Friday, June 29, 2007

- For your viewing pleasure Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose"

It's a typical slow summer Friday on Wall street, so naturally, on a day when everyone else is lazing about, I've got mountains of work to do. So rather than ramble on about the government I've found some interesting video to watch.

Those of you who know me, know I tend to be a bit of a geek. I've said many times that I think Thomas Sowell is probably the smartest man in America, and that his book "Knowledge and Decisions" changed my life. A few of you have even tried to read it, and found it to be an informationally dense tome about the specifics of market economics and information theory... not exactly light summer reading. So when non - economists ask me for something to read about economics, I don't usually recommend that book because it's really too specific. Usually I'll point them at two men who are the hero of my hero.

Frederich Hayek was a man who was vastly ahead of his time. His book "The Road to Serfdom", is probably the single most compelling criticism of socialism ever written, but still not particularly accessible to the common man. But one other man's work in Economics transcends all that. Milton Friedman, made Economics into a real and living thing that effected people's lives. He made his ideas so accessible in fact, that his transcendent book "Free to Choose" was actually made into a movie.

So presented here as a link for your lazy Friday enjoyment, compliments of Ideachannel.tv , is Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose".

A streaming version of "Free to Choose"



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Thursday, June 28, 2007

- Pennsylvania has a symptom, but still no disease

Pennsylvania is a fairly rational place compared to much of New Jersey. Personally I think the hill country around Hamburg PA is some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen. I make a twice annual pilgrimage out there every year. Once to go to the Cabelas store, and one more time to do go pheasant hunting at Wing Pointe Lodge. It's a great place. I highly recommend it.

My friends from PA always brag about how in Pennsylvania, you can get a concealed carry permit in 10 minutes by walking into your local police department and showing your drivers license. I'm sure they do a background check etc, but it has always struck me as a profoundly rational place. NJ meanwhile hasn't issued a concealed carry permit to a non law enforcement officer in over 2 decades, so I've always been a little jealous.

Unfortunately, like NJ, and according to The Armed Schoolteacher Illinois, Pennsylvania has it's large, extremely liberal city distorting it's politics too. Today the Black Caucus in the state legislature said that if they don't' get a new gun control law, then they won't vote for the state budget. "No gun control, no cash" is their new motto.

Fortunately, it doesn't seem they have enough state wide power to enforce their (god of puns please forgive me) blackmail. The bulk of the assembly is resolved to not let the rising crime in Philadelphia be an excuse to gut the rights of all the citizens in the state. If it were Illinois or New Jersey, I'm quite sure it would have come down differently.

Alternatively, rather than just punishing the law abiding as gun control legislation invariably does, the speaker of the PA state assembly has proposed putting together a commission to draw up additional legislation to deal with crime control.


That's particularly good news for PA, because it means that their politicians haven't caught the NJ disease yet. At least some of your politicians still act in the interest of their constituents. After dealing with NJ politicians for so long, that kind of lucid public interest makes me a little lightheaded.

If they keep that sort of thing up, I may just pay my extortion (exit) tax after all. I wonder how long it takes to commute to New York city from Scranton?

- Amnesty Update

Once again, the Bush-Kennedy immigration amnesty bill is dead. The general feeling is that Republicans voted against it to prevent wholesale open revolt by their base, and Democrats voted against it to try and make Bush look bad. Whatever the motive, the best interests of the American people have certainly been served.

Personally I can't understand why congressional Democrats who spend most of their time kissing the... rings... of labor leaders, weren't already aware of how damaging this bill would inevitably be to their position. And that it took George W. Bush putting his reputation behind this bill to get them on board with killing it, says what we knew all along, that they still believe that if the ship sinks, only the captain drowns.

Ironically, in this case this ship has sailed away and the captain will probably drown anyway. Bush's legacy will forever be colored by the fact that at the 11th hour of his presidency, he took the good will of the same people who backed him through six years of unrelenting partisan attacks and casually threw it away. He will be remembered as the president who tried to use dishonest backdoor tactics to shove a piece of legislation down the throats of 80% of Americans, with Ted Kennedy as his accomplice. It was a huge mistake, and it will be remembered that way.

And, as usual, both of our Senators from NJ have managed to stay on the wrong side of history by continuing to support amnesty even in the face of it's imminent failure. Way to go boys. At least when you're bought, you stay bought.

- This is embarrasing

When you live in New Jersey you get used to taking a certain amount of kidding. Most of it is adolescent Joe Piscopo stuff "Are you from Jersey? What Exit?!" and the like. Between that sort of thing and being across the river from America's largest city, a place widely known for it's monumental arrogance and it's unfailing belief that civilization ends at the Hudson river, you tend to toughen up pretty quickly. The point is, it takes a lot to make someone from New Jersey hide their beet red face in shame, and cower in the corner. We're made from tougher stuff than that. But to me, this is embarrassing.

This clip is of our recently revived from the dead Senator Frank Lautenberg explaining the tragically misnamed "Employee free choice act." The employee free choice act is a bill designed by the labor unions to deny secret ballots to employees when voting to unionize. Under this bill all union voting would be public and subject to review, by name, by the union looking to take over the business. The natural effect of this bill will be to allow the labor unions to see who voted yes, and who voted no, and then to "assist those employees" in making the right decision. If this conjures an image of Paulie Walnuts with a Louisville slugger in his hand, then you probably have the right idea.

It's hard to see past the all the pandering, and sanctimony, but what this disco era geezer is trying to do, is enact a bill which will give all organized crime thugs a guaranteed living, and open the door to subjecting tens of thousands of people to union strong arm tactics. But to listen to him you'd think he's voting for free baby formula for orphanages. After a decades long career where he had only a passing acquaintance with the truth, he distorts facts with such ease and comfort that even I am embarrassed, and I didn't vote for him. It's clear that it would be just as easy for him to argue that what we need to boost the economy is a nice big dose of tax increases or that the key to ensuring the defense of our country is to slash all that military spending to the bone. Cynical as I am, I'm still amazed how comfortable he seems with being on the wrong side of history.



To be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure I get this whole blogging thing. I don't have a catchy and compelling online persona, or pictures of myself with a "cunning hat". I don't have any real desire at all for personal notoriety. On the contrary, if someone I didn't know were to recognize me on the street I'd probably be mortified, and would spend the next few weeks walking a different route to work every day or some other paranoid nonsense.

I don't have any interest in talking about myself all that much because to be honest, I'm just don't think I'm all that interesting. But I do have this idea which I think is important, and I'm going to put it in bold type so it isn't easily missed. It's the idea that the various governments of the United States and the people that run them, have become the enemy of the people of the United States. To me it's abundantly clear that because of a combination of corruption and arrogance, our government officials no longer serve the interests of the people they represent. And because that's true, I think we should all be doing our level best to get rid of them, all of them.

To be honest, I think I'd be more embarrassed if I didn't at least try.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

- The right thing to do

Courtesy of the folks at hotair.com, we have a perfect example of the right thing to do. Call the RNC and demand a refund. Since they won't listen to us, there is no reason for us to pay them.





The same should go for you unionized Democrats whos jobs will be going to illegal immigrants. Call the DNC and demand your money back.

- How revolutions are born

Yesterday, in a move which was absolutely imperial in it's elitist arrogance, the US Senate has made it perfectly clear what they think of the people of the United States. Polling numbers showed that a whopping 80% of the American public was against the immigration amnesty bill, and taking that into careful consideration, the US senate told them to go F&^! themselves, and voted to revive the bill from the dead. That our two Senators from New Jersey were staunch advocates of this act of overreach I'm sure surprises no one, but that they had so much company seems a fairly new trend.

In this vote the Senate has essentially said to the citizens of the US, that they, the American people, are no longer an important part of the political process. "We few are so much smarter and wiser than you" they said to themselves "that we will do this for your own good, with or without your consent." They have looked carefully at the numbers and have decided that so long as the PAC's, unions, consultants, and media are behind them, they are perfectly willing to get along without the participation or approval of the US citizenry.

Well folks in New Jersey have seen this sort of thing for 2 generations now, and even before that, our state was never a source of that defining American spirit. Much of the US revolution was fought in New Jersey because the British generals believed it was so chock full of royalist supporters that they would own the hearts and minds of the people. So if it were left entirely up to the people of New Jersey, there might not be an America at all. And there might not be one for much longer either if the current trend continues.

In New Jersey, Our rulers disarm us, and we say "That's fine." They tax us to the choking point, higher than any other state in the nation, and we shrug and pass over the cash. They send the sheriff to take our homes so that their friends can build shopping malls, and all we do is continue to feed the alligator hoping it eats us last. Then when one of us finally says he's had enough and tries to leave, they hit him with an mammoth exit tax. Our public officials ignore our laws, abandon our traditions, and spit in the face of most cherished values. They are a true "ruling elite", exempt from the responsibilities of citizenship, but none the less perfectly willing to grant themselves every benefit and privilege. It has never been spelled out more clearly, that to them the desires of American people are a nuisance that they would just as soon not be bothered with.

And now, taking a lesson from our State, the federal government has decided that if the rulers of a little place like New Jersey don't need to worry about what the people want, then they are certainly not going to bothered with it either. They believe that the election can be bought when the time comes, and the simpleton voters will forget all about this by then. Well speaking for myself, I'm not going to forget, and I'm going to do my small time best to make sure no one else does either.

Those of you among the ruling elite should remember that this is how revolutions are born. You may think we aren't an important part of the process, but we feel differently. It may take us a while to get there but in the end, we will treat you with the same respect, or lack of it, that you treat us with. When you ignore the laws because "they shouldn't apply to you", you set aside the only real protection you have from the mob. In the end all tyrants fall, and you will too.

You all have gone too far. And we are going to remember it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

- Anti Amnesty Attack Ads

First a little history... Mickey Kaus over at Slate put out a web wide solicitation for examples of the kind of attack ads that supporters of the immigration amnesty bill could expect to see come 2008. There have been a number of submissions and NRO has put together a short list which once again I'm ripping off:

  • Muchas Gracias, Senor Graham
  • The Love Song of Edward M. Kennedy
  • John McCain — Weak on Immigration
  • Trent Lott — Bad for America
  • Trent Lott Sells Out Mississippi to Illegal Aliens
  • Come Home, Lindsey
  • Lindsey Graham on South Carolina Bigots
  • Lindsey Graham to Taxpayers
  • - Los Estados Unidos y Nuevo Jersey - Si!

    Today is the day that the immigration amnesty bill gets it's first of the three votes necessary to bring it back from the dead in the US Senate, and it's going to be close. Polls show a whopping 80% of Americans are against this bill, but it's supporters have been using all the tools at their disposal to try to make it happen. Specifically, they've gone and promised additional earmark spending of tax payer dollars to win themselves additional votes. Let me say that again... They're spending money taken from the 80% of Americans who are against them, to get people to vote with them.

    In our great state of New Jersey, both our Senators, the as yet un-indicted Bob Menendez, and the prehistoric Frank Lautenberg, are firmly in the yes camp on amnesty. We could surround their offices with a mob bearing torches and pitchforks and it wouldn't change a thing. So it would seem that not only can their votes be bought, but in typical New Jersey fashion, the can be bought cheaply. And since that's so, there is little that we 80% can do during this debate but watch our country be sold away by the very people to whom we entrusted it's care. There are some good folks in the south and midwest who may yet pull it out to save us, but for our part, in New Jersey we're more the "damsel tied to the railroad track" than we are the "Mounty" rushing to save her.

    In the meantime, Ted Kennedy twirls his moustache, and both our Senators stand by like his twisted evil henchmen. Even for someone who's used to this stuff, this is a particularly sad state.

    Welcome to the Estados Unidos of the 21st century. It's a place where all of America has become one big New Jersey.


    Update:

    The vote has come down and America lost. Not unexpectedly, both of our New Jersey Senators voted against the will of 80% of their constituency. Of course, if the bill survives the full run of backroom dealing and taxpayer funded arm twisting, then in the end it will turn out to be something like 76% of their constituency because all of those illegal immigrants will get the right to be citizens.

    I guess no one told the good Senators that those illegal aliens will be taking union jobs away from our contractors who work for the government. I wonder if the union has anyone involved in politics in New Jersey who might be able to get them on the phone and let them know.

    Also, according to some versions, included in the deal is a reprieve from 3 of the last 5 years of back taxes for all illegal aliens. As a New Jersey resident, I'm accustomed to the government giving people who haven't earned it a better deal than me, but the rest if the country must be scorching mad right now.

    Monday, June 25, 2007

    - My favorite gun statistics

    I'm a guy who works in the statistics business. I'm in finance, not politics, but I know enough about math and enough about economics to know when I'm being lied to "by the numbers". Unfortunately, a big part of the argument when it comes to statistics, is that both sides of any argument use them to their advantage. So much so in fact that "both sides spin the data" has become a de rigueur argument of the left to justify any sort of ridiculous lie on their part. And while it's true the right does show the statistics in a light that best supports their position, because their focus is typically on results rather than emotions and intent, the numbers they report usually tend to have a stronger footing in reality.

    The gun debate provides lots of examples of horrendously tortured statistics. For instance, my all time favorite lie of the gun debate is that well known but none the less inaccurate statistic from the anti-gun group "Handgun Control" which states, "5285 children a year are killed in the USA with firearms." Now to the average person unfamiliar with how statistics can be used to distort as well as clarify, this may look pretty persuasive, but if we look a little closer, it's supporting logic falls apart like a house of cards.

    Specifically, "children" in this context includes everyone under the age of 18. That includes gang members and drug dealers, many of whom have enough arrests by the age of 18 to qualify as career criminals. These are not doe eye 6 year olds finding their fathers loaded pistol on his nightstand, because he's asleep drunk in front of the TV. These are hardened inner city felons who happen to have not yet reached the age of majority, and have already chosen a life of crime and violence.

    In fact, according to John Lott an economist and former Yale Law school researcher, the data in the anti-gun sound bite is even more misrepresented than that: "In 1999 which was a typical year in all respects, there were only 31 accidental gun deaths in the United States involving kids under age 10."

    That's a long way from 5,300. The center for disease control and prevention, publishes some additional data which can provide us with some perspective for that fact. According to them during that same year, 1,260 kids died in motor vehicle crashes, 484 in house fires, 370 were pedestrians run down on the street with cars, 93 drowned in bathtubs, 81 died on bicycles, and of the 31 who were accidentally shot, only 6 of those were accidentally shot by anther child. While the death of even one child is tragic, maybe we should seriously consider the banning of bicycles and making the "Tour de France" and R rated event due to violence.

    Another fun "fact" from the anti gun crowd is the "9 children per day are killed with guns", sound bite. But according to data in the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, in order to get to the "nine children a day" statistic, "children" would have to include people as old as 24 years of age, and even if you allow that stretch, more than 50% of those deaths would be suicides. Unless you believe that the suicide took place because there was a gun available, it's unlikely that making guns illegal would prevent them. In truth, there are plenty of tall buildings and sleeping pills to pick up where lack of guns would leave off. And just like the earlier statistic indicated, after the elimination of those suicides, 70% of the remaining shooting victims, were actively involved in criminal activity at the time of their deaths.

    One of the ways that you can usually tell that a statistic is cherry picked (and is therefore distorting the issue rather than clarifying it) is that it's off all alone without similar statistics to support it. And from that perspective let me toss out a few more little tidbits I picked up from here or there, all of which are supported by reliable government statistics. (I'm not footnoting this stuff... if you're that curious google will end the mystery for you quickly enough)

    - At roughly 2.5 million instances per year, defensive uses of firearms by lawful citizens dwarf the offensive gun uses by criminals. For every one life lost to a gun, between 25 and 75 lives are saved by a gun, and that includes unintentional shootings, homicides and suicides.

    - Medical costs saved by guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are roughly 15 times greater than the costs incurred by illegal uses of firearms.

    - The number of guns in the civilian U.S. population has been increasing steadily for decades, and yet the number of fatal gun accidents has been falling for as long as statistics have been compiled (since 1903). In 1945, there were 350,000 firearms and 18 fatal gun accidents per million Americans. By 1995, although the number of guns in the U.S. had more than doubled, incredibly, there were 850,000 firearms per million with only 6 fatalities per million Americans.

    - Presently, at least 45 percent of U.S. households have firearms in the home. And yet the latest U.S. statistics show that the rates of serious crimes, including homicides with firearms and aggravated assaults, have fallen to record 25-year lows.


    There is no doubt about it, guns are capable of doing great harm. But so is, a car, and so is a backyard pool, and so is a bicycle. I don't claim that guns are so safe that we should give them out at the nursery schools, and neither does anyone else who should be taken seriously. All I claim is that it's possible, (actually according to the statistics it's quite likely) to have a gun in your home, or on your person, and never have anyone unintentionally hurt by it. The irrational and hyperbolic fears of anti-gun advocates are just that. They are totally unjustified, and that's clear when you examine the facts. Those same facts make it abundantly clear that firearms in America aren't as dangerous as we've been led to believe.

    Responsible adults are not made into psychotic murderers by possession of a gun. And knowing that, the drafters of the constitution protected the right to "keep and bear" one. But the main reason they protected that right, was because they knew that someone would be along eventually demanding that we disarm, and they wanted us to have a strong counter argument. Some people have always wanted the peasants disarmed you see, and it's usually the same people who would do things to them that the peasants might object to if they could. Every successful tyrant has always made it their very first step. And toward that end, the tyrant views the gun control advocate as just another useful, if somewhat uninformed fool. So the next time someone tells you we need to get rid of all guns, ask yourself if that person is being fooled, or is doing the fooling. Because they are most certainly one or the other.

    In closing, I want to give you my all time favorite "gun" statistic. In my view it's the single most persuasive argument for owning a gun, and it's the reason my seven year old daughter will learn to shoot as soon as she's mature enough to do it safely. In the 20th century, roughly 70 million people died in wars, but nearly 200 million people were killed by their own governments. Had those 200 million been armed, they might have had a fighting chance.

    Saturday, June 23, 2007

    - Special Weekend update

    OK I'm going to go ahead and fess up right now, I'm stealing this from National Review Online. But since I'm going shooting with one of their editors next weekend, and he's probably going to shoot up a bunch of my ammo for free, I figure I can get a pass. This is an apparently timeless quote:

    It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers! In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late. Accordingly, I'm readily willing to yield my command to these obviously
    superior intellects, and I'll, in turn, do my best for the cause by writing editorials - after the fact.

    Robert E. Lee, 1863

    Friday, June 22, 2007

    -New Jersey's image problem

    New Jersey has a reputation as the foul smelling, filth spewing, corruption capital of the United States, but it's simply not true. Well, the first two parts aren't true anyway. But the reason our state gets that reputation, is probably because most people only see the heavily industrialized patch of ground between New York City and Newark airport. That area was once a teeming business center, but has long since been laid to waste by generations of liberal "tax and regulate" government policies, and the shattering of the local community by welfare and other big government giveback schemes of the 60's and 70's. Now it's a grime covered placeholder in the state that stands vacantly waiting for the local politicians to learn something about the last 75 years of economics.

    Much of the area looks like some kind of urban post apocalyptic movie set. So much so in fact that when you see it from the highway, your imagination naturally adds the scenes of chain and leather clad biker gangs in hockey masks engaging in internecine tribal warfare over the last gallon of gasoline. Call it Mad Max 5, beyond the Pulaski skyway. I wonder if Mel Gibson would be willing to do a cameo? Anyway, it's a compelling picture of what happens to an urban area when things go wrong on a massive scale, and it creates an image that's really very tough to counter.

    So you would think that for a place with such an image problem, we'd be a little more careful about who we choose as our spokesmen to the rest of the country, but we can't seem to learn our lesson. One of our Senators in Washington right now is Robert Menendez, a Hudson county lawyer who spent his political career hacking and slashing his way up through the Democratic political machine in Trenton. He was appointed to the seat of Senator Jon Corzine, by temporary governor Cody when Corzine was elected to replace Jim McGreevey as governor, after the latter resigned under a cloud of allegations. And our other Senator is the increasingly mummified Frank R. Lautenberg, who was earlier convinced by then still governor McGreevey to retake the Senate seat which Lautenberg had previously retired from, when then senator Robert "The Torch" Toricelli was indicted in his own corruption scandal. If you can keep all that straight without a superior court calendar, let me give you a quick overview of what our current Senate team stands for and how they affect the image of our great state.

    They say the most dangerous place is Washington is anywhere between NY Senator Chuck Schumer and a news crew. But for that, and the fact that his geologic age is beginning to slow him down a bit, Frank Lautenberg would no doubt be known as the most vociferously anti-gun politician in the country. Senator Lautenberg is so anxious to disarm his fellow Americans, that he doesn't believe we should wait until they are convicted of a crime. He has proposed legislation that allows the confiscation of firearms for anyone even suspected of being a terrorist or on a terror watch list. Given the Senators past position, I'm betting that will be a long list in New Jersey.

    Senator Lautenberg has been a constant friend to those small vocal groups who's PAC's call for more government controls on pretty much anything. He's been a reliable vote for adding restrictions and regulations to business when consumer groups ask for it, and he's been happy to add his short sighted perspective to whatever bill is fashionable, so long as the thing he's being asked to vote for will put more control of day to day life into the government's busy hands, and will reduce the choices of individual Americans. In short, he's a Paleolithic holdover from the good old days of the Democratic party when socialism at home and appeasement abroad were the order of the day. If his voting record is an indication, it seems that he firmly believes that there is no decision that any American makes, that couldn't be made better by a third level government bureaucrat.

    One of these days, we'll have someone running for federal office in New Jersey who isn't already alleged to be under indictment, and when we do, Frankie's days may turn out to be numbered. Until then we can be sure that he'll be out there letting the rest of the country know that when it comes to political thinking, New Jersey is right out there on the cutting edge of the 1970's.

    Ex-Governor McGreevey asked Frank to return to his Senate seat when Senator Robert Toricelli was forced to resign due to corruption allegations. A few months later, Governor McGreevey himself stepped down very publicly claiming that it was because he was gay. This came as a big disappointment to all the federal investigators and prosecutors who were swarming around Trenton, and were alleged to have plans to indict him later that same week on other corruption charges. The rumor at the time was that they got Frank out of the crypt because he was the only Democrat in New Jersey who wasn't being investigated by someone for something.

    Robert Menendez was also accused of corruption but who in Hudson county politics hasn't? To be fair, The charges came from his opponent in his Senate reelection campaign, and even if it was true (which I do not allege here), it would have been a small time thing at most by New Jersey standards. Still in all, he has managed to make a name for himself on the national level in several ways.

    First, he was the sponsor for the most unpopular "family unification" amendment of the almost universally unpopular Immigration Amnesty bill currently being worked through the back alleys of the system by Ted Kennedy and the Republican leadership. His amendment will expand amnesty from the currently 12 million illegal aliens in this country to all their family members. According to several sources, his amendment will increase the total count of amnesty recipients by nearly another million. Second, he's a vocal supporter of the deceptively named "employee free choice act" which allows unions the tools it needs to arm twist employees by denying them the right to a secret ballot when voting to unionize. After the effect that unions have had on the auto and airline industries, this seems like an attempt to make the rest of the state look more like the no mans land referred to above.

    That's one admittedly dubious corruption allegation and 2 monumentally short sighted but high profile policy proposals in his first elected term. It's going to be a long time between elections if you ask me. And it's damned hard to get people to think of pastoral beauty when all your spokesmen can conjure is images of the Carter administration, and the wage and price control blowout of industrial America. Maybe next they'll propose we make Maureen McGovern's "The morning After" the state song... I wouldn't put it past them.

    So for those of you from other states please try to remember that New Jersey isn't as bad as it may look from there. Much of our state is as rural and beautiful as anywhere in the country. It's just a few square miles, and a few carefully disposed of ballot boxes from Republican districts that make us seem otherwise. There are lots and lots of people here who think just as rationally as the rest of the country. The only problem is we're in a sort of political choke hold. Maybe the next time you pass by that no mans land near New York city, it would help to imagine we conservatives with our overturned school busses formed into a circle in the vacant parking lot, shooting fiery crossbow bolts out at the gathering socialist hoard. I know it feels exactly that way to many of us.

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    - Our "sick" political system

    In a perverse way I'm enjoying the recent national debate about the immigration amnesty bill. To me it seems like one of those science fiction novels where you ask the question "What would the world be like if the whole country was run the same way that New Jersey is?" Many of the people who read this from other states will think that means more mafia run Italian restaurants and a landfill in every pot, but those things aren't really issues in New Jersey. In fact it's a really beautiful place if you can get more than 10 miles away from Newark airport, but that doesn't mean it isn't without actual problems.

    The real problem in New Jersey is that the legislature and the other groups that run the government, the unions, the PAC's and the special interest groups, don't give a whit for the well being of the people. The New Jersey taxpayer is viewed as a troublesome peasant who is too stupid to make decision for themselves. The government staffers treat them like they are to be tolerated because they pay the bills, but shouldn't be involved in the decisions about how they are governed. Those things should be left to "the experts" in office and on their staff.

    This attitude has had predictable results in New Jersey, and strangely, those results are very similar to what we're seeing in the immigration debate. Recently senator Trent Lott was presented with a petition signed by 3,000 or so of the voters from his district calling on him to end his support for the Amnesty bill and he responded by saying: "To think you are going to intimidate a senator, any senator, that way," and then added some mumbling about how he's not influenced by those who've urged him to change his position. Or to put that more succinctly, it seems that he is uninfluenced by his constituents who disagree with him because their disagreement proves that they are too stupid to be worthy of consideration. Man of the people I guess he ain't.

    As a parallel sort of argument, the New Jersey legislature has passed a bill preventing the double office holding that's become so popular among our rulers... well it prevents most of it. According to critics of the bill it makes an exception for dual office holders who have been in place before Feb 2008. So it's a law designed to prevent something that simultaneously forgives the people already doing it. In defense of the bill the most cogent thing Senate president Codey had to say was "If they felt so strongly about it why didn’t they do something about it when they had the chance?"

    ...Stirring. Winston Churchill eat your heart out.

    With any luck, one day in the future they'll put that quote on a monument to the esteemed senator which will no doubt be built by the then governor's relatives, in a no bid contract, all on the taxpayer dime. I can see it now: Here lies Richard J Codey, State Senator and Statesman. "If they felt so strongly about it why didn’t they do something about it when they had the chance?"

    In both cases the lawmakers are trying to make it seem like they are doing what the people would have them do... it is their job after all. But in truth our rulers at both the national level and in the statehouse have nothing but contempt for the people who elected them, and don't have even the slightest interest in their opinion. Polling shows both amnesty and double dipping to be hugely unpopular, and instead of looking at that information as a way to connect with what the people want, our representatives look at it as proof that we're a bunch of imbeciles because we don't agree with them on it.

    From my perspective their motives seem pretty clear. It seems their personal ambitions are much more important to them than the demands of their office. It's been that way in New Jersey for a long time, but now this sickness has also been transmitted to Washington as well. Maybe when it comes to contempt for the people, either Senator Lautenberg or Menendez is a carrier. Or maybe it's a genetic dysfunction that lies dormant until after you win your first election. Either way, it seems to be spreading.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    - No... I haven't chilled...

    I've just been laid up for a few days due to a summer cold. But I've got 3 more essays about half finished, and if I could just manage to stay conscious for a few hours at a stretch I'll finish one up and post it. Naturally it will be all about how I wish we could all just get along, accept the revolution of the proletariat, and embrace all the carbon neutral, environmentally sustainable love that Gaia has for us.... not.

    Update:

    I just wanted to give a little shout out to Don Gwinn over at

    The Armed Schoolteacher.

    Don is another fan of photographer Oleg Volk, and runs a blog poking holes in the Illinois State government and the way it mistreats it's residents. Like me in New Jersey, Don's big issue is the lack of freedom in the Land of Lincoln, particuarly where it concerns the right of self defense. He's had plenty of ammunition to talk about lately. From what I hear, it's no longer enough to simply rule over the peasants there, but now if they get out of line it's become fashionable for the elite to call for the assasination of the upstarts. Also I hear the have some REALLY big deer there. Best of luck with both Don.

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    - Dude ... Chill...

    A few people have gotten back to me on this blog. Most agree with my central thesis, that New Jersey has become a haven for unscrupulous politicians who have abandoned their responsibility to the taxpayers and have chosen instead the easier path of using their authority to enrich themselves and their political associates at the expense of the people. But a few others have taken a different view. If I had to characterize it in a single sentence it would be "Dude, chill out... it's not that bad in New Jersey". Not only do I disagree, but I think this says as much about how bad things have gotten in New Jersey as anything else.

    For a few generations now the government has done nothing but take on more and more of the responsibilities of individuals and collectivize them. It's gone on for so long in fact, that many people are no longer capable of recognizing that those responsibilities actually belong to them. When was the last time someone in New Jersey paid a doctor on their own just as if they were a plumber or a lawyer? Can any of us remember when the major decisions of life didn't involve the government in some way? Birth, childhood, education, marriage, labor, illness, death and any other milestone of modern life cannot be lived in New Jersey without involvement from the government. It's a place where the American dream of being the "self made man", has been slowly eroded over the years. And now it's a state where every man is chained to every other, and the choices about who gets carried and who does the carrying are all made by politicians.

    Our state government in New Jersey believes that a collectivist society is a just society. It believes that if you separate the benefits that government provides from the costs of providing those benefits, then the world will be a better place. Personally I disagree. I can't think of a single restaurant that would be able to stay in business if they intentionally gave the meal to one person and the bill to another. Of course, this assumes that you are interested in actually giving the customers what they want. If you don't care about the customers at all and are only worried about the wait staff, the dishwashers and the bartenders, then it makes little difference. Also this analogy assumes that the restaurant must at least cover it's costs to stay in business, and we all know that's a standard the government is not going to be held to anytime soon.

    Our state government thinks the best way to run the restaurant is to give a meal to whoever is yelling the loudest, and give the bill to whoever is least likely to complain. Then when it turns out that there isn't enough money at the end of the year to keep the lights on, they simply borrow more, extend the debt, and use governmental accounting tricks to hide the shortfall. In reality what will happen is that they'll be forced to present even bigger bills to the customers in the future, but that's OK with them. They're partying today, and will worry about the hangover when it comes. And the main reason it's OK is that the happiness of most of the customer is not a consideration for them in the least. Their only concerns, are for the staff who will need their double pensions soon, and for those few elite customers with whom they have some political connection.

    And that brings us back to my central thesis. In New Jersey, the identity of the person who earned something is considered irrelevant when determining who should get the benefit of it. If you worked harder than someone else and therefore earned more, it only means that you should get more of the bill when it comes due. Only those people with connections actually get the benefits, and it's the politicians who decide who that should be. Personally I don't believe we should leave it up to them anymore. I think they've all proven that they lack the character to do what's right. They've proven that they just can't let us decide for ourselves whether we are willing to do more work to get more benefit. They've decided that they know what we want more than we do. And although we don't have to accept the meal from them if we don't want to, we had damned well better be prepared to accept the bill because they will throw us in jail if we don't.

    It's true that lots of people do pretty well in New Jersey without any connection to the government, but that's more a testament to how easy modern life is and how low our expectations have become. But I'm talking about our future, and times are definitely changing. Every year the government has to borrow more to make up for a greater shortfall, and as the baby boomers begin to retire in the next three or four years, the bills will become gigantic. To use that restaurant analogy, instead of serving the meals, the waiters and dishwashers are about to sit down at the table and demand some free food. When that happens we'll only have a few choices, and each will be more grim than the next.

    We can do what the politicians would have us do and embrace our slavery, or we can leave, refuse to feed the staff, or refuse to pay at all. But the politicians won't like any of those last three. And I don't think it's going to be enough to tell them "dude... chill."

    Saturday, June 16, 2007

    - Principle vs. Principal...

    Truth be known, I admire a great deal about the communist dictatorship which the Soviet Union had established for much of the 20th century. For instance, I own a Moisin Nagant model 91/30 rifle which was very likely used at the battle of Stalingrad. It’s a beautiful rifle, and even though it was made in 1940 and has had thousands of corrosive rounds fired through it, (many of them at Germans) it’s still accurate enough to put 5 bullets in a 3 inch circle at 100 yards.

    Another thing I admire about them was the relative honesty with which they enslaved much of the populations of Europe. There was some talk about this or that, and a little spouting of noble sounding intentions, but at the end of the day they rolled up with tanks and guns and said “You are now all part of the people’s revolution”, which when translated to modern English actually meant, “you are now all our slaves.”

    I can’t imagine it was a lot of fun (although the Hungarians seemed to enjoy it so much that they tried it a second time in 1968), but you have to admire the fact that the Russians didn’t really mince words about it. They didn’t sidle up sideways with promises of free medical care or spousal entitlements or some such, and steal their liberty like thieves in the night. They just powered up in a cloud of diesel fumes, stuck and AK47 in someone’s face and ended the discussion.

    It’s certainly not happening in such a straight forward way in New Jersey. In New Jersey, our government is making us slaves with lies, deception, and one millimeter of gilded chain at a time. If our liberty were a mountain, then they're stealing it a single grain of sand at a time. And over time, they've certainly managed to turn our mountain of individual liberty into a molehill of "permission from the state".

    Economists describe the practice with the phrase, “Diffuse costs with specific benefits.” What that means is the legislature charges everyone a penny, then take 50% of the money they collect and give it to whatever interest group they are interested in. It might be someone who has promised them a lot of votes like a head of the communications workers union, or it might be someone like a real estate developer who has promised their wife a consulting job. It really depends on who the legislator’s contacts are.

    And sometimes there is also the give and take of politics where one politician agrees to support someone else’s thievery in returns for them supporting theirs a little later. The hand of one politician scratches the back of another while they both use their free hands to pick the taxpayers pockets.

    You see, the fact is, government doesn't make anything. They never actually add anything to an economy, they only subtract from it. An economy grows because of production, not consumption, and since they don't make anything, they can only subtract from the total. They are economic parasites, and every penny they spend, every benefit they give out, has actually been taken from the tax payers by force. But the most insidious part of things is when something comes along that looks like it’s going to help you.

    Then the average person is forced to choose between a government grifter who’s promising them a piece of someone else’s pie, or standing up for some vague economic principle which in truth, they don’t even really fully understand. In that circumstance most people will usually say “what the hell, everyone has their hand in my pocket, maybe I should get a little back. And since the politicians know this, they juggle the books around a little and do their best to at least promise everyone a slice of someone else’s earnings. This is how it’s done in New Jersey. It’s a death by a thousand tiny cuts, all because we’ve forgotten the importance of the principle.

    Well maybe next time a politician comes to you and says, “Hey I have this bill here which will put someone else’s money in your pocket” you can find it in your self to tell them “no thanks”. Because the truth is, every time we let them use their authority to redistribute the money, we get a little closer to that Soviet ideal where we are all slaves to the state. Eventually, the state is empowered to make all of our decisions, and we’re all waiting in line for permission to turn on our heat, or drive our cars. It may not look like it when they finally get around to doling out the money to you, but it’s a ticket on the bus to hell that they’re pushing. And we’d all be much better off if we learned to tell them no.

    So did you think to wonder what happens to the other 50% of the money they collect from everyone? Well of course they’re going to be some costs involved in collection and redistribution and there’s going to be an election to buy in November, but those are just the costs of doing business in the state. I know it might seem a little pricey, but the fact is, it’s good enough for government work.

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    - Vote the bastards out!

    A man walks into an empty shop in the Soviet Union and says:
    “Excuse me comrade, but is this the shop with no meat?”
    “No” says the shopkeeper “this is the shop with no cheese, the shop with no meat is around the corner.”
    Every time I vote in New Jersey it reminds me of this joke. Democrats or Republicans, Republicans or Democrats. For us, it doesn’t really matter, both shops are empty.

    They both promise the same thing to slightly different people, and neither one ever has any intention of delivering. Oh there are differences between the parties the same as there is in any other state. But in New Jersey the differences are mostly for the sake of political theatre and don’t really mean anything will actually change.

    Right now it seems the Democrats have the better (that is …more entertaining) story to tell. “The Republicans” they say, “have been filling the pockets of their fat cat corporate political contributors for too long.” “There has been corruption in state and local levels and the fat cats have been getting rich off the tax payer! All this must end!” they insist. And at the last election it did. The people believed them and rewarded their posturing with both control of the legislature, and the governor’s office.

    Meanwhile in the minority, we hear a completely different story from the Republicans. “The Democrats” they say, “have been filling the pockets of their unionized political contributors for too long.” “There has been corruption in state and local levels and the labor unions have been getting rich off the tax payer! All this must end!” Well OK, maybe it’s not that different after all.

    The fact is, New Jersey is on the front lines of the American class war of the 21st century. It’s not a battle between rich and poor or between management and labor. Those arguments were all settled during the Reagan administration when all the warring factions realized that they needed each other. No, the class war of the 21st century is between the civilian population engaged in private business, and those in government who use their authority to simply take what they like from the public, when they like it.

    There are numerous examples of how it’s become a pattern of governance in New Jersey but the "double dip" is probably the most common. Many government employees actually hold down two or more simultaneous full time positions and continue to carry them over fully into retirement when they collect two simultaneous pensions. For those of us in private industry this seems an astounding feat. “How in the world could someone manage to work that hard?” we think to ourselves. “When do they sleep?” Well the latter answer is actually simple… they sleep on the job like everyone else in Trenton.

    The phrase “Good enough for government work” has been a close indicator of the kind of quality assurance we taxpayers should expect for our dollars, but in recent years, it’s been taken to perverse levels. Poor accountability and even poorer performance have become so commonplace that no one in authority to change it is interested in being the first to try to enforce a standard. And if you examine the economic incentives involved, they probably have a point. As a Democrat would likely say “there’s just no percentage in it”.

    So this begs the question "Why don't we just vote all the bastards out?" Ok, I'm game, but then who do we vote in? In order for things to improve we need to replace a bad choice with a good one, and in New Jersey all the people who are interested in working hard and achieving something have honest jobs in the private sector. The people who are interested in working in government are all cut from the same threadbare and filthy cloth. They are all more interested in grabbing power than earning wealth, and are perfectly willing to tell whatever lies they must to whoever they must, to achieve it. The Democrats and Republicans may speak to different people, but the process for both of them is exactly the same. It's like that old Soviet joke, when all the shops are empty, it doesn't really matter what you're shopping for.

    In order to actually improve things we're going to have to find a way to encourage better people into positions in government. But since the people who set the rules are the same people hoping to retire to the Caymans on two or three taxpayer pensions, the odds of seeing a rule change to help the taxpayer is actually pretty small? We can ask them to change things I suppose but to be honest, I don't see anyone in government who's interested in actually giving it to us. It's easier for them to simply "go along to get along". Rather than rocking the boat, they've looked at the numbers and decided it's better for them each to fill their pockets as they can, then slip off to some subtropical tax haven after 20 years or so. Our civil servants aren't our servants any more...civil masters would be a better description of the position.

    Ordinarily, this is the point in the essay where I would usually make some stunningly simple point that would fix 90% of the problem. But in this case where we're faced with trying to find a way under the law to solve a problem where the government itself has become lawless, I just don't see one. When the auditors become corrupt, who do you get to audit them? Who do you get to investigate the corrupt policemen if all the policemen are corrupt? Eventually I suppose we could ask the federal government to intercede, but I have a hard time believing that the people in Washington are all that much better than our local crooks.

    So with an empty space where my brilliant insight would usually be, I guess I'll just tell another joke.

    Another Soviet man was waiting in line for bread for two hours, three hours, four hours and eventually he had had enough.
    "I can't stand this anymore!" he shouted to his friends in frustration. "This is so unjust, they just can't do this to us. I've had all I can take... I'm going to go kill Khrushchev, them maybe we can have some justice!"
    "Excellent comrade" his friends in line all said "don't worry, we'll support you, you have the love of the people."
    So he trundled off through the snow to kill Khrushchev. A few hours later he came back to the line.
    "So comrade" his friends said hopefully "Have you killed Khrushchev?"
    "No" said the man "The line was even longer over there."

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    - Rob from the poor and give to ... whoever.

    In the relative lawlessness of medieval Europe, a man could claim ownership of no more than he was prepared to hold by force. If a potentate in a neighboring region wanted your land, or your horse, or your woman, he would simply come and take it from you if he was able and the law be damned. You had no rights to speak of beyond those you could enforce with arms.

    But occasionally the battle would be so evenly matched that no one would be a clear winner. So rather than spending all their time engaged in combat the lords developed the feudal system. Under that system the men of power and influence would make a deal with each other and avoid most of the direct violence. The peasants still had no rights to speak of, but the lords knew that they needed the peasants to work the field and to bake the bread so it was impractical to have them spend all their time lopping off each others limbs. After all, someone needed to actually build something otherwise there would nothing out there worthy to steal. And heaven knows the lords weren't going to do any of the actual work themselves.

    So the potentates would fight and argue about who gets to steal what from who, and the peasants would go on making the things that the feudal lords would eventually steal from them. It was sort of a protection racket. "You pay me" the Baron of Chambersburg would say, "and I'll keep you safe from that wicked Earl of Princeton." Of course next year come the harvest, it would be the Earl of Princeton demanding that he be paid to protect us from the Baron of Chambersburg, but it was better than having our limbs hacked off.

    In New Jersey, we have a system which is essentially identical to the feudal system... at least from the perspective of the peasants. Our battling lords, the Democrats and Republicans in government, fight back and forth over control without actually making anything, and we peasants, the tax payers, keep making things for them to steal. And just like the medieval peasants, we tax payers don't have any rights to property any longer now that our lords in government have decided to do away with them in the courts.

    Take for example the issue of eminent domain. Thanks to the recent supreme court ruling, Kelo vs. New London, it's now legal for a local government to seize property from it's rightful owner for private development. In other words your local town government can take your home and give it to some private developer so long as they believe it will increase the town's tax base, or can make that claim believably in the courts.

    This was a catastrophic turn for the idea of private property in the US, and many states recognized that ther might be negative consequences to that so they reacted immediately. In the first year after the ruling ten states placed resolution limiting the use of eminent domain on their state ballots for voter approval, and 15 more opened debate considering it. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, South Caroline, Washington, and even highly socialist California all tried to limit what they could easily see would eventually amount to state approved organized crime and wholesale theft of property. In fact according the "Castle Coalition", a property rights group, in the two years since the supreme court decision, 41 of 50 states have now enacted some legislation to limit the abuse of eminent domain.

    ...but naturally...not New Jersey. Our feudal state government doesn't work that way.

    On the contrary, in tiny New Jersey there are currently 64 cases of the local town potentates attempting to force people from their homes to give the land to developers who will agree (officially or otherwise) to support them politically. The list reads like a who's who of the New Jersey political machine.

    Eminent domain is currently being cited as the legal excuse for seizing land for private use in the following towns:
    Aberdeen, Asbury Park, Bayonne, Belmar, Bloomsbury, Camden City, Carteret, City of Burlington, City of Elizabeth, City of Irvington, City of Somers Point, City of Trenton, Cranford, Deerfield Township, Delran, East Brunswick, East Hanover, East Orange, Edgewater, Englewood, Fort Lee, Frankford, Garfield, Gloucester City, Gloucester Township, Hackensack, Hainesport Township, Hainesport Hamilton, Jersey City, Keyport, Lawnside, Linden, Linwood, Lodi Borough, Logan Township, Mansfield Township, Maplewood, Merchantville, Milford Borough, Montclair, Morristown, Neptune Township, Ocean Township, Old Bridge, Oxford Township, Passaic City, Perth Amboy, Pilesgrove, Pleasantville, Plainfield, Plumsted Township, Ridgefield Borough, Riverside, South Amboy, Stratford, Tinton Falls, Town of Newton, Union City, Union Township, Wallington, West Caldwell Township, West New York, and Woodstown Borough.

    It's an impressive and comprehensive list that looks at first glance like there aren't too many towns in the state that are actually absent from it at all. (I'm sure their only holdup is finding a developer with a plan that isn't already busy somewhere else.) The level of contempt being shown by local politicians is staggering. Even the Newark Star ledger a publication not exactly known for it's anti-government bias, has been unable to ignore the most egregious examples. In one example which is cited here:

    Now They Just Steal Land

    A private individual with development plans was forced off of his land, he claims, because he refused to use the developer that the 5 member town council insisted on. It cost him thousands in court costs and lawsuits to try to defend himself, but eventually had to buy into the protection racket or go broke. A simple google search can produce so many other examples that I don't have time to mention them all.

    It's just another horrendous example of how our masters in Trenton and in the local governments are utterly unconcerned about our welfare. They are perfectly happy to continue to fight with each other over control, so long as we keep baking the bread, and tilling the land. Just like in medieval Europe, we make it, and they decide between them who gets to steal it. Just like it says on the Deleware river bridge, "Taxpayers make and Trenton Takes" ... or something like that... I may have misread it.

    Since New Jersey is such a liberal state, it's fairly often that someone publicly conjures Robin Hood. "Take from the rich" they say when they want to enact tax policy, and "give to the poor" when they talk about social programs. After all, that's the modern formula for buying votes for both parties. But what they seem to forget is that Robin Hood didn't steal from the rich and give to the poor... he stole from the government and gave to the civilians. He realized that the law meant nothing if the government was prepared to break it, so he used their tactic of force to try to return some property to it's rightful owners. And to him, determining the rightful owner wasn't a case of which tough guy was in control. To him the rightful owners were the peasants who actually earned it.

    So if I were going to try to take a lesson from history, given the length of the list of towns above, it looks to me like our masters had better be careful if they plan on glad handing it in Sherwood forest around election time.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    - Our rights are limited by the imagination of our Legislators

    Conservatives typically believe that their rights come from god while Liberals usually believe they come from society. In a departure from both of those views, New Jersey State Assemblywoman Joan M. Quigley apparently believes that our rights come from her.

    While commenting on her recently sponsored bill to limit handgun purchases in New Jersey to one gun a month, ( a right which until now was guaranteed by the US constitution) she was quoted as saying "I personally can see no reason why anyone would want to go out and buy guns in multiples." There you have it... there is no need for additional debate because Ms. Quigley can't imagine anyone doing it. And as we all know from civics class, the imagination of our legislators is the ultimate source of authority in a civil society. Well... it may have been taught that way at Hudson County Community College when Ms. Quigley got her degree there, but I think we can all agree that it's hardly the consensus view.

    But lets step away from the issue of rights for a moment and look at this pragmatically. The fact is that all legislation has costs and benefits... well... intended benefits anyway. The legislation as written may or may not actually achieve it's goals, but it will certainly have costs, and since Ms. Quigley's legislation has been tried in a number of other states (who apparently also have legislators with equally limited imaginations) we have plenty of actual data to examine when we're trying to analyze the effectiveness of laws like this. So what is the goal of laws like this and who bears the costs?

    The goal (at least... the stated goal) of legislation like this is to find a way to reduce crime. If you limit the number of guns, the theory states, then you limit the number of gun crimes don't you? Actually, the data says no. Criminals who are going to use guns for crime don't buy them legally, and don't care about a few more laws. Even after this law is enacted they will be able to go to the same black market source and buy the same number of guns they always could.

    In fact studies conducted of criminals in US prisons have indicated that the thing a criminal fears the most is a potential victim who is also armed. They fear it more than police, more than guard dogs, more even that the personal security guards which Ms. Quigley takes with her when she goes out among the unwashed. That means that criminals are actually in favor of more gun laws like Ms. Quigley's because it makes their lives easier and far less dangerous. So who does this new law effect? In short, it will exclusively effect law abiding citizens, the potential victims of crime.

    Ms. Quigley has been in office for some time so we may be a little late to the discussion, but lets see if we can't inspire her imagination by providing just a few quick examples of law abiding people "buying guns in multiples". Imagine the coach of a college marksmanship team. Suppose some private funds became available (from a pro gun alumnus like me for instance) for him to go out and get the best .22 caliber pistols his team could hope for. Under the new law, it's going to take him a year to outfit his whole team. Or suppose a law abiding gun collector dies and a friend and fellow collector is interested in buying his collection from his widow. Under the new law both of these perfectly legal, and perfectly appropriate actions will be effectively prevented.

    "Well how often is that going to happen?!" I can hear the liberals scoff. In truth it doesn't have to happen much to make the legislation a bad idea. We know that it doesn't effect criminals at all because they buy their guns on the black market, and don't care about it being legal. And we know it does effect the law abiding gun owner in a negative way. So why are we bothering with this legislation at all? Maybe the answer lies in some unique insight that Ms. Quigley possesses that the rest of us lack? What else do we know about the esteemed legislator?

    Joan M. Quigley is a white woman who represents the largely minority community of Hudson and Essex counties including Jersey City and part of Newark. And as a Democrat we can assume that she's a firm believer in government's ability to make people's decision for people in a way that would be better than them making them for themselves. Some would say that an attitude like that can detach someone from the will of the people, but the Democratic political machine that northeastern New Jersey is famous for has hardly let that stem their desire to legislate. According to them "The people" need to be carefully managed otherwise they might get it in their heads that it's them in charge instead of their rulers. And that's one thing the political machine can't afford.

    Apart from that though, Ms. Quigley has had a largely unremarkable political career as an obedient if somewhat small time part of the New Jersey Democratic machine. Her days have been spent helping to manage the alleged petty patronage and quid pro quo of one of the most corrupt and inneficient areas of governance in the country. In fact to date, Ms. Quigley has had only one other really notable issue, she was the co sponsor of a piece of legislation which attempted to ban Ann Coulter's book.

    So to summarize, she's a white, book banning, career bureaucrat who is happy to rule over mostly minorities, and who firmly believes that their rights should be limited by what she herself can imagine. For the sake of her constituency I hope she can imagine people with more than one child, or more than one pair of shoes. I hope she doesn't get it in her head that she can't imagine someone making more money than she does, or owning more than one home.

    But the truth is, this is all just silly hyperbole. The real issue revolves around Ms. Quigley's motives. She claims that her motives are to disarm gangs, but if that's really so then she should probably be fired for incompetence.

    But personally I don't believe that's the case. I think she's absolutely aware of who her new legislation will effect. And since that's so, I think she has very different motives for wanting to disarms her constituency, and I think they are blatantly obvious. Personally I think photographer Oleg Volk has said it far better than I ever could:





    Update:

    Oleg Volk produces some of the most inspiring pro liberty messages available anywhere. More examples of his brilliant work can be found at:

    A-Human-Right

    and T-Shirts and caps of his work can be purchased at:

    Liberty Outlet

    I highly reccomend you take a look.

    Monday, June 11, 2007

    - Concertina Wire on the banks of the Delaware....

    "Radio Free New Jersey" is an obvious take off on "Radio Free Europe" which was founded by the CIA in 1950 as part of the cold war. RFE's goal was to combat Soviet domination in Europe by broadcasting the truth about Communism's most miserable economic failures and highlighting where the facts differed from the official soviet version of reality. It was largely an attempt to appeal to the people of Europe by presenting evidence which disagreed with the disinformation of the Soviet machine.

    So the parallels are pretty straight forward. While America may be the last free country in the world, New Jersey is arguably the least free portion of it. And every day our masters in Trenton come up with new ways to intrude into our lives. And again like the peasants of eastern Europe, we're told it's all for our own good.

    Of course, the people of eastern Europe knew better and fled by the thousands. So let me ask you something, when was the last time you heard of someone opening a new manufacturing business in New Jersey? No ? Me either. Now, when was the last time you heard about a manufacturing business closing in New Jersey? Ok I'll admit that sort of thing is less dramatic than sprinting across the minefield, and diving over the barbed wire before the guards can get a bead on you, but I think it identifies a trend.

    A recent Rutgers Economic study showed that between 2002 and 2006, private sector employment in the state dropped by over 200,000 jobs, 70,000 of which were last year. Those aren't "the rich" who are being punished there... those are opportunities for labor which are now gone. And the net change in population matched eastern Europe as well. The same study said that during that same period of 231,565 more people left New Jersey for the rest of the country than moved here, more than double the out migration of three years earlier.

    And although concertina wire on the banks of the Delaware is still a way off, the State has come up with it's own version of "an incentive" to keep people from leaving. In case you haven't heard, our rulers have recently enacted a people's "Exit Tax" where anyone who sells a home in the state of NJ and lists their forwarding address in another state, will need to pay 1% of the selling price of their home as an "Exit Tax". That's 1% of the total price.

    I'll bet it's more effective than guard dogs.

    Saturday, June 9, 2007

    - Fur flies in the "Gun Free School Zone"

    Here is a particularly entertaining example of the kind of debate we see about guns in New Jersey. After the Virginia Tech tragedy the following was published in our local paper:

    While the intent behind the Gun-Free School Zones Act may be good, the results are highly questionable. Clearly, the law has not prevented bad guys with guns from entering a school zone and doing harm. Quite the opposite - it has guaranteed that our schools are completely vulnerable and defenseless, so that those who are bent on destruction can be certain that when they enter a school zone and start shooting, no one will shoot back.

    http://newstranscript.gmnews.com/news/2007/0502/Letters/029.html


    This was followed up with a highly emotional, but thinly argued letter from a liberal woman we know:

    Maybe it's just me, but the thought of teachers, not to mention students carrying concealed, loaded weapons to schools is more horrifying and immoral than I can comprehend.

    http://newstranscript.gmnews.com/news/2007/0509/Letters/073.html

    This was then responded to by the original author:

    The writer finds the idea of responsible law-abiding Americans having the ability to defend themselves to be "more immoral than she can comprehend." She's in distinguished company. Many well known political leaders have taken similar moral positions on the idea of ordinary people being able to defend themselves: Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, Fidel Castro and Adolph Hitler have all shared the same deeply held moral view, and took aggressive steps to ensure that the ordinary civilian remains defenseless.

    http://newstranscript.gmnews.com/news/2007/0531/Letters/073.html

    The author of the first and last articles is my wife. The author of the liberal counter argument is Teja Anderson, the wife of Soap Star Frank Dicopoulos who plays Frank Cooper on "The Guiding Light". The fact of the matter is, while I don't know her well, everything I know about Teja is that she's an unfailingly nice person with nothing but the best intentions. Without exception she is spoken well of by everyone who knows her including my wife. And although I've never met Frank, it's my understanding that he's a kind and generous person who is the definition of class.

    It seems a shame that Teja's attitude makes her so useful for those members of the elected classes who would only take advantage of her good nature. Then again, maybe she's recently had a chance to rethink her position.

    - Keeping New Jersey safe for politicians....

    New Jersey is one of the hardest states in America to legally purchase a firearm. In order to do so, you must first obtain a state “firearms ID card” which involves filling out a form at your local police station, getting fingerprinted twice, and submitting to a background check by the FBI who processes one of the copies of your fingerprints. By statute, the process can take no longer than six months, so as a matter of politically policy, the process typically takes 5 months, 29 days. Once you’ve obtained a F.I.D., you must find an authorized dealer (there are fewer and fewer in the state) and select a firearm.

    If it’s a rifle or shotgun you want to buy, then the process is pretty straightforward. You fill out another purchase permit form, and submit your F.I.D. to the dealer along with some other vital information like your social security number. During the transaction the dealer will make a phone call to the NICS (National Instant Criminal Search) system which is run by the FBI and BATF, to determine if you have obtained a criminal record or been judged legally insane since the time that your F.I.D. was issued. Assuming that you’re in the clear, the only thing left is for you to pay the dealer, make sure your firearm is in a sealed container and far from immediate reach from your driver’s seat, and take it home.

    If it’s a handgun you’re after, the steps are the same but for one additional step. In order to buy a handgun, you need to apply for a special “handgun purchaser’s permit” from your local police. Typically these permits can only be applied for on one or two days a week during certain hours, so you’ll need to take a day off of work, go down to your local police station and fill out THAT form. This will not only allow the police to make another more detailed check of your background and character, but will also allow them to put your name in a special database reserved for handgun purchasers.

    The order in which you do this is also a little tricky because the permit for purchasing a handgun expires 90 days after it’s issued. Since it often takes longer than that to get a custom handgun delivered from the factory, you had better do all your shopping first.

    Anyway that’s it. That’s the process for purchasing a firearm legally in the State of New Jersey. So naturally you can see that with a process as easy as that, it’s important for our legislators to put in place at least a few more laws which make it more difficult to get a handgun. They’re in the process of doing that very thing this week by attempting to enact one of the dubious, “one handgun a month” laws.

    The theory here is that since some tiny percentage of guns which are purchased in the manner above are actually used to commit crimes, we should try to limit them by restricting all firearms purchases. It’s exactly like banning all cars because some people might drive drunk. Philosophically, it’s called prior restraint, which is the idea that you punish the innocent today on the off chance that they might be guilty of something tomorrow. It's been ruled as unconstitutional all over the country, (including in New Jersey when Jersey City tried to enact a similar law) but like most laws, there is plenty of wiggle room.

    The most ironic part is that only the law abiding will bother to go through the process above. If you are going to use a gun for crime, then you don’t particularly care about its legality. The process for buying a gun “illegally” in New Jersey is much simpler than the legal process anyway. All you need to do is find someone who will introduce you to a criminal who sells them. (Personally I think the best person to call is your local state assemblyman, but realistically, you’ll probably need a slightly better connection than that). When you find that person, you tell them what caliber and type of gun you want and they will usually get you something close. Maybe it’s a gun used in another crime, or stolen for someone else. Either way… you slap down your money, put it in your pocket, and away you go. Very often, it even comes loaded so you don't even have to buy bullets. There are no forms, no background checks, and no one handgun a month. You can buy 10 at once if you have the cash.

    The anti-gun crowd likes to say that no one “needs” more than one gun a month, but that’s hardly a good cause for more law. In fact, there are many collectors who might be in circumstances where they want to buy more than one handgun a month, and those are really the only people who will actually be affected by the law. That bears repeating “The only people who will be affected by the one handgun a month law, are legitimate collectors engaging in a legal activity, not criminals.”

    Countless studies have made it clear that the “one handgun a month” laws have no effect on crime. But if you’re a member of the elected class in New Jersey, there is one thing you want to make sure of and that is that the peasants are unarmed, so whether it accomplishes your stated goal or not is really secondary. The real goal is to make sure that the people you rule don’t have the means to resist your will… you have to make sure that YOU are the only one in any fight who is able to use force. But public relations in government being what it is, you might not want to actually tell the peasants that your goal is to keep them defenseless, so it's better to talk about "fighting crime" whether you'll actually fight crime or not.

    And the real reason for all of this is that after they watch the behavior of you and your elected peers for a while, the peasants may begin to believe that the law doesn’t apply to them either. And when that happens, it’s a lot easier to control an unarmed group than an armed one. Just look at the difference between the way things worked out for Stalin, who disarmed the peasants first, and King George the third, who didn’t.

    One handgun a month is a small step, but a necessary one if we’re going to make New Jersey’s politicians safe. We can worry about impounding the rest of the peasants guns after the election.

    Friday, June 8, 2007

    - The Big Problem...

    If there is a single overriding concept that is constant in New Jersey's political landscape, it's the belief that the citizens are all a bunch of imbeciles who are too childish to be trusted to run their own affairs. Since this is sort of the unofficial party policy of the Democrats, most states have at least a few people in elected office who feel that way, but in NJ, it's hard to find people in office who feel anything else. I don't have a good metric from a reliable source here, but I think I'm safe if I claim that our Republicans are about as liberal as most state's Democrats, and our Democrats are still pondering the labor theory of value as an official state policy. In short, we're screwed.
    Well, that's not entirely true, we're not all screwed. For instance, the recent traffic mis-haps of his majesty governor Corzine have underlined another central principle of New Jersey politics, that the rules only apply to the peasants. So if you are an office holder in NJ, then you aren't screwed. You get to dine out for a few years on the lobbyists and union reps interested in buying your vote, and so long as you aren't indicted while in office (and what are the odds of that) then you get to retire early and collect a pension or two, and continue to enjoy those plum medical benefits till you die, all on someone else's dime.
    Also, if you are a member of one of the mighty civil service unions (including the NJEA ... the teacher's union) then you are not screwed either. Sure union work is soul crushing mind numbing tedium, but on the plus side, the union will move heaven and earth to make sure that you don't have to work very hard, and they will burn the statehouse to the ground before they let anyone implement anything which would resemble accountability for your work. And again, it's an early retirement at full pay, and the best medical benefits available. If statistics hold true, this adds up to about 30 years of looking for the union label on someone's tiny bikini in the Florida sun.
    So I suppose it's actually a substantial number of people in NJ who are doing the screwing instead of being screwed. In fact, ( and this is a hard statistic from a reliable source) the state of New Jersey has roughly 650,000 employees out of a total workforce of roughly 8 million. That excludes employees of the schools, employees of the mass transit systems (which are privately owned but partially state funded) employees of the county and local governments including police, and employees of those private companies who work exclusively as contractors for the government. In short, though great lengths are taken to obscure the actual statistic, we can safely say that something north of 1 person in 9 in the state of New Jersey makes their way in the world by spending money earned by the efforts of someone else. And that ain't no fun if you're the "someone else".
    That isn't to say that teachers don't teach... some of them do. And some of the people in other departments earn their money too. But if they do, it isn't because they are compelled to for any reason beyond their own conscience. There are no incentives in place to make anyone do anything in New Jersey government. And if anyone dared try to put one in place, they would hunt it down and kill it before it spread.
    Thomas Jefferson said "Democracy is when people get the government they deserve" but I don't necessarily agree with that. There comes a point when the people in government begin to see themselves as no longer beholden to the people they are supposed to represent. It's actually a pretty thin line between thinking that "it takes a village" and thinking that it's "actually a village of idiots, so who cares what they think". And when that line gets crossed, as it has by roughly 1 person in 9 in New Jersey, people tend to look after their own personal interests above those which are the charter of their office. They begin to think of themselves as royalty, and regard the peasantry with contempt at best. We've certainly crossed that line in NJ... hopefully it isn't too late to try to take it back.

    So I was thinking....

    My thought was to put something together to be able to talk about how in NJ, we have sort of thrown away the idea of liberty. We seem to be somewhat ahead of the trend in that respect, so I was hoping we could point out some of the more egregious examples as they come up and maybe put a few political feet in the fire. NJ is actually a beautiful place, but politically, it's a cesspool. They have a saying in the south... (Texas and Louisiana) "when it comes to corruption.. thank god for New Jersey".
    Well it's not just the corruption, it's the elitism of our elected class, the shamelessness of our civil service unions, and the general detachment from the vox populi that everyone from dog catcher to Governor seems to embrace the day after election day. There are no idealists in NJ politics, only two competing gangs of thieves, and the people vying to outbid each other to buy their influence.
    Anyway that's my thought... more later