In this podcast, I take a somewhat side-ways look at different aspects of government that are strange or curious from a libertarian point of view. It’s light on framework or theory, and it isn’t particularly funny either. I hope you enjoy it!
1 hour and about 15 minutes. Podcast includes:
– Little piles of garbage
– Did you what Amazon did?
– I’ve got an idea!
– Government likes art and culture!
– Strangers who live a thousand miles away
– Partisan dog poop gourmets
– Enough idiots to get the job done
– Is the first amendment bullshit?
– The constitution and her big fat friend
– Respecting the rapist
– Moral heroism when government stops being bad
– Benign Government Replacement Program (BGRP)
– Getting money out of politics
– Does the veto make the president king?
– Admiration for the murderer
Below here is my rough outline for the show. It’s filled with typos and fragments. I urge you not to read it, but I thought I’d include it for Google’s sake (keywords and such).
Our Funny Government
Fairies and Little piles of garbage
- The postal service can be an easy and easy target for pointing out the follies of government.
- They slunk around in their crappy building, making people wait in line to talk to some curmudgeon, who doesn’t want to be there anymore than you do. And we joke that they lose the mail all the time. Of course, who would know?
- Another reason we can pick on them is that despite the U.S. Postal Service Reports Revenue Increase,
- $5.5 Billion Loss in Fiscal 2014
- The postal service is like a bunch of magical fairies who deliver little piles of garbage every day
- Do this analysis for a week: sort your mail by personal correspondence, things like bills, and then commercial i.e., junk mail
- Wouldn’t eco like people be pissed about this
- Think of the gas they use
- Wouldn’t it be better to pay them just to throw the shit directly in the garbage?
- And they run in debt, mostly because of their pensions. So they are ruining the environment in a garbagey way at a loss. Meaning, that we, as taxpayers, pay extra for the privilege of throwing our little piles of garbage ourselves.
- The Outbox story – you are not the primary customer
From InsideSources.com, April 2014
“When Evan and Will got called in to meet with the Postmaster General they were joined by the USPS’s General Counsel and Chief of Digital Strategy. But instead, Evan recounts that US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe “looked at us” and said “we have a misunderstanding. ‘You disrupt my service and we will never work with you.’” Further, “‘You mentioned making the service better for our customers; but the American citizens aren’t our customers—about 400 junk mailers are our customers. Your service hurts our ability to serve those customers.”’
According to Evan, the Chief of Digital Strategy’s comments were even more stark, “[Your market model] will never work anyway. Digital is a fad. It will only work in Europe.”
Evan and Will would later call the meeting one of the most “surreal moments of their lives.”
I have to thank Isaac for giving me that story.
The little piles of garbage, it turns out, isn’t a mistake or an eco-hazard or a nuisance or an efficiency – it’s strategy!
- Perhaps we could shut it down. A market solution would probably eliminate junk mail as a viable marketing program for many.
- But we can’t. The postal workers would gun us down every time we went to McDonalds.
Did you see what Amazon did?
- Maybe the Postal service does have a purpose: Amazon bullied, or negotiated, Sunday Delivery
- Can you image the president or congress doing this?
- The unions would be outraged.
- Read article on Amazon
I’ve got an idea!
New idea: The government should design a program to solicit voluntary taxes from poor people to generate revenue to fund programs for poor people, then randomly bequeath to some ordinary jackass enough capital to launch a commercial airline or cure cancer.
- Oh Whoops, this exists already. It’s the powerball lottery.
- The poor send their money in and then get part of it back to fund schools of all things, the very thing that keeps them dumb and compliant.
Government likes art and culture!
Have you ever seen any? I haven’t. Oh except for jar-of-piss Christ, but I only heard about that because it is a really really bad idea. And now the next guy who wants to make a splash (ahem) will have to jar pieces of shit. And I can’t even imagine what the next guy is going to do.
Paul Cantor has a wonderful lecture series on Commerce and Culture that my friend Isaac turned me on to. He makes the argument that government funding of arts removes the aspects of choice and taste out of the art making process. It can basically only create art where the people who pay for it – the average taxpayer – don’t get to see it and don’t want to see it. Seems to be true in practice.
PBS is kind of interesting, as that’s probably the other large manifestation of government funding culture. If we didn’t have it, how would rich people fund their programs on antiquing, gourmet cooking, home renovation, Victorian dramas, Ballet, opera, etc. Make no mistake, this subsidy is not for what poor and middle class people are interested in.
The Creepiness of Wedge Issues
Going back to the piss Christ sculpture, have you noticed something has to be kind of yucky for it to be politicized? Wedge issues, which can often singularly make someone a Republican or Democrat, all have creepy or gross aspects. Abortion, gay rights, stem cells, anchor babies – everything seems to involve blood, semen and orifices.
Is this on purpose? Do we need to be grossed out a little to be political?
Strangers Who Live A Thousand Miles Away
- Why do we care what strangers a thousand miles away do? Why do we desire policy for these people? Why do they want policy for us?
- Like people in Texas. Or what people in Colorado are doing?
- And then why do we stop caring if they are in Canada or Bolivia?
- Or if we are just plain killing people? These strangers would surely deserve more of our attention than strangers making minimum wage in Seattle or some stranger not getting an art grant.
- What about the pundits on TV? Their strangers too.
- And politicians.
- To hell with these strangers. Or rather, who knows? They are strangers who live really far away.
Partisan Dog Poop Gourmets
Imagine of group of like-minded people who thought of themselves as fine, gourmet chefs who make delicious and creative food. They strive to be the best cooks preparing the best food available anywhere.
But instead of practicing new cooking techniques, trying new ingredients or working to improve their own recipes, they walk around the yard tasting bites of dog shit. And every time they put the hot disgusting mess in their mouth, they spit it out, point at it and say “eww! That tastes terrible!”
They then go find another turd and munch on.
Would you find this productive? This is very much like how partisan media pundits seem to express their political opinions. For example, if one is an outspoken Democrat, he or she feels satisfied by placing about 99% of their political energy hunting down something terrible a Republican has said and declare it awful. And there is no short supply of terrible things Republicans say in the news. It’s not just the media, too many regular folk are like this too. Go visit Facebook or an Internet discussion board.
There’s no end to these terrible comments. If they can’t find one from a prominent politician or news commenter, they settle for some junior Republican state selectmen nobody’s ever heard of. If this person doesn’t say something bad on a particular day, they’ll even find some stranger/dummy who had enough money to buy a bumper sticker or typed something on the Internet.
And it makes them upset! Violently angry! If some dumb stranger who lives a thousand miles away says something ugly or stupid, why would anyone care? Why give somebody so much power over your emotions?
The conservatives do it right back, just as badly. So all of these people expressing political opinions are essentially walking around looking for some piece of shit that they’ll declare in not tasty.
I wish to say that this was limited to just dummies on Facebook, but there are whole sites dedicated to it (look at Huffingtonpost.com, alternet.org, dailykos.com, redstate.com) and entire major cable news networks, all tirelessly finding lumps of poo for their audiences to declare unsavory.
It’s never about creating something good, but just identifying the bad.
Just imagine if instead they turned inward to their preferred ideas and worked hard to develop them. Like if they worked to build their political theories to the best that they could be envisioned. They would hold up their own political ideas to rigorous assessments and criticisms using a methodology and talk in terms such as ethics, history, economics and outcomes.
Sure, people would still come up with imperfect and even wrong answers, but the conversations would be so much richer. And the ideas would get better.
Libertarians can be guilty of sampling some turds. But, boy, can they exhaust themselves criticizing each other, doing insane amounts of studying, and probably look more inward than any other group with a political worldview.
I’m not a fan of either partisan view, or government at all, but I would prefer it if people stopped tasting so much shit. Maybe I’m guilty of tasting a little poop myself in this blog, but in pointing out a fault I’m hopefully pointing out an opportunity too.
Enough idiots to get the job done.
George Carlin on stupid people
I read an internet post lamenting on Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign. They claimed that there can not be enough idiots to vote him in as the republican nomination. If you look at most politicians, are there enough idiots to vote anybody in? They all seem pretty disingenuous, megalomaniacal, selfish and stupid.
If we presume voting works like were told, I think there may be enough idiots.
According to the Washington post, only 36.4% of Americans voted, or about 1 out of 3. Of those total voters, half of them were probably Republicans. So 1 out of 6.
So it only takes about 18% of the votes to get somebody the nomination. Or a little more for the presidency.
As George Carlin said, the average person is pretty stupid, which means half of all people are stupider than that.
That’s half. Let’s take the bottom quintile, they must be really stupid. Idiots perhaps.
That’s 20% idiots, more than the 18% we need to get the politician elected.
Apparently, there’s enough idiots.
Is the first amendment bullshit?
Here’s the text of the first amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
So, essentially, among other things, the government says you are allowed to talk. Big whoop.
I mean, I get the historical context, that free speech isn’t a right even today in some countries, and really, between political correctness, hate speech laws, campaign finance laws, and the government owning and regulating the airwaves for 80 years or so, we don’t have it here either.
But really? Talking? We’re supposed to be happy that they allow us to talk?
What about other things that we aren’t explicitly given permission for. Like permission to pick out our own clothes. Or permission to eat breakfast when we want. Or permission to use the bathroom when and as frequently as we want.
Or when to make the heavy metal goat sign with our fingers.
Do we need this first amendment? This gross and clumsy permission to do something as basic as talking?
The sinister part of this is that if we decide to appreciate the first amendment, than we concede that our right to talk came from the government. Even though we would find it preposterous if they said we had the right to pick out our clothes or take a dump when it was convenient.
First amendment sounds like bullshit to me.
The constitution and her big fat friend
Play Lynch’s song.
For many, like constitutional conservatives and paleo-conservatives, the constitution is seen as a great achievement, at least in theory and at least in its inception, as being a rule of law that succinctly limits government. The constitution is considered an idea. The law of the land is attractive. It’s a win.
In fact, most people through school learn to idolize the constitution to some extent. Even liberals who get excited when the supreme court finds something like the ACA or gay marriage to be “approved” by the constitution.
This is a naked call to authority.
The constitution was never really a power limiter but always a power grab. The power didn’t exist before. The constitution made up the power it was going to supposedly limit. And the constitution was probably so heavy handed in power control framing just for the purpose of making it less scary to be accepted by the couple dozen men who made the decision.
It’s a little like you buy a car and then your neighbor approaches you with some terms on how they are going to use it. You immediately protest that he doesn’t have any rights to your car. Ah, but he comes back and says “here’s a document that says I can only use one day per week and during lunch time and here’s the checks that make sure I don’t change the arrangement. Oh, but here’s the clause that I can amend it at any time and here’s another that says I can also do whatever I need to for the good of the car.”
But let’s forget that and go with the popular meme that the constitution is a noble and concise rule of law that profoundly limits government. At just a few pages long, it fits the bill.
But if the constitution is truly the law of the land, what is the role of her big fat friend? By this I mean the US Code of Law.
On the website http://uscode.house.gov/, The US Code is divided into 54 sections. To go through them, they are:
*Title 1—General Provisions
Title 2—The Congress
*Title 3—The President
*Title 4—Flag And Seal, Seat Of Government, And The States
*Title 5—Government Organization And Employees; and Appendix
Title 6—Domestic Security
Title 8—Aliens And Nationality
*Title 10—Armed Forces
*Title 11—Bankruptcy; and Appendix
Title 12—Banks And Banking
*Title 14—Coast Guard
Title 15—Commerce And Trade
*Title 18—Crimes And Criminal Procedure; and Appendix
Title 19—Customs Duties
Title 21—Food And Drugs
Title 22—Foreign Relations And Intercourse
Title 24—Hospitals And Asylums
Title 26—Internal Revenue Code
Title 27—Intoxicating Liquors
*Title 28—Judiciary And Judicial Procedure; and Appendix
Title 30—Mineral Lands And Mining
*Title 31—Money And Finance
*Title 32—National Guard
Title 33—Navigation And Navigable Waters
*Title 36—Patriotic And National Observances, Ceremonies, And Organizations
*Title 37—Pay And Allowances Of The Uniformed Services
*Title 38—Veterans’ Benefits
*Title 39—Postal Service
*Title 40—Public Buildings, Property, And Works
*Title 41—Public Contracts
Title 42—The Public Health And Welfare
Title 43—Public Lands
*Title 44—Public Printing And Documents
Title 48—Territories And Insular Possessions
Title 50—War And National Defense; and Appendix
*Title 51—National And Commercial Space Programs
Title 52—Voting And Elections
*Title 54—National Park Service And Related Programs
If I click on one of these, say War and National Defense, I get 48 more chapters.
If I click on a sub chapter, I’m given six to a dozen more. Under there more sections.
The tax code alone, one of the 54 titles, is rumored to be 70,000 pages. After numerous google searches, I can’t find a total page count.
One listing I read says that in 1982 they conducted a projects to see how many criminal laws there were. I read from a posting from the library of congress:
At the reference desk, we are frequently asked to estimate the number of federal laws in force. However, trying to tally this number is nearly impossible.
If you think the answer to this question can be found in the volumes of the Statutes at Large, you are partially correct. The Statutes at Large is a compendium that includes all the federal laws passed by the U.S. Congress. However, a total count of laws passed does not account for the fact that some laws are completely new; some are passed to amend existing laws; and others completely repeal old laws. Moreover, this set does not include any case law or regulatory provisions that have the force of law.
In an example of a failed attempt to tally up the number of laws on a specific subject area, in 1982 the Justice Department tried to determine the total number of criminal laws. In a project that lasted two years, the Department compiled a list of approximately 3,000 criminal offenses. This effort, headed by Ronald Gainer, a Justice Department official, is considered the most exhaustive attempt to count the number of federal criminal laws. In a Wall Street Journalarticle about this project, “this effort came as part of a long and ultimately failed campaign to persuade Congress to revise the criminal code, which by the 1980s was scattered among 50 titles and 23,000 pages of federal law.” Or as Mr. Gainer characterized this fruitless project: “[y]ou will have died and [been] resurrected three times,” and still not have an answer to this question.
If we take the 1982 criminal code estimate of 23,000 pages, and I assume there’s been more added in the past 33 years, and the tax code at 70,000 and assume 50,000 per title (roughly averaging) the total code would be 2,700,000 pages of law. Holy shit!
Well so much for the constitution limiting government. Just look at her big fat friend. This has several implications:
- Law is virtually unlimited, or at least has demonstrated to be
- Law is arbitrary. Apparently nothing is beyond its scope
- The law is unknowable. Even if the tome was a puny 10,000 pages, no man could know what crimes are out there.
- Remember, this is all funded and enforced by violence. The excuses for government violence are virtually limitless.
Respecting the rapist
I was talking with a liberal friend of mine and he thought that the government could better use the money the Walmart i.e., Walton family had within there net worth, to say, build a bridge or something.
This is despite the fact that the Walton’s worth i.e., its ownership of Walmart stores, is currently supplying half the country with hard goods, clothes, electronics and groceries. But let’s forget that for a second.
The government also does bad things when you give them money. Perhaps the Walmart’s money would be used to buy bombs to kill children with or used to expand prisons. Maybe they would bail out bankers, give subsidies to corn producers, or launch domestic spying programs. Maybe they would shift the money to despots in thirdworld countries in order for them to buy weapons. Or maybe they would just blow it on art nobody sees and TV programs for rich people.
Or it could be used to build a bridge, which just means it gets transferred from Walmart, one stranger, to another stranger, the contractor who builds bridges.
Ah, but people somewhere would get to use the bridge. Of course, if the Walmarts were to build a Walmart, some people somewhere would get to use that too. All we know, though, is that Walmart’s are voluntary and handing out bridge building contracts is not.
Going back to the bad stuff a government could do with stolen money. It’s funny how some people can have contradicting or bifurcated views of the government. It’s like a man who likes to rape and beat people on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but on Tuesday and Thursday he gives out icecream to children and sings songs at the elderly home.
Do you call this man a good man? Like, we should give him more resources since he gives out icecream and sings songs? Or do think “Wow, that guy is awful. He’s an evil person!” Or do you think, “boy, I’d like that guy a lot better without all of the raping and beating. I’ll ask him to change, even though he never ever has in all human history.”
Keep in mind, the man in question first steals the icecream to hand out and attendance at his voice recitals are mandatory.
Moral heroism when government stops being bad
Have you ever noticed how happy and proud people get when the government stops doing something bad? Take for example Slavery or Ending Jim Crow laws. There considered moral high points in history because government stopped acting immorally. All they did was get out of a hole, they didn’t actually do a good thing.
Same with Ending pot criminality,
Allowing blacks and whites to get married, or
Letting gay people get married.
On the last one, many people on Facebook showed a picture of the White House with rainbow lights on it. The white house was celebrating that it wasn’t jerks to a certain segment of a population. It was gloating for finally stopping something bad.
But take our rapist/beater from before. Does he get to be a moral hero if he stops those activities? Surely he is net more moral than he used to be, but he’s still a relative moral shitbag compared to somebody who never raped or beat in the first place.
It’s almost like they are blaming a third party for the bad things and the government came to the rescue to stop it, even though it was just stopping itself. It’s like if I beat my children everyday and when I stop I tell my children to thank me because I stopped the bad man who was beating them. And then stupidly, they thank me because I’m a hero.
When the government stops doing something bad, it shouldn’t boast about winning but instead offer a big fat apology and beg for forgiveness. Like “I’m sorry I was sadistic jerk to you for the last 200 years, but I’ve learned my lesson and I’m really sorry. Here’s a gift card to Applebees to make up for it. I hope you can forgive me.”
And the people should say “Fuck you and your Applebees giftcard. Start acting good all the time, for a long time, and we’ll talk.”
End of part I
Benign Government Replacement Program (BGRP)
The politicians, the bureaucrats, the employees, the soldiers, the contractors, etc., that work for government really don’t want to leave, be downsized or lose their salaries. They are going to fight tooth and nail to keep government as big and murderous as it is. They need the money. They need our money.
But goodness, is the government capable of doing some horrid things. The US government is the largest agency of mass murder in the world and spends over half of the world’s military budget on things to kill people. The US’s prison population is the biggest in the world, and perhaps the largest in all history. It has one of the premier children indoctrination programs going. And, it hires ex-military to bring little piles of garbage to everybody’s house on a daily basis.
The anti-government crusader is up against a near impossible battle to win in a political means.
What if, knowing that we can’t stop them, we were to negotiate with them. We’d throw our hands up in the air and say “Look, we know you need the money. We know you got to keep your job. How about this: you continue to take our money and get your paycheck, but you really have to stop doing bad things. We promise to stop complaining about being taxed, you get paid, you stop being bad, and we’ll all call it a day.”
I call it the Benign Government Replacement Program.
It works like this: we take any branch of government that looks like it is explicitly doing something harmful and make it do something marginally useful or at least less harmful.
This might be tough to decide who gets the new jobs. It’s easy to point to the military and see that they are dropping bombs on children. What about the FDA? How much harm is caused by making drug development cost billions and withholding potentially life-saving drugs from the market for years? How many people die? Or what about just the general lack of prosperity caused by having so much money tied up in bureaucracy?
But let’s try anyways, just for the sake of curiosity.
The soldiers and military:
Stop all wars overseas and close all the bases
Have them just hang out on base and wash the helicopters.
If they still want to shoot guns, let them do it on the range or play battle games with each other with paintball.
If they are in it for college, than let them take some courses or even go full time.
Or even if they want to get a paying job, still let them get their ranks and their army pay.
Just as long as they aren’t hurting anybody for chrissakes.
The military industrial complex:
First, stop making weapons and bombs and drones and such.
How about flying cars? Or just regular cars? They could sell them and offset some of their expense.
Or the US could subsidize commercial aircraft and make them cheaper for airlines.
Maybe they could build a bus line that flies and makes short stops at little bus stop airports. We could all travel more quickly.
Or they could dick with space travel.
Or they could build free toasters for everybody.
If they still want to blow shit up, let them do it in the dessert. They can makes stuff and then make the bombs to blow up what they previously spent money on the build.
Just as long as they are making stuff to kill people, let them keep their paychecks.
The prison system
Stop locking people up!
First release all of the non-violent prisoners. For most the rest, see if they can be rehabilitated so they can provide restitution to whomever they wronged.
Maybe some of the prison space can be converted into therapy clinics for rehabilitation, anger management training, etc.
And then some into a place where they can make money to pay back who’ve they wronged.
If the guards and wardens still need something to do, they could redecorate the cells, upgrade the kitchen, make common areas nice and let poor people live there.
The judicial system and the lawyers:
Without the need to imprison so many people, the judges and lawyers can be paid to follow their real interests they had before they had the dumb idea to go to law school.
The police can stop going around arresting and shooting people for drug offences and perhaps focus on protecting property and tracking it down after it is stolen so they can give it back to the owners.
I guess as part of this supposed deal the government would still need revenue to pay everybody not to suck so hard. So I guess the IRS would still be tasked with what they do today. But let them have their shitty, damned jobs. Their already in their own hell.
Pay them to be like dunktank clowns at airports. They can dress funny and sit above the dunking tanks where kids can throw baseballs at the lever and have them fall in. They can charge a dollar per throw and make a little income.
The postal service:
Instead of dropping off little piles of garbage to everybody’s house, maybe they can go out and pick up garbage. They like wearing shorts and walking around the neighborhood anyways.
I don’t want to make it too hard for them. Maybe they can spend half the day just playing cards and drinking beer.
And when somebody happens to get a birthday card or phone bill, they can deliver the mail.
Getting money out of politics
On Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ website, one of his key issues is “getting big money out of politics.”
He’s focusing on election funds, but I say go further, get all big money out of politics. Starting with the IRS, the Federal Reserve and whatever financial mis-managers borrow money on behalf of the government.
I have a feeling the election spending would dry up in quick order if this happened.
Does the veto make the president a king?
In school, they teach us to be pretty jazzed about the fact that the way the government is set up, according to the constitution, is that there are lots of checks and balances to control abuses in power.
They also make a big deal that it is a republic, and it’s democratic and there is rule of law instead of divine rule of a king. Of course, we know that the Constitution’s big fat friend is sprawling that rule of law is arbitrary and not limiting at all.
But forget that for a minute and let’s think about the legal check and balance that gives the president the power to veto. The veto is a wonderful way for the president to check congress’s power. It means he can say “no” to legislation that passed.
But if he has the power to say “no” to something, it must mean every other time he’s saying “yes”. So if the president can say yes or no to everything, doesn’t that mean he’s ultimately deciding everything? Doesn’t that make him a king or dictator?
I know he doesn’t write the law, but what executive does that kind of work himself? You delegate it to your toadies.
I know there is procedural ways of reversing the veto, but those are the exceptions. Regardless, we just here about it in school as if it is this great check and balance, when it might just be the wrappings of total power.
Admiration for the Murderer
Or, how many killings could a person endorse, command or enable before we think that they may be an immoral person.
I asked my kids this question. They all agreed, without pause, that it was one. One person killed and the person who endorsed or enabled it was be not only a bad person, but an evil one.
I’ve talked to people who have said they have admired this president or this Washington politician. Like some say about the president: “he’s my guy.”
Here’s a meme I saw today on Facebook:
- America’s first family
- First to be scandal free in 30 years
- No drunken children
- Totally wholesome family
- Hated by most white christians
- because of the color of their skin
- not because the content of their character
But this guy, like the guy before him, have endorsed, commanded and enabled not just one murder, but hundreds or even thousands.
Probably the same for most of congress.
Which means they are evil on the grandest scale. And completely and totally undeserving of any admiration or pride. Evil is to be shamed, shunned and destroyed.
There is no smiles or admiration in our funny government. Just evil.
Some poor person is going to give you a beating.