Saturday, July 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Robert A. Heinlein

Robert Anson Heinlein, often called the "dean of science fiction writers," was born 105 years ago today. Heinlein's writing stressed the importance of individual liberty and self reliance, the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought, and the influence of organized religion on culture and government, among myriad other topics.

Heinlein was a prolific writer, his bibliography consisting of 32 novels, 59 short stories and 16 collections published during his life. Four films, two TV series, several episodes of a radio series, and a board game derive more or less directly from his work. Many of his works reference his own "future history,"

Heinlein's juveniles, S.F. novels for young adults, set many a youth on a quest to self-fulfillment and the close examination of the popular wisdom of the day. I count myself among those fortunate youth.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Frédéric Bastiat!

Claude Frédéric Bastiat (30 June 1801 – 24 December 1850) was a French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly.

Bastiat asserted that the sole purpose of government is to defend and protect the right of an individual to life, liberty, and property. From this definition, Bastiat concluded that the law cannot defend life, liberty, and property if it promotes socialist policies, which are inherently opposed to these very things. In this way, he says, the law is perverted and turned against the only things (life, liberty, and property) it is supposed to defend.

Those regular readers of The Tireless Agorist will recall an early essay, The Unseen in Economics, where we explored Bastiat's essay What is seen and what is not seen in political economy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

It's Hemp History Week!

How much do you know about industrial hemp?

Hemp is not Pot

First, let's get one common misconception out of the way. Marijuana and industrial hemp are not the same thing. Let's hear from Dr. David P. West, who holds a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding from the University of Minnesota. (There's lots more information on the myths and realities of hemp and marijuana at the link.)
Botanically, the genus Cannabis is composed of several variants. Although there has been a long-standing debate among taxonomists about how to classify these variants into species, applied plant breeders generally embrace a biochemical method to classify variants along utilitarian lines.

Cannabis is the only plant genus that contains the unique class of molecular compounds called cannabinoids. Many cannabinoids have been identified, but two preponderate: THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient of Cannabis, and CBD, which is an antipsychoactive ingredient. One type of Cannabis is high in the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, and low in the antipsychoactive cannabinoid, CBD. This type is popularly known as marijuana. Another type is high in CBD and low in THC. Variants of this type are called industrial hemp.

The conflation of the word "marijuana" and the word "hemp" has placed a heavy burden on public policymakers. Many believe that by legalizing hemp they are legalizing marijuana. Yet in more than two dozen other countries, governments have accepted the distinction between the two types of Cannabis and, while continuing to penalize the growing of marijuana, have legalized the growing of industrial hemp. The U.S. government remains unconvinced.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Story Updates 6/3/12

For your Sunday afternoon reading pleasure, updates on the TSA's security theatre, California's underground economy, the community roadbuilding project in Hawaii's Polihale State Park, mainstream rejection of FedGov's unemployment statistics, and Tombstone, Arizona's attempts to get the U.S. Government to allow them to repair their domestic water system. As a bonus, we introduce Cato's Police Misconduct website.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

California vs. the Productive Class

California is sinking fast economically, as we explained in States in Budget Crisis.
The Los Angeles Times points out that California placed 48th in a study of business-friendly states, trailed only by New York and New Jersey -- and that was the good news. A few weeks later, the Times reported even more dismal information.

Leading with the news that Chief Executive magazine had named California the worst place to do business for the eighth year in a row, they went on to detail some of the reasons.

Its 10.9% unemployment rate is only lower than Nevada's and Rhode Island’s. A third of U.S. welfare recipients live in California, the report noted. High state taxes and bundles of red tape make operating a business in the state unaffordable to many companies, critics say.

Last year, 254 California companies moved some or all of their work and jobs elsewhere -- 26% more than 2010. Most chief executives in Silicon Valley said they won't expand in the state, according to the survey.
In The California "Austerity" Trap, Robert Upshaw points out that California's expected budget shortfall has mushroomed to $16 billion and in response, Governor Jerry Brown offered a plan that ups the top tax bracket rate by 3% for the next seven years and increase sales taxes by one-fourth of 1 percent for four years.

In response to these woes, California's solution is to attack its underground economy, estimated by the state at between $60 and $140 billion, rather than lowering the tax and regulatory burdens that have driven that substantial portion of the economy underground, as Reason reports.

Friday, June 1, 2012

History Through a Different Lens

Author's Note: The theory advanced here is painted in extremely broad strokes, since I wanted to tell the story in one easily-digestible blog post. I'll expand on particular issues in future blog posts.
As part of the exploration of the transition that society is facing, it would be well worth our while to understand how we got into this sorry mess in the first place.

I often wondered how a society founded on innovation, self-reliance, and respect for the individual and individual choice above all else morphed into the society we see around us today. I found one plausible explanation in the pages of The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, by Kevin Carson.

When I first started reading The Homebrew Industrial Revolution (THIR), I was expecting a technical treatise. However, before the author got to that, he embarked on a tour of the evolution of society during the Industrial Revolution that is, to put it mildly, considerably at odds with the one we all learned in public school.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fondling Fees Expected to Double

You may soon be paying twice the price for that affectionate send-off you receive from agents of the Transportation Security Administration. The Democratic-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an increase in the one-way fee from $2.50 to $5.00, and in the round-trip fee from $5.00 to $10.00. No "two-fer" specials have been announced to date.
The author of the proposal, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said that the current fee structure only covers about one-fourth of TSA's airport security costs and that people who fly should bear a greater cost of TSA's $7.6 billion budget – rather than taxpayers as a whole.
Let's not forget that they're going to need all these funds to expand VIPER, the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams, which have been increasingly a presence in metro stations, ballgames, on highways, in truckstops, and at Amtrak stations. Talk about an appropriate acronym!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Story Updates 5/27/12

If you haven't liked the Tireless Agorist page on Facebook you haven't heard the latest on some of the stories we've reported here. Click the link above and like the page, or use the button near the bottom of the sidebar to stay up-to-date.

Today we've got updates on Detroit, Emily Miller, armed drones, Tombstone, AZ's ongoing water battle, a new source for Phoenix Society type information, and more on the Ron Paul Revolution.