Saturday, March 3, 2012

North Korea's San Sebastián Mines

I just read a post at The Ponds of Happenstance, home of fellow blogger Robert Upshaw, that tells the tale of the rise and fall of the Diamond Mountain Resort, a tourist mecca created in North Korea by Hyundai Asan, a spin-off of South Korea's Hyundai group. After Hyundai Asan invested almost a half-billion dollars in a fancy tourist resort and drew two million visitors from South Korea over a ten-year period, the operation came crashing to a halt when a 53-year-old South Korean woman was shot to death for allegedly entering a restricted area.

South Korea banned travel to the area shortly thereafter. In retaliation, North Korea has seized the remaining assets and intends to reopen the resort, hoping to attract foreign visitors.

My guess? They'll have as much success as the People's State of Mexico had reopening the San Sebastián Mines and the San Sebastián Line.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Why the World Thinks I'm Crazy

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do.

Apple advertising campaign, "Think Different," 1997

From our earliest experiences, we are taught to respect authority. This teaching continues through the socializing experience of our schooling, and its value is proven in the success that people achieve in their careers by learning to "go along to get along." Peer pressure and the media reinforce the lesson every day. It's hardly surprising that those who develop an anti-authoritarian attitude are considered somewhat outside the mainstream of conventional society.

Bruce Levine, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist known as somewhat of an anti-authoritarian himself. He recently published an interesting piece at Mad in America examining the relationship between the mental health profession and anti-authoritarians. He begins by noting a couple of interesting conclusions he's drawn during his career.
In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorder (AD) and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by (1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians, and (2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.
He follows with a definition of the anti-authoritarian personality.

First They Came for the Japanese

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller

Today, on the 70th anniversary of one of our government's most egregious acts against its citizenry, the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II, we should pause and reflect on that story as a cautionary tale. Claire Wolfe has done exactly that, in exquisite form, in Burning in the Camps, published at Backwood Homes Magazine.

Her myth-shattering perspective shines through in this brief quote.
Somehow, “enemy ancestry” rarely extended to German-Americans or Italian-Americans, very few of whom ever ended up in camps. It’s funny that nobody then or now much remarked on the fact that the allies proceeded to make a Gen. Eisenhower their military leader. But then, he looked like “us” and came out of mainstream culture. So his loyalty was unquestioned. So his “enemy ancestry” didn’t condemn him despite a name as German as the Rhine. (Nor should it have, of course, any more than the ancestry should have determined anyone else’s fate.)
As a long-time fan of Claire's work (see my column, Agorism, Country Style, in Hardyville), I'd like to take this opportunity to recommend you acquaint yourself with Claire's writing. Most definitely, do not miss the history lesson and cautionary tale she weaves in Burning in the Camps.

...and that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hijacking the General Welfare Clause

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. - Preamble to the United States Constitution
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; - Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution
It is held as common wisdom, and even as a matter of law, that the "general welfare," as expressed in the Constitution, provides justification for the federal government to involve itself in any area of society which it so desires. Although the Supreme Court has ruled with that understanding for nearly 80 years, as with so much common wisdom, the story is much different when closely examined.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First Amendment (1791-2012) R.I.P.

Lady Liberty, in her guise as the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and specifically "the right of the people peaceably to assemble," has been dragged to the gallows by the Senate, the rope placed around her neck by the House of Representatives, and awaits only the President's signature to drop into the abyss of history.

On February 6, the Senate passed S.358 by Unanimous Consent, moving it on to the House of Representatives, where it became H.R.347.1 On February 27, it passed the House by a vote of 388-3.

The only "no" votes were from Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.), and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). Forty-two Representatives were absent for the vote.

The bill makes it a federal offense to enter a building or grounds without permission or with the intent to disrupt a government function if "the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting" or if said area is "restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance."

Shouting and/or waving signs of protest can easily be construed as disruptive conduct.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Barack Obama - Political Heir to FDR

Playing off the movie “The Artist,” which won Best Picture at The Oscars Sunday, Raising Red Action Fund produced a parody trailer for “The Con Artist,” a movie starring President Barack Obama and nominated for “Worst Picture.” The Daily Caller

While watching this video the black & white production, visual effects, fill footage, music, and title cards reminded me of another era in history. The appearance of the Hindenberg aflame only enhanced the feel of the era -- that of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Careful consideration led me to the conclusion that Barack Obama is, indeed, the heir to FDR.

DC's Plantation-like Gun Control

[Granting Negroes the full rights of citizenship] would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one State of the Union... the full liberty... to keep and carry arms wherever they went.
Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1856)

In my recent column Shall Not Be Infringed, I summarized the four-month ordeal that Emily Miller, the Senior Editor of The Washington Times Editorial and Opinion Pages, underwent in her efforts to legally obtain a handgun as a resident of Washington, D.C. Here's her one-sentence summary.
"Law-abiding citizens have to take a five-hour class that is only taught outside of the District, pay $465 in fees, sign six forms, pass a written test on gun laws, get fingerprinted, be subject to a police ballistics test and take days off work."
After all that, Emily ended up with permission to keep, but not bear, arms. There are no provisions for either concealed carry or open carry within the District. Its citizens must perform their jobs and conduct their daily travels defenseless; only those ordained by the establishment to keep the peace may travel armed. Of course, this includes private, licensed security firms, so the wealthy can travel fully protected by bodyguards; only those not on the top rungs of the economic ladder need be vulnerable to rampant crime.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Who'll Slash the National Debt?

In a 51-page report titled Primary Numbers: The GOP Candidates and the National Debt, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget puts the budget plans of the four GOP Presidential candidates through a detailed review. The results show that only one candidate has a budget plan that will halt the growth of the national debt over the next nine years. That candidate? Ron Paul.

Only one candidate reverses the deficit curve over the next decade. (CRFB graphic)

The plans of Gingrich, Santorum and Romney are similar to a large degree. They all propose big spending cuts, lower taxes, and major changes in Social Security and Medicare. Only Ron Paul proposes a plan that would reduce the national debt over time and protect those currently enrolled in Social Security and Medicare, while giving younger workers the ability to opt out of those plans.