Episode 287 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: his new podcast “Thinking and Doing” that will explore logical fallacies, cognitive biases, Stoicism, and personal philosophy; an article he wrote in July 2018 looking at the role social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and reddit should play in policing speech on their platforms; and more.Continue Reading
Last week, a local business delivered to my home — even though I didn’t ask and it wasn’t expected.
Just to be nice and to make a good impression.
And it worked.
This reminded me of the difference between market services and government “services” and why I always prefer the market.
With a market business, if I don’t like their service I can choose to not use them. I can use a competitor or do without. They know you have a choice, so If they want to stay in business they can’t poison their customers.
If I don’t shop at a particular store, they won’t send armed employees to my door to force themselves on me. I’m not forced to send them money regularly whether or not I shop with them. I can even go into competition with them. They can’t do anything about it unless — through cronyism — they use the violence of government against me. If they take that path, they are no longer part of the market, but have joined forces with the coercive sector: the State.
With government “services” there is no real choice. No matter how bad they are, I am forced to pay — even if I never use them.
When you end up facing a surly, incompetent, entitled bureaucrat you’re forced to pay this employee regardless. Often I am compelled to use a “service” I don’t want. If I try to opt out I will be attacked by armed government employees — maybe not right away, but if I fail to comply with their escalating threats it will happen. Their employees know this and it shows.
Sometimes you’ll get a caring government employee — more common in the less coercive branches — but niceness can’t make up for the lack of choice.
Occasionally you’ll be allowed to choose a non-government alternative, but you are still forced to pay for the unwanted government option. You can use a private school, but the government will claim this doesn’t mean you can stop funding the “public” school you neither need nor want. You will pay twice.
A business in the voluntary market can’t treat customers the way government services can. Not if it wants to survive.
The market will always be superior.
The only reason people believe they need government police but not government grocery stores is that — so far — groceries aren’t distributed by government. If something as critical as food can be handled by the market, lesser jobs like policing would be a snap.Continue Reading
The traditional depiction of Lady Justice is a woman wearing a blindfold to demonstrate impartiality. In her right hand she wields a sword (symbolizing swift punishment for the guilty). Her left arm holds aloft a scale to weigh the opposing sides’ cases — publicly, for all to see.
Over time, American judges have become increasingly inclined to demand that the public itself wear the blindfold, and that the opposing parties wear gags.
Headline, New York Times: “Supreme Court Stays Out of Secret Case That May Be Part of Mueller Probe.”
The Court refused “to intercede in a mysterious fight over a sealed grand jury subpoena to a[n unidentified] foreign corporation issued by a federal prosecutor who may or may not be Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia affair.”
Headline, Sacramento Bee: “California judge will keep Planned Parenthood names sealed.”
The judge says he’ll “punish” anyone who reveals the names of the alleged victims in the prosecution of two anti-abortion activists charged with secretly taping them in conversations regarding procurement of fetal tissue.
Headline, CNN: “‘El Chapo’ Guzman jury will be anonymous, judge rules.”
Before the trial even began, the judge pronounced Guzman guilty of “a pattern of violence” that could cause the jurors to “reasonably fear” for their safety.
Headline, ABC News: “Federal judge warns she may impose gag order on Roger Stone, prosecutors.”
The judge doesn’t want the flamboyant Stone, charged in the Mueller probe, treating his prosecution as a “public relations campaign” or a “book tour.”
Secret proceedings. Secret subpoenas. Secret juries. Secret alleged victims.
Always with excuses, some more or less convincing than others.
And all flagrantly in violation of the First Amendment’s free speech clause and the Sixth Amendment’s public trial clause.
Nowhere in the Constitution is there mentioned any prerogative of government to operate in secret or to forbid public comment by anyone.
From what source do these judges claim to derive the powers they’re exercising? Certainly not from the taxpayers whose expense they operate at. Nor from the public they claim to serve.
To allow such secret judicial proceedings invites corruption and makes a mockery of the conception of justice the courts supposedly exist to uphold.
Paired with secret police operations (how many times have we heard police chiefs refuse to answer simple and germane questions to “protect an investigation?”), such proceedings constitute the necessary elements of a police state as ugly as any in history.
If American freedom is to stand a chance of survival and recovery, judges who engage in this kind of misconduct must be removed from their benches, stripped of their robes, and punished harshly — after the speedy, and very public, trials they’re entitled to, of course.Continue Reading
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and one many people can’t accept, but you and I can never know everything.
This means if you want to act politically, you’ll come from a place of ignorance whether you mean to or not.
I can’t know the ultimate reality about Anthropogenic Global Climate Change — commonly called “global warming.”
I can’t know all the possible consequences of building a new “Berlin Wall” between America and Mexico.
I can’t know how a total gun ban would affect actual aggression statistics.
I can’t know all the consequences of adopting fully socialized medicine in America.
I can’t know exactly what my life would be like without police, government schools, taxation, laws, and all the rest of the socialistic things I would like to see go away.
And it doesn’t really matter.
It’s enough to know when something violates other people’s rights and liberty; to understand I have no right to violate others even if I can’t know with certainty how things would go if no one violates them.
This knowledge — that I have no right to violate others — is sufficient and essential.
There are people who are arrogant enough to believe they can know it all. They may claim the reason you don’t know it all is because you won’t research it for yourself, or you’re just not smart enough. They are dishonest.
They don’t know it all. They only know enough to be satisfied with the position they’ve taken; a position that justifies their favorite violations of life, liberty, and property. If your research leads you to a different opinion, they’ll claim you don’t know enough until you agree with them.
They expect to use government against those who don’t agree with them on whatever issue they care most about. They’d like to have you on their side; superior numbers, expressed through a vote, to gang up and force others to go along with what they believe.
Yet, even if they are right in their beliefs, they aren’t right about how to carry them out. No one has the right to use government violence to force you to go along with them.
Such a right has never existed and can’t be invented.
Accept that no one can know everything and that no matter what you know it can’t give you the right to govern others, nor to select people to govern them on your behalf.
This knowledge will liberate you.
That’s one thing I can know for certain.Continue Reading
If you don’t watch “the news” you might be uninformed; if you watch it you will be misinformed.
“News” is opinion. There’s no such thing as just presenting the facts; there never was. There’s always going to be a slant to it. It’s almost always a statist slant.
If they don’t honestly portray cops as a gang, politicians as thieving thugs, government as religion, “laws” as slavery, they are not telling the truth. They are opinionizing. Lying. Covering up the truth to protect the bad guys.
Any bland “news” story about the “arrest” of a drug dealer, and the drugs, cash, and guns confiscated from him, is a nest of lies– opinions, if I were to be nice about it. It will assume statism. It will assume the legitimacy of prohibition, “taxation”, government police, “gun control” [sic], “laws”, the “justice system”, and a hundred other things which shouldn’t be assumed.
They are selling their opinion to people who mostly agree with them (even when they feel they are on the other side), or who they are trying to fool into agreeing with them. It largely works.
I think that’s why you see “Right” vs “Left” in almost all “news”/opinions. All “news” comes from one side or the other… yet the sides are really the same. They are statist, anti-liberty bigots to the core. So the “news” gets people to arguing over which of those identical twins is correct, when they are both wrong.
Statists live in a statist bubble, even if they sample statist opinions from the “other side”. It’s still only statism.
Libertarians don’t have the option of living in a bubble. We get exposed to the other sides. All other sides. Constantly. Whether we intend to or not. It’s unavoidable. That’s why we are better informed than the uninformed or the misinformed statists. And it’s why the statists try so hard to ridicule our position. They have to, otherwise they might realize they are losers going in circles, chasing hallucinations.Continue Reading
On January 28, home invaders murdered 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas and 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle of Houston, Texas. Nicholas and Tuttle wounded five of the (numerous) armed burglars before being slain.
That’s not how the news accounts put it, of course. Typical headline (from the Houston Chronicle): “4 HPD officers shot in southeast Houston narcotics operation, a fifth injured.”
A number of claims relating to the fateful “no-knock raid” remain in dispute, not least whether or not Nicholas and Tuttle were, as the search warrant leading to the raid alleged, selling heroin from their home (their neighbors characterized them as quiet people who didn’t have lots of company, and scoffed at the notion that they might be drug dealers).
Setting aside those disputes, let’s give the benefit of doubt to Houston police chief Art Acevedo on two things.
Acevedo says that his officers “announced themselves as Houston police officers while simultaneously breaching the front door.”
And Acevedo admits that immediately upon breaching the front door, one of the officers shot and killed the residents’ dog.
Ask yourself this: If armed men break down your front door and shoot your dog, are you going to notice (if you can even hear) the invaders saying “police, police?” Are you going to just automatically believe the claim even if you do hear and notice it? Or are you going to act to defend yourself?
It was only after the officers’ violent entry and after one officer killed their dog that Tuttle shot and wounded the dog-killer and Nicholas attempted to disarm him. Both paid with their lives for their forlorn resistance to a gang of armed invaders.
Naturally, Acevedo blames the victims — and the availability of guns with which mere civilians might conceivably defend their homes and their lives from violent intruders.
No, the cops didn’t find any heroin on the premises, although they did claim to have found marijuana and a white powder that Acevedo thought might be cocaine or fentanyl.
No, neither Nicholas nor Tuttle had criminal pasts which might have justified a John Dillinger style takedown. Tuttle had no criminal record at all. Nicholas had a single (dismissed) bad check charge on hers.
The Houston PD brought guns, battering rams, and overwhelming force to what they didn’t even expect to be a knife fight. It was supposed to just be a quick episode of “law enforcement theater,” a show of force to show the mere mundanes who’s in charge.
That it went terribly wrong isn’t on the victims. It’s on Acevedo and company, and on Gordon G. Marcum II, the judge who signed a warrant specifying that police were “hereby authorized to dispense with the usual requirement that you knock and announce your purpose before entering” the residence.
Acevedo, Marcum, and the officers at the sharp end of the stick will never be charged with armed criminal action and conspiracy to commit same. But they should be. And we need a much higher bar for “no-knock” warrants, if they’re to be allowed at all.Continue Reading