Archive for the ‘#commonsense’ Tag

RIP, Net Neutrality   Leave a comment

Net Neutrality is gone.  Yay!

Let’s try to understand what Net Neutrality is really all about.

Image result for image of net neutrality destroying the internetContrary to popular belief, the evil ISPs were not creating a have/have not divide in Internet access prior to Barack Obama’s interference in the Internet. What Net Neutrality really did was create massive subsidies to the biggest bandwidth hogs on the planet – Facebook, Google, Twitter, Netflix and … yeah, the porn industry.

Under Net Neutrality these platforms flourished along with the rise of the mobile internet, which is now arguably more important than the ‘desktop’ one in your home and office.  Google and Apple control access to the mobile web in a way that net neutrality proponents can only dream the bandwidth providers like Comcast and AT&T could.

Comcast & AT&T never had that power. Ultimately, consumers decide how much bandwidth costs. We decide how much we can afford for these creature comforts like streaming Netflix while riding the bus or doing self-indulgent Instagram videos of our standing in line at the movies. The ISPs can’t charge us more than we’re willing to pay and a great many of us were not willing to pay, so Netflix and Google began advocating for Net Neutrality, which took the pricing of bandwidth out of the hands of consumers and handed the profits from it to Google and Facebook and their advertisers.

By mandating ‘equal access’ and equal fee structures the advertisers behind Google and Facebook could spend their budgets without much thought or care.  Google and Facebook ad revenue soared under Net Neutrality because advertisers’ needs are not aligned with Google’s bottom line, but with consumers’.

Because of that, the price paid to deliver the ad, i.e. Google’s cost of goods sold, thanks to Net Neutrality, was held artificially low.  And Google, Facebook and the Porn Industry pocketed the difference, allowing Google and Facebook to grow more powerful.  That difference was never passed onto the ISP who could then, in turn, pass it on to the consumer. Thus our Internet access costs increased, while Facebook’s advertising costs were held stable.

All thanks to Net Neutrality.

With the rise of the mobile web, bandwidth should have been getting cheaper and easier to acquire at a much faster rate than it has.  Net Neutrality didn’t allow for that. It kept rates of return on new bandwidth projects and new technology suppressed. Money the ISP’s should have been spending laying more fiber, putting up more cell towers, building better radios went to Google to fritter away on endless projects that never see the light of day.

Net Neutrality guaranteed that the infrastructure for new high-speed bandwidth would grow at the slowest possible rate, still governed by the maximum the consumer was willing to pay for bandwidth, rather than what the consumer actually demanded.

Think it through, Net Neutrality not only subsidized intrusive advertising, phishing scams and on-demand porn but also the very censorship these powerful companies now feel is their sacred duty to enforce because the government is now controlled by “the bad guys”.

Getting rid of Net Neutrality will put the costs of delivering all of this worthless content back onto the people serving it.  YouTube will become more expensive for Google and all of the other content-delivery networks.  Facebook video will eat into its bottom line.

The ISP’s can and should throttle them until they ‘pay their fair share,’ which they plainly have not been. Yes, your ISP may temporarily charge you more for Netflix or Hulu … although it’s more likely Netflix and Hulu will have to charge you more. We’ll then find out the real cost of delivering 4k streaming content to your iPhone actually costs.

Meanwhile, those costs will filter down to the ISP’s such that they can respond to demand for more bandwidth.  Of course AT&T will overcharge us because they are just as bad as bad as Google and Facebook, but … here’s where the rubber hits the road … consumer have a right to say “no” and stop using the services the way Net Neutrality’s mispricing of service encouraged us to. If the ISP’s want more customers then they’ll have to bring wire out to the hinterlands.

Net Neutrality proponents kept telling us this was the way to help keep the Internet available to the poor and the rural.  That’s ridiculous. I’m surrounded by rural and can say confidently that Net Neutrality kept the Internet from expanding properly into the countryside. While Fairbanks has cable and DSl, my brother who lives only about eight miles out of town has neither. He’s 10 or 15 years behind everyone else in getting decent bandwidth, yet he lives in a fairly densely built neighborhood. He has never streamed Netflix because the wiring to his house cannot support it. Instead,  he gets cable television from Dish Network, with a signal so weak it’s been known to cut out during a spring rain. (That’s not Dish’s fault, really, but a factor of their satellites barely being over the horizon at this latitude.

 

We’re still waiting for the phone provider in our residential area to upgrade the bandwidth.  We even installed a second line for Internet service, but the service is so overloaded, it dropped two or three times every evening. So we switched to cable, even though we don’t want cable television. Why are we still a half-decade or more behind the rest of the nation? The return on new lines isn’t high enough for them.

If Google was passing some of the profits from Adwords onto the ISPs, I’d have multiple choices for high-speed Internet versus just one DSL provider, and maybe I’d also have more than one choice for cable. And maybe it would be affordable. I currently pay $90 a month for Internet only, no cable television. It would be another $80 if we wanted to watch television. But we can stream Netflix and Hulu if we’re willing to pay the price.

As always, whenever the political left tries to protect the poor they wind up making things worse for them.

The news of Net Neutrality’s demise is good for a variety of reasons. With Net Neutrality gone, a major barrier to entry for content delivery networks is gone. Blockchain companies are building systems which cut the middle man out completely, allowing content creators to be directly tipped for their work versus being supported by advertising no one watches, wants or is swayed by.

Services like Steemit and the distributed application already built and to be built on it point the way to social media cost models which are sustainable and align the incentives properly between producers of content and consumers.

Steem internalizes the bandwidth costs of using the network and pays itself a part of its token reward pool to cover those costs.  So, all that’s left is content producers and their fans.  Advertisers are simply not needed to maintain the network.

Net Neutrality was a Trojan horse designed to replicate the old shout-based advertising model of the Golden Age of print and TV advertising.  It was a way to control the megaphone and promote a particular point of view.

Look no further than the main proponents of it.  George Soros and the Ford Foundation are two of the biggest lobbyists for Net Neutrality.  Only the political left and its Marxian fantasies of evil middle men creating monopolies fell for the lies.

The rest of us were like, “Really?  This is not a problem.”  And it wasn’t until you looked under the hood and realized all they stood to gain by it.

Now, with Net Neutrality gone the underlying problem can be addressed; franchise monopolies of cable and phone companies in geographic areas.  These laws are still in effect. They still hang like ice fog over the entire industry.  Like Net Neutrality, these laws concentrate capital into the hands of the few providers big enough to keep out the competition.

So, instead of championing the end of franchise monopolies, which county governments love because they get a sizable cut of the revenue to fund non-essential programs, the Left made things worse by championing Net Neutrality.

That also needs to end.  Even if you believe that franchise monopolies were, at one point, necessary, they aren’t now.  IP-based communication is now fundamentally different than copper wire for discrete services like phone and cable.  Let people run all the copper and fiber they want.  There’s plenty of room in the conduit running under our sidewalks and streets.

Then and only then will the Internet be free.

Advertisements

Posted January 9, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense

Tagged with , , ,

Here We Go Again   Leave a comment

By Andrew P. Napolitano

For the second time in two months, someone who has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State has plotted to kill innocents in New York City and has executed his plot.

Found on Lew Rockwell

Image result for andrew napolitanoAccording to police, at the height of the Monday morning rush hour this week, in an underground pedestrian walkway that I have used many times, in the middle of Manhattan, a permanent legal resident of the United States named Akayed Ullah detonated a bomb he had strapped to his torso in an effort to kill fellow commuters and disrupt massively life in New York.

The bomb was inartfully constructed, and it injured slightly four people nearby and Ullah himself seriously. He survived, was captured on the spot and is now in the joint custody of the New York Police Department and the FBI in the prison ward of Bellevue Hospital.

Ullah’s wounds had barely been addressed by emergency room physicians when the calls began to resonate in the government and in the media to strip him of his constitutional rights and ship him to a military facility in South Carolina or at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

These voices argued without access to any evidence that because the Islamic State is a foreign power with an army that has sworn to do harm to Americans and destroy our way of life, its soldiers have no constitutional protections when they go about their destruction. Ullah is a soldier of this foreign army, this argument goes, and should be treated as a soldier under the Geneva Conventions. That means he should be removed from the civilian judicial system and interrogated and tried by the military.

Suicide Pact: The Radi…Andrew P. NapolitanoBest Price: $3.77Buy New $3.77(as of 12:55 EST – Details)

This argument essentially suggests that the police in New York or the FBI or the president somehow possesses the lawful authority from some unstated source, before guilt has been adjudicated, to suspend Ullah’s fundamental rights. This view of human liberty treats personal rights — even those guaranteed by the Constitution — as if they were gifts from the government offered in return for good behavior. Yet it defies history and the plain meaning of the Constitution.

Ullah’s rights to legal counsel and to a jury trial are expressly guaranteed by the Constitution; hence, no government official, no matter how powerful or well-intended, can interfere with them. The right to counsel attaches whenever anyone is confined against his will, charged with a crime or interrogated by authorities — whichever occurs first. The right to a jury trial attaches whenever the government wants the life, liberty or property of any person. The constitutional language guarantees these rights to every “person” — not citizens, not Americans and not just good people.

In Ullah’s case, the harm authorities say he caused occurred in the U.S. — while he was physically and lawfully in the U.S., where he was apprehended — so it is extremely unlikely that the crowd that denies the supremacy of the Constitution will get its way.

The Freedom Answer Boo…Andrew P. NapolitanoBest Price: $4.19Buy New $5.58(as of 04:40 EST – Details)

The failure to respect Ullah’s rights because he has said he was inspired by a foreign power would commence a slippery and horrific slope, down which any person who is hated or feared or appears foreign or different or misunderstood at any given moment might be pushed.

As a practical matter, the NYPD and the FBI are far better at gathering evidence than the military, and federal prosecutors are far better at getting convictions than are their military counterparts. It is a Hollywood-infused myth that Guantanamo Bay produces results. It does not. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has been waiting in Gitmo for 15 years for his military trial.

When voices in the government clamor for the removal of fundamental liberties, it is often to mask the government’s own failures. I have argued for many years that government surveillance will turn us into East Germany — a modern-day totalitarian society that collapsed in 1989. I have also argued that surveillance doesn’t work. The place in which the Monday explosion occurred is one of the most video-surveilled in New York. Do the police watch these videos in real time as was promised when the cameras were installed? They do not.

It Is Dangerous to Be …Andrew P. NapolitanoBest Price: $2.49Buy New $12.69(as of 04:05 EST – Details)

As well, Ullah’s mobile phone recorded his whereabouts and communications prior to the explosion, also in real time, and the National Security Agency had all this, in real time. Did the NSA share it with the NYPD? It did not.

Some in government have asked what good the Constitution is if it fails to keep us safe. That is a bit silly, isn’t it? The Constitution is a piece of paper on which is written the supreme law of the land. Its purpose was to establish the federal government and to limit all government. But it is only as valuable to personal freedom as is the fidelity to it of those in whose hands we repose it for safekeeping. If the people we have hired to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution can cut corners to get to bad people, what will protect us when they want to cut corners to get to the rest of us?

When President Abraham Lincoln cut constitutional corners during the Civil War, he was unanimously rebuffed by the Supreme Court. The case, Ex parte Milligan, involved a civilian whom the government sought to try in a military court. The high court wrote: “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism.”

This danger of the mob’s approving the curtailment of constitutional protections for unpopular monsters is as real today as it was after the Civil War. We must vigorously guard against it.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

 

An Adult Finally Enters the Room   Leave a comment

By Bionic Mosquito

A Libertarian Theory of Free Immigration, by Jesús Huerta de Soto

…libertarian doctrine traditionally declared itself, with no qualifications or reservations, in favor of the principle of complete freedom of emigration and immigration.

Found on Lew Rockwell

Image result for image of non-aggression principle and open bordersFrom the title of his essay and this sentence in the opening paragraph, I approached this piece with some caution – given my view that one cannot derive “open borders” from the non-aggression principle.  Maybe I am just a bit jumpy, given recent discussions of the topic.

I am glad, however, that I stuck to it and read the entire essay.  De Soto rightly points out the violations of the non-aggression principle inherent in the state’s management of border control.  But he also sees that this coin is not one-sided:

However, the coercive action of the state manifests itself not only in hindering the free movement of people, but, at the same time, in forcing the integration of certain groups of people against the wishes of the natives of a given state or region.

This coin has two sides, and the two sides are almost irreconcilable – and certainly not conducive to simple slogans like “open borders is the only libertarian position!”

Time to buy old US gold coins

In light of their apparently contradictory nature, the foregoing problems show the importance of isolating their real origin, and piecing together a libertarian theory of immigration that clarifies the principles that should govern the processes of immigration and emigration in a free society.

Which de Soto does.  He begins by examining the pure libertarian model, as explained by Rothbard (and which generated so much heat for me when I referred to it); it is a model of full private property rights – a model that, inherently, means borders managedby the property owner:

The conditions, volume, and duration of personal visits will be those accepted or decided by the parties involved.

And that would be that; an easy problem to solve if there were no state borders and if all property was private.

But the problem becomes more complicated when factoring in the reality of the state:

Thus, today, there is often the paradox that those who wish to abide scrupulously by the law find that their movements are not permitted, even if desired by all the parties involved. At the same time, the existence of public goods and the free availability of welfare-state benefits attract, like a magnet, a continuous tide of immigration, mostly illegal, which generates significant conflicts and external costs.

I am not allowed to invite who I choose and I am forced to suffer and pay for who I do not want.  It is not a libertarian solution to take one side of this coin and not the other – it is merely a different scheme of a state-managed border.

I have many other issues from a libertarian perspective with the open borders position in a world of state borders.  I have written extensively about these in the past, so I will merely summarize here:

  • As a property owner has the right to manage his border, he has the right to join with his neighbors to form a common agreement.
  • He and his neighbors also have the right to grant agency to a third party to manage their outside borders.
  • That the state has forced these neighbors to “hire” the state to act as the agent does not remove the right that the property owners hold.

Finally, as state borders cannot be derived by a strict application of the NAP one must look to the minarchist position; as minarchists allow for the state to provide defense…how is defense to be provided unless the state is knowledgeable about who crosses the border and for what purpose?

Returning to de Soto:

The ideal solution to all these problems would come from the total privatization of the resources which are today considered public, and the disappearance of state intervention at all levels in the area of emigration and immigration.

I have had this discussion with Walter Block who has acknowledged the issue.  It is not only the ideal solution; before a fully libertarian solution can be offered, full private property rights must be supported.

Related imageI find this much different than for issues like drug laws, prostitution, etc.  In each of those cases, the state need do only one thing: eliminate the laws that criminalize non-violent behavior.  Nothing more need be done; this action causes no damage to me or my property.  In fact, the damage to me is reduced as the government need not tax me to pay for enforcement and incarceration of these non-criminals.

But for open borders, two actions must occur: eliminating state border control and also supporting full private property rights; without both actions, attacks on my property increase.  The number of ways by which attacks increase are too numerous to list, but should be apparent.

De Soto offers some considerations for something approaching a libertarian solution to this question in a world of state borders:

However, as long as nation-states continue to exist, we must find “procedural” solutions that allow the problems to be solved under present conditions.

We are left with discovering second-best solutions as long as there is a state.  One can debate which of (or which combination of) these second-best solutions might move us closest toward the libertarian ideal, but this is what we have.

In other words, our choice is not either / or: either wide-open borders or we are inherently supporting every state violation regarding international travel.  There are options for libertarians to support other than these:

The first of these principles is that people who immigrate must do so at their own risk. This means that immigration must in no way be subsidized by the welfare state, i.e., by benefits provided by the government and financed through taxes.

This would certainly be required in a libertarian, private-property order.

The second principle that should inspire current policy is that all immigrants must be able to demonstrate that they have independent means of support, and thus will not be a burden on the taxpayers.

This would certainly be required in a libertarian, private-property order.  It strikes me that this should also be guaranteed by a sponsor.

The third essential principle is that under no circumstance should the political vote be granted to immigrants quickly, since this would create the danger of political exploitation by various groups of immigrants.

Well, there would be no such as “political votes” in the same sense in a full private property order.  But is there something libertarian about giving equal political standing to strangers in today’s order?

As long as we have states, we are going to have people who are citizens.  Are non-citizens entitled to all of the same privileges and protections that are afforded to a citizen?  Strangers, unaccustomed to anything of the local culture and tradition and mores, have an equal say in the politics of the country?  On what basis, I wonder.

Finally, the most important principle is that all immigrants must at all times observe the law, particularly the criminal law, of the social group that receives them.

This would certainly be required in a libertarian, private-property order.  And, again, this should also be guaranteed by the sponsor.

Imagine if these steps were in place today.  How much simpler – and more libertarian – would the border crossing be in such a condition?  Of course, a state agent (presumably) would still confirm proper documentation and sponsorship, but beyond this they would have no role.

That strikes me about as libertarian as we are going to get as long as there are state borders.

Conclusion

Finally, an adult enters the room.  What do I mean by this?  Someone who recognizes that this is not a simple black and white issue, not when viewed strictly through the lens of the non-aggression principle.

De Soto has described well the issues and has offered solutions that bring us toward a libertarian view on a topic where we are inherently stuck with second-best choices.  I have in the past written of very similar solutions – solutions that in a private property order would certainly be enforced.

If you want further demands for government action when it comes to immigration, keep pushing for open borders in today’s world and with today’s conditions.  If you truly want less government involvement in immigration and border control, work toward full private property rights; in the meantime, consider how de Soto’s list mimics as well as possible a private property order in a world of state borders – then advocate for these.

It would be the adult thing to do.

I will conclude with the comment I left at the site:

A very thoughtful and considered presentation, demonstrating that in a world of state borders there is no “pure” libertarian answer to the question of immigration. Instead, we are left – as de Soto has done – to discuss and develop methods and procedures that can mimic a libertarian solution within the confines of monopoly state control of borders, as much as such a thing is possible.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.

Independence Hypocrisy   1 comment

 

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/12/walter-e-williams/independence-hypocrisy/

Image result for image of walter e williamsOfficials in Catalonia, Spain’s richest and most highly industrialized region, whose capital is Barcelona, recently held a referendum in which there was a 92 percent vote in favor of independence from Spain. The Spanish authorities opposed the referendum and claimed that independence is illegal. Catalans are not the only Europeans seeking independence. Some Bavarian people are demanding independence from Germany, while others demand greater autonomy. Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled: “In the Federal Republic of Germany … states are not ‘masters of the constitution.’ … Therefore, there is no room under the constitution for individual states to attempt to secede. This violates the constitutional order.”

Germany has done in Bavaria what Spain and Italy, in its Veneto region, have done; it has upheld the integrity of state borders. There is an excellent article written by Joseph E. Fallon, a research associate at the UK Defence Forum, titled “The Catalan Referendum, regional pressures, the EU, and the ‘Ghosts’ of Eastern Europe” (http://tinyurl.com/y8dnj6s6). Fallon writes that by doing what it’s doing in Bavaria, “Berlin is violating international law on national self-determination. It denies to Bavaria what it granted to the 19 states that seceded from Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. In fact, Germany rushed to be first to recognize the independence of Slovenia and Croatia.” It did that, according to Beverly Crawford, an expert on Europe at the University of California, Berkeley, “in open disregard of (a European Community) agreement to recognize the two states under EC conditionality requirements.”

The secessionist movements in Spain, Germany and Italy have encountered resistance and threats from the central governments, and in Catalonia’s case, secessionist leaders have been jailed. The central governments of Spain, Germany and Italy have resisted independence despite the fact that they are signatories to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which holds that “all peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

American Contempt for …Walter E. WilliamsBest Price: $8.71Buy New $13.10(as of 06:35 EST – Details)

Fallon notes the hypocrisy of Spain, Germany and Italy, as well as the entire European Union. Back in 1991, the EC — the precursor to the EU — “issued its conditions for recognizing the unilateral declarations of independence by states seceding from Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.” Fallon argues that these same guidelines should be applied to the states of Catalonia, Bavaria and Veneto. Isn’t it double talk for members of the EU to condemn independence movements today, given that they welcomed and supported independence movements for states that were members of the communist bloc?

Catalonia, Bavaria and Veneto are relatively prosperous jurisdictions in their countries. They feel that what they get from the central governments is not worth the taxes they pay. Each wants the central government off its back. They think they could be far more prosperous on their own. That should sound familiar. Some of the motivation for secessionist movements in Europe is similar to the motivation found in the Confederacy’s independence movement of the early 1860s.

Throughout most of our nation’s history, the only sources of federal revenue were excise taxes and tariffs. In the 1830s, the North used its power in Congress to push through massive tariffs to fund the government. During the 1850s, tariffs amounted to 90 percent of federal revenue. The Southern states were primarily producers of agricultural products, which they exported to Europe. In return, they imported manufactured goods. These tariffs fell much harder upon the export-dependent South than they did upon the more insular North. In 1859, Southern ports paid 75 percent of federal tariff revenue. However, the majority of the tariff revenue generated was spent on projects that benefited the North.

Tariffs being a contributing cause of the Civil War is hardly ever mentioned. Using the abolition of slavery as an excuse for a war that took the lives of 620,000 Americans confers greater moral standing for the Union.

Getting Along During the Holidays   Leave a comment

A friend of mine did an article similar and I decided to do one from my own perspective.

Image result for image of modern winter holiday celebration

It’s Christmas again and also Hanukkah and Solstice and there are about two dozen people celebrating Kwanzaa and, so, it is so easy for this time of year to become more about tyranny than celebration. You’ve got people who will argue about whether it is right for the majority culture to impose its celebration on everyone else. Isn’t it hurtful that Jews have to see Jesus who was used as an excuse by the Nazis to kill six million of them. We’re told that Jesus is the symbol of oppression for blacks and so they also should be sheltered from Christian beliefs. I used to live next door to some actual pagans who would build a bonfire in their driveway at certain times of the year – the winter solstice being one. They would walk around it, throwing salt over their shoulders and chanting incantations. Maybe they were insulted by our celebration of Christmas. But it’s okay for Jews to celebrate Hanukkah, blacks to celebrate Kwanzaa and pagans to celebrate the solstice … except, the atheists want nobody to celebrate anything religious, so let’s just all gather around Santa and drink a toddy or twelve in celebration of the days getting longer. Then evangelical Christians respond that Santa is an idol and they don’t want to participate in that, so ….

Yeah, we all go nuts at Christmas.

I have an antidote for our mid-winter insanity.

STOP!

I am a Christian, so I will celebrate Christmas. A recent study says that 64% of Americans prefer to use the greeting “Merry Christmas” and about half of those resent efforts to force everyone to say “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings”. In other words, most Americans are not upset to see Nativity scenes or Santa. As a devout evangelical Christian, I do not object to Hanukkah even if I rarely participate in it. My friend Ron tells me that, as a Jew, he isn’t upset about Christmas. I’ve met only one Jew, a university professor who had lived in Israel, who said they resented Christmas. I’ve met many more Rons than Professor Bs. I went to a Kwanzaa celebration back in college (for an article I was writing), but 30 years on, I know only one black person who has celebrated Kwanzaa and she tells me it’s not really a thing anymore. It died with black nationalism and she doesn’t think “a celebration of separatism” should return. That’s her view.

Alaskans are all solstice admirers to a certain extent. We have 2 1/2 hours of sunlight right now. We celebrate the 30-seconds extra we get today if only by reading the “hours of daylight” stat in the newspaper and smiling. Brad and I are going to a friend’s property tonight to burn a big brush pile and drink hot chocolate. It’s part of a land clearing project our friend is doing preparatory to building a house. Since most of his guests are evangelical Christians, you can’t rightfully call it a religious celebration, but our friend did pick this day, knowing what it means, wanting to celebrate the return of the light.

I live 12 miles from the City of North Pole, Alaska, where you can shop at Santa’s Workshop and see a 30-foot tall statue of Santa from the main highway. The city street lights are painted to look like candy canes and all the streets have very Christmas-y names. Trust me, there are evangelicals living in North Pole who resent the Santa worship, but they’re outnumbered so they just grumble and live with it.

Atheists can resent all the various celebrations and their religious connotations all they want, but that’s the reality we live in. The Scrooges don’t get a veto on everyone else’s celebrations.

And, you know what? We shouldn’t. Why can’t we all just get along? I will celebrate my way, you can celebrate your way. I can say “Merry Christmas” and you can respond to me with “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” and nobody should need to get upset about that.

Image result for image of messianic jewish christmasWhy must we tyrannize one another during a time of celebration? Well, I think it speaks rather loudly to our society at this point in time. We have somehow lost the ability to live and let live (a very libertarian theme). That used to be very American, but we’ve gradually reached a point where some of us no longer tolerate the differences of others if those differences are not politically correct. We SAY everybody has a right to their own beliefs, but then we treat people who espouse beliefs we don’t like with derision on social media and sometime even in public. Those who shout the mantra “How dare you tell anyone else how to live!” feel quite comfortable with telling people who hold opinions we don’t like how they should live. And then we wonder why those people resist and refuse to participate in the societal zeitgeist of the month. Why can’t they just accept our better way of doing things? Don’t they know “we” are so much more enlightened than they are?

STOP!

I do believe myself to be more enlightened than a lot of other people on a variety of subjects. I will happily tell you about it on this blog. I will talk with you in person if you’re willing. But I feel no need to force you to believe as I do or to conduct your life as I do. What you do that doesn’t pick my pocket or break my leg is none of my business. What I do that doesn’t pick your pocket or break your leg is none of yours.

See how easy that was?

Merry Christmas!

Universal Medical Care Would Kill More Americans   Leave a comment

Tax reform ended the ACA’s tax penalty to support the individual mandate, thereby freeing many Americans to now negotiate with their insurance companies for more realistic medical insurance premiums. I know lots of people who will insist that means more people will die. I disagree.

More people receiving medical care means fewer preventable deaths. If universal healthcare, such as single-payer, leads to less death, then it is obviously the superior moral choice. Politicians like Bernie Sanders will go a step further and claim that Republican legislation, in fact, kills people by reducing government-sponsored coverage.

I am so far not a supporter of the on-vacation GOP healthcare plan because I don’t think it goes far enough. So when Rick, my cousin who is a world-renown doctor in his field, sent me some ideas for a health care article, I was excited to see that he’s not really for the latest-in-series GOP plan either.

What if there were evidence to suggest that more people would die under a universal medical care scheme than under the current US system? What if, by the left’s standards, the American medical care system is less of a killer than the average European one?

There is no accurate, undebatable estimate for how many people in the US died for lack of medical insurance. Consider the best estimates of how many people die in the US due to a lack of medical care. So, for the sake of argument, we’re going to accept the oft-cited (by the progressives) figure of approximately 45,000 fewer people would die in the US every year if all Americans had decent medical care.

Flip the question.

How many people in other countries die due to deficiencies in the medical care systems? And how many Americans would die if we had treatment outcomes similar to those other countries?

study by the Fraser Institute titled The Effect of Wait Times on Mortality in Canada estimated that “increases in wait times for medically necessary care in Canada between 1993 and 2009 may have resulted in between 25,456 and 63,090 (let’s just say about 44,273) additional deaths among females.” The US has about 9 times as many people, so adjusting for the difference in populations, that middle value inflates to an estimated 400,000 additional deaths among females over a 16-year period. This translates to an estimated 25,000 additional female deaths each year if the American system were to suffer from increased mortality similar to that experienced in Canada due to increases in wait times. Rick did not comment on a system that disproportionately harms women, but I will note that doesn’t sound very progressive.

Image result for image of doctors in hospital corridorLet’s look at interventional outcomes. According to the CDC, stroke is the cause of more than 130,000 deaths annually in the United States. However, the US has significantly lower rates of 30-day stroke-induced mortality than every other OECD country (except Japan and Korea). OECD data suggest that the age- and sex-adjusted mortality rates within Europe would translate to tens of thousands of additional deaths in the US.

Just for example – if America had the 30-day stroke-mortality rate of the UK, we could expect about an additional 38,000 deaths a year. For Canada, that number would be around 43,500. That only accounts for mortality within a month of having a stroke, which in turn accounts for only 10% of stroke-related deaths.

This is further reflected in overall stroke-mortality statistics: for every 1,000 strokes that occur annually in the US, approximately 170 stroke-related deaths occur. The UK has 250 stroke related deaths per 1,000 strokes and Canada has 280 stroke-related deaths per 1,000 strokes. Considering that Americans suffer approximately 795,000 strokes each year, the discrepancy in stroke-related mortality is humongous.

Similarly, cancer-survival rates are considerably higher in the US than in other countries. Check out this data cited by the CDC, which comes from the authoritative CONCORD study on international cancer-survival rates. The US dominates every other country in survival rates for the most deadly forms of cancer.

Recognizing that the US is a much larger country than the UK, if we weight the CDC-quoted survival rates for different forms of cancer in accordance with their contribution to overall cancer mortality, there would be about 72,000 additional deaths annually in the United States if our survival rates were comparable to the UK’s. There would similarly be about 21,000, 23,000, and 31,000 additional deaths per year with Canadian, French, and German survival rates.

Lives are saved by the many types of superior medical outcomes that are often unique to the US. This is not to mention the innumerable lives saved each year around the world due to medical innovations that are made possible through vibrant US markets.

Rick would be the first to admit: our medical system is far from optimal. Among other things, soaring medical care costs need to be controlled, while insuring against medical calamity ought to be much more affordable. Still Sanders and Company’s policy demands display completely ignorant of the massive deficiencies that are characteristic of universal medical care systems. They’ll sing songs all day about the 45,000 lives taken every year by greedy insurance executives and their cronies on Capitol Hill, yet remain completely ignorant of the fact that the European systems they fetishize are less humane by their own standards.

If we’re going to call Paul Ryan a killer for attempting to curtail Medicaid spending, then we logically have to apply that epithet to all politicians who advocate for European systems, because those systems have outcomes that would result in tens of thousands of additional deaths in the US every year.

Posted December 22, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense

Tagged with , ,

Abuse of Law   1 comment

Did you know it is against federal law to share your Netflix password with a friend? Netflix doesn’t really care so long as you’re not selling the password, but the federal government does. They haven’t prosecuted anyone for it, but … similar to the law that makes it illegal to ride a horse drunk in Fairbanks, Alaska … you could be the test case for it. It doesn’t matter if Netflix has an issue with it.

Related image“Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

Really? That’s a pretty troubling statement when you’re standing in a country with so many laws that it is impossible to count them all. Forget about reading them and knowing the fine print. When was the last time you even looked at a complete set of federal, state, and local codes setting forth tens of thousands of criminal violation that could send you to jail? There’s a whole room in the State courthouse to house it. It’s enormous and I’m am told by the curator that it is already out of date within days of it being fully stocked with the latest documents.

Very few Americans — not even lawyers — know all the laws and regulations that could send people to jail. Yet, America’s judges don’t let that stop them. They’re perfectly fine with lock people up for doing something they had no idea was illegal.

That’s unfair and flies in the face of the rule of law.  A couple of weeks ago, I was someplace where I could get cell phone reception, but not Internet and I really needed lunch. The problem was I had no money in my checking account and I couldn’t go to my bank in the time allotted for lunch. So, I called my son, who is one of the most honest people in the world and asked him to log into my bank accounts using my password and transfer $30. I told him to destroy the information when he was done with it. Then I ate lunch. The problem is that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 bans intentionally accessing a computer “without authorization,” and the Supreme Court has recently declined to hear a case from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Nosal, that held that password sharing could be prohibited by the Act. Although the majority opinion did not explicitly mention innocent password sharing, the dissent noted that the lack of any limiting principle meant that the majority’s reasoning could easily be used to criminalize a host of innocent conduct … including my son acting as my proxy so I could eat lunch.

At sometime in the past, the rationale for the maxim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” was to give people an incentive to educate themselves about legal requirements. That was fine when there were few laws and they were mostly discoverable by using common sense, but any law student can tell you that to study all the laws in the United States would take years and barely scratch the surface, which is why lawyers specialize in areas of the law rather than in the whole thing.

Another rationale was to prevent people from escaping criminal penalties by claiming ignorance, even when they actually knew they were breaking the law. Again, that might have made sense in ancient times when there were only a few dozen crimes on the books and all of them involved morally blameworthy conduct like murder, arson, or rape. Today, the law has grown so complicated, and the relationship between law and morality so attenuated, that these supporting rationales no longer make sense. There have been multiple attempts to count the number of federal crimes, including by the Department of Justice, and no one has yet succeeded. Title 18 of the US Code, which governs crimes and criminal procedure, has over 6,000 sections, and it is estimated that there are more than 4,500 federal crimes and over 300,000 agency regulations containing criminal penalties. That doesn’t include the dizzying array of state and local criminal codes. Ignorance without excuse is pretty much assured.

The increasing criminalization of morally blameless conduct makes the punishment of innocent mistakes even more likely. For example, federal law makes it illegal to possess the feather of any native migratory bird even if one just picks it up off the ground. The potential penalties for doing so include fines and even time in prison. Think federal prosecutors would exercise their discretion to prevent miscarriages of justice under such obscure laws? Yeah, right!

Former Indianapolis 500 champion Bobby Unser was convicted of illegally driving his snowmobile in a National Forest Wilderness Area in 1996 after he and a friend were stranded in the mountains during a blizzard, and forced to take shelter in a barn while suffering from hypothermia. Reconstructing their meandering path in whiteout conditions, prosecutors concluded they had strayed onto federal land and convicted Unser of the misdemeanor crime of operating a snowmobile in a national wilderness area. While that probably didn’t affect his racing career, if he had a job that was more sensitive to misdemeanors, he might have been unemployed immediately upon his conviction … for taking shelter from a storm in whiteout conditions so as to avoid death.

Even people attempting to perform virtuous acts have been persecuted by overzealous regulators. In 2009, Robert Eldridge, a fisherman from West Chatham, Massachusetts, faced up to a $100,000 fine and a year in prison for interference with a protected marine animal after he freed a humpback whale that had been caught in his fishing gear. He escaped with a comparatively small $500 fine after pleading guilty, but his altruism could have cost him his livelihood and prison time.

Image result for image of ignorance of the law is no excuseMore recently, Alison Capo also faced a year in prison after her daughter rescued a federally protected woodpecker from the family cat. The two were apprehended by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Officer who overheard them talking about the bird while shopping for a suitable container at a Lowe’s home improvement store (Her initial fine of $535 was ultimately rescinded by the agency, claiming it was a “clerical error.”).

And it gets worse than that because now people are supposed to know the laws in other countries and assure that whatever they purchase online was in compliance with those laws.

Subjecting well-meaning homeowners, desperate snowmobilers, innocent password sharers, and countless other blameless Americans to prosecution for conduct that no reasonable person would know was illegal doesn’t advance the cause of justice. It undermines it. If the government cannot even count all of the criminal laws it has enacted, how on earth can citizens be expected to obey them?

Posted December 21, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense

Tagged with , , ,

Wolfe's Rants

A writer's life - advice, works and musings by Wolfe Butler

Matthew Winters (Comeback Pastor)

The life, ministry, & thoughts of a Christ-follower, husband, dad, & minister

Thoughts of Dymphna

Reality is Subjective; enter mine.

Leo X. Robertson

News of my latest publications, events, and episodes of the Losing the Plot podcast!

Sherry Parnell

Author of "Let the Willows Weep"

Emerald Book Reviews

Book Reviews and Promotion Services

YA Chit Chat

The Ponderings of YA author J. Keller Ford

madchen863's Blog

Planet Earth: home of life

MIND MIX RADIO

Radio for the Awake and Aware

SHAKERS & MOVERS

Soweto isiPantsula Crew + Management

RedheadedBooklover

Just a redheaded woman who is obsessed with books

Mercedes Prunty Author

The Walking Mumbie

InsureZero Blog

All you need to know about Insurance

Creative Ideas for Starving Artists

Brain juice that revives and refreshes

Real Science

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" - Richard Feynman

Marsha Ingrao

Traveling & Blogging Near and Far

Victoria (V.E.) Schwab

"You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me." ~C.S. Lewis

Darlene Foster's Blog

dreamer of dreams, teller of tales

All About Writing and more

Advice, challenges, poetry and prose

%d bloggers like this: