Wednesday, October 28, 2009
For most of Western history, marriage was a private contract between two families. Sure sometimes some land or livestock would be worked into the deal, but the government never got involved. Churches would take the word of the couple if they claimed to have exchanged vows, and signatures and blood tests were not required. Even up until the mid-19th century, US state supreme courts routinely ruled that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage.
But as we entered the 20th century, government began to be more intrusive into our personal lives. They knew what was best for Americans...and since government regulation is nothing but fair and just, they began to exert more control over who was allowed to marry. By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from interracial marriage and twelve states would not issue a marriage license if one partner was a drunk, an addict, had a social disease, or was a "mental defect."
The marriage laws and license requirements of many states originated from the ideas of eugenics. Such ideas had the support of scientists like Linus Pauling, who advocated that people with genetic defects be denied marriage licenses. He even went so far as to recommend that people with sickle cell anemia have their foreheads stamped to identify their condition so that no one would mate with them, thus eradicating the disease. As it became clear that the science of eugenics was highly suspect, often racist, and completely insane, the laws and restrictions were relaxed.
But the damage had been done. Instead of repealing the marriage license law, the government changed the laws purpose and used it to distribute benefits to marriages they deemed worthy. (In our case, these were only marriages between one man and one woman.) Corporations and employers were now able to hide behind these laws and deny health insurance or pension benefits to employees' dependents. Courts and hospitals now required a marriage license before granting couples the privilege of inheriting from each other or receiving medical information, no matter how long the couple had been together. And worst of all, Social Security savings would now disappear into government pockets if there was not a legal surviving spouse to inherit them. Goldie Hawn better hope and pray the money from Sky High will be able to support her when Kurt Russell is gone.
By allowing the state to exercise control over marriage, it is implied that we do not have a right to marry...marriage is only a privilege. And as recently as 2009, the power to license was still being used in attempts to block interracial marriages. Somehow only the government repeatedly gets away with this kind of blatant discrimination, and is never questioned about the laws original intent. Corporations, on the other hand, have begun to allow non-married partners to receive benefits, with proof of a joint bank account and residency. The government is usually decades behind the private sector, still not even allowing openly gay people into the military.
But if consenting adults wish to call themselves married let them, but no one has the right, especially the government, to impose their views onto someone else. We need to promote individualism and freedom. We need to take away the government's power to divide us. But most importantly, we need to make sure that the government upholds and enforces private legal contracts. Contracts granting partners rights that are so easily denied by this law. Non-marital relationship contracts are not limited to two people, and because these contracts are private any number of people can be a party to them, no matter their race, religion or sexual preference.
By only expanding the definition of marriage under government regulation, we are only expanding a broken and unfair welfare system. Government benefits, especially those that involve money, only pits citizens against one another. Government cleverly uses this to keep us divided so we are left in an endless debate over natural rights at the tax payer's expense, instead of debating about sound monetary and foreign policy.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
From the people who brought you such great hits as the aqueduct, roads, and the public bath (woohoo), came one other lesser known hit…out of control government spending!
Rome, a once modest village that rose to rule over 120 million people and stretch across 2.5 million square miles, was brought to its knees by out of control spending, heavy taxation, and, of course, inflation.
Inflation started rising early in the Roman Empire, but the steady influx of gold from newly conquered lands kept government spending afloat. They were able to build extravagant buildings of pure marble, have a vast standing army of 500,000, and afford huge salaries for their bureaucrats. Let us also not forget that there was the price of keeping the citizens happy and distracted with ridiculous events and poorly computer animated fights between Russell Crowe and tigers.
Come on! So lame!
Eventually the Roman Empire expanded their territory all the way into the Persian Gulf (modern day Iran and Iraq). But those lousy Persians wanted their land back and kept attacking poor Rome for it. Rome even struggled with invasions from northern barbaric Huns. So even though Rome was not expanding, it had to maintain its very large and very expensive army. But without more gold coming into the system, the Romans did what any self-respecting empire would do…tax the hell out of the population. (And by population I mean, everyone but the army and the civil servants.)
Rome had always had a tax but at first it was very minimal. As the costs of maintaining the Imperial army grew, so did the tax burden. Heavy taxes led people to flee their land, evade taxes, lose their homes, and lose their jobs.
Tax revenue started to fall dramatically, so instead of cutting back, Rome manufactured more money and inflated their currency. Their coin, the Denarius, which at one point in the early times of the empire was 90% percent silver, fell to .5% in two centuries. Prices rose dramatically, and in some cases more than 15,000 percent. When price controls were implemented a greater recession followed.
The result was that the government, in order to protect its civil servants and its soldiers from the effects of inflation, began to demand payment of taxes in services rather than in “silver” coin from the working class. (Nothing like a little slavery to bring the empire together.) Roman coin had become so worthless that the government that printed it wouldn’t even accept it as payment.
With the mass of the population of Rome now suffering, and the economy failing, barbarian invasion was a blessing…and an easy victory for the Huns was inevitable. Well done!
Thankfully, today we live in a country that spends within its means, does not have extravagant social programs, does not get entangled in nation building (especially in the Persian Gulf), does not overuse their military, does not overtax, and does not inflate their currency. Oh wait.
We’re so screwed.
On a lighter note, here is my version of the Roman Persian War. I call it The Battle of the Sepia Tone Posters. Who will win?
Thursday, October 15, 2009
men dive for them because pearls are valuable.”
It’s pretty scary to think that the United States dollar is not backed by gold, silver or anything precious or valuable. It is in fact, only worth the paper that it is printed on, and the only reason we accept its value is because enough people believe it to be worth something. This is called a fiat currency, where the power and the value of the dollar is determined by the central bank that prints it.
There is an inherent flaw in the fiat currency system though. If too many dollars are printed we face hyperinflation, where all perceived value of the dollar is lost and they become less valuable than the latest Hanson CD. This is the problem that we face today as the value of our dollar plummets.
It hasn’t always been this way. Our Founding Fathers knew the flaws of a centralized banking system and wanted to keep the nation's wealth in the hands of the people. This meant that if everyone used gold and silver pieces to trade, instead of a central bank note, it would deter banks from running on a fractional reserve banking system. FRB, for short, would give banks the ability to loan out or print more money then the gold they have in their vaults. If we stuck to the Founder's system, gold and silver pieces would be inflation proof and counterfeit proof.
Through the Constitution and the Coinage Act of 1792, the Founders set up a system where they defined dollars to be gold and silver coins, and allowed only Congress the power to coin money. Only these minted coins would be deemed "lawful money," meaning that promissory notes or demand notes (today’s version of dollars) were unlawful.
The government was able to keep to these standards for at least a few decades. But in order to finance the Civil War, Lincoln reeled in coins and replaced them with the infamous greenbacks. The value of the dollar plummeted and it wasn’t until after the war, when the government began to reissue coins, that the buying power of the dollar increased.
In order for paper money to have value, it must be a legally binding document or contract. That’s what all the writing and funky signatures on the bill are for. But when looking at a bill you should pay close attention to the wording of it.
Between the Civil War and 1914, there were several versions of paper money with several different agreements, but when the Federal Reserve Bank, a “private” central bank, opened its doors in 1914 they began printing money with this contract on it:
"This note is receivable by all National Banks and Federal Reserve Banks for taxes and public dues. It is redeemable in gold on demand at the treasury department in Washington or in gold coin or lawful money at any Federal Reserve Bank."
If dollars can be exchanged for lawful money, then they are not lawful money. They are a loan, a promissory note, an IOU. They are a contract that gives the Federal Reserve the full power to inflate the dollar, and does not guarantee any set amount of gold in return.
Today's dollars have been further revised to not allow the exchange of notes to lawful money.
LET THE PRINTING PRESSES BEGIN
By the 1920s Fractional Reserve Banking was in full effect. Banks, backed by the Federal Reserve's notes, loaned out too much money, creating a financial bubble that would soon burst and result in many bank failures. (Sound familiar?) To stimulate the shrinking economy, FDR sent the printing presses into overdrive and confiscated all of the circulating gold coins. Under Executive Order 6102, it became illegal for citizens to have any gold coin, bullion or certificate. The seized gold would become the infamous gold housed in the Federal Reserve vaults.
At the time of the confiscation it cost $21 to buy an ounce of gold, and immediately after, it became $35 per ounce. Already the purchasing power of the dollar was declining. In all, 11 billion dollars were exchanged for all 261,000,000 ounces of gold.
Complete control of the gold supply was now in the hands of the Federal Reserve, exactly what our Founding Fathers were trying to avoid. World war and depression raged on throughout the globe and, in order to provide a foundation for global recovery, a conference was held in Bretton Woods, NH in 1944 by all 44 major allied powers. At the conference it was recognized that the US represented half of the global economy, and it would be for the world’s best interest to make the US dollar the global reserve currency to make trade easier between nations. This was great for the Unite States, because in order to trade, all countries had to buy dollars at its $35 per ounce rate, resulting in a US economic boom. But there was nothing in the Bretton Woods agreement that stopped the Federal Reserve from issuing more Federal Reserve Notes.
In only a few decades, countries began to question how we were possibly able to finance our unending wars overseas. In order to fund the Vietnam War, the US ran huge budget deficits and started flooding the economy with paper dollars. The French, under President Charles de Gaulle, became suspicious that the United States could not back the money supply with gold, and began trading in their surplus of dollars for gold.
In 1971, the United States Treasury's gold stocks began to decline at an alarming rate and, in order to save our reserves, Nixon declared a force majeure, unilaterally breaking us from the Bretton Woods agreement. He had officially closed the gold window, and would no longer allow anyone to redeem their dollars for gold. We were now completely severed from the gold system. Without gold backing our dollar, there was no limit to how many Federal Reserve notes could be printed.
It took our country 300 hundred years, from the first pilgrim until 1973, to generate the first trillion dollars of money stock. The most recent trillion dollars was generated in the past four and a half months. Before our dollar completely crashes, we need to put an end to our out of control spending. We need to take back control of our dollar, and put it back in the hands of the United States citizens. And, above all else, we need to put an end to the Federal Reserve.
There is hope. The rules that were outlined in the Constitution still stand. There has been no amendment to repeal them. The Coinage Act is held in a state of suspension by laws that are both unconstitutional and illegal. We have ended central banks in the past and we can do it again. New currency can be phased in as the Federal Note is phased out. The introduction of the euro is proof of it.
Right now there is a bill, HR 1207, in Congress to audit the Fed. Contact your representatives and make sure that they are supporting this bill. This is the first step to change we can actually believe in.
These guys are awesome!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monopoly, a game of monetary and property domination usually played by people who can’t run their own lives, is as boring to read about as it is frustrating to play.
Even the iconic metal player pieces have little to no story behind them. They are just leftover garbage from miniature toy companies and other failed Parker Brothers games that George and Charles incorporated into Monopoly. But what you might not have known is that the British Secret Service, during WW2, sent this game to prisoners being held by Nazis, with maps, compasses and real money hidden inside. (I guess files baked into cakes were a little too obvious.) But since I took the time to read about its history, I might as well keep a blog log of it.
The history of Monopoly dates back to 1904, when a Quaker named Magie Phillips created “the Landlord’s Game,” proving that Quakers really suck at coming up with titles. The concept behind the game was to explain that privately owned land, enriched the property owners and impoverished tenants. (This was a Georgist philosophy where people believed that the government should own all the land instead and rent it out to the citizens.) Knowing that this concept would be far too difficult to explain, she crafted its lessons into a long drawn out game where it’s meaning would never fade or be forgotten?
Socialists, for some crazy reason, loved the game and spread it’s message and game play across the land. (If there is one thing I know about socialists...they have an unrelenting competitive nature.)
Soon, other people started making their own versions. Daniel Layman sold his version under an equally horrible name “The Fascinating Game of Finance.” And Charles Darrow learned the game and repackaged it again changing the name to “Monopoly," which now included Atlantic City street names.
Parker Brothers, after rejecting all versions of the game, eventually saw it’s popularity grow and proceeded to buy the rights to all three versions ironically giving them a monopoly over the game "Monopoly."
Oh yeah...if anyone turns up with Park Place, I'll go halves with you cause I just got Boardwalk....BOOYAH!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Now I always thought that the government’s primary function was to prevent people from harming each other, whether by force or by fraud. But in the past century, we have been misled to believe that the government’s job is to stop us from making bad decisions, and to demonize anyone that tempts us with anything more than a celery stick. Why take personal responsibility when it is so much easier to point your fat finger?
But the truth is that if a restaurant doesn’t share nutritional information with you, you are not being harmed – you’re just not getting what you want. If you believe you can’t make healthy choices without that information, you are free to take your business elsewhere. The restaurants know this, so it’s in their interest to keep you happy. That’s why nutrition information is easily available online and in pamphlets – because enough customers demanded it, not because politicians did.
Meanwhile, these laws force restaurants to conduct a lot of expensive lab tests on their food to determine all the calorie counts, which in turn drives up prices. The end result, of course, is that not only are your taxes increased but you’ll pay more for your restaurant meals and fat people will still be just as fat.* This of course, like most regulations, hurt the lower and middle class pocketbooks much more than the upper class. But f*ck em, who cares about that 90% of the population...right? The politicians get to feel good about themselves, and that’s all that really matters.
But whether it’s menu labeling, soda taxes, or something as ridiculous as salt shaker bans, regulators seem dead-set on destroying our freedom as consumers. And if America continues down this road and does to the food industry what it did to the tobacco industry, you can find me down in the sewer with Sylvester Stallone and Denis Leary eating a nice juicy rat burger.
You can look up nutrition information for hundreds of restaurants on this web site, which somebody took the time to create without any interference by politicians.
* I think it is important to note that calorie based diets work roughly 1% of the time and usually leads to weight gain. People can watch their calories all they want but what they should strive for is a well balanced nutritional diet. Let's face it, the bigger you are the more calories your body needs for fuel. And for fat people if they are insulin-resistant, meaning their bodies produce a higher level of insulin to keep their blood surgar down, their bodies end up storing calories as fat and not using them as fuel. Cutting back on calories for one meal at McDonald's will only lead you to crash and then binge later on that day...eating just as much if not more calories.
Now I understand that most people automatically conclude that blackmail should be an illegal action. But is there really anything wrong with it? Let's investigate:
Imagine if you are this guy:
and you catch this guy:
playing hide the kielbasa with this:
After taking one of these:
to your eyes, so you never have to see something like that again, you proposition Mr. Letterman and say that you are protected under your 1st Amendment Right to tell the public about his affair.
At this point you have done nothing immoral or illegal, you are simply stating your human rights protected under the Constitution.
Now let's say you request $2 million to keep your mouth shut and forgo your Constitutional right. It is now up to Dave to decide whether if it is worth having the public and his wife know about the affair or just pay you the money.
Blackmail is simply a voluntary exchange of goods. Everyone has the right to tell a secret as long as they have obtained that information legally. Sure they might be seen as a gossip or some creepy old white guy with bad facial hair but nothing is illegal about it. Now on the other hand Dave can go up to Joe and offer him money to not say anything and there is nothing illegal about it.
A CLEVER ANECDOTE:
You have a God given right to sleep and watch TV all day, and I would say most Americans are pretty damn good at it. But when you are offered a job you're employer says: "If you don't exercise your right to be the bum that you are, I will give you x amount of money per year." No harm no foul!
But if Joe initiates it, it becomes blackmail, but really it is only a voluntary exchange where both parties benefit. In this case it wasn't worth the $2mil to Dave so he "topsy turvy-ed that motha f@#ker" and told the world.
(Jump to 1:42 if you want this clip to make any sense)
Back to my point, if there ever really was one. In this scenario David Letterman never faced jail time or any loss to his personal freedoms and liberties. If he did, this of course, would be a forced exchange, and should be illegal. But what is ironic is that the government gets away with this every day, while Joe Halderman faces 15 years for exercising his Constitutional rights.
If the government is good at anything it would be coerced exchanges, where one party benefits and the other does not. Such examples are drafts and taxes, where people are forced into conceding to the government's terms and if they don't face jail time, and loss of their individual freedoms. But I could ramble about this for days, but instead I will leave you with this short lesson on governmental policy:
DON'T STEAL THE GOVERNMENT HATES COMPETITION.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Young people with strong backs and a good set of legs BEWARE! New York City is waging war on people who will not give up their seat to the elderly, pregnant and/or the disabled. Those who decline to give up a seat on request face up to a $50 fine and repeat offenders can face up to 10 days in jail.
Oh great! So now it's illegal to be an @sshole. That's what New York is known for and if they take that away from us, we might as well be one of those filthy Canadians. And if that's not enough they are wasting tax payers money putting up these ridiculous signs as warnings.
The posters also explain that “not all disabilities are visible.” The disabled include people who are legally blind, have congestive heart failure, are being given chemotherapy or have epilepsy. Even someone with a cane is eligible to ask for a priority seat. Similar posters appeared on subways and buses in 1999 and 2004, but didn't mention the legal ramifications.
This is as ridiculous as the Good Samaritan law Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer were arrested for...and we all know how that turned out.
And as a final thought I would love to see any elderly handicapped pregnant person ask the homeless man I saw last night, who was sleeping on the subway with filthy bare feet taking up three seats as he laid face down into the hand rail, for his seat. I think it would be a good fight.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Well okay it turns out that he wasn't but to Britney Spears and a lot of people he was!!...despite all of his...hmm hmm...eccentricities. But lets look beyond everything that made him Wacko Jacko and ignore the plastic surgery, the purchase of the elephant man's bones, the mid-afternoon naps in his hyperbaric chamber, Bubbles, the plastic surgery, the sex allegations, Lisa Marie Presley, the plastic surgery, the skin bleaching, Neverland ranch, his catcher gear outfits, his crazy swine-flu masks, the balcony incident and lets not forget the plastic surgery...but let's remember him for who he really was...A PATENT GENIUS!!!
We all know the man has more moves than a box of Ex-Lax on the dance floor but I am and will be continually blown away by his 45 degree lean in the smooth criminal video. One might say that it was all cable tricks but he was also able to replicate it on stage. AMAZING!!!
If you're impatient you can just jump to the 7:15 marker.
So what's the trick you might ask. Well here it is but be forewarned IT IS a
Michael Jackson and two of his costume designers obtained a US patent (US5255452) in 1993 on "Methods and Means for Creating Anti Gravity Illusion". The invention outlines how a special pair of shoes attaches to a stage to allow leaning forward beyond the centre of gravity of the wearer of the shoes. Makes perfect sense right? The heel of the dancers’ shoes featured a triangular cut out that could be hitched onto the peg, anchoring the dancers to lean much farther forward, and thus blowing the world’s collective mind. The simplicity IS the genius!
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Now Kansas is one of fifteen privileged states that falls inside the bible belt. So it may not surprise you that in 2005 there were still people fighting for the schools to teach creationism as science. But this was proving to be difficult since the Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that the church and state go together like water and oil. They just don't mix.
But instead of giving up, what the religious PR reps did was repackaged creationism and started selling it as intelligent design, the ASSERTION that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. (I always did find Darwin to be a little bit slow...and Mendel was practically inbred.)
With this new look to creationism the Kansas State Board of Education decided to require the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to biological evolution. I mean who can resist a book with a panda eating bamboo on the cover.
But with the threat of church and state being once again stirred together, Bobby Henderson, a concerned American citizen, rose from ambiguity to reveal to the world that there is another theory that will answer all of our life long questions. The answer was within a box of Ronzoni...it was the FSM.
Since the intelligent design movement used ambiguous references to an unspecified 'Intelligent Designer', this left open the possibility that any imaginable thing could fill that role. And fill that role the FSM did.
Followers of this new religion were Pastafarians. Their saints were pirates, their major holiday is called "Holiday," and their heaven consists of beer volcanoes and a stripper factory. (Hell is similar but the beer is stale and the strippers have STDs) Some might say they are poking fun at Christianity with their "Eight I'd Really Rather You Didn't"s instead of the Ten Commandments and concluding their prayers with "RAmen". But I think it is all just a big coincidence. Either way if I can find room on my calendar for Festivus than I can find room for Holiday.
But I digress I think it is best to let Bobby Henderson tell you what the Flying Spaghetti Monster is all about. In fact you should have read that link instead of wasting your time here. I apologize.