All posts by Animal

Rule Five Second Amendment Friday

This is a good, thoughtful piece from the American Thinker’s Robert Curry:  How to Defend the Second Amendment.  Excerpt:

On one side of the debate, there is the left.  The Founders’ understanding is certainly not to be found there.  The left rejects the thinking of the Founders and is determined to take the Founders’ republic down.  On the other side, the defenders of the Founders do not even use the language of the Founders – and do not seem to realize how far afield they have wandered.  James Madison, who drafted the Second Amendment, would be astonished by this strange post-constitutional, even post-American, debate.  

How would any of the Founders have made the case for the Second Amendment?  Why, in terms of unalienable rights, of course.  The concept of unalienable rights is the key to understanding the American Founding.  The Declaration of Independence declared that we have unalienable rights.  It went on to declare that securing those rights is the very purpose of government – “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.”  According to the Declaration, any government that deviates from the noble purpose of securing those rights is illegitimate.

And:

Now, let’s consider the First Amendment before moving on to the Second.  Please notice how it begins: Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press[.]”  The very first words of the very first amendment are “Congress shall make no law.”  No rights are here granted to the citizen.  They cannot be because those rights are unalienable, that is, already possessed by the citizen. 

The First Amendment follows the logic of the Constitution as a whole; it restricts what the federal government – in this case, Congress – can do. 

So does the Second: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  That “shall not be infringed” is strong language and perfectly clear.  To infringe is to trespass, to intrude, to encroach.  “Shall not be infringed” in plain language means “No Trespassing.”  And it is the government that is warned to keep out.

I’ve used practical, utilitarian arguments myself in arguing against various legislatures, city, state and Imperial, wasting their time and my money with gun control laws.  Such laws have been largely ineffective at reducing crime rates or preventing mass-casualty situations; indeed, in the United States the opposite has been shown, as gun ownership and concealed-carry are at all-time highs, while the violent crime rate has dropped to a near-historic low.

But, as Mr. Curry points out, the Second Amendment, which very plainly puts forth the intent of the Founders, should be all the argument we need.  But the argument he makes, and its comparison to the First Amendment, has one flaw:  There are those among the Left who don’t much care for the First Amendment, either.  Take a look at the various “hate speech” proposals, or just take a gander at any left-wing protest and note the “hate speech is not free speech” placards.

We are in a time when basic freedoms and basic rights are very much under attack.  I’m afraid it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Animal’s Daily Hidden Tax News

This just in from libertarian scribe John Stossel:  Hidden Taxes.  Excerpt:

Yesterday was “Tax Day.” It was April 17 this year because April 15 fell on Sunday and Monday was Emancipation Day. But by calling April 17 “Tax Day,” the media miss the big picture. Income taxes make up less than half the tax most of us pay.

We also must pay payroll tax, corporate tax, gift tax, gambling tax, federal unemployment tax, gas tax, cable and telecom taxes, plane ticket tax, FCC subscriber line charges, car documentation fees, liquor and cigarette taxes, etc.

People can’t keep track. For my latest YouTube video, Tate asked people, “What’s your tax rate?” Tourists in Times Square said that they thought they paid about 20 percent. But they left off the hotel taxes, airline taxes, etc., that push Americans’ total tax load to almost 50 percent.

And yet, with all these taxes, the Imperial government is still 20 trillion dollars in debt.

There are two sides to this problem.

  1. Most people have no idea how much they are actually taxed, at all levels.  Here in the Casa de Animal we probably have a better idea than most, as we have been small business owners for years and have to make quarterly payments.  But payroll withholding has effectively ‘hidden’ direct taxes, and most folks aren’t bothered to add up all the various taxes and fees that suck away income.
  2. The scope of government is out of control.  No matter how much of our resources the government confiscates under threat of force (try not paying your Imperial taxes and see how long it takes them to send men with guns out after you) the governments spend more, and more, and more.  The answer is obvious and I’ve said it many times here:  Fuck you, cut spending.

There’s an answer to all this, at least at the Imperial level:  The balanced budget amendment and the FairTax.  But the odds of the Imperial Congress voting to strip themselves of that much power is so small as to be immeasurable; you’d have better odds counting neutrinos.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

It seems San Francisco is having trouble presenting themselves as a desirable tourist destination.  Having just spent a year working in that unenviable area, I can see why.  Excerpt, with my comments:

As president of S.F. Travel, the city’s visitors bureau, Joe D’Alessandro’s job is to promote San Francisco. You’d think he’d be hyping the city’s gorgeous vistas, top-notch restaurants and glorious museums.

Instead, he’s getting honest.

It’s hard to see what other choice he has.  This is a city where the “homeless advocacy” groups fought bitterly against attempts to crack down on public defecation.  The city now distributes “poop maps” to tell tourists which areas to avoid.

The ancient Romans knew better than this.  The ruling cabal of San Francisco?  Not so much.

Sure, San Francisco has great facets worthy of postcards and travel books, but it also has a worsening underbelly that D’Alessandro says he can no longer gloss over.

No shit.  Well, actually, yes, shit.  Literally shit.

People injecting themselves with drugs in broad daylight, their dirty needles and other garbage strewn on the sidewalks. Tent camps. Human feces. The threatening behavior of some people who appear either mentally ill or high. Petty theft.

“The streets are filthy. There’s trash everywhere. It’s disgusting,” D’Alessandro said, adding he’s traveled the world, and San Francisco stands out for the wrong reasons. “I’ve never seen any other city like this — the homelessness, dirty streets, drug use on the streets, smash-and-grabs.

I witnessed this for my own self during the year I lived and worked in the area.

“How can it be?” he continued. “How can it have gotten to this point?”

Well, you might ask yourself who has been running this city for the past several decades.  That might yield the answer you are looking for.

Remember, this is the man whose job is to glorify San Francisco, which tells you something about how far the city has sunk.

I don’t envy the guy his job.  He might consider moving his talents to some other, more appealing tourism destination, like Cleveland.

San Francisco is in the state it’s in because of one thing:  Decades of mushy-headed, political correct government.  The problems Mr. D’Allesandro is dealing with won’t be fixed without fixing the root cause – San Francisco voters, who keep putting the same lunatics in charge of the asylum.

In other words, Frisco is, yes, a microcosm of the state in which it resides.

Animal’s Daily Government Waste News

Nobody should be surprised by this, but the Imperial government is going to audit the progress of Californey’s high-speed train to nowhere, and things aren’t looking good.  Excerpt:

Gee, I wonder what federal auditors will find — besides a phantom train set and a lot of wasted money? With a new study out showing that California doesn’t have the funding to complete even the first phase of their high-speed rail project, the Inspector General for the Department of Transportation will open the books to see how federal monies have been spent:

California’s high-speed rail project is facing an audit from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s as costs continue to climb.

The inspector general’s audit, announced Thursday, will examine the Federal Railroad Administration’s oversight of nearly $3.5 billion in federal grant money awarded to the project.

That’s bad news for a project that has already had plenty of bad news over the last several years. The IG will apparently focus mainly on how the FRA has performed in reporting on California’s progress rather than the performance of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. At issue will be whether the FRA has enforced project performance requirements, but that will still point out the lack of progress California has made despite all of the cash it received:

The federal money awarded to California comes with specific conditions that Kelly has promised to meet. They include completing a 119-mile (192-kilometer) segment of track now under construction in the Central Valley and finishing environmental reviews for the full line by 2022.

The audit will specifically evaluate how the Federal Railroad Administration determines whether California has complied with federal guidelines.

Out on a limb.

Let us all hazard a guess, shall we?  The state of this project’s finances will, very likely, be grounds for multiple prosecutions, if not a full-blown RICO investigation.  This is a cluster-fuck of, well, Californian proportions.

And the bad thing is this:  It was doomed to failure from the start.  A high-speed rail network will work in a country like Japan, where 200 million people live in a land the size of California.  Trains are even useful in the densely populated northeaster USA.  But in the wide-open Western states, where there are miles and miles of miles and miles?

Nope.

This entire project wasn’t thought up and pushed through for any practical reason.  It was state-wide virtue signalling, nothing but, in a heavy-handed attempt by government to wean people off their cars (which allow a pesky amount of independence and freedom of movement) and shove them into rail travel.

Doomed to failure, True Believers.  I’m sure you didn’t hear it here first, but it’s nonetheless true.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

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

File this under “so obvious it’s not funny”:  Science Proves Communism Makes Nations Poorer and Less Healthy.

Duh.  Excerpt, with my comments interspersed:

Researchers testing historical connections between cultures found that whether a country had been under communism was the biggest factor for those with lower health, income and educational levels.

In the first undertaking of its kind, they analyzed the fortunes of 44 countries across Europe and Asia and looked at geography, religion, systems of government and a more intangible quality called “deep cultural ancestry.”

I wonder how you quantify “deep cultural ancestry?”

Writing in the journal Royal Society Open Science, they matched these factors against where they ranked on the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures per-capita income, life expectancy at birth and the number of years its citizens spend in education.

Actually those seem like pretty fair measures of how prosperous a society is.  I can think of many more, but it’s a start.

Most of the issues they looked at appeared to have little or no effect on the disparities between the countries, except for Islamic countries scoring a little worse on education.

Instead, the single strongest predictor for a country’s health, and the second-strongest for its wealth, turned out to be whether its rulers had embraced communism.

Who knew?  Well, anyone who has read about the history of communism – or anyone who has read a recent news story about conditions in North Korea.

I don’t have numbers, but I have a strong suspicion, backed by fifty-six years of direct observation, that the converse is true as well:  You can probably draw a direct correlation between per-capita income, life expectancy at birth and education and liberty.  That is to say, the free-est nations are almost certainly the most prosperous.

Why hasn’t anyone studied this?  Oh, wait – a big group of people have been studying it for over two hundred years.  We’re called Americans.  As supporting evidence, I offer the fact that people in every other nation of the world, including those who claim to hate us, all want to come live here.

Rule Five Immigration Ideology Friday

This just in (well, earlier this week) from national treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  Illegal Immigration Ideology.  Excerpt:

The ideology of illegal immigration rests on certain illogical assumptions that must not be questioned. Immigration exactly is one-way. But why exactly do we simply accept that without inquiry? What is it about a free-market, constitutional, transparent, and law-abiding America that draws in millions desperate to abandon their homes in otherwise naturally rich landscapes in Mexico and Central America?

In the absence of intellectual honesty about the need for political and economic reform in Latin America, mythologies can abound. Millions are desperate to enter a country antithetical to the protocols of their own. They are even more desperate to stay here — even as many mask that paradox by expressing ethnic and cultural chauvinism, along with anger at their hosts. Witness the signs, flags, and symbols of many open-borders, anti-immigration-enforcement rallies. Apparently, nations that create conditions that drive out their own can be the objects of romance, but only at a safe distance.

The ethos of the Mexican government has become surreal. Its racist and imperial classes welcome the flight of 10 percent of its indigenous population. It assumes that the United States cannot, must not, adopt immigration laws similar to its own. Driving out one’s own people apparently vents social tensions in lieu of reform, and the government is thereby exempted from accountability for its utter failures. About $30 billion arrive in return as remittances, many of these transferences subsidized by American social services and entitlements.

Now, I’m not against immigration per se.  I am against illegal immigration.  I’m also against unchecked immigration; the day when the United States can absorb an unlimited number of immigrants is over.  We should now be selective in admitting only people who can contribute to our economy; we can either have a welfare state or open borders, but we most assuredly not have both.

I’ve been asked how, holding as I do minarchist libertarian opinions, I can favor restrictions on immigration.   While I do believe that people have a right to travel, in this case property rights take precedence, and to the people of a nation, the nation is their property; a nation is a defined structure, an association of people (a voluntary association, I might add – if you don’t like it in the U.S.,you are certain free to leave) and not only do we have the right to protect our property, our nation, against invasion, we also have the right of disassociation – the right to choose who we allow to join our group.

Dr. Hanson concludes:  When Jerry Brown or Nancy Pelosi lectures the state on its illiberality, or on the immigration sins of Donald Trump, or the advantages of nullification and a sanctuary state, we assume that these are just the penultimate chest poundings and virtue signals of rich septuagenarians about to go into apartheid retirements in Napa or Grass Valley.

In that context, all of their legacies above make perfect sense.

And, yes, with that, all the agitating by open-borders activists does make sense; like all statists, they favor most policies that they reckon won’t effect them.

Animal’s Daily Crap Degrees News

This should come as no surprise:  Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.  Excerpt:

Noël Flynn is spending more than 80 percent of her income to pay back tens of thousands of dollars in debt for her Art Therapy degree. In 2016 alone, the Department of Education loaned $25.9 billion to students who, like Flynn, chose degrees under the umbrella of the liberal arts and humanities, an analysis by The Daily Caller News Foundation found.

A significant portion of those students are unlikely to have the means to pay back their debt after graduating.

“I find myself struggling financially, and the biggest reason why is student loans,” said Flynn, 23, who says she was told the loans “wouldn’t be overwhelming” once she graduated.

Most federal student loan programs do not require a credit check, nor do they require a cosigner. Rather, the loans are backed by nothing more than the borrower’s future earnings with a college degree, but the kind of degree isn’t a consideration in the loan process.

Note that degree:  Art Therapy.  Also in the story:

Students who enter the workforce with a degree in the liberal arts and humanities often find themselves working in a job that does not require a college degree, according to a New York Fed analysis of the underemployment rate for recent college graduates.

Image from linked story.

Frankly, I’m surprised that Ethnic Studies isn’t at the top of that list, but I suppose there’s always room in the grievance industry for a few more agitators.

So the obvious question arises:  What policy solution is there to this?  Well, that’s simple:  Get the government out of the education system, including financing that education.  If student loans are to be made, let the private sector make them.  If private lenders were making student loans with no Imperial guarantees, I suspect this wealth of crap degrees would dry up very quickly; student loan applications made to a bank or credit union with the goal of a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts will (and should be) looked at askance, while a student intending to study, say, Mechanical Engineering would be a much better risk.

Get government out of education at all levels, I say!  Let us have separation of school and state.  That, not more Imperial interference, will dry up this fraudulent torrent of bullshit degree programs.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

This just in:  Judging from one survey, one third of millennials are fucking idiots.  Excerpt:

YouGov, a British market research firm, polled 8,215 adults in the United States to find out if they ever believed in the “flat Earth” movement. Only 66 percent of young millennials answered that they “always believe the world is round.” Science teachers across the U.S. will be shaking their heads after learning that nine percent of young adults answered that they have “always believed” the planet was flat.

Another nine percent said of young adults said they thought the planet was spherical but had doubts about it. In a disturbing display of indecision, 16 percent of millennials said they weren’t sure what the shape of the planet was.

Overall, only two percent of the respondents said they always thought the Earth was flat without any doubt.

Seriously, folks.  In the third century BC, Eratosthenes of Cyrene not only figured the Earth was a sphere but worked out the circumference of the Earth with surprising accuracy for the time.

Now, it’s easy to write some of this off as simple ignorance and blame (not without cause) the atrocious state of science education in the United States.  But there are people out there who actually believe this horseshit, and are claiming some sort of global conspiracy to cover up the “truth.”

It just goes to show, there is nothing out there so mind-bogglingly stupid that some horse’s ass won’t believe it.  For example, there’s this asshole.

But let’s focus on the American millennials reported on above.  What do we blame for this stupidity?  The education system?  (See how those much-touted Imperial standards are doing?)  Pop culture?  Fluoride in the water? Chemtrails?  How can so many of our youths be this bogglingly stupid?