Seeing Through the Illusion

So, I was shot a link to this NYT article via email. Let’s see if I get this…2,100 janitors were each paid about $3.50 per hour with no overtime pay, vacation pay, sick pay, or benefits of any sort. They usually worked 7 days a week, during the middle of the night, and often put in 70+ hours per week. Not a one of them was smart enough to know they could have gotten a much better deal at any number of places that pay the federal minimum wage of $5.50 per hour and time-and-a-half for OT (and often with other modest benefits, like vacation time and holidays). That’s quite a lot of clueless janitors in one place, isn’t it? Or, is it perhaps just a little bit more plausible that these 2,100 janitors knew their options, and for whatever their reasons, exercised their freedom to stay with the arrangements they had bargained for? Of course, you’ll get no clue as to what it was that caused them to opt the way they did in an NYT article, that’s for sure. But here’s the sad part about this. You know, there’s almost nothing in the world that I admire or…

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The “Great Society”

(via Prestopundit) Then, this: The AARP Declares War on Younger Americans. That’s too bad, because they might be interested in knowing that one of America’s largest and most effective lobbying organizations has just declared war on them. The AARP has now decided that it’s going to fight any effort by President Bush to privatize, even partially, that debacle known as Social Security. … The time will come, though, when these people who today are preoccupied with the grossly unimportant will suddenly realize that they’ve been robbed blind. For their entire working lives they had 14% of their earnings ripped off as a Social Security “contribution.” In time they will find out that if they are actually lucky enough to get any of this money back when they reach the age of about 70 or so, they will have realized a return of less than 2% on their “investment.’ … Explanation: Divide the people who have been paying Social Security taxes for the past 40 years into four basic groups. White Males, black males, white females, black females. Statistics will show that of these four demographic groups white females have the longest life expectancy; black males the shortest. In 2002 the…

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The Right of Self Defense

The right to self defense, in principle, strikes me as perhaps the most universally understood of our rights. This is doubtless due to its “intuitive” nature: when someone smashes you in the face with a baseball bat, you’ve no doubt about your rights in the matter. On the other hand, in all but those cases where one is actually subject to attack, application of the right to self defense offers no bright-line rules. On top of that, “turn-the-other-cheek” styled “ethics” and “enlightened” modern society have further muddied the waters to the point that for many, unless they are actually being beat over the head with a baseball bat, they see any use of force as initiatory aggression. With respect to the war, there are of course those for whom it’s nothing more than a political issue–on both sides. Those who believed that the war would be a winner politically were right (so far) and those who believed it could be made into a losing liability were wrong (so far). But then there are those people of good conscience, on both sides, who either sincerely believe we are doing the right thing or the wrong thing. For any of those who’ve…

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Brainwashing, or Just Tribalism?

I received the text of an article via email entitled We’re Brainwashed (Yup, Democrats, Too) by a young Emily Katz, which I subsequently located on LewRockwell.com. We live in a time where everyone is entitled to their own point of view, however unsubstantiated it might be. And in such an era, it is not enough to make sound economic and philosophical arguments if people refuse to be receptive to them. Our problem is more foundational: we must make our culture one that values inquiry and intellect in the first place. Once that’s taken care of, the ideas will speak for themselves. Of course, the general point is valid. But I think she misses the point, or the underlying premise anyway. Democracy is not political system designed to discover and uphold truth, and it never has. Democracy is a system that rewards a majority and punishes a minority–period. As such, people adopt positions that they believe will be winning positions. It’s no more complicated than that. So long as democracy is the law of the land, and I certainly see no end in sight, public policy will remain as far removed from truth and reality as it ever needs to be….

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Minding Everyone Else’s Business

While I certainly hold that it’s absolutely none of my business what substances sufficiently mature individuals choose to ingest, or in what quantities, I’ve also always thought that any genuine advocate of freedom (no, freedom) is stupid to make drug prohibition a central theme of their fight. How can I take someone seriously whose most important issue in life is their drugs? On the other hand, I can’t help touching on the issue from time-to-time, particularly when such material as conservative Gary Aldrich’s recent Townhall column exists. Anyone who knows anything about recreational drugs should find this screed uproariously funny, in the sad sense, of course. Sure, it’s not Reefer Madness, or anything, but it sure is written to the ignoramus who’s more than happy to mind your business. Here’s just one funny, of many: Yet selfish, self-centered Liberals don’t care about any of that – they just want their marijuana, cocaine, or whatever designer drug is in fashion. What they won’t admit is that many cannot enjoy their sexual activities without using the drugs – this is the dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about. The effects of marijuana and cocaine are often more powerful than Viagra….

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Looks Like Victory All Around; Yea

People have differing views of abortion but almost nobody approves of the holding in Roe and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. Between them, those two cases and their progeny establish that abortion is a matter of no public concern under any circumstances. Whenever a woman and her abortionist agree that an abortion is indicated, nobody can constitutionally intervene. The rules we have are extreme. If the Supreme Court discarded them and restored to the states their power to regulate abortion very few people would notice or care. Abortion would continue to be widely available in most states. This is all that most people who don’t want to see Roe overruled care about. The legislatures would hammer out compromise regulatory schemes broadly satisfactory to the citizens of each state. Every state, even New York and California would adopt schemes flatly inconsistent with Roe. The left and its Democrat allies would be trapped trying to defend unlimited abortion on demand because that is what they have grown used to. Anything less would be a victory for the forces of life. The left would lose fifty times. It would be a long-running disaster for Democrats. This process would have stresses for Republicans…

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Illusionist Exposes an Illusion

I have long maintained that most of what I see in the area of “security,” particularly as it concerns the gauntlet we all must endure each time we fly, is little more than an illusion meant to give people a sense of being safer without really effectively making them safer. In a world where beliefs and feelings often trump the reality of things, it’s an “effective” government tool. I see it nearly everywhere. Penn Gillette, the famous illusionist, recounts his experience in dealing with airline security. (via Kim du Toit)

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