More on who owns the fruit of your labors – raisin edition

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has a few more comments on the Supreme Court ruling that when the Department of Agriculture ‘takes’ a portion of the crop from raisin farmers, the farmers have to be paid for the ‘taking’: Raisin Owners in the Sun. Previous discussion of the ruling is here.

Editorial points out the law authorizing the feds to take whatever amount of agricultural crops they want and pay whatever little amount they want was passed in 1937, which is 78 years ago. This case centers on crops that were seized in 2003 and 2004. The later of those two attempted seizures was 11 years ago.

That makes eight decades for the Supreme Court to get around to reading the Constitution and just over a decade for this case to work its way through the legal system.

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More on stealing raisins. Oops. I meant to say, more on implementing the New Deal.

The New Deal policy of confiscating a portion of raisins from farmers every year in order to drive up prices to consumers has been previously discussed here, here, and here.

The Wall Street Journal provides more background on this foolishness that is being considered in the Supreme Court today: The Incredible Raisin Heist / A property-rights challenge to federal marketing orders hits the Supreme Court.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

I’ve been wondering what the Raisin Administrative Committee does with all those raisins after they are surrendered by the farmers. Editorial points out the government may sell the raisins on the open market, ship them overseas, or just give them away.

I have to find someone far brighter than me to explain how selling the raisins or giving them away stabilizes prices. Seems that would drop prices to what would otherwise be equilibrium or even lower.

The WSJ editorial outlines the progress of the case through the federal courts. I promise you this is a paraphrase of the editorial and not the outline of a dystopian political novel I’ve been mulling over.

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Why I chose a gun. Evil exists.

General Peter van Uhm is the Netherlands chief of defense. In the following TED presentation, he explains why he chose a gun to make the world a better place. Others choose a pen or brush.

He intentionally picked up a gun.

I’ve not talked about my military service on my blogs. His presentation is a superb proxy for why I took my turn carrying a gun, especially one that held frightening power.

Here’s the reason in one phrase: (more…)

Huge fines are a tax on illegal behavior

Several weeks ago I listened to a continuing education class presented by Sam Antar, current felon and formerly CFO of Crazy Eddie.

In the session, he made two comments that caught my ear. First, the fines we read about as a result of various financial scandals are just a tax on illegal behavior. Second, those fiascos are, he said, a cancer destroying capitalism.

After the session, I had opportunity to interview him by phone and follow-up on both of those ideas.

(This discussion is cross-posted from my other blog, Attestation Update, because this is not capitalism and I don’t think the underlying issue furthers freedom.)

Fines are a tax on illegal behavior

He indicated that essentially no one has been implicated in any of the disasters we’ve read about, which I have discussed extensively on my blog.

He said corporations don’t commit crimes. People commit crimes.

And the people who committed crimes aren’t going to jail.

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Congressional Medal of Honor approved and soon to be awarded for three amazing heroes

Because freedom is watered by the blood of those willing to defend it, the following article is cross-posted from Outrun Change.

Congress has waived the time limit to award the Medal of Honor for another three heroes. The President will soon issue the Medals, each for amazing and tremendous service far above and way beyond the call of duty.

Here is my feeble tribute to these incredible men.

1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing

Lt Cushing, West Point class of 1961, stood his ground at the battle of Gettysburg. (more…)

More examples of unintended consequences

Five more examples of unintended consequences.  The problem? People don’t always do what you tell them. They often do something totally different from what you expected. (Cross-posted from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

Cracked describes 5 Laws That Made Senses on Paper (And Disasters in Reality). (Caution, some naughty words.) These examples are from government.  My three favorites are how to:

  • increase number of guns on the street
  • increase number of cobras on the loose
  • increase pollution from cars

Gun buybacks increase number of guns on the street. (more…)

More good stuff on surveillance – 7-23-13

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

There are a lot of articles discussing the surveillance world we now live in. I would like to comment on many of them in a full post. Alas, time does not permit.

I will start putting up a list of good stuff that I’d like talk about but only have time to recommend with a quick comment. Hopefully this will be a frequent list of links.

Here’s my first list:

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Reminder – Google RSS Reader goes away on July 1

Time to find a new RSS reader if you’ve been using Google. I know a small group of people are reading this blog with that service. Time to find another one.

I looked at several and tried out a few. I’ve jumped to the Old Reader.

Not quite like Google’s, but it is working fine.

It is very easy to export a file containing a list of your subscriptions. Also easy to import that into most readers. But do that before June 30.

The folly of “I have nothing to hide” in a surveillance society

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

That’s the idea some people are advancing to suggest the extensive data gathering conducted by the federal government is okay.

I plan to discuss this in detail. In the meantime, I want to start putting some pieces of information on the table.

Moxie Marlinspike has a superb article in Wired: Why “I Have Nothing to Hid” Is the Wrong Way to Think About Surveillance.

You may think you haven’t broken any laws.

But are you familiar with all 27,000 pages of the United States Code?

The article quotes James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School:

Estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary. It has been reported that the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes. These laws are scattered in over 50 titles of the United States Code, encompassing roughly 27,000 pages. Worse yet, the statutory code sections often incorporate, by reference, the provisions and sanctions of administrative regulations promulgated by various regulatory agencies under congressional authorization. Estimates of how many such regulations exist are even less well settled, but the ABA thinks there are ”nearly 10,000.”

Are you familiar with all 10,000 regulations that implement the 27,000 pages of the U.S.C.?

Check out this example: (more…)

It’s okay to kill California condors. As long as you are running a wind farm. Or building luxury homes. In the middle of condor habitat.

And as long as you didn’t really mean to off them.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

The Los Angeles Times reports Companies won’t face charges in condor deaths.

The federal Fish and Wildlife Service told the operators of Terra-Gen Power’s wind farm in the heart of condor habitat they

…will not be prosecuted if their turbines accidentally kill a condor during the expected 30-year life span of the project.

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Role of regulatory failure in the sinking of the Titanic

The sinking of the Titanic is usually blamed on that careless, horrible Captain Smith and the greedy capitalist shipowner who didn’t want the expense or inconvenience or clutter of enough lifeboats.  Rarely discussed is the role of the regulators in the tragedy.

Chris Berg points out in his Wall Street Journal article a year ago, The Real Reason for the Tragedy of the Titanic, that the regulators, the British Board of Trade, required all boats over 10,000 metric tons to have 16 lifeboats. It didn’t matter how many passengers were on board. Just put 16 lifeboats on.

Was the Titanic in compliance? Yes. (more…)

Crony capitalism kills off eagles and other raptors

When a government picks one industry over another and gives the favored one special treatment, it is called Crony Capitalism.

That is the same description used when a government goes after one industry for breaking the law and turns a blind eye to another industry doing the same thing.

That is exactly what federal policy the California AG are doing about migratory birds and protected raptors that are killed by the so-called ‘clean energy’ industry.

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Selective enforcement for harming eagles

One of the frightening dangers of crony capitalism is that a favored business or industry gets special treatment because they are favored.

The result can turn out to be that laws are enforced or not enforced based on whether the company has special contact with those who make decisions or is favored for other reasons.

So here’s the question:  Should the decision whether you get a pass or get hammered be based on whether you broke the rules or whether you do or don’t have special access?

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Many posts on this blog have been copied from my other blogs

There are a lot of posts on my other blogs, primarily Outrun Change, that deal with freedom.  I have copied those posts into this blog to have them together. Posts before January 2013 were copied from there to here.  Enjoy reading!