Obamacare Is Bad, What About Obamaschool?; Rush Decries Lack Of Conservative Pop Culture Presence; Oregon Bar Banned Cross Dressers, Got Sued; And Happy Labor Day Weekend!— Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 8-30-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

Mises: Obamaschool A Threat Just Like Obamacare

The President gave a speech on August 22 in Buffalo outlining his proposal to “reform” the student loan program. He acknowledged that the program has some problems, but assured the audience they are easily fixed. Just take the principles behind Obamacare and apply them to education. Read More… 

Rush: Conservative Credibility Absent In Pop Culture – And That’s A Problem

Rush Limbaugh observes that conservatives – especially real conservatives – have no credibility among consumers of more overtly entertainment-oriented mass media. Movies, music, scripted television, fiction writing – that sort of thing. Read More…

The 25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods In The United States

A real estate research website has published a list of the 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in the United States, many of them are unsurprising. And most of them are predominantly black. Read More… 

Oregon Bar Ordered To Pay $400,000 To Cross-Dressers

A Portland, Ore., bar owner was ordered to pay $400,000 to a group of cross-dressers who were banned from his club last year, the State labor board said. Read More…

Happy Labor Day, Check Back Tuesday For Your P.M. Edition

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend. And keep an eye out Tuesday, when return with your regular Personal Liberty P.M. Edition.

Rush: Conservative Credibility Absent In Pop Culture – And That’s A Problem

How is it that conservatives dominate talk radio, nonfiction book sales and, in large measure, network news (largely because of the Fox News juggernaut) – yet can’t mount a successful National political campaign to place even a nominal conservative in the White House?

Rush Limbaugh observes that conservatives – especially real conservatives – have no credibility among consumers of more overtly entertainment-oriented mass media. Movies, music, scripted television, fiction writing – that sort of thing.

In short, conservatism’s first-sight glance isn’t cool.

It’s true that many people who gobble up the low-hanging fruit provided by the Miley Cyruses and Michael Bays of the world aren’t interested in the authentic “coolness” of living a life guided by rugged adherence to a conservative code. Personal discipline is tough and doesn’t pay instant dividends the way mindless consumption does. After all, it’s a lot easier to kick back with a pizza and cheer for (or against) Nick Saban’s well-oiled machine on Saturdays than to spend that same time cultivating a talent of your own; one that could allow you the chance to become a well-oiled machine in your own endeavors.

But not everything about conservatism is inherently incompatible with consumer culture. And there’s no reason why the too-often clumsy aesthetics attached to conservative media appearances (have you seen the fit of Rand Paul’s suits?) have to stick out with such conspicuous awkwardness. A good book isn’t harmed by having a beautiful cover, and that’s a message Limbaugh drives home:

How do elections happen the way they do? We own books; we own talk radio; we own cable news. Well, the answer is, we’re nowhere in the pop culture. We are nowhere in movies. We’re nowhere in television shows.  We are nowhere in music. Nowhere!

That’s a slight exaggeration. Somebody’s watching Duck Dynasty, and there are plenty of people out there who like Ted Nugent’s music. But Limbaugh’s general message is right on target.


The 25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods In The United States

A real estate research website has published a list of the 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in the United States, many of them are unsurprising. And most of them are predominantly black.

“Using exclusive data developed by NeighborhoodScout, and based on FBI data from all 17,000 local law enforcement agencies in America, we here report those specific neighborhoods in America that have the highest predicted rates of violent crime per 1,000 neighborhood residents of all,” the website said.

“Violent crimes include murder, forcible rape, armed robbery, and aggravated assault. These neighborhoods are the epicenters of violence in America, where social issues are likely to ignite into violence and spread.”

Here’s the list:

Rank 25: Chicago, IL (S Indiana Ave / E 60th St)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 65.77

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 15

Rank 24: Tulsa, OK (E Apache St / N Quaker Ave)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 66.88

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 15

Rank 23: Memphis, TN (Saint Paul Ave / Walnut St)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 67.26

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 15

Rank 22: St. Louis, MO (Cass Ave / N 9th St)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 67.75

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 15

Rank 21: West Memphis, AR (E Broadway St / Stuart Ave)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 68.9

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 15

Rank 20: Indianapolis, IN (North Indianapolis)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 69.02

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 14

Rank 19: Flint, MI (Chambers St / Stonegate Dr)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 70.05

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 14

Rank 18: Nashville, TN (8th Ave S / Wedgewood Ave)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 70.59

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here: (in one year): 1 in 14

Rank 17: Indianapolis, IN (N Meridian St / E 34th St)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 72.71

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 14

Rank 16: Chicago, IL (S Ashland Ave / W 76th St)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 73.05

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here  (in one year): 1 in 14

Rank 15: Houston, TX (Sauer St / Mcgowen St)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 75.89

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 13

Rank 14: Rockford, IL (Kishwaukee St / Grove St)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 77.6

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 13

Rank 13: Chicago, IL (S Homan Ave / W Roosevelt Rd)

Violent Crime Rate: (per 1,000): 80.17

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 12

Rank 12: St. Louis, MO (Delmar Blvd / N Euclid Ave)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 82.76

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 12

Rank 11: Memphis, TN (E Eh Crump Blvd / S 4th St)

Violent Crime Rate : (per 1,000): 82.91

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 12

Rank 10: Saginaw, MI (E Holland Ave / E Genesee Ave)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 85.64

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 12

Rank 9: Atlanta, GA (Hopkins St SE / Adair Ave SE)

Violent Crime Rate: (per 1,000): 86.14

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 12

Rank 8: Greenville, SC (Woodside)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 86.38

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 12

Rank 7: Detroit, MI (Wyoming St / Orangelawn St)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 90.82

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 11

Rank 6: Houston, TX (Scott St / Wilmington St)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 91.27

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 11

Rank 5: Spartanburg, SC (Washington Heights)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 96.55

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 10

Rank 4: Chicago, IL (S Halsted St / W 77th St)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 116.56

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 9

Rank 3: Detroit, MI (Gratiot Ave / Rosemary)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 123.93

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here  (in one year): 1 in 8

Rank 2: Detroit, MI (Mack Ave / Helen St)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 145.29

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 7

Rank 1: Detroit, MI (W Chicago / Livernois Ave)

Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000): 149.48

Chances of Becoming a Victim Here (in one year): 1 in 7

Oregon Bar Ordered To Pay $400,000 To Cross-Dressers

PORTLAND, Ore. (UPI) — A Portland, Ore., bar owner was ordered to pay $400,000 to a group of cross-dressers who were banned from his club last year, the State labor board said.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries imposed the penalty Thursday against Chris Penner, owner of the Twilight Room Annex, formerly known as the P Club.

Penner told members of a cross-dressing group of transgender men, called the Rose City T-Girls, who met weekly at the P Club, to stop frequenting the bar, The Oregonian reported Friday.

The bureau interviewed 11 unidentified members of the T-Girls, 10 of whom referred to themselves as cross-dressers. The leader of the group, identified in the report as “Cassandra Lynn,” said a voicemail from Penner advised the group his business was losing customers because the T-Girls’ weekly meeting suggested to potential patrons the club was a transgender bar or gay bar.

“Cassandra Lynn” told an administrative law judge she could not sleep in the months after she received Penner’s message. Other members said they stopped going out in public as women.

Investigators said they found no evidence to support Penner’s contention the T-Girls disrupted business.

The penalty is the first imposed under the 2007 Oregon Equality Act, which protects the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered residents of the State in employment, housing and public places, the newspaper noted.

Mises: Obamaschool A Threat Just Like Obamacare

This article, written by Against Crony Capitalism co-founder Hunter Lewis, originally appeared on the Mises Institute’s website on August 30. 

The President gave a speech on August 22 in Buffalo outlining his proposal to “reform” the student loan program. He acknowledged that the program has some problems, but assured the audience they are easily fixed. Just take the principles behind Obamacare and apply them to education. The President personally “guaranteed” that his proposals would make college more affordable.

Here’s the plan. The government will rate colleges based on fees (the lower the better) and graduation rates (the higher the better) and student success in finding a job. Then student loan funds will be allocated to schools according to the rating. Students will also be guided to the best-rated schools via government web sites. And schools will get more funding if they set up demonstration projects to reduce costs. This will all encourage more “competition” among schools. Yes, you heard that right: more government control of colleges will increase market “competition.”

We don’t have a 2,000 page bill in Congress yet, but it’s all quite familiar: government will take even tighter control of higher education just as it has taken even tighter control of medicine, and use Obamacare as its operating manual. Of course, Obamacare not only rated medical insurance policies; it mandated what would be in them at what prices, which in effect put government in charge of defining what healthcare is. Presumably, the government rating of schools will in due course also lead to mandates and the government defining what higher education is. Obamacare also set up government sites where people would be steered to buy government approved policies, and set up demonstration projects, even though the history of government-inspired healthcare demonstration projects has been dismal.

There is a lot more in common between Obamacare and Obamaschool than these superficial characteristics. Obamacare came into being because of a crisis in medical care. As usual, that crisis had been caused by earlier government interventions in medicine, especially price controls. At present, Medicare price controls about 7,500 medical procedures. Because payment varies by location and practitioner (e.g., doctors employed by hospitals get paid more than other doctors), it has been estimated that Medicare price-controls six billion medical transactions at any one time. As government has come to dominate medicine and price-control it, prices have inevitably risen at a rate that threatens to bankrupt the economy. Obamacare has doubled down on the price controls, mandating allowed price increases under Medicare and installing a price control board. All of this will no doubt lead to the kind of legislation recently passed in Massachusetts where any “material” change in a medical practice, in either prices or services, must be approved by the state.

Obamaschool is coming into being for similar reasons. In this case, the government set up a student loan program which was ostensibly designed to subsidize students. But whenever government subsidizes demand without increasing supply, prices inevitably rise, and this was no exception.

As President Obama pointed out, “Over the past three decades, the average tuition [and fees] at a public four-year college has gone up by more than 250 percent. 250 percent. Now a typical family’s income has gone up 16 percent. That’s a big gap.” Yes it is.

In reality, both the 250 percent and the pitiful 16 percent have been caused by government policies, especially price manipulations and controls. The 250 percent increase in fees (mitigated somewhat by increases in student aid) has specifically been driven by government’s mistake in flooding schools with student loan money. That money did not help students; it enabled schools to keep raising fees. What students mostly got out of the loan program was an early initiation into massive debt. If leaving school with heavy debts is not exactly slavery, it certainly represents some kind of indentured servitude.

Obama was more than a bit mendacious about this debt burden. He took credit for keeping student interest rates down. He even said that “government shouldn’t see student loans as a way to make money; it should be a way to help students.” But the reality is that his administration is currently borrowing money at negligible interest rates and then relending it to students at much higher rates. The difference is booked elsewhere in the federal budget under “deficit reduction.” If that isn’t a clear case of using student loans as a way to make money, then what is?

What will really happen if the federal government completes its takeover of higher education pricing? The certain result will be even higher prices, which will then lead to calls for a complete federal takeover, just as advancing prices under Obamacare are now leading to admissions by Senator Reid and Congresswoman Pelosi that it was only intended to be a stepping stone to a “single payer” system in which government in effect nationalizes all healthcare. Nationalizing healthcare would make the crisis worse, not better, but Reid and Pelosi don’t understand that.

The President’s specific proposals for student loans will have some other presumably unintended effects as well. If schools get more federal money as their graduation rate increases, they will simply stop taking students who are more likely to drop out. That of course means they will stop taking disadvantaged students who need help the most.

The administration says that it will get advice from schools in devising the rating system. This is all we need: closed door meetings in Washington between the government and special interests with the consumer excluded. This is exactly how Mussolini ran Italy and Roosevelt tried to run the U.S. with the National Recovery Act. The results of dismantling a consumer-driven market economy will be no better now than they were then.

Creative Commons License

Nancy Pelosi Says She Does Not Want To Be Speaker Again

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says she does not want to return as speaker if Democrats retake control of the U.S. House next year.

In an interview published Thursday in National Journal, Pelosi — who served as speaker from 2007 until 2011 — said the Republican Party is no longer “he Grand Old Party that used to have such great leadership,” and urged her “Republican friends” to take back their party.

“The name ‘Republican’ in some ways has been hijacked by obstructionists,” she said. “They are nowhere on the spectrum of trying to get the job done, and they claim the name without bringing to it the greatness, the leadership of the past.”

After four years as minority leader, Pelosi became speaker in 2007, returning to her former position when Republicans regained control in the 2010 elections. That makes her the longest-serving head of a party in the House since Sam Rayburn, D-Texas, who was speaker or minority leader from 1940 to 1961.

Pelosi, 73, was the first woman in either position but says she does not want the top job again.

“No, that’s not my thing,” she told the Journal. “I did that.”

Pelosi described the current situation in Congress as “Groundhog Day Central,” referring to the movie in which Bill Murray plays a weatherman forced to relive Feb. 2 every day until he gets it right. She said if the Republicans in Congress were “willing to govern,” the two parties could find areas of compromise.

Senior al-Qaida Leaders Killed By U.S. Drone Strikes In Yemen

SANAA, Yemen, (UPI) —  Two senior leaders of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula were among six militants killed Friday in Yemen by U.S. drone strikes, local security officials say.

Qaed al-Thahab, AQAP’s top leader in the country’s Baitha province, was among the dead, CNN reported.

He was described as a “high-profile target.”

Two unmanned drones launched eight missiles that targeted the militant’s vehicles.

Parking Ticket Issued With Time Still On Meter

BALTIMORE, (UPI) —  A Maryland man says he was issued a $32 parking ticket an hour before his meter was timed to expire, and he has the receipt to prove it.

Dennis ONeal told The Baltimore Sun the parking ticket on the windshield of his car was issued just 9 minutes after he paid for an hour of parking at 12:06 p.m. in Baltimore last week and the ticket read  “EZ PK Pass expired @ 1:07p” despite the expiration time still being nearly an hour away.

ONeal kept his kiosk receipt from his $2 parking purchase and provided it to the Sun in addition to a copy of the citation.

ONeal said officials initially told him he would have to go to court to fight the ticket, but he was later given an email address to contact about having the citation voided. He said he has sent an email to the address, but has not yet received a reply.

The Sun said city officials did not respond to a request for comment.

County Agrees To Pay $62,500 To Handcuffed Deaf Man

BLAINE, Wash.,  (UPI) —  A Washington state county has agreed to pay $62,500 to an elderly deaf man who was handcuffed by sheriff’s deputies, cutting off his means of communication.

Whatcom County agreed to pay the settlement to Donald Pratt, 76, whose attorney filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in Seattle alleging deputies handcuffed his client and put him in the back of a patrol car as a result of an apparently false report, The Bellingham (Wash.) Herald reported Thursday.

The complaint said a deputy used a written message to ask if the plaintiff was Donald Pratt and the man was handcuffed and placed in a car after nodding his head. Having his hands bound left him with no means of asking the reason behind his detention and he was unable to ask to use the restroom, leading him to soil himself, the complaint said.

The complaint alleges Pratt was in the car for more than 2 hours before being released, but deputies contend the amount of time was closer to a half hour.

The deputies had been responding to an allegedly false claim from Pratt’s son, Tom, that the elderly man had pointed a gun at his wife, Tom’s mother. The complaint said the report was retaliation for Tom having been kicked out of the house months earlier.

Loose Kittens Halt Service On 2 NYC Subway Lines

NEW YORK, (UPI) —  Service was halted for about an hour Thursday on two New York City subway lines while police searched for two loose kittens in a Brooklyn station.

The wandering kittens were spotted on the tracks at the open-air Church Avenue station in the Flatbush neighborhood just after 11 a.m., NY1 reported. The Metropolitan Transit Authority cut power on the B and Q lines, stopping service to Brighton Beach.

By the time police began their search, the kittens had disappeared. They were eventually found under the third rail, which carries electricity for the trains.

Some area residents told The Gothamist the kittens had been at the station and as far away as Newkirk Plaza, four local stops down the line.

Russia Wins If U.S. Strikes Syria; Public Pans Obama’s Maverick Stance; Congressional ‘Town Halls’ Now A Joke; This Ain’t Gertrude Stein’s ‘Lost Generation’; Your Team Stinks AND You’re Fat – TGIF Friday Morning News Roundup 8-30-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.


  • The west is playing in to Moscow’s hands on Syria. Even if the Assad regime crumbles, Russia will not deem Putin a loser. “The situation is advantageous to Moscow,”writes Georgy Mirsky for Financial Times. “Our leaders will be only too happy to see the U.S. start a new war it cannot win.” Source: Financial Times… 


  • Nearly 80 percent of Americans believe President Barack Obama should receive congressional approval before using force in Syria, but the nation is divided over the scope of any potential strike, a new NBC News poll shows. Source: NBC News…


  • In August, members of Congress home until Sept. 9 for a five-week recess they’ve rebranded as a “district work period,” traveled around hearing the concerns of ordinary voters. That’s the way it used to be, anyway. Gone are the packed, freewheeling town halls of the past, where voters stood up at microphones and pelted elected officials with questions on just about anything. Members of Congress largely put an end to unscripted, up-close-and-personal events after the traumatic summer of 2009, when dozens of lawmakers were shouted down by mad-as-hell Tea Partiers and citizens angry that the proposed Affordable Care Act was going too far or not far enough. Source: Bloomberg Businessweek…


  • For the fourth consecutive summer, teen employment has stayed anchored around record lows, prompting experts to fear that a generation of youth is likely to be economically stunted with lower earnings and opportunities in years ahead. Source: McClatchy… 


  • Believe it or not, a study published Monday in a Psychological Science found that after a sports team loses, fans of that team eat 16 percent more saturated fats than they usually do. Fans of winning teams apparently are getting thinner, too. The study found the winning fans ate 9 percent less saturated fat. Source: CBS Minnesota…


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What About the Roads? The Folly of Socialism

By their fruits ye shall know them. Do [men] gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. — Matthew 7:16-18

Whenever people talk about anarchy, the two straw men arguments that people present are: “What about the roads?” and “What about the poor?” Generally, liberals use a number of logical fallacies when talking about free markets. They love to use arguments that appeal to emotions such as: appeal to pity, appeal to spite and wishful thinking. On one hand, they assume that they are correct, because they view themselves as the most virtuous people. On the other hand, they think that free market proponents are evil and selfish, but they don’t present any proof for these assumptions.

Hence, we end up with the popular tactic called the false dilemma, which essentially boils down to some argument “what about the …” and using that appeal to excuse the violence. In these state religions there is no real contemplation; rather any argument or appeal is used to excuse or initiate violence against those who do not agree.

As anarcho-capitalists (ancaps) we reason that the initiation of violence is morally wrong. Furthermore, if a system is created and enforced with violence, it is necessarily evil, no matter what its stated ideals. Social safety nets and charity that rely on violence, theft, laziness and dishonesty are evil. If such systems are evil, how much good can you create with evil?

Stop Aid And Institutionalized Charity

Most of what passes for aid and charity is a state-run con job that steals money and gives it to the people administering the system. In many cases, the results are extremely negative; it destroys the lives of the people that it is trying to help.

The most egregious example of this scam is international aid. Or, as Doug Casey so eminently said, “Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.”

To further define, first the money is stolen from taxpayers in a “richer” country and then is “given” to a “poor” country. They cannot actually use this money, and the money almost never enters the country (usually siphoned off by that government that people keep saying we need). Rather, they are forced to buy services and equipment from the donor country that they do not need or cannot use — usually further distorting the economy of that country. A few years ago, I worked on a project involving European foreign aid and a few African countries. The money came from European taxpayers, but most of it ended up at an American University and at the private consulting company of a lecturer at said American university.

For a while, it looked like most of the money would end up there and with a few multinational IT companies. I know someone who pointed out these facts to some of the donors; it caused a minor diplomatic incident. In other cases, foreign aid is used to dump grains in poor countries. When that happens, it pushes the price of grains to below their production cost. This forces more farmers to stop farming. Usually, the grains rot or are used to produce cheap alcohol. So International aid is a scam deliberately created to make the sheeple feel virtuous, steal money and funnel it into politically connected businesses.

All of the stolen money being forced into charity has become profitable for narcissistic do-gooders as it prolongs the problems they are claiming to solve. In the worst cases, NGOs are either fronts for intelligence agencies or lobbyists. In the late 90s in South Africa, a lot of foreign NGOs arrived and set up shop. The problem was that they were lobbyists. At a critical time, they were able to influence a lot of laws or, more importantly, the interpretation of them.

Government Involvement In The Economy Never Helps

Johannesburg still has a big problem with murder, and most murders are done with unlicensed guns that were dumped by foreign governments during the various wars.

Due to the action of the magical-minded anti-gun brigade, it is now almost impossible to own a gun; and if you use one and kill in self-defense, you go to jail for murder. Another big scandal during the early 90s involved money donated by the Swedes to anti-apartheid campaigners; most of the “aid” helped a small-time politician live the life of a rock star. In the worst cases, the aid money was donated to violent criminals who loved killing people and putting bombs in public places. In more benign cases, NGO money is used to give spoiled rich kids time to slum it in Third World countries, giving all of their valuable life experience to the poor. Those are the lucky ones. Most people who work for charities are in fact slave laborers, doing all the hard work while the directors and managers live the life of ease.

End Welfare…To Help People

Another social safety scam is welfare, known colloquially in the United Kingdom as “the dole.” Besides the moral issue, where money is stolen from hard-working people and is given to lazy f**kwits who have never tried to find a job; the system does not work. The state is essentially incentivizing and paying people to become poor. Due to the bureaucratic incentives, it actually pays more to be more in debt and have more children and never get a job. The net result has been a massive increase in poverty within the U.K. Yes, everyone can afford to eat and watch reality television for the moment, but there are large parts of the country functioning like the dystopian future of Idiocracy. It is the one of many major failings of the anti-individual and anti-freedom concept of democracy, that those who live off welfare and have never earned an honest cent in their lives, are actually encouraged to vote. It is no surprise that nothing actually changes, particularly when the parasites outnumber the productive (as they currently do in 11 of the 50 States in the U.S. where there are more on welfare than who have jobs).

When anarcho-capitalists mention the problems of the state enforced monopoly of welfare, they are accused of being heartless; those who accuse us of being greedy have not even spent five minutes contemplating ethics. They just want to feel secure and self-righteous without the discomfort of self-examination. How can it even be called charity when the money is stolen under the threat of violence?

So are there any free-market, voluntary alternatives that encourage capital formation and help the poor?

Free-Market Solutions

Of course. There are actually several: Some are not known; others get more bad publicity.

One of my favorites is called a stokvel; it has a long history in the place of my birth, South Africa, and was very popular during the apartheid era, as many people could not open bank accounts. It is a type of informal, invitation-only investment club or rotating credit union. It generally needs more than 12 members to function. In its simplest form, members contribute on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. At each meeting and on a rotating basis, a different member receives all of the contributions. They are free to use the money for whatever they want. Besides the financial aspect, the stokvel operates like a support group or a home church. The members are friends and family; the meetings have a social aspect where they eat drink, dance and sing together. It is almost like a church, but not like this kind of church in the United States (You won’t believe what you see in the video below.)

Thankfully, things like that don’t exist outside of the United States (or on a much smaller level).

But with stovkels, few people steal from the members. The best part of this system is that it works without banks, and the members are able to leverage much greater amounts of capital.

Another free-market alternative is grouped under the umbrella term “microfinance.” Essentially, these are relationship-based banking and financial services for those who do not have access to banks. Through the financiers, poor or nearly poor people have access to loans, savings, insurance and fund transfers. By using these services, a “community” is able to leverage greater amounts of its own capital. By using the capital to expand their business, everyone becomes richer. The lender earns money by lending his savings to responsible people, and the borrower is able to expand his business and earn more money. Everyone gets richer, which puts more money in the community that can be used for further expansion.

People are poor because of a variety of reasons. One reason that is rarely mentioned is that without capital, it is extremely difficult to start new businesses, which are used to leverage the local resources (and why TDV often features tremendous business opportunities in foreign, developing countries). By pooling local capital together and keeping the free-market incentive of profit, even poor communities can bootstrap themselves to greater wealth. Unfortunately, a lot of these hero financiers are depicted as loan sharks in popular culture (run by the financial elites).

Thanks to the Internet, most people are familiar with similar business models. Thanks to sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the crowd funding model has become a very popular method to create start-ups. People with ideas can use a site’s platform to create a campaign to find funding. If they meet or exceed their funding requirements, they receive the money. Those who contribute will receive various rewards based on how much they donated. Unfortunately, due to the success of this model, the state and patent trolls have gotten involved. They will eventually legislate it and litigate it out of existence (or herd it into the Bitcoin economy).

Keynes: Destroy Savings For Prosperity!

One of the fallacies promoted by the Keynesian consumerists is that savings are harmful to the economy, because the money sits in the banks and does nothing and, therefore, the gross domestic product (another macro-economic fallacy) does not grow. Anyone with a little knowledge of fractional reserve banking will know that this is patently untrue. With more free market models, previously mentioned, poor or nearly poor communities can concentrate and leverage what sparse capital that is available to them. By following profit incentives and providing a useful good or service, these entrepreneurs will enrich their own lives, the lives of their customers and the community. Forced charity has the opposite effect; no one grows wealthy, except the people prolonging the problem. The time preferences of the recipients shortens and capital within the community is misallocated, resulting in greater impoverishment and poverty. Besides, stealing money at gunpoint and giving it to others is, to any thinking individual, just wrong.

(As part of Darth Monti’s save Italy plan, a lot of stolen money was forced into a start-up fund in the south of Italy. They are now having trouble finding where all of the funds were sent; only the state can turn a winning business model into a vehicle of theft and corruption.)

–Alexander Jousse
The Dollar Vigilante

Congress To Obama: Striking Syria Is Not Your Call

A Republican-led group of Congressmen from both political parties sent President Barack Obama a strong message about his Constitutional role Thursday, delivering a letter advising him there’s a Constitution that explicitly demarcates the boundaries separating Congress’ war powers and the President’s power to enact what Congress approves.

The letter, authored by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) and delivered late Wednesday, had the support of 98 Republicans and 18 Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Here’s the full text of the letter, with a Hat Tip to political website Roll Call for transcribing it:

Dear Mr. President,

We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate — and the active engagement of Congress — prior to committing U.S. military assets.  Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.

Mr. President, in the case of military operations in Libya you stated that authorization from Congress was not required because our military was not engaged in “hostilities.”  In addition, an April 1, 2011, memorandum to you from your Office of Legal Counsel concluded:

“…President Obama could rely on his constitutional power to safeguard the national interest by directing the anticipated military operations in Libya—which were limited in their nature, scope, and duration—without prior congressional authorization.”

We view the precedent this opinion sets, where “national interest” is enough to engage in hostilities without congressional authorization, as unconstitutional.  If the use of 221 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 704 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 42 Predator Hellfire missiles expended in Libya does not constitute “hostilities,” what does?

If you deem that military action in Syria is necessary, Congress can reconvene at your request.  We stand ready to come back into session, consider the facts before us, and share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict.

Although most of the names undersigning the letter aren’t those of Congressional power players, they do reveal it isn’t only Republicans who are wary of the President’s Constitutional overreach. And the more bipartisan this pre-emptive caution against the President’s abuse of the separation of powers, the better. A true two-party stand against executive end-runs past Congress should quiet the inevitable chorus of hawks who will defend any war measure Obama takes by pointing backwards to George W. Bush’s equally unConstitutional Iraq experiment.

Obama Administration Announces New Gun Control Executive Orders

The White House announced Thursday that President Barack Obama will implement a series of new gun control provisions via executive order. The unilaterally imposed gun control measures will limit the import of military surplus weapons and close a loophole that allows members of trusts and corporations access to weapons without a background check.

“Even as Congress fails to act on common-sense proposals, like expanding criminal background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, the president and vice president remain committed to using all the tools in their power to make progress toward reducing gun violence,” the White House said in a statement announcing the Presidential actions.

One of the President’s measures does away with a loophole the Administration views as a way for criminals and felons to access guns. Currently, weapons registered to a trust or corporation can be used by all members, regardless of whether each individual has undergone a background check.

“It’s a very artful dodge to get around people who are not capable, Constitutionally or legally, of owning a weapon,” Vice President Joe Biden said of the practice.

According to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reports from last year, there were 39,000 requests for transfers of restricted firearms to trusts or corporations. Obama’s executive order will require individuals associated with trusts or corporations to undergo background checks if they will have access to restricted firearms.

A separate Obama action will disallow private entities to import military surplus firearms that the United States has provided to military allies, either as direct commercial sales or through foreign military sales or military assistance programs, back into the Nation.

Since 2005, the Federal government has authorized requests to reimport more than 250,000 military surplus firearms. But the government’s new policy will be to deny any request to bring military-grade firearms back in the country by private entities, with only a few exceptions such as for museums.

The types of weapons that have most often been re-imported in are over 50 years old and are defined as “curio” or “relic” firearms. The list includes the iconic M1 Garand rifle and several other models that aren’t often used in violent crimes.

The National Rifle Association condemned the White House announcement, saying the initiatives are misguided and will prove ineffective.

“Requiring background checks for corporations and trusts does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals,” NRA spokesperson Andrew Arulanandam said. “Prohibiting the re-importation of firearms into the U.S. that were manufactured 50 or more years ago does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals.”

“This administration should get serious about prosecuting violent criminals who misuse guns and stop focusing its efforts on law-abiding gun owners,” he continued.

Another Stupid, Senseless, Illegal War

The headline over a New York Times opinion piece said it all: “Bomb Syria, Even If It Is Illegal.” How’s that for a bald-faced declaration of warmongering intent?

Ian Hurd, the author of the article, is an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University. In his column, he admits: “As a legal matter, the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons does not automatically justify armed intervention by the United States.”

But his attitude is pretty much, “So what?” Here’s what he says next: “There are moral reasons for disregarding the law, and I believe the Obama administration should intervene in Syria. But it should not pretend that there is a legal justification in existing law.”

Got that? Existing law doesn’t justify our armed intervention in Syria. So what would? Hurd writes: “… Mr. Obama and allied leaders should declare that international law has evolved and that they don’t need Security Council approval to intervene in Syria.”

What a wonderful Machiavellian solution! Just declare that international law has “evolved” enough to justify whatever the heck you want to do, and then go ahead and do it. That attitude would certainly put the final nails in the coffin of our Constitutional protections, wouldn’t it?

The good professor concludes his argument: “This would be popular in many quarters [want to bet?], and I believe it’s the right thing to do. But if the American government accepts that the rule of law is the foundation of civilized society, it must be clear that this represents a new legal path.”

No it doesn’t, professor. It represents a new illegal path — one that can result only in more tyrannical actions by even more dictatorial governments.

It’s Thursday morning as I put the finishing touches on this piece. So far, the United States and its allies haven’t fired the first shot. With Obama heading to a G-20 conference (in Russia, of all places) next week and Congress not back in session for two more weeks, it may be a while before the first missile is launched.

But every leak out of the White House indicates the President is going to do something, by golly. Even Barack Obama is now referring to firing a shot across Bashar Assad’s bows. But not to worry; we’re promised that there will be no “feet on the ground” by U.S. forces. Our surgical strikes will be quick, lasting only two or three days.

That’s what our leaders say. But when have our policies in the Mideast ever worked out as promised? Our billions in aid to Egypt sure haven’t won us much respect there or brought their own citizens much peace, have they?

If you think The Times’ piece was provocative, just wait until you hear what the supposedly conservative Wall Street Journal had to say on the subject. Bret Stephens, who writes the “Global View” column in The Journal, had a doozy. He argued that the “main order of business” for any military intervention in Syria “must be to kill Bashar Assad.”

And not just Assad: “Also, Bashar’s brother and principal henchman, Maher. Also, everyone else in the Assad family with a claim on political power.” But Stephens doesn’t want the death toll to stop there. The fatalities should also include “all of the political symbols of the Assad family’s power, including all of their official or unofficial residences.”

Forget about hitting military targets, Stephens says. Just kill the rulers and blow up their palaces. According to the columnist, “a civilized world cannot tolerate” a government’s using chemical weapons against its own citizens. That “plumbs depths of barbarity matched in recent history only by Saddam Hussein.”

I’d argue that the Muslim jihadists’ use of suicide bombers to massacre innocent civilians — whether in Israel, the Mideast or the Twin Towers in New York City — is as barbarous as anything done by Saddam or Assad to their own citizens.

At the end of his column, Stephens says, “What’s at stake now is the future of civilization, and whether the word still has any meaning.” Sorry, but I don’t agree that the “civilized” response to Assad’s butchery is for us to kill him and his family. I think we should stay out of the whole bloody mess. I believe George Washington got it right in his farewell address, when he urged this country to avoid foreign entanglements.

I suspect most Personal Liberty readers agree with me. But a whole lot of our opinion molders don’t, including FOX TV’s superstar host, Bill O’Reilly. This past Tuesday, he opened his program with a “Talking Points” segment: “What President Obama Should Do About Syria.”

In his remarks, O’Reilly called Syria’s tyrannical president “a war criminal, a mass murderer and baby killer.” He left no doubt he believes Assad has used poison gas against his own citizens and “is now responsible for thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths.”

Then O’Reilly declared:

“So there is no question that Assad must be held accountable. If you believe in American exceptionalism, that this country has a moral obligation to save lives where it can all over the world, then you know the USA must act against Assad, as it did against Sadam Hussein.”

Hold on just a minute, O’Reilly. You must have a very different definition of American exceptionalism than I do. I’m one of the most passionate defenders of our Constitutional Republic you’ll ever find. But I certainly don’t agree that we have a “moral obligation to save lives where [we] can all over the world.” Certainly not by military intervention in a country that poses no threat to us. That’s the worst prescription for sticking our fat fingers in other countries’ affairs I’ve ever heard.

O’Reilly says that Obama “has a unique opportunity not only to damage Assad [at least he doesn’t advocate deliberately killing him and his family] but to show the world that we are the good guys and those helping Assad are the bad guys.”

Does he really think that throwing our weight (and our missiles) around is the way to convince more of the world that we’re the good guys? I don’t. In fact, the more we mind our own business and the less we try to be the policeman for the world, the better off we’ll all be.

O’Reilly had some further advice for Obama, including securing the support of “as many Arab countries as possible, beginning with Saudi Arabia.” Also, “Obama should go to Congress and ask for a vote of affirmation on using military power.” And finally, we should “ask Russia and China to support NATO actions.”

I’d rate his third suggestion as hopeless, his first as highly unlikely and his second as doable — but not before sometime in mid-September. Will the warmongers be willing to wait that long?

O’Reilly concluded: “If America wants to be a world leader, we cannot allow a tyrant to violate international law by using chemical weapons.”

I’ve got a better idea: Let’s stop trying to be the policeman for the world. The world doesn’t want it. And we can’t afford it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Obamacare Bait And Switch

The Internal Revenue Service theft squad issued its final rules on the Obamacare individual mandate Tuesday. They reveal that the whole thing is a bait and switch to benefit a few crony corporations and transfer wealth from the people, as we have told you from the beginning.

While the employer mandate has been delayed, the individual mandate remains in place. The new system requires individuals to carry some minimum health insurance or pay a penalty (read tax). But surprise! The tax will be lower — much lower for most people — than the cost of their existing insurance plan in 2014.

The tax for 2014 is $95 or 1 percent of household income, whichever is greater. In other words, a single person making $50,000 per year would pay a tax of $500 for not carrying insurance. By 2016, the taxes increase to $695 or 2.5 percent of income. The person earning $50,000 per year would pay a tax of $1,250.

According to ehealthinsurance.com, a 30-year-old male in Charlotte, N.C., can expect to pay between $60 and $215 per month for a health insurance plan with high deductibles, some $5,000 or more. That comes to at least $720 for a bare-bones plan. In Albany, N.Y., rates range from $165 to $1,150; in Columbus, Ohio, $50 to $110; in Tucson, Ariz., $41 to $145; in Sacramento, Calif., $94 to $227. As you can see, the rates are all over the board, depending on the State in which one lives. (For an insurance quote in a specific location, go here.)

But a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average worker paid between $863 and $1,065 per year for single coverage in 2013, while the average family of four paid between $4,226 and $5,284.

For many people (if not most), the penalty is so much less than the cost of buying insurance that it makes sense to drop insurance altogether and pay the tax. And Kaiser found that many employers will find it easier to drop coverage and shift employees to the exchanges rather than try to jump through the hoops needed to comply with the employer mandate. Once large numbers of premium-paying customers are driven out of traditional health insurance, Obamacare has them in a trap.

All but a few crony insurers will go out of business. The few surviving crony privileged insurers will then get all the business through the exchanges; and the progressives will be one step closer to their goal of a single-payer, government-provided insurance system.

But there is a problem for the statists in the Obamacare law: There is no defined penalty for not including the special Obamacare compliance form in your tax return. It cannot garnish wages or seize property. Section 1051 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act reads: “Such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.”

There is still something you can do to vent your displeasure at the fascist, crony system they’ve created, even if it probably won’t make a lot of difference. Call your Congressweasel today or attend a town hall meeting (if your Congressweasel is brave enough to hold one), and say in no uncertain terms that Obamacare should be defunded in the upcoming continuing resolution. The weasels probably won’t listen, but at least they’ll know why you’re shouting them down when they come begging for votes next year.

Missouri Legislature Set To Nullify Federal Gun Laws

In what would be one of the most far-reaching peacetime attempts by a U.S. State to negate a Federal law that imposes restrictions exceeding those found in the Constitution, the Missouri State Legislature is expected to override a Governor’s veto and criminalize the enforcement of Federal gun laws throughout the State.

The Republican majority in the Legislature is being joined by a handful of Democrats in overriding Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of HB 436 — also known as the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” — last month. Nixon had rejected the bill on the grounds that, predictably, it violates the Supremacy doctrine and also includes punitive provisions — such as allowing for citizens to sue reporters who connect them with gun ownership or to sue officers who attempt a Federal gun arrest — that violate the 1st Amendment.

Observers believe, though, that when the Legislature convenes on Sept. 11, both chambers will have the numbers necessary to override Nixon’s veto. In the original vote, the measure passed the House 116-38 and the Senate 26-6.

Legislative Democrats seem to favor the bill because it’s politically expedient to satisfy the will of people.

“Being a rural-area Democrat, if you don’t vote for any gun bill, it will kill you,” House Democrat Ben Harris told FOX News. “That’s what the Republicans want you to do is vote against it, because if you vote against it, they’ll send one mailer every week just blasting you about guns, and you’ll lose.”

In addition, some Democrats see a vote in favor of overriding the veto as a no-harm, no-foul proposition, since many feel that a subsequent court challenge would succeed in striking down the nullification law.

Part of the Federal-State battle is a principled conflict over government infringement on the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. But for many Republicans both in Missouri and nationwide, it’s about Federal encroachment on State powers generally, whether over gun rights, State voter-approved medical marijuana use or the nullification of Obamacare in some States.

A Montana law that sought a lesser measure of State control over unConstitutional Federal gun laws had been in effect since 2009. That law, the Montana Firearms Freedom Act, exempts from Federal regulation any gun (with exceptions for fully automatic guns and large-bore military firearms) that has remained in the State since the time of its in-State manufacture, dating back to October of 2009. But even though that law was worded specifically to comply with the Constitution’s interstate commerce provisions, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck it down just last week.

Legal Scholars Call Out Obama’s Trigger Finger; Billions And Billions Poured Into Government ‘Black Budget’ Spy Ops; Understanding Web Privacy; Where’s The Debate In Congress Over Syria?; One Tough iPhone Case— Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 8-29-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

British Parliament Debates War With Syria, U.S. Congress Vacations

As chatter about the prospect of the United States going maverick in Syria continues, the Nation’s international peers are receiving praise from some U.S. lawmakers for taking a more thoughtful approach to intervening in the Middle Eastern conflict. Read More… 

Government Surveillance Budget Revealed, $52.6 Billion To Spy

The U.S. government has a $52.6 billion “black budget” to operate its massive surveillance assets, according to new documents leaked by National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Read More… 

EFF Explains Perfect Forward Secrecy, an Important Web Privacy Protection

Sites that use perfect forward secrecy can provide better security to users in cases where the encrypted data is being monitored and recorded by a third party. EFF explains the privacy protection and why it matters. Read More… 

2 Scholars Say President Is Misreading His Power To Wage War

Two law scholars said Thursday the White House is incorrectly interpreting “war” to justify military operations reserved only for congressional approval. Read More… 

Need A little Protection With That iPhone? Check Out The Knucklecase

There will always be situations in which packing heat for personal protection isn’t practical or convenient. There are times, too, when even ardent concealed carriers simply forgot to walk out the door with their firearm. And some people who aren’t comfortable toting a gun around everywhere still might like to have something in their hand, purse or pocket that gives them a slight advantage over would-be attackers. Read More…

British Parliament Debates War With Syria, U.S. Congress Vacations

As chatter about the prospect of the United States going maverick in Syria continues, the Nation’s international peers are receiving praise from some U.S. lawmakers for taking a more thoughtful approach to intervening in the Middle Eastern conflict.

Representative Scott Rigell (R-Va.) lauded the British Parliament on Thursday, noting that U.S. lawmakers are still on recess— despite the President’s war rhetoric— while the Brit lawmakers have robustly debated a resolution on military intervention in Syria.

The Parliament, he said, is having a debate, while the United States is not. “Given the history our two Nations,’ he continued, “there is a bit of irony here.”

Rigell said that he is happy to see that the evident slowing in British momentum towards military action has made the White House pull back “just a bit.” The lawmaker also noted that Congressional approval prior to intervention would be a sign of strength for the U.S.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also noted the absence of Congressional debate on the matter.

Cruz tweeted: