Enlightened ramblings of a minarchist libertarian with Objectivist tendencies

Friday, November 19, 2004

Wow! It's Not Even My Birthday

I can only hope that this comes to pass:

UN staff to make historic vote of no confidence in Annan

19 November 2004

UNITED NATIONS - UN employees were readying on Friday to make a historic vote of no confidence in scandal-plagued Secretary General Kofi Annan, sources told AFP.

The UN staff union, in what officials said was the first vote of its kind in the more than 50-year history of the United Nations, was set to approve a resolution withdrawing its support for the embattled Annan and UN management.

Annan has been in the line of fire over a high-profile series of scandals including controversy about a UN aid programme that investigators say allowed deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to embezzle billions of dollars.

But staffers said the trigger for the no-confidence measure was an announcement this week that Annan had pardoned the UN's top oversight official, who was facing allegations of favouritism and sexual harassment.

Full Story

(via Instapundit)

Girl Friday

"Stop the car! That's Tyra Banks, fool!"

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Bizarre Taxes

I hate paying taxes of any shape or form, but the guys over at Freedom Works have put together this list of the most ridiculous taxes from around the country.

If you know of any other ridiculous taxes, let me know.

(via Where HipHop and Libertarianism Meet)

Tort Reform Redux

$128.8 billion. That is the annual cost of lawsuits and liability insurance for American businesses, with small businesses paying almost half of that.

I am neither a lawyer nor an economist, but I don't think you need to be in order to realize that we have a problem in this country. Our civil legal system has basically become just another state sponsored lottery where lawyers and frivolous plaintiffs hope to get 7, 8, or even 9 figure judgments.

Just last month, I was summoned for jury duty for a multimillion dollar lawsuit being filed against Pirelli Tire and Sears. The case involved a tread separation and the death of two individuals. Here is the problem though: it was not a new tire, it was used. Although Sears had originally sold the tire, it since been run for x-amount of time and then sold to a third party used tire dealer, who then later resold and mounted it on the vehicle in question.

So, even though Sears only sold the tire in "new" condition and had nothing to do with it after that point, they were being drug into court, while that used tire reseller sat at home scratching his ass because his pockets weren't deep enough. I was of course shocked to learn during the voir dire that Texas (and assembly many other states) allow plaintiffs to bring suit against "innocent sellers." Needless to say, I expressed my distaste for this along with my belief in jury nullification and I didn't make the cut.

Cases like this happen everyday in this country. Activist judges allow nonsensical cases to proceed on the flimsiest pieces of evidence. Lawyers get rich on class action lawsuits that pay them millions while those supposedly wronged get sometimes as little as a couple of dollars.

The system is broken and needs fixing, the question is can it be done?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Tort Reform

I am still working on my promised post on tort reform, but I will have it up by the end of the day.

UPDATE: My apologies for the lack of a promised post. I was unavoidably detained all day doing volunteer work at AMVETS helping create holiday gift baskets for the elderly. (Call me crazy, but I find it more satisfying actually helping someone myself rather than relying on the government to use the money stolen from me to help someone.)

I REALLY promise to have it posted tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Say No to Internet Access Taxes

Be sure to join the National Taxpayers Union in urging the House of Rep. to pass S 150.

The New Libertarian

For those of you who, like me, find much to dislike about the LP, there is an interesting site called "The New Libertarian."

It makes for interesting reading, though I do not necessarily agree with all of their positions, I do agree that much reform needs to occur within the LP if it is ever to move out of the distant third place spot it now holds to become a more viable national party.

For the most part, I find that most of my disagreement with the LP stems from my "Objectivist tendencies." I am sure that many of you out there that consider yourselves small l libertarians have your own reasons for breaking with the LP.

Please feel free to let me know what you like or dislike about the LP and what you think should be done to reform it. The short answers can be placed in the comments section; more detailed answers can be emailed and I will post them on my blog with a link back to your blog if you have one.

Social Security

As most of you know Social Security, which is the Golden Idea of American Socialism, was brought into existence back in August 1935 with the stroke of FDR's pen. The original intent was to provide for retirees, but as is the want of all government programs it soon spread in its scope. In 1939, it was amended to cover the spouses and children of these retirees as well. Never enough, in 1950 further changes were made to ensure double digit increases in the benefits amounts. Still this was not enough. In 1954, "disabled" workers were added to the dole.

Surely now this would be enough. No such luck. Next in line was the creation of Medicare in 1961, which became so large and bloated that it was spunoff as its own program in 1977. Since then numerous other changes have come about, some adding to the program, some limiting it, but not since the Greenspan Commission of the early 80s has government sat down and taken a serious look at the problems of the system.

The problem is that the program, much like kudzu, has grown to envelop so much of daily life here in the US that it alone is responsible for 5% of the US's economic output. I personally find this outrageous. What I find even more outrageous is the mandatory nature of the program. I have no choice but to pay into the system. I don't know about you, but I am quite certain that would be better positioned to plan for my own retirement than the government and I definitely could better invest my money.

So why is there such a fight over the partial privatization of Social Security? The answer is because it is just a big ponzi scheme. Yep, this same plan would land you or me in a jail cell, but for the US government it is business as usual.

Pres. Bush is in for the fight of a lifetime because SS has become known as the "third rail" of American politics. Fortunately for us, he has no further political aspirations beyond his second term and can take the steps necessary to fix the problem now, rather than just passing it off for others to fix down the road.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Tax Overhaul

I was more than pleased when W announced his plans for a MAJOR overhaul of the current tax system. Of course, this is a case where we are working with a difference of definitions.

Pres. Bush would probably consider his current course of across the board marginal rate lowering a "major" overhaul of the system. I, on the other hand, while considering this welcome change, certainly would not label it "major" overhaul.

In the President's defense on this matter, that may be all he can muster. The progressive income tax is the cornerstone of the modern liberal redistributionist schemes and the ATM card for the governmental nanny state of both the left and right. He can expect the fight over any major change of this system to be brutal, perhaps even more so than the battle over Social Security reform. Tearing down the golden symbol of American socialism is one thing, but dismantling the "progressive" tax system that makes it and countless other nanny state programs possible, is an entirely different animal.

Pres. Bush can expect the class warfare to reach levels of ferocity beyond anything US troops have yet encountered in Afghanistan or Iraq. American socialism has grown and thrived since the 1930s. It is so entrenched in the American mindset, that its attempted removal will inspire leftist hatred that makes that of the last four years look like a Sixties "love-in." If you think Pres. Reagan was reviled for his tax cuts, just wait until there is an attempt to scrap the current system.

This, of course, brings me to my definition of "major." The tax system as it now stands is so distorted and corrupt that it would feel more at home in the UN under the guidance of Kofi than in the land of the free and home of the brave. It has far passed the time for us to level the current tax system much as if it were a Hamas hideout standing before a row of Israeli dozers. It is time to lay waste to the 16th Amendment and bring down that behemoth that is the IRS. The system as it stands is a cancer beyond treatment. Not even aggressive chemo will work; it is time to amputate.

With that monstrosity out of the way, we could implement something bold and exciting. Many would like to see something along the lines of Dick Armey's Flat Tax. For me, this doesn't go far enough because the IRS and the 16th Amendment would remain in tact and system would be under immediate assault by those wishing to twist and distort it into something resembling what we now have.

Personally, I would like to see something closer to the Fair Tax which is basically a national consumption tax. Yes, this idea has some problems, but they are problems that could be worked out much easier than the problems of our current system could be fixed. The larger point here is opportunity.

America was founded as a land of opportunity and it is past time for us to take advantage of that opportunity and scrap the current system for something better suited to how we now live.

UPDATE: There's an interesting discussion of taxation over at An Inclination to Criticize.

UPDATE 2: I posted this over at Blogcritics.org

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Gmail Invites

As promised earlier, now that I have some Gmail invites to give out, I am offering them to my readers.

If you are interested, shoot me an email at fukiblog@yahoo.com

Priority goes to my older readers, but I have several so your chances are good. I will announce the lucky recipients later this week.