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Freedom

Debt Bondage and Slavery – 21st Century style

debt-prisons-of-victorian-era-england-1

Ariel Schochet, who has served eight stints behind bars in Bergen County [New Jersey], the so-called deadbeat dad roundups trap the men in a system they are never able to climb out of. “We aren’t supposed to have debtor’s prisons in this country anymore, but that’s essentially what this has turned into,” said Schochet, who built up a $278,000 debt to his ex-wife after losing his job on Wall Street.

Inside the world of ‘deadbeat dads’ in Northern New Jersey

Charles Dickens wrote extensively about debtors prisons, having been through this tribulation as a child during his fathers imprisonment for debt in Marshalsea prison in 1824, but even during his lifetime the closure of debtors prisons and the introduction of less punitive bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings appeared to turn the tide back, but it is a tide that has ebbed and flowed both ways over the centuries.

This was nowhere more true than in the United States where bankruptcy laws were enacted in 1800, repealed in 1803, enacted again in 1841, repealed again in 1843, enacted yet again in 1867 and repealed yet again in 1878 – thus the current laws may just be an extraordinarily long hiatus between repeals.

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Cybersecurity and the NSA

Panel discussion from last March, by members of the Federalist Society (that would be the Good Guys’ scholarly law society, as opposed to the American Constitution Society, constituted by the Bad Guys–a.k.a. “Progressives” and “Libruls”–in reaction to the evil awfulness of the Good Guys). Long, but worth it. Pros and Cons of the NSA’s warrantless data collection on Americans, including Constitutional, legal, and practical issues; and a little about the FISA Court.

In particular, Prof. Randy Barnett is his usual cogent and interesting self, and the third gent, Prof. Jeremy Rabkin, is an absolute hoot. The set of presentations is most interesting, and there are good points and food for thought.

Description and cast of characters below the video.

Description:

Published on Mar 25, 2014

The NSA acts pursuant to broad statutory authorities, and has interpreted those statutes to enable vast data collection programs. Two programs in particular, programmatic surveillance of the content of communications and bulk collection of metadata have become the subject of heated public and scholarly debate. Are these programs consistent with the NSA’s mission to gather foreign intelligence and to defend U.S. government information systems? Have the leaks about these programs jeopardized national security, or have they enhanced public accountability? Is there a better way to strike a balance between privacy and security?

The University of Florida Student Chapter hosted this panel discussion during the 2014 Annual Student Symposium on Saturday, March 8, 2014.

Panel 1: “CYBERSECURITY AND THE NSA”
–Mr. Stewart Baker, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
–Prof. Randy Barnett, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown University Law Center
–Prof. Jeremy Rabkin, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law
–Moderator: Chief Justice Ricky Polston, Florida Supreme Court

University of Florida Levin College of Law
Gainesville, FL

A “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” Obamacare

Sad Obama is Sad

A federal appeals court dealt a potentially major blow to President Obama’s health care law Tuesday, ruling that participants in health exchanges run by the federal government in 34 states are not eligible for tax subsidies.

Judge Harry Edwards dissented, calling the challenge “a not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” and warning that the panel’s ruling “portends disastrous consequences.

US court deals setback to Obamacare

Good.

While having some sympathy for those caught up in the ever widening unravelling of Obamacare, folks who just want to make sure that their families can get the coverage they need at a price they can afford, the more nails in the coffin, the better.

Every time we’ve had a court case challenging the validity of Obamacare provisions, libertarians such as myself have hoped and prayed “Let this be it, let it end here…”, but so far it never has.

Why is this important? because it is the last gap in the gobbling up of healthcare provision by the US Government. They’ve taken the usual slow-pace slice-and-dice approach as recommended by Gramsci and other Marxists and are just waiting for the payoff, because when all healthcare coverage is mandated by the state, then it matters little who the actual providers are, it is socialised medicine with all the consequences that come with socialised medicine, postcode prescription, drug panels and ultimately death panels.

Anyone who tells you it ain’t so is lying.

So where do we go from here? Well as sure as eggs is eggs, there will be a lot of lying from the Democrats that this is just a transitory ruling and given the failure of the Supreme Court to actually overturn Obamacare on previous occasions (even with  Chief Justice John Roberts nominally in charge), I am dubious they will do so now, with any decision affecting the healthcare of millions of Americans.

What I expect is another fudged decision – and the inane, stupid and crippling progression of Obamacare across America – destroying freedom, jobs and household budgets along the way…

Quote of the Day.

We are always happy to help the increasing numbers who want to disentangle themselves from the increasingly fruitless practice of tax avoidance.’

An HMRC spokesman.

Some observations of foreign types in crowds

There was some strange behaviour outside my hotel this evening, instead of the usual languid European-style pavement restaurant with a few, mainly elderly residents enjoying their café under an iridescent evening sun as a few blonde haired goddesses drift by aimlessly on bicycles, there was a massed throng of unruly teens and drunken men filling the square in front of my hotel.

I presumed that it was some form of political protest as they were uniformly dressed alike, but apparently not, it was in fact an opportunity to get utterly paralytic on Heineken served in plastic cups while watching a giant TV screen erected at the end of the not-so-very-grand place. I initially presumed they were there to watch the local version of “America’s Next One Hit Wonder” or whatever it is called in The Land of Clogs.

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Now Here, They’ve Got a Point

Courtesy of an Online Pal of mine. :>)

The ACLU is typically thought of as “Leftist”. This is a little bit like ‘when Left meets Right’. Can’t say we weren’t warned.

Thank you for calling the Pizza Palace…

On the 6th of June, 1944…

This young man you see before you, cocky as hell, fit as a Butcher’s dog, hard as nails, and with a fag on, jumped out of a plane over Caen in Normandy from about 1000 feet, along with thousands of his brothers in arms. A 60Lb pack on his back, a Sten gun and a rifle, and a life expectancy of around 20 minutes, according  to War Department estimates.

Dad in uniform age 18 001

He was part of 6th Airborne whose  job it was to support the glider troops who were to take Pegasus Bridge and prevent a German counterattack, until British troops from Gold and Sword beaches could reinforce them. Despite being scattered all over the place, his group finally made it to Pegasus Bridge.

He lasted much longer than that of course, and from that moment on he was at the sharp end of every battle all the way to Berlin and beyond. He was in Holland checking out the cellar of a house when a Panzer tank took out the house above him, and the rest of his platoon. Leaving him buried alive. It took him 3 days to dig himself out. He had a clause in his Will that stated that in the event of his death, his main artery was to be severed, just to make sure, because there was no way in hell he was going to be buried alive again! He was one of the first troops into Belsen, and couldn’t believe his eyes (even after having friends and comrades literally blown to bits next to him) at the sheer horror and depravity that one evil twisted ideology could inflict on fellow human beings. The most heartbreaking thing, he told me was when they tried to feed the inmates from their rations and watched them go into shock and die. They had no idea that could happen. It felt like they had put a gun to their head there and then.

And yes that cocky crazy incredibly brave young man, was my Father in Law. In whom I have immense pride. But what I wonder now, did he fight for? He was told he was fighting for freedom and democracy and the liberation of Europe; The last Righteous War. And he was. Trouble is our Elites and Politicians didn’t let it turn out that way.

Dad in Para uniform latest 001

The Attlee Labour Government  promised paradise on earth after the privations of war (rationing continued until 1954) and won  a landslide victory. They proceeded to Nationalise everything that wasn’t nailed down, and pretty much everything that was too. Then ran the whole country into bankruptcy. From the NHS (the envy of the world! Funny no other country has ever tried to copy it though eh?) to the Welfare state, which was to be a safety net not a lifestyle. Government after Government thereafter (Tory or Labour it made no difference) conspired to manage the decline of Great Britain, not its resurgence.

We spent much blood and much gold and lost an Empire on a very righteous fight for freedom against unmitigated evil. You’d think that Europe would have been grateful eh? Well some of them probably were, but the movers and shakers  like President De Gaulle of France were moving and shaking towards a new, but very old idea… The United States of Europe.

At first they called it the Coal and Steel pact, between France and Germany. Both made interdependent so that Germany could never go to war against France again (by 1945 Germany was so fucked, disgusted and guilty with itself, they never ever wanted to go to war with anyone again, anyway), but with the arrogant French thinking they were going to be the leaders and the Germans the workers in this new world order. Well it didn’t work out like that.

Now a united Germany is the master of Europe, and calls all the shots. The “Ever closer Union” that condescending nutters like traitorous Ken Clarke, believes are just a form of words not a statement of intent, is getting ever closer to becoming The United States of Europe, and with as much democracy as Hitler himself would have allowed.

The Queen is even now laying wreaths with President Hollande (who would probably like to guillotine   her) in the Champs Elysees, and Chuckles Buggerlugs is doing the same in Arromanches where the Mulberry Harbour and Gold beach was, to all those who made such a noble sacrifice on behalf of Liberty and Freedom.

On such anniversaries such as this, and with  bitter tears in my eyes, I wonder if my Father in Law, dead over 20 years now, would have thought it worth the bother .

A Word from Kropotkin

With hat-tip to Bryan Caplan*, of all people!

Parents and schools should be at great pains to see that the children learn this, take it to heart, learn to apply it productively. (I mean, you might know that the horses are leaving piles on the roadway, but the DIY method of taking care of the problem is not to kill all the horses.) It’s one of the main points which libertarianism, the Tea Party movement, and any other sensible political or philosophical group should stress.

In existing States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. If the road between two villages is impassable, the peasant says, “There should be a law about parish roads.” If a park-keeper takes advantage of the want of spirit in those who follow him with servile obedience and insults one of them, the insulted man says, “There should be a law to enjoin more politeness upon the park-keepers.” If there is stagnation in agriculture or commerce, the husbandman, cattle-breeder, or corn-speculator argues, “It is protective legislation which we require.” Down to the old clothesman there is not one who does not demand a law to protect his own little trade. If the employer lowers wages or increases the hours of labor, the politician in embryo explains, “We must have a law to put all that to rights.” In short, a law everywhere and for everything! A law about fashions, a law about mad dogs, a law about virtue, a law to put a stop to all the vices and all the evils which result from human indolence and cowardice.

–Peter Kropotkin,
“Law and Authority”

*Bryan Douglas Caplan is an American economist, a professor of Economics at George Mason University, research fellow at the Mercatus Center, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and blogger for EconLog. Wikipedia

He contributes to econlog.org.

Time to frighten the Horses…

And as we already know, they are already spooked and pooping incontinently all over the Media in a desperate attempt to Drive Old UKIP down. Allegedly the Tory party backroom wonks have done a deal with the Guardian to provide them with scurrilous material on UKIP candidates for both the EU elections and the Local Council ones. What the Tories work with the Guardian… The enemy? Surely not? Oh you betcha!

It’s not just the Guardian though, the whole of the British media has suddenly woken up to the fact that there’s a new game in town, that might just challenge the cosy hegemony  of our current rulers. A party who are actually listening to the views of voters, not condescendingly browbeating them into submission with their Elitist nanny knows best policies.  From the BBC, the Independent to the Mirror and the Sun, even to the Express and the Mail, the boots are stamping on the faces of UKIP candidates that the rest of us have never heard of. I doubt Nigel Farage has heard of half of them.

But then how many of their own candidates do you think the mainstream parties have much knowledge of either. Mr Ed, the Marxist talking horses arse, certainly doesn’t . And he doesn’t seem to live in the same world as the rest of us either.

I won’t bore you by going on about that potato faced twat and PR man, iDave, who is trying to pull the same dishonest trick Harold Wilson did back in the 70’s, by trying to pretend that he can re-negotiate our terms with the EU, because he can’t, and they just won’t give back one iota of power that we have ceded to them. He will pretend (as Wilson did… and Chamberlin in 1939) that he has a cast iron agreement on this piece of paper  wot he has in his hand, and so now we can all vote to stay in, yay! He’s a lying piece of cuntulating shite!

As for the Boy Clegg… well I fear he is heading for the rubber room faster than Gordon Brown and Teflon Tony. He is a creature of the EU, bought and paid for twice over, and he and his party will be going back to holding their Party Conference in a phone booth very soon now.

So what I am saying is…. all of us with UK votes on Thursday , vote UKIP. Are they flakey? Sure! but are they venal dishonest little shits like the rest certainly are? Well some of them possibly. Politics attracts certain personality types, as do the Police and Social Workers, and as Norman Stanley Fletcher once remarked in Porridge, when a tin of his Pineapple chunks went missing… There’s a distinct criminal element in this Nick you know…

Will voting UKIP make any difference? Well in the short term no. They have no UK Parliamentary seats and are unlikely to get many given the implacable  Media opposition they face from every wing of the political spectrum. But I am happy for them to be the major UK party in Brussels and set about smashing up the Gangster Protection Racket that it is from the inside. Let them spend their salary and expenses how they wish, and not vote for anything at all or vote against everything under the sun, because I want out of the EU before the inevitable United States Of Europe is announced by some unelected kleptocrat flunky who calls himself a President, in some time in the not to distant future.

I want my country back. However bad the decisions made by our Parliament, they will be our decisions made by our people for our people, not some distant unelected self chosen Elite with stars in their eyes about new Empires. The EU are a bunch of gangsters.  And do link to Prof Anderson’s rather long article. He may be a very Leftist Historian, but he’s on the money with Europe.

And UKIP really are beginning to scare the horses…

Glenn Beck: Common Core and Education [and Certain Corps., and Progressivism]

A very good Glenn Beck video, uploaded 4/2013. Well worth the 45 minutes. Note well, at 21:26:

I’m not an anti-corporation guy!

But … the thrust of this “education” project is to instill in children anti-capitalist, pro-communistic ideas … to demolish all privacy of both the children and their family members … and to make of them guinea pigs whose bodily, physiological, biochemical states are studied via sensors attached to them. (If this sounds hyper-sensationalized, see the bit starting around 28:30 or a bit past, beginning with Dr. Gary Thompson, of the Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center. However, I have done no research at all on Dr. Thompson nor the Center beyond doing the search to get the link. FWIW, the search turns up results from the Better Business Bureau.)

There is a most interesting article by the by the former award-winning NYC-public-schoolteacher John Taylor Gatto, entitled “The Public School Nightmare,” which is a thorough-going indictment of American “education” and the Prussian system that the early Progressives like Horace Mann and, later, John Dewey foisted off on us. Please read! Excerpts:

When Frederich Froebel, the inventor of kindergarten in 19th century Germany, fashioned his idea he did not have a “garden for children” in mind, but a metaphor of teachers as gardeners and children as the vegetables. Kindergarten was created to be a way to break the influence of mothers on their children. I note with interest the growth of daycare in the US and the repeated urgings to extend school downward to include 4-year-olds.

. . .

A movement as visibly destructive to individuality, family and community as government-system schooling has been might be expected to collapse in the face of its dismal record, coupled with an increasingly aggressive shake down of the taxpayer, but this has not happened. The explanation is largely found in the transformation of schooling from a simple service to families and towns to an enormous, centralized corporate enterprise.

While this development has had a markedly adverse effect on people and on our democratic traditions, it has made schooling the single largest employer in the United States, and the largest grantor of contracts next to the Defense Department.

[ SNIP ]

In the video below, Mr. Beck points out the Shelob-like Department of Education.

(Vouchers are not, in fact, a good idea, except insofar as they might get parents to thinking about where their children might actually get some decent education. This is the gradualist approach, if going cold-turkey is politically impossible. Along these same lines, I read recently that the Charter Schools movement is also turning out to hurt private schooling, since the Charter Schools are still “free,” meaning payed-for by the taxpayer, hence still under the governmental thumb. Whether the alleged Corporate/Charter-school Corruption in the South — Louisiana? I forget exactly — actually occurred I can’t say, but the temptation and possibility are surely there.)

Taxation Based on Land Ownership: A Real-life Example

…[T]he tax real estate law, doesn’t give a whole lot of room for error….*

I’m a staunch opponent of the taxation of property in land, for a couple of reasons, although I agree that in the current climate of political opinion such taxation is not going away, being de rigueur at least “locally” — i.e. usually imposed by the county and city, in the U.S.

Of course, while I don’t agree that it is necessarily true that “taxation is theft,” since there are counterexamples that I can (with some creativity) dream up, I do believe that in the portion of the Vale of Tears in which we find ourselves, property tax is a bane, and would be even worse if it replaced (let alone were added to!) any other form of taxation. (There is a far better, if still imperfect, method of funding necessary government than that of taxation. I do agree we won’t be seeing it anytime soon, though, unless Burt & co. get their interstellar warp-drive up and running stat.)

So, here’s what happened to one person who was unfortunate enough to own her own home. (Considering it was paid off, she’d probably lived there long enough that it was “home” and not merely a house.) Note: One must be honest when reporting, even if it hurts one’s case. The amount in question was $ 6.30, not $ 6.

OK to sell widow’s home over $6 bill, judge rules

Posted: Apr 28, 2014 3:17 PM CDT
Updated: Apr 28, 2014 3:57 PM CDT

BEAVER, Pa. (AP) – A widow was given ample notice before her $280,000 house was sold at a tax auction three years ago over $6.30 in unpaid interest, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled.

The decision last week turned down Eileen Battisti’s request to reverse the September 2011 sale of her home outside Aliquippa in western Pennsylvania.

“I paid everything, and didn’t know about the $6.30,” Battisti said. “For the house to be sold just because of $6.30 is crazy.”

Battisti, who still lives in the house, said Monday that she plans to appeal to Commonwealth Court. That court earlier ordered an evidentiary hearing, which led to last week’s ruling.

Beaver County Common Pleas Judge Gus Kwidis wrote that the county tax claim bureau complied with notification requirements in state law before the auction. She had previously owed other taxes, but at the time of the sale she owed just $235, including other interest and fees.

“There is no doubt that (she) had actual receipt of the notification of the tax upset sale on July 7, 2011, and Aug. 16, 2011,” the judge wrote. “Moreover, on Aug. 12, 2011, a notice of sale was sent by first class mail and was not returned.”

The property sold for about $116,000, and most of that money will be paid to Battisti if further appeals are unsuccessful. An attorney for the purchaser did not return a phone message on Monday.

Joe Askar, Beaver County’s chief solicitor, said the judge got the decision right, based on the law.

“The county never wants to see anybody lose their home, but at the same time the tax sale law, the tax real estate law, doesn’t give a whole lot of room for error, either,” Askar said.

Battisti said her husband handled the paperwork for the property’s taxes before he passed away in 2004.

“It’s bad – she had some hard times, I guess her husband kind of took care of a lot of that stuff,” Askar said. “It seemed that she was having a hard time coping with the loss of her husband – that just made it set in a little more.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

*”…equal, but some are more equal than others.” Call me cynical if you must.

The Pope may also have a tendency towards Catholicism…

…and we all know about ursine silvan defecatary habits…

This staggering gem from the NYT/Daily Mail. I recall when the fun and games started in the ‘stan. There was a twinkly old bar steward “massing” with a fucking hatchet on the Af/Pak border and ranting to the BBC about killing Americans. Above him were the contrails of a B-52. He was (self) impo(r)tently waving his little mashie at the bomber. And he was ponying up from Pakistan’s “restive” tribal areas. Or Hell on Fucking Earth as is better known.

Anyone who sincerely believes the Pakistani government has been our best buds through this farrago which has cost something like 3,000 NATO lives, God knows how many Afghans and you may have noticed how well we’re doing in the Paralympics of late… Well they are demented.

It comes down to this. The USA has had an alliance with Pakistan for many years. In their early wars against India, Pakistan flew largely F-86s, and the Indians got chummy with the Soviets and flew MiGs (they also had some Hawker Hunters and the Pakistanis got some Supermarine Attackers which were truly dreadful but that would detract from the narrative). The Indians still are chummy with the Russians on aerospace which is why the Su-34 has a microwave oven and a proper toilet. It was specced-up and partially designed by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) primarily for India. A great strike fighter (with a microwave!) but they should have fitted (along with the toilet) variable geometry inlets for the engines to get the speed past Mach 2. Because under successive US Admins there has been a bizarre “Game of Thrones” in the spheres of interference and Pakistan landed in the US one and India in the Soviet one for whatever reason. But genuine friends? Seriously?

We know, or ought to know, who our real friends are. The first British DFC awarded to a female pilot came from her (and her crew) flying through an unbelievable shit-storm of fire into a fort (yes a fort!) to rescue a critically wounded Dane, twice – shot down first time around. Now my people stood (with fuck-off axes) against them Scandy sorts but the Battle of Stamford Bridge* was like nigh on a thousand years ago. Since then we’ve made-up and bought Lego and are genuine mates – real allies. This is not blood – though I am Nordic/Celtic ancestry. I have long blonde-ish hair right now and look like I’m about to lead the Éored down the right flank. Good. I like it as does my wife. I am not being racist. Indeed I’m suggesting I am of immigrant blood and blood matters nothing. What matters is culture and if not it’s exact convergence but the mutual understandability. That makes for genuine friendship and not the sub “Game of Thrones” we have with Pakistan and the Afghans. I mean Dear God we liberated Afghanistan so they could impose a law legalising marital rape! When we stormed the beaches of Normandy did we expect to set-up such societies? I have been to France and Germany and they ain’t like that. I haven’t been to Japan or The Republic of Korea (though I have put enough moollah their way) but I have been to the Korean War memorial in DC. That is a memorial to 50-odd thousand soldiers who died to ensure half the peninsula didn’t get over-run by the vilest regime on the planet.

And it isn’t blood, or culture or even religion (I found Turkey very friendly). Well, maybe it is culture. The culture of not being an arsehole. I am sure many Afghans manage it but not the Khazi of Kabul. Though a man not without sin there can be a need for an Atatürk (as we had a need for a Cromwell). Sometimes you need a hard bastard to pull you out of the soup.

Or maybe not. It’s not very libertarian is it? But Turkey would be a complete shit-hole without Mustafa Kemal (insert obvious joke). Mind, the current Turkish PM seems hell-bent on a return to the fucking dark ages.

Or maybe not. The great social changes I have seen in my lifetime have been of the slowly, slowly monkey catching variety. Sometimes you need society to simply change and the biggest change I have seen is probably gay rights. There has been a phenomenal change in that since I was at secondary school.

But fundamentally you don’t choose your friends – your genuine allies – they choose you or you just get on. There is a reason every year the Norwegians ship us a ginormous Christmas Tree for Trafalgar Square. There is a reason Hamid Khazai ships us fuck all (apart from heroin on the sly) – an Eid prezzie would be nice. It isn’t blood or treasure or religion. We simply get on with Norway and we don’t with ‘stan (because they are cunts, largely). That in a sense is what this war is about. Or isn’t. It is an attempt at “nation building”, in shit-holes. I saw on the telly a couple of years back a US Army Cpt taking tea with tribal elders. He was an engineer and wanted to build a bridge employing local labour so they could go to town and get jobs but all the lads had gone off Talibaning. The US officer was very obviously pissed-off. I don’t blame him. He couldn’t say anything, alas. But there was a definite look about him that said, “Well, if that’s their attitude then fuck ‘em”. Of course he offered to build a bridge and not offer the chance to “marry” pre-pubescent girls so he was buggered from the start.

These are not allies in the sense of friends. The French might be founder members of the “Awkward Squad” but I reckon we can vaguely trust ‘em. We can certainly trust some other Europeans and the USA and some of the Commonwealth. We have friends, genuine friends and that is very different from having “alliances”.

I know people I would stand with (if it came to it) to the last gasp and I know they would stand with me but realpolitricks never works in the long term.

I know this post has rambled and I hope it is taken in the right sense. This is not a rant contra Islam and it is not a paean to Nordicology. I am just saying that if you want a genuine friendship which is the utter prerequisite for a real alliance you have to get on rather than manufacture it. And a country that harbours public enemy #1 within a brisk walk of its premier military academy for years is not a friend and should not therefore be regarded as an ally. It is both a strategic and some level a moral failure.

*Some enormous Viking held the bridge with a giant axe until a sneaky Saxon went underneath and skewered the IKEA merchant with a spear up the fundament.

North of the DMZ and beyond the pale.

There has been some crazy news out of everyone’s favourite totalitarian heckhole recently.

First I heard this nugget…

Doctor Who, Top Gear and Teletubbies have apparently passed the suitability test to be shown on North Korea’s tightly-controlled state TV.

After months of negotiation with the BBC, the three shows have been deemed worthy of consideration for broadcasting in the totalitarian state.

The country’s state broadcaster, Korean Central Television, is only on air for six-and-a-half hours every day.

Odd choices. Skipping over the tubbies the sight of that Bellendius Maximus Clarkson whizzing around in a Bugatti is almost torture to the poor buggers up there who feel lucky to get a puncture repair kit for their bike. And the Doctor is a rather anti-authority figure which probably wouldn’t fit with the rest of KCT’s output… Although I guesss the Cybermen might go down well with the Kimocracy.

At least a third of the output is spent praising the government of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, while another third extols workers to toil harder for the good of the country.

And I thought endless repeats of “Last of the Summer Wine” was soul-crushing.

But wait…

The weekly television highlight is ‘It’s So Funny’, a long-running comedy show in which two uniformed soldiers perform slapstick sketches in between propaganda lectures about the greatness of North Korea.

Now that’s what I call entertainment! That’s better than Cannon & Ball that is and they were fucking terrible beyond my comprehension. Here’s a modest proposal. We parachute Piers Morgan into the Pyongyang. He’s without a berth and it is a win-win if you ask me. I feel so sorry for the North Koreans.

This speaks volumes…

Likewise, there is no fundamental difference between the way in which North and South Koreans look [The entire peninsula is very ethnically homogeneous in the World and this is an ancient civilization - Nick]. Having said that, however, 60-plus years is not a short amount of time, and the two Koreas did live through two very different worlds. South Koreans now live in one of the world’s wealthiest countries, North Koreans one of the poorest. In particular, the crushing famine that North Korea suffered in the mid-1990s has left a visible impact on North Korean people’s physique. While the average height of adult South Korean men is 171.5 cm (~5′ 7.5″), the average height of adult North Korean men is 165.4 cm (~5′ 5″). Because North Korean youths have become so malnourished, North Korea had to lower the minimum height requirement for its soldiers from 140 cm (~4′ 7″) to 137 cm (~4′ 6″) in 2010. (In contrast, South Korea recently had to extend the maximum height requirement from 196 cm (~6′ 5″) to 204 cm (~6′ 8″) for its conscripts.)

And that is not unrelated to the TV on my wall (Samsung) and the fact I have never bought a single item from North of the DMZ. I mean if they can’t get enough food they ain’t going to break the mould in tech are they? (More on that later). But this isn’t even the end-point of socialism as we understand it and as the socialist Eric Blair understood it. This is not Sweden with toothsome murder mysteries and beer you need a mortgage for. This is Hell run by an insane Satan. This is the prison state as envisaged by Vasily Grossman as the end of Stalinism.

But they have drones you know. Things that sound like they were built in a shed. I have spoken to hobbyists who can do better. At least it ain’t the grotesquely over-budget, under-performing and over-time F-35. I mean that camera… I have a better camera and I’m not on a defence budget here.

But before we simply regard the Kimocracy as risible buffoons it would be be wise to consider this. And also to consider that it is entirely possible to laugh and be revolted at the same time. They are profoundly risible but also profoundly evil. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Prof. David Bernstein discusses the 1905 Supreme Court case “Lochner vs. New York”

Prof. David Bernstein of George Mason Univ. published in 2011 his book Rehabilitating Lochner. So vass ist ziss case Lochner, anyvay?

The Foot of All Knowledge explains:

Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that held that “liberty of contract” was implicit in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case involved a New York law that limited the number of hours that a baker could work each day to ten, and limited the number of hours that a baker could work each week to 60. By a 5–4 vote, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the law was necessary to protect the health of bakers, deciding it was a labor law attempting to regulate the terms of employment, and calling it an “unreasonable, unnecessary and arbitrary interference with the right and liberty of the individual to contract.”

Lochner is one of the most controversial decisions in the Supreme Court’s history….[SNIP]

…and has until recently enjoyed a lousy reputation among the right-thinking (that is, the librul-Progressive, which is to say, not at all right-thinking) legal professoriate.

Professor Bernstein, along with Profs. Randy Barnett and Richard Epstein (as we inferred from his remarks in his last appearance on CCiZ) disagree on that, stout fellows that they are. They talk about legal esoterica such as Freedom of Contract and other stuff that is not for the tender and innocent ears of the Elite (or of various Union leaders or members and their legbreakers and enforcers).

David Bernstein is one of the contributors to Prof. Eugene Volokh’s law weblog The Volokh Conspiracy. (The Volokh Archives going back to 2002 are now found here.) Interviewer Josh Blackman is also an attorney and an Assistant Law Professor at the U. of South Texas. You can read his short summary of the interview at his website. You can also download the interview as a podcast there, watch the video there, click on over to Vimeo and watch it or download it as an mp4 there, or stay here and listen to the audio.

Libertarianism and Conservativism – foes or friends?

F.A. Hayek at the end of his “Constitution of Liberty” (1960) wrote “Why I am not a Conservative” – which is odd as Hayek had (perhaps without knowing it) a good grasp of what actually is a positive conception of conservatism, and a poor grasp of libertarianism.

Hayek rejected the word “libertarian” as “artificial” which is just as well as he was not a libertarian – philosophically or politically.

Philosophically Hayek was a determinist (like so many 19th century and early 20th century thinkers, he assumed that “science” mandated determinism). Hayek took David Hume literally (whether Hume should really be taken literally is a hotly contested issue), the “I” (the human person) is an illusion, as is human choice – a thought does NOT mean a thinker (a reasoning “I”) and as there is no agent (no human being – no reasoning “I”) there is no agency (no free will), actions are predetermined by a series of causes and effects that go back to the start of the universe – and humans (who are not beings) can do no other than we do (we could not have done otherwise – as choice is an illusion).

Politically Hayek claimed to an “Old Whig”, but is hard to see how his philosophical views are compatible with the Whig point of view – which was based on the MORAL value of human free will (it is not an accident that David Hume was not a Whig) . The determinist (such as the Thomas Hobbes) holds that “freedom” is just an absence of external restraint – for example when a dam fails the water is “free” to rush out and destroy towns and so on. “Freedom” (in the determinist view) is not a matter of moral choice (remember choice is an “illusion”) so “freedom” is like taking one’s hand off a clockwork mouse and letting this clockwork mouse go around on the floor. It is hard to see how this “freedom” can be of any moral importance at all – if any view of politics can be based upon it would be a politics of tyranny (exactly the politics that Hobbes did base upon it), after all walls of water from broken dams (and so on) does not sound very nice.

Still does Hayek say anything else about his politics? Yes he does – again in the “Constitution of Liberty” we are told that he supports the “limited state” not the “minimal state”, because (according to Hayek) the minimal state can not be defined and the limited state can be defined.

Hayek is just wrong – the minimal state is easy to define (although very hard to achieve or maintain – an anarchist would argue impossible to maintain or achieve). The definition of a minimal state is one that just uses force only against the violation of the non aggression principle (attacks on the bodies or goods of people or groups of people). It is actually the “limited state” that is hard to define. Limited to what?

Hayek does make some vague efforts to define the “limited state” – for example he says that such a state applies “general rules” that apply to everyone.

O.K. then – everyone is to have their head cut off. Is that a good example of a “limited state”?

Hayek also says that a limited state does not seek to have a monopoly of any service.

O.K. then – everyone but the children of Mr Smith of 25 Silver Street to go to a state school?

Unfair example? O.K. – how about the state hands education and healthcare “free” (at the expense of the taxpayers), but you are free to pay twice (i.e. pay again on top of taxation) to go private? Is this the limited state?

How about you can go to any doctor you like and send your children to any school you like, but the state pays the bill (no matter how big it is), is that the limited state?

Such a state (one that seeks to provide or pay for education, healthcare, old age provision and on and on) will end up spending half the entire economy (and still fail). That does not sound very limited or sustainable – and Hayek (in his attack on the Welfare State) shows he understands this. However, his “limited state” is not defined in a way that prevents it.

Oh dear this post seems to have turned into “why Hayek is crap” which is unfair as anyone (even the best of us) looks terrible if one just concentrates on errors and weaknesses. I will leave the above out if I ever give a talk on this subject (because it sounds terribly negative) – but it needed to be put on record.

So why is Hayek (perhaps without knowing it) insightful about Conservatism?

Hayek’s own definition of Conservatism (given in “Why I am Not a Conservative”) is not good. He just defines it as being opposed to change – so (for example) a North Korean conservative now would be a socialist (or that is the system they have) and a British conservative I (say) 1870 would be a free market person – as this was the system of the time.

Whatever Hayek may have believed that is not a serious definition of Conservatism. But Hayek (again perhaps without knowing it) does give a description of Conservatism – in “Constitution of Liberty”, “Law. Legislation and Liberty” (and other works).

Cosmos not Taxis – spontaneous order (evolved over time) not top down planning. What Hayek called the results of “human action not human design” (it would be have been better to say the results of voluntary action not forced action – but Hayek had philosophical problems with even voluntary design).

Or (in the language of the conservative writer M.J. Oakeshott) a Civil Association not Enterprise Association, a Societas not a Universitas.

Institutions and customs that evolve over time often without people knowing the reasons they are useful – till they are broken.

As Tolkien’s (Tolkien being a Catholic Conservative) character “Gandalf” puts it in the “Lord of the Rings” – “he who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom”.

This is what Conservatism is about – a preference for evolved custom and ways of doing things (ways of living) over imposed “rational” planning by the state.

The state (in the Conservative view) is like the Thrain of the Shire (Tolkien’s) and the Mayor.

The Thrain does nothing in peacetime (in war it is different) – he just farms his estate. And the Mayor is the leading figure at formal dinners (like those of the old Closed Corporations that were the only “urban local government” before the Act of 1835 in England and Wales), he does not order folk about. Families govern their own affairs and do not attack each other (police forces were not compulsory on the counties of England and Wales till 1856). There is plenty of (moral – traditional) authority, but little naked “power”.

I think it is obvious show this view of Conservatism is close to libertarianism (hence “Tory Anarchist”) – a friend not a foe. But is it tied to Hayek and his philosophical opinions?

No it is not – which is why I mentioned Oakeshott and Tolkien (two Conservatives with very different philosophical opinions to Hayek). Both Oakeshott and Tolkien believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise).

Even in the 18th century Conservatives did not follow the philosophical opinions of David Hume (again IF they were his opinions – I repeat this is hotly contested). Neither the Tory Conservative Dr Johnson or the Old Whig Conservative Edmund Burke (a real Old Whig – unlike Hayek) accepted determinism and the denial of human personhood (moral choice – the ability to choose to do otherwise). Edmund Burke and Dr Johnson (the Whig and the Tory) both believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise) and were moral universalists (not just Dr Johnson – but Edmund Burke also, for the T. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson view of his is totally wrong, to Burke it did not matter if something happened in the Middle Ages or right now, in India or America – right was right and wrong was wrong).

Is this the only view of Conservatism?

Of course not – there are other views of Conservatism. For example the statism of Disraeli (with his life long commitment to “social reform” – yuk).

However, that is hardly “doing nothing” (against those who do not themselves aggress against others). The Tauist Old King Log sitting in the shade – rather than Young King Stork “helping” his subjects by eating them.

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