What Would John Galt Do?

A whole different way of looking at "WWJD"

Monday, February 20, 2006

Lying corporate bastards

[Revised on 26 Feb 2006 with info that could not be found when the original was being written]

If you've read my first post in this blog, then you know that lying is one of the three things that really lights my fuse. And I've got a pretty damn short fuse about being lied to.

Tonight's attack of insomnia (i.e., the reason I'm sitting here writing at this hour instead of sleeping like decent folk) is caused by the lying corporate bastards that create fake grassroots (aka "astroturf") organizations to further their political agendas.

I'm not against corporations in general, and I'm certainly not against people making money -- as long as they do it honestly. This blog is named "What Would John Galt Do?" and on this subject, the answer is pretty clear:

In all proper relationships there is no sacrifice of anyone to anyone. ... Men exchange their work by free, mutual consent to mutual advantage when their personal interests agree and they both desire the exchange. ... This is the only possible form of relationship between equals. Anything else is a relationship of slave to master, or victim to executioner.

Even though it was Howard Roark, not our hero, who said it. Still, this is pretty clearly What John [Galt] Would Do.

But remember that John Galt's values are about making money HONESTLY. And there's nothing honest about the business practices of Microsoft Corporation, the movie industry, or the recording industry. A monopoly is NOT a free market. Using political "pull" to get legislation that tilts the playing field (either by putting onerous regulations upon your competitors, or regulations that favor you) is NOT operating in a free market. And taking away people's rights in order to prop up a business model that has been made obsolete by technology is very much NOT What John [Galt] Would Do.

Apparently it's not enough nowadays to just go up on Capitol Hill and buy a politician make some generous campaign donations to get a politician's attention; no, apparently it's now necessary to create fake grass-roots organizations to lobby these politicians as well.

I used to get really upset at Left-wing organizations whose very names were lies. Well, I still do get upset at them, but tonight's rant isn't about them. For instance, years ago there was a group called "Coalition for Safe Power" whose only goal was to eliminate the safest form of electric power generation (nuclear).

And we also had the so-called "Friends Of the Earth" (at least their acronym was telling the truth) who weren't friends of anything; they only wanted to shut down -- guess what? Nuclear power! -- which of course is the least-polluting of them all.

And now we have the Interfaith Alliance, supposedly an organization of Left-leaning Christians, but their startup money came from the Democratic Party.

So those people used to piss me off, and still do. But they're Left-wingers. You expect them to lie. But now corporations have gotten into the game too, and they've learned well from the tactics of the Lying Left.

So now we have "grass roots" organizations popping up all over the place like mushrooms in the fall, except they're not the kind of mushrooms that are good for you. Microsoft Corporation has become notorious for this over the last few years as they attempt to subvert the Free Market through high-sounding organizations such as the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (who, I'm sure, has the real Mr. de Tocqueville spinning in his grave) and the so-called Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE).

The latter has earned more of my vitriol than the others because I was taken in by them once upon a time. I was chairman of my county's Libertarian Party organization, and I learned about CSE from a booth they had at the County fair. I liked their positions on the issues: they were telling the truth about Global Warming -- and this was at a time when virtually no one (except scientists) were aware that it was a hoax; they said all the right things about the Free Market; and they understood the need to reduce taxation and regulation.

So I got into bed with them. I invited their state director, Russ Walker, to come and speak at one of my county Libertarian meetings. He came, and brought lots of swag with him. I began wondering how in the world a little bitty citizens' group that I'd never heard of had the money to spend on expensive stuff such as T-shirts. He gave away a lot of them that night.

As time went on, I would receive CSE's action alerts requesting the usual stuff (usually, a letter to a congresscritter). They were all good stuff. But then one day...

(cue the movie music that indicates impending doom)

I received the following "CSEmail Update". Everything except the table of contents and the pertinent "Action Needed" item have been removed for brevity:

CSEmail Update 20 Oregon Edition January 16, 2002
- There's a Better Way to Solve the Budget Deficit
- Paul Beckner's Message - Politics Return to Washington
- Weekly Commentary - Enron: Death of an Energy Giant
- Dr. Brough on Economics - Its Not the 70s
- Action Needed - Support the Microsoft Settlement
- CSE Message of the Month - Get Moving Senators
- Three New Ways to Get Connected with CSE!
- Take Action: Make Your Voice Heard
- Help CSE

Quote of the Week:
"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom." - Albert Einstein

Urgent Action Needed!
Write A Letter to Support the Microsoft Settlement!
Time is running out and we need your help. A vocal group of attorneys general are threatening to pull the plug on the recent settlement reached by the U.S. Department of Justice, nine states attorneys general and Microsoft. Write a letter to the Justice Department and let them know that the settlement reached is fair to all parties: consumers, Microsoft, and its competitors. Simply click on the following link.

Unfortunately, the text of the Action Alert is lost to history. The link (above) is long dead and CSE had the foresight to block the Wayback Machine from archiving it. I was stunned. I felt betrayed. Here was a supposedly pro-free-market organization, asking us to go to bat for a monopoly that was arguably the biggest threat against the free market at that time.

I immediately disassociated myself from the Citizens for a Sound Economy. A week later I received the following query from Ross Marzolf of the CSE wanting to know why I had unsubscribed from their email list:

Dear Mr. Barber:

Thanks for the message. You have been removed from our email distribution list. For our information and so we can better serve our members in the future, could you reply with the reason for your request? Was it content, frequency or some other reason? Thanks for your help.

He shouldn't have asked. I was willing to let bygones be bygones, but since he asked, I wrote him an email that basically ripped him a new asshole. Since the below-quoted email directly rebuts the lost Action Alert, it isn't difficult to piece together some of the lies therein:

It's because I'm a Libertarian, not a Republican. I've noticed a few small things over the last few months that have been a little disturbing -- such as little hints on your Website that you're in bed somehow with the Conservative Political Action Committee -- but the thing that finally did it for me was your totally irresponsible and uninformed exhortation on 15 Jan to deny justice in the Microsoft case.

You Microsoft bigots seem to think that the world will come to an end if Microsoft is forced to start being responsible for their actions. You even went so far as to claim that 50% of attorneys general constitutes a "vocal minority!"

The most galling statement in your talking points on this issue is the bald-faced lie that "Microsoft has not harmed consumers. Consumers all over the world have benefited from the new choices and low prices provided by the high-tech sector and innovative companies like Microsoft."

Microsoft has not harmed consumers? What do you call THIRTEEN BILLION DOLLARS in damages? That's what it cost in 2001 alone for companies to clean up after the damage caused by virus and worm attacks -- all of which were a direct result of Microsoft's negligence in producing notoriously insecure products.

Consumers have benefitted from new choices and low prices? Since when have I had a choice in whether or not I want Internet Explorer running on my computer? Are you unaware of the dirty tricks put into Windows 2000 to FORCE businesses into using Microsoft's server operating systems, instead of the vastly superior products of its competitors? This has been going on since the early 1990's when Microsoft destroyed Digital Research Corporation (after they had shamelessly copied an earlier product by same) by putting specific code in Windows 3.x that made Windows shut down if the computer was running Digital Research's operating system instead of Microsoft's.

By what criteria do you consider Microsoft's exorbitant prices to be "low?" Have you been living in a cave, or dogsledding in Alaska, and missed the news of Microsoft's new licensing schemes? There are some businesses that will have to pay almost double the prices they are paying now -- and Microsoft is doing everything they can to insure that they become "the only game in town."

Innovative? Microsoft has never innovated anything -- all of they've ever done is steal technology from others. In some cases they've not only not paid for the intellectual property they stole, but have actively destroyed the small companies whose inventions have made Microsoft rich.

Microsoft makes Bill Clinton look like a saint by comparison.

The "new choices" and "low prices" that could be benefitting consumers -- IF the nine holdout attorneys general are able to prevail -- are all in the camp of Microsoft's competitors, my friend. Microsoft is doing everything they can, legal or not, to do away with any shred of competition. No single entity in the world today poses a greater threat to the Free Market -- and to innovation -- than Microsoft Corporation.

Add all this to the enormous threat to privacy that Microsoft's new flagship product, Windows XP, presents to people all over the world (your credit card numbers, your gender, your age, your marital status, the names of your children, everything you've ever bought online, everything you've even just looked at, and how long you spent looking at it... all of it going into a
giant database owned by Microsoft... information to be sold to God knows who... information that will be around for God knows how long...)

I'm sorry, but you are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG in your position on Microsoft Corporation and I now see that CSE has other interests that supercede those of a sound, free-market economy.

Thanks for asking. If you guys decide to get your heads screwed on straight at some point in the future please let me know and I'll resubscribe.

Ken Barber

Years later, I found out what CSE really is: a front organization funded chiefly by corporations. And does what it's told to do by its owners. And yes, Microsoft is one of its owners donors. Finally, I understood how CSE could afford to give away all of that swag.

CSE, now known as "Freedom Works" after a merger with Jack Kemp's "Empower America", continues lying to this day about being a "grassroots" organization (Google Russ Walker's name and you'll find press releases peppered with references to himself as a "grassroots leader), and has never disclosed that 85% of their funding came from corporations.

Next: The movie industry's cynical manipulation of professional photographers How Micro$oft endangers the entire world with lies about Windows® security

Thursday, February 16, 2006

More bumper sickness

In my last post, careless readers may have erroneously concluded that, because I despise the Left so vehemently, I must therefore be a Republican. If you're one of those, then I suggest that you invest a bit of time in your own education and review one of the core curricula for Critical Thinking skills: the logical fallacies. Come back here when you can identify which of those fallacies you have committed.

Republican bumper stickers usually don't bother me as much as the Leftie Loonies do. You don't generally see Republicans engaging in character assassination, hate speech, and outright lying -- at least, not plastered all over their (cars') asses. Of course, the religious Republicans try, but they're just wimps -- "the Diet Coke of Evil" -- compared to the asshole Democrats.

Somehow, this is all making me think of the Dicks, Pussies and Assholes speech in Team America: World Police. Lessee, would that make Republicans the Dicks, Religious Republicans the Pussies, and Democrats the Assholes?
So, Pussies may get mad at Dicks sometimes, because Pussies get fucked by Dicks. But Dicks also fuck Assholes, Chuck.
Yeah, that might work. Because in the second Dicks, Pussies and Assholes speech, Gary says,
...sometimes Pussies get so full of shit that they become Assholes themselves.
-- and THAT's certainly true of the Religious Right! But on the other hand, I'm sure there are lots of other ways to apply the Dicks, Pussies and Assholes paradigm.

I don't know. What I do know is that, as far as I know, there is NO ONE in the Democratic Party leadership who actually understands economics, and there are damn few Republicans left who have a clue either. And NONE of them, outside of Ron Paul (R-Texas) seems to understand that public welfare is forbidden in the U.S. Constitution, and is therefore illegal at the Federal level.

But then, Ron Paul isn't really a Republican. He's a Libertarian who ran for Congress on the Republican ticket. Been there for years, and last I heard the Party machinery still refuses to give him any kind of leadership position at all. No committee chairmanships, no "whip" positions, nothing.

It figures. Damn Republicans. They're about about as useless as teats on a boar. At least the Democrites are good for one thing: they're the only ones standing in the way of the Repugnicans taking over completely, and turning the whole damn country into another Iran.

I've always wanted to have my own bumper sticker machine, so I could plaster my own opinions all over my (car's) ass too. Well, as it turns out, there is a number of Web sites out there now where you can do just that. So I designed this one:

-- and uploaded it to bumperactive.com, where you can order one if you want. One dollar from each sticker will go to the Libertarian Party.

I have more neat ideas for bumper stickers I'd like to see. Perhaps I'll write about them some day. One of them says, "WWJD: What Would John Galt Do?"

WWJD -- What Would John [Galt] Do?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bumper Sicker

I don't know why bumper stickers get me so riled up. I guess it's because so many of them are stupid -- and, if you've read my first post to this blog, you know that stupidity is one of my Big Three. And thanks to the U.S. educational system, there is a LOT of stupidity out there supplying grist for my mill.

When I went to high school in the 1960's the U.S. was in a "space race" with the Soviet Union to be the first to land a human on the moon (Earth's moon, to be precise). So in those days, there really was an actual incentive for excellence in high schools, and my high school showed it. We were taught Real Science in those days, by teachers who practiced and valued excellence (but a disturbing number of them retired right after they'd had me for a year!). Even more important, we learned how to think instead of what to think: we had to learn something called "critical thinking" -- a set of skills that, sadly, few of my generation seem to have mastered and even fewer of the subsequent generations. Finally, we were introduced to what is today called the "scientific method"; something that has proved invaluable to me as a bullshit detector in the current Era Of Fraud And Deceit.

Rachel Carson's infamous polemic Silent Spring was published while I was in high school. I bought a copy because science was my passion, and this was billed as a scientific book. I only got a few pages into it before I put it down forever. Looking back, I realize that my bullshit detector was working pretty well, even though there was then no such classification as "environmentalist propaganda". I didn't have to know precisely what it was in order to know what it was NOT.

We now know, of course, how wrong Rachel Carson was -- not only scientifically but morally: her ideas have led to the agonizing deaths of tens of millions of Equatorial peoples to the ravages of malaria. This is more than the total number that were exterminated by Adolph Hitler's bloody regime. But her standard formula of alarmism, disinformation, demonization and a total disregard for the Scientific Method are still alive and very well today in the radical environmental movement that her radical environmental jeremiad spawned. It has also been adopted by all of today's Left, including the officials of the Democratic Party, whom one would think would have an incentive not to engage in rhetoric that is so clearly extremist (not to mention juvenile).

So it is with some disgust that I read the current crop of bumper stickers claiming, "I think, therefore I am / a Democrat".

This is the very same group that daily invents more hate speech to hurl at a sitting President than at any time in memory; the same group that pushes Junk Science in causes from second-hand smoke to obesity to gun control to global warming; the same group that believes that "justice" means depriving producers of the fruits of their labor in order to enrich the unproductive; the same group that believes that there is such a thing as a "right to health care" (meaning, of course, a "right" to force others to pay your expenses for you) -- this group now claims to have a monopoly on Thinking.

What a steaming crock.

To be continued....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Byerly boys, continued

The story so far:

So I've got a couple of yahoos named Matthew and Randall Byerly who want me to sign a "contract" so that I can do some work for them. The contract is so poorly written that I have no recourse if they do not pay me -- in effect, meaning that they're under no real obligation to do so.

I was a bit taken aback. And a bit suspicious. These guys were beginning to look like the McKenzie brothers in a series of comedy skits that Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas did back in the day. And my spider-sense is tingling really bad.

So I sent the Matthew the following email:


Uh, wait a minute.

You want me to sign a contract that places you in my debt, and you want me to extend you credit for up to 30 days.

You have provided no mailing address, either to me or to the Pennsylvania Corporations Bureau.

I can't find any information about you or your company on the Internet, except for a cryptic reference having something to do with railroads.

Why should I want to do business with you under those terms?


His reply wasn't encouraging:

Call me at 1-800-898-0829 opt. 1 or 717-214-4234

Matthew Byerly
Byerly Diversified, Inc
1-800-898-0829 option 1.
That was the entire message. Well, at least he seemed to have a Web presence, even though it does not show up in a Google search. That seems a little weird.

One look at his "web site" and I almost fell over laughing. It looks like somebody spent all of about fifteen minutes creating it! Using some kind of an online tool that auto-creates web sites for you!

After I looked at the HTML source (which you should also do, if you understand HTML) for his "web site," I really did fall over laughing. So I composed myself and sent Matthew Byerly a nice email thanking him for his interest, but declining the contract he'd offered, and wished his business well.

Much to my surprise, he responded. His response proves beyond all doubt that I was dealing with a rank amateur who has no idea what he is doing:

Our business is doing very well. In the future I hope you
find what you are looking for however it will not be with
us as we grow more in the WA area.
Yes, I'll bet his business IS doing very well. When you don't have to pay your subs... well, hell, it's all profit then, isn't it? No expenses! What a business model!

Of course, there's no hint of indignation in his reply, is there? No, no hint at all of a rank amateur who's been caught with his (training) pants down.

The guy wasn't even worth the time it took me to write about him here. But perhaps someone in the future will smell a rat, Google him, and find my obscure little blog that, to my knowledge, only two people read regularly. And no, my mother isn't one of them. She'd be very unhappy about the kind of language I use here sometimes. Not to mention the subject matter!

Besides, my mother has no idea who the hell John Galt is anyway.

WWJD -- What Would John [Galt] Do?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A call from Arkansaw

There's an old joke that Pennsylvanians tell about themselves: "We have Philadelphia on the east end, Pittsburgh on the west end, and Arkansas in the middle."

Yesterday I got a call from "Arkansaw".

I'm going to use real names here because -- well, there's no reason not to. I mean, what are the chances that these two buffoons will ever find their way to this blog and see their names in lights, anyway? I mean, these guys are almost as funny as Bob and Doug McKenzie, eh?

So, I got a voicemail message yesterday from a Randy somebody (can't make out his last name; he sounds like he's not very bright, but it might just be a speech impediment -- I can't tell which) asking if I'm interested in a contract position just across the state line from here.

Well, I'm getting lots of calls from high-tech recruiters these days 'coz I just finished a contract at Intel Corporation. Once you have that on your resume, you're kind of at the top of the food chain, know what I mean? And I've done a lot of contract work in the high-tech industry here in the part of Oregon that we call the "silicon forest". So I'm pretty accustomed to dealing with the "staffing services" (they don't like to be called "agencies" for some reason) through which lots of high-tech personnel are working here, and I'm pretty accustomed to what a standard contract looks like.

I haven't really had any bad experiences with any of the (pardon me) "agencies" for quite a while now. Kelly IT (part of the "Kelly Girls" company) is one of the best. Tek Systems used to be better than Kelly, but they went seriously downhill during the dot-bomb era. 'Way back when, I took an assignment with one called Modis IT. I don't think they're around any more. I called them Modess IT because I felt that I was getting about as much respect as, uh, the product that Modess used to make. Actually, they treated me about as well as a USED one of those products.

So, I had this voicemail from Randy Bartlett (or something like that) amongst a number of other clueless recruiters trying to put me back in to Intel. Which they're not going to do because Intel won't allow a contractor back in until six months after s/he has finished the prior contract. And I just finished a contract there about, oh, a couple of weeks ago now. At least this guy had a job that wasn't at Intel. So I called him back.

He was still hard to understand. After asking several times, I finally decided that his name is Randy Barley, and he's got a one-day gig over across the state line replacing motherboards in a bunch of Dell computers. Sounds like a piece of cake -- I used to supervise people doing that kind of work, for Pete's sake. So I said fine, and he said he'll have to wait until today to send me the contract and info, because -- get this -- something about how he had to obtain an employer ID number before he could get the bid.

HUH??? Did I just hear what I THOUGHT I heard? He doesn't actually have an employer ID number yet? For those who've never been in business in the U.S., that's the number you have to get from the IRS before you can hire employees. It's what businesses have in lieu of a social security number. Why in the heck is he even calling me if he doesn't have an employer ID number yet?

I finally decided that, given how difficult it was to understand him, I must have heard him wrong. So I bade him a good day and waited for his email to arrive today.

What appeared in my inbox is the most unprofessional piece of business communication I have ever seen. Here was the first email:
Hi Ken,
There will be a separate email with information on
the motherboards The pay is $12.00 a unit and net 30,
means that within 30 days after completion of the job and
completed tages [sic] emailed back to us you will receive a
Here is the second email:
Hi Ken,
Attached you will find our contract, please read,sign [sic]
the last page and fax back to us at 717-384-0114. Attached
and below you will find the information on taking the dell [sic]

Byerly Diversified, Inc
And the "contract"? Take a look at this!
QUALXSERV Project Requirements.

1.Technician Representation on Qualxserv Projects.
a.All Technicians will represent themselves as Qualxserv and/or Dell.
i.NO other representation of any business is permitted.

2.Dress Code.
a.Business Casual Men
i.Collared shirt, NO T-shirts, No Computer Business logo's. [sic]
[remainder of dress code snipped]

3.Pre start of contract.
a.Calling the POC will be done 1 - 2 business days prior to start of contract.
b.Representation will be made as per section 1.
[remainder of "Pre start of contract" snipped]

4.Arrival on site.
a.Be prompt arrive on time and as per section 2.
[remainder of "Arrival on site" snipped]

5.Completion of work performed and or computer contract completed.
a.Report to be called in 1-800-898-0829,1.
i.Report to include
1.Completion of the days work or contract.
2.The amount of computers completed
3.Any issues that arose during the day.
4.If Possible the supplied spreadsheet filled out and sent in that day.
b.Completion of contract.
i.All supplied spreadsheets must be filled out in their entirety.
ii.They must be sent back to BDI via e-mail within 2 business days of completion of contract. Extenuating circumstances must be approved.

By signing you are agreeing to all the terms of the contract and are legally bound by this contract. You will not be able to directly contract for the Company you are doing work for or Qualxserv for up to 1 year from completion of Contract. You are agreeing to work as a sub contractor for BDI.

This is a contract? Holy crap!

Red flags (not the commie kind, the kind they use on race tracks to signal a wreck) were popping up all over. I can overlook the spelling, capitalization and punctuation errors; lots of people these days somehow made it all the way through school without ever learning to write.

But here's an outfit I've never heard of that wants me to extend them credit for thirty days, and they haven't even provided me with a mailing address! I'm clearly identified as a subcontractor, which means I assume all risks associated with performing the work. I have no protection through labor laws, the work is to be done in another state, and there's not even a street address for the people who are supposed to be paying me!


More red flags: email is hosted at a domain that has no Web presence (go ahead, try to find out anything about 'myibocs.com'), absolutely NO results in Google for "Byerly Diversified, Inc.", NO "Byerly Diversified" in the phone book for their area code, and when you call their toll-free number, the automated greeting sounds like a residence.

Boy, this is starting to smell fishy.

So I dug a little deeper. The area code for the fax number is for central Pennsylvania. Uh oh, that's the Arkansas part. So I went to the Pennsylvania's Secretary of State's office and looked up the corporate filing. Byerly Diversified filed about a year and a half ago. NO officers listed. NO mailing address. NO annual reports filed.

Hmmm, fish odor is getting stronger. Has someone forgotten to wash her vagina?

To be continued....