to avoid unnecessary constitutional questions in this context. Cf. Ashwander v. Tenn. Valley Auth., 297 U.S. 288, 347 (1936) (Brandeis, J., concurring) (“The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the record, if there is also present some other ground upon which the case may be disposed of.”). Nevertheless, the Constitution places affirmative limits on the power of the Executive to act, and these limits apply in times of peace as well as times of war. See, e.g., Ex parte Milligan, 72 U.S. (4 Wall.) 2, 125-26 (1866). Heedlessly to refuse to hear constitutional challenges to the Executive’s conduct in the name of deference would be to abdicate this Court’s responsibility to safeguard the rights it has sworn to uphold.
And this Court gives appropriate and due deference to the executive and legislative branches–and understands the limits of its own (and their) role(s). But due deference does not eliminate the judicial obligation to rule on properly presented constitutional questions. Courts must safeguard core constitutional rights. A long line of Supreme Court precedent adheres to that fundamental principle in unequivocal language. Although it is true that there are scattered cases–primarily decided during World War II–in which the Supreme Court sanctioned undue deference to the executive and legislative branches on constitutional questions, those cases are generally now considered an embarrassment (e.g., Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944) (upholding the internment of Japanese Americans based on wartime security concerns)), or referred to by current members of the Supreme Court (for instance, Justice Scalia) as “wrong” (e.g., Ex parte Quirin, 317 U.S. 1 (1942) (allowing for the military detention and execution of an American citizen detained on U.S. soil)). Presented, as this Court is, with unavoidable constitutional questions, it declines to step aside.

Chicago teachers strike!

Twenty-five thousand teachers in Chicago are striking today. Most of the time we think strikes are about pay and work conditions. This is not the case in Chicago. These teachers earn an average of $72,000, about $30,000 more than the national median salary for teachers. Furthermore, the school district offered them a 16% raise over 4 years. So why are they striking? Accountability.

That's right, they don't want to be held accountable for the performance of their students. They are striking because the district wants to include teacher evaluations in its program. You may recall that I wrote about the budget problems of the San Diego school district. I included teacher evaluations in my plan, and some people told me that it would never happen, that teachers would never accept evaluations. It appears to be true.

So, public school teachers, who are being paid by the taxpayers, don't want oversight and evaluation of their performance? Attendence is mandatory, taxation is mandatory. So what we're being told is we have no choice but to send our children to these schools, to pay for them, and performance be damned. Oh, but don't worry! No child will be left behind. The curve to the rescue, and As for everyone! So what if our highschool graduates can't read or write, and don't understand math. So what if our college graduates do not have the skills necessary to perform the jobs they supposedly trained for. Everyone will feel good about themselves, and that pink fluffy feeling is all that matters, right? We wouldn't want to make kids feel bad about poor performance.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Today is Penn Jillette day

Why?  Because I ran into him at Starbucks. :)



Very down-to-earth dude, pleasant and even willing to take a few photos with us. :)  How cool is that?

Now for some Penn stuff:








Friday, July 6, 2012

It is important not to read too much into 34 monthly reports

How many months should we go on believing in Hope and Change?  Obama sure seems to hope our memories are short.  When will big government learn that it has to get out of the way of a free market and entrepreneurs?

Today, the Obama Administration told Americans “not to read too much into” monthly jobs reports.  Well not just today - they’ve been encouraging Americans not to do that for years.
Thanks to user Barney Fife on Calguns.net's forum for giving me this data:

Update!  More of the same from July through September.  Be sure to read my observations about the unemployment statistics.
September 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/10/05/employment-situation-september)
August 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/09/07/employment-situation-august)
July 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/08/03/employment-situation-july)
 
June 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/07/06/employment-situation-june)


May 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/06/01/employment-situation-may)


April 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/05/04/employment-situation-april)


March 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/04/06/employment-situation-march)


February 2012: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report; nevertheless, the trend in job market indicators over recent months is an encouraging sign.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/09/employment-situation-february)


January 2012: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report; nevertheless, the trend in job market indicators over recent months is an encouraging sign.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/02/03/employment-situation-january)


December 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/01/06/employment-situation-december)


November 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/12/02/employment-situation-november)


October 2011: “The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. There is no better example than August’s jobs figure, which was initially reported at zero and in the latest revision increased to 104,000. This illustrates why the Administration always stresses it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/11/04/employment-situation-october)


September 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/10/07/employment-situation-september)


August 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/09/02/employment-situation-august)


July 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/05/employment-situation-july)


June 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/08/employment-situation-june)


May 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/06/03/employment-situation-may)


April 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/05/06/employment-situation-april)


March 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/04/01/employment-situation-march)


February 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/03/04/employment-situation-february)


January 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/02/04/employment-situation-january)


December 2010: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/01/07/employment-situation-december)


November 2010: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/12/03/employment-situation-november)


October 2010: “Given the volatility in monthly employment and unemployment data, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/11/05/employment-situation-october)


September 2010: “Given the volatility in the monthly employment and unemployment data, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/10/08/employment-situation-september)


July 2010: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative. It is essential that we continue our efforts to move in the right direction and replace job losses with robust job gains.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/08/06/employment-situation-july)


August 2010: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/09/03/employment-situation-august)


June 2010: “As always, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/07/02/employment-situation-june)


May 2010: “As always, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/06/04/employment-situation-may)


April 2010: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/05/07/employment-situation-april)


March 2010: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/04/02/employment-situation-march)


January 2010: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/02/05/employment-situation-january)

November 2009: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2009/12/04/employment-situation-november)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Simple math solves the San Diego school district budget problems

Often the simplest solution is the best and most workable.

The San Diego school district is facing a $122M deficit on a $1.1B budget.  They have 7,000 teachers and 118,000 students.  Instead of furlows or new taxes, I propose that each of the 7,000 teachers takes 17 students under their wing and teaches them year round.  The teachers will be paid $115.5k per year and the district will still have $168M to pay for 7,000 rental spaces for the year (at $24k/yr) and there will be no deficit. 

Can my plan work?  Let's do the math.
  • 118,000 students over 7,000 teachers is about 16.85. So 17 students per teacher. Check.
  • $1.1B minus $122M is $978M. Check.
  • 7,000 rental spaces at $2,000/month for 12 months is $168M.  Check.
  • $978M minus $168M is $810M. Check.
  • $810M over 7,000 teachers is $115,714.29.  Check.

There you go, people, no more budget problem, no more large class sizes, and no more bullshit administrators.  Students have buy their own books and bring their own lunch.  That's how it works in higher education, so you might as well get used to it now.

Also note that this plan removes the necessity to maintain large school campuses, and flows $168M into the local rental economy.

Now you may need a small number of administrators, say 100 or so, to manage the instructors and effectively gauge their performance, but adding in 1/70th of the number of employees won't reduce their salaries much.  And, you can add the evaluation procedure I came up with.

Here is how I would change the school system in order to evaluate instructors' abilities:
  1. K-12 changes to year round quarter system with no elevator (Students must take a comprehensive test to pass each grade).
  2. Test the students at the start of the quarter. No curves.
  3. Test the students at the end of the quarter. No curves.
  4. Evaluate their degree of improvement.
  5. Rank instructors from A to F.
  6. Send D instructors to retrain for a weekend every month of the quarter.
  7. Send F instructors to retrain for an entire quarter.
  8. Fire FF (2 Fs in a row) instructors. (No more tenure.)
  9. Send DF (D followed by F) instructors to retrain for an entire quarter.
  10. Rotate classes so all instructors are tested with all students.
  11. Repeat.

1 would prevent students who didn't know earlier material from being pushed into material they won't understand. 2 gets a baseline for every student. 3 establishes their new level of knowledge, and 4 documents their improvement during their studies. 5 ranks the net improvement of each instructor's students against the other instructor's statistics, while 6 & 7 try to salvage failing instructors. 8 eliminates bad instructors and 9 gives failing instructors one last chance to be salvaged. 10 and 11 ensure "good instructors" won't be "stuck with crap students."

You could also sweeten the deal by giving bonuses to AA instructors. This would take time, but continual review on a quarterly basis like this might work.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sunshine and Term Limits

I have two more ideas for amendments that, if implented, may help to prevent our government from becoming a totalitarian state.

An Amendment to Prevent Unread bills from becoming Law
No bill may become law if
(a) it exceeds 25 pages in length, including all amendments, or
(b) it has been available to the Legislature and the Citizens to read for less than 30 calendar days, or
(c) it has been modified by amendment within the prior 30 calendar days, or
(d) fewer than all voting Legislators affirm under penalty of perjury that they have read the bill in full.
An Amendment to Limit the terms of elected officials
Section 1 of the Twenty-Second amendment is amended to read:
No person shall be elected to any federal public office more than twice, and no person who has held that office, or acted in the capacity of that office, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected to that office shall be elected to that office more than once. This article shall apply to every person currently holding any office, but shall not prevent any such person from fulfilling the remainder of such term, unless duly replaced by Constitutionally approved means.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Another amendment that will never get passed!

I had another idea for an amendment, one that would ensure growth in government is halted and small government is maintained.

A Constitutional Amendment to restrict growth of government:
1. No bill may become United States law if it is passed with less than unanimous consent of both the Senate and the House, and

(a) it includes in whole or part any tax increase of any kind.
2. No bill may become United States law if it is passed with less than unanimous consent of both the Senate and the House,  and
(a) it includes an increase in the national debt limit, or
(b) it includes borrowing on the credit of the United States, or
(c) it includes the issuance of bonds.

3. No bill may become United States law if it is passed with less than unanimous consent of both the Senate and the House, and
(a) it increases funding to existing federal programs, or
(b) it increases transfers of funding to state programs, or
(c) it creates new programs of any kind that require funding
4. A bill may become United States law if it is passed with a simple majority of both the Senate and the House, and
(a) it decreases funding to existing federal programs, or
(b) it decreases transfers of funding to state programs, or
(c) it ends programs of any kind that require funding.
5. Only Congress can pass laws.  No executive order or agency rule is law, or may be treated as law, or be enforced as law, except
(a) executive orders issued by the President of the United States in compliance with Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Of No Consequence

Politicians are politicians are politicians. Liberal left? Conservative right? Don't make me laugh. These guys are all the same. You think Republicans DON'T root for Democrats' programs to fail? You think Democrats DON'T root for Republicans' programs to fail? You're kidding yourselves.

Politicians care first, foremost, and only about themselves - their measure of success is how much power they can accumulate over others. If you want to understand how little different the left and right are, examine their economics. Economic freedom is the basis of all freedom - economic slavery is the basis of tyranny. The left and the right share a single economic theory.



This isn't new data - and people who sacrifice principle to the expedient by "voting for the lesser of two evils" are a part of the problem.

It really took me years to come to this conclusion - that politicians are all the same. The only difference is the special interest they serve, and in my opinion that is no difference at all. For politicians it is all about money and power; there isn't any underlying substance to them. They are hollow, morally and intellectually bankrupt; they are completely lacking integrity and conviction. They are quite simply the most awful of people.
When the government's boot is on your throat, whether it is a left boot or a right boot is of no consequence.
Gary Lloyd

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cuts, Cuts, Cuts!

I had some ideas for budget reforms.  What do you think?
  • End all wars and military operations in the Middle East, Asia (Korea, Japan, etc), Europe (Germany, France, Poland, Italy, etc), Africa, and South America. Permanently shutter all bases in same countries - return equipment to the USL48, and sell bases to those countries. Cancel all contracts for new weapons programs. Replace them with maintenance programs for existing equipment. (Save $500-600B+/yr)
  • End all foreign aid. (Save $50-60B/yr)
  • End all energy, agriculture (sugar, corn, etc), military-industrial, prison-industrial and big-pharma subsidies. (Save $37-40B/yr)
  • Abolish the TSA, FDA, ATF, DEA, EPA, FCC, FTC, DOE (edu), HUD, FHA, Fannie and Freddie and all rules and regulations created by those departments or by the executive branch in the name of those departments. (Save $190.5-200B/yr)
  • Abolish the US Postal service - or spin it off completely. No subsidies. (Save $12-15B/yr)
  • End the drug war. (Save $15-20B/yr)
  • Leave the UN and NATO. (Save $0.5-1B/yr)
  • All other department budgets frozen - all increases cancelled, all federal wage hikes cancelled.
That's $805-931B in cuts right there. Now if the decrease in regulations encourages businesses to start up or expand, then the economy may pick up and federal revenues could go past the highs of 2007, maybe to $2.7 or $2.8 trillion. That is a lot of money, but even with that and all of the cuts, we'd still be something like $200B in the hole every year.

Can we do better than that?  Well I have another idea.  The federal government employs 2.1 million civilian workers.1 Total wages and benefits paid to executive branch civilians amounted to $236 billion in 2011.2  Thus the average annual compensation for a federal employee is $112,381.  Let's knock that down to the median US household income of $50,000,3 and eliminate all benefits (no healthcare, no retirement). 

That comes out to about $130B, but since I've already cut 21 percent of the government above, let's reduce these savings by 21 percent to account for that.  This knocks a further $103B off of our annual deficit, and should heavily reduce the number of career politicians and bureaucrats too.

Cutting $908-$1034 out of the budget, our deficit could go down to around $100B.  Not a bad start!

Sources:

  1. Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2012, Analytical Perspectives (Washington: Government Printing Office, 2011), p. 110. Excludes the U.S. Postal Service
  2. Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2012, Analytical Perspectives (Washington: Government Printing Office, 2011), p. 112. Excludes the U.S. Postal Service.
  3. 691 - Money Income of Households--Median Income by Race and Hispanic Origin in Current and Constant (2009) Dollars
More reading:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The National Debt and Generational Responsibility

I've been thinking about the national debt.  It occurs to me that each time we increase the limit, we are borrowing that money from some future generation, saddling them with our problems.  I came up with a rough solution to this travesty.

We could implement a constitutional amendment does the following:
Any increase in the national debt limit is hereby tied to a flat increase in all brackets of the income tax. 
  1. This increase in taxes is the rate at which the increase in the national debt will be paid off in 4 years.
  2. This new tax revenue cannot be used for any other spending or appropriation - the funds may not be raided by any agency, and must be used to pay down the debt.
An amendment such as this would ensure that any new debt added must accompanied by a tax that is paid towards the debt every year.  This ensures each generation pays for its own borrowing rather than kicking the can to their children or grand children.

Not that I like taxes, but at least if they were constituionally tethered there would be a "built in plan" to prevent the national debt from getting out of control.  I am not silly enough to think this payment guaranty would work - I am sure that politicians will screw it up - however this would ensure every American would feel the bite of borrowing, and my guess is that they would be up in arms about it. Maybe, just maybe, this would keep down the excessive borrowing and spending.

Again, this is very rough, but I am happy to hear your thoughts.

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, April 30, 2012

The looming police state

A police state does not come on all at once.  It is a creeping menace, quietly approaching from behind a veil of obfuscation.

The early warnings by those observant few are always ridiculed.  Never mind the soldiers training to occupy and suppress US cities.  Ignore the tanks, drones and other weapons being delivered to your local law enforcement.  And the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has ordered 450 million rounds of .40 cal ammo for local use? Bah, don't give it a second thought.

It can't happen here, after all.



Antioch must have a lot more vegetation than Los Angeles, I am sure these uniforms will blend in nicely!

 Charlston's Police force has an ATV!  Fun for the summer!

In North Texas, they don't fuck around.

 I thought Phoenix was a much more laid back city though.


The Ventura Police have a "rescue vehicle."

 The Tampa Police force got one too!

Here comes the Montgomery County, Texas Swat team.  They're going to rescue the shit out of you.

The G-20 summit in Pittsburg. Children frighten politicians, I guess.


This is the Navistar 7000. It is designed to carry prisoners and equipped with benches and enclosed in a heavy wire mesh.  It has been showing up in increasing numbers throughout the country

When they come for us I won't bother to say, "I told you so," but I may just punch you in the face.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Liberty, Law, Government

Liberty is most simply defined as the freedom to do as one pleases - it is the freedom to think or act without being constrained by necessity or external force.  Liberty is among the most fundamental concepts of human life: that the individual has both the ability and the right to exercise his or her own free will, to make choices for himself or herself, and to act on them, without interference by others.

Why is there such a thing as liberty?  Why does an individual have this ability and right?  The answer is self ownership.  This is your life - it does not and cannot belong to anyone else.  These are your thoughts - they arise from your consciousness in the privacy of your mind.  This is your productivity - those things that you create belong to you.  You own yourself, and because of this you own your decisions and the results of those decisions - your successes, and also sometimes your failures.  When you own something, you have control over it, whether it is physical or conceptual.  Your ownership of yourself gives you both the ability and the right.  Life itself yields this self ownership from which liberty flows.

Individual liberty is virtually without limit - the only natural and correct constraint on individual liberty are those activities which interfere with the liberty of other individuals.  In other words, you are free to do as you please, unless the action impedes another individual from doing has he or she pleases.  This is the true meaning of Law.  It is simply the codification of the above principle - your actions cannot diminish the liberty of others.
What is law? What ought it to be? What is its domain? What are its limits? Where, in fact, does the prerogative of the legislator stop?
I have no hesitation in answering, Law is common force organized to prevent injustice; — in short, Law is Justice.
- Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
So we see that Law is the intentional and cooperative creation of individuals whose sole purpose is the protection of their individual liberty.  It would seem the very meaning of Law provides a litmus test for the actions of any body of men who assert their authority over others.  Unfortunately, it is clear that the majority of the men and women running the government of the United States have resoundingly failed this litmus test.

These men and women claim to implement the Law, but in reality they have really implemented something entirely different, a monopoly of force whose purpose is the exact opposite of Law.  With heavy reliance on this monopoly of force, government seems now to exist solely to coerce individuals, to reduce their liberty, and to expand its own size and powers.  Government force is used to suppress dissent and crush individualism, and is often used at the behest of corporations in order to destroy competition. Yet people go on believing that government is there to protect them and that it is right and just for the government to have this monopoly of force.

It is startlingly easy to prove that this is bald faced hypocrisy.  Consider the rights of individuals.  If an individual does not have the right to commit violence against another individual, then a group, which is simply a several individuals gathered with common purpose, does not have the right to commit violence against an individual either.  Since neither an individual nor a group has the right to commit this violence, then of course neither can they delegate this right to another group, not even one calling itself "government".  A group, no matter is size or self described importance, can have no rights that an individual does not have, because rights belong to individuals.  That is the hypocrisy of the government monopoly of force.

One can see why prominent thinkers believed in and created a small government here in the United States - they knew there needs must be some kind of framework to implement the Law, but that any such framework could quickly get out of control.
The best government is that which governs least.
- Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

Monday, March 5, 2012

Big bad oil industry

Two charts for your perusal, I will write something later. All data from EIA.

The first chart show the price of oil from 1986 to 2012, and the price of gasoline in New York and Los Angeles tracking the oil price quite well.  Layered on top are the two major wars we are involved in over there in the Middle East and the "great recession," that the government tells us has already ended.


The second chart shows the price of gasoline as a fraction of the price of crude oil and the trend - as you can see gasoline is actually getting cheaper compared to crude.


Here is the world oil production, and OPEC production, from 2001 on.  As you can see by 2005 OPEC and world production each increased by about 10% over the 2001 levels.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Iran - nuclear tyrant?

The media elites and the war profiteers in government are practically foaming at the mouth over Iran's nuclear weapons program.  No doubt you've heard it, but is there any truth to it?  Are there dissenting opinions?

It turns out there are dissenting opinions, and the people who are stating them might surprise you:
If you recall, there was a similar buildup 10 years ago when discussing Iraq - we were made to believe that they had a highly advanced nuclear weapons program and were bent on nuclear armageddon.  What did we find?  Zilch.  We left over four thousand of our soldiers dead in the sand, over what?  Lies, nothing more.  We put the blood covered profits in the hands of the military industrial complex and made the world less safe.

Read the Truth about War website to see, in hindsight, what we should have known all along.  We can and must learn from our mistakes, and the lesson we must learn is to always question authority.

Finally, watch the farewell address by President Eisenhower.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Do nearly half of American tax payers pay no income taxes?

An admittedly brief analysis allows me to draw the following conclusions.  The 2009 IRS numbers say that (after all deductions and credits):
The top 0.7% (<1 percent) of the tax payers are paying 29.8% of all income taxes. 
The top 3.78% of the tax payers are paying 47.8% of all income taxes. 
The top 16.8% of the tax payers are paying 72.5% of all income taxes. 
The top 27.8% of the tax payers are paying 81.2% of all income taxes. 
The top 45.7% of the tax payers are paying 91.8% of all income taxes. 
The top 55.9% of the tax payers are paying 94.7% of all income taxes. 
Examining the bottom 44.1% ...
The bottom 0.3% of the tax payers are paying 0.0026% of all income taxes. 
The bottom 2.6% of the tax payers are paying 0.0488% of all income taxes. 
The bottom 8.5% of the tax payers are paying 0.3% of all income taxes. 
The bottom 15.5% of the tax payers are paying 0.7% of all income taxes. 
The bottom 23.2% of the tax payers are paying 1.4% of all income taxes. 
The bottom 30.8% of the tax payers are paying 2.3% of all income taxes. 
The bottom 44.1% of the tax payers are paying 5.3% of all income taxes. 
So it appears that it's more accurate to say that nearly half of American tax payers are paying just 5% of the income tax.

Some more in depth reports indicate that the 47% no income tax is for "single filers," while my analysis was for all filers.  The claim is not totally accurate as represented, but it's not too far off - interpolating the last data from each group gives us about 50% of tax payers paying about 93% of all income tax.

Anyway, this is just something to think about, especially for people who are carrying around the idea that the wealthy aren't paying their fair share.  (Note that the top 16.8% might be considered wealthy as that includes all filers whose taxable income is above $100,000.)
Examine the data for yourself on the IRS website.
Table 1.4:  All Returns:  Sources of Income, Adjustments, and Tax Items
Table 3.3:  All Returns:  Tax Liability, Tax Credits, and Tax Payments

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The real Isolationism

Ed Markey (D. Mass) wants to stop the export of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).  He believes that exporting our natural gas will drive up the price and cause hardship for the American people. He couches his argument in nationalistic terms - saying that low energy prices give us a "competitive advantage," and an "economic edge," that will be lost if we sell our natural gas to overseas customers. 

Nevermind that the entire purpose of producing a product is to sell it and create profit

Nevermind that the basis of a healthy economy is the voluntary exchange of valuable goods and services.

Nevermind that the desire for profit is the motive that drives investment and innovation.

Nevermind that it was high energy prices that made Shale fracking a profitable investment in the first place.

Nevermind that the huge glut of Shale gas we now have was provided by that fracking - so despised by the Ed Mareys of the world - and is the reason we have low natural gas prices right now.

Nevermind that we ourselves import nearly three and a half billion barrels of crude oil per year (46% of our annual use) and another billion in other petrolium liquids.

Nevermind that protectionist policies such as these, widely adopted, would drive up our energy costs substantially rather than keep them low.

Nevermind that extreme protectionism is really economic isolationism.

Nevermind all of that, says Markey. To preserve our competitive advantage over all of our economic enemies (our foreign customers) we must stop sending them valuable products!  (Cue the flag waving masses.)

What people like Ed Markey don't understand is that low prices are created when a producer develops better, more efficient, and less expensive means of production.  And that only occurs when the producer invests in industry.  Further, investments are made when it is profitable to do so, not otherwise!  It doesn't end there.  Profit drives expansion. When there is money to be made, there will be increased demand for labor.  Thousands, tens of thousands, of jobs have been and are being created in North Dakota (Bakken Shale).  If the gas becomes more profitable, there will be thousands more jobs added.

The drivel I observe coming out of our Congress is really extraordinary.  Sometimes I wonder if it is stupidity or simply ignorance, but I can't help but despair at its magnitude.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

NDAA

I know I promised to post about the NDAA.  For now I am going to hold off and just leave the meme here.  I really boil over every time I think about it.

Read what the ACLU has to say about the NDAA.  Read what Glenn Greenwald says about it.  Read about the EEA, surely to be used in conjunction with the NDAA.  Read Jonathan Turley's article on powers acquired by the U.S. government since 9/11.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA / PIPA bills


A brief clip and a link to Wikimedia's explanation of the Wikipedia blackout protest.
It is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web.

Over the course of the past 72 hours, over 1800 Wikipedians have joined together to discuss proposed actions that the community might wish to take against SOPA and PIPA. This is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia, which illustrates the level of concern that Wikipedians feel about this proposed legislation. The overwhelming majority of participants support community action to encourage greater public action in response to these two bills. Of the proposals considered by Wikipedians, those that would result in a "blackout" of the English Wikipedia, in concert with similar blackouts on other websites opposed to SOPA and PIPA, received the strongest support.

On careful review of this discussion, the closing administrators note the broad-based support for action from Wikipedians around the world, not just from within the United States. The primary objection to a global blackout came from those who preferred that the blackout be limited to readers from the United States, with the rest of the world seeing a simple banner notice instead. We also noted that roughly 55% of those supporting a blackout preferred that it be a global one, with many pointing to concerns about similar legislation in other nations.




This is my own interpretation of what our Congress has been up to during the last 10 years.  SOPA is just part of it. The PATRIOT ACT, the Military Commissions Act, the NDAA 2012 and the up and coming Enemy Expatriation Act are all designed to fit together into a complete set of bars around this country and your rights.



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The U.S. Constitution is "De Facto" Law of the Land

I am reproducing the following from a pamphlet obtained from the Campaign for Liberty.

The numbers in [brackets] are footnotes that refer to court decisions. You can look them up in the American Jurisprudence at any law library.

Juries in the United States have the right and power to judge the law as well as the facts. This means that a jury can acquit a defendant for any reason or none and need not give any reason for it's decision. Therefor bad statutes that are unconstitutional or immoral can be set aside, or good laws that are misapplied can be ignored. This is called "jury nullification."

Below is an excerpt from the Sixteenth American Jurisprudence, Second Edition, Section 256, which affirms that the U.S. Constitution, unless and until LAWFULLY amended as contained within it's express provisions, is a contract between the federal and state government and it's people, and the defacto Law of the Land.

As a contract itself and in spite of U.S. history almost from the moment it was ratified by the 13 original colonies, any and all interpretations or applications of the provisions contained within it under the "common law" upon which contract law is based according to the Magna Carta (used by the founders in their deliberations) by any and all judicial authorities at both the state and federal level is to be done using the "common useage" English definitions in such interpretations or applications pursuant to "contract law doctrine."

The footnote citations relate to U.S. case law which enforces this restatement and can be researched after pulling up the Am.Jur citing for a listing of footnoted case laws at any local law library:

Section 256. Generally.

The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, whether federal [29] or state, [30] though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, [31] but is wholly void, [32] and ineffective for any purpose; [33] since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it, [34] an unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed. [31] Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted. [36] No repeal of such an enactment is necessary. [37]

Since an unconstitutional law is void, the general principles follow that it imposes no duties, [38] confers no rights, [39] creates no office, [40] bestows no power or authority on anyone, [41] affords no protection, [42] and justifies no acts performed under it. [43]  A contract which rests on an unconstitutional statute creates no obligation to be impaired by subsequent legislation. [44] 

No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law [45] and no courts are bound to enforce it. [46] Persons convicted and fined under a statute subsequently held unconstitutional may recover the fines paid. [47]

A void act cannot be legally inconsistent with a valid one. [48] And an unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede any existing valid law. [49] Indeed, insofar as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the land, it is superseded thereby. [50] Since an unconstitutional statute cannot repeal or in any way affect an existing one, [51] if a repealing statute is unconstitutional, the statute which it attempts to repeal remains in full force and effect. [52] And where a clause repealing a prior law is inserted in an act, which act is unconstitutional and void, the provision for the repeal of the prior law will usually fall with it and will not be permitted to operate as repealing such prior law. [53]
The general principles stated above apply to the constitutions as well as to the laws of the several states insofar as they are repugnant to the Constitution and laws of the United States. [54] Moreover, a construction of a statute which brings it in conflict with a constitution will nullify it as effectually as if it had, in express terms, been enacted in conflict therewith. [55]

An unconstitutional portion of a statute may be examined for the purpose of ascertaining the scope and effect of the valid portions. [56]