What Would John Galt Do?

A whole different way of looking at "WWJD"

Monday, May 29, 2006

VeHEMenT about that beer!

My friend Dave Wise and I go back a long way. We met a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when I was in the computer repair biz and he called me to come and fix his.

He's a hardcore Libertarian and it didn't take long for our conversation to turn to current events and the various nutcases that were making the news at that time. On my way out the door, he ups and tells me about The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Certain that he was pulling my leg, I laughed and left.

Except that there really IS a Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, and apparently they're based in Portland, Oregon -- not far from where Dave and I were living at the time.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about Portland, Oregon. It's a little town as far as cities go -- less than 400,000 last time I checked. If you take in the suburbs, you have around a million. Pretty small, really: California has several cities with more people than the whole damn state of Oregon.

But Portland has somehow managed to concentrate all of the nastiness of, say, Detroit or Cleveland or The Bronx -- take your pick -- into this nice tiny little package. Former President George H. W. Bush (aka "Bush 41") reportedly referred to Portland as "Little Beiruit".

During the height of the Rock Era, there were a number of bands that would not play in Portland because of its reputation for being "too rowdy". I remember a Fleetwood Mac concert I attended there in the '70's in which some asshole in the audience yelled out, calling Christine McVie a "cunt" during a quiet moment between songs. That's the kind of place Portland is.

I met a man there once who was working on his PhD in criminology at one of the big, well-known Eastern universities. I asked, "what the hell are you doing in little bitty Portland, then?"

"I'm doing my field work," he replied. He continued with a sigh, "Ken, there are more nutcases and wackos per capita in this town than anywhere else in the country, and every criminologist knows it."

Somehow, it's appropriate that The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement is based in Portland, Oregon.

Stupidity is funny. And I don't think you can get much stooopider than this! I couldn't get over it, it just made me laugh every time I thought about these people! It was just too good, and I started hanging out with Dave in hopes of getting some more laughs.

We've had a lot of laughs since. Dave and I stirred up a little trouble back in the day and had a hell of a good time doing it. GOD DAMN, we got some people pissed off at us, and we still laugh our heads off every time we reminisce about it. Oh gawd... Cops, Christians, "Liberals*"... we had 'em all ready to run us outta town with pitchforks, torches and tar.

I was a Republican back then and Dave and I used to have some hell-acious knock-down drag-outs on a local on-line debate forum. But there were also some issues where we agreed. It drove people nuts. I finally had to post a note informing people that Dave and I were good friends that, after calling each other every name in the book (and calling each other's parentage in question to boot) on line, we would get together for a few beers and laugh about the whole thing.

I don't think anyone believed me.

Neither of us lives there any more. He's hundreds of miles away and I'm thousands of miles away. I'm a Libertarian now -- but not because of him. Hell no, it was the charming, persistent Lady of History herself, Tonie Nathan, who converted me. She just wouldn't leave me alone until I switched... She also had a lot of help from the Ayatollahs in the Republican Party that I was in bed with, but that's another story. A damn good one too; I'll have to tell it here someday.

Anyway, Dave was thrilled when I finally came over from the Dark Side. Even though he had nothing to do with it. Well, maybe he should get a LITTLE bit of credit.... heh heh...

But we still disagree often. You see, Libertarians take in a rather broad swath of opinion. He still calls me "asshole" and I -- well, I don't remember what I call him but he probably deserves it!

So anyway, I told you all of that to tell you this: Dave and I have been having a discussion lately regarding whitewater rafting. He keeps trying to steer the discussion to cops and the Police State, and I keep trying to steer it to naked boobs and the appreciation thereof.

So which one us do you think is right? Mmm hmmm, that's what I thought. Most anyone would rather talk about hooters than cops and the Police State.

Okay, now that we've determined that Dave is totally in the wrong, he HAS brought up some interesting points (though not quite as interesting as Lady Lumps) that are probably worth discussing.

Apparently there's a place on southern Oregon's Rogue River called Shady Cove where lots of people like to drift down the river. I am not familiar with that section of the Rogue (it sounds way too tame for me -- unless, of course, the ladies flash their breasts or something); I prefer the wild and scenic section further downriver.

Well, Dave is all pissy because there are <gasp> cops! Standing on the shore! With binoculars! Watching for violators! And our freedoms are (forgive me, I just HAVE to do this) going down the river.... heh heh

I kind of just blew him off at first because I wanted to talk about... well, never mind; you already know what I wanted to talk about. So I just concentrated on the one really stupid behavior that Dave wants to do, but I guess it's illegal or something and the cops will give you a ticket for it: drinking while rafting.

Now, I don't know that particular section of the river. Maybe you CAN drift down that portion while getting yourself blotto'd and not pose a danger to anyone. I know that sure as hell ain't true most anywhere else, and I'm not surprised that there's a law agin' it. And of course where there's a law, there's going to be a cop generating revenue for his municipality enforcing it, regardless of whether it makes any sense at all to do so.

But Dave still has a point; a valid point in my opinion: in cases where an individual is harming no one but himself, Government has no business regulating his behavior. If Dave wants to kill himself by doing something THAT stupid (drinking while floating down the river), it's HIS business, not the Government's.

If, on the other hand, Dave wants to do something that endangers others, then it certainly IS within the proper scope of Government to restrict his actions to that extent -- because the only proper role of Government is to enforce individual rights against others who are more powerful than you.

So, a trucker speeding down a curvy road with cabbage-sized rocks rolling around on his flatbed deserves to get shut down by the cops, because he's endangering the rights (such as the right to life) of others who are travelling that road. [This was the subject of another heated discussion between Dave and me a few years ago. He never could understand what was wrong with hurling rocks from one's flatbed truck at 55 mph.] And a drunk at the wheel of a powerboat is, without question, endangering all kinds of people and property. It MIGHT even be argued (though I'm not willing to do it) that whitewater rafting while impaired somehow endangers others. So I can see why they have such a law.

I also know enough cops to expect them to not have any common sense whatever when it comes to enforcing what is probably a "good" law in some circumstances. Let's face it, folks, cops are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. Most of them aren't terribly bright to start with, and their work environment makes sure that they squelch any temptation to actually THINK for themselves. I've seen state troopers lie on the witness stand to justify a ticket; I've seen a man-hating female officer ruin a man's life when I called to simply ask a few questions about the propriety of a certain man (who WAS a friend of mine) offering my teenaged daughter a massage**. I've seen cops swagger up to the car they just pulled over, their body language screaming "I'm gonna fuck you good" when all the guy did was forget to signal for a lane change. Watching that, and having an opportunity to talk to the victim afterward, put a whole new meaning in my mind to the phrase "cop an attitude".

So, my response to Dave's griping about cops watching the Rogue with binoculars was a little cold. Kinda pissed him off, but I mean, what the hell DO you expect a cop to do? You KNOW they're not terribly bright. You KNOW they get in trouble if they don't write enough tickets. You KNOW they'll lie in court to protect their ticket. And you KNOW that they'll lie in wait like some kind of cat in the tall grass, at the, uh, "watering hole" (heh heh) stalking the "easy prey" instead of doing something that actually improves Public Safety.

You might as well gripe about the fact that my cat sometimes kills birds. Yeah, he's a CAT. What do you expect? And cops are the same way. They don't care about public safety; that's not their role any more. They care about writing tickets, and generating revenue for the municipality. They're predators. That's what they do.

I think Dave is over-reacting when he calls this the Police State. To me, that phrase is more appropriate to describe what the President and Congress are doing to us. Oh, gawd, don't get me started on THAT or I'll be here all night.

In the meantime, maybe Dave should go ahead and enjoy a few beers while he's floating down the river. It's just what The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement would want him to do! Maybe he could take along some ladies to, uh, distract those cops with binoculars....

Dave's website is www.dontflameme.com. Drop by and make sure to send him some flame mail. He lives in an impoverished area and he has no other way to heat the house.

WWJD -- What Would John [Galt] Do?
*"liberal" in the sense of the word as it is misused in the United States; i.e., left-wingers, Democrats and the Parasite Class in general. Put in quotes because these people are actually the OPPOSITE of the definition of the word.

** Yes, what he did was questionable. But was an actual crime committed? The evidence collected says that there was not. But this bitch pig had made up her mind while on the phone with me -- before ANY evidence had been gathered.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Anger! Obscenities!

USA Today headline: "Across USA, wave of anger building over gas prices" (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-05-02-gas-prices-cover_x.htm?POE=NEWISVA)

Well, I'm starting to get angry too. Not about the prices so much, even though I should be. They're a disgrace. But anyone with half an education could have/should have seen this coming, and getting angry isn't going to change any of the facts. It's not rocket science; it's plain and simple economics. Unfortunately, no one learns economics in school any more -- and for that matter, no one learns critical thinking skills either.

So now we three-dollar-per-gallon gasoline, and people are screaming their heads off about it. The U.S. economy grew at an unbelievable annual rate of 4.8% in the last quarter, factory orders are up far more than anyone expected, and the service sector is booming. While the employment figures are not in yet as of this writing, they are expected to show that about 200,000 new jobs were created in the same period.

And people are screaming their heads off over gasoline that costs, after factoring for inflation, no more than it did in the 1980's. Now politicians are pandering to angry voters, promising what they can't deliver while doing everything they can to make matters worse; journalists and pundits are pointing fingers of blame all over the place (except, predictably, at the actual source of the "problem"); and a whole bunch of ignorant consumers are blaming the oil companies for <gasp> actually [caution: obscene word coming] making a profit!!

And now, to top it off, we now have ten attorneys general -- who apparently don't understand either economics OR the Constitution -- suing the Bush administration for not doing enough to screw things up even worse. In at least one of those states (New York), the AG is currently running for Governor. Hmmm, there can't actually be any pandering to angry voters going on now, can there? Oh, no... I'm sure that Mr. Spitzer is <cough> honestly doing his best to <cough cough> help the poor people of New York. Why, I'm sure he's just as honest as any other Democra... <horrible gagging noise>.

You cannot repeal the laws of science. Pass all of the stupid laws you want, and the Earth will keep spinning on its axis, water will continue to boil at 100° C (at sea level, of course), and, in obstinate defiance of diversity, triangles will continue to contain only straight lines.

Gasoline, and the raw materials from which it comes, is a commodity that is bought and sold in a competitive market. There are many suppliers: no monopoly controls the prices and there is no evidence of any shadowy collusion among the oil companies to control the prices either. Its price is determined by the market. Period.

Now, when you have a commodity that is in short supply, its price goes up. When you have a commodity for which demand increases, its price goes up. If you want prices to go down, you must either reduce demand or increase supply. This is pretty basic stuff.

So, the demand for fuels is up because the economy is doing better. That's not bad news, it's good news. And the supply... well, the same people who have been screaming the loudest about the high prices -- and even blaming the current President for them -- have done everything they can over the last 30 years to LIMIT the supply.

We have oil in Alaska. Lots of it. But the same people who are bashing the President -- for a problem THEY have spent the last 30 years creating -- continuously block every environmentally-sound effort to extract it. We also have oil off the coast of California -- but it's the same story. Environmentalists blocked efforts to drill for it decades ago, and now it's somehow George Bush's fault that we have high gasoline prices.

There hasn't been a new refinery built in this country for more than thirty years. But I don't suppose that has anything to do with the Law of Supply and Demand.

You would think that anyone with an education would be able to figure this stuff out. Instead we have people blaming the oil companies, blaming the President, blaming anyone but themselves -- for a problem that anyone with half a brain could see was going to happen someday.

And the stupidity goes on and on. Any time the oil companies [caution: obscene word coming] make more money than what someone thinks is "appropriate", we have politicians promising to take it away from them. Now, anyone who thinks he has a right to decide for someone else how much money s/he should be allowed to make -- really IS obscene.

But we still have politicians who think that they can persuade the oil companies to find and produce more oil by taking away their money when they make "too much" of it. Jimmy Carter tried that in the late 1970's with his "windfall profits tax" that caused domestic oil production to plummet. And the politicians think that this time around, they'll get different results? Isn't making the same mistake over and over, and expecting different results, the definition of "stupid"?

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