Rule Five Polygamy Friday

This story in PJMedia last weekend got me to thinking about the whole topic of plural marriage – not the arranged, non-consensual type practiced in parts of the Middle East and Africa, but the consensual, between-consenting-adults type practiced in the Western nations.  The PJMedia article focused on a bill passed in Utah outlawing bigamy; here’s an excerpt:

Another family — one man and his three wives — has vowed to never leave Utah.

“My concern is all this is going to do is drive the good polygamous people who don’t have those abuses more into hiding,” Meri Brown, a plural wife, told the Salt Lake Tribune, “and it’s going to make the people who do have those abuses just be able to do them even more.”

“It also classifies all polygamists as second-class citizens,” added her husband, Kody Brown.

Kody Brown is legally married not just to Meri, but to another woman, Robyn. He is “spiritually married” to Meri, and Janelle and Christine, who have all taken his last name.

But here’s the part that jumps out at me:

HB99 would change the definition of bigamy to include people who “purport” to marry two or more people and live with them. Currently, only one or the other provision is required to be a bigamist.

Bigamy would still be a third-degree felony under HB99. But the penalty of up to five years in prison could go up to as much as 15 years if the bigamy is associated with another crime like abuse, fraud or smuggling.

Prosecutors in Utah have not prosecuted many cases of bigamy unless some kind of abuse or other crime can be included in the criminal charges.

OK, I have a couple of questions for the Utah legislature:

  1. Aren’t abuse, fraud and smuggling already crimes that carry potential prison sentences?
  2. That being the case, why is it necessary to increase penalties because of a supposed marital relationship?

Frankly, I can’t see how people’s household arrangements are the government’s business.  This is one of the reasons I’d like to see government out of the marriage business altogether; the very idea that a consenting, competent adult needs the government’s permission to marry another consenting, competent adult is anathema to the concept of individual liberty.

So this Kody Brown is “spiritually” married to three women.  (Better him than me; Mrs. Animal is all I can handle and then some.)  There should only be one factor that matters here:

Are all four of them competent, consenting adults who entered into this arrangement of their own free will?

If so, it’s nobody else’s furshlugginer business how they choose to live.  It’s most especially not the business of some snoop from the state of Utah, or any other level of government.

The second half of this argument is, of course, the collection of welfare benefits by wives who are not “legally” married.  Well, I have two possible solutions to that:  End the calculation of government-sanctioned benefits by married couple and apportion any government largess by household, or (better still) end the government distribution of charity altogether.  It’s not the taxpayers’ responsibility to subsidize you if you downloaded kids you can’t afford.

There is a basic concept at point here:  Liberty.  Liberty is the natural condition of human beings, wherein they live and act as they please, unfettered by government interference, as long as they cause no physical or fiscal harm to anyone else.   I can’t see how the polygamist Brown is hurting anyone else by having three wives, “spiritual” or otherwise, as long as no “abuse, fraud or smuggling” or any other illegal shenanigans is going on.

It’s a shame that the state of Utah doesn’t seem to get that.

Animal’s Daily Jury Nullification News

Thanks to Darkness Over the Land for the linkback!

If  you were on a jury, hearing a case where a man was on trial for murder – the murder of a man who had raped and beaten his daughter – what would you do?  Even if the evidence supported the prosecution overwhelmingly, even if the defendant admitted the killing – what would you do?  Plenty of folks would have a hard time blaming the father.  That is why jury nullification is a real thing, and in fact part of a jury’s duty, even if plenty of prosecutors disagree.  Excerpt:

Prosecutors and their groupies don’t really care why they were thwarted—just that they didn’t get their way. When refused convictions in high-profile criminal cases, they tend to act as if the government has been denied something to which it’s entitled by divine word and the laws of nature.  Amidst whining by prosecutors about spending a week with “12 idiots,” and huffing by editorial boards over an “absurd verdict,” it’s difficult to know whether a not guilty verdict represents an act of juror rebellion or a simple statement that the government didn’t live up to its obligation to prove its arguments. Although, either way, jurors likely consider themselves to be doing what’s right.

That was certainly the case last year when all the usual people assumed that jury nullification was at the root of the acquittal of seven defendants who had occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in protest of federal dominance of land throughout the West.

“The jury plainly failed to enact their Constitutional duty to apply the law rather than their opinions, and speaking as a professor of politics and government as well as a citizen of the United States, that’s scary,” wrote Lane Crothers of the University of Illinois in the pages of the New York Daily News. He went on to warn, essentially, that the peasants are revolting because they “don’t like the federal government’s presence in their lives.” That’s very bad, according to him.

Not so fast, one of the actual jurors protested in a letter to The Oregonian. “It should be known that all 12 jurors felt that this verdict was a statement regarding the various failures of the prosecution to prove ‘conspiracy’ in the count itself—and not any form of affirmation of the defense’s various beliefs, actions or aspirations.”

And:

Which is why it’s more common to see cases like the rapid acquittal of an Ohio machinist who was arrested for making what Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives agents claimed were firearms noise suppressors (so-called “silencers”) without a license. Already on probation for manufacturing the devices, he was busted when federal agents said he was back in business and selling his inventory on eBay. He claimed his products were actually unregulated muzzle brakes and that the government’s “expert” had no idea what he was talking about.

Whether the jury believed the machinist, or whether they thought it was ridiculous to threaten a man with producing items that can easily be made on a home workbench and that lawmakers at the state and federal level are considering deregulating, is something we’ll probably never know. It’s equally possible that jurors thought the prosecution presented a weak and unconvincing case as it is that they considered the law ridiculous and refused to enforce it. Either way, they likely concluded that they were carrying out their responsibility to do justice and protect defendants from government overreach.

Because, ultimately, jury nullification is just an extension of the jury’s role as a check on the state—whether prosecutors are applying law badly, or just applying bad law. When jurors take their responsibilities seriously, they can push prosecutors to present more-convincing arguments, and they can prompt legislators to rethink whole areas of policy.

In fact, jury nullification is the ultimate expression of a free citizenry exercising their veto power over agents of government – their employees.  The law is frequently an ass, and the “system” frequently has little to do with justice.  Every free, responsible citizen has the right to determine what justice is, and every citizen called to serve on a jury has the right to see justice done.  And yes, sometimes that justice isn’t what the law says.  Sometimes it is what is right.

Objective laws should only deal criminally with those accused of the initiation of the use of force or fraud.  In my scenario above, the enraged father was not initiating force, but responding to it; and yet the law, being an ass, says he is guilty of criminal homicide.

Plenty of people – and jurors – might disagree.  That’s why jury nullification is important; it’s a fundamental check on government.  That’s also why prosecutors and judges generally hate it.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Townhall’s Ed Klein thinks her Imperial Majesty Hillary I’s new look means she’s planning to run for President again.  Excerpt:

On International Women’s Day earlier this month, Hillary Clinton wore a red pantsuit and bangs to give a speech at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Allure online headlined the event: “Hillary Clinton’s Haircut Is Taking the Internet By Storm.”

A week later, Hillary stopped traffic on New York’s Fifth Avenue as she came out of the Bergdorf Goodman hair salon, where she got a $600 dye job and a $600 haircut.

The bangs were gone and her hair was several shades lighter.

Experience tells us that when Hillary experiments with her hair style, she’s up to something. I reported on that “something” a month ago when I revealed that, as fanciful as it might seem, Hillary has plans to run again for president.

She hinted at those plans during a St. Patrick’s Day speech when she told a dinner crowd of 500 people in Scranton, Pennsylvania: “I am ready to come out of the woods.”

Meaning there aren’t going to be more walks in the woods near her home in Chappaqua, New York, because she’s gearing up to do battle with Donald Trump.

First, let me present my honest reaction at the thought of Her Imperial Majesty running again in 2020:

 Here’s the funny bit:  One of the primary reasons she lost last year was that President Trump did a better job of connecting with the common folks than she did.  So, to re-start herself, Her Royal Highness begins with dropping a cool $1200 on her hair.

What the fuck, Hillary?

A significant portion of Democrats, especially the younger progressive Left, are still pissed off at Her Imperial Highness’s campaign for the shenanigans they pulled to freeze out the daffy old socialist from Vermont.  Now, the most deeply and fundamentally corrupt political figure since Huey Long – maybe since Caligula – is doubling down on stupid by flaunting her wealth to all and sundry.

That won’t play well with the political Left.  But Her Imperial Majesty has shown very little capacity to learn from her mistakes.

Animal’s Daily Heath Care Rights News

This just in from the folks at Reason magazine:  What Does It Mean to Have a Right To Health Care?  Excerpt:

Despite the popular misconception, health care is not beyond economic law; it is not a free good that falls like manna from heaven. It has to be produced, which means people must mix their scarce labor with scarce resources to produce the things used to perform the medical services we want. It would be foolish to expect them to donate their labor and resources because other people need them. They have their own lives to live and livelihoods to earn. It would be wrong to compel them. They are not slaves.

In other words, no one can have a right to medical care or insurance, that is, to the labor services and resources of other people—including the taxpayers. We hear a great deal about the need to respect all people; well, respecting people must include respecting their liberty and justly acquired possessions. Without that, “respect” is hollow.

Politicians, of course, can declare a right to medical care, but those are mere words. What counts is what happens after the declaration. Since a system in which everyone could have, on demand, all the medical care they wanted at no cost would be unsustainable, the so-called right to medical care necessarily translates into the power of politicians and bureaucrats to set the terms under which medical services and products may be provided and received. This is crucial: a government-declared “right” (that does not reflect natural rights) is no right at all; it is rather a declared government power to allocate goods and services.

Natural rights—which boil down to the single right not to be aggressed against—require only that one abstain from aggression. Thus all can exercise their rights at once without conflict. On the other hand, government-invented “rights”—such as the right to medical care—cannot be exercised at the same time; the potential for conflict is built in. For example, a person cannot use his own money as he wishes if the government health care system takes it by force through taxation to pay for other people’s services.

It’s difficult to add anything to that, but I’ll give it a shot.

Taxpayer-funded health care can’t be a right.  It is an indulgence, an exercise in charity on the part of government.  But most importantly, it is a fundamentally an infringement on liberty.  If one has a government-guaranteed taxpayer-funded health care, that requires someone else (a taxpayer) to surrender a portion of their own wealth, their own property, to pay for it.  That means that the taxpayer is required to labor for a portion of the year with no recompense.

There are several words for that; indenture is probably the most polite one.

I’m a minimal-government libertarian, but I’m not an anarchist.  There are legitimate distributed interests that are best handled by government:  Defense, for example.  But defense is not subject to market forces the way health care is.  Here’s the key excerpt form the Reason article:

The market method of deciding what is produced solves this complex problem. How? Through the price system. When people are free to trade goods and services in the market, they generate prices that inform others (even if anyone is aware of this) about the relative supply of and demand for things. Those prices then guide producers and consumers. While their objective is not to create a grand and complex process that encourages the coordination countless plans, economizes on resources and labor, and enables people to achieve their well-being in an unrivaled manner, that is in effect what they do. This is what Adam Smith meant with his “invisible hand” trope. Prices guide people to do “the right thing.”

But politicians don’t understand price theory – or if they do, they ignore it, to garner votes.  I don’t know which is worse.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Off to the airport in a few to return to the loony environs of Silicon Valley for another stint at work, after a pleasant weekend in our own Colorado.  But we always have time to extend our thanks to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

President Trump has submitted a budget, and it looks to be putting a whole bunch of Imperial bureaucrats on notice:  Put up or shut up, and by shut up, he means “you’re fired!”  Excerpt:

President Trump’s administration, unlike its predecessor, understands that when a federal program is failing, it might be time to end it rather than shovel more money into it. That much is clear not just in the programs eliminated in Trump’s proposed budget, but in justifications given for many of the cuts.

The $202 million International Food for Education program? Eliminated, because it “lacks evidence that it is being effectively implemented to reduce food insecurity.” The $2.4 billion Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program? Gone, because it is “poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact.” The $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program? Erased, because it “has not demonstrated results.”

In addition to saving taxpayer money, this puts bureaucrats on notice that they must prove effective and worth the money or they’ll be on the chopping block.

About damn time.

Rumored to be on the chopping block, as in eliminated completely, are such Imperial nonsensical money pits as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities.  I only just quoted this a week ago, but it bears repeating:  As Robert Heinlein famously said, “a government-subsidized artist is an incompetent whore,” and now (hopefully) some incompetent whores will be cut off the Imperial teat.

Fact is, True Believers, that the Imperial government not only shouldn’t be paying for this sort of thing – the Constitution, read with a grain of sense, actually prohibits it – but they can’t pay for this sort of thing anymore.  $20 trillion in debt and unfunded obligations kind of precludes it.

Democrats in Congress (and a few Republicans as well) will call President Trump’s proposed budget “heartless,” “cruel” and some other pejoratives.  We call it “a good start.”  And I have a pretty good idea (see image to left) what the President’s response will be to the cries of outrage.

Rule Five Energy Finds Friday

Our economy, like it or not, runs on oil, and it looks like two oil companies have just found a metric shitload of it (for the record, that’s 1.14 standard shitloads) in Alaska.  And there’s more.  Excerpt:

Spanish oil giant Repsol (REPYY) has revealed the largest U.S. onshore oil discovery in 30 years, located in Alaska’s North Slope.

Repsol and joint venture partner Armstrong Energy claim to have found a massive conventional oil play that holds up to 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable light crude. The discovery was confirmed after Repsol drilled two test wells during the 2016-2017 winter season. According to the company, the area was previously considered to be a mature oil basin. Oil is expected to flow beginning in 2021, with a potential rate approaching 120,000 barrels per day.

Denver-based Armstrong, a privately held exploration company, operates the North Slope project and holds a 75% working interest in the Horseshoe discovery. The Repsol discovery follows the revelation of what geologists believe is the largest shale oil play in the country.

In November, the U.S. Geological Survey said the Midland Basin, which is part of the oil-rich Permian shale play, is estimated to contain 20 billion barrels of oil and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas. The new figures would make the Midland Basin about three times bigger than North Dakota’s Bakken formation.

Exxon is betting on these finds – betting big.

President Trump has already opened the door his predecessor closed on the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines.  Opening that door will being another shitload (metric or standard, you choose) of Canadian crude into American refineries, and protests from environmentalist radicals aside, that’s manifestly a Good Thing for President Trump’s stated goal of kick-starting the American economy.

Why?  That’s simple.  As stated, our economy runs on oil and natural gas.  More domestic sources mean less energy we have to purchase from other countries.  A significant amount of those other countries don’t like us very much, and at present we’re sending them a lot of American petrodollars.

But more to the point, the laws of supply and demand obtain here.  A find this size, once developed – and it looks like the North Slope finds will be coming online pretty quickly – will reduce the price of oil (which, I remind you, is a fungible commodity with a global market) significantly.

Want to kick-start the economy?  Cheap energy is the best way to do that.  It doesn’t matter what your company does, what product they build, what service they provide, they need energy to do it.  Solar and wind power don’t produce enough for a modern industrial economy.

And there’s more.  Take a look at your computer, or your tablet, or your cellular phone; whatever you are using to read these virtual pages.  A good part of it’s material, whatever it is, derives from petroleum.  Take a look at your car; if it’s a recent model a good part of it’s high-tech, modernly engineered structure is plastic; plastics derived from petroleum.

Our modern technological economy runs on oil and gas.  Repsol and Armstrong have just changed the oil and gas game with this discovery.  President Trump may take the credit for the boom that should result (and in the case of the pipelines, he does deserve a bit of the credit) but Repsol and Armstrong are the names to watch for the next couple of years.

Animal’s Daily NutBallery News

Just when you thought California (where I am temporarily hanging my hat) couldn’t get any more harebrained ideas than they already had, they are now thinking of making teachers exempt from state income taxes.

And here I thought the Left never saw a tax they didn’t like.  Excerpt:

A bill moving through the state Legislature seeks to give California teachers a big tax break to entice them to enter the profession and stay — a nationally unprecedented approach to boosting salaries amid a shortage in the field.

Senate Bill 807 would exempt veteran teachers from paying state income tax for 10 years and help new teachers pay for their education and certification costs. Teachers with at least five years’ experience who earn a $75,000 salary would gain the equivalent of a 5 percent raise, saving nearly $4,000 on their annual tax bill.

About 300,000 teachers would benefit from the tax cut in the first year. The measure’s sponsors believe the financial support would increase the number of people entering the field and retain more educators who are already in classrooms.

A statewide teacher shortage has hit many districts hard, with more than 7,000 classrooms staffed by teachers operating under some type of emergency credential or waiver. The San Francisco Unified School District started the school year with 38 teacher vacancies.

Californians being economically illiterate (with a few notable exceptions) is nothing new.  But this just beats all.  The labor market is like any other market; supply and demand obtains.  Any market will only pay a certain value for any commodity or service; when demand falls, so does the price.

But San Francisco, that home-base of nutballery that lies about 40 miles north of me as I type these words, has a different problem.  Decades of restrictive zoning laws and NIMBY building restrictions have raised Bay Area property values through the roof and on into the stratosphere.  Nice if you already own a home in the area (and have since the late Seventies) but lousy if you are trying to start a career there.  I know the malady; my own Denver is seeing much the same thing on a smaller scale.

If young teachers were able to afford homes in the Bay Area, maybe they wouldn’t have trouble filling teacher positions.  The solution is obvious – deregulate land use –  but here in looney old Californey, it just ain’t gonna happen.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

This is a fun one:  Radiation Reporters Go Bananas!  Literally.  Excerpt:

Long-time readers know that very useful measures of both radioactivity and radiation dose rates are the Banana Equivalent Dose (BED), and a similar measure I think I invented (because no one else ever bothered) called the Banana Equivalent Radioactivity (BER). (The units here are explained in my old article “Understanding Radiation.”)

Bananas are useful for these measures because bananas concentrate potassium, and a certain amount of that potassium is ⁴⁰K, which is naturally radioactive. The superscript “40” there is the atomic number, or the number of protons in the nucleus, of that particular potassium (symbol K) isotope. Because of that potassium content, bananas are mildly radioactive: a medium banana at around 150g emits about 1 micro-Sievert per hour (1 µSv/hr) and contains about 15 Becquerel (15 Bq) of radioactive material.

(Why bananas? There are a lot of plant-based foods that concentrate potassium. It is, however, an essential rule of humor that bananas are the funniest fruit.)

Our radioactive boars are considered unfit at 600 Bq per kilogram. So, a tiny bit of arithmetic [(1000 g/kg)/150 g/banana × 15 Bq/banana] gives us 100 Bq/kg for bananas. All right, so this boar meat has 6 times as much radioactivity as a banana. Personally, this wouldn’t worry me.

So let’s turn to the radioactivity detected off the Oregon coast. This is 0.3 Bq per cubic meter. Conveniently — the joys of metric — one cubic meter of water is one metric tonne is 1000 liters is 1000 kilograms, so the radiation content here is .0003 Bq/kg.

15/0.0003 is 50,000. So, bananas have 50,000 times more radiation than the seawater being reported.

The root cause of all this, which author Charlie Martin has some well-justified fun with, is simple; “science” writers frequently know bugger-all about the topics they are writing about.  This is a good example, although I have to admit Charlie makes a doozy of a blooper regarding atomic number vs. atomic weight in this selfsame article.

But really – fact check any of the science articles on plenty of news sites.  The better of them generally get the broad strokes all right, but there are frequent boners – some deliberate, most just careless.

And, on that note:

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.