Members of the mainstream media are not like you or me. They are a special class of exalted beings. They are the Fourth Estate, an imaginary extension of the rigid class structure of pre-Revolutionary France from the Estates General. In the Ancien Regime there was the clergy, the nobility, and lastly, the bourgeoisie and commoners. The Fourth Estate sees themselves on an equal par with the first two elevated classes, and above the third. It is the aristocratic notion that gentlemen and ladies of the press serve a vaunted “public interest,” and do not soil themselves with activities of a rank and sordid commercialism. Such endeavors would be a violation of their hoary journalistic ethics. They have a public trust to enlighten the masses in their duties to their betters, those who compose the state and their adjunct servitors in the kept press.
No two members of the press more exemplified this profile than The Tedium Twins, those paragons of soothing banality and stentorian objectivity, Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer of the PBS MacNeil/Lehrer Report, as masterfully deconstructed by the late Alexander Cockburn. Broadcast infotainment posing as journalism has changed dramatically since the heyday of this less-than dynamic duo and the passing of other worthies such as Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid, Chet Huntley, and David Brinkley. It is more boisterous, shedding all pretenses of disinterested civility and prudential reflection.
The age of the staid lumbering dinosaurs has truly past into obscurity. It has been succeeded by the present media era of shrill carnivorous ideologues and unctuous, ubiquitous regime stenographers. But the fundamental profit-making base objective has never changed: disseminate disinformation masking as news for their elite ownership – the military-industrial complex and its adjuncts of defense contractors, Wall Street banks, Big Pharma, etc. which form the Corporatocracy of ruling oligopolies seeking control of governance and domination of its lowly vassals and useless eaters.
Mises University this year featured a “conference within the conference”. The distinguished jurist and television commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano offered a course of five lectures on “The Growth of the Commerce Clause as an Instrument of Federal Power.” Judge Napolitano presented a masterful survey of how the Supreme Court has interpreted the commerce clause, from Gibbons v.Ogden (1824) to the present. In clear defiance of the plain meaning of the constitutional text, the Court expanded the scope of the clause so that the power of Congress to regulate the entire economy had by the 1940s become little short of plenary. Wickard v. Filburn (1942) was perhaps the culminating case in this sorry record of biased construction. Fortunately, the Court has recently indicated some willingness to recognize limits to the power of Congress in this area. In his final lecture, Judge Napolitano noted that in its recent opinion upholding the individual mandate of Obamacare as an exercise of the taxing power, the Court also held that use of the commerce clause for this purpose was unconstitutional.
Judge Napolitano followed the Socratic method in teaching the course, but he was a Socratic interlocutor of great kindness, and it was clear that he had won the hearts of his students. His impressive command of the intricate legal issues at stake was everywhere apparent, and no less apparent was his devotion to individual liberty.
No. Money in politics in America goes back as far as elections go (see here). In the recent Amash amendment vote to curtail some of the surveillance, the voters in Congress who voted to continue the surveillance received twice as much money from the defense/surveillance inustries as the voters who voted in favor of cutting back the surveillance.
As long as Congress votes on anything that has political and economic effects, which is always, affected people will be buying votes, influence and access. Conventional politics, which is expansive politics in which votes occur on just about anything, will always be up for sale. Public financing contradicts any notion of liberty because it forcibly extracts money from taxpayers who pay for the advertisement of views with which they may disagree. A ban on all financing contradicts any notion of liberty because then a man cannot use his property to advertise his views, and he can’t contract with others to use theirs. The current presidential election finance system is a complicated mixture of these two extremes.
The question is asked in the LRC article today on brain hacking: “Could people be convinced to do things that they believe are unethical, such as kill?” Actually, it happens all the time, and is a result of voluntary brain hacking–joining the military. On a related note, I was watching something about the Mafia last night, and ex-Mafia guys were describing how when they “joined” or were “made” they swore absolute obedience to their captain, including killing on command. Reminds me of this article of mine on the military: “Go Ahead and Join.”
Did you know that our taxes pay for an “Office of Global Strategies” at the TSA? Neither did I. Ponder the utter wickedness, arrogance and totalitarianism of said “office.” Where exactly does the Constitution authorize a “global” anything for the federal sewer?
Meanwhile, Victoria Reeder from that “office” recently enjoyed a junket to the Bahamas at our expense. After Bahamian pols and bureaucrats kissed her butt a while, she and various other Amerikan bureaucrats connived with those tinhorns to “engage in co-operation activities in the area of civil aviation, establishing, among other things, screening standards, comparable to those implemented in airports in the USA, for both passengers and checked baggage departing Bahamian Pre-clearance airports bound for the United States.”
Translated from the Jargon, that means that the Bahamas will now enable thieves and perverts to sexually assault passengers while robbing them.
I have written before about the Hantz Woodlands Tree Farm project in the most blighted areas of Detroit’s east side. This was a subject of great pain and controversy prior to the sale of the first land plots to John Hartz. In late 2012, the Hantz Woodlands deal was approved, allowing 1,500 lots to be sold to Hantz for his for-profit project. Billed the “world’s largest experiment in urban agriculture,” this issue was highly controversial from the get-go.
The controversy brewed because small – but vocal – groups of Detroit residents expressed the views that this was a “cheap land grab” in poor areas by a rich guy. Hantz was called an evil speculator, and in many cases, residents expressed the view that the Hantz purchase of property in Detroit was akin to slavery. Hantz is white, so the racial tensions and same-old-same-old polarization quickly became obvious.
Opponents expressed opinions that poor neighborhood residents would suffer as a result of an organized, managed urban agriculture project entering their neighborhoods, replacing 140 vacant acres strewn with tires, trash, blighted buildings, and occasional bones or dead bodies. Meanwhile, Hantz is paying taxes on the land while demolishing fifty blighted buildings, removing massive amounts of household trash and tires from his properties, and mowing down grass and weeds. So certainly, the poor are suffering from the oppressive clean-up of the areas they have allowed to decay for decades?
The land may have been fairly cheap on a per-acre basis, but when is the last time anyone has come in and offered to risk his money and turn miles of Detroit hellhole blight into productive use, while waiting years, or decades, for a return profit? In a December 2012 article on Truthout, there is this quote:
The foremost advocates and practitioners of urban agriculture in Detroit opposed the Hantz proposal. It is groups like Feedom Freedom Growers, Earthworks Urban Farm, the Garden Resource Program and D-Town Farm that have informed the nation and the world that Detroiters are serious about urban agriculture.
I have long acknowledged, supported, and given press time to the amazing urban agriculture that has been sweeping the city of Detroit. Even better, I support it with my dollars as I purchase a lot of my food from the local growers. And I agree that because of the city’s bumbling crew of ragtag politicians who have been spinning in the wind without any forward motion, these creative and productive growers are not able to easily purchase vacant, unkempt land so that they can turn it into productive or profitable use. I blogged about Detroit urban agriculture homesteading in the past, including this short story on the repurposing of land in spite of government ineptness.
However, forcing an entrepreneur to endure the same level of political incompetence “to even things up” is neither beneficial or constructive for Detroit or its east side residents. This post is cross-posted at my Detroit: from Rust to Riches blog.
If you haven’t seen this KTVU broadcast with the anchor reading off fake names, watch the video before it is removed from YouTube. An intern had passed on some false information, and the gaffe eventually made its way on air. Three people have been fired from the station. What I find to be amazing – though never surprising – is that the whole schtick is being deemed a racist act on the part of someone who had too much time on their hands and had some fun with names. The act of using humor to make up Asian names that sound like American nether regions is hardly a “racist” act. I was first shown this in a meeting at work, and it was so damn funny I thought the video itself was a joke. I had to google it to believe it. Here’s the Huffington Post story.
I realize that attempting to create a free Detroit runs into many large problems. The exercise of thinking about what is involved is worthwhile, nonetheless. (The reader should understand that I have a playful imaginative streak at times.) About 1/3 to 1/2 of the people living in and around Detroit may wish to continue their relationships with existing governments, such as getting food stamps, social security, etc. The remainder may not, because their taxes, mandates and regulations will be reduced. Each group can conceivably have its choice, but Uncle Sam, not abiding any such nullification and secession, can create instant hostility between the two groups by threatening to cut off all payments to any Detroiter if a portion of them nullifies and secedes. It can also cut off the city from the payments system, as it has done to Iran.
It can do this with a state too if it tries to secede. This suggests that any seceding state has to prepare for these counter-moves by having ready a currency. It shows that unity of large numbers is also important. And if Uncle Sam decides to send in troops, cut off transportation, electricity, water or the internet, then this shows that secession can’t be accomplished without a ready militia to resist any such violent counter-moves on the part of the federal government. Or else a coalition of people across many states is required to provide enough clout to parry Uncle Sam. But if that is the case, then the route of constitutional pressure and dissolving the Union becomes more feasible.
One path to a liberty and property rescue includes continually weakening and downgrading respect for the federal government and continual strengthening of the respect and belief in decentralized living. The federal government is an unreformable monster with a federal code that is every bit as bad as Detroit’s municipal code. The people are saddled with an anachronistic throwback, a government put together 225 years ago that is now like a Godzilla, destroying everything in its path. It will die but it can do an awful lot of damage before it does. All the public conversation by statist intellectuals and media cannot see this creature’s ugliness. They pretend that this horrid creature is essential to life. They hang on every word uttered by the person who currently controls the creature’s voice box (the president).
In order to reconstruct Detroit, what do people need and not need? I submit that they could do without Detroit’s Municipal Code. For example, section 26-7-3 is a rent control ordinance. You do not know the true meaning of Economic Paralysis or Economic Hardening of the Arteries until you read and fully comprehend such an ordinance. Chapter 30 contains a list of businesses that must be licensed that is as breathtaking in its own way as peering into the eyes of Rosemary’s Baby. Indeed, the whole Code appears to be the work of Satan. Can a city, region, state or country be destroyed by bad laws? Yes, Montesquieu, it can. Detroit needs to get out from under a large number of state and federal laws as well.
What does Detroit need? It needs justice services that understand property and can penalize true infringements of life and property. Since the courts of this country are not up to this task, Detroit needs a market in such services.
Detroiters need to declare themselves independent. In a manner of speaking, they need to define a kind of free zone or free city or enterprise zone as in antiquity or as in the late Middle Ages.
I have another idea that involves a lower degree of freedom. A whole bunch of cities who wish to exit from state and federal regulations and control can form a League of Free Cities.
over the gurglings of Gov. Christie and other conservatives about the wicked libertarians? Hasn’t it been evident for a number of years now that what we are witnessing is the resurrection of classical liberalism? Like the classic liberals – before their name was taken away by the left wing of the rampant statism faction, to be opposed by the right wing of Leviathan – modern libertarians distrust power, oppose wars and police-states, focus on individual liberty and respect for private property, and can tell the difference between free-market capitalism and the business-system. Ron Paul’s statement – during the 2012 campaigns – that he had a better chance of getting elected president than getting nominated by the Republicans, reflects this transformation. It is a change that Rothbard long envisioned. His efforts continue to be a major catalyst for what is going on in our world. So, let the Christies, Bachmanns, McCains, Grahams, Giulianis, Reagan-worshippers, and the other modern Tories – who can occasionally throw the word “liberty” into their babblings to mislead the Boobeoisie – stake out their claims to immunity from principled thinking.
An article on Yahoo Finance revisits the early 1990s Beanie Baby craze, and one family that almost became bankrupt due to their collective zealotry.
Heralded as valuable collectibles, people would rush out to buy the $5.95 toys for their children or themselves, eagerly waiting for them to appreciate in value.
But then the Beanie Baby bubble burst.
As far as bubbles go, it wasn’t bad — at worst, most collectors were stuck with a few worthless stuffed animals they’d overpaid for.
Read this story about how the Robinson family not only blew $100k+ on an “investment” that never happened, but their entire lives were wasted on a venture that was far more addiction than investment vision. Whole weekends were spent tagging and organizing Beanie Baby inventory.
The first takeaway that most folks will have from this film, Bankrupt by Beanies, is that the family made a bad investment call and sunk their dough into too many collectibles that didn’t appreciate. That notion is quickly dispelled by reading about the family members’ gonzo behavior, along with the inability to sell what they bought. Also, the father speaks to his “thrill” upon acquisition of each new stuffed animal, and he refers to the acquisition days as being “fun and exciting.” He notes that back in the day, he couldn’t understand why his wife and kids eventually grew weary of the family-hobby-to-nowhere.
The family is now stuck with a massive stockpile of unwanted fad toys. The Beanie Baby craze was just one small speck of lunacy that swept American culture as one fetish after another has become a beacon of civilization. The problem, however, was the boom-bubble “buy buy buy buy” mania that swept American culture, funded by easy credit (have pulse, will loan) that was enabled by government intervention and Federal Reserve policies. The video ends with this unfortunate statement:
The family still has between 15,000 and 20,000 beanie babies. But they admit despite how dire the circumstances are now, the beanie babies could come around again. “I guess we’ll see who’s crazy in 20 years,” the film ends.
Still, after 20 years, they have hope that the Beanie Baby lunacy will be reignited by some magical force. He waits and waits to hear from someone that he will cash out on a fixation that has long been six feet under. Unfortunately, the boom-bubble mentality breeds this kind of sentiment, as I have argued often. Inflationary policies have multiple social impacts that result in cultural carnage and ruined lives. Thanks to my sister, Christine DeCoster Sickler, for the link, as she remembers my position on this craze from 20 years ago. Follow me on Twitter @karendecoster.