Homeland Stupidity http://www.homelandstupidity.us Government is stupid. Discover a better way to organize society. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 02:34:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Military “Cuts”: Don’t Believe the Hype http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/08/20/military-cuts-dont-believe-the-hype/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/08/20/military-cuts-dont-believe-the-hype/#comments Mon, 20 Aug 2012 18:22:58 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=798 ]]> Grover Norquist, the influential conservative activist, recently made some very frank and sobering remarks about the U.S. military budget. Unlike many conservatives, Mr. Norquist understands that American national security interests are not served by the interventionist foreign policy mindset that has dominated both political parties in recent decades. He also understands that there is nothing “conservative” about incurring trillions of dollars in debt to engage in hopeless nation building exercises overseas.

Speaking at the Center for the National Interest last week, Norquist stated that “We can afford to have an adequate national defense which keeps us free and safe and keeps everybody afraid to throw a punch at us, as long as we don’t make some of the decisions that previous administrations have, which is to over extend ourselves overseas and think we can run foreign governments.”

He continued: “Bush decided to be the mayor of Baghdad rather than the president of the United States. He decided to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan rather than reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That had tremendous consequences… Richard Nixon said that America’s national defense needs are set in Moscow, meaning that we wouldn’t have to spend so much if they weren’t shooting at us. The guys who followed didn’t notice that the Soviet Union disappeared.”

When a prominent DC conservative like Grover Norquist makes such bold statements, it shows that public support for a truly conservative foreign policy is growing. The American people simply cannot stomach more wars and more debt, especially with our domestic economy in tatters.

The American people should reject the hype about so-called defense “cuts” from both sides of the political spectrum. When the Obama administration calls for an 18% increase in 2013 military spending, those who propose a 20% increase portray this as a reduction!

Even the supposedly draconian cuts called for in the “sequestration” budget bill would keep military spending at 2006 levels when adjusted for inflation, which is about as high in terms of GDP as during World War II. It’s also more than the top 13 foreign countries spend on defense combined. Furthermore, sequestration only cuts military spending for one year after taking effect. In future years Congress is free to reinstate higher military spending levels — so under sequestration the most drastic case would mean spending $5.2 trillion instead of $5.7 trillion over the next decade.

Is there any amount of money that would satisfy the Pentagon hawks? Even if we were to slash our military budget in half, America easily would remain the world’s dominant military power. Our problems don’t result from a lack of spending. They result from a lack of vision and a profound misunderstanding of the single biggest threat to every American man, woman, and child: the federal debt.

]]>
http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/08/20/military-cuts-dont-believe-the-hype/feed/ 1
Independence Day: 100 Resources for Liberty http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/07/04/independence-day-100-resources-for-liberty/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/07/04/independence-day-100-resources-for-liberty/#comments Wed, 04 Jul 2012 14:00:46 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=705 We in the United States are about to receive a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reclaim our birthright, the liberty which the state has been whittling away day-by-day from the moment the Constitution was written. I am not talking about the presidential election. I’m referring to the impending collapse and dissolution of the United States.

There is no longer any question that the U.S. will collapse; it passed the point of no return some time ago. The question now is what to do about it.

History has shown us that all collapsing governments are eventually replaced with something else. Often the replacement is an even worse government. As people who know that only with true liberty can humanity reach its full potential, it is up to us to ensure that what comes next is a society where individual liberty is respected. (If you don’t yet know this, see “Start Here” below.)

To that end, this year as we watch the United States and other governments around the world blow up like tonight’s fireworks, I present you with 100 resources you can use to advance the cause of freedom both here in the U.S. and around the world. Dark times are ahead, but the light of liberty continues to offer hope for civilization. Help shine that light.

(Note: Listing here does not necessarily imply complete endorsement of every position the listed resource may advocate.)

Start Here

A Beginner’s Guide to Liberty (PDF)
Liberty needs defending. Political leaders have clearly failed to grasp the benefits of allowing us to live our lives as we choose. By releasing our talents and creativity, liberty brings unprecedented wealth, and promises a bright future built on new ideas. It also gives us protection from the abuses that have come too often from over-powerful states.
The Philosophy of Liberty
This simple yet attractive and intelligent introduction to libertarian ideas is an international hit. Tell your non-libertarian friends about it!
World’s Smallest Political Quiz
The World’s Smallest Political Quiz is a fast, fun, and accurate assessment of a person’s overall political views. The Quiz is composed of two parts: a new political map that is far more accurate than the old “Left-Right” line, and ten questions on specific political issues to help a Quiz taker find his place on that new political map.

Activism

Civil Disobedience Evolution Fund
The Civil Disobedience Evolution Fund works to restore freedom and support liberty by acting as a bridge between liberty activists and supporters. We support those activists who disobey bad laws, but only if such acts are done in a peaceful way. We do not support violence of any kind.
Cop Block
We highlight the double standard that some grant to those with badges by pointing to and supporting those harmed. By documenting police actions whether they are illegal, immoral or just a waste of time and resources then putting direct pressure on the individuals responsible (ideally while recording and then later sharing), we can work together to bring about transparency and have a real impact.
Democratic Freedom Caucus
The Democratic Freedom Caucus (DFC) is a progressive, pro-freedom caucus in the Democratic Party. The purpose of the DFC is to promote individual liberty, constitutional democracy, and social responsibility.
Fr33 Aid
Fr33 Aid was created to help liberty activists organize projects that educate people about the value of mutual aid and lessen the burdens of government. Our main activity involves providing voluntary medical and educational services at liberty-related events.
Free Keene
Many of us at Free Keene once thought that the system we know of as government was the solution to certain problems. We realized we were wrong when we discovered the inescapable, ugly truth. Government is force. It is the violent monopoly.
Free State Project
The Free State Project is an effort to recruit 20,000 liberty-loving people to move to New Hampshire to exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property.
Freedom Activist Network Index
A directory of people, events, organizations, and news media of interest to liberty activists.
Fully Informed Jury Association
The FIJA mission is to educate Americans regarding their full powers as jurors, including their ability to rely on personal conscience, to judge the merit of the law and its application, and to nullify bad law, when necessary for justice, by finding for the defendant.
International Society for Individual Liberty
The International Society for Individual Liberty is an association of individuals and organizations dedicated to building a free and peaceful world, respect for individual rights and liberties, and an open and competitive economic system based on voluntary exchange and free trade.
Libertarian Meetup Groups
Meet Libertarians near you! Come to a local Libertarian Meetup to share your opinions on today’s political climate and issues and learn how you can contribute to America’s political future. Everyone interested in Libertarianism is welcome.
Liberty on the Rocks
Liberty on the Rocks is a non-profit libertarian organization that empowers and assists liberty enthusiasts in becoming better connected, informed, and involved. Through local chapters and events, citizens and activists throughout the country can increase the size of their networks, enhance their understanding of economics and the philosophy of freedom, widen their knowledge of local and national educational outlets, and increase their opportunities for involvement.
New Hampshire Courtroom Legal Opposition Group
The New Hampshire Courtroom Legal Opposition Group (NH-CLOG) is an organization set up by New Hampshire liberty activists in order to aid other activists in their legal defense against the State to the fullest extent possible. We educate activists on the ins and outs of the court system and related byzantia, how to represent someone in court without being an actual attorney-at-law (lawyer), provide easy access to copies of form blanks for activists to use, and sometimes blog about interesting or important cases we’ve fought or helped someone else fight.
New Hampshire Liberty Alliance
The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance is a non-partisan coalition working to increase individual freedom in New Hampshire by monitoring bills in the legislative sessions and encouraging private charity, a civil society, and citizen involvement.
Republican Liberty Caucus
Rather than sit back while our liberty is whittled away, we’re working to shift the Republican Party and American politics back to adherence to the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution. We advocate the principles of individual rights, limited government, and free enterprise.
Shire Society
Isn’t a society supposed to be a voluntary association of individuals? If so, then what the government people insist is a society, is in fact, not. It’s only a society if one gives consent. Did you consent to be part of the coercive government’s society? Even if you did consent, whether you were fully informed or not as to the implications of your decision, shouldn’t you be able to peacefully withdraw your consent?
Students For Liberty
Students For Liberty is an organization that supports liberty. SFL does not dictate the foundations upon which individuals justify their belief in liberty. Rather, Students For Liberty embraces the diversity of justifications for liberty and encourages debate and discourse on the differing philosophies that underlie liberty. What Students For Liberty endorses are the principles that comprise liberty.
Young Americans for Liberty
Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is the largest, most active, and fastest-growing pro-liberty organization on America’s college campuses. With more than 300 chapters and 26,000 student activists nationwide, YAL seeks to recruit, train, educate, and mobilize students on the ideals of liberty and the Constitution.

Books

The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey
The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible tells the story of a boy who becomes shipwrecked on an unfamiliar island after being swept out to sea in a storm. Having previously lived in a relatively free society, in this new strange land he experiences culture shock as he learns learns of bewildering laws and traditions of the islands inhabitants. The story highlights the absurdities of the laws, the controls imposed on people’s lives, and the economic drawbacks of these laws. The laws highlighted are recognizable as common to many countries throughout the world.
Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice
Contemporary history has shown that limited government is untenable, as it is inherently unstable and prone to corruption, being dependent on the interest-group politics of the state’s current leadership. Anarchy and the Law presents the most important essays explaining, debating, and examining historical examples of stateless orders.
The Art of Being Free: Politics versus Everyman and Woman
This is a book on the current state of freedom, by one of the great thinkers and essayists of our time: Wendy McElroy. But it is unlike any you have ever read. It deals with the current crisis in a way that no one else does. It has deep and fascinating research on all the main issues we face: the loss of security in the name of security, the state’s role in strangling economic opportunity, the petty central-planning that has regimented every aspect of life, the loss of basic civil liberties.
Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy
If economics makes absolutely no sense to you, like many people, this is the book for you. Clear and concise with compelling examples, once you finish reading it, talking heads like Paul Krugman and Ben Bernanke will never be able to fool you.
The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State
In the minds of many, the provision of justice and security has long been linked to the state. The book argues not only that the state is unnecessary for the establishment and enforcement of law, but also that non-state institutions would fight crime, resolve disputes, and render justice more effectively than the state, based on their stronger incentives.
Healing Our World: In an Age of Aggression
Through its win-win approach, Healing Our World illustrates how the rules of social interaction which we learned as children hold the secret to universal harmony and abundance. Lauded as “the most important book of the decade.”
Human Action
Human Action is the most important book on political economy you will ever own. It was (and remains) the most comprehensive, systematic, forthright, and powerful defense of the economics of liberty ever written. This is the Scholars Edition: accept no substitute. You will treasure this volume. The Scholars Edition is the original, unaltered treatise (originally published in 1949) that shaped a generation of Austrians and made possible the intellectual movement that is leading the global charge for free markets.
Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom
Dr. Ron Paul writes that to believe in liberty is not to believe in any particular social and economic outcome. It is to trust in the spontaneous order that emerges when the state does not intervene in human volition and human cooperation. It permits people to work out their problems for themselves, build lives for themselves, take risks and accept responsibility for the results, and make their own decisions. It is the seed of America.
The Market for Liberty
If you’re like most people, your government high school history classes probably taught you that slavery was abolished years ago. Government people wouldn’t lie to you, would they?
No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
“But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain — that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.” — Lysander Spooner
One Nation Under Surveillance: Privacy From the Watchful Eye
You — no matter how innocent you think you are — need to protect yourself now, before the state comes calling. Three times the size and 12 years in the making, this is the long-awaited sequel to and replacement of the popular 1997 Bulletproof Privacy by Boston T. Party. (Read our review.)
The Online Library of Liberty
The Library is where electronic versions of classic books about individual liberty are stored. These texts go back some 4,000 years and cover the disciplines of economics, history, law, literature, philosophy, political theory, religion, war and peace. They are in a variety of formats — facsimile PDFs so scholars can view the original text, HTML for ease of searching and attractive layout, and text-based PDF EBooks for personal use.
Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis
In the groundbreaking book Priceless, renowned healthcare economist John Goodman reveals how patients, healthcare providers, employers, and employees are all trapped in a dysfunctional, bureaucratic, healthcare system fraught with perverse incentives that raise costs, reduce quality, and make care less accessible. Unless changed, these incentives will only worsen the problems in the coming months and years.
The Road to Serfdom
Originally published in 1944 — when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program — The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse
America is on the brink of financial collapse. Decades of political overpromising and underfunding have created a wave of debt that could swamp our already feeble economy. And the politicians’ favorite tricks—raising taxes, borrowing from foreign governments, and printing more money—will only make it worse. Only one thing might save us: Roll back the government.
Standing Up to Experts and Authorities: How to Avoid Being Intimidated, Manipulated, and Abused
Dr. Sharon Presley offers a how-to toolkit that provides specific techniques to help people stand up to and deal effectively with experts in a wide range of contexts. This book looks at specific settings in which authorities or experts can bamboozle people, including institutions, the workplace, media, and services.
To Serve and Protect: Privatization and Community in Criminal Justice
In contrast to government’s predominant role in criminal justice today, for many centuries crime control was almost entirely private and community-based. Government police forces, prosecutors, courts, and prisons are all recent historical developments-results of a political and bureaucratic social experiment which, Bruce Benson argues, neither protects the innocent nor dispenses justice.
Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling
John Taylor Gatto demonstrates that the harm school inflicts is rational and deliberate. The real function of pedagogy, he argues, is to render the common population manageable. To that end, young people must be conditioned to rely upon experts, to remain divided from natural alliances, and to accept disconnections from their own lived experiences. They must at all costs be discouraged from developing self-reliance and independence.
ZeroGov: Limited Government, Unicorns and Other Mythological Creatures
Here is the dirty little secret. There is no such thing as limited government. Nowhere in recorded human history has a government been born or deliberately erected that did not expand over time. Expand in a fashion that always does at the expense of human liberty and freedom and to the advantage of the political elements and their inevitable clients. We are ultimately left to our own devices to make the world as we wish it be. I envision a world without limits and without slavery. A world where a human volition is never stymied by the cowed and collaborationist spirit that haunts the soul and being of most humans on Earth.

Events

FreedomFest
FreedomFest is an annual festival where free minds meet to celebrate “great books, great ideas, and great thinkers” in an open-minded society. It is independent, non-partisan, and not affiliated with any organization or think tank. FreedomFest invites the “best and the brightest” from around the world to talk, strategize, socialize, and celebrate liberty. FreedomFest is open to all and is purely egalitarian, where speakers, attendees, and exhibitors are treated as equals.
Libertopia
It is a unique experience…a 3 day celebration of our individuality and diversity packed with renowned speakers, workshops, panels, parties, banquets, music, film, art, literature, commerce, exhibitors, themed camps, performers, social networking and much more!
New Hampshire Liberty Forum
Liberty Forum is New Hampshire’s premier liberty-oriented conference. It has developed a reputation for drawing together people of diverse backgrounds from across the Northeast and beyond for the purpose of discussing strategies to reduce government interference in our lives and build a better society through business, the arts, volunteer work, etc. It is also an opportunity to introduce attendees to New Hampshire and give them a taste of the many benefits of socializing, networking, and organizing with a large group of like-minded people.
Porcupine Freedom Festival
Celebrate liberty and learn about the Free State Project at the Porcupine Freedom Festival (aka PorcFest). This amazing week of education, speakers, forums, family events, music, live entertainment and camaraderie is held in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Organizations

Advocates for Self-Government
The Advocates for Self-Government works to bring about a free society by empowering those who love liberty to become highly successful at taking the ideas of individual freedom and responsibility, free markets, and peace to the world.
American Civil Liberties Union
The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.
Campaign for Liberty
Our mission is to promote and defend the great American principles of individual liberty, constitutional government, sound money, free markets, and a noninterventionist foreign policy, by means of education, issue advocacy, and grassroots mobilization.
Cato Institute
The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization — a think tank — dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues. (En Español)
Competitive Enterprise Institute
The Competitive Enterprise Institute is a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty. Our mission is to promote both freedom and fairness by making good policy good politics. We make the uncompromising case for economic freedom because we believe it is essential for entrepreneurship, innovation, and prosperity to flourish.
Downsize DC
We believe the federal government has grown too centralized, too intrusive, and too expensive. We believe in constitutional limits, smaller government, civil liberties, federalism, and low taxes. We want to end laws and programs that don’t work, cause harm, and violate the Constitution. We want to restore the full force of the 9th and 10th amendments, which reserve most social functions to the people and the states.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
From the Internet to the iPod, technologies are transforming our society and empowering us as speakers, citizens, creators, and consumers. When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is the first line of defense. EFF broke new ground when it was founded in 1990 — well before the Internet was on most people’s radar — and continues to confront cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today.
Foundation for Economic Education
FEE’s mission is to offer the most consistent case for the “first principles” of freedom: the sanctity of private property, individual liberty, the rule of law, the free market, and the moral superiority of individual choice and responsibility over coercion.
The Independent Institute
The Independent Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, scholarly research and educational organization that sponsors in-depth studies of critical social and economic issues. The mission of the Independent Institute is to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity.
Institute for Human Studies
The Institute for Humane Studies advances a freer society by discovering and facilitating the development of talented, productive students, scholars, and other intellectuals who share an interest in liberty. Each year IHS awards over $750,000 in scholarships to students from universities around the world. IHS also sponsors the attendance of hundreds of students at its summer seminars and provides various forms of career assistance.
Institute for Justice
As our nation’s only libertarian public interest law firm, we engage in cutting-edge litigation and advocacy both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion on behalf of individuals whose most basic rights are denied by the government — like the right to earn an honest living, private property rights, and the right to free speech, especially in the areas of commercial and Internet speech. As Wired magazine said, the Institute for Justice “helps individuals subject to wacky government regulations.”
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
LEAP is made up of current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities who are speaking out about the failures of our existing drug policies. Those policies have failed, and continue to fail, to effectively address the problems of drug abuse, especially the problems of juvenile drug use, the problems of addiction, and the problems of crime caused by the existence of a criminal black market in drugs.
Ludwig von Mises Institute
It is the mission of the Mises Institute to place human choice at the center of economic theory, to encourage a revival of critical historical research, and to advance the Misesian tradition of thought through the defense of the market economy, private property, sound money, and peaceful international relations, while opposing government intervention as economically and socially destructive.
The Prometheus Institute
The Prometheus Institute is the first public policy organization dedicated to utilizing the power of mobile technology to empower the citizenry with the tools and knowledge to advocate for policy change. Through mobile applications, social networking innovation, and creative branding, the Institute is constantly pursuing the cutting edge in public policy advocacy.

Print Media

Freedom Communications
Freedom Communications, headquartered in Irvine, Calif., is a national privately-owned information and entertainment company of print publications and interactive businesses. The company’s portfolio includes information and entertainment websites, mobile applications, daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and other specialty publications.
Reason Magazine
Reason is the monthly print magazine of “free minds and free markets.” It covers politics, culture, and ideas through a provocative mix of news, analysis, commentary, and reviews. Reason provides a refreshing alternative to right-wing and left-wing opinion magazines by making a principled case for liberty and individual choice in all areas of human activity.

Radio and Podcasts

Free Talk Live
Three hour nightly call-in radio show with no set topic and no callers turned away. Airs on 100+ AM/FM radio stations and SiriusXM satellite radio as well as online.
Freedomain Radio
Topics range from politics to philosophy to science to economics to relationships to atheism – and how to achieve real freedom in your life today.
Liberty Conspiracy
Because freedom is no longer in vogue. We believe in the power of the Invisible Hand, the parable of the Broken Window, and more… Our goal is to spread Liberty and Freedom ideas widely around the world.
Liberty Radio Network
LRN.FM is your source for the best liberty-oriented audio content on the internet, 24/7. You’ll hear live shows as well as the latest episodes of podcasts from around the world.
No State Project
When it comes right down to it, unless you’re just being a jerk who doesn’t want to admit the obvious, we’re all anarchists. Because what it comes down to is each us personally does not want to be forced to pay for services. We each want the freedom to choose, we don’t want to be slaves or thrown into a cage for no other reason than we didn’t want to pay someone’s salary.
School Sucks
When taken literally, “school sucks” is perhaps the most accurate and astute synopsis of the system I’ve ever heard. Here’s why…
The Scott Horton Show
Formerly known as Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton’s independent show is available on the Liberty Radio Network.

Television

Stossel
Stossel is a weekly program highlighting current consumer issues with a libertarian viewpoint. The Dallas Morning News named John Stossel the “the most consistently thought-provoking TV reporter of our time” and the Orlando Sentinel said he “has the gift for entertaining while saying something profound.”

Web Sites and Blogs

The Agitator
The blog of Radley Balko, a senior writer for Huffington Post, who focuses on investigative reporting on civil liberties and the criminal justice system.
Agorism
As the state is banditry, revolution culminates in the suppression of the criminal state by market providers of security and law. Market demand for such service providers is what will lead to their emergence. Development of that demand will come from economic growth in the sector of the economy that explicitly shuns state involvement (and thus cannot turn to the state in its role as monopoly provider of security and law). That sector of the economy is the counter-economy — black and grey markets.
Antiwar.com
An online magazine and research tool designed to keep the American people and the world informed about the overseas plans of the American government.
Center for a Stateless Society
The Center for a Stateless Society is an anarchist think-tank and media center. Its mission is to explain and defend the idea of vibrant social cooperation without aggression or centralized authority. It seeks to enlarge public understanding and transform public perceptions of anarchism, while reshaping academic and movement debate, through the production and distribution of media content, the organization of events, and the development of networks and communities.
End of the American Dream
Waking people up and getting them to realize that the American dream is quickly becoming the American nightmare.
Free World Order
One of the basic ideas of Free World Order is that certain freedom information is powerful and can be profitably applied. A person who knows such information has competitive advantages in the marketplace. In fact, I contend that practically anyone can make a fortune applying such freedom information.
Freedom’s Phoenix
We recognize that Freedom was taken from us the moment the ink was drying on the Constitution. Today’s governmental structure is imploding under its own weight, and its death rattles aren’t going to be pretty. At Freedom’s Phoenix we observe, comment and try to stay out of the way. We know freedom will rise from the ashes, and we want to make sure that everyone’s freedom is never signed away again by those who believe they have the power to do so.
Homeland Stupidity (You Are Here)
When the government does something stupid — which is all the time, since government is stupid — read about it here. Focusing primarily on the United States, with a special focus on “homeland security” idiocy.
The Humble Libertarian
Our purpose is to demonstrate to the people of the world how little the statists really know about what they imagine they can design, that is: to correct the fatal conceit that a benevolent state can forge a better society by decrees backed with force.
ifeminists
Individualist feminism and libertarianism are similar in that both philosophies uphold individual freedom and personal responsibility as core values. It is natural that libertarians interested in issues that affect women are drawn to ifeminism.
Lew Rockwell
The daily news and opinion site LewRockwell.com was founded in 1999 by anarcho-capitalists Lew Rockwell and Burt Blumert to help carry on the anti-war, anti-state, pro-market work of Murray N. Rothbard. Lew strives to present a diverse daily selection of interesting articles from our writers and other sites, but he does not necessarily endorse every view expressed. He does, however, believe that each piece will repay your reading.
Reboot the Republic
The primary mission of RTR is to disseminate important information that isn’t being reported by the propagandist main stream media or our overlords in Washington and their owners. Digest the information and decide for yourself what to believe.
Strike the Root
The mission of STR is to advance the cause of liberty, primarily by de-mystifying and de-legitimizing the State. STR seeks a world where people are free to live their lives as they see fit, as long as they don’t use force or fraud against peaceful people.
Voluntaryist.com
Voluntaryists are advocates of non-political, non-violent strategies to achieve a free society. We reject electoral politics, in theory and in practice, as incompatible with libertarian principles. Governments must cloak their actions in an aura of moral legitimacy in order to sustain their power, and political methods invariably strengthen that legitimacy. Voluntaryists seek instead to delegitimize the State through education, and we advocate withdrawal of the cooperation and tacit consent on which State power ultimately depends.
Wealth.net: Rebooting Capitalism
Since the global financial crisis there is much distortion in the public discourse about what exactly was to blame. In its wake I predicted and feared a backlash swing toward socalism and collectivism, and that phrases like “capitalism,” “free enterprise” and “free markets” would become reviled and unusable.
What the Hell is Praxeology?
Praxeology is the study of those aspects of human action that can be grasped a priori; in other words, it is concerned with the conceptual analysis and logical implications of preference, choice, means-end schemes, and so forth.

Other

Bitcoin
Bitcoin is an experimental new digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority: managing transactions and issuing money are carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is also the name of the open source software which enables the use of this currency.
Doug Stanhope
Doug Stanhope is a stand-up comic. Has been since 1990. His material ranges from true-life graphic perversion to volatile social criticism. Doug is vulgar, opinionated, brutally honest and shockingly uninhibited and is certainly not for everybody. He is a libertarian who has endorsed Ron Paul and the Free State Project.
Penn Jillette
Penn Jillette is an American illusionist, comedian, musician, and best-selling author known for his work with fellow magician Teller in the team Penn & Teller, and advocacy of atheism, scientific skepticism, libertarianism and free market capitalism.

Worldwide

Centre for Civil Society (India)
We believe in the individuality and dignity of all persons, and their right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. We trust their judgement when they cast their vote in a ballot box and when they spend their money in a marketplace. We are driven by the dream of a free society, where political, social, and economic freedom reigns. We are soldiers for a Second Freedom Movement.
European Students for Liberty
ESFL supports pro-liberty student groups by helping to provide resources, advizing students on effective leadership strategies, and connecting students from across Europe with both like-minded peers and important leaders and organizations in the pro-liberty movement. ESFL’s activities help students generate the skills, momentum, and connections necessary to effectively advance the pro-liberty movement within Europe and abroad.
The Israeli Freedom Movement (Hebrew)
The aim of the Freedom Movement is to promote personal and economic freedom in Israel.
Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies
The Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (JIMS) is an independent, nonprofit economic policy think tank whose mission is to promote social progress in Israel through economic freedom and individual liberty.
Libertarian Alliance (UK)
The Libertarian Alliance is the largest and most active libertarian organisation outside North America. We are not against any transient set of politicians, or their policies, or their parties. We are against the State itself – the State and all the other structures of oppression that it creates or enables. When we talk about freedom, we don’t set or imply limits.
Libertarian Party of Canada
The mission of the Libertarian Party of Canada is to reduce the responsibilities and expense of government. This, so that we may each manage our lives to mutually fulfill our needs by the free and voluntary exchange of our efforts and property for the value that best realizes our happiness.
Libertarian South Africa
South African Libertarian Society
Libertarianism @ Japan
リバタリアンは平和と物質的豊かさを備えた世界を欲している。また、それを勝ち取るための唯一の方法は、自己統治によるものであり、他者による統治ではないと考える。
Libertarianz
Libertarianz is the first and only political party in New Zealand committed to the concept of a free society with a free market economy. We are committed to shrinking the power and influence of government in every area of our lives. We will put paid to bloated government bureaucracy and its authoritarian inclinations.
Liberty Australia
Frustrated by the lack of substance in the mainstream media and so-called “free market” think tanks, we have created a framework capable of undercutting the mainstream, getting the right information out there and harnessing grassroots activism. Our goal is a free and prosperous Australia.
Liberty League (UK)
The Liberty League exists for students and professionals committed to the defence of freedom. The Liberty League acts as an organisation and a network for societies across the intellectual and political spectrum, helping to inform, recruit and develop supporters of Liberty.
Partido de Libertad (Spain)
Para nosotros la libertad de la persona es el valor supremo, y pensamos que el orden espontáneo de la sociedad y de la economía es superior a cualquier forma de organización y planificación estatal. Creemos en una sociedad de hombres y mujeres soberanos de sus vidas y conscientes de su unicidad, de sus derechos, de sus responsabilidades y de la extraordinaria importancia de su propia libertad.
Le Québécois Libre
Le QL défend la philosophie libertarienne et libérale classique, c’est-à-dire la liberté individuelle, l’économie de marché et la coopération volontaire comme fondement des relations sociales. Il s’oppose à l’interventionnisme étatique et aux mouvements collectivistes, de gauche comme de droite, qui visent à enrégimenter les individus.
The UK Libertarian
This is one of the most basic fallacies I hear and it’s usually one of the first things somebody says before they’ve got a bit deeper and realised that yes, we have actually thought about these things, and we’re not just heartless bastards who want a cold dog-eat-dog world where the poor are eaten by cannibals and the rich sell us all into slavery blah blah blah.

There is certainly much more out there. Do you know of something I missed? Leave a link in the comments.

]]> http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/07/04/independence-day-100-resources-for-liberty/feed/ 1 Health Insurance at Gunpoint is OK; Now Eat Your Broccoli Or Else http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/28/health-insurance-at-gunpoint-is-ok-now-eat-your-broccoli-or-else/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/28/health-insurance-at-gunpoint-is-ok-now-eat-your-broccoli-or-else/#comments Thu, 28 Jun 2012 18:55:56 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=697 In a somewhat surprising 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld the contentious ObamaCare law, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance. The ramifications of the decision, though, go far beyond health care.

In the ruling, the court treated the penalty for failing to purchase health insurance as a tax, a move that libertarians immediately criticized as rewriting the law. The mandate was structured as a Commerce Clause power, which the court rejected as unconstitutional. It then decided to save the law by declaring the penalty a tax, something Congress never would have passed.

The result is favorable to them, though. Now Congress can require anybody to do just about anything — including eat their broccoli — and “tax” those who don’t want to, and be virtually guaranteed a seal of approval from the courts.

As I said, the ramifications go far beyond health care. Already the usual suspects are talking about how they will repeal ObamaCare if they get elected. And who knows, they might try it. But they will be bought off by the same special interests — the insurance companies themselves — who bought off the politicians who voted for ObamaCare in the first place. What, you didn’t know the insurance companies wanted this?

If Mitt Romney and a crowd of Republicans get elected this November, repeal will never pass Congress. The insurance companies will stop it dead. If Obama gets reelected, repeal may pass, but not with enough votes to override the obvious veto.

Which brings us to the long-term effects, not only of this ruling but the general direction of the Supreme Court and the rest of the United States government, and the wall it is about to hit.

Given the way democratic-republican politics works, the best you can possibly hope for with respect to ObamaCare is minor changes, and not enough of those to have any serious impact.

If Obama is reelected this November, a U.S. State is likely to attempt to secede as early as 2013. Should Romney be elected, that secession will be delayed, but only for as long as it takes for people to realize that he will change absolutely nothing and that the country will continue its descent into madness.

I say attempt to secede because it’s not at all clear how the U.S. will react. What is clear is that the U.S. can ill afford yet another war, and especially not one on its own shores. Military action would divide the country like it hasn’t been in almost two centuries, giving legitimacy to the secession and prompting more states to leave the union. Yet if the U.S. doesn’t react, (refusing to acknowledge a secession grants it no legitimacy, as Key West learned when it seceded) many more states will be emboldened and secede peacefully.

Obviously, the health care law is not the only issue; it is just the last straw for many people. The growing awareness of how the U.S. through the Federal Reserve has caused the economic collapse and orchestrated a false recovery yet again and sure knowledge of the U.S. government’s only possible next move to “save” the economy — open war with someone, anyone — will virtually force several states to leave. The only questions are which state will be first, and when.

It could also be that the economy collapses completely before any state can secede, though I believe that collapse is still a few years off. Any way it happens, the U.S. as we know it today is dead. May it rest in peace.

The ideas underlying the United States were good ones. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as unalienable rights certainly sounds good, and it certainly is true as far as it goes. One of the fatal flaws in the Declaration of Independence, though, was that the unalienable right to own and dispose of property was never enumerated. Perhaps it is because that right is the first that governments must violate in order to exist in their usual coercive form, and actually enumerating it would emasculate any government that did so. Whatever follows the United States, should it fail to do this, will simply be more of the same.

(The other fatal flaw in the Declaration of Independence was the omission of the word “unanimous” before “consent of the governed.” Whatever follows must also adopt this.)

We are living in interesting times, as the ancient Chinese curse says. Now eat your broccoli… if you can afford it.

]]>
http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/28/health-insurance-at-gunpoint-is-ok-now-eat-your-broccoli-or-else/feed/ 2
Sitting On Our Assets http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/26/sitting-on-our-assets/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/26/sitting-on-our-assets/#comments Wed, 27 Jun 2012 00:54:24 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=681 The United States government has no idea how much real property it holds that is unused or underutilized and could be sold or transferred, according to a government audit.

The Government Accountability Office report, released last week, details how the Federal Real Property Council, charged with maintaining a database of property held by the government, is so full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies as to be nearly useless for its purpose of identifying real estate that could be better utilized or disposed of.

The GAO report found that 23 of the 26 sites it examined differed significantly from the Federal Real Property Profile database, not only in their actual condition but in their value, actual utilization and necessity to the government’s missions.

For example, 21 of the 26 buildings were in need of more repair than the database indicated. The agencies did not report the costs of repairing many of the buildings because they had no plans to do so, and as a result the database reported them in 100% or perfect condition.

In addition, the reported utilization of many buildings varied dramatically from what investigators found on site visits. One building reported as fully utilized was fully utilized only by rats and beehives and was otherwise unused. An office building reported as empty one year and 59% utilized the next turned out to be only about 10% utilized during both years, according to the officials actually in the building.

The report comes just as the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management held one of a series of field hearings in vacant federal property.

At last week’s hearing, held in an abandoned heating plant that had not been used in a decade, subcommittee chairman Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., plainly told a General Services Administration official, “you’re not doing a good job” disposing of unneeded real estate.

True to form, Flavio Peres, GSA’s deputy assistant commissioner for real property utilization and disposal, claimed the building “is an example of GSA’s successful management of our assets and our ongoing efforts, in line with administration goals, to better utilize federal real property.” GSA had not begun work to sell the building, located in “pricey” Georgetown, until November 2011, and expects it to actually go on sale in September.

“We have moved aggressively to right size our portfolio,” Peres further joked.

To be fair, it isn’t entirely the GSA’s fault. Many of the buildings at issue are controlled directly by the various federal agencies, rather than GSA. And selling the properties has its own set of obstacles, most of them legal. Repairing the property to make it usable, or in the case of the Department of Energy, cleaning up the radioactive waste, can cost more than the property is worth. Agencies also have to consider the environmental impact of disposing of property, and if it’s a historic site, or even eligible to be designated one, then it gets really complicated. And sometimes the people in the buildings just don’t want to move.

GAO recommended that the Office of Management and Budget develop a national strategy for managing excess and underutilized property and that GSA improve the FRPP database so that it’s actually useful.

That could take a while. In the meantime, Denham’s Civilian Property Realignment Act of 2011, meant to streamline the process of selling excess government real estate, has passed the House but stalled in the Senate. The bill follows a 2010 report, Sitting On Our Assets, which identifies hundreds of billions of dollars in potential savings through better management of federal assets and reduction of waste.

]]>
http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/26/sitting-on-our-assets/feed/ 1
Do Americans Approve Mass Murder? http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/14/do-americans-approve-mass-murder/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/14/do-americans-approve-mass-murder/#comments Thu, 14 Jun 2012 23:03:32 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=658 A majority of Americans, it seems, approve of drone strikes against terrorists, even if they kill innocent bystanders.

The Pew Global Attitudes Project poll found that while most people worldwide disapprove of the tactic, 62 percent of Americans approved of the drone strikes, while 28 percent disapproved. While 74 percent of Republicans approved, surprisingly, 60 percent of independents and 58 percent of Democrats also approved.

Around the rest of the world, nearly everyone registered disapproval of the drone strikes, not only in Muslim countries but in most of Europe as well.

What’s the difference?

The drone strikes, started by George W. Bush and greatly expanded by Barack Obama, are ostensibly meant to target terrorists in surgical strikes. The reality, widely reported worldwide but rarely in U.S. media, is that all too often these strikes kill innocent civilians in addition to, or even instead of, the intended targets.

Obama, it was revealed May 29 in the New York Times, takes it upon himself to personally review and approve every drone strike because he wants to take moral responsibility for them.

Yet the method by which the CIA counts civilian casualties is so flawed as to be completely unbelievable, except perhaps by a president who desperately needs to soothe his own conscience over the hundreds of innocent men, women and children who have died at his orders, and of course by a credulous American press who long ago lost the skepticism required of journalists when dealing with government and accept at face value anything in a government press release, no matter how ludicrous.

Worse, some of the drone strikes are so-called “signature” strikes, targeted not at any particular individual, but at unknown people who are doing things that indicate they might be terrorists, such as loading fertilizer into a truck. These strikes carry a high risk of killing innocent people, as anyone who has walked through airport security can understand. But under the CIA’s methodology, any adult male gets counted as a militant, even if it was just a farmer who was preparing to plant his crops.

To be fair, there are still some skeptical journalists out there. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism maintains its own data on civilian deaths from drone strikes; it shows the number of civilian deaths to be at least 551, and possibly much higher.

Government officials have a hard time admitting to any civilian deaths, of course. Update: Or even to the existence of the program.

There are certainly terrorists and other enemies of the U.S. being killed in these strikes. But by killing the innocent, the strikes themselves are manufacturing more enemies.

Haykal Bafana, a lawyer in Yemen, writes on Twitter, “Dear Obama, when a US drone missile kills a child in Yemen, the father will go to war with you, guaranteed. Nothing to do with Al Qaeda.”

This is not just some guy’s rant.

Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, echoed the warning last month. “One wonders how many Yemenis may be moved in future to violent extremism in reaction to carelessly targeted missile strikes, and how many Yemeni militants with strictly local agendas will become dedicated enemies of the West in response to US military actions against them.”

“We’re setting a standard for all other nations that when they’re ready if they want to, they can send drones at the United States,” Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said on CNN’s State of the Nation Sunday. “What goes around comes around, and those drones are going to come right back at us.”

It’s even questionable whether the drone strikes are even legal, since the administration has claimed the so-called Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks as the legal basis for the strikes.

On Wednesday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich sent a letter to the White House, cosigned by 25 other members of Congress including two Republicans, demanding “the process by which ‘signature’ strikes are authorized and executed (drone strikes where the identity of the person killed is unknown); mechanisms used by the CIA and JSOC to ensure that such killings are legal; the nature of the follow-up that is conducted when civilians are killed or injured; and the mechanisms that ensure civilian casualty numbers are collected, tracked and analyzed.

“We are concerned that the use of such ‘signature’ strikes could raise the risk of killing innocent civilians or individuals who may have no relationship to attacks on the United States,” write Kucinich et al. “Our drone campaigns already have virtually no transparency, accountability or oversight. We are further concerned about the legal grounds for such strikes under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

“The implications of the use of drones for our national security are profound. They are faceless ambassadors that cause civilian deaths, and are frequently the only direct contact with Americans that the targeted communities have. They can generate powerful and enduring anti-American sentiment.”

So we come full circle. Only a minority of people show any concern over Obama’s killing of innocent people abroad in the name of the war on terror (oops, we aren’t supposed to say that anymore). Perhaps the people who approve of the drone strikes simply don’t know. Or perhaps, like Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), they don’t care. “I am not concerned,” he said.

Am I completely wrong in thinking that most Republicans only care about the innocent if they happen to be unborn? And that most Democrats don’t care about the innocent, so long as it’s their guy killing them?

Let’s be perfectly clear. Killing an innocent person is wrong, whether you’re the lowest criminal or the highest .. excuse me, president of the United States.

What should worry you even more than that, though, is that in a few years, those drones and their missiles are coming home, and they will be used here in the U.S. against Americans. Police chiefs all over the country are drooling at the prospect of getting hold of their own drones — to be used only for aerial surveillance, of course, and not to kill people by remote control. At least not right away. That part comes later, after you all are accustomed to seeing the things flying around.

As for me, I think it’s time to move to a place near an airport flight path, where it hopefully won’t be safe to operate a drone…

]]>
http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/14/do-americans-approve-mass-murder/feed/ 2
Disaster Recovery http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/10/hello-world/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/10/hello-world/#comments Sun, 10 Jun 2012 19:48:30 +0000 http://homeland.ioerror.us/?p=1 We are currently recovering from a catastrophic server failure. Content previously available here will be restored as it becomes available over the next few days.

]]>
http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2012/06/10/hello-world/feed/ 0
Everything You Know About Unions Is Wrong: 12 Labor Union Myths http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2010/01/26/everything-you-know-about-unions-is-wrong-12-labor-union-myths/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2010/01/26/everything-you-know-about-unions-is-wrong-12-labor-union-myths/#comments Tue, 26 Jan 2010 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2010/01/26/everything-you-know-about-unions-is-wrong-12-labor-union-myths/ ]]> The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced last week that for the first time, the number of government employees in unions exceeded the number in the private sector, which fell to a new low of 7.2 percent, down from 7.6 percent in 2008. At the same time the number of government employees in unions rose from 36.8 percent to 37.4 percent.

But private sector union membership has been on a slow and steady decline for decades. While union leaders decry the numbers, saying that good union jobs are disappearing, the reality behind unions is much more complex. To an extent, they have become a victim of their own success.

The AFL-CIO, the largest union federation in the U.S., claims on its Web site that unions help “build stronger workplaces” and “give workers a voice on the job about safety, security, pay, benefits — and about the best ways to get the work done.” Further, it says, unions “represent working families before lawmakers, and make sure politicians never forget that working families voted them into office.”

AFL-CIO building, Washington

All of that, it turns out, is somewhere between misleading and blatantly untrue.

“They artificially increase wages in unionized industries, limit employment opportunities, depress wages in nonunion jobs, lower rates of return on investment in unionized firms, and slow the growth of productivity,” writes James A. Dorn, professor of economics at Towson University and editor of theCato Journal. “Unions politicize labor markets and have used the threat of violence to protect their wage premiums. In addition to using their monopoly power to secure higher than market wages, unions spend huge sums of money to maintain their power and limit competition.”

In its first issue of 2010,Cato Journal asks, Are unions good for America? The answer may surprise you, especially if you are a member of a union.

(Before going on I should disclose that I once paid union dues to the United Food and Commercial Workers when I worked at a grocery store.)

In 232 short pages of hard-hitting analysis, (but don’t do what I did and read it all in one sitting) Cato exposes some of the myths behind labor unions that practically everyone believes. Here are a few of them.

Myth: Unions work to ensure a level playing field for employees.

Fact: Unions advocate for laws which tilt the playing field in ways that are unfair to both employers and employees. Those laws often impair economic growth and innovation, as well as destroy the freedom to contract, according to Randall G. Holcombe and James D. Gwartney, economics professors at Florida State University. Over time, these labor laws actually cause a shift in employment from union jobs to nonunion jobs. In fact, research shows that the growth of labor unions during the Great Depression actually increased unemployment. Unions are still destroying jobs today.

“In the short run, because labor law has given to unions an advantage in the bargaining process, union contracts have had the effect of increasing the wages and benefits of union workers,” they wrote. “In the long run, the higher cost of union labor brought on by those union contracts has resulted in a steady decline in private sector unionism, and has eroded U.S. manufacturing in unionized industries — most visibly, the railroad and auto industries.”

Myth: Unions bargain on behalf of their members to get employees the wages and benefits they deserve.

Fact: Unions “bargain” with the guns of government in hand, to get employees more wages and benefits than they deserve, with a little for themselves on the side. By crawling in bed with government to pass laws which benefited the unions at the expense of employers — and, in the long run, employees — union leaders have drained American businesses dry. The long, slow decline of private sector unions reflects the economic destruction they left in their wake as they searched for fresh blood to leech. And today they’ve found the biggest source yet, the government.

Armand Thieblot, an economic consultant who has written books on union corruption and violence, writes:

When Samuel Gompers, then head of the American Federation of Labor, was asked in the early 1920s what unions wanted, he famously replied, “More.” At the time, everyone correctly understood that unions’ targets were the capitalists from whom additional wages and benefits would be wrested by force, and also that if unions were successful, capitalists would have to be content with “Less,” thus, just a transfer of economic rents within the system from one factor to another.

By the 1980s and 1990s, however, when unorganized capitalists had become thin on the ground and those already organized had mostly been rendered uncompetitive by past concession to union demands, unions’ new guiding trope became “More government.” To achieve it, unions became mordantly political. In economic terms, after unions had absorbed all of the readily available economic rents from their capitalist opponents, they have turned to seeking rents from new sources beyond the system — from the polity at large (from taxpayers), using government as the intermediary.

Myth: Project labor agreements reduce project costs and delays and are good for construction workers as a whole.

Fact: Project labor agreements increase costs and only help union workers. PLAs are agreements between construction project owners and unions that contractors on the project must use union labor, even if they otherwise would not. David G. Tuerck, economics professor and chair at Suffolk University, cites numerous examples of how nonunion workers were harmed when they worked under PLAs, “first by forcing them to pay twice for benefits already offered their workers and second by forcing pay cuts on their workers.” Then, unions use veiled threats to “labor peace” to intimidate project owners into accepting PLAs for “job stability.” Further, PLAs increased costs for every project studied which used them, sometimes as much as 20 percent.

“PLAs are motivated by a desire on the part of the construction unions to shore up the declining union wage premium against technological changes and other changes that make traditional union work rules and job designations obsolescent,” Tuerck writes. “Now the PLA has evolved into an instrument that the unions employ in tandem with the prevailing wage laws in order to reduce the competitive advantage of nonunion contractors.”

Myth: Prevailing wage laws are good for competition, improve safety and quality, and help train new workers.

Fact: Prevailing wage laws stifle competition, have no effect on job safety and quality, and do nothing to help train new workers. The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, signed into law by President Herbert Hoover, mandates that on federal construction projects, workers be paid the so-called “prevailing wage” for similar local workers. In practice, the wage is set far higher than the actual prevailing wage, closely mirroring union pay scales. This virtually locks out nonunion construction workers from federal contracts.

George C. Leef, director of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, finds that all of the arguments for prevailing wage laws fail to stand up to even the slightest scrutiny. Worse, the Davis-Bacon Act was racially motivated: “The hearings and debate on the legislation revealed some ugly racial overtones with comments on how ‘cheap colored labor’ was driving down wages of white workers.” Robert Bacon originally proposed the bill because he was upset that a construction firm from outside his district, employing black workers, built a veterans’ hospital in his district.

Myth: Organized labor has worked to promote racial equality.

Fact: Unions have used racial discrimination as a tool to enrich themselves, and continue to do so today. In 2008, Richard Trumka, who is now the president of the AFL-CIO, said, “We know, better than anyone else, how racism is used to divide working people.” He should, because the unions have been doing it for their entire existence, and still are, as Paul Moreno, history professor at Hillsdale College, illustrates. It isn’t — and probably never was — the employers oppressing the black, or the Chinese, or the Hispanic people. Most employers, as it turns out, really are color blind, as Martin Luther King, Jr., noted in 1957: “With the growth of industry the folkways of white supremacy will necessarily pass away. Moreover, southerners are learning to be good businessmen, and as such realize that bigotry is costly and bad for business.”

As racism goes, unions made the KKK look like amateurs. Big Labor lobbied for, and got, special laws to make them completely immune for whatever they did — all the way up to outright murder. InUnited States v. Enmons, in 1973, the Supreme Court held that unions were immune from prosecution under the Hobbs Act if their violent acts were in furtherance of a “valid union objective.”

Moreno concludes:

The problem of racial discrimination in organized labor in America was less solved than it was outgrown. The story of racial discrimination in the American labor movement confirms the view that unions act as cartels that attempt to limit the supply of labor and raise its price. An easily identified and culturally disfavored minority group provided a convenient category for exclusion. But most unions were unable to succeed without state power, and by the time that they acquired such power, blacks had already fought their way into the industrial workforce. Discrimination within, rather than exclusion from, unions then became the chief problem — one that spawned the policy of “affirmative action.” Finally, the macroeconomic costs of unions decimated the ranks of private sector unions.

And Trumka? He talked a good game about ending racism in organized labor, but whether anything will change remains to be seen.

Myth: Unions help preserve manufacturing jobs.

Fact: Unions were a contributing factor in the decline of American manufacturing, especially in the automobile industry. Detroit makes a great example. At the start of the 20th century, Detroit was a boom town and its manufacturing jobs were paying 33 percent above the national average. Union organizers brought their message of capitalist greed and exploitation to already highly paid auto workers, where it largely fell on deaf ears. Until the Great Depression, when union organizers used a variety of underhanded tactics to force automakers, steel plants and other manufacturers to unionize.

(Interestingly, Henry Ford at the time threatened to break up his company rather than submit to union demands; he finally gave in when his wife threatened to leave him.)

Stephen J.K. Walters, economics professor at Loyola, explains what happened next. Companies, squeezed hard and struggling to survive, would move their operations out of Detroit and other cities, and later, out of the country entirely.

In sum, at the onset of World War II most of America’s great industrial firms — which, thanks to agglomeration economies were concentrated in cities throughout the East and upper Midwest — now faced labor cartels. These cartels needed some time to consolidate their power, so increases in employers’ wage costs would be significant but gradual. Further, WWII and its aftermath, during which time America’s industrial rivals’ productive capacity suffered heavy damage that would be restored only slowly, insulated the unions and firms to some degree and for some time from the most severe competitive consequences of monopolistic and opportunistic prices for labor. But the employers started to adapt immediately in ways that standard economic theory would predict — and that would ultimately help create what became known as America’s Rust Belt. Union actions, clearly, were not the only reason that industrial cities would decapitalize, depopulate, and become poorer in the second half of the 20th century, but they merit inclusion on the list.

If you’ve lost a manufacturing job any time in the last 50 years, thank your union boss for destroying your job, with a one-finger salute.

Myth: Teachers’ unions work to increase the quality of children’s education.

Fact: Teachers’ unions work to increase their membership rolls and their political power, at the expense of your children’s education. While collective bargaining has done little to increase the salaries of union public school teachers over nonunion public school teachers, these unions perform a different service for their members: preventing them from having to educate children. Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, explains that teachers’ unions strongly oppose government reforms which would improve the quality of K-12 education, such as charter schools, vouchers, and property tax credits.

The NEA and AFT spend large sums on political lobbying so that public school districts maintain their monopoly control of more than half a trillion dollars in annual U.S. K-12 education spending. That monopoly, in turn, offers a more than 40 percent average compensation premium over the private sector, along with greater job security. And since both the U.S. and international research indicate that achievement and efficiency are generally higher in private sector — and particularly competitive market — education systems, the public school monopoly imposes an enormous cost on American children and taxpayers. We are paying dearly for the union label, but mainly due to union lobbying to preserve the government school monopoly rather than to collective bargaining. (Emphasis in original)

Myth: Public sector unions work for the general prosperity of their members and all Americans.

Fact: Public sector unions dramatically increase the cost of government to unsustainable levels. The cost of employee wages and benefits accounts for half of the $2.2 trillion that state and local governments spent in 2008, and that number is set to grow dramatically as employees retire and generous pension packages kick in. Though, calling them generous is an understatement.

Moreover, according to Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, those pension obligations are grossly underfunded, which will make the fiscal crisis even more acute this decade.

The upshot of all this is that policymakers will need to make large budget reforms in the years ahead. They will to need to deliver public services more efficiently, to privatize services when feasible, to cut staffing levels, and to terminate low-value programs. Policymakers often hesitate in making such reforms, but the high level of unionization in many state workforces will make reforms even harder to achieve. During labor negotiations, for example, public officials often succumb to pressure to make short-term concessions that end up damaging public finances in the long run.

Businesses can and do mitigate the inefficiencies of a unionized workplace, but governments are much more constrained and have less incentive to do so, driving up taxpayer costs even further. And public sector unions use their large war chests to buy influence and protection. “So the problem with public sector unions is not just that they block compensation reforms, but that use their privileged status to control broader policy debates.”

Myth: Right-to-work laws harm employees and prevent employers from freely contracting with unions.

Fact: Right-to-work laws improve the economy, and employers freely contracting with unions is prohibited by the Wagner Act. That Act forces employers to bargain with unions “in good faith,” which is interpreted to mean that employers must capitulate to virtually every demand of the unions or be accused of acting in bad faith. This is hardly freedom of contract. Right-to-work laws mitigate, but do not entirely fix, this problem.

I have some experience with this, since I once worked in a non-right-to-work state and was forced to join the union. I would rather have negotiated my own terms; I’d likely have gotten a better deal. It seems many Americans agree, as millions of them have moved from non-right-to-work states to right-to-work states in the last decade, a migration that shows no signs of stopping. Richard Vedder, economics professor at Ohio University, found that both predictive models and real world evidence show that right-to-work states experience more economic growth than non-right-to-work states.

Myth: Labor unions support trade liberalization because it lowers the prices of goods that workers buy.

Fact: This used to be true, but today’s labor unions oppose trade liberalization. They believe that increasing globalization has directly led to the decline of their unions, and thus their power. This isn’t exactly true, according to Daniel Griswold, director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. “Although the evidence is lacking to implicate globalization as a whole, two aspects of the trend have been found to have significant negative effects on labor unions: inward foreign direct investment (FDI), and ‘social integration’ across borders.”

When foreign companies invest in the U.S., companies here realize that they can also invest in other countries. “The correlation of FDI and declining rates of union density suggests that ‘many workers feel greater insecurity from seeing capital mobility in their sectors, even if not in their own particular firms,” Slaughter (2007: 344–45) concluded.’

And social globalization, “the spread of ideas, information, images and people,’ a natural result of advances in communications and transportation, “reinforces what Dresher and Gaston (2007: 176) call a ‘growing normative orientation towards individuals rather than collectivism [which] makes collective organization more difficult.” Adding to the trends are rising levels of immigration and perceptions of younger workers who view unions as old-fashioned and anachronistic institutions.”

In competitive product markets, the drag that unions impose on firm performance can be debilitating to the firm and its workers over time. As described above, firms facing vigorous competition are not able to pass along higher costs to consumers without risk of losing significant market share. Newly unionized firms in such markets face the cruel choice of passing along higher labor costs to consumers, thus losing market share to more cost-efficient competitors, or eating the higher costs in the form of lower profits and less reinvestment in physical and intellectual capital. Either choice will result over time in an erosion of the unionized firm’s market share.

Myth: Paying workers higher wages will reduce unemployment and stimulate the economy.

Fact: The “high-wage doctrine” increases unemployment and drags down the economy. This doctrine originated with a 1921 report that Hoover commissioned while he was Secretary of Commerce dealing with what was, in retrospect, a minor recession. In addition to recommending higher wages, the report also said that government spending (now known as the stimulus package) can help the country recover from a recession. Neither is true, of course, and the report might have been completely forgotten had Hoover not become President. He put his disastrous ideas into practice, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Worse, proponents of these theories, which John Maynard Keynes gleefully signed on to, are more concerned with theories than facts, according to Lowell E. Gallaway, economics professor at Ohio University. That’s just a polite way of saying they’re full of crap. Galloway writes:

In the intellectual world, the high-wage doctrine continues to have its appeal. Prior to his appointment as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, collaborating with Martin Parkinson, noted: “Maybe Herbert Hoover and Henry Ford were right. Higher real wages may have paid for themselves in the broader sense that their positive effect on aggregate demand compensated for their tendency to raise costs” (Bernanke and Parkinson 1989: 214). More recently, Paul Krugman reiterated this view in a New York Times oped (3 May 2009), arguing, “Many workers are accepting pay cuts in order to save jobs.” He then asks, “What’s wrong with that?” His answer refers to what he calls “one of those paradoxes that plague our economy right now . . . workers at any one company can help save their jobs by accepting lower wages, but when employers across the economy cut wages at the same time, the result is higher unemployment.” This is simply a reprise of Klein’s (1947) views. Never mind the existence of more than a century of empirical evidence to the contrary. Krugman’s concern is not with the empirical problem, but with the theoretical connection between wage rates and employment. The high-wage doctrine still lives. In all probability, this persistent adherence to an incorrect doctrine once again will prove to be detrimental to the U.S. economy, just as it was in the 1930s.

Myth: Unions currently operate in a free market.

Fact: Unions are heavily dependent on the government to provide them unfair leverage over employers and control over their members. It is possible for unions to exist and provide valuable services to their members in a market free of government-sponsored violence and control, but those services would likely have to be geared toward helping employees improve themselves, rather than extracting undeserved compensation from employers.

Charles W. Baird, professor emeritus of economics at California State University, East Bay, examines what constitutes a free market, how existing labor laws destroy freedom, and what a union might look like in a true free market. It won’t happen any time soon, though, he says: “It is politically impossible, at this time in America, to repeal the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the National Labor Relations Act and replace them with any sort of free-market union law. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to prepare the ground now for doing so in some future, more enlightened time.”

If you’re wondering why you’re out of a job, why Detroit is a wasteland, and why the economy is on the verge of collapse, don’t be so quick to blame Wall Street: Some of the blame belongs to the labor unions.

[“AFL-CIO building, Washington, D.C.” photo by Derek Blackadder; CC BY-SA 2.0]

]]>
http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2010/01/26/everything-you-know-about-unions-is-wrong-12-labor-union-myths/feed/ 1
Gay newspaper network shut down http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/11/17/gay-newspaper-network-shut-down/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/11/17/gay-newspaper-network-shut-down/#comments Tue, 17 Nov 2009 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/11/17/gay-newspaper-network-shut-down/ ]]> Years ago during the Clinton administration I visited Washington, D.C., and not knowing what it was, I picked up a copy of the Washington Blade near a Metro station. I don’t recall much of what was in that week’s edition, but I remember being impressed with the paper’s coverage of the issues important to gays and lesbians; it seemed accessible even to straight people.

On Monday, the Blade and several other gay newspapers were shut down after the Small Business Administration, which had put them in receivership, was unable to sell them.

“We found out when two of the corporate officers were waiting for us when we got to work this morning,” Kevin Naff, editor of The Blade, told the New York Times. “It’s not a complete surprise. The abruptness of it was what was surprising.”

An early indication of trouble came over Twitter around noon: “Washington Blade, like all Window Media publications, is closing today. Thank you for your support.” Staff who showed up for work Monday were met by corporate executives who directed them to clean out their offices by 3:30 p.m.

Window Media and United Media, which owned the network which has been likened to a “gay A.P.,” filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Monday. Companies which file for Chapter 7 must immediately cease operations.

The companies, in turn, were owned by Avalon Equity Funding, which had borrowed $38 million from the Small Business Administration. The terms of that loan agreement required the company to hold capital equal to half of the loan balance, which the SBA said the company failed to do. Gay City News reported last February that the SBA had filed a lawsuit forcing Avalon into receivership.

A brief statement from the SBA said: “The SBA as receiver for Avalon does not anticipate any recovery on Avalon’s investment totaling more than $7 million in Window/Unite Media.”

As part of the receivership, SBA was supposed to try to sell the papers, but failed to find a “qualified” buyer. It’s not clear whether SBA actually tried; Tom Morris, director of SBA’s Office of Liquidation, told Gay City News that SBA would not disclose what assets were for sale unless they were actually sold.

That sounds a bit backward to me; knowing something is for sale is, after all, a natural prerequisite for purchasing it.

The Blade, a weekly published each Friday, had a print circulation of 33,000 and about 500,000 monthly web visitors.

Also closed Monday were The Houston Voice, The South Florida Blade, The Southern Voice, David Atlanta and 411 Magazine.

Naff said he is meeting with former Blade employees Tuesday to discuss starting a new paper. The paper had been criticized for selling out in 2001; it had “become a homogenized product that reflects the triumph of corporate synergy over hard-news content.’

“The Blade was a community-based newspaper, and Window Media moved it away from that community base,” former photo editor Clint Steib told the Washington City Paper in 2002. “They’re going into local gay communities and buying up all the papers, and it’s sad, because the quality has gone way down. The Blade was very well-respected in both gay and mainstream media, and you just can’t say that anymore.”

Blade staffers will meet readers at “one last hurrah” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Hard Rock Cafe, 999 E St. N.W.

If you own a business, no matter how much you’re struggling, your first rule should be: never, ever take money from the government. Doing any sort of deal with the government is a bad idea, doubly so for the press; the government sets all the rules and can change them on a whim.

Your second rule should be: Be extremely wary of selling out. The 2001 sale of the Blade to Window Media was the beginning of the end. Staffers say that the paper would likely have been profitable if it had still been independent today, but that “corporate’ too often had trouble meeting payroll on time.

Break these rules and you too could wind up like the Washington Blade and the other important voices which have been silenced this day. Here’s hoping that these voices can find ways to return to publication.

]]>
http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/11/17/gay-newspaper-network-shut-down/feed/ 0
Do newspapers need government bailouts? http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/11/12/do-newspapers-need-government-bailouts/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/11/12/do-newspapers-need-government-bailouts/#comments Thu, 12 Nov 2009 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/11/12/do-newspapers-need-government-bailouts/ ]]> New Hampshire’s guarantee of a $250,000 line of credit for a local newspaper freshly emerged from bankruptcy is raising fresh questions about whether media outlets which receive government assistance can remain independent, and whether government should offer such assistance at all.

Last week the state’s Executive Council agreed without debate to a Business Finance Authority guarantee of 75 percent of the line of credit from Connecticut River Bank for the Claremont Eagle Times, which had closed in July as it went into bankruptcy and reopened October 12 after being purchased by Eagle Printing & Publishing LLC.

“Because the New Eagle Times is now beholden to government officials for what appears to be crucial financing, this could prove to be a conflict of interest for the newspaper,’ Claremont city councilor Jim Sullivan wrote on his blog last Friday. “Will Eagle Times reporters treat government officials with a velvet glove? Because so far that seems to be the case!’

The paper’s publisher, Harry Hartman, initially denied knowledge of the state guarantee, which the bank had applied for. Later he would say that concerns had been overblown by his competitors and that the paper may not even need the line of credit. He said he expects the paper to turn a profit this month.

“I’m hoping that readers understand that we’re not beholden to anybody,’ he told the Associated Press. “No one gets deferential treatment in our newsroom.’

Other states are considering similar guarantees or direct financial assistance to newspapers struggling to stay alive in an environment where people expect to get news online for free. Such deals may be attractive to politicians, who often have an adversarial relationship with the news outlets that cover them, but could result in readers losing trust in the bailed-out news outlet.

“Even if the paper covers government officials critically, readers may still have their doubts about whether they are getting the full story,’ Stephen Farnsworth, professor of communication at George Mason University, told the AP.

The deal is the first of its kind in recent memory, though the earliest American newspapers received government subsidies.

“The idea of subsidizing newspapers even though the words come off the tongue almost hesitantly is actually very well accepted in American historical tradition,’ Jack Lule, a journalism professor at Lehigh University, told the AP. “We’re at a point in our history now where it seems foreign to us but actually we can find a lot of examples of that, and I do believe it’s part of our future.’

I have a different theory. Let us remember that back then, journalism was something quite different. It looked, in fact, much more like today’s blogs: highly opinionated, often inflammatory, sometimes bordering on libelous. The colonies, then, were subsidizing the opinions they wanted printed, and often, shutting down the newspapers they didn’t like. Should this be our future, tomorrow’s journalism may look like yesterday’s.

As New York University associate professor Clay Shirky has said, the nature of journalism itself is changing, ad-supported print media was a historical accident which the Internet is about to destroy, yet investigative journalism of the type news outlets have been cutting lately is critical. He urges experimentation to see what works and what doesn’t.

Government bailouts certainly won’t work. No politician in their right mind is going to give tax money to a newspaper so that it can turn around and investigate him, and as we’ve seen with the auto bailouts, once government is giving you money, it tends to come with strings — or nooses — attached. If a newspaper wants to survive, it’s going to have to try new and different ways to monetize its content, not to mention provide content that people want.

Speaking of which, as of today the Eagle Times web site is still offline, a month after the paper restarted its printing presses.

]]>
http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/11/12/do-newspapers-need-government-bailouts/feed/ 0
One Nation, Under Surveillance http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/10/21/one-nation-under-surveillance/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/10/21/one-nation-under-surveillance/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2009 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/10/21/one-nation-under-surveillance/ ]]> What have you got to hide? The answer may shock you: If you’re like most Americans, you have far more than you realize that you need to be hiding, and not doing so may be putting you and your family in grave danger.

In his new book, Three Felonies a Day, attorney Harvey Silverglate holds that the typical American professional commits an average of three federal crimes a day, just going about their daily business, without even realizing it. And the only thing keeping them out of prison — make that keeping you out of prison — is the fact that federal prosecutors haven’t looked at you yet. “No social class or profession is safe from this troubling form of social control by the executive branch,’ reads a statement on the book’s Web site, “and nothing less than the integrity of our constitutional democracy hangs in the balance.’

While Three Felonies a Day illustrates the problem quite well, today I want to talk about solutions. Likely you have never thought you needed to protect yourself from the government. But you probably weren’t aware that so many federal laws are “impossibly broad and vague’ that you were a “criminal’ several times over today, just for going to work, picking up your kids, and eating dinner. Moreover, the concept of criminal intent has been largely removed from the law, so you can be imprisoned even if you had no idea what you were doing was against the law.

Under the English common law we inherited, a crime requires intent. This protection is disappearing in the U.S. As Mr. Silverglate writes, “Since the New Deal era, Congress has delegated to various administrative agencies the task of writing the regulations,’ even as “Congress has demonstrated a growing dysfunction in crafting legislation that can in fact be understood.’ Prosecutors identify defendants to go after instead of finding a law that was broken and figuring out who did it. Expect more such prosecutions as Washington adds regulations. — Wall Street Journal

One of the most powerful solutions against the sorts of miscarriages of justice that land people like you in prison is privacy. Privacy makes it much harder for an overzealous prosecutor to spin your perfectly innocent activities into “crimes.’ Not to mention it also provides protection against the more mundane threats of identity thieves, psychotic ex-spouses, and so on.

A few people figured out long ago that the federal government wasn’t actually here to help, and one of them, “Boston T. Party,’ (a pen name) in 1996 wrote Bulletproof Privacy, now out of print. The thin volume, most of which is now quite dated, provided a how-to manual with practical solutions for increasing your personal privacy. Boston has since rewritten and expanded it, and the new book, One Nation, Under Surveillance, is three times the size, and has at least three times the practical solutions for protecting yourself.

(I met Boston at this year’s New Hampshire Liberty Forum where he spoke on gun rights in the U.S. after the D.C. v. Heller case. He graciously sent me a signed copy of One Nation, Under Surveillance for free. Unfortunately it got buried under a huge stack of papers on my desk for several months and I only recently found it again.)

Privacy is an insurance policy against oppression. Privacy allows a tyrannized citizenry to think independently, freely, and clearly. (Imagine if book stores were regulated as gun stores!) To speak out, network, and organize against unruly government — all of this in perfect accord with your natural rights, and in tradition with our American history and Constitution. We did not form the servile institution of government for the goal of limitless obedience to that servant. Neither did the States federate themselves under the Constitution for the utter dissolution of their own autonomy and prerogatives. . . .

A government which knows everything about its people is an unassailable government, for the people can no longer safely congregate nor precipitate. In an Orwellian state in which all your communications, transactions, and associations are monitored/approved, from whence comes any possible readjustment — much less a successful revolution from it? . . .

When privacy goes, the people have in a sense “thrown away the key’ to their shackles. Think of your decreasing privacy as being measured for a tailored straightjacket.

What do you have to hide? Today, perhaps nothing. Next year, maybe a lot depending on new information and revised priorities. Privacy is a comprehensive insurance policy. Keep up the premiums, even if you’re not quite sure why.

I’m not going to share much of the how-to with you. That’s in the book, which you should buy. Now. Or even months ago, and I’m sorry this thing sat under a bunch of junk on my desk for so long. I learned quite a few things I never knew, and refreshed myself on those I did. The thing about many of the privacy techniques shown in the book is that in order to protect your privacy most effectively, they have to be in place already before you are threatened.

That means you — no matter how innocent you think you are — need to protect yourself.

Virtually everything imaginable is covered, most in great detail. A few topics were not covered in detail, such as creating alternate identities, or trusts and financial instruments, since the information tends to go out of date rapidly, or would require their own books, or might be illegal to even talk about (in the supposed land of the free). So it is not a complete how-to, but it is nearly complete.

Most of the expanded content in this book deals with online privacy. This was hardly an issue in 1996 when Bulletproof Privacy was published and almost nobody had even heard of the Internet; today virtually everyone is online and too few people on the Internet do much of anything to protect their privacy. Consider the fugitive who fled to Mexico and then updated his status on Facebook. “People just don’t think through the privacy implications of putting their information on the Internet,’ security expert Bruce Schneier wrote Monday. “Facebook is how we interact with friends, and we think of it in the frame of interacting with friends. We don’t think that our employers might be looking — they’re not our friends! — that the information will be around forever, or that it might be abused. Privacy isn’t salient; chatting with friends is.’

The sections dealing with securing your computer and being private online are valuable content and the book is worth buying for this alone; Boston covered pretty much everything, from e-mail to cookies to malware to encryption to government raids. I did spot a few technical errors, but nothing that invalidated the techniques presented.

I do have a few minor nits to pick, though. The first is that I don’t feel enough attention was given to risk assessment. Any security expert will tell you that knowing what risks you face, how likely they are to occur, and how disruptive they would be if they occurred, is critical information in determining what you need to do to protect yourself. Boston assumes that his readers want as much privacy as possible, almost without regard to cost or inconvenience. I would have liked to see more treatment of specific risks and how particular techniques mitigate those risks, as well as how to assess risk generally. This, I think, would make the book more accessible and more useful to a wider audience.

Second, I will have to share one of Boston’s techniques. He recommends using Puppy Linux, a stripped down operating system distribution which can run from a CD or USB stick, instead of having your operating system installed on your hard drive. Puppy Linux can also encrypt your data and save it back to the same USB stick, which he recommends. This is probably workable for some people, and is practically necessary when using a public computer (since they can’t be trusted) but other people will be entirely unable to do this, myself included. His advice to never, ever use Windows for anything is sound, of course. But I do many things which pretty much require an installed operating system, such as video editing. For people who can’t live off a USB stick, I would recommend you install Ubuntu or Fedora, both of which are much more full-featured and also offer simple full-disk encryption for your hard drive which is stronger than that provided in Puppy Linux. (I helped test the full-disk encryption feature in Fedora and contributed a few small bits of code to it.)

Finally, with the rapid changes in technology, and the relentless encroachment of government into every aspect of people’s lives, doubtless much of the information in One Nation, Under Surveillance will be out of date, useless, or even potentially dangerous soon. I would like to see some sort of web site to serve as an online addendum to the book, which could contain errata, new information, perhaps a wiki, etc. Many books, especially dealing with technical topics, have such sites already and they serve to add further value.

One Nation, Under Surveillance should be on the bookshelf of anyone serious about privacy, both online and offline. If you aren’t sure, but you think you might need some privacy in the future, you should use it to get started now. By the time you’re sure you need privacy, it may be too late.

And if you’ll excuse me, I need to clean my desk.

]]>
http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2009/10/21/one-nation-under-surveillance/feed/ 0