Tag Archives: logical libertarian

Get rich quick! It can’t lose

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

I have a genius idea and I’m sharing it with you, my loyal readers—and indiscriminate web-surfers who accidentally ended up here while searching for LOLcat memes.

LOL catImagine I have a massive mound of debt, and I’m sick of it. However, I have good credit and am ready to put it to good use. I am going to use that line of credit, borrow every penny I can, and buy up as much stock as I can in companies I believe are the way of the future. I’ll sell that stock for a profit once it gains like I expect it will, and payoff both my old and new debts; maybe even pocket a few bucks along the way.

To be fair, I’m not a professional stock broker or anything, and I really don’t know that much about these industries other than I believe them to be really cool, futuristic, and impressive. Since they’re futuristic companies, I assume they have people much smarter than me solving problems, and therefore, there is little doubt any of them will fail.

I know what you’re thinking; this man is a genius! How can it fail—right?

If you’re still reading, and you’ve never read me before, you’re probably thinking I’m a whack job who bathes in peanut oil while playing GI Joe and pretending he’s fighting off the perfect storm. I’m sorry to say however, that I do not. This genius idea of mine is pure nonsense that no intelligent person should ever endorse it.

But let’s look at what is happening here on our little section of planet Earth commonly referred to as America. We have our hard-earned money forcibly taken from us taxpayers and put into government coffers. When our country was founded, we drafted a constitution that laid out the limitations and responsibilities of our federal government. Those tax dollars were meant to pay for such expenses. In the proper limited government mentality our forefathers intended, that’s all they would pay for, but these days, what was once a mole hill, has become a fairly impressive mountain.

Trillion DollarsIt’s no secret we have a lot of debt. At the time of writing this, we were at 16.5ish trillion dollars. Let’s do some math for fun. A dollar bill is 0.0043 inches thick. Stack 16.5 trillion of them on top of each other and you have a pile 1,119,792 miles high. That’s enough to go to the moon and back twice, then around Earth a couple of times for good measure. I’ve heard Obama and his merry band of Democrats say we don’t have a debt problem, but I suspect he hasn’t done the same math I just did yet. Out of sight, out of mind. So not-so-respectfully, I disagree Mr. President—we have a @#$%& debt problem.

In the president’s infinite wisdom, he’s decided that instead of working on reducing our spending and applying more of our tax dollars to reduce our debt, something any family facing a debt problem would do, he’s decided that he’s going to invest instead. Not only is he going to invest, he’s going to do so having no prior experience or formal training in investments, and he’s investing in things like green energy. For those of you unaware, his schooling is in law. He does not have a degree relating to solar energy, physics, chemistry, biology, or any of the related fields for which these investments are based on.

It’s OK though, because he knows that global warming is settled science. Never mind that the scientific community doesn’t know this. They do know that animal life, including mankind create a lot of CO2, and we have a general idea that as our animal population grows (humans are animals; FYI) it should effect the planet’s ability to radiate the sun’s heat. This effect may be harmful to our ecosystem leading to life-altering consequences.

But we don’t know how our planet will react to it. Plant life thrives in a carbon-rich environment. It’s quite possible that the increase in CO2 from the animal kingdom will merely result in an increase in life from the plant kingdom to counteract it. That’s what an ecosystem does after all; it constantly strives to balance itself out.

There have been several scientific experiments with predicted models that led to surprises instead of confirmed hypotheses. There’s a prime example here. I’m not making the assertion my previous example is true, but suffice it to say that scientists without an agenda all agree we don’t really know exactly how the planet will ultimately react to a growing population.

SolyndraSo if Al Gore turns out to be full of more hot air than facts, these green energy investments will be horrible ones. Putting our eggs in a risky basket is a bad, BAD investment. With failures to a myriad of government boosted companies like Solyndra, clearly the president doesn’t understand the science, smart investing, or that our tax dollars are not his personal E*Trade account in the first place. If he really wants to invest money, I suggest he talk to his friend Warren Buffett and let Berkshire Hathaway lead Uncle Sam down the path of proper investing.

So while my “genius idea” is clearly ridiculous, it is virtually identical to what has been done with our tax dollars for the last 4 years, and our gambling-addict-in-chief is showing no signs of reversing course any time soon.

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Villainy is in the eye of the beholder: The myth of the heartless capitalist

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

If I am to believe the leftist view of us conservatives, we are clearly the most heartless bastards that ever walked the face of the Earth. I know in my heart who I am; I love my family, friends, and mankind as much as the next person. I’ve done my share of selfless acts, solely for the rewards of virtue—I am not an evil man. So I refuse to believe that I am the second coming of Satan because I’m a free-market capitalist.

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney was vilified for saying, “I like to fire people,” but as is all too common, the context was usually missing from quotations of that speech. Only a stone-cold psychopath derives enjoyment from firing people. Romney’s charitable work rules that out if we apply logical evidence-based thought.

Often when people get fired, they have a hard time looking outside themselves at the situations surrounding the termination. I think most people have experienced coworkers whom they felt should be fired. Yet ask anyone who was fired if they feel it was justified, they will almost universally say no. Clearly, there’s a divide between how we perceive ourselves versus how we are perceived by others. We have a hard time accepting criticism, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to support it.

I could agree that it would be heartless to fire someone if we assume that person is incapable of ever finding another job, but we know that is completely untrue. Just as the saying goes that time heals all wounds, you’ll find that more often than not, these “professional divorces” worked out well for both parties in time. The company usually finds a more suitable employee, and the former employee often finds a more rewarding job as well.

Rarely is there a case where an employer and an employee are professional soul mates, and for no good reason, the employer decides to make a change for farts and giggles. Most people who get fired earned it through a lack of effort, poor attitude, sub-par performance, or immoral behavior. The proverbial model employee who gets fired at the whim of a heartless business executive is usually just the musings of Hollywood fiction writers and politicians with a statist agenda.

First and foremost, businesses exist purely as a source of income for the founder; a person who didn’t want to work for someone else, so they went into business for themselves. To believe business owners decided to start a corporation just so they could provide another random person some place to work is a rather silly notion. If they could get by without employees, they would and should.

From there, businesses succeed because they put the right people in the right positions to best grow their corporation. I know that the maintenance guy works his bedonkadonk off; he’s an honorable man. But let’s not make the fantastic assumption that he could step into the role of CEO and double the company profits with his notions of giving everyone a $5 an hour raise and spending $20,000 on a new floor polisher.

It’s not in a corporation’s best interest to fire the worker generating the greatest return on their investment. There are supreme idiots at the management level who make really poor decisions like that, but it’s certainly not the norm, or companies across the nation would be failing ad nauseam.

Stock Market DropA purely scientific and mathematical approach to employees is to understand that for a corporation, employees are simply an investment. A company spends money on a worker in hopes that worker generates more income than they take away. So think of employees as stocks and CEO’s as investors. Success depends on their ability to pick winners and sell off the losers.

Let’s assume for a minute that CEO’s adhered to the ideas of the left. Imagine a one-person company that does home restorations. They start getting good word of mouth advertising, orders pile up, and so they have to hire someone to help. That person arrives eager to work, but after the first day, he’s nailed his hand to the wall, painted a door shut, accidentally drilled through the plumbing causing a leak, and severed some wiring which blew out the circuit breaker panel. The employer has two options: fire him and hope the next hiree is better, or keep him and hope the business survives and he doesn’t accidentally kill everyone. I know that’s an exaggerated example, but the underlying truth is still the same that some employees are simply a liability, not an asset.

According to the anti-capitalist zealots, firing him is heartless and cruel. But from my perspective, him asking an employer to continue paying him even though he’s a huge loss and liability is heartless and cruel. But one should not hold their breath for a bad employee to emulate a disgraced samurai and fire themself in an act of corporate hari-kari; that requires honor unheard of these days.

So what about Mitt Romney? Venture capitalists (VCs) like him find dying companies and buy them for pennies on the dollar in hopes of righting the ship and selling them for dollars on the dollar. If they didn’t fire people, cut dead weight, and try to make better investments, everyone in that organization would lose their jobs. If the VC’s succeed however, they return a company to health, and everyone but those who were fired is saved. It may not be ideal for everyone, but it’s better than the alternative.

Coronary artery bypass surgery
Coronary artery bypass surgery

Think of venture capitalists as surgeons. To the uninformed who walked in on a surgery, it would appear the surgeon was a heartless murderer cutting someone to bits. But if they know the whole story, they understand that while plunging a scalpel into someone’s chest is usually a bad thing and that the patient will surely be weakened and sore for a while, the these painful and dangerous procedures save lives.

In these instances, firing 20% of the staff that are under-performing saves the other 80% from being dragged down with them. What the anti-capitalists call heartless, I call a painful, but life saving procedure. As the left attempt to decry successful capitalists, clear thinking Americans should understand that everyone who has a stable job can thank a successful capitalist.

Entitlements are the seeds of socialism; sociopaths are the fertilizer

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Disclaimer: This article is not about everyone who collects entitlements; many of whom are good and honest people who truly need help. So before I get accused of attacking all of those who collect entitlements, I am only assailing the programs themselves, and those who abuse them.


During one of President Obama’s speeches, he made a statement that was patently false. He stated:

“Nobody wants a handout. Nobody wants something for nothing.”

obamabill1[1]In an ideally moral world, this would be correct, but America is not Utopia. Some people are burdened with a conscience, others simply are not; a basic form of sociopathy.

I saw the videos of a woman; overwhelmingly giddy, saying she couldn’t wait for her Obama money. I personally know people collecting various entitlements even though they are capable of being self-sufficient. These people aren’t urban legends, they’re just the Lazyburg population behaving as if they hit the lottery, and they are out there in droves. So Obama is either ignorant, delusional, disingenuous—or a combination of all three.

Sociopaths and psychopaths are often believed to be the same; these terms are somewhat loosely defined. But in general and for our purposes, we’ll define psychopaths as violent sociopaths, whereas sociopaths are simply people with little or no capacity for empathy, but non-violent. They know what society considers to be morally right and wrong, but only comply to avoid imprisonment or retaliatory assault; their compliance is not out of any sense of morality. They live a life that is exclusively self-serving.

Humans have evolved as social beings. Our ancient ancestors fought off and hunted larger and more dangerous predators and prey by virtue of our intellect and our social interaction with each other—strength in numbers. Being kind to one another is evolutionarily beneficial; a point Dr. Michael Shermer eloquently makes here. But while sociopathy is an anomaly in humans, it isn’t inherently bad, nor even all that uncommon. Scientific American published a great article outlining the silver linings of sociopathy; it’s interesting reading.

The purpose of going into all of this psychobabble is to point out that most entitlement programs are built under the false assumption that people generally do the right thing, but for a much larger portion of the population than these bureaucrats care to admit, this isn’t true. Most logical folks know there are a great number of people who will often fail to do the right thing.

Here are some examples:

  • Disability: Imagine someone hurts their back and can no longer lift anything heavy. Instead of learning a less physically demanding new career, they often opt for disability. The fact that they are living off their neighbor’s tax dollars doesn’t bother them. Why should they work if we’re willing to pay them not to?
  • Welfare: Imagine a woman having multiple children; collecting more from welfare for each one. By paying her more per child, we are assuring she’ll never have to work again. To her; being a baby mill is more desirable and profitable than working or at least finding a supportive spouse and creating a typical family unit. Why should she work when we’ll pay her not to?
  • Unemployment insurance: Imagine someone collecting UI until that perfect opportunity comes along instead of taking a lesser job to get off the government dole sooner. Why should they take a job “beneath” their skills when you’ll pay them to wait until they find something better?

In each case, many of us would see these examples as morally wrong. To the sociopath, it’s merely the path of least resistance. As such, it is quite natural. The questions I asked at the end of each one, are the questions they rhetorically ask to justify this existence.

Beggar_Saint_Elisabeth_Group[1]I do believe that many serial entitlement-collectors wouldn’t have the courage to go to a town gathering, look people in the eye, and ask for money personally. The guilt of knowing they are asking for something they don’t need nor deserve would be too much for most. But with government entitlements, they don’t have to. They can do it behind the anonymity of a government worker, or worse yet, by simply filing an application online or via snail mail. While some may have some semblance of a conscience and are not complete sociopaths, the anonymity shields what little moral fiber they have from any social pressure whatsoever.

So am I saying people shouldn’t get help? Of course not. Most Americans are generous, and willing to help one another. For instance, the Mormon Church is legendary for being the first on scene when a crisis occurs. As tragedies happen around the world, American charities easily out-donate the next most generous country. Charities designed to help unfortunate Americans abound as well. So the idea that Americans wouldn’t help each other if government doesn’t, isn’t backed by any data. Good people who truly need help would often get it, whereas the scammers would be rightfully quashed.

Government caseworkers are charged with preventing fraud, but it’s nearly impossible when they rarely, if ever, meet the claimant. But small social circles know each other. My ex-roommate for instance was someone prone to find a host, pay rent a few months, then fabricate a reason why he can’t find a job, and as such, can’t pay rent. I put a stop to his all-expenses-paid vacation by simply evicting him. But if I were the government, booting him would have been significantly more difficult, lest they be accused of unlawful bias and then sued accordingly.

As the left push for more assistance, I wish to point out that one cannot fraud a program that doesn’t exist in the first place. If we continue to offer free money based on a simple set of criteria, and that money is enough to support a lifestyle, ingenious sociopaths will find a way to meet that criteria, regardless of whether they actually need assistance. It’s the path of least resistance, a phenomenon all of nature generally and understandably adheres to. These people aren’t evil, they’re just not encumbered by social pressure like the rest of us.

when-the-people-find-they-can-vote-themselves-money-that-will-herald-the-end-of-the-republic[1]America is the land of the free, and as heartless as it seems, freedom means being allowed to fail as well. Charities, churches, social groups, and loved ones will find a way to help the truly needy. That was never something this government was intended to do. I say that entitlements are the seeds of socialism, but Benjamin Franklin said it best:

When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.

We cannot let quasi-socialists redefine our love for freedom as heartlessness. Good people will almost always help other good people. They just need the government to stop stealing the money they would otherwise have to do so.

 

The World’s Most Expensive Game Of Hot Potato. It wasn’t just Bush

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

According to the president, our current economic issues can be blamed on his predecessor. To say I’m skeptical, is an understatement. This is a very complicated issue, and there are many variables that I am not going to go into here. I do however want to break down a few of the facts that have been reported, albeit not nearly enough by media outlets dedicated to advancing a growth-of-government agenda.

First let me point out, that the economy tanked after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The White House, USHOR, and Senate at the time were under GOP control. During those 6 years, we enjoyed steady growth of the GDP after those attacks as evidenced here, which didn’t start dropping again until 2008, as Bush completed his term.

In 06senate2-6001[1]2006 however, the GOP lost control of both houses of congress. While we so often lay our woes at the President’s feet, many forget that Congress is actually the entity enacting laws and changing our regulatory climate. One of the fundamental differences between the left and the right is the idea of self-reliance versus government assistance. As the right pushed to deregulate, the left pushed to control the marketplace in such a way to promote themselves as the champions of the less fortunate.

The cycle of events, in a nutshell, basically went like this:

Bush recognized that like any industry, there was too much government involvement in mortgage lending and worked with congress to deregulate it, in order to grow our economy after 9/11. As a result, home ownership grew as interest rates fell, and the mortgage industry boomed thanks to a newly freer market.

Democrats took over Congress in 2006 and decided that as mortgage companies became more profitable, they should be required to redistribute the wealth to those less fortunate; a mantra that uniquely separates the modern-day DNC from those of us on the side of liberty. If it worked, not only would the DNC controlled congress look good, Bush would too; which potentially explains his lack of effort in preventing it.

Their intent was to force banks to loan to people who had bad credit, in an effort to increase home ownership among them. While this may seem admirable, it ignores the fact that people are not born with bad credit, but instead no credit. They usually earn that low credit rating by leading a credit risky lifestyle full of wasteful spending and bad career choices. I am not insinuating that there are some people who have bad credit through no fault of their own, but those people barely outnumber the world’s chupacabra population.

Banks, bank-owned-home.gi.top[1]being much more qualified at banking than politicians (something the arrogance of many politicians prevents them from understanding) rightfully objected based on the knowledge that these loans would likely end in default. The left, in order to advance their agenda of helping poor credit risks, insisted banks make these loans lest they face regulatory pressure. To make matters worse, these well-meaning politicians offered to guarantee the loans if they defaulted. When I say they guaranteed them however, let’s be clear that they guaranteed it with OUR money; not their own.

So, banks begrudgingly did what they were compelled to do and made loans they knew were bad. However, this is where it got ugly. Banks have money because they know how to invest. They had a poor investment foisted on them, and the investment had a face value that was clearly much higher than its actual value. Something they understood, but We The People did not.

What happened at this point became the world’s most elaborate and expensive game of “hot potato” as banks scurried to sell these overvalued loans to anyone who would buy them. The banks knew they were junk, and sold them as gold, which is what the left routinely and rightly attack them for; but, can you honestly blame them? The fact is, banks are in business to make money, and they’re damn good at it. If they’re successful, everyone who is either employed by them, owns shares of their stock, or is qualified and needs to borrow money, wins.

While what they did was dishonest, they did what was needed to mitigate a risk that was improperly foisted upon them by Uncle Sam in the first place. If your financial future depended on it, wouldn’t you do it too?

While the left mean well, the issue is that unlike us normal people, many of them don’t actually know the horrible credit risks among us. They assume and behave as if they’re all victims of the rich or just recipients of bad luck. In reality, most are people like my former friend who couldn’t be bothered to show up for work or hold his tongue when disciplined, and wasn’t interested in a reasonable diet or exercise. As a result, he bounced from job to job like a marble in a blender while leaching off anyone who would help him as his health predictably declined. Making an effort to be self-sufficient was of no concern to him as long as he had friends and government assistance who aided and abetted his laziness and irresponsibility.

This behavior is quite common among the many people I know who banks would normally choose to reject. These people do not learn from their mistakes, because do-gooders won’t allow them to fully see the consequences of their actions by letting them hit rock bottom.

If tight_rope_walker_530w[1]I asked you to walk a tight rope across a couple of 20-story buildings; unless you’re a tightrope artist, you wouldn’t dream of saying yes. If I put a safety net underneath you and take away the risk; all of a sudden, your odds of engaging in such a risky behavior went way WAY up. Something no one should logically do as it is certain death, all of a sudden became something that might be fun. This phenomenon is exemplary of the credit risks among us, walking the credit tight rope because we have a bankruptcy safety net underneath them.

So as the current crop of DNC politicians continue to blame Bush for our economic woes, the fact is he is only guilty of ignorance. He didn’t foresee the impending doom from government compelled lending, and didn’t do something to stop it or warn us. But the villains in this scenario are the government as a whole. They were the impetus as well as being ignorant. Had they listened to the bankers; you know, the people who actually know what they’re doing—none of this would have happened.

To his credit, President Bush did accept his own culpability in not doing something about the storm that was brewing, but predictably, Barney Frank and his ilk continue to blame Bush without a shred of decency to accept their part in this mess. This lack of humility and responsibility sticks to many politicians like cat hair on a sweater.

Since the left-leaning news agencies of today can’t be bothered to assign fault to Democrats and Republicans alike, it’s incumbent upon people like me to do their job for them. Those of us with the knowledge of the events that transpired must not only blame Bush-the-ignorant, but start blaming people like Barney-Frank-The-Complicit. As so often is the case, the problem is, and likely always will be, more government. When they stray away from the duties defined in our Constitution, We the people become We the victims.

 

Yelling Fire In A Theater Is Not An Infringement Of Your Right To Free Speech

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

As modern-day statists decry or attempt to explain the Constitution; something they often neither respect nor understand, they use the example about yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater as an example of how the restrictions of government as enumerated in the Constitution are not absolute, are outdated, and sometimes just wrong.US Constitution

Regarding the absolution of it; I assure you that while the Constitution was designed to be amendable if We the people overwhelmingly agree to do so, it is absolute; or at least it was intended to be. Yet, arresting someone for falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater, believe it or not, does not violate the 1st amendment in any way. It can, and should be a crime without freedom of speech having ever been infringed upon.

Last week in my article Why Can’t I have a Nuclear Warhead, I explained how owning an AR-15 versus owning a nuke is a frivolous argument that people who wish to abandon our Constitution often use. So this week, I’ll do my best to debunk this one as well.

If you are in a movie theater, you may freely say the words fire, bomb, I just farted, or whatever else you may exclaim that could scare the heck out of everyone if said loud enough.

Conversely, if there were a fire, you would be right, and frankly a hero, to warn everyone by yelling “Fire”. This being true, using those words in a theater will not get you arrested as a general rule either when appropriate.

The issue is not the action of exercising your free speech, it’s about creating a hazardous environment for people by virtue of yelling fire or any other method you might use. Because this then creates a panic, and thus a dangerous situation where people could be trampled or otherwise harmed in some way as they attempt to evade a danger that only existed in your sadistic mind. You could pull the fire alarm, not yell anything, and you’d be guilty of the same violation; so the speech used is never the issue.

By creating a panic, you infringe on someone’s right to life, as enumerated in the Constitution, since a panicked crowd becomes a serious health hazard to everyone involved.

colonial_flee_540[2]Sadly, our Constitution is misunderstood, violated, and under attack every day. As Americans, we should understand that the Constitution was right long before we even fully understood how to implement it. We were slave owners declaring all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights, after all.

The Constitution has never been the problem—it had it right all along. People violating it has, and always will be. So let’s not let the left destroy it with false premises, logical fallacies, or misdirection. We the people should take the time to read, understand, protect, and promote the Constitution responsibly. Our liberty depends on debunking such false arguments. Hopefully, as people like me explain away them, you’ll be better prepared for your next debate.

We need science, not knee-jerk reactions

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Previously, I showed that stats don’t add up when making the case that gun owners are dangerous. Conservative estimates show that for every one person who murders with a gun in a given year, there are approximately 100,000 that own guns without incident—1:100,000 does not a  pattern make, by any standard.Armalite AR-15

I do not subscribe to the, do-something-even-if-it’s-wrong mantra. If the desired outcome is a positive result, doing the wrong thing is fundamentally illogical, and will in all likelihood make matters worse—the infamous Washington DC Gun Ban is a prime example.

When children die, it’s always tragic. Being the intelligent beings we humans are, it’s in our nature to solve problems—that’s a basic part of our evolution. A tragedy such as Sandy Hook would push anyone to action, even if that action was contrary to their own long-held beliefs.

For instance, the famous skeptic Dr Michael Shermer, someone whom I greatly admire and partially credit for shaping my way of thinking, wrote this article  in January of 2012, only to reverse course a bit in the wake of this recent tragedy; he now compassionately asks for a restriction on guns.

I respect the passion with which people have decided to come out in favor of banning so-called “Assault” rifles (a made up term), their concern is understandable. The fact that someone famous for always putting logic over passion like Dr. Shermer can change his opinion shows this issue can move anyone.blog4

But, I believe removing guns from law-abiding and sane citizens will only save one potential victim while making a potential victim out of another. It seems more of a knee-jerk reaction than a logically deduced solution.

We know how many lives were ended by guns, however we can never know the lives saved because a killer was stopped by a good Samaritan with a gun.

For instance, if the Sandy Hook shooter had been shot by a teacher immediately after killing his first victim, there would have been no way to know he would have went on to kill 25 more. As such, you should be wary of anyone who says they have data proving that guns kill more lives than they save. Such numbers are purely theoretical and often swayed by the writer’s opinion.

One common attack levied at gun control dissenters is, “Yes, let’s do nothing.” Sadly, this is a straw man argument that does nothing to further intelligent discussion. Most rational people are not proposing we do nothing, certainly not me. So making that statement towards gun control skeptics as if we advocate doing nothing, then attacking us for being do-nothing people is insulting and wrong.

So in the wake of this awful tragedy, I am proposing we use good science to improve this issue.

In order to keep this story reasonably short, I’m going to focus on spree killers such as the Sandy Hook shooter (for the record, I am purposefully not mentioning the name). If we are to get serious about reducing all violent crime, repealing “vice” laws against certain drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc., is needed. We know this because repealing prohibition worked, yet for reasons of religious ideology, we continue to ban many other victimless crimes because zealots consider them to be immoral.

One of the traits that seems very common amongst spree killers of any type, whether they use a gun, bomb, arson, or any other deadly means of attack, is that they often had a documented history of mental illness and/or psychopathic behavior.

Based on this information, I believe there is usable data that is not being fully taken advantage of. What I am proposing is that the American Psychological Association (APA) have a convention where an open invitation is sent to any psychiatrist who has treated a patient who went on to commit these heinous acts. americanpsychoass[1]

Those doctors would confer and collect data about common traits that were exhibited amongst most or all of the attackers they worked with. This data would be published in medical journals for other mental health professionals to review and provide relevant feedback. The APA would then assemble a list of traits they feel are consistent among spree killers while ruling out those traits that were consistent among killers and non-killers alike. Once we have done this, we should have a reasonable collection of warning signs that can be shared with the public so that we can be aware of what to look for amongst society.

This approach is similar to what was asked of us after 9/11 where the public was given warning signs to look out for to prevent terrorism. If a family member, friend, or acquaintance is behaving in a manner consistent with the behavioral patterns of these killers, we can be more prepared to act.

Gun owners like me for instance, might lock up our guns in a secure safe or remove them from the house altogether. We could call a local medical health facility about what we’ve seen to determine if the person in question may need evaluated. If the person has already been diagnosed and prescribed medication for their issues, we must be diligent about reporting if they go off their meds, which may result in violence.

One look at the Giffords shooter’s (Also not mentioning his name) YouTube videos was rather convincing that the man needed help. I feel that if mental health professionals worked harder at getting info to the public about what to look for and when to report it, the caring among us would do exactly that, and unlike gun bans, lives could be saved with few deadly unintended consequences.

Murder rate statistics of the United States show we are well below average among the rest of the world, so being an alarmist is hyperbole at best—we are not experiencing an epidemic, and immediate action isn’t needed. Other studies have shown that violent crime is simply in steady decline around the world. As we evolve as a species, we become more intelligent, and less violent.

But politicians use hyperbole to advance a political agenda like Gordon Ramsay uses swear words to make a point. There is no epidemic, spike in violence, or reason for panic. What is needed are clear thinking medical scientists applying the scientific method towards mental health issues, then educating the public on how best to deal with them.

As a libertarian, I cringe at the notion of government locking someone up on the premise they might be a threat before they’ve actually done anything wrong. So I believe incarceration should only be done at the behest of licensed medical professionals, and there should be appeals in place to help these people get a second opinion if they feel they are being unfairly detained.

While I’m advocating for advancements in mental health science, and using those advancements to identify threats and potentially get them out of society until they are no longer deemed a threat, it is imperative that like our prison system, we take every step to not detain someone who is of little threat to society.519x361[1]

Logical Americans must demand we use science, not knee-jerk reactions and politically motivated legislation to solve our problems. There’s a reason we have cures for thousands of diseases, rovers on Mars, and mobile phones the size of a playing card—it’s called the scientific method. Unlike politicians and hyperbole, it leads to truths and it actually works—let’s stick with it.

 

Involuntary Collusion: A Regulation Even This Libertarian Can Embrace

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Libertarians and capitalists rightfully despise regulations in a free market since it erodes, thwarts, and deincentivizes innovation. But one thing that has always caused me to wrestle with my non-regulation-is-king beliefs is the concept of regulating involuntary collusion. I’m coining the phrase mind you, so don’t bother Googling it.

Companies are supposed to compete with one another by either lowering prices, increasing quality, or both—each one taking a unique approach to the same end. If they are free to innovate, the consumers win as companies go to war on the gridiron of commerce.  Anyone who has ever ran faster than the person next to them, solely because that person was running faster than them, knows that competition yields greater performance.Foot Race

Now let’s talk about collusion. It is illegal for business heads to get together and agree to cooperate in some way as to benefit themselves at the expense of the consumer or worker.

For instance, NFL team owners could not collectively decide that they are paying the players too much and all agree to cut payroll across the board. Nor could they decide they don’t consider game jersey profits high enough and agree to bump the price 10% across the board. I’m not going to go into the  history of collusion, but suffice it to say that it violates the concept of free market capitalism because it’s the opposite of competition; it’s cooperation.

The astute of you will notice I used the word collectively that last paragraph. So you might ask why it’s OK for employees to collectively bargain? It is certainly legalized collusion after all. Short answer—I have no %$#&ing idea why it’s allowed. I covered this in my article Why is this even legal? so I won’t go into it here.Rally Held To Stand In Solidarity With Union Workers Across The Country

Now that we understand what a free market is supposed to be and what collusion is, what do I mean by involuntary collusion?

Free market capitalism allows for consumers who don’t like what one company is doing, to find another that doesn’t engage in that practice. However, in industry there exists the term Industry Standards which threaten this principle. Sometimes it just refers to a best practice where years of competing have brought all companies to a similar ultimate conclusion. For instance: tool companies like Mac or Snap-On who give a lifetime warranty on their tools because their competition is doing it and they need to keep up. Since you can’t “one-up” a lifetime warranty, it just becomes an industry standard best practice. But other times it involves companies doing something that the public despises, yet because all companies do it, consumers can no longer avoid the practice.

A perfect example of government regulating this is the National Do-Not-Call List. Companies found that automated telemarketing was cheap, easy, and effective. Even though consumers hated these robo-calls, many corporations adopted this practice leaving consumers without the ability to avoid it. So we the people had to look to government to make them stop.

In these situations, companies all do the same thing, just as they would be if they were colluding against the consumer, but they never agreed to it—it just happened involuntarily through corporate evolution.

Let me give a non-government example of how such legislation can be effective and important. In auto racing, weight is the enemy; therefore nothing is needlessly added to a car that would add weight, unless that thing generates more speed that overcomes the loss of speed from the added weight.

However, safety equipment doesn’t make a car go faster, the weight is a hindrance; it exists solely to protect the driver in an accident. So race series directors often must enact regulations that require such safety equipment be on the cars of all participants. Race teams are paid to win, so if you don’t force them all to comply, the ones who do, always lose to the teams who throw caution to the wind. The only way to get one team to comply and make life safe for their drivers is to require they all comply—leaving no one with a competitive advantage. Think of it as the governing body of racing protecting the rights to life of the driver.070812_dd_ww_IMG_6162[1]

So in the same vein, I do believe that because our country is based on free market capitalist principles, it’s important our government ensure the market is indeed free. It isn’t enough to know there are multiple companies in the marketplace—we must insure they are indeed competing with each other.

With this in mind, I feel it important to say that even as a libertarian and free market guy, I am 100% behind the new laws in six states prohibiting employers from requiring employees to disclose personal online passwords and data. Companies are hiring you for your ability to work. Whether you like to bathe in peanut oil and play with Barbies while watching Big Bang Theory reruns on your own time has no consequence on your ability to enter data into a computer. What you do in the privacy of your own home or amongst friends is none of their business.

My right to privacy is directly linked to my right to pursue happiness, something our Declaration of Independence says I was born with, and my government has a duty to protect.

Businesses are supposed to succeed by appealing to consumers, not by collectively taking advantage of them. We’ve seen what happens when we allow companies to collude by watching business tycoons past. It was anything but good for the people, the workers, or the economy—it becomes, in effect, a conglomerate monopoly.

Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D Rockefeller
Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D Rockefeller

So while I want us to deregulate on a massive scale that would cause Republicans and Democrats alike to shiver from the cold harshness of liberty, I do think lawmakers would be well served to find instances where companies have adopted an industry standard where by which businesses are no longer competing; unwittingly or not, against the consumer, and then quash it accordingly. The strength of our economy and our liberty depend on it.