Audio Clips

01 July 2013

Plainsclothes Cops Frighten Sorority Girls Carrying Bottled Water, Arrest Them For Panicking

In the apt words of Brian Doherty who posted this story at Reason: "No amount of snarky irony can prepare you for this tale of police idiocy in the name of the most minor and absurd of laws."

Six Plainclothes Cops Attack and Arrest University of Virginia Sorority Woman After She Buys Water From Grocery Store

Modern policing! Public safety! No amount of snarky irony can prepare you for this tale of police idiocy in the name of the most minor and absurd of laws, reported in Daily Progress out of Virginia:
When a half-dozen men and a woman in street clothes closed in on University of Virginia student Elizabeth Daly, 20, she and two roommates panicked.
Photo credit: Fergal Mac Eoinin / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SAPhoto credit: Fergal Mac Eoinin / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
That led to Daly spending a night and an afternoon in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. Her initial offense? Walking to her car with bottled water, cookie dough and ice cream just purchased from the Harris Teeter in the Barracks Road Shopping Center for a sorority benefit fundraiser.
A group of state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents clad in plainclothes approached her, suspecting the blue carton of LaCroix sparkling water to be a 12-pack of beer. Police say one of the agents jumped on the hood of her car. She says one drew a gun. Unsure of who they were, Daly tried to flee the darkened parking lot.
"They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform," she recalled Thursday in a written account of the April 11 incident.
"I couldn't put my windows down unless I started my car, and when I started my car they began yelling to not move the car, not to start the car. They began trying to break the windows. My roommates and I were ... terrified," Daly stated.
The authorities agree with her tale, but, you know, she had pissed the cops off by then.
Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman read Daly's account and said it was factually consistent.
Prosecutors say she apologized profusely when she realized who the agents were. But that wasn't good enough for ABC agents, who charged her with three felonies. Prosecutors withdrew those charges Thursday in Charlottesville General District Court, but Daly still can't understand why she sat in jail....
Agents charged Daly with two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer and one count of eluding police, all Class 6 felonies carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $2,500 in fines per offense....
Daly incurred the assault charges when she "grazed" two agents with her SUV, according to court records. She drove the SUV past the agents after her front-seat passenger, in a panic, yelled at Daly to "go, go, go" and climbed into the rear of the vehicle to gain space from the men on her side of the car, the records state...
Oh, the irony!
The women dialed 911 as they pulled out of the parking lot to report what was happening and ask whether the agents were police officers. Daly said she was planning to drive to a police station. She stopped the SUV nearby for an agent driving a vehicle with lights and sirens, Chapman said.

27 June 2013

Steady Encroachments Against Our Civil Liberties

Sheldon Richman recently wrote an article on why NSA spying is so dangerous to our freedoms.  The steady, continual encroachments by the federal government against our civil liberties puts future generations at greater risk of living under a totalitarian regime.  Not because they won't value freedom, but rather because they may not even understand what freedom used to mean.

Motives Aside, the NSA Should Not Spy on Us

You need not suspect the motives of those responsible for NSA surveillance to detest what they are doing. In fact, we may have more to fear from spies acting out of patriotic zeal than those acting out of power lust or economic interest: Zealots are more likely to eschew restraints that might compromise their righteous cause.
For the sake of argument, we may assume that from President Obama on down, government officials sincerely believe that gathering Americans’ telephone and Internet data is vital to the people’s security. Does that make government spying okay?
No, it doesn’t.
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” Although often attributed to George Washington, that famous quotation was probably was not uttered by him. Nevertheless, its value lies in what it says, not in who said it.
At best, government represents a risk to the people it rules. Even under a tightly written constitution and popular vigilance — both of which are easier to imagine than to achieve — government officials will always have the incentive and opportunity to push the limits and loosen the constraints.
But if their purpose is to protect us, why worry?
It doesn’t take much imagination to answer to this question. A purported cure can be worse than the disease. Who would accept the placement of a surveillance camera in every home as a way of preventing crime? By the same token, gathering data on everyone without probable cause in order to locate possible terrorists should be abhorrent to people who prize their freedom and privacy.
Since we’re assuming pure motives, we’ll ignore the specter of deliberate abuse. In our hypothetical case, no one would use the information in a way not intended to promote the general welfare. Pure motives, however, do not rule out error. So the danger remains that innocent people could have their lives seriously disrupted — or worse — by a zealous agent of government who sees an ominous pattern in someone’s data where none in fact exists. Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb points out that human beings are more likely to see order in randomness than vice versa. As a result, a blameless individual could have his life turned upside down by a bureaucrat who goes the extra mile to ensure that no terrorist act occurs on his watch. Think of the turmoil created for those falsely accused of the bombing at the Atlanta Olympic games and of sending anthrax letters after the 9/11 attacks.
The odds of such an error for any particular individual may be slight, but they are big enough if you put yourself into the picture.
However, that is not the only reason to reject even a well-intentioned surveillance state.
Julian Sanchez, who specializes in technology and civil liberties, points out that a person who has nothing to hide from government officials — if such a person actually exists — would still not have a good reason to tolerate NSA surveillance, because the general awareness that government routinely spies on us has an insidious effect on society:
Even when it isn’t abused … the very presence of that spy machine affects us and poisons us.… It’s slow and subtle, but surveillance societies inexorably train us for helplessness, anxiety and compliance. Maybe they’ll never look at your call logs, read your emails or listen in on your intimate conversations. You’ll just live with the knowledge that they always could — and if you ever had anything worth hiding, there would be nowhere left to hide it.
Is that the kind of society we want, one in which we assume a government official is looking over our shoulders?
Because government is force — “a dangerous servant and a fearful master” — it must be watched closely, even — especially — when it does something you like. But eternal vigilance is hard to achieve. People outside the system are busy with their lives, and politicians generally can’t be expected to play watchdog to other politicians. Therefore, at the least, we need institutional constraints and transparency: No secret warrants. No secret courts. No secret expansive interpretations of laws and constitutional prohibitions.
This article originally appeared in the Future of Freedom Foundation. 

06 June 2013

Because So Few People Know About Christmas Trees...

The Obama Administration has decided to tax every Christmas tree in America with a $.15 tax that will rise to $.20 per tree eventually.  While this sounds like very little money, when you multiply it across tens of millions of households who buy Christmas trees it's just another revenue grab.  Plus, if you get enough of these "little" money grabs it all adds up to a significant drain on American families.  We are being taxed to the point that it has become obvious that the federal government thinks of all money as theirs and they just decide how much you get to keep.

The justification behind the tax is to create a Christmas Tree promotion program.  You know, because almost no one knows about Christmas trees.  They're such a new development in American life and we really want to make sure that they catch on.  According to a Heritage Foundation post, "Some in the Christmas tree industry sought to develop a promotional program to assist its industry. After three failed attempts to set up a voluntary system, they turned to the federal government to do what it couldn’t: Force Christmas tree producers and importers to pay for a Christmas tree promotion program."

So really, like most legislation in today's America, this is just a bunch of industry whiners using the government to enforce their will on the others in their industry who don't like listening to them.  Cronies really are the lowest form of life.  They're also the kind of people that we used to tar and feather and ride out of town on a rail.  Ahh, those were the days.

04 June 2013

Independence Hall: First Amendment-Free Zone

This video is about 13 minutes but it is incredibly enlightening about the capacity of government employees to infringe on the Constitutional rights of citizens and feel absolutely no compunction about it.  It is a vivid reminder of why the Founding Fathers counseled us to "eternal vigilance".  There are a significant number of simple-minded, unthinking order-followers among the ranks of federal employees.  They are a threat to your freedom and, let's be honest, they're a much more likely threat to you and me on a daily basis than the terrorists that our government would have us constantly fear.  The last 3 minutes in particular are enlightening and disturbing.  Please share with your friends.

30 May 2013

Freedom For Me, But Not For Thee

This is classic hypocrisy, this time coming from lunatics who claim to "fight to the death to have everybody be able to say their opinions!"  You know, unless we don't like you.  That means you, Koch brothers, you filthy animals!

23 May 2013

Social Security: Really Our Best Retirement Option?

Learn Liberty and Antony Davies put together a great 4 minute illustration of how poorly your Social Security "investment" is serving you.

21 May 2013

Apple Grilled for Paying Less in Taxes Than McCain Thinks They Should

Today Apple CEO Tim Cook and other Apple executives were dragged in front of a Senate committee to answer for not paying as much in taxes and Senators Carl Levin and John McCain think it should.  Just as a quick reminder, corporations don't pay taxes.  Now Mr. Levin and Mr. McCain may be forgiven for not knowing this because they are, you know, senators.  We as taxpayers, however, need to know the truth.  That is, corporations don't pay taxes, people do.

Corporations are a structure for the purpose of running a business. Corporations are owned by the shareholders and sell goods or services to their customers. When a corporation "pays taxes" it is either excess money that they have collected from their customers or part of the profit margin that would go to the shareholders. In other words, the taxes that are paid by corporations are really paid by the shareholders of that corporation or the customers. Corporations don't pay taxes. People pay taxes.  Whatever percentage of the total U.S. tax burden was paid by corporations was actually paid by you instead. You paid for it in the price of the goods and services you bought or you paid for it in lower earnings from the stocks that you own.

For a couple of great videos on this from Walter Williams and Milton Friedman just look below.






16 May 2013

David Boaz: Scandals Erode Faith in Benevolent Government


David Boaz of the Cato Institute (who also wrote a great book on Libertarianism) highlighted today the natural consequences that are coming from the three scandals plaguing President Obama's administration right now.  President Obama and Eric Holder wield the "I didn't know anything about it" defense as if it provides them a golden halo.  Instead it highlights the inherent problem of letting the federal government assume too much control and power.  As it grows larger its abusive nature becomes more obvious.  Most of the powers that the federal government has assumed over the past 50 years should be retained by the states and counties of our great nation.

Scandals Keep Eroding Our Faith in Benevolent Government

George Will, Michael Gerson, and our own Gene Healy are among the columnists who reminded us – in the wake of the IRS and AP snooping scandals – of President Obama’s stirring words just two days before the IRS story broke:
Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity. . . . They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.
No road to serfdom here. Just us folks working together, to protect ourselves from sneaky reporters and organized taxpayers.
And now lots of people are noting that a series of scandals in government just might undermine people’s faith in government. John Dickerson of Slate writes:
The Obama administration is doing a far better job making the case for conservatism than Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, or John Boehner ever did. Showing is always better than telling, and when the government overreaches in so many ways it gives support to the conservative argument about the inherently rapacious nature of government….
Conservatives argue that the more government you have, the more opportunities you will have for it to grow out of control.
And Paul Begala, the Bill Clinton operative, notes:
This hurts the Obama Administration more than similar issues hurt the Bush administration because a central underpinning of the progressive philosophy is a belief in the efficacy of government. In the main almost all of the Obama agenda requires expanding folks’ faith in government, and these issues erode that faith.
“Faith in government” indeed. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, putting your faith in government is, like a second marriage, a triumph of hope over experience.
But most particularly this week I’m reminded of Murray Rothbard’s comment in 1975 about what the era of Vietnam, Watergate, and stagflation had done to trust in government:
Twenty years ago, the historian Cecelia Kenyon, writing of the Anti-Federalist opponents of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, chided them for being “men of little faith” – little faith, that is, in a strong central government. It is hard to think of anyone having such unexamined faith in government today.
Another 38 years later, it should be even more difficult to retain such faith.

06 March 2013

19 February 2013

One of the biggest recurring problems with government is that it constantly looks for new projects.  It's like an addict looking for a new high.  It's just not sexy to maintain existing roads and bridges, for example.  You have to build new ones.  And then put your name on it.  This video is a perfect example of that tendency in government officials.

14 February 2013

Abusive Gov't Workers: Born That Way or Dropped on Their Heads?

Video catches gov't worker painting an occupied parking spot as a handicapped spot so that another gov't worker can haul it away and make the owner pay a fine.  But hey, at least taxes are low!

12 February 2013

Gender Inequality?

This is a really interesting take on why there is a discrepancy between what men and women tend to earn.

07 February 2013

Competitive Forces in Medicine

The saving grace of the continued slide of the US into statist policies is that there are many other countries who can choose to compete against us.  That may be what is necessary in order to continue medical innovation in the coming decades.

05 February 2013

Looking Forward to the US Treasury Collapse?

Okay, so this video gets a little technical and wonky (be still my heart!) but it's a very interesting point of view by Mr. Hummell who suggests that a US default is, for all intents and purposes, practically unavoidable at this point.  It will happen, it's just a question of when.  And he views that as a good thing.  He sees the collapse of confidence in the US government as a net positive to the private sector as individuals move their investment capital away from the "bullet-proof" US treasuries and over to private investment.  I have to agree with him that I believe this would be the ultimate outcome, but I think it could be a pretty painful process.  It sounds like he believes it would be also.  Long-term though it would be a positive development.  So bring it on!

29 January 2013

The Indispensible Milton Friedman

Another book for my To Read pile.  I think I add to the pile faster than I can read.  Sigh.

24 January 2013

Poor, Stupid Voters Protected by Omniscient Politicians

Why are more people not offended by this lady's logic?  She is representative of all the politicians who feel like they know what's best for their peons constituents.  How is it that we don't all recoil from this kind of attitude?

15 January 2013

Wow.

I got moves you never seen!  But most of them involve painfully trying to get my limbs to move where I want them to.  Not like these guys.

08 January 2013

Regulation Killed the Hamburger Stand

Detective Eric Moore of the LAPD is a perfect example of the kind of person who would have been "just following orders" in Hitler's Germany.  He is a man so blinded by the letter of the law that he fails to see that the law is making criminals out of ordinary men and women.  His kind of willful ignorance is the most frightening thing about government officials.  Their overwrought paternalism has the unintended consequence of abusing the citizenry they profess to care about.  It's disturbing to listen to his calm denunciation of the business owner as an uncaring human being for not being willing to "voluntarily" make changes to his business.  Because of the business owner's intransigence the city had to step in and compel him to be a good citizen.  God help us from nannies like Detective Moore and the zoning committee.

03 January 2013

Curt Schilling: Crony Capitalist

I always find it interesting when people who profess to be small-government advocates hypocritically try to pig out at the government trough.  Curt Schilling, former Boston Red Sox pitcher, Bush supporter and a self-proclaimed small-government guy, was more than happy to petition the state of Rhode Island for tens of millions of dollars when he couldn't get a single private investor to back his business idea.  The first red flag for Rhode Island should have been the fact that this baseball legend couldn't get a single large investor to back him.  Really?!  How bad is that business idea?  Rhode Island got a chance to find out.

01 January 2013

Public/Private Partnership Example

Indianapolis did a public/private partnership for their parking problem and ended up getting MORE money than they were getting prior to the deal and the service upgrade is phenomenal.  Check it out!