Saturday, January 30, 2010

The original Patriot Act

Author Tom Mullen has a post detailing the original sin of American government - adopting the U.S. Constitution.
Don’t get me wrong. If our government were limited to the powers granted it in that document, the United States of America would be far freer, far more prosperous, and likely not facing any of the monumental problems that it is facing now. However, that does not change the facts about why the Constitutional Convention was called or why the Constitution itself was created. . . .

Compared to the overtaxed, overregulated society that is America today, the America of the 19th century was one of astounding liberty and prosperity. However, even America after 1787 had much more government than America in its first decade. We are taught that this was a grave problem and that the Constitution was necessary to avoid imminent destruction from any number of horrors . . .

By 1787, there were two dominant parties in America. Unlike the two dominant parties today, the Federalists and what would later become the Democratic-Republicans of that time really were diametrically opposed on fundamental issues. Led by Alexander Hamilton, the Federalists sought a much more powerful central government with a central bank, a standing army, and an alliance with big business that would control the economy. . . .

When viewed objectively, the very words of the Constitution reveal its true purpose. Constitutionalists often cite Article I Section 8 as proof of the limits on the powers granted to the federal government, but let’s not forget what that section actually says. It begins,

“The Congress shall have the power to…”

What follows is a long list of powers that the central government did not previously have. . . .

Of course, supporters of the Constitution would point out that the first ten amendments to the Constitution are actually a list of specific limits on government. Indeed they are. However, most people miss the point of those precious amendments. They represent the compromise, the attempt to limit the damage that was already done by the original document. . . .
Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Happy birthday, Thomas Paine

The Common Sense, Rights of Man, and Age of Reason author was born 273 years ago in Thetford, England. See my new book, Eyes of Fire: Thomas Paine and the American Revolution, available now on Kindle and soon in print.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Surgery without government oversight

Incredibly, scientists have discovered that nearly 7,000 years ago early Neolithic surgeons successfully amputated the forearm of an elderly man.
And, more remarkable yet, they ensured the patient was anaesthetised and the limb cut off cleanly while the wound was treated afterwards in sterile conditions.
And to think this was done without government oversight, without medical training at a licensed university, without health insurance, and without the blessing of the AMA. We've traveled far since those dark days.

Monday, January 25, 2010

1932: US Military defeats Bonus Army

Did the U.S. military engage in combat operations between the two World Wars? Did MacArthur, Eisenhower, and Patton get involved? Why, yes, it did and they did, right on the military's front lawn. The enemy was WW I vets and their families. In 1932 the vets were in D.C. to get their silver certificates redeemed for silver. They had received the certificates as a bonus for fighting in the inferno of WW I. The House approved the redemption, but the Senate balked. The vets and their families marched, and the military intervened. Their temporary shelters were burned, their families shot at and gassed. Some were killed, including children. Freedom was once again preserved.

Congress "rescues" exploited American Samoan workers

Effective last year, the U.S. Congress raised the minimum wage across all U.S. states and territories, including American Samoa, where half of the private sector workers were employed in one of the two tuna canning factories. Raising the minimum wage made tuna canning an unprofitable venture for the companies, one of which -- Chicken of the Sea -- closed its cannery. Starkist, the other company, is considering pulling out as well.

Peter Schiff writes:
In the case of American Samoa, tuna canners simply could not deliver $7.25 cents per hour of productivity, so their jobs were eliminated. Rather than being employed at $3.26 per hour (the level prior to the minimum wage hike), they are now unemployed at $7.25 per hour. Which do you think is better?

Among the unintended consequences of congressional "benevolence" are rapidly rising consumer prices, due to the higher shipping costs now necessary to bring consumer goods to the islands. Before the minimum wage hikes destroyed most of the canning jobs, lots of canned tuna were shipped from American Samoa to the U.S. (over 50% of the canned tuna in American markets came from American Samoa). One benefit of all the shipping traffic was a low cost of imports, as ships were coming to the islands anyway to pick up the tuna. However, with fewer ships coming to Samoa to pick up tuna, goods are now much more expensive to import.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Eyes of Fire for Kindle

Sample the beginning of Eyes for free. Download it to Kindle, PC, iPod Touch, or iPhone for $3.95. The print version should be available in two weeks or less.

Home-schooler sets sail alone

Sixteen-year-old Abby Sunderland left Marina Del Rey, CA Saturday morning hoping to be the youngest person ever to sail around the globe alone. Her father Laurence built the 40-foot craft, called Wild Eyes. Her brother Zac had held the record until last August, when it was broken by 17-year-old British Mike Perham.
Responding to naysayers, the British-born Laurence said: “You know, the bottom line is, every kid will learn to drive. Do we stop them from driving because they might have an accident? We’re trying to protect the young so much that we stifle their development. ... This is years in preparation and years of work, and I’m very excited for Abigail.” . . . .

The home-schooled Sunderland is taking along textbooks, as well as an iPod, cameras and a journal (she plans to write a book later), and necessities like six months’ supply of dehydrated food, a water purification machine and 60 gallons of fuel for the sailboat’s small motor.

One hard thing about sailing solo is that you often can sleep for only 10 or 15 minutes at a time, Sunderland said.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Eyes of Fire, the book

I've spent most of the last ten days preparing my manuscript on Thomas Paine for publishing. It's an updated version of a screenplay I wrote in 2003 that I found quite interesting when I re-read it last year. The original version got lost in detail and failed as a dramatic piece, though it still made the quarterfinals of the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition that year. A friend who read it said it would be suitable for the History Channel, and I had to agree. The version I'm publishing in book form has, I hope, the right amount of history to make Paine's enormous contributions to American independence intelligible. The book should be available on Amazon later this month or in early February. I call it:

Was Einstein a libertarian?

D. Saul Weiner has an article on LRC today exploring the libertarian aspects of Albert Einstein's thinking. The quotes he cites are interesting, and he got them from I particularly liked this one:
Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.
I am a deeply religious nonbeliever - this is a somewhat new kind of religion.
One of Einstein's comments I strongly disagree with is:
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.
One I wish was included I heard long ago, and I don't know if it's something Einstein said or not, though it sounds like something he would say. When asked what kind of weapons will be used in World War III, Einstein replied:
I don't know what kind of weapons will be used in World War III. But I do know what kind will be used in World War IV - sticks, stones, bows and arrows.

An early George Gershwin song from the musical "Miss 1917"

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