04 August 2012

Sally Satchelbottom, DC Bureaucrat

Sally Satchelbottom (not her real name) works as a data analyst and compiler in a cubicle at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  She is a product of a full 17 years of our self-esteem 'educational' system, graduated with a degree in economics from State U where her professors revered Marx and thought Keynes was a right-winger.  She couldn't wait to get to the DC area and go to work (?) for Uncle Sam where she could 'make a difference.'  She pays $2,000+/month for a 1,000 sq ft flat in a drab concrete high-rise built in the 60s.  She regards any place west of Hagerstown MD and south of Richmond VA as Terra Incognita full of rednecks wearing criss-cross cartridge belts, armed to the teeth, listening to David Allen Coe, driving their pickup trucks to the cleaners to drop off their Klan robes after the weekly cross burning rally.  Data she sees at work tells her these people have a wide variety of occupations but she believes it's all a front for a secret highly organized militia movement.

Sally proudly drives a Prius with its COEXIST bumper sticker.  She isn't a lesbian but has strongly considered adding a rainbow triangle sticker to show her solidarity with the gay movement.  Sally didn't date much in school (she's pleasantly plump) so a photo of her nephews (who live in Indiana, Ohio or one of those other flyover states) in a school-project yarn frame hangs from her rearview mirror along with her Federal ID security badge which keeps those icky citizens out of the halls of government by the people, for the people and of the people.

Sally is proud of the DC Metro and thinks that green public transport should be implemented everywhere especially in places she's never been like Texas and Montana.  But the Metro station is very crowded and noisy so she chooses to drive to work where she can listen to Tori Amos, doing an average of 15 mph on the Beltway along with thousands of kindred spirits who believe in reducing emissions at all costs.  She sees the empty HOV lane and swells with pride at 20% of the freeway lanes going unused.  She has contemplated stopping to get coffee and a bagel but the staff don't speak English at the places along her route.  Still, she believes that diversity is strength and that America would be better off if our borders were thrown open.  Needless to say, Sally voted for Obama.  She's contributed $100 to his campaign but hasn't yet received her 'O 2012' reelection sticker but plans to get one from the pile on her coworker's desk today.  Finally, Sally reaches the office.  She swipes her badge, sits at her desk and begins compiling Labor Statistics.

Now...what are the chances that Sally, her colleagues, and her like-minded bosses (appointed or elected) will produce numbers favorable to the Obama administration, no matter what manipulations of raw data and formulae are required?  Why is government trusted for one single second to evaluate its own performance?  It's akin to giving an NFL head coach the scoreboard controls and telling him to 'keep it close.'  Madness.

Texting & Driving: Another Government "Safety" Cash Grab

Anti-phone and anti-texting laws are more of the same smoke-and-mirrors that convince the gullible that government is "doing something" about a particular problem.  Results are rarely compiled and analyzed, motives are never discussed beyond vague notions of increased safety, etc.

However, in order for the cause to deliver the promised effect, let us examine the spots on all the dominos that must fall in the correct order:

1) The law must reduce or eliminate the deleterious behavior it claims to address
2) Police must not divert their attention from more pressing matters i.e. those which exist approximately 100% of the time spent on patrol.
3) If safety is our overriding concern, then police must also be prevented from the use of their phones, radios, and even in-car laptops while in motion, claims of superior driving skill and training notwithstanding (especially in light of their tendency to do 90 MPH on our highways).
4) Police must be able to discern the act taking place, often through dark tinted glass and often while traveling 70+ mph on the highway
5) Motorists can't claim to be adjusting the radio, their GPS, their mirrors, their air conditioning, their seat, their steering wheel, their iPod, or simply speaking on their phone as oppposed to using it to text.
6) Prosecutors must be able to prove conclusively that the prohibited activity was taking place.
7) The law's punishments should be directed towards cessation of the activity rather than monetary fines that are simply a stealth tax.

If the state fails to meet ANY ONE of these conditions (and many more not listed here) then that is prima facie evidence that the law is as flawed as the motivations behind it.  Worse, it is evidence of the state acting in bad faith when it claims to promote safety when its actual purpose is revenue generation (see also:  artificially low speed limits in direct conflict with traffic engineeers' recommendations).

The fact is that there are good and bad drivers with or without technological gadgets involved.  Licensing procedures and driving tests are an unfunny, undemanding joke especially when it comes to the inexperienced, the elderly and the infirm.  But keeping poor or flat-out incompetent drivers from getting behind the wheel would reduce license fee revenue, insurance premiums (which are partially converted to political donations), and the potential for revenue from moving violations and parking fines.

There are those drivers, despite claims by government and its enablers, that can and do rely on their own judgment, skill, experience and intelligence to use communications devices safely while in motion.  They complete thousands of safe trips every hour, every day - some of them lucky enough to still have jobs use their phones for business purposes.

One-size-fits-all clothing rarely is, and one-size-fits-all government "solutions" rarely, if ever, solve the problem they purport to address.  Indeed, they often make the problem worse.

We haven't even touched on the concepts of liberty, freedom, private property, etc. but they are potent trump cards in the fight against ever-encroaching statism sold under the rubric of safety.

31 May 2012

Voter ID: Individual Sovereignty Trumps Anti-Fraud Efforts

The libertarian side of me has a problem with Voter ID as a concept. Citizens ultimately have power over the state as in "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it." If this is true, then it's impossible, unworkable and contradictory for the state government facing abolition to be the same state government that decides who it will and won't permit to vote. If you & I are deciding whether or not you will move out of a house that I own, I may solicit your opinion but what are the chances that I will allow your view to trump mine?

Obviously these are ideals and/or hypotheticals but then so are most of the concepts enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Ideals are beyond individuals as they should be. Government of laws not men etc.

Now, as a practical matter I recognize that we must first clean house before we can hope to reestablish proper Constitutional structure and practices, therefore if Voter ID is the only way to reduce or eliminate vote fraud then it is a necessary evil but conservatives should be cognizant of the Law of Unintended Consequences. If and when leftists lose power via the ballot box, rest assured that they will make obtaining a photo ID so easy that the proverbial man off the banana boat will be able to obtain one with little or no documentation.

The left never seeks peace in class warfare. Why are is a driver's license and/or vehicle registration somewhat difficult to obtain in terms of bureaucratic nonsense?   How many times have you seen a fellow citizen approach the window at the DMV with a clutch of documents, acting in good faith, only to be turned away, or even scolded, for having the 'wrong' information e.g. typos on documents?  Experiences like these make the gainfully employed, law-abiding citizens shake their heads at the hand-holding that occurs at welfare agencies. Anyone who owns a car also owns freedom of movement. But again if an ID is required for voting then IDs will become as plentiful and free as leaves on trees.

22 April 2012

About Those Anti-Smoking Commercials

By now most have viewed at least one of the HHS anti-smoking commercials featuring victims of various cancers and other ailments caused - they say - by smoking and tobacco use. It's a cliche but still true: these are our tax dollars at work. Your government commissioned these ads and purchased the airtime with your cash. HHS Secretary Sebelius and her minions risk another sort of medical problem - namely, rotator cuff injuries from patting themselves on the back for foisting these grotesque, voyeuristic images on an unsuspecting, undeserving public. This isn't a tear in the eye of Iron Eyes Cody when he sees litter along a roadway; this are 21st century bureaucratic bullies grabbing you by the scruff of your proverbial neck and rubbing your nose in the misfortunes of others under the rubric of education.

Let's stipulate that smoking is injurious to health and has strong links to cancer and other diseases. A reasonable person might also point out that anti-smoking campaigns have been in place for most of our lives and cigarette packages have carried anti-smoking messages for just as long, making these ads surplus to requirements. They rely on the Fallacy Of The Dramatic Example by showing the worst examples (apart from actual corpses - but let's not give them any ideas). But extreme scenarios involving death or disfigurement could be conjured up for nearly every activity in life: driving a car, skydiving, skiing, or even slipping in the bathtub.

The ads and the sentiments expressed are based in cowardice. If the substance being discussed is maiming and killing indiscriminately, why has it not been completely banned from use? We know the answer - and so does HHS - but the same government sponsoring this modern-day Elephant Man sideshow is hopelessly, er, addicted to the taxes generated by smoking. The ends-justify-the-means crowd have an enduring blind spot on this issue. Remember governors and state attorneys general rubbing their hands with glee over tobacco settlement money? It was supposed to be a twin panacea for public health and public finance. Where did all those billions go? And why aren't we all hale and hearty by now as a result of state benificences?

As someone once said, the Bill of Rights should be amended to include The Right To Be Left The Hell Alone. Most of us have precious little leisure time available. When we choose to allocate some of those hours to watching TV i.e. escapism, we do not and should not wish to be subjected to graphic video of amputations, prosthetics, voice kazoos, etc. when we are simply attempting to relax for a few fleeting moments before heading back to work (at least for those still lucky and/or disciplined enough to do so) in order to pay the salaries of Sebelius et al.

Elections mean pandering, and the ongoing political battles over health care mean that the disabled and the ill are often targets of such pandering. We are always scolded with 'person first, disability second' by many of these same DC health commissars. Don't rob them of their dignity or their humanity, we are told (and don't forget the inevitable ADA lawsuits). To them I respond: if you want dignity, then Step #1 is to refuse any offer to act as a political show pony. Surely by now you know that after a few seconds under the lights with a candidate for a photo op, you will be as distant a memory as last Thursday's lunch order. Ignore the blather about cautionary tales, etc. You cannot set a good example by setting a bad example, therefore anyone claiming to be your champion is lying. If you are self-aware enough to realize what your lifestyle has wrought on your body, then please be self-aware enough to realize when you are being exploited.

Leftists have a cult-like obsession with disease and death. Look at their pet causes: environmentalism (i.e. man is voluntarily poisoning his world and in turn himself), euthanasia (they've convinced millions that 'doctor-assisted suicide' is not an oxymoron) and, of course, abortion. They are equally obsessed with playing God, deciding who is worthy of medical care, drugs, and operations, as well as the nonstop coercion of food providers and consumers with laws, bans, restrictions, labels, etc.

Proponents of the ads will claim that shocking images are the only way to get people's attention and change their behavior. But why and how should government be in charge of our attention i.e. our thoughts? References to Orwell and 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' are easy but in this case they are absolutely relevant. As before, an intelligent, educated and free people should neither need nor want any central authority attempting to dictate what to think or how to behave. The individuals appearing in these ads and those subjected to watching them have one thing in common: a government constantly attempting to manipulate them in order to amass more power.