There is libertarianism — with its debatable scope and definitions and borders — and then there is parody libertarianism, that is, the one where every business person is dubbed heroic, no matter how cronyistic they may be, and of course, where the Little Guy is squashed daily beneath the mighty, faceless feet of Making Money because no one cares; and so Government is Necessary.
Apropos of that inaccurate impression, those on the moderate left — the guiltiest when it comes to repeating it as gospel — should consider the following story.
The Mayor’s office of Green Bay, Wisconsin recently sent Catholic homeless shelter St. John the Evangelist a letter that says by allowing “too many people to stay at its overnight shelter” St. John is violating the terms of their building permit (they debate this).
The reason for the shelter’s sudden upswing in homeless people might just be that it’s December and December is cold. In fact, the shelter is only open in cold weather and is intended to be an emergency location for people who don’t have anywhere else to go. Nevertheless, as reported in this local Fox affiliate, the charity’s building is permitted to house 64 people, and 64 people it shall house and no more.
Just when you thought you had seen it all, this:
The effectiveness of our foreign aid has been limited by the cultural agenda of the current Administration, attempting to impose on foreign countries, especially the peoples of Africa, legalized abortion and the homosexual rights agenda. At the same time, faith-based groups – the sector that has had the best track record in promoting lasting development – have been excluded from grants because they will not conform to the administration’s social agenda. We will reverse this tragic course, encourage more involvement by the most effective aid organizations, and trust developing peoples to build their future from the ground up.
That is language adopted for the GOP platform. Funny that the effectiveness of our foreign policy, one that is not exactly gingerly and compassionately imposed, is according to conservatives being undermined by abortion and homosexual rights. Granted those are not issues to be taken lightly. However, given the extent and destruction caused by occupations, puppet regimes, satellite states, economic intervention, military dominion and theater diplomacy, it is nonetheless somewhat surprising that “the gay” pose such an existential problem to the federal thirst for blood! And, please, we can’t have foreign mothers killing their kids–that’s our job!
The platform also says that Republicans are “the party of peace through strength.” Make of this what you will [NSFW].
As the wildfires raged, apologists for government thought they had a trump card against libertarians and triumphantly concluded this was the latest proof that the government and its firefighters remain that thin line between order and chaos. Unfortunately for them, however, history has now made it abundantly clear that the true driving force behind the increasingly large mega-fires that plague public lands are the product of decades of mismanagement by the forest service. That is, we can thank the government for putting out the fires it is responsible for.
This has been well documented in some research published by the Property and Environment Research Center here and here.
Briefly put, decades of fire suppression and bans on logging by the feds to protect obscure rodent species has doomed the forests to massive wildfires which thrive on forests where underbrush piles up and creates a “fuel ladder” which in turn ignites the trees.
More logging, more small, natural fires, and more decentralized management (including privatization) is the answer, but don’t expect the politics to line up behind any of these sensible solutions any time soon. Most Americans now have utterly unrealistic expectations for forests. Forest fires are going to happen, and short of an army of robots to clean out and manage forests constantly, lighting will ignite forest fires in even the most well managed environments. The idea is to let these fires happen. The politics is against this however since wealthy vacationers with second homes in forested lots think that they should be able to build mansions in the wilderness and not be subject to the basic laws of nature.
Thus, the forest service gets huge funding increases every year to badly manage forests, and when that fails, spend tens of millions on fire suppression.
But don’t worry, it turns out that forest service has spent the last eleven years developing a plan for the forests. They’ll be finished sometime before the end of the next decade.
The tech world has become a patent war with innovation taking a back seat. Eduardo Porter writes in today’s New York Times business section,
High-tech behemoths in a range of businesses like mobile computing and search and social networking have been suing one another to protect their intellectual property from what they see as the blatant copying and cloning by their rivals. Regardless of the legitimacy of their claims, the aggressive litigation could have a devastating effect on society as a whole, short-circuiting innovation.
Patents are supposed to encourage innovation, writes Porter, but, “The belief that stronger intellectual property protection inevitably leads to more innovation appears to be broadly wrong.”
Porter goes on to write that IP hinders innovation.
One study found that the number of new rose varieties registered by American nurseries fell after the passage of the Plant Patent Act of 1930, which allowed for the patenting of new rose hybrids. Another study concluded that copyrighting new gene sequences sharply reduced scientists’ subsequent experimentation with the decoded genes, even if they were later placed in the public domain. Surveys have found that the risk of patent litigation deters firms from pursuing innovations.
Porter stops way short of calling for an end to Intellectual Property laws. But he does seem at least a bit skeptical of the purported benefits of IP laws, concluding,
Intellectual property, meanwhile, keeps growing. The United States patent office awarded 248,000 patents last year, 35 percent more than a decade ago. Some will spur innovation. But others are more likely to stop it in its tracks.
As a Hispanic, watching the media’s use of terms like “white” and “Hispanic” and “Latino” in the Zimmerman-Martin case has been an occasion for much eye-rolling. The way the press uses these terms betrays just how completely ignorant most reporters and talking heads are about even the basics of ethnicity and race in this country. Also, it’s a fair bet that the “journalists” at CNN and NBC have never actually seen a Hispanic who wasn’t scrubbing toilets or peeling potatoes back at the reporters’ Chevy Chase estates, so they can be forgiven for being so clueless on this matter. Our media elite might have to leave Martha’s Vineyard to actually meet a Hispanic who didn’t fit their preconceived notions of race and ethnicity.
With the Zimmerman-Martin case, Zimmerman is labeled as simply white, in spite of his claims of Hispanic heritage, because that’s what the media has determined will produce the most fertile ground for “racial” conflict. Had Zimmerman been the victim of a shooting, and the shooter were also white, then Zimmerman would of course then be labeled Latino, and the case would then be a national story on the oppression of Latino persons of color by whites in this country. In fact, Zimmerman is pretty obviously white or perhaps mestizo. What is not deniable however that he is also Hispanic. I don’t know why this is so hard for the media to grasp, but let’s just make this clear: According to anthropologists, ethnologists, historians, and census takers, “Hispanic” or “Latino” is not a racial designation. It is a term that denotes ethnicity.
Hispanics can be of any race. There are white Hispanics, black Hispanics, and even Asian Hispanics. Examples would be former Mexican president Vicente Fox, Cuban musician Ibrahim Ferrer, and former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, respectively. There are also, of course, mestizo Hispanics, such as Benito Juarez. [Keep reading…]