All posts by Gary Nolan

Your humble contributor is an avid political enthusiast, science junkie, former small business owner, limited government, constitutionalist, and all around lover of liberty. I make every effort to use logic and reasoning, not hate, ad hominem attacks, nor logical fallacy arguments.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Lamone v. Benisek

So gerrymandering—it’s a thing. Weirdly, every politician says they hate it, and it should be stopped. Yet, every politician quietly does it in their party’s favor. But nonetheless, some people dislike it so much, that they decide to go to court to prevent it, so here we go.

Maryland drew up a map in a district the was traditionally Republican. But because of their redistricting map, a Democrat won the seat. So Republicans were like, “this is some bullshit.”

So they sought injunction against those scumbags who rigged the election legally, and a district court granted it. So now this thing meanders its way to SCOTUS, where the Maryland peeps hoped SCOTUS would tell the lower court they needed to know their fucking role.

SCOTUS on the other hand, decided the lower court was fine. But also, they were looking at another case, and they wanted to wait on the outcome of that shit, which they did.

So after hearing this shit the second time, they were like, “You know what? Fuck it. This is none of our fucking business. Good luck assholes. We care about the Constitution, not your childish fucking political games.”

5:4 Judgement for Lamone, and the courts to stay the fuck out of it. Separation of powers and shit. Good luck. The opinion was given under Rucho v. Common Cause in North Carolina, because there was gerrymandering fucking everywhere, and challenges were coming in like they were half-off on Black Friday.

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here.

Analysis: Free College For All

Unless you’ve sworn off all news media, you’re no doubt aware that self-described Democratic Socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and other members of the DNC, campaign on the idea that college education should be treated essentially like an extended public high school—paid for via tax dollars, and open to everyone.

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

I won’t go into the weeds of analyzing Bernie’s “College for All” plan, or how he intends to pay for it. You can click here for a Vox article which goes over his plan, and that of Elizabeth Warren to some extent.

I also won’t elaborate on the fact that some in congress infamously didn’t even know they were the ones doing the lending in the first place, when for instance Senator Maxine Waters attempted to blame banks for what she and her party perceived as a student-loan debt problem. But this should at least give you pause that such ignorance is not ideal from the people you’re asking to take over education altogether.

Maxine Waters

We libertarians are generally against any plan that says person A should pay for goods or services consumed by person B; this is no different. It’s simply immoral, in our view. While I accept “immoral” is a subjective term, please allow me to explain.

If I buy a widget from you, I get a widget (a positive action), and you get the money you asked for (also positive). That’s a net positive (moral) transaction.

If I just give you money (positive) because I’m being charitable, but you don’t offer me a good or service in return (negative), that’s a net neutral transaction. The positive and negative cancel each other out.

But if I take from you by fiat (negative), and you receive something without offering a quid pro quo (also negative), that’s a net negative, or immoral transaction.

But, as was said, the morality issue is subjective, so now let’s talk about a few of the facts that should be considered if you don’t take issue with the morality of it all.

The Need Isn’t There:

This study from Georgetown University estimates that approximately 30% of  the jobs next year, will require a college degree, which obviously means that 70% do not.

Georgetown University

As such, more than two-thirds of the labor force, if they went to college, would have essentially made a poor investment—they didn’t need it, and won’t be using it.

As such, it’s not logical to argue that the taxpayers should be pilfered to the tune of $2.2 trillion, if Bernie’s math is to be believed. $1.54 trillion of it will be your tax dollars literally wasted.

While I don’t like to personally attack anyone, Bernie’s math, like any politician’s, is often suspect. If he is wrong, and history is any indication, it’ll most assuredly cost more, not less. Coming in under budget is not government’s forte. I’d like to think that $1.54 trillion wasted, is not something critically-thinking voters would pull the lever for.

The Desire Isn’t There:

Bernie’s argument supposes that everyone wants to go to college, when many don’t. The 70% mentioned earlier aren’t just entry level jobs. The “College For All” crowd would have you believe that these jobs are all careers one can’t make a living with. If someone truly wishes to have a career they can support a family on, they’ll need a college degree.

But skilled trades such as plumbers, mechanics, ot electricians, are crucial jobs that can pay six-figure salaries with enough effort. Lucrative sales jobs, aren’t all that uncommon, either.

But even entry level jobs can become careers to the right person. Every simple call center or food service job has a supervisor or manager; most of which were promoted from within.

Based on the amount of time spent partying, cutting class, and even dropping out voluntarily for non-financial reasons, it’s obvious many of these students are simply not interested in their chosen education. They would be better off, and happier, following a career path they actually wanted.

It’s a cliche that a young adult is forced to go to college when all he/she wanted to do, was be an artist, pursue a skilled trade, or some other alternate career path. So we know many of them don’t want the education when their parents opt to pay for it (free college for them). So why would they want it, if government is paying instead?

Sadly, the issue with such children isn’t their career choices, we need people doing those skilled trades. A world without people to fix all the things we break every day, would fall to its knees. The problem is parents who refuse to believe their child is anything other than the next great doctor or lawyer, and behave as if they’d be ashamed of their child if they chose what they believe is a menial career.

We should support people’s dreams for themselves, not the dreams others have for them—even well-meaning parents.

Not Everyone Needs a Career

One of the poorest assumptions is that everyone needs a career they can support a family with.

However, some people will go to their grave never getting married, and never having children.

Some others will get married, and their spouse will be the main income for their family, while they work a smaller job that pays less, just to add to the overall income of the household.

Some will also choose to cohabitate. They’re not getting married or having children, but they share a home with a roommate, and therefore household costs are split.

All of these options dictate that a high-salary career needing a college degree, simply isn’t necessary for them. And while some of us think that such a life sounds unrewarding, there’s little to no evidence such people are universally more unhappy, and people working a higher-salaried career are more happy. As such, there’s certainly no argument to make we should force others to pay for an education to get them out of that lifestyle.

Bad Economics

The cost of higher education is largely fixed. You have to pay the professors, and build the infrastructure. This is why it costs so much to go in the first place. But if you try to make nearly every child go, then you’re going to need more colleges and professors.

Do you trust that Bernie has factored in the additional costs for all that? Or do you assume like me, that he’s simply making the assumption that the colleges that exist can take all the extra students?

The Devaluation Problem

It also devalues the college degree itself, if everyone has one. This is simple supply and demand.

If I’m an employer who’s hiring, I might have a job that doesn’t require a degree. But that doesn’t mean certain degrees might not be helpful, if for no other reason than to show me this person chose to educate themselves further versus another candidate.

But if everyone has that degree, then the person who would have went to college if it weren’t free, and thus was more motivated and possibly the person I’d prefer, won’t be known to me. They’ll simply look the same on a resume as the others, and I’ll have no inherent reason to believe they’re the better candidate now, making their degree inherently less valuable.

More Bad Economics

We often talk about the problems with Social Security, and misleading unemployment stats by citing the drop in the labor participation rates. As people decide not to work anymore, such as a spouse relying on a working partner, or people retiring after a successful career, we know that this results in less “producers” for the economy making it work.

But if we remove a significant chunk of the 18-24+ year old crowd from the labor force, when they’re at their most energetic, healthy, and strongest, we reduce the labor participation rate significantly of the most able-bodied people. Most people work from 18-65 (47 years), and it’s been estimated that kids are taking nearly 6 years on average to get their degree. So six years off of 47 total years for 70% of the population could add up to an 8-9% loss in labor participation, which is already a problem, when compared to other nations who are out-producing the United States increasingly more as time goes on.

Even More Bad Economics

As more students enter college, you’re seeing more courses, and even majors, with little to no employers in need of those holding such degrees. While philosophy for instance, helps with general critical thinking, other than being a professor teaching philosophy, the want ads aren’t exactly littered with people looking for a full-time philosopher. The liberal arts in general, are notorious for having few career paths after college related to such a degree.

There are several reports like this one from Simple Dollar showing degrees that are proving to be incredibly poor investments, even for those who were truly motivated to get them. But if you hand out educations freely, you can bet the number of useless degrees will not only grow commensurately, the people who didn’t want them, and didn’t learn much getting them, will grow, too.

Summary

While we libertarians always support people wanting to better themselves, the logic of providing free education is dubious at best. The morality of it, is highly questionable as well.

Instead, free markets should be left to do what they do best, providing the best education at the best price for the people who want it.

We also believe people should promote the idea that college isn’t for everyone, and take notice that companies like Google, Facebook, IBM, et al., are starting to realize that there’s a lot of talented people who never have, nor ever will step foot on a college campus.

 

 

Average Joe SCOTUS: Taggart v. Lorenzen

Holy fuck! This case has more twists and turns than a Hillary Clinton campaign position.

So this dude Taggart, (The petitioner here) owned 25% of a real estate company. But Taggart sucked with money and investing, was feeling kinda broke, and decided to sell his share to his attorney to get himself some scratch.

However, Terry Emmert and Keith Jehnke also owned 25% each, and they were represented by a Stuart Brown, who was then represented by Shelley Lorenzen (The respondent in the case). My head already fucking hurts from this shit.

Anyway, Emmert and Jehnke thought Taggart selling to his attorney instead of them, was a total dick move, and sued his ass. They won, and Taggart was booted from his own fucking company, with the shares being sold to Emmert and Jehnke. The courts also ruled that Emmert and Jehnke’s attorney could sue for attorney’s fees, so of course he totally did.

Taggart was all like, “Fuck you, I’m filing for bankruptcy.” Which means, his creditors are supposed to go to the bankruptcy proceedings if they want money from him. After that, it’s Hands-Fucking-Off. That’s why it’s called bankruptcy “protection.”

Anyway, this deadbeat Taggart was awarded his bankruptcy, but Brown, the attorney for the two assholes who were trying to squeeze blood from a turnip, decided to sue Taggart anyway, for legal fees, as mentioned earlier, after he got his bankruptcy. Their argument was that Taggart had “returned to the fray” and therefore didn’t deserve protection.

So now Taggart is suing Brown (Lorenzen) for contempt saying, “Hey, those motherfuckers knew I was in bankruptcy, and came after me for money anyway. But Brown (Lorenzen) were like, we thought it was Saul Goodman (Slang for “It’s all good, man”). We didn’t know we couldn’t come after him. We thought he “returned to the fray.”

So 97 different fucking courts weighed in on this shit before it finally got to SCOTUS who were asked to decide if someone in bankruptcy protection can sue someone who comes after them after the bankruptcy, if they thought in good faith, it was OK to sue for that.

SCOTUS unanimously thought Lorenzen, Brown, Emmert, and Jehnke were the bigger assholes in all of this. They fucking knew better, and did it anyway. Judgement for Taggart.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Department of Commerce v. New York

On the 2020 census, the Department of Commerce, at Trump’s request, wanted a question added to the census, that hadn’t been asked since before the Chevrolet Corvette came into being.

They wanted to ask if anyone in the household is not a U.S. Citizen. Their argument being it would help with enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. He argued:

One of the critical elements of Voting Rights Act enforcement is something called Citizen Voting Age Population, or CVAP.

Right now, everything for CVAP comes from the census, with the exception of citizenship.

So population, age, race, all of that comes from the census, except for citizenship, the C in CVAP. So a large amount of voting rights litigation focuses on expert witnesses who try to fill in that missing C and try to estimate that missing C through imputation based on the American Community Survey, which goes to just one in 38 households. And the Department of Justice wanted to get all of the same information from the same database so that critical feature of voting rights litigation, CVAP, all came from the same place.

New York, fearing that homes with an illegal immigrant would say “no” to avoid a visit from ICE, sought to prevent that question from being asked. They want an accurate count, which supports the idea of having the census, since an accurate count helps them understand how many public servants to employ to assist them, and such. Plus, they just think Trump is an asshole, and it’s an asshole question to ask.

So New York decided to depose Trump’s peeps, and ask why the fuck they felt they needed to ask this question in a census, since it seemed politically motivated, and doesn’t help get an accurate count. But the government applied for a stay, basically asking the courts to tell New York to STFU and let them run their goddamn census as they saw fit.

The courts denied this stay, however, and the depositions were allowed to go forward. In the meantime, the district court decided to lay down the law, and tell Trump’s peeps to get rid of the fucking question.

So now SCOTUS was asked by the fed to decide if the district court was out of line, both in handing down their decision, and compelling testimony from Trump’s goons. They were basically trying to get SCOTUS to quash the lower court’s ruling against them.

Breyer and Sotomayor seemed to take particular issue with the fed and their idea that the question wouldn’t cause the census to be less accurate, which was New York’s argument as well, because they laid into Noel Francisco (Solicitor for the fed) on this point like he had slapped their mothers.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS told the fed to go fuck themselves—remove the fucking question. The argued the courts did the right thing, and the feds can take their question and shove it up their ass.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.

 

Average Joe SCOTUS: Quarles v. United States

All around scumbag Jamar Quarles broke into a home years ago. And as such, was deemed a violent felon. Then, because of this, was not allowed to be carrying a gun, which this dumb motherfucker proceeded to do.

As such, his possession felony sent this idiot scumbag to prison for 204 months. But Quarles hired some scumbag ambulance chaser who was trying to get Quarles off on a lesser sentence.

Since the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) makes three felonies a condition for being considered as a career criminal, Quarles and his hired ambulance chaser were trying to argue that his burglary from years ago, which he didn’t dispute he did, wasn’t a burglary, because he didn’t form intent to burgle until after he was in the home, as opposed to the idea he broke in for the purposes of burgling.

Yeah, it’s one of those ridiculous semantic bullshit arguments I despise, but hey! At least he’s imaginative. Here’s one particular exchange that went to his point.

Stephen G. Breyer

Is there any reason to think that the person who stays in the bank, and then, ah, what a nice idea, I’ll help myself to some money, is any the less violent or at risk of violence or risk of — is there any less risk there than when he gets the idea of going into the bank two weeks earlier?

Jeremy C. Marwell

Yes.

I think the — the — the existence of pre-formed intent, so somebody who comes to the bank with the advance plan to commit another crime shows that they will be more resolute in their desire to accomplish that crime. It may result in them bringing a weapon because they know they’re going to do that.

And I think it aligns with this — with the fact that ACCA is governing career criminals, trying to select people who have that profit motive to do multiple crimes. And you look at the fact patterns of the cases that are really the point of disagreement between us and the government, you know, Gaines from the New York Court of Appeals, a homeless person who breaks into a warehouse to get out of the cold, while he’s in there decides to grab a jacket and is caught coming out, or the case of young people who break into a house not — not intending to steal something — this is the JNS case from Oregon — take something while they’re in there and caught on the way out.

So after losing in lower courts, they ended up at SCOTUS who was asked to define burglary further, and determine if intent had to be present before he wrongly entered the property he then burgled.

SCOTUS found him and his bullshit argument less than impressive, and unanimously told him to go fuck himself. Judgment for United States.

Hear oral arguments, and read about the case here.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Mitchell v. Wisconsin

Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Facts of the case

So this drunkard Mitchell was being a total piece of shit, driving under the influence. In Wisconsin, the legal limit is 0.08% blood alcohol level. This motherfucker was 0.222, nearly four times above the legal limit.

This motherfucker was so drunk in fact, he passed out in the squad car, so the cops had to take his dumb ass to the hospital instead of jail.

At the hospital, he passed out again, so the cops had the hospital take a blood test to determine how drunk this motherfucker was. The astute of you will say, “Hey, that’s a non-consensual search without a warrant.” You’d be right. But Wisconsin has a law that says if you obtain a driver’s license, you automatically agree to such a search.

Anyway, Mitchell thinks this is some bullshit end-run around the 4th amendment. So after trying his level best in Wisconsin court to get them to drop the results of this search, they were like “fuck you, you drunk motherfucker. We need to get your drunk ass off the streets.”

While SCOTUS acknowledges the exigent-circumstances rule allows for a blood test when someone is unconscious, it would have to be a situation where they needed to do so to prevent destruction of evidence, or to save a life. But in this case, the police did have time to get a warrant. So 5:4 decision for Mitchell.

While Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor dissented, they argued that the exigent circumstances rule shouldn’t apply to this bullshit rule in Wisconsin. That the state can’t create a law that basically exempts them from the limits in the Constitution. So they seemed to weirdly side with Mitchell, while still dissenting from the majority opinion which allows the rule, but requires a warrant be obtained in this case, since they had time to do so.

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here.

 

A Libertarian View on Vaping

When non-libertarian people think of libertarianism, the first thought they tend to have, is usually the idea we want to let bad people do bad things as libertarians sit back and watch the world burn. You can probably blame Hollywood’s portrayal of anarchy for this, and the V for Vendetta fans with their creepy Guy Fawkes masks.

As the CDC recently reported here,  an outbreak of lung injury is forming from the use of vaping products, the majority of which are related to products containing THC, which are presumably illegal, and not made under any regulated control.

It’s easy to believe that because libertarians are vehemently against laws recently passed in multiple states banning vaping, that libertarians are happy to watch people get injured or die—that is the impression we have after all. But this is a gross mischaracterization of libertarianism.

The problem lies at the heart of conflating a desire to not legislate away people’s right to do things, with the encouragement of people to do those things.

Libertarians know that vaping is bad for you. And we suffer like anyone else when a family member is injured or killed as a result of using such products. So how would we prevent it?

First, you must know with the failed alcohol prohibition nearly a century ago, and the continued rampant illegal drug use of today despite current prohibitions, that vice bans simply aren’t efficacious for preventing use. Yet, legislators continue going to the dry well of “banning,” hoping it will miraculously produce water this time.

So how do our ideas of removing legislation, and allowing free markets to do what they’ll do help?

  • A free market quickly weeds out inferior quality products, and removes them from the marketplace. Companies go out of business all the time. It would be ridiculous to think that companies who are harming their customers, or selling bad products are thriving, while great companies with superior products are dying. The cream always rises to the top in a free market.
  • A free market ensures investors will invest in the quality of the product, because they aren’t worried about government shutting them down and destroying their investment.
  • A free market drives more people to enter the marketplace with the idea of building a better product in the first place.

How does allowing people to be free help?

  • It removes the allure of doing something forbidden. Just like people all want Cuban cigars, despite the fact Dominicans which are equally good, and perfectly legal, removing bans takes away that excitement of doing something illegal.
  • It removes the risk of an encounter with law enforcement that could end in death, a la Eric Garner, after police attempted to enforce a simple cigarette tax.
  • It allows the usage to be done in a safer place. For instance, you have an issue at a bar that serves legal alcohol, the bar calls 911, an ambulance shows up, and you’re hopefully saved. But if a problem arises at an illegal crack house for instance, they’re probably not calling 911 to come get you from there, tipping police off to the location of the crack house in question.
  • It allows for freer discussions when help is needed. I’m far less likely to ask for help from others, if I fear I’ll go to jail for the actions I’ve taken.

We libertarians do believe you own your own body, and should be free to care for it, or destroy it, however you see fit.

While we want all people to avoid things that may harm them, we don’t want to authorize police to shoot them, or courts to prosecute them, for doing it. Any issues surrounding your health should be between you, and the people you choose to share that information with, such as your doctor, your family, or your friends.

We should all know that freedom is in direct opposition from security. You could be locked up in a padded room, so you’re never able to be harmed or harmed yourself. But it’s a miserable existence for any animal. So we choose freedom instead, and accept the risks that come with it. It may lead to more bad outcomes, but it also leads to many greater outcomes, too.