Trump Speech

I didn’t catch Trump’s speech.  I saw a clip on O’Reilly. He played the part where Trump spoke to the widow of the Seal that died in the Yemen Raid.

This Navy Seal died in a raid of a compound in Yemen.  He left behind a widow and 3 children.  Of course, I’m sad for his widow and children. The children now have to grow up with out a father, the widow has to raise children on her own.

What makes it even sadder is that he is venerated as a hero.  This guy, because his superior officer told him to, raided a compound, reportedly to gain information.  Other reports, say the target of the raid was al-Rimi, but to the nation, Trump said intelligence.  This means the official story is it was a raid to gain information.  This, this should absolutely horrify every Christian and human rights proponent in the United States.  Not only did this Navy Seal die, but probably a dozen or so Yemenis.  They died not because our homeland was being invaded.  They died not because hostages were being rescued.  They died over information.

One of the dead was an 8 year old girl.  She was an American citizen, the daughter to Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen that was targeted and killed in Obama’s drone war.  No mention of the collateral damage.  No mention that another US citizen had been killed.  It was essentially a jingoistic affirmation of the War on Terror being waged to keep America safe.

O’Reilly and his guests went on about how Trump truly sounded presidential now.  The bolded part is what they liked so well:

“I just spoke to our great General Mattis, just now, who reconfirmed that ‘Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies,’” Trump said. “Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity. Thank you.”

His legacy is following orders in a raid for intelligence that killed a little girl and other civilians, as well as men who were suspects.  That is not a legacy to be proud about.

Trump apparently has bought into the War on Terror, hook, line and sinker.  This was a sad speech, re-entrenching the idea of the righteousness of what is actually an immoral fight that goes against the nation’s very ideals of non-interventionism and innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

I’m outraged. I’m saddened.  I didn’t really expect anything else, but it still is horrendous.

Putting Trump in Perspective

Philippines’  presdident-elect encourages people to kill drug dealers.

Heck of a guy, Rodrigo Duterte, the president-elect of the Philippines.  He reportedly said, “Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun — you have my support,” adding, “Shoot him and I’ll give you a medal.” He also threatened to kill drug addicts.  Journalist, too, are not exempt from threatened execution.  A neo-Robespierre, it would seem, with a pledge last year to up executions from 1,000 to 100,000 if he were to be elected president.

Now I don’t care for Donald Trump.  I think he is obnoxious and egotistical and he doesn’t have a good grasp of economics.  He is also populist, not principled, and I don’t like that either.

As in every presidential election cycle I have followed, I see people claiming it will be the end of the world as we know it if the candidate they don’t like gets elected.  I’ve seen this way more often in reference to Trump than Clinton. This may be bias on my part because Clinton bores me so I ignore her more.  They make Trump out as this boogie man to be feared.  They make him sound like he is so aberrant that the rest of the world will think America has lost their minds if he gets elected.

Compare Trump’s ban on Muslims traveling to the US with Duterte’s call for citizens to execute drug dealers.  Compare Trump’s stupid wall with Duterte’s promise to execute 100,000 people.  While Trump’s proposals are not good, they do not come close to the horror of Duterte.

I’m not sorry that the candidates for president stink so badly this cycle.  I’m hoping it wakes some people up.  I’m hoping that people start voting 3rd party. I’m hoping the cruddy candidates undermine support for the the system.

However bad I think Trump is though, it is just plain silly to act like his election is going to be this huge catastrophe.  He won’t be much worse than the past two presidents, or any worse than Hillary Clinton.  They are all bad, just in different ways.

 

 

 

A National Myth

Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Independence Day, all these holidays prompt the honoring US Military members, living and deceased.  As an anti-war libertarian, I tend to struggle with my emotions during these state holidays.   On one hand, it is the politicians that begin the wars.  They decide which world events warrant sending young men and women into harms way knowing death and destruction will ensue.  On the other hand, if people weren’t willing to go overseas and fight, then the US politicians could not wage wars of aggression. I don’t particularly feel like I should honor people for fighting in wars that I deem inappropriate.

Is there a just war?  I have my doubts.  However, we are all brought up to believe that the Revolutionary War was just.  If there ever was a just war, we think that was it.  Clearly the Crown was wrong to impose such taxes on the colonies without them having any say in the matter.  Clearly the British were wrong to come in and try to confiscate weapons and ammunition.   Based on these events a National Myth has come into being.

The National Myth is very obvious. The National Myth says that we are only free because are military is out fighting on our behalf.  Is this myth true?  It is obvious it is not when you look at all the wars in retrospect.  There is a lot of denial of the obvious, though.  For instance, I still hear people say things like if we hadn’t joined in WWII and defeated the Germans, we would all be speaking German right now.   Is that not the most ridiculous claim?  Germany was able to sweep across Europe, but there is a big difference between a blitzkrieg rolling into Poland and dealing with the formidable strength of the US that is an ocean away.  It blows me away that people recite that kind of thing like it is the truth.

I am somewhat open to the idea that helping defeat Germany was the right thing to do because of all the atrocities committed by her.  At the same time, we joined with the USSR to do so! The Soviets were committing their own amount of atrocities, which, we just let that slide, and this exposes the hypocrisy of atrocity being a reason to go to war.

Whether or not joining in WWII was just or not, it can be safely said that it was not about protecting US freedom, because the US was never in danger of being conquered during that war.  Yet the myths persist. We would all be speaking German….

If we want peace, we need to  break down this National Myth and expose it as the lie it is.  None of the wars or time-limited, scope-limited, kinetic military actions of this or the 20th century were about protecting the homeland, and thus our freedom, in any other than the most contrived and convoluted sense.  To break down this myth, we need to become knowledgeable about these wars, their causes, and their outcomes.  Knowledge and discussion and making people think is key to overcoming these oft repeated untruths.

Will it work?  Who knows?  The state has the benefit of having created holidays that encourage everyone to venerate soldiers as heroes.  All the anti-war people have is the power of reason and persuasion.  It’s a tough gig.  No one likes to be disparaged as un-American or ungrateful to men who fought bravely for a cause they believed in.  The emotions around the myth are strong.  Shouldn’t promoting peace be worth coming out of your comfort zone?

 

 

Justice: Beyond Pro-life & Pro-choice

I have long struggled with being pro-choice.  Abortion is wrong because it takes a human life.  I was pro-choice anyway.  I said it was all about bodily autonomy.  Since you own your body, you have a right to treat it in any manner you so choose.  Since you are sovereign over your body, the state should not be able to tell you what you can and can’t do with it.  I said that while abortion is a violation of the human right to life, the state has no authority over your actual body, so it can’t compel you to carry to term against your sovereignty.

I still believe this.

However, one day I looked at it from a different perspective when I acknowledged that most abortions occur because someone performs them.  So while a woman has the right to do that what she pleases with her own body, what in any sense of justice gives someone else the right to kill a child in utero that is not an immediate threat to the life of its host?

The answer suddenly became clear to me.  Surgical abortions should be illegal.  If it is illegal to kill another unless self-defense is claimed, then abortion should only be permitted if death of the woman who is pregnant is a material threat.  There are exceptions to this, in the case where there is no chance of a fetus developing and it threatens the health of a woman, like in the case of a tubal pregnancy.  I think it is acceptable for a doctor to terminate a pregnancy in such an instance.  However, I think it has to be formally documented that there was no chance of survival of the fetus and the woman’s health would suffer materially from continued pregnancy.  The doctor must be able to account for why the decision was made.

How, then, is a woman to exercise control over her own body if surgical abortion is to be illegal when she simply doesn’t want to carry to term and there is no material threat of death and the fetus is developing normally?

Medical abortion is the answer here.  A woman can self-administer an abortifacient.  This would be consistent with self-ownership and sovereignty over one’s body.  It is true that the child’s right to life will still be violated when the life is terminated. Since everyone is sovereign over their own bodies, the state has no jurisdiction to interfere with this human rights violation.

I see this as a Justice issue.  I think it is bizarrely blind to deny the humanity of a developing child.  Life clearly begins at conception because that is when a unique human comes into being.  To claim that life begins at any other point is arbitrary. As a matter of human cooperation, we acknowledge human rights. One of the rights we acknowledge is the right to life, so it makes no sense to deny the right to life for a human just because it isn’t fully developed yet.  There is no point when it magically becomes human because it was a unique human from its creation.

Justice demands that we grant the developing human the same rights as every other human, unless they are not under our jurisdiction.  For instance, we can’t go into China and force the government to do our bidding regarding human rights because we don’t have jurisdiction there.  China is a sovereign country.  Following that example, we don’t have jurisdiction over a woman’s body because that is her jurisdiction, so we stand by and do not prosecute if she denies the child with-in her the right to life through medical abortion.

What we do have jurisdiction over, theoretically, are actions taken by individuals governed by the state.  We say murder and theft are crimes, and we all agree those should be prosecuted.  Providing an abortion, in the vast majority of cases, is causing the death of a human simply because they exist and it is not wanted for that human to exist.  If they were a born child, we would all consider this abhorrent.  Since there is no magic time when a fetus becomes human, it should be considered by all to be abhorrent to kill the child in the womb as well.  Justice demands that it be illegal for a 3rd party to kill a child in utero.  It is the right thing to do.  It is the consistent thing to do.

It would be better if submitting to government was voluntary, but that is not the world we live in right now.  Dealing with life as it is, being in favor of outlawing performing a surgical abortion is the correct position.

I don’t think the position I propose can be considered either pro-life or pro-choice because it incorporates elements from both.   It incorporates bodily autonomy while rejecting that surgical abortion should be legal.  I call it Justice.

 

Orkambi Price Tag

CF specialists up in arms about $259K price for new Vertex med Orkambi

I heard about this on the news recently.  Here is a brief overview of the issue:

Vertex ($VRTX) had a pretty good idea that drug pricing critics wouldn’t be so keen on its $259,000-per-year tag for cystic fibrosis med Orkambi. And sure enough, less than three weeks after the combo med won the FDA‘s green light, the pushback is here.

A group of prominent cystic fibrosis specialists is going public with its pricing fight, which has been brewing ever since the company rolled out its first treatment,Kalydeco, more than three years back, The Boston Globe reports.

“It’s egregious,” Paul Quinton, a professor of biomedical science at the University of California at San Diego, told the newspaper. “This is more than 5 times the annual salary of the average American family. How can they in good conscience charge that much?”

This seems like a good question on the face of it.  How is anyone going to be able to afford $259,000 a year for this drug?  The average family income in the U.S. is just over $50,000 a year.  However, the question ignores health insurance.  This isn’t about individual affordability, it is about what the insurance companies are going to pay.  Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Vertex set the price so high in an effort to see what they could get the insurance companies to pay.  This drug has only been approved for sale by the FDA since July.  They are probably still working out pricing structure.

The news story I saw featured a young lady with cystic fibrosis.  This genetic disease puts her at risk for continued lung infections and lowers her life expectancy.  Orkambi is touted as a more effective treatment than what is currently available.  Of course, the young lady wants to try it, her life could be greatly improved and lengthened by better treatments.  Who could blame her?

I hate to be hard on a person in such a situation, but she puts forth the same old narrative.  The evil corporations are going to be the cause of people’s deaths because of their greed by not selling their product at a price everyone can afford. Let us be truthful about the situation.  The disease, complications from the disease, will probably claim her life at some point.  If the corporation had not bothered to develop the drug, that would be perfectly obvious.  This fact, that it is the disease that threatens her life, does not change just because a company developed a promising treatment.

Why then, is she, and other factions, so quick to blame the company who developed a new treatment for what the disease is going to cause?  It is all about worldview.  They come from a worldview where if something is available, and you need it, that the other party must provide it to you, at a price you are willing to pay.  If the other party isn’t willing to meet you on price, then they must be evil.  They come from a worldview where voluntary exchange is thought bad, and exchange at gunpoint is thought well and good.

There is good news for this young lady, though.  Her insurance company has agreed to cover this drug for her.  Now, I know people will be thanking Obamacare for that.  They might say that without ACA, that she would have been denied insurance, and thus denied access to this drug.  They would say this without understanding how forcing everyone into the health insurance paradigm is going to create more situations like this.  It creates situations where companies don’t have to think so much about what the consumer of their medications can afford, but think about what they can get the insurance companies to pay instead.

et tu, FEE?

First Reason Magazine in July, and now FEE has published an article against privatizing marriage.  It actually ticked me off that libertarian publications were putting forth this view.

Privatizing Marriage Makes No Sense

“But even though “privatizing marriage” is gaining popularity, it is an incoherent concept that, if anything, will actually increase — not decrease — government interference in marriage.”

“At the most basic level, even if we can get the government out of the business of issuing marriage licenses, it still has to record and register these partnerships (and/or authorize the entities that perform them) before they can have any legal validity, just as it registers property and issues titles and deeds. Therefore, government will need to set rules and regulations as to what counts as a legitimate marriage “deed.” It won’t simply accept any marriage performed in any church — or any domestic partnership contract signed by anyone.”

Marriage is not a problem for the state.  There is no problem until the event of divorce.  Divorce only becomes a problem if the people want the state to get involved.  There is no need for the state to be involved divorce proceedings either.  People could go to a private arbitrator.

I maintain that there is plenty of common law for the courts to draw upon in the event that a divorcing couple wants the state to settle their affairs.  More and more people are opting for common law marriage in an age where marriage rates on the decline.  It is no big deal.

much ado about nothing

Ben Carson: Two Tier Minimum Wage

In the latest GOP debate, Ben Carson suggested that we should adopt a two-tier minimum wage, as well as possibly being in favor of raising minimum wage.  Apparently he has weighed the criticism of minimum wage rates, and has come up with his version of how to address it.

Carson stated, “I was asked should it be raised? I said probably, or possibly. But what I added, which I think is the most important thing, is I said we need to get both sides of this issue to sit down, and talk about it, and negotiate a reasonable minimum wage, and index that, so that we never have to have this conversation again in the history of America. I think we also have to have two minimum wages, a starter and a sustaining. Because how are young people ever going to get a job, if you have such a high minimum wage that it makes it impractical to hire them?”

He thinks there can be some middle ground between two sides to this issue.  The sides are diametrically opposed.  There is no middle ground!  The road to hell is in the middle ground.  Sure, they have good intentions to help the poor ignorant masses be able to escape poverty by a wage floor.  All of us in the US, even the poor, live in abundance compared to our predecessors.  Poverty in the US is doing without certain material goods that other people have, it is not going without food and clean water, like the abject poverty seen in developing countries and faced by man throughout history.    It betrays a certain disdain for the people that are not materially well off, to think they are incapable of making decisions as to how much money they are willing to work.  Life comes with tough decisions.  Facing those circumstances and finding ways to make it work is what leads to creativity and better future decisions.

He wants to get it settled, so that we don’t have to have this conversation again.   Dr. Carson, Ben, it cannot just be settled. Economic realities will always rear their head in response to Central Planning!   So you want to just index it to inflation?  What is going to happen if we have a high bout of Fed induced inflation and employers suddenly are required to pay their employees a good deal more than previously?

The sad thing is, he has some insight into why minimum wage is harmful, as evidenced by his two-tiered approach to address the unskilled youth problem.  Unfortunately, that is not the only problem with minimum wage.

Matthew Cooke Video

HOW TO RACE BAIT

The above video is about 11 minutes long.

Why are good people so confused?  It seems to me that Matthew Cooke has positive intentions with this video.  He wants to unite the races against the elite. However, he puts forth tired rhetoric about the rich purposely keeping all of us poor.  He promotes ideas such as there being a class struggle and inequality and injustice are the same thing.  He also embraces Howard Zinn’s idea about a caste system that consists of poor blacks, poor whites, and the rich, which completely ignores the existence of a huge middle class made up of all races.

Cooke does make one point that I thought was interesting.  He believes that whites are confused by how the media is constantly focusing on police violence against blacks.  Cooke says that whites make assumptions due to this media focus.  He doesn’t explain what assumptions are made, but I can guess what he means from the train of thought he is putting forth.  He means that whites are making assumptions that blacks are bringing the police brutality on themselves.  The almost exclusive focus of the media on the brutality against blacks can give the impression that it isn’t happening to whites.   People that have a positive view of police could very well come to the conclusion that something these black people are doing is causing the police to react brutally.  I don’t know whether or not this would be a purposeful aim of media in portraying brutality mainly against blacks, but I do think that it could very well feed in to the Us versus Them mentality in racial relationships.

One good thing about Cooke, is that he is a big critic of the drug war.  If there wasn’t drug prohibition, there would not be near the opportunity for police to exercise brutality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Coming Crash

I noticed on my Facebook page that stocks are in trouble. The Dow dropped significantly upon open this morning. I read further to find that China’s stock market is crashing. A volatile future is being predicted. Back in 2008, I would have been following this stuff on the edge of my seat. I would have worried about what this meant for our country, my family, our future. While I’m interested, I don’t have the same sense of panic as 7 years ago. We suffered job losses and wage declines as a result of the last crash. We lived through it and we are fine. It could be that this time it is way worse. Fortunately for us, we are resourceful people and we will make due.  We don’t own gold, we don’t have a store of food, but we do have our wits, and that is pretty much where most of the country will be if we do suffer a horrific crash.

Do parents own their children?

If you want to see intactivists (people that favor making circumcision illegal) get upset, just state that the parents have the right to decide whether or not to circumcise their sons.  A likely reaction,  “What?  You don’t own that child!  You have no right to alter their body without their consent!”  From there it usually goes into a debate about whether or not circumcision is beneficial, but that is not what I am concerned with here.  I’m interested in exploring if making decisions for a child equates ownership.

I can’t quite believe that I just wrote “if making decisions for a child equates ownership” because it is so absurd. However, I have seen with my own eyes that people make that assumption, so I’m going to write about it.

Here is my position. Someone has to make decisions for a child.  They simply aren’t capable of making sound decisions on their own. It is self-evident that children need decision makers.  That children are humans who grow to maturity then (generally) make their own decisions indicates that they are not possessions.

Are there people that disagree with the idea that someone needs to make decisions for children?  Well, they don’t exactly.  The argument is more along the lines of everyone should have bodily integrity, and circumcision violates that right to bodily integrity.  The intactivist are convinced that circumcision is unnecessary, and that science backs up that position.  So here is the rub….

The presumption on the part of the intactivist is that if you can say science is on your side, then you get to tell parents what decisions they can or can’t make.   Vaccines, you must.  Circumcision, you must not.  That they believe science backs up their position doesn’t stop them from disparaging people as acting like they own their kids.  It is basically an empty ad hominem attack.  Yet they want to make decisions for your kids, based on their knowledge!  Are they not then acting like the owner they are accusing the parent who will choose circumcision? Somehow they don’t think that their decision making for your children is the same as your decision making for your children.  Their decisions are guided by science, science, science (in an echoing voice), while your decisions are not.  You have fallen for misinformation and you are unwilling to consider the true evidence, they tend to say.  To protect your children, from you, they want to make laws to require you to abide by their supposedly superior knowledge.

Such is the nonsense of collectivist thinking.  They want to say that people have bodily integrity, while telling people what they can and can’t do.  They want to pretend that making a medical decision for a child amounts to ownership, but then they want to make those for children.