All posts by Animal

Rule Five Organ Donor Friday

Ever wondered about ways to solve the shortage of donor organs for folks needing transplants?  Well, John Stossel may have an idea on how to help, at least in some cases.  Excerpt:

I just clicked the box on the government form that asks if, once I die, I’m willing to donate my organs to someone who needs them.

Why not? Lots of people need kidneys, livers, etc. When I’m dead, I sure won’t need mine.

Still, there are not enough donors. So, more than 100,000 Americans are on a waiting list for kidneys. Taking care of them is so expensive, it consumes almost 3% of the federal budget!

So why not allow Americans to sell an organ?

People already legally sell blood, plasma, sperm, eggs and bone marrow. Why not a kidney? People have two. We can live a full life with just one.

If the U.S. allowed people to sell, the waiting list for kidneys would soon disappear.

“Poor people are going to be hurt,” replies philosophy professor Samuel Kerstein in my latest video. Kerstein advised the World Health Organization, which supports the near universal laws that ban selling organs.

“Body parts to be put into Americans will come from poor countries,” warns Kerstein. “I don’t want to see poor people in Pakistan having their lives truncated.”

What arrogance.

People have free will. Poor people are just as capable of deciding what’s best for them as rich people. Who are you, I asked Kerstein, to tell people they may not?

“We are people who care about people who are different from us,” he replied, “and poorer than we are. That’s why we care.”

These are “vacuous moralisms,” replies Lloyd Cohen, an attorney who’s long argued against the ban on organ-selling.

Vacuous is exactly the right term.

The fact is, you can sell an organ right now.  Let’s say you’re approached by someone who desperately needs a kidney – somehow they have become aware that you are a compatible donor.  Let’s say that this is a fabulously rich man or woman, and they make you a quiet offer – “…just between us, you understand.  I’ll put $1.5 million in an escrow account in your name, to be released to you after completion of the surgery.”

That’s technically against the law.  But who is going to report this crime?  The person whose life was saved, or the person who is now a mill and a half richer?

There’s no reason this should be illegal.  It’s a financial transaction between capable, consenting adults, both of whom have agreed to the terms of the transaction.

“But Animal,” you might ask, “won’t this sort of thing promote organ trafficking?”

“Organ trafficking happens now,” I’d reply, “and legalizing the process should actually reduce that by providing a supply of kidneys at less (or at least comparable) cost, with much less risk.”

Stossel has this one right.  It’s not the role of government to interfere in a private business arrangement between competent, consenting adults.

Animal’s Daily Meat Tax News

Fuck off, slavers!

Some idiots are thinking that a sin tax on red meat might be a good idea.  My reply:  Fuck off, slavers.  Excerpt:

The idea is still in its infancy and faces a lot of opposition from farming groups, but it’s emerging as a trend in Western Europe, said the research group. If taxes gain traction, it could encourage more people to switch to poultry or plant-based protein and help drive the popularity of meat substitutes.

“The global rise of sugar taxes makes it easy to envisage a similar wave of regulatory measures targeting the meat industry,” Fitch Solutions said. However, “it is highly unlikely that a tax would be implemented anytime soon in the United States or Brazil.”

In Germany, some politicians have proposed raising the sales tax on meat products to fund better livestock living conditions. A poll for the Funke media group showed a majority of Germans, or 56.4 percent, backed the measure, with more than a third calling it “very positive” and some 82 percent of voters for the environmentalist Greens in favor. Similar proposals have been introduced in Denmark and Sweden since 2016, Fitch Solutions said.

Goldsmiths, University of London, announced on Monday that it’ll stop selling beef on campus as part of a push to combat climate change. The decision was met with opposition from the U.K.’s National Farmers Union, which said it was “overly simplistic’’ to single out one food product as a response to global warming.

Not only is this a stupid idea – the very concept of a sin tax is utterly antithetical to a free society.  The very concept of liberty – actual, honest individual liberty – requires that free citizens live free of coercion, whether the coercion comes from a street-corner thug or government.

And let’s be honest, that’s what sin taxes are – coercion.  The government is using their power to initiate the use of force to change people’s behavior.  The only time government has the legitimate right to do that is to prevent one person from harming another physically or financially; to prevent the use of force or fraud by one citizen on another.

The purpose of taxation is to raise what funds various levels of government needs to carry out the (few) legitimate roles of government; namely to take care of a few distributed interests, like national defense, treating with other nations, and establishing currency – that can best be done at that level.

Not to change behavior.  Not to reward or punish.

Mind  you, the idiocy proposed in the linked article is in Europe.  But the United States has long had a wealth (hah) of sin taxes, and still does; only this week Princess Spreading Bull Warren proposed a sin tax on guns.

A sin tax on red meat?  There are certainly enough nitwits here that would find it a good idea.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Yesterday was a doozy.

After seeing to some family business and visiting our daughter in Iowa, Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. repaired Monday evening to Des Moines, where we had an early flight the next morning – yesterday.  We arose at 4AM and went from our one-night hotel room to the airport, there to board our plane on time.

And then, in that plane, we sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting for some thick fog to clear so we could take off on the VFR-only runway, the “instruments” runway being closed.  (Who knew that was a thing?)  So that made us an hour late getting into our connecting airport, Chicago/O’Hare, one of the worst airports in the nation.  And, sure as hell, we were rebooked on the next flight, with crappier seats.

And then that flight was delayed two hours due to weather screwing up air traffic on the Eastern Seaboard.  Instead of getting back to our temporary New Jersey lodgings at a little after noon, as expected, we got here about five o’clock.

Well, these things happen.  But because of that, I have no substantive news post today.  So instead, have a few random tidbits this morning:

Chris Cuomo Is An Asshole.

Don Lemon Is An Asshole.

Bernie Sanders Is An Asshole.

China Is A Nation Run By Assholes.

Joe Biden Is An Asshole.

Congress Is A Great Big Bag of Assholes.

It’s Assholes All The Way Down.

I guess the theme for today is “people in so-called ‘public service’ are generally assholes.”  But then, honestly, we knew that already, didn’t we?

And on that brown-eyed note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily Touch of Perspective News

Be sure to check out the latest in my Allamakee County Chronicles series over at Glibertarians!

Meanwhile:  It’s time to inject a little perspective into the discussions around mass shootings.  Notes on Liberty‘s

How to count victims of mass shootings has become – strangely enough- controversial. Nevertheless, I am quite certain that shootings, specifically, of strangers for other than greed, or jealousy, or disappointed love have not caused 10,000 deaths in any of the past few years, not even close.

Do you agree; do you see where I am going?

So drunk drivers kill many more people – about 10,000 annually – than mass shooters. The victims of the ones are just as dead as the victims of the others; the loss and grief associated with the ones must be similar to those associated with the others. The deaths from one cause seem to me to be as meaningless as the deaths from the other. (That’s by contrast with the death of a firefighter in the line of duty, for example.)

A rational collective response should give priority to the avoidance of the many deaths from drunk driving over the much fewer deaths caused by mass assassins. Yet, the public reactions of the left are exactly the reverse of those rational expectations. In part, this inversion of priorities is due to the magnification the media affords mass shootings but not the slow massacre on the roads. In part, it may be due to the sometimes concentrated nature of the death tolls by mass shooting. This explanation, however, has only limited value because the small death toll at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, for example, was given much more publicity than is conceivable for any drunk driving accident with three lethal casualties.

The problem with having policy discussions around mass shootings is simply this:  These are high-profile, highly-publicized events, often carried out with a type of firearm that the majority of the population has no familiarity with.  To make matters worse, would-be gun-banners and much of the mass media have been successfully characterizing these firearms as “assault weapons,” a term which is loosely based on cosmetic features and is, essentially, meaningless.

A little perspective is in order.  You are more likely to be killed by lightning than to die in a mass shooting.  While every incident is horrible and every death resulting from these is a tragedy, it’s very likely that it is precisely this sensationalizing of the issue that leads to more nutbars thinking of a mass shooting as a way to gain undying infamy.

There are a few things being proposed that make sense:  Improving, for example, how mental illness diagnoses feed into the FBI’s background checks database.  But Congress spending days and weeks arguing how to fiddle with regulations on rifles (that are almost never used in crimes) that look nasty?  That’s a waste of their time and our money.

But then, Congress has always been good at wasting their time and our money.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks again to Pirate’s Cove, Bacon Time and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Robert Stacy McCain has some interesting thoughts on the President’s responses to demands for a “conversation” on guns.  Excerpt:

I admit to some mild anxiety over Trump going wobbly regarding guns. Then I read Surber:

President Trump is playing Democrats again. They want to make gun control an issue. He said, OK, and took control of the gun control debate. The debate will be on his terms and in his language. That is power positioning.

The mopes at the Post and Matt Drudge thought they could divide President Trump from his supporters with the report on the NRA warning the president on guns.

I knew in an instant what was happening. I knew Democrats would lose because President Trump never engages the enemy without first winning the battle. I also knew the president, a busy man, had outsourced the terms of the Democrat surrender to the NRA.

Whatever deal is made will have the NRA’s approval.

I knew because of the First Squeal Rule. Whenever decisions are made privately, the loser is the one who goes public first in an effort to save face.I see a lot of musing on how President Trump is so adept at playing 3-D chess with his political opponents, who are legion.  But I don’t think it’s 3-D chess as much as the South Park version of roshambo; they kick him square in the nuts, he kicks them back square in the nuts twice as hard.

It’s a curious thing, though; one wonders if the quoted Surber is really correct.  The Overton Window has shifted quite a bit; President Trump is, politically, a 1980’s moderate Democrat on many policy issues.  As a New Yorker he doesn’t really have a personal investment in the Second Amendment.  He talks strongly on protecting our Second Amendment and has so far been strong on the subject, but I’m wondering how strong he’ll stick of Congressional Republicans start going wobbly.

The NRA has screwed its courage to the sticking-point on this issue.  But will the President?  That remains to be seen.

Rule Five Tax Deductions Friday

The Foundation for Economic Education is making a case for eliminating itemized income tax deductions.  I may have a better idea.  Excerpts, with my comments:

For decades, many economists have argued that itemized tax deductions complicate the individual income tax code, overly benefit the rich, and distort economic decision-making. Yet the popularity of itemization has made eliminating these deductions politically perilous.

Well, yes, itemized deductions do complicate the income tax code.  I don’t know as they overly benefit the rich, since the top 5% of income earners pay an overwhelming majority of income taxes.  But the entire argument about these policies “overly benefit(ing) the rich” is specious; it is based on the assumption that one’s income belongs first to the government, and that any you are allowed to keep is some sort of gift.  That’s bullshit.

New data from the IRS shows that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has substantially weakened the reach of tax itemization. Lawmakers should finish the job by eliminating the itemization of tax deductions and applying those new tax revenues to better uses, such as extending the TCJA.

No.  Lawmakers should go all the way, by eliminating the process by which government steals the property of the citizenry.

Now, I’m not an anarchist.  I am a minarchist; I believe that government at all levels should be minimal and strictly restrained.  But even a minarchist government requires funding.  So how to do that?  Read on!

Shifting the remaining tax filers to the standard deduction has several advantages:

Some of which are horseshit:

First, these benefits are extraordinarily tilted to the top earners—both because the remaining itemizers are disproportionately high-income, and because a filer in the 35 percent tax bracket will save nearly three times as much money from the same $1,000 deduction as a filer in the 12 percent bracket.

Heavens forbid!  These policies allow taxpayers to keep more of their own property!

The mortgage interest deduction essentially subsidizes the purchase of large homes by upper-income families. Just nine percent of homeowners earning under $100,000 take this deduction, saving an average of just $770 each.

So, instead of trimming the edges of this onerous and corrupt system, let’s do away with it altogether.

The charitable giving deduction has proven to be less tax-sensitive than TCJA critics feared, as last year’s steep decline in the number of itemizing taxpayers brought only an inflation-adjusted 1.1 percent decline in charitable giving by families and individuals.

Good.  Then presumably charitable giving won’t die off when we tear down the entire system.

Overall, Congressional Budget Office estimates show that eliminating itemized deductions would raise revenues by approximately $85 billion per year (assuming the TCJA is extended).

I don’t want to raise revenues.  I want to decrease them.  Let the beast starve!

Here’s a better idea:  Stop taxing income.  Tax consumption.  A reasonable national retail-level sales tax (most assuredly not a VAT) combined with user fees for things like national parks, would:

  1. Make sure everyone has skin in the game.  Everybody buys things; everybody pays.
  2. Eliminate the entire, enormous, economic-activity-draining Imperial apparatus that now collects steals tax revenue from producers.
  3. Collect revenues from the underground economy; pimps and drug dealers buy cars, cell phones and so forth.  Let them pay taxes on their consumption, allowing a lower rate for all of us.
  4. Starve the beast.  The Imperial government has only two legitimate purposes:  To keep anyone from injuring we citizens or from taking our stuff.

Taxation is theft!  (If you don’t believe that, stop paying your taxes and see how long it takes for someone to send men with guns out looking for you.)  Let’s at least reduce the theft to a lower level, and introduce some degree of voluntary effort into the process.

Animal’s Daily SanFran Kookery News

Not in San Francisco.

This seems to be the week for kookery.  Now the sale of plastic water bottles has been banned at the San Francisco airport.  Yes, really.  Excerpt:

The new rule will apply to airport restaurants, cafes and vending machines. Travelers who need plain water will have to buy refillable aluminum or glass bottles if they don’t bring their own.

As a department of San Francisco’s municipal government, the airport is following an ordinance approved in 2014 banning the sale of plastic water bottles on city-owned property.

The shift away from plastics is also part of a broader plan to slash net carbon emissions and energy use to zero and eliminate most landfill waste by 2021, said airport spokesman Doug Yakel.

But, considering the approximately 4 million plastic water bottles sold per year at the airport, it may be more difficult for vendors to adhere to the water bottle ban.

Whether vendors out of compliance will be penalized is unclear, but Yakel said the airport hopes that “won’t be necessary.”

SFO vendors already are required to provide only compostable single-use foodware, including to-go containers, condiment packets, straws and utensils.

So in San Francisco nowadays:

You can crap on the sidewalk but you can’t buy a plastic water bottle.

You can shoot up heroin on the street but you can’t vape.

You can pitch a tent and set up housekeeping in a city park but you can’t have a plastic straw.

I’m glad that the San Francisco City Council has evidently solved all of that formerly great cities other issues so they can focus on this minutia, because…

…oh, wait…

They haven’t.  Bums are still shooting up in doorways, sleeping in the BART and crapping on the sidewalks.

The city’s crime rate is still pooching upwards.

Tourists are still buying feces maps to know where the particularly egregious messes are on any given day.

And young folks living in the area still can’t afford housing.

It’s sad to see a place that was, once, legitimately one of the country’s great cities, slowly descending into madness.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Non-bathing hippies claim they don’t smell.  Color me skeptical.  Excerpt:

David Whitlock has not showered or bathed for 15 years, yet he does not have body odour. “It was kind of strange for the first few months, but after that I stopped missing it,” he says. “If I get a specific part of my body dirty, then I’ll wash that specific part” – but never with soap. As well as germs, soap gets rid of the skin’s protective oils and alters its pH level. Although Whitlock appreciated gaining an extra 15 minutes a day from soap-dodging, his primary motivation was to encourage friendly microbes to live on him in symbiotic harmony. The bacteria get to feast on the ammonia from his sweat and he gets low-maintenance, balanced skin.

Just as awareness of the importance of the gut microbiome has led to a boom in probiotic and fermented foods and supplements, there is increasing interest in our skin microbiome: the trillions of microbes that protect us from pathogens and keep us healthy by making vitamins and other useful chemicals. In this unprecedentedly sanitised era, in which eczema, acne and problems associated with dry skin are rife, consumers are hungry for solutions. Even the mainstream brand Dove claims vaguely that its products are “microbiome-gentle”.

Bald assertion does not an argument make.

I’m reminded of a guy I knew in the Army that everyone called “Stinky.”  Every basic training company had one, I’m pretty sure; ours had to be “convinced” to shower regularly by being dragged in and scrubbed with the floor brushes.

I’d bet a substantial amount of money that these odoriferous folks don’t work at a job where they get dirty or sweaty.  Not too many people these days seem to know what it’s like to have a job where you have to shower after work, but boy howdy, I sure remember what that’s like.

Now I don’t like scented soap or (ugh) “body washes.”  I don’t use aftershave or cologne.  I use Ivory soap.  Pure, unscented Ivory soap.

And there have been times when returning from deer/elk season that the shower water has run off me grey.  In such a case, I’m damn well using soap.

Soaps clean well because they are surfactants.  They break down oils and greases and float them right off your skin.  I don’t use antibacterial soaps, not because I’m worried about my skin’s “microbiome” but because I think you can be over-sanitized to the point where your resistance is weakened.

I suppose, then, that there’s such a thing as being too clean.  But there sure as hell is such a thing as being too stinky.