Posts Tagged ‘liberties’

ACC on the Agenda.

1. March 2011

The Arts of Collin County project is finally on the Frisco City Council agenda tonight. In light of this, I’m going to repost links to my old posts about it in the hope that it might change someone’s mind. This project is a bad idea, y’all, and here’s why:

Arts of Collin County.

On the Poor Timing of the ACC.

These two take on both its idealogical failings and fiscal perils. Please read them, pass them on and come out in support of getting the ACC added to the ballot so that the citizens who are going to have to pay for it have a chance to vote on it.

Follow-Up on the PATRIOT Act.

9. February 2011

Well, you all did it, congratulations! The PATRIOT Act failed to receive the necessary two-thirds of votes necessary to pass it on the suspension calendar, so the three provisions that were set to expire will now do so, it seems. They were eight votes short of the two-thirds majority and the eight votes that were being counted upon by the GOP leadership that did not vote for the Act were all tea party freshmen. To them, I extend my greatest thanks.

I know my Representative voted for the legislation again, but if you don’t know how yours voted, you can go here and see. Democrats are italicized, Republicans are not, North Texan representatives are all in the Yea box.

As this was assumed by all–including me, to be honest–to be a sure thing to vote to extend the sunset provision, I believe that this has been an important step in refocusing our nation’s security practices back into the realm of constitutionality and sanity. When we find that the government’s capacity to “keep its citizens safe” (although that is fully an impossibility, but I will address this fact in a separate post) is not diminished after the hopeful retirement of the PATRIOT Act, I hope that we as a nation will see how silly and counterproductive that legislation was.

What good is living “safely” if you are not free to live securely in your person, without fear of arbitrary and unannounced government intrusion therein?

USA PATRIOT Act.

7. February 2011

The USA PATRIOT Act is up for reauthorization in the House tomorrow. Unfortunately, there are only forty minutes of scheduled debate and no opportunities for amendments. Please write your Representative and tell them not to vote for it under these conditions. The PATRIOT Act abridges your rights in the name of national security. A power so unlimited in the hands of the government deserves to be well-regulated and well-debated.

If you would like to write your Representative, I have a form letter below that you may feel free to use, or you may compose your own email.

Representative __________,
I implore you, do not vote for a suspension calendar with the USA PATRIOT Act on it. Though terrorism can be a threat, there are more effective ways to fight it than allowing for a suspension of Americans’ constitutional rights and allowing roving wiretaps, secret searches and other breaches of personal privacy and security.

You certainly have the security of the nation at heart, of that I have no doubt, but I beg you to recognize that by supporting an Act of dubious constitutionality and the restriction of law-abiding Americans’ rights, you might be inadvertently bringing about the end goal of the terrorists: the destruction of the American society which you and I both value so greatly.

Thank you for your time,
YOUR NAME HERE

If you would like to write your Representative but are unsure who that is, you may quickly find that information here.

In Which I Take On a Protectionist.

10. November 2010

This video is an excellent starting point for the topic today. I wouldn’t ordinarily use South Park as a basis for a post, but I think this is fitting.:

You see, whenever I hear people complaining about outsourced jobs, this is all I can think about because it’s usually the only argument the protectionist can come up with. In my experience, I find the most adamant protectionists amongst union members and conservatives whose area of interest is primarily in social conservatism. After my long neglect of twitter, I started logging on and found one user in particular who seemed to fall into that latter category. Naturally, I couldn’t help myself and responded to one of her tweets touting protectionism. After a few rather content-less tweets, she finally produced this:

@alyxwi If you read my profile, it says I am anti-freetrade AGREEMENTS. I am not and never have been against free trade. But the ability to trade freely with anyone in the world and freetrade AGREEMENTS where neither side pays tariffs is not fair and the reason is because the only way it could be is if our economy was equal to the other country’s. We’ve been singing this song for decades. America invents a new technology and decides because of a freetrade agreement to have it manufactured in China. However, China copies the technology in short order and starts selling the product for half the price the inventor does. Of course, they can, because they have no R&D costs to recoup and their manufacturing costs are much lower because they are not paying their workers even half of what American workers make. So time goes on and the original company is driven out of business because of lagging sales…afterall, the same product can be bought for half the price of their model. Their employees all lose their jobs. Once that company goes out of business, the copying company raises its price based on other competitors’ prices.
Just look at the negative trade balances we have with China, Japan, Mexico and Canada. Compare them with the figures even 20 yrs ago. In fact, before NAFTA, we actually had a positive trade balance with Mexico…now the figures are a float in red ink. And to make it worse, the government wants to sign more free trade agreements with South America. We just built a plant in Brazil for GM with stimulus money they were given. We have to realize that the politicians on either side will not stop. They are being paid too well to go along with these programs. The only way we can stop the decline of jobs in this country is to Buy American and be stubborn about it. I’ll guarantee there will be plenty of items you will still need to buy from other countries because there are entire product lines that aren’t even made here anymore!
If you look at the history of America, you will find that its strength & prosperity came after WWII with the industrialization during and following the war.
Economic experts will tell you something different and that’s part of the problem. America was alot better off before experts. I view experts like I do educators…Those who can, do and those who can’t teach (or claim to be experts).

to which I responded with (approximately*) this:

@ConservativeGal Pseudoeconomics can be so alluring, can’t it? Your remarks betray you as a protectionist making a poor attempt at masking herself as a patriot (though coming off more as a nationalist than anything else). One cannot be pro-free trade sometimes, or pro-free trade only when it benefits one’s city/state/country. It is simply inconsistent and does not serve the country well as the basis for fiscal or monetary policy.

Protectionism is what the Fed is (only somewhat inadvertently) doing right now by devaluing the dollar and by extension attempting to boost exports in a way that only a weak dollar can. Too bad that’s going to manifest as skyrocketing inflation in a year or so when the credit markets loosen up. Inflation will kill as many, if not more, jobs as this recession has. And it’ll hit everyone and spur more government spending. That sure doesn’t sound like it’s a good thing.

Protectionism is not realizing that a growing global economy is the result of the growth of emerging market countries and that it helps Americans too. When the Chinese are making our cars more cheaply than American laborers ever could (as a result of the inefficiency of minimum wage laws and union monopolies on blue collar labor) it allows the American car companies to grow their domestic businesses too. It can expand into new markets, it can create new domestic, higher-paying jobs and invest in new capital, thereby creating profits and jobs in other markets and companies.

In addition, we can get cheaper goods and after the initial wave of frictional unemployment, the laid-off workers will acquire other skills and find new jobs, likely doing something taking more skill. See, when we don’t have to waste time and capital on easily produced goods, we can spend our time creating higher-value or higher-quality goods which can be sold at a higher profit margin than the lower-quality goods the foreigners are now producing. And those foreign workers are getting paid much more than they ever have been in their lives before now, so their buying power is much increased, growing their economy and the global economy on the whole. This emerging market provides investment opportunities for American venture capitalists and investment firms, which provides more profit opportunities for Americans.

The alternative is Americans making the same goods they’ve always made. The alternative is more expensive goods everywhere. The alternative is economic stagnation and chilled international commerce. The alternative is weaker international relations, achieved through the absence of international trade. That’s what protectionism, your brand of “free trade”, has to offer. That sure doesn’t sound like it’s a good thing.

You don’t like experts? I’m no expert. I’m a college sophomore. But the principles of economics I’ve put forth here are so noncontroversial, so absolutely basic that they are taught in every macroeconomics class and required for any Liberal Arts student at my school. But aside from that, your absolute rejection of knowledge offered by these thoroughly abhorrent and evil (your idea, not mine) experts casts a veil of ignorance over your argument from the start. Paul Krugman may be a moron in the “intellectual” tradition of Keynes, but Friedman, Hayek, Mises and their intellectual heirs are correct about economics and many of them have doctorates. They’re all well-educated and regarded as experts. Before condemning them all on some hatred for the abstract idea of expertise, think about it. Your doctor is an expert in the human body. Do you wish he were less of an expert? How about the professors at your child’s college, whom you pay to thoroughly and correctly educate him? How about the engineer designing the bridge over which you have to drive every day, or the architect who drew up the plans for the house in which you to live every day? Want them to be less expert?

*I was typing this on my phone around 1 a.m. which resulted in a few incorrectly autocorrected words that I did not see last night. That’s all I changed.

If you disagree with me about anything, I’d love for you to contribute to the discussion.

Nine Years Later.

11. September 2010

We all know what happened on September 11, 2001. No one alive for that can escape memories on this ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. I’d just like to share a few revelations that I came by a few weeks ago that is rather pertinent to today.

In the height of the mosqueversy, my father found himself looking up the footage from the morning of September 11. We watched the coverage from all of the old news shows and the films by people who were in the vicinity that morning. We saw innumerable shots of the planes flying into the buildings, shots which ought to have been unimaginable, but are now accepted as reality. We even saw some clips of the people jumping. Those are really the shots that prompted me to write this.

Can you imagine being in that position? I can’t. You literally have to choose between burning to death or jumping out of a window. Those are your only two choices left to you as a human being about the direction your life will take. Nothing you did made you deserving of this fate. I honestly cannot fathom what it was like to have to make that choice. But there were people that had to.

What right did those terrorists have to put these people in that position? None. There was nothing that justified the indiscriminate murder of these people who had simply gone to work one morning, as they had done for years or decades before. No one should have the ability to put anyone in a position where they have to choose a slow, agonizingly painful death of fire or an eleven second death of free-falling off of the ledge of a building.

I must admit, thinking about what the terrorists did confused and angered me. How could you do this to someone? How could you justify this to yourself? What right do you have to kill these people, or give them the choice between two terrifying deaths? Almost nine years after it had happened, I was still infuriated at these terrorists. No one should be able to force other people to make those sort of choices.

But the fact is that they can. They have, and they very well might again. I’d just like to ask everyone to think about the kinds of horrors that people have done in the name of groups. Religious, nationalistic and social affiliations have caused uncountable deaths over the course of time. The Crusades, the World Wars, all of the civil wars throughout the world, the Ku Klux Klan, the IRA, these are all examples of unnecessary deaths motivated by group ties. The fallacy inherent in that is that these groups are somehow more valuable than the individuals of which they are comprised.

But the individual is traditionally, in America, the exalted form of society. We are guaranteed individual rights by the Constitution and our justice system was set up so that the individual has many protections against the establishment or state. We are spoken to of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that’s what we’ve come to expect. We’ve got to have our lives and liberties in order to get a chance at happiness. But in the name of groups and their all-important goals, we lose liberties and, oftentimes, lives.

Sometimes we–“we” being humans–have the tendency to make important decisions based on the actions of a few in the name of many. Sometimes we tend to ignore the trees for the forest, if I might paraphrase a bit.

What I propose is that we stop hating people based on their group affiliations. Stop hating the Muslims because of what the terrorists did. Stop hating all Americans because of the foreign policy made by a few people who have been dead or out of office for decades. Hell, stop hating all Americans because of the foreign policy crafted by those who have recently left office. If you’re going to hate someone, do it because of what he or she did. If you want to hate me, do it because you hate something I’ve done. Hate me because I insulted you or because I hit you and didn’t apologize or because I wouldn’t let you copy my paper. But don’t hate all libertarians or Americans or white people or women because of what I did. And don’t hate me because I’m an American and you don’t like what some other American did.

What I propose is that we keep the individual at the forefront of our thoughts when we make decisions. Before saying that you can sacrifice the lives of a few because it may advance progress toward a certain goal of a particular group, think about it. The motivations are not the same, surely, but the result may be. People, real, breathing humans, may be forced to make the decision between two certain deaths because of what we do.