phynedyning

Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

Same sheet, different day…

In Editorial on April 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Oh, so now you give a rat’s tukkes?

Our Messiah in Chief, Barack Obama, suddenly began enthusiastically courting younger voters with promises to curtail planned increases in student loan interest due to take place on July 1, 2012.

The effect of the increase could about double monthly payments for student borrowers.

Until “Uncle Barack’s” poll numbers among young voters began to reflect that their demographic had caught on that Mr. Hope-n-Change offered no real change and even less hope, Obama took no notice of student lending.

Now, Obama is all outrage and promises to stop the interest hike.

This is the same Barack whose Department of Homeland Security ruthlessly encouraged the jackbooted thugs masquerading as police officers to violently suppress Occupy demonstrations around America. Obama’s praetorians also provided local “authorities” with suggestions to bus mentally ill homeless folks into Occupy campsites.

Most of both sides of congress, especially Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, have been all snuggly with the likes of loan shark Albert Lord (CEO of student loan servicer, SallieMae) and banksters like Wells Fargo.

Now, they want to snuggle up with those of us sympathetic to the Occupy movement?

I think not.

Pink slime is good for you!

Iowa’s governor for life, Terry Branstad (Il Douche), mounted his perpetual bully pulpit to cry praises for pink slime…errrr…”finely textured lean beef” (FTLB).

It's whats for dinner.

A few days ago, tests of a miniscule number of American cattle turned up a bovine suffering from bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE)…Mad Cow Disease.

FTLB comes from parts of cow carcass that are normally relegated to pet food and fertilizer. Much of the so-called “meat” finding its way into pink slime comes from around the central nervous system of the cow.

BSE, a prion disease, “lives” in and about the central nervous system of cows. Prions are not living organisms and are not quite viruses. In fact, there really isn’t much known about the little nasties…except that they are damned hard to destroy.

Embalmers are cautioned that prions are not inactivated by formaldehyde used to preserve human remains and that even embalmed bodies should be carefully handled to prevent contact with nervous system tissue.

So, if formaldehyde won’t touch prions, I’m sure a “little puff” of ammonia gas into whatever “meat” is gleaned from nerve tissue of cows probably won’t touch them either.

But Branstad insists the stuff is “safe” and he claims to eat it regularly.

Another mystery explained.

Speaking of Mad Cows…

Chief Bradshaw

Not much is seen of Des Moine’s Chief of Police, Judy Bradshaw. She must be down in “engineering” doing damage control.

Her branch of America’s legal street gang is coming under pressure because one of her officers, Brandon Singleton, has a penchant for crashing police cruisers and traveling with recreational street drugs on duty.

Since two of Bradshaw’s officers are famed for (allegedly) using African-American motorists as punching bags and are also accused of (allegedly) lying to their own department investigators about the incident, it seems Bradshaw may have a bit of a problem in her department. Then, of course, there was the (alleged) incident involving a DMPD undercover officer driving drunk down I-235 at a high rate of speed. His fellow gangstas of West Des Moines PD saw to it that he made it home without facing charges.

Nope, nothing to see here folks. Now, move along.

Singleton is currently on paid leave from DMPD and was “cited” for drug possession and numerous traffic charges. As usual, Singleton is being investigated by his fellow gang members and his father holds the rank of major within the department.

We are assured the investigation will be objective and thorough.

[A brief delay as I went to fetch a towel to wipe my spat coffee off of my monitor and out of my keyboard.]

According to reports in the Des Moines Register Bradshaw’s department has not been very cooperative with the citizens whose car Singleton plowed into in one of his three, duty-related crashes since joining the department in

"Officer" Singleton

2007. The department has been foot-dragging its providing of incident reports to the involved citizens.

“Ho-hum”, sez Judy.

The alleged drugs Singleton was in possession of?

Weed.

Oh yes…and meth. Readers may recall that Pleasant Hill, Iowa’s finest also had an officer (allegedly) whacked on meth (or in possession of meth) when he tanked his cruiser.

Yessiree! Give a good ole Iowa Boy a two-ton, high speed police cruiser…and lethal weapons…along with a bit of meth on the side.

What could possibly go wrong?

There is only one truly libertarian response to such police conduct.

Give every central Iowa meth user a firearm just like those carried by the local police.

It’s only fair.

If you’re going to arm one group of idiots, you have to arm them all.

If he was using drugs, he’d have an excuse for saying stupid things.

The landlocked suburb of Windsor Heights, Iowa is just slightly larger than the Sam’s Club and Wal Mart parking lots within it. It’s chief of police, Dennis McDaniel, is just itchin’ to get his mitts on some Gatso cameras as a fund-raiser for “his” few hundred meters of interstate running through his happy little hamlet.

In an April 10, 2012 Des Moines Register interview with McDaniel, he articulated what he sees as priorities for his department:

Citizen safety?

No.

Police integrity?

Nope.

Officer accountability?

Uh-uh.

Service?

*titter*

Here is the question posed by the Register in an interview with Chief McDaniel:

A citizen being "trained" to know his place.

Q. What are some of your other priorities for Windsor Heights?

A. We are looking at being the most well-rounded agency we can be. I believe very strongly the police department has the responsibility to train its citizens.

“Train” its citizens?

Chief, do you mean to teach us some tricks? Or, are you referring to the necessary skills required of ordinary citizens to “GET ON THE F—CKING GROUND!” when ordered to do so by a police officer under the influence of methamphetamine?

Chief, citizens are not to be “trained” by the police. In America, it works the other way around.

That McDaniel said such a thing while (presumably) sober is deeply troubling.

Iowa DOT rolls out “Right to Life” license plate

In General Information on April 27, 2012 at 8:56 am

“This is great news for Iowa’s unborn,” said state Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, a proponent of the plates. He added that he hopes the plates will help Iowans understand “that each innocent life is a gift from God.”

Congressman, Iowa women don’t need the GOP (AKA “G-d’s Own Party”) shoving its agenda up their va-jay-jays. And, as long as Mr. Windschitl keeps his religious leanings out of the state house, we’re cool. Perhaps Windschitl needs something to help him understand that his role is not that of a tee-vee evangelist, but rather, that of a servant of constitutional principles?

So, here’s Phyne Dyning’s rendition of a suitable Iowa license plate representing the real values of the GOP…

Dead dogs and the emerging American fascist state

In General Information, Intro to Libertarianism on April 17, 2012 at 10:30 am

How did we get here from there?

Late yesterday, I learned that an Austin, Texas police officer shot and killed a man’s dog while responding to a domestic disturbance at the wrong address. I spent several hours following several news sources and I finally managed to watch video footage of the incident shot from the responding officer’s dashboard camera.

I was appalled. Sure, “It’s just a dog.” But what has happened in the minds of our protectors when it becomes excusable for an officer to respond to the wrong address, point his firearm at the first person he encounters there, destroy an innocent person’s property (a dog), shrug his shoulders, and walk off without so much as a “by your leave”?

And then, worst of all, to untruthfully reconstruct the incident to his supervisor to create a picture where the officer’s unreasonable use of force would be justified.

Rather than re-hashing the now well-covered incident, I think it is time to ask ourselves the question with which I opened.

How did we get here from there? Where are we going?

Step One: The new police culture.

Whether a police officer works in a one-horse town or in a major metropolitan city, a new culture has replaced the old police philosophy that officers are public servants. Today, a fawning mainstream media has imbued today’s officers with a mentality that they are “front line troops” in Americas “war on crime” or “war on terror”.

This enculturation has replaced an older, but only slightly more benign police attitude of “us versus them” with one where officers regard citizen encounters as an encounters with an enemy on the battlefield of “the mean streets”

The “police” are no longer the police. The mainstream media prefers to use “law enforcement”, “officials”, or “special emergency response units”.

Step Two: The militarization of the civilian police forces.

Shortly after September 11, 2001, I was living in a small, dusty West Texas town of about 6,000 souls. I chuckled heartily at local newspaper coverage showing its small police force, decked out in full ninja attire, huffing and puffing their overweight bodies around a converted ice cream truck during “training exercises”. The local prison staff posed for news photos while wearing chrome helmets as they stood in front of a parked Blackhawk helicopter.

Every city, small and large, now has an arsenal of “special weapons” and assault vehicles. Regular patrol officers swagger around in tactical cargo pants, web gear, the obligatory polo shirt, and wrap-around sunglasses. Officers groom themselves in Marine Corps “high and tight” haircuts or Airborne Mohawks.

Military-Speak has crept into the police vernacular. Officers “deploy” and “safeguard the mission initiative”. Their speech is clipped, sharp, and commanding.

American law enforcement has become a banana republic in search of a military junta led by a man in a funny moustache.

Step Three: Unreasonably fearful officers.

In the late 1980s, a new boogeyman began to haunt police departments. His name was “Officer Safety”.

Officer Safety murmurs to young police cadets that, once they are awarded a shield and weapon, they may act and respond in any manner they see fit…once they recite their diligent observance of the principles of “officer safety”.

When I graduated from my first police academy, my father-in-law passed to me a handgun that once belonged to an East St. Louis police officer during the 1940s. In those days, retiring officers often boasted “I did my twenty (years) and only drew my gun once.

Today’s officers are trained, in the interest of officer safety, to keep their hand in close proximity to their weapon, or to unholster the weapon whenever there “could” be a threat to officer safety

Prior to the late 1980s, police officers were told in training that they were expendable. If a citizen was in mortal danger, a police officer should put him/herself between the citizen and the threat. Lone officers would try to apprehend dangerous criminals; all in a day’s work…there were no S.W.A.T, S.T.A.R, H.U.R.T. or other acronym-bedecked paramilitary units for such work.

Police work has always been dangerous. It is no more dangerous today, than it was forty or fifty years ago. Police apologists quickly point to a “war on drugs” and the nebulous terrorists that threaten the daily lives of officers to justify their hyper-vigilance and over-aggressive tendencies. The young officers sincerely believe they are under siege by nefarious evildoers on par with the likes of those whom only Superman or Batman could subdue.

Americans as a whole are fearful. Evil lurks everywhere. Americans have grown to expect that life will be fair and that one should expect to feel safe at all times. We are repeatedly cautioned about events that “could” take place or warned about events that “could” have been tragic. Neighbors are recruited to spy on each other and “report suspicious activity” (whatever that is). America’s population has become terrified of life.

Easily frightened citizens join the ranks of police departments where they become easily frightened police officers.

One cannot train fear out of human beings, but you can train them to suppress and control their fear. In the past, much of the time a police officer spent in academy training involved simulated stress provided by screaming instructors who (sometimes) actually struck a candidate.

Today, fear of lawsuits has suppressed such police training to the use of occasional harsh language. Instead, recruits are imbibed with fear of the population they are to serve.

Step Four: The root of dishonesty.

Why do people lie?

Nearly every respected authority on the subject points to the same cause…fear.

In his martial arts book, Living the Martial Way, Forrest Morgan, Maj. USAF Ret. provided “A manual for the way a modern warrior should think”.

Morgan says of lying:

When people lie, it’s usually out of fear – fear of the consequences of others knowing the truth. A man lies to his boss because he’s afraid of his superior’s reaction to discovering his failure to meet a deadline or to fulfill some other responsibility. He lies to the IRS because he’s afraid of how much money the government will take from him. He even lies to his wife because he’s afraid of how she would react if she knew he really didn’t have to work late but chose to have a drink with the boys instead of coming home to supper. All of these lies, big and small, are acts of cowardice and are dishonorable.”

Morgan specifically points to the mindset of Japan’s warrior class, the samurai, who (correctly) believed lying was not merely immoral. It was an act of cowardice.

Step Five: Honor the ‘Code of Silence’

Unit cohesiveness is a good thing until carried to extremes. Part of the long-standing “us versus them” police culture is also a “we have to stick together” mentality.

Unfortunately, unit cohesiveness has replaced self-control and self-policing.

Criminal conduct occurs in every population in about the same percentages. This means that police will engage in misconduct in an almost identical percentage to that of the general population.

If, as police apologists insist, there is only a scant minority of peace officers who misbehave, why don’t their peers aggressively cast them out of their ranks?

Bad cops remain cops because of the existence of a police code of silence.

Bolstered by their un-earned hero status and the imaginary ever-present dangers they honestly believe to exist, officers adopt an elitist mentality. They believe they are special, their image is special, the “mission” is special, and that all of those aspects must be protected.

The code of (police) silence exists out of fear. Fear that the citizens will see officers as being mere mortals with feet of clay. Deep in their hearts officers who lie or remain silent when their colleagues misbehave know that they are doing so out of fear.

It’s tough for them to admit it.

The Sum of All Steps

Young officers are given un-earned hero status by a fawning media fed by police romantics. They swagger and strut in paramilitary uniforms and carry (or have access to) weaponry that was once limited to military use. They see themselves as the elite among men.

New officers are told by their trainers that bravery, self-sacrifice, and a serving heart are obsolete today and that the paramount police virtue is “professionalism”.

“Control the environment in a professional manner.” Be aware of how many times “professional” and “professionalism” comes up in the speech of a law enforcement administrator or in a rank officer.

Because America’s enemies are everywhere, officers are taught to put any perceived human threat “into submission”. Because of unit cohesiveness and self-elitism, anyone not wearing an official uniform is a perceived human threat.

Most of us are rational and understand that mistakes happen out of our human failings. When new officers are cultured in their “specialness”, admitting a mistake puts a chink in their godlike image. Again, fear plays a role.

Criminally bent officers lie to conceal their crimes, and this is to be expected of any criminal enterprise. However, it is the concealment of misdeeds by their peers that is most concerning. Here again, fear is the cause.

The end result is that America’s citizens find themselves patrolled by a force imbued with their own sense of specialness, unit loyalty, steeped in a fear culture, and a willingness to lie…rather than to face their fears.

It is how we got to where we are today.

And, unless we (as citizens) are exceedingly brave, the situation is likely to get much worse.

Where are we headed?

Sociologist, Brian Fogarty, writes in his book “Fascism: Why not here?”

“…The public will reward dramatic and revolutionary action rather than incremental remedies, we will demand strong leadership rather than extended debate, and will respond to emotional calls to action rather than to considered analysis of the problems. We will become quick to demonize enemies and to crush dissent at home. We will give the government powers disallowed by the Constitution. And in the process, we will deny to ourselves that we have done any of these things.”

Fogarty wrote his book at the dawn of the Obama presidency and he makes no apology for his gushing praise for the new president:

“Obama’s once-a-generation gift was that he could ignite romantic passions even as he applied Enlightenment principles to governing. If his administration is successful at solving the economic crisis and bringing some resolution to foreign policy, those Enlightenment values may hold sway for some time.”

Subsequent to the book’s publication, President Obama quietly signed the National Defense Authorization Act which allows the US military to indefinitely detain American citizens deemed to be a threat to national security. Under the Obama presidency America’s federal agencies, by the instruction of and under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security, brutally put down last fall’s Occupy demonstrations…according to the mayors of eighteen American cities. The “enlightened” Barack Obama failed to turn back Bush-era intrusions (i.e. MIAC, PATRIOT I, PATRIOT II and others).

I bought Fogarty’s book for one dollar in a merchandise liquidation store because Fogarty’s hero, Barack Obama, has turned out to be just as bad as Fogarty’s stereotypically evil George Bush.

While Fogarty’s hoped-for new Camelot failed to materialize, his book eloquently details how the Nazis came to power in Germany through a unification of the left and right ends of the political spectrum and subservience by the population to state authority.

This is not just about a man’s dead dog.

Follow-up: Pet Murder in Austin, Texas

In General Information on April 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I am gob-smacked!

Here’s the dash cam recording touted by Cpl. Anthony Hipolito to show Michael Paxton’s dog “attacking” APD’s Officer Thomas Griffin.

CLICK HERE

According to a previous statement from APD’s Cpl. Anthony Hipolito, the dash cam footage should have shown Paxton’s dog, “Cisco”, aggressively attacking Officer Griffin.

It does not.

At 2min 29sec you will see Officer Griffin cross in front of his police unit (car). As he does so, he begins to unholster his firearm. Why? Seconds later, Griffin is heard yelling at (Paxton?) to stop with his hands visible. Cisco begins barking and, less than a few seconds later, a shot is fired. The whole sad story unfolded in less than twenty seconds after Officer Griffin’s arrival.

In the aftermath, Griffin is heard demanding why Paxton did not control his dog when ordered to do so. There was no such order until a millisecond before Griffin’s bullet plowed into Cisco’s chest. Griffin made it up. He also made up a version of the story where he knocked on doors looking for a domestic dispute. The original call was allegedly about a man “carrying a spear” and threatening a female companion. Where’s the spear, Officer Griffin?

Griffin then resorts to accusations that Cisco should have been “on a leash” even though the pet was in his own yard.

PLEASE watch the footage entirely.

Officer Thomas Griffin (Austin, Texas) is a coward and a felonious animal abuser. In Waco, Texas several years ago, several Baylor University students were charged with felony animal abuse after they shot a cat with a pellet gun.

Demand justice for Cisco!

Special Report: Scaredy-cat Cop Kills Pet

In General Information on April 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm

A few minutes earlier...

Last Saturday, Michael Paxton of East Austin, Texas was enjoying a game of “Frisbee” with his Australian cattle dog, “Cisco”. Paxton left Cisco to get something from his parked truck. Minutes later, Cisco was dead of a gunshot wound allegedly fired by an Austin PD police officer.

The officer had been dispatched to a neighbor’s house on a call about a domestic assault. Unfortunately for Cisco, the officer had the wrong house.

The unidentified officer confronted Paxton and ordered him to stop and keep his hands visible. Cisco heard the commotion and did what dogs do; he investigated and began barking at the intruder confronting his human playmate.

According to news reports, Paxton stated that the officer “appeared fearful” and had already drawn his firearm (although he was armed with non-lethal pepper spray and a Taser). Paxton pleaded with the out of control officer not to shoot his dog. The officer fired one round, striking Cisco in the chest, killing him almost instantly.

I cannot imagine the horror and heartbreak of Cisco’s human friend, who was “detained” at gunpoint for investigation of an incident in which he had no part, and wholly unable to go to Cisco’s side.

Austin PD: "The dog failed to comply with officer commands."

The involved officer was unapologetic and his responding supervisor comforted his colleague and reassured the officer, “You did the right thing”.

The right thing?

It was an Australian cattle dog. They are a non-aggressive herding breed. They bark and make noise. Having worked cattle with these dogs, I am certain that Cisco was not being aggressive. He was simply attempting to herd the intruder away from his human friend.

Give an easily frightened person a gun, and it is a certain recipe for disaster.

And that’s the problem with many of today’s police officers. They walk around in a steady state of fear, hyped on a hero image they did not earn. In the police culture, it’s “us versus them” and their colleagues will be doing all of the investigating whenever deadly force is used.

Austin police say they are “investigating” and hinted that Paxton’s allegations were untrue and were perhaps motivated by an unstated “legal issue” involving Paxton.

The story about Cisco’s killing has gone viral and tens of thousands have rallied for an explanation.

The official statement from the authorities will find no fault with Officer Chicken Little and a preliminary statement fromCpl. Anthony Hipolitobears this out. Hipolito states the police officers dash-cam showed “the dog clearly attacking the officer as he retreated and ‘asked’ the owner to restrain the dog”. Hipolito also says “the officer is devastated” by the outcome.

Sure he is. Sure he is.

Show up at the wrong house, kill the occupant’s dog, go to the station to get the story right, and back to the doughnut shop for after-action laughs. Despite having non-lethal alternatives, another terrified cop with a hero-complex shoots a pet.

“Ba-BLAM! I waxed that mutt right where he stood, ’cause I’m the MAN!”

It happens all the time now.

Who’s really paying for health care?

In Editorial on April 16, 2012 at 11:41 am

 

Everyone in favor of ObamaCare, raise your hand.

The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” – Joseph Goebbels

Goebbels, the Nazi propagandist, truly understood marketing. So do the statists pushing ObamaCare.

Their oft-repeated theme in letters to newspaper editors and in orchestrated television sound bites has dealt with an alleged mandate the uninsured place upon those who dutifully buy corporate health insurance. It goes something like this:

“We already have an insurance mandate created by those who don’t have insurance and cannot pay their medical bills. Those of us with insurance end up paying for them. Isn’t that a true mandate?”

No, it is not. Clearly, the purveyors of such useful idiocy do not understand medical billing.

Here’s how it works:

“Clara”, a new doctor, hangs out her shingle and hopes to charge $100 for patients to use her very expensive machine that goes ‘PING!’ Her hopes are bolstered because almost every other doctor having the machine that goes ‘PING!’ is also charging $100 for its use. This, then, becomes the usual and customary fee/charge.

However, this is not how much the doctors are paid.

Medicare, the almost ‘free’ insurance one obtains for…well…just surviving, pulls out its Ouija Board and calculates that the welfare state will allow doctors with pinging machines to charge $45 per its use. This is called the allowed charge and Medicare generously and cheerfully will pay 80% of the allowed fee.

A private health insurance company,“The Reptilian”, will allow 200% of Medicare’s allowed charges for each of their insured who wants to be hooked up to the very expensive machine that goes ‘PING!’ The discount is given to the doctor in exchange for “being allowed access to the lives we insure”. The insurance company will typically pay 80% of charges.

So, for the Medicare patient:

PING charge:            $100

Allowed:            $45

Paid to doctor: $36

 

And, for the patient covered by The Reptilian:

PING charge:            $100

Allowed:            $90

Paid to doctor: $72

 

And, what about those evil uninsured folks?

PING charge:            $100

Allowed:            $100

Paid to doctor: $100

Now, who’s paying for whose care?

“What about the deductibles and co-pays, Mr. Smartypants?”

About 75% of doctors, to avoid pissing off patients, will “write off” deductibles or “bill” (wink-wink) the insured patients later for their deductible and co-pay charges. Of course, doing so is typically a violation of the doctor’s contract, but such things are almost never enforced. The insured parasites on the system know this and, with more than a little chutzpah, often ask (or demand) further discounts than their insurance already negotiated.

The 20% share called patient responsibility (LOL!)?

Medicare specifically states that providers cannot write off the patient’s share. But there is nothing mandating how aggressively the provider must enforce payment of those charges. To keep old farts loyal, many docs write off the patient’s portion of the charges to avoid a scene involving Grandpa Simpson screaming, “BUT MY OTHER DOCTORS DON’T MAKE ME PAY!”

Samey-same for the privately insured. Most doctors would rather grin and bear the loss of 20% of a fee if it means a happy patient…since happy patients seldom sue or complain to medical licensing boards…or even walk down the street in search of a better deal.

So, let’s re-cap for the dullards:

If Doctor “Clara” hooks up the following patients to her very expensive machine that goes ‘PING!’ she will expect payment in the following amounts:

Medicare: $36

Private Insurance: $72

The Uninsured: $100

While the folks at Medicare cannot mandate how diligently a doctor must pursue recovery of the patient’s share of the bill, they are very diligent in enforcement of rules prohibiting doctors from providing discounts to non-Medicare

"I'm old. GIMME, GIMME, GIMME!"

covered patients. In other words, Clara cannot be kind-hearted to a person and agree to charge them only the $36 she would be paid if the person had Medicare. If she did so, Medicare can assert that the true usual and customary ‘PING!’ charge for ‘Clara’ is actually $36, not $100. While Medicare will reimburse up to $45 and Clara will not be negatively impacted, The Reptilian may assert that its company is being overcharged.

Also, if a private insurer or the welfare state decides the benefit of any machine going ‘PING!’ is dubious and not worth coverage, they create a paperwork storm of advanced beneficiary notices which must be provided to the patient before the machine is hooked up. Otherwise, Clara ends up providing free pings.

The uninsured? They get no such notices, or often, not even an estimate of the possible charges related to ping testing. They can simply be lined up, hooked up, and billed for a “PING!” that has dubious medical value. This happens in hospitals all the time. Patients are passed from specialist to specialist (“Share the Wealth!”) and wheeled from test to test while a financial improvised explosive device is assembled in the billing department to be handed to the patient upon discharge.

No insurance company or welfare program would (or should) willingly pay $12 for an aspirin, but the uninsured are simply told, “Pay up, or we’ll sue.”

So, the question remains: “Who is paying for whose care?”

Eggies: “Never peel another egg!”

In Reviews on April 13, 2012 at 10:09 am

A solution in search of a problem.

I don’t jump quickly for products bearing “As seen on TV” taglines; and Shlomi ‘Vince’ Offer of Shamwow and Schticky fame largely fuels my cynicism. Many folks would never guess that Vince, ‘The Headset Guy’, was born in Haifa, Israel. Here in the U.S., Vince peddles a variety of things to make housekeeping easier.

Having spent a good amount of time on Israeli army bases and in the homes of Israeli friends, my cynicism is rooted in my observation that it is unlikely that any Israeli could be an expert on matters of housekeeping.

Never mind that, since Eggies are not one of Shlomi’s offerings.

“Never peel another egg!” screams the brightly colored package. Eggies are clearly marketed as a labor saving item for cooks.

The heavily edited television spot for Eggies made them look easy to use. Just pour the egg into the Eggie, screw on the top, boil, twist, and eat.

I simply had to have them.

 

"Some assembly required."

On opening the box the Eggies came in, I found an inner plastic bag containing what appeared to be an early model artificial heart in several pieces. The instructions told me there were four parts to an Eggie: The cap, the top half, the bottom half, and a threaded collar.

Not true! There are five parts.

They did not list separately, a silicone rubber band-like o-ring fitted to the top half. This band is precisely engineered to fly off of the larger part when it is handled, soar through the air, and land under the refrigerator. The two pages of enclosed instructions did not tell me how to thwart the flying o-ring effect.

Here’s the old-fashioned way to make boiled eggs: Place the eggs in a pot. Cover the eggs with water. Heat water to boiling and cook eggs for 7-10 minutes. Drain, cool, peel, and eat.

Whew! Exhausting work that.

Here’s the simpler, Eggies method: Carefully wipe cooking oil to the inside surfaces of the top and bottom halves, fit the top half to the bottom half, secure the halves together using the threaded collar, pour a whole egg through the (half-inch diameter!) hole in the top half, screw the cap onto the top half while holding the bottom half to prevent the threaded collar from loosening, place at least 2 ¾ inches of water in a saucepan to allow the Eggies to float, bring the water to a boil, reduce heat to a rolling boil, cook eggs for desired time, remove Eggies from hot water using a slotted spoon, allow to cool, remove the threaded collar, gently twist the upper half from the lower half, gently squeeze the egg from the bottom half, use a knife to pry out eggs that stick, enjoy your cooked eggs.

It just can’t get easier.

WTF?

The instructions also cautioned me to wash my new Eggies before using them for the first time. I thought this would be a good way to run a shake down cruise in assembling them as well.

After about thirty-five minutes and only succeeding in assembling four (out of six) Eggies, I decided that the chicken’s tukkes used less effort in producing an egg.

I carefully re-packaged my Eggies (less at least one of the high flying o-rings) into their now much-too-small box and returned them for a cheerfully provided refund of their ten-dollar purchase price.

Later that night, I had a recurring nightmare where demons forced me to pour raw eggs through half-inch holes.

Part Six: The Seen and the Unseen

In Intro to Libertarianism on April 9, 2012 at 11:00 am

“There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.”

Claude Frédéric Bastiat penned those words in his economic treatise of 1848 What is Seen and What is Not Seen. Bastiat’s essay is essential to the understanding of libertarian economics. The entire work should be read by every student of libertarian thought.

Bring up the name of Bastiat in a conversation with your peers. Ask if they are familiar with his works. It is highly unlikely that his name will be widely recognized or that his philosophies will be readily recalled.

Now, bring up FDR, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Eisenhower, etc. You will be regaled with a myriad of wonderful public works projects brought to us by the American state.

It is of no coincidence that public schools teach more about the pseudo-economics of Maynard Keynes than they do of Bastiat!

So, what did Bastiat have to say? I’ll summarize the essence of Bastiat’s assertions.

When one considers confiscation of private wealth by the state in order for the state to “produce” a good or service, one must also consider the unseen costs of the confiscation.

Every dollar spent on public projects (the “seen”) must be confiscated from its lawful owner. That owner, no longer enjoys the benefit of the confiscated dollar with which to buy a good or service for the former owner (the “unseen”).

Remember, the state is incapable of producing anything. The state confiscates what is produced by others, pools that booty with the loot of others, and commences to undertake public projects.

Essential to the logic of the state is the belief that the state miraculously “knows best” how to spend your money.

We do not see the watches, clothes, washers, dryers, and other goods that go un-purchased when the state confiscates dollars from their rightful owners. We do see the publicly built bridge, the men working on a new library, a new road, a hospital, or other commodity.

Today, we hear the oft-repeated lie that “government creates jobs”. It is a lie because the government (state) does not create anything. For every job the state creates or for every public position funded, another private sector job is lost.

Let’s look at this from a practical perspective.

The Acme Company produces widgets. The state confiscates $25,000 from Acme as taxes. The legislators were swept into office on promises of job creation. Assume that there is no “government waste” and that 100% of the confiscated wealth will fund one publicly funded janitorial position in a public paying $25,000 per year.

A job was “created”.

However Acme, now $25,000 poorer, cannot hire another worker who would be paid an annual salary of $25,000 to produce more widgets. As a result, fewer widgets get produced and Acme lost the ability to create a $25,000 per year job with its wealth.

Who decided that the widget-producing class is less worthwhile than the public janitor class?

The state.

Remember that the state does not create its own wealth. Therefore, the public janitor must be paid next year, and the year after. The state returns to the well from which it drank to “create” the janitor’s job, the Acme Company, and confiscates another $25,000 with which to pay the state’s janitor.

The result?

Acme Company is again reduced by $25,000 (and in each subsequent year) so the state can pay its janitor. As a result, Acme Company cannot hire a widget-producer this year either. The net loss is now two widget producers.

In a series of debates with a contemporary who asserted the benefits of this kind of wage relocation, Bastiat says:

He says himself that the work of the theaters is just as productive as, just as fruitful as, and not more so than, any other work, which might still be contested; for the best proof that theatrical work is not as productive as other work is that the latter is called upon to subsidize the former.

In 1946, Henry Hazlitt published his Economics in One Lesson. Hazlitt published his book to teach:

The art of economics consists of looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

Hazlitt admonishes his readers, when looking at a publicly built bridge, to see the un-built private projects, the un-hired employees, and the un-purchased goods that constitute the true cost of the public bridge. He tells us to see beyond what our eye perceives.

The philosophy of the state is that the state is more capable than the individual to take on projects. Again we see the fanciful belief that the state is somehow a greater good than the individuals the state rules over. This is entirely contrary to the classical liberal ideal, as articulated by Bastiat:

Their faith is in the legislator, not in mankind. Ours is in mankind, not in the legislator.

Again, we come to the core belief of the libertarian.

The essays of Bastiat and Hazlitt are profound and worthwhile reading. Bastiat’s works are not terribly complex and Hazlitt’s book is a genuine pleasure to read on a sunny day.

Because I fear my paraphrasing of those works will not add to their value, I’ll simply offer up the above teaser and hope that my readers will take time to enjoy them on their own.

[NEXT: Addressing the unfounded fears by state-worshippers that, if America adopts libertarianism, the free market, or libertarian socialism, all manners of plagues will befall it. Among those plagues: the return of monopolies and baron corporations, legalization of child labor and worker abuses, and the plundering of the working class. Afterward, we will compare and contrast state socialism with libertarian socialism.]

Bureaucracy, the state, and disenchantment

In Intro to Libertarianism on April 9, 2012 at 10:44 am

The Enlightenment brought rationalism to government. Where, once, nobility asserted the existence of a Romantic ‘Divine right to rule’, the emerging bureaucracy of the state touted efficiency as the raison d’être for the state. Today, we’ll take a little side-trip to explore the effect this has had on our social interactions and on our relationship with the bureaucratic state.

In 1954, Abraham Mazlow published his book, ‘Motivation and Personality’. The book was Mazlow’s full presentation of his hierarchy of needs theory.

 

Mazlow's "Hierarchy of Needs"

In his theory, often represented as a layered pyramid, Mazlow asserted that a person had an escalating hierarchy of needs. Each need on a lower tier needed fulfillment before the person could move upward to a higher need. The culmination of this fulfillment of needs was the person’s arrival at self-actualization; a realization of the person’s full (and desired) potential.

Mazlow expressed self-actualization as, “What a man can be, he must be.” A self-actualized person embraces reality and facts, they are spontaneous, focus on problems beyond their own, and can accept their full human nature and all of the shortfalls of human nature. A person so equipped will become imbued with a desire to become more and more of what that person is and to become everything they are capable of becoming.

As any organization strives for greater efficiency, the organization becomes more bureaucratic. In a bureaucracy, individual judgment and the authority of the supervisor is replaced by “the book”: the manual of company policies, rules, and standards.

In a bureaucracy, a person’s individual traits are irrelevant. Of paramount importance to the bureaucracy, is the person’s ability to follow the instructions of “the book” unwaveringly. The individual no longer participates as an individual within a bureaucracy. He simply becomes part of a machine calibrated to the bureaucracy’s standards.

A major area of concern to an efficient bureaucracy is the management of labor cost. Karl Marx saw this bureaucratic goal as problematic.

To control labor costs, the bureaucracy must tightly control worker behaviorand reduce their skill levels to the barest minimum needed to complete the tasks they are assigned. The result is a continual struggle between the

Marx

wage-payer and the employee, who now sees his worker role reduced to providing the least possible amount of work for the highest possible pay. The mark of the craftsman becomes lost, as the worker is only responsible for the portion of the project to which he is assigned.

At the same time as Marx’s postulations, came the sociological observations of Max Weber.

Weber observed: as the bureaucracy’s control of the worker/citizen increased, the worker/citizen began to explore for loopholes to the bureaucracy’s regulation. This had a spiraling effect.

The bureaucracy fought to close whatever loopholes existed to enforce compliance with the controls originally set up by the bureaucracy…or the emergence of the famous red tape.

 

Weber

According to Weber, the ongoing struggle between the bureaucracy to enforce its control and the worker/citizen response to seek loopholes to those growing controls ultimately results in a de facto imprisonment of the worker/citizen. Or, as it is often observed by those living under totalitarian regimes, “That which is not prohibited, becomes compulsory.”

The result thereof, said Weber, was an emerging disenchantment with life. The worker/citizen toils solely for his or her paycheck and struggles to buy things which will make him or her happy.

Think of how many times we hear the expressed desire to close some loophole. We are told we need to close tax loopholes to enforce compliance with the tax code and we need to close “gun show loopholes” to enforce compliance with gun control laws. Stop light and speed cameras close loopholes created by the fact that it is impractical to place a police officer at every intersection or along every open stretch of highway. There are immigration loopholes that allow undocumented immigrants into the country and there are exit loopholes that permit US citizens to obtain medications in Canada.

So many loopholes! All begging for the state to close them. Expediency rules over principle. The ends become the means and the means become the ends.

According to Weber, people begin to engage in situational morality, and disenchantment with life rules. Disenchantment breeds cynicism and people sense that striving for self-actualization is futile. They become spiritual orphans, seeking their spiritual home in sports teams, unions, clubs, entertainments, and substance abuse.

It becomes permissible to exploit an honest mistake by a gasoline retailer who inadvertently sets his pump price to 39-cents, instead of $3.90. Now corralled by speed cameras and red light cameras, motorists “make up for lost time” by speeding between locations where the cameras exist and ignoring traffic control devices that are not camera enforced.

The end result will be that the bureaucratic state will move toward strict regulation of the evasive behaviors and the downward spiral and loss of individual freedom will accelerate. The overall process will inhibit our ability to move upward through Mazlow’s hierarchy and we will find ourselves growing ever increasingly disenchanted with life.

Author Brian Fogarty expressed that we will (we have?), as disenchanted individuals, exchange lives that were once “nasty, brutish, and short” for lives that are increasingly “vacuous, impersonal, and cheap”.

And therein, is the true cost of the bureaucracy we call ‘the state’.

[As the state bureaucracy struggles to fill every loophole, it creates a growing number of often incomprehensible laws. Libertarian journalist John Stossel recently aired “Illegal Everything” to illustrate how innocent Americans end up losing their homes, their pets, and their livelihoods, when they run afoul of the growing myriad of endless American laws. Click here to watch.]

 

The State and the Happy Slave

In Intro to Libertarianism on April 9, 2012 at 7:33 am

 

[Which is true: Is man capable of truly living free? Or is his closest hope to live as a “happy slave”, to live in the relative freedom granted by a (hopefully) benevolent master?]

Rousseau sparred with his contemporaries over the concept of whether man was naturally free and if freedom was even a condition desired by man.

Our politicians make the same sophisms about love of freedom that our philosophers have made about the state of nature; by the things they see they make judgments about very different things which they have not seen. And they attribute to men a natural inclination to servitude due to the patience with which those who are before their eyes bear their servitude, without thinking that it is the same for freedom as for innocence and virtue — their value is felt only as long as one enjoys them oneself, and the taste for them is lost as soon as one has lost them.

Servitude may be voluntary and compensated, as with the employer-employee relationship. Or, servitude may be involuntary and uncompensated, as with the slave-master relationship.

Governments and politicians do not compensate citizens for their servitude and citizens are not, as we have established in the myth of the social contract (An idea Rousseau wholly embraced.), even asked if they wish to be servile to the state. When a child is born into citizenship, it is also born into servitude to the state in which it was born.

Let’s go back to Rousseau’s statement:

“…(I)t is the same for freedom as for innocence and virtue — their value is felt only as long as one enjoys them oneself, and the taste for them is lost as soon as one has lost them.

For virtually all of us who were born into our state of servitude, we have never tasted freedom. Our taste for freedom was not lost. We never experienced it.

One does not miss what one has never known. Or, do we? Rousseau asserts that man is innately endowed with a desire for freedom.

…(W)hen I see multitudes of entirely naked savages scorn European voluptuousness and endure hunger, fire, the sword, and death to preserve only their independence…

Rousseau died in 1778. European expansionism into Africa and the Americas had gained steam and was gaining momentum. The indigenous peoples of those continents, observed Rousseau, preferred their form of independence to the modern advancements being brought to them by their conquerors.

Men will fight and die to be left alone. Luxury does not compensate for freedom lost. A slave living in luxurious comfort…remains a slave. The comforts of his servitude beguile the slave and he only imagines himself to be free. Of this, Rousseau states:

“…I feel it does not behoove slaves to reason about freedom.

And there we have it. This is our current condition in modern America. We are shackled and fettered to the state. But, because of our relative comfort, we imagine ourselves to be free.

We are only bearing, or enduring, our servitude and this enduring deceives the politician into thinking we naturally incline to serving the state. Let’s revisit our first quote from Rousseau:

And they (politicians) attribute to men a natural inclination to servitude due to the patience with which those who are before their eyes bear their servitude…

We have, therefore, a condition where both the slave and his master fail to perceive the realities of their conditions. The slave/citizen mistakes his comforts and the benevolent mercies of his master for true freedom and the master/politician mistakes the slave’s acquiescence to servitude as a natural inclination to serve.

The master’s/politician’s error is understandable. The error is far less apparent than the self-deception of true tyrants who sincerely assert, “My people love me.”

This discussion does not endeavor to explore all of the thoughts of Rousseau and some of his other assertions run counter to the concept of true libertarianism. He had a great number of contemporary critics and also roused later thinkers to disagreement with his ideas.

However, with regard to the concept of man’s natural inclination toward submission and his willing trade of liberty for the condition of the happy slave, Rousseau spoke eloquently.

[Next time, in Part Five, we’ll begin exploring libertarian thought on property, earnings, wealth, and taxes.]