The Odd, Little Happy

Finally I dance with confidence to songs

Dear Unbridled, Free Market, Libertarian…Ebola. Your Argument Is Invalid.

Posted by theBarefoot on August 13, 2014


ebola virus

Eeeek! Ebola!

I like a lot of things about Libertarianism. In philosophical terms, it’s about as close as I can get to being political, but I have practical reservations. As an example, I give you Ebola. (Well, that didn’t sound right at all.) As an example, allow me to use Ebola. I could just as easily choose HIV-AIDS, but Ebola is on everyone’s minds right now. We’re all wondering why we don’t have a cure or vaccine for Ebola. Libertarians would tell us it’s because the free market hasn’t provided one and they would be correct. Here’s where the practical side of things really kicks Libertarianism in the butt. Sometimes, we can’t wait for the free market.

First, you have to realize what a horror Ebola is. I’m not going to post pictures or even draw them with words. Just know that Ebola is probably one of the top five worst ways to die. Until now, Ebola has only killed a few thousand people. I say, “only,” because in the free-market, grand-scheme of things, that’s no one. Also, these few thousand people were poor, very poor. They also live on the other side of the world from the free-market pharmaceutical companies in a mysterious land called Africa. In other words, Ebola hasn’t threatened the free-market and there is no profit in curing it.

It’s the same with HIV. When it first appeared, it was “the gay disease.” No one wanted to treat or cure it because if you didn’t want to catch it, you just didn’t have gay sex. Besides, curing gay people in the 1980s or 1990s would have been PR-suicide for a drug company. But then, straight people started getting HIV, but most of them were in, you guessed it, Africa. So no need to cure it, yet. Not until some very vocal, very fiscally well-off people got AIDS, did drug companies finally decide it was worth the investment to come up with something…anything…that might make them a profit…er…cure…er…prolong the life of an AIDS victim. And those drugs have done wonders to prolong the lives of paying AIDS patients in the Western world. Still there’s Africa, but fuck you, Africa. No expensive AIDS medicine for you and don’t hold your breath waiting on that HIV vaccine, either.

But back to Ebola. The latest outbreak is centered in West Africa. It’s the worst outbreak in history and it has the rest of the world taking notice. Now that there is a chance that it could spread to the Western world, people are asking, “Why is there no vaccine or cure for this horrible disease.” What they really mean is, “Why is there nothing to protect me and my family if that horrible virus leaves the shores of Africa.” Did I mention, fuck you, Africa? There is really very little chance that Ebola will become a world-wide pandemic, but can we wait? Libertarians tell us the market will find a cure when the market is threatened or there is profit in it, but can we wait?

No. When it comes to diseases, pandemics, and horrible deaths, we really can’t wait on the free market and we shouldn’t have to. This is one of those few things governments can do well. They can collect data, recognize threats, and allocate money to abate those threats. Sadly, this often comes in the form of guns for war, but in this case it is in the form of medical research and experiments. No for-profit company would dare spend the millions of dollars needed to develop a vaccine or cure for Ebola. They’d never sell enough to make their money back. Any sane person would hope there was no way they’d make their money back because that would involve an epidemic. If some company did develop a cure that coincidentally came on the heels of a huge outbreak of Ebola, there would be that tiny, dark part of everyone’s brain that would be thinking, “Did the company start the epidemic just to sell their drugs?” Shame on you for thinking a company would profit from the suffering of others…cough child labor, cough black lung, cough big tobacco, no seriously cough, big tobacco. A company just couldn’t sell enough of their cure to be profitable, especially to those poor African countries who are mired in Ebola because they’re poor, oh, and fuck you, Africa.

On the practical side of the house, sometimes we have to act altruistically even if it is for our own preservation.

Keep chasing the odd, little happy.

Posted in disease, medicine, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Pick and Choose

Posted by theBarefoot on August 5, 2014


Pick-and-Choose
It’s scary to be first to try something new. I wonder how many other liquids the first person who discovered cow’s milk was yummy went through before they got to milk. Eventually, someone will try something new and the rest of us can evaluate it. If it’s good, we can adopt it. If it’s bad, we should do everything in our collective power to avoid it. So why aren’t we doing that?

Why are we repeating horrible mistakes when others have already tried, failed, and moved on? Why did eleven states pass “drug test for welfare” laws when Florida, the guinea pig for that law, already proved the testing costs more than the savings recouped? I’m going to make a wild guess and say that in at least six of those eleven states, someone who owns a medical testing lab is very closely connected to the state government, if not in it. So that’s a big, “No!” What is working?

Tiny Houses
Austin, Texas and Madison, Wisconsin are both building tiny houses for the homeless. A tiny house is about 100 ft2 of just sleeping space. If you’re lucky, it has a toilet, sink, and maybe a small cooker. But these tiny living spaces are making a huge difference. Obviously, they’re saving lives from exposure to the elements, but they’re also giving a small piece of dignity to the lives of the disenfranchised. Many of these homeless are military veterans. If it helps, think of these shelters as pay-back for their service. The dignity these dwellings instill is translating to jobs and permanent housing for many who take advantage of the program. It also benefits the city because the construction is planned. “Hobo camps” and shanties are disappearing.

Whole Apartments
In a proactive piece of government, Salt Lake City, Utah ran the numbers for what the homeless were costing the city. Between emergency room visits and other tax-paid services, it was estimate each homeless person cost over $16,000/year. After crunching a few more numbers, Salt Lake City calculated they could give each homeless person an apartment and a social worker for a little over $11,000/year. Homelessness in SLC has dropped 74% and will be eliminated in 2015 if the trend continues.

Cameras
Specifically, body cameras for the police. After the police in Rialto, California started wearing cameras on their uniforms, complaints fell by 88%. Excessive force reports dropped 60%. After any encounter, the video is upload for evidence or analysis. This is an amazingly successful experiment. It helps police gather evidence and protects citizens’ rights.

Protecting the 4th Amendment
The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled as of August 5, 2014, police in Massachusetts can no longer use the old “I smell marijuana” chestnut as probable cause to search a vehicle. It’s been common knowledge that police often used that excuse to search a car when the owner wouldn’t consent to their search requests. It’s common knowledge that it was an often abused excuse. Yes, cops were lying! I know! Shocking, isn’t it? In these times where we are surrendering more of our liberties for a security circus of empty tents, this ruling gives us hope that the pendulum may have reached its maximum height and is swinging back toward liberty.

Pick and Choose
Now that someone has taken the plunge, it’s time other cities and states start picking the best ideas and implementing them, too. We could wipe-out homelessness nation-wide by 2025. We could reduce police abuses and return policing to the honorable profession it used to be. We can’t think of these ideas as giving people something for nothing. We can’t think of them as taking advantage of the public coffers. We need to see that these are investments in people and communities. They give the homeless dignity which leads to pride which leads to employment which leads to permanent not-homelessness. They give police a pause to think about cracking a head and costing the city thousands of dollars in law suits. The community gets something for these investments. We need to spread these good ideas. Go to your next city council meeting and ask them why your city isn’t building tiny houses or procuring body cameras for the police. Go on! Get going!

Reference links
Mass Supreme Court Ruling
Tiny Houses
Salt Lake City Homeless
Body Cameras for Cops

Posted in Activism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Stepping Over the Thin, Blue Line

Posted by theBarefoot on July 30, 2014


It’s rare online that a cop leaves the comfort of their internet echo chamber. Mostly, they hang out on sites where other cops can slap each other on the ass and tell themselves what a great job they’re doing. It’s the internet equivalent of a cop bar. It’s rare, because when they do come down among the common people, they tend to show just a little bit too much of their true colors. Case in point? A recent Facebook discussion started by KVUE concerning a U.S. Magistrate’s reaffirmation that filming the police is a protected, 1st Amendment right. The ruling is one step along the legal way being taken by Antonio Buehler against the Austin, Texas police department (APD). After his illegal arrest and falsified charges at the hands of the APD, Buehler founded the Peaceful Streets Project in Austin. Their mission is to film police performing their public duties, to encourage transparency, and accountability. Needless to say, some cops still don’t want to be filmed.

In the aforementioned Facebook discussion, a detective with the Travis County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, one Marc Taub, decided he would let us citizens know exactly where our place is. He forgot that he was woefully out numbered and surrounded by many of the unhappy citizens he and his fellows failed over the years. In the first screen-capture, Jim Rank recounts how APD failed him in his time of need. Detective Taub’s reply (highlighted) mocked Mr. Rank, saying since he was a cop hater, it’s good that the police didn’t help him. Taub added, “Law Enforcement is a lucrative business based on your taxes. So like the service or not, payment is still accepted.”

Screen capture 1

Screen capture 1

Two thoughts occur to me. One, Mr. Rank probably had no issues with police until he need them. Something echoed ad nauseam by cops and their doe-eyed supporters when arguing with anti-cop people is, “You talk big, but who will be the first ones you call when you’re robbed?” Mr. Rank’s experience tells us that may be futile. It may be better just to call the insurance company and by-pass the cops. His mention of Warren v. District of Columbia is in reference to the findings in that case that police are under no specific legal duty to provide protection to the public. So Det. Taub is correct. If you don’t like the way he does his job, he doesn’t care. He still gets paid with your taxes.

Two, Det. Taub’s comment sounds oddly like a mafia protection racket. If you don’t support his police department, heap praises on him and his confederates, and blindly follow all his commands, you don’t deserve his attention, protection, or services. That, my friends, is a downright scary thing for a cop to say. His idea of policing is nothing more than extortion.

In the second screen-capture, Det. Taub is telling Mr. Rank to not bother the police in the future. He should call Mr. Buehler instead.

screen capture 2

Screen capture 2

Frankly, having Antonio’s camera crew show up would probably be a better solution than the APD showing up only to shoot a few dogs. Taub’s sarcasm is dripping with contempt for the lowly, un-serviced citizens. Citizen’s who frankly have valid complaints. Taub is unfazed and would rather label them miscreants and malcontents than admit the police failed in their duties. I included the second screen-capture because it contains some spur-of-the-moment brilliance, wherein I encapsulate a philosophy that is gaining ground among the un-serviced citizenry.

If I'm being robbed or assaulted, I have a gun.
If I'm burglarized, I have video of my belongs to prove to my insurance company what was stolen.
If my neighbors are loud, I go talk to them politely.
If there's a stray running the neighborhood, I catch it and care for it until I find the owner.

I have no reason to call a cop. Nope. No use for cops at all. If cops were paid on an "as used" basis, I'd save a ton on taxes.

The only time I’ve needed a cop is when I was told I had to have one. Insurance companies usually don’t pay auto accident claims without a police report. I would have preferred to just take the other drivers information, snap some pictures of the scene and damages, and filed the claim, but they had to have some official-looking form, filled out in ballpoint pen, complete with misspellings and grammatical errors, written by a high school graduate who got solid Cs in English.

Det. Taub’s attitude is not unique. He simply chose to leave his comfort zone and let the disenfranchised public get the best of him. I’m sure when he returned to the safety of his comrades’ echo chamber, he got plenty of support for soiling himself among the masses. I’ll remind Det. Taub, police in general, and anyone who cares to listen, of the lesson I learned long ago. If everywhere you go, you are treated with contempt and disrespect, it’s not everyone else who has the problem. It’s you. This is true for anyone in uniform or out. Respect isn’t given to the badge. It’s given to the person, badge or not, based on their actions. Simply repeating a lie doesn’t make it a truth. Repeating a lie to yourself is just mental illness.

Keep chasing the odd, little happy.

Lest you think I’m complaining for the sake of complaining, I do have a few ideas that would provide solutions to the growing problem of policing in America. I invite you to read those ideas here and leave feedback.

Posted in crime, Life, police, rant | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Internet Echo Chamber

Posted by theBarefoot on July 25, 2014


Danger noise hazard

Danger noise hazard

With so much information available, it’s amazing how insulated the average internet user is. They tend to find their echo chamber and stay there. With almost the entire knowledge of humanity available, the average person decides to hide in a blacked-out bubble of their own prejudices, reinforced by others who want the same. I understand the desire to be around people we can related to. I also understand the need to research a topic and come to a rational conclusion. Sadly, it is man’s desire not to be rational, but to rationalize their foregone conclusions.

One thing I’ve noticed about these online echo chambers is when a dissenting opinion does show up, the first reaction is “Get out of here you {insert explicative}.” If they are really proud of their position, shouldn’t their first response be, “Well hello dissenter. Allow me to dazzle you with the logic behind my position so that you, too, may enjoy the fruits of my well-reasoned point of view?” Is it that nonconforming opinions frighten them? Are they afraid the intruder might poke valid holes in their world view?

It doesn’t matter how many facts are behind an opposing view. Most people prefer the comfort of their own feelings to the discomfort facts may bring to bear. Though I’m able to understand this, I just can’t tolerate it. My brain is ruled by logic, reason, and the occasional joke. I try to keep my feelings for my family and dogs. I don’t mind making a fool of myself for a cheap laugh, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to do it to make someone feel better about a conspiracy theory or some Fox News story (story: a fictitious tale, shorter and less elaborate than a novel).

Next time someone asks a question in your little internet group, try, just for once, to engage them instead of dismiss them. I know it will be difficult, but there are rewards for leaving your comfortable bubble.

Keep chasing the odd, little happy.

 

Here’s Hank from VlogBrothers to expand this thought.

Posted in Advice, Life, rant | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Why Obamacare Got It All Wrong & Should Be Repealed

Posted by theBarefoot on July 24, 2014


It doesn’t matter if you like the ACA or hate it. It doesn’t matter whether you want it repealed or think it should stand. Obamacare, the ACA, got it all wrong.

It’s not that we didn’t get the single-payer system that was really needed to make it work. It’s not the stupid language oversights in the 900 page act that no one caught until now. It’s not that insurance companies had to revamp their policies and increase prices. It’s not that some people lost their insurance. What Obamacare got wrong is, it tried to work within the system. Systems are always designed to resist change. Making insurance mandatory for all, as we see, didn’t do anything to spread the pain, cost, or burden. What was really needed was a law making insurance illegal.

Yes. I said, “Make insurance illegal.” If you think gambling is a sin, but still buy insurance, you’re a sinner. Insurance is simply placing a bet that something catastrophic will happen and you win a big payout. As with all casinos, the house always wins. At the core, banning insurance is a simple thought exercise in Economics 101. Supply and Demand rules every market.

You’re thinking, “But medical care is so expensive, I have to have insurance to pay for it all.” But that’s a faulty thought experiment. You have to ask, “Why is medical care so expensive?” Is it to pay for doctor’s expensive medical degrees? Is it because we need to pay for highly skilled nurses and techs? Is it because we need to fund some research? Is it because we need to pay for a new hospital wing with the latest technology? No. No. No. No. And No. It’s supply and demand.

Insurance companies have a huge supply of money, therefore medical facilities, doctors, and drug companies can demand large amounts of that money for their services and products. What would happen if that large supply of money wasn’t there? Economics 101 tells us that without that supply of money, no one could demand that money. In other words, prices would fall. Take Lasik eye surgery,for example. Insurance doesn’t cover Lasik. In the last decade Lasik has dropped from $3,000 per eye to $300 per eye. All because medical consumers had to pay cash for Lasik. Without a huge pile of money waiting to be sent from an insurance company, Lasik providers had no choice but to lower their prices to something the cash market would bear.

If we were to rid ourselves of that supply of medical insurance money, doctor’s couldn’t charge $200 for an office visit. They’d have to find a reasonable cash price the average patient could pay if they wanted to stay in business. Drug companies couldn’t charge $900 for some newly developed drug. They’d have to make their pills attractive to the wallet of the average demographic.

Obamacare tried to spread the cost by making everyone buy insurance when the real solution to universal health care is to make insurance companies illegal and open the market up to unsupplemented market forces. Unfortunately, politics isn’t a product or service that follows the rules of economics and we as political consumers never get what we paid for.

Posted in Health, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

An Officer’s Life with Commentary from a Skeptic

Posted by theBarefoot on July 8, 2014


This old chestnut, “An Officer’s Life,” floats to the top of the Internet every once in a while. The first line (*) is some comment supposedly made by a non-cop. The response (**) is supposed to be the reason why the cop is doing what he’s doing. It’s supposed to evoke empathy for the hard life of the police officer. The third line in italics are my comments to this pile of utter tripe.

CHS-0122-guaranteed-100-percent-pure-bullshit-sticker

*You wonder why he pulled you over and gave you a ticket for speeding,
**He just worked an accident where people died because they were going too fast.
No, that’s not why. It’s because more than 50% of some police department’s budgets come from traffic fines and property seizures.

*You wonder why that cop was so mean,
**He just got done working a case where a drunk driver killed a kid.
That’s no excuse for rude or unprofessional behavior. It’s called self-control.

*You work for 8 hours,
**He works for up to 18 hours.
Please. Police unions are some of the most powerful in the country. They would never let a cop work 18 hours.

*You drink hot coffee to stay awake,
**The cold rain in the middle of the night keeps him awake.
Then he should get a cup of coffee. You knew the job required you to be outdoors at times. Linemen and utility workers have it worse than cops in this regard. 

*You complain of a “headache,” and call in sick,
**He goes into work still hurt and sore from the guy he had to fight the night before.
So stop tackling and beating people. Don’t start trouble; there won’t be no trouble. Besides, do you know how many cops are on medical retirement?

*You drink your coffee on your way to the mall,
**He spills his as he runs Code 3 to a traffic crash with kids trapped inside.
If the cruiser doesn’t have cup holders, then don’t bring drinks, idiot.

*You make sure you’re cell phone is in your pocket before you leave the house,
**He makes sure his gun is clean and fully loaded and his vest is tight.
Because you never know when you’ll want to use that badge to hide behind while you shoot a kid who’s carrying a toy gun.

*You talk trash about your “buddies” that aren’t with you,
**He watches his buddy get shot at, and wounded in front of him.
Which rarely happens. Contrary to what cops like to tell people, their’s is not the most dangerous job in the world.

*You walk down the beach, staring at all the pretty girls,
**He walks down the highway looking for body parts from a traffic crash.
Such dedication, kind of the like the “blue flu” that’s taken hold of Memphis. Don’t tell me cops don’t look at pretty girls. I could post half-a-dozen news articles here where cops have been arrested for raping women and forcing them to perform lewd acts in lieu of tickets.

*You complain about how hot it is,
**He wears fifty pounds of gear and a bullet proof vest in July and still runs around chasing crack heads.
So stop chasing crack heads. They’re hurting no one but their selves.

*You go out to lunch, and complain because the restaurant got your order wrong,
**He runs out before he gets his food to respond to an armed robbery.
I have personally watched a fire dept crew do this while the cops stayed and ate. They were officially on lunch so someone else was covering.

*You get out of bed in the morning and take your time getting ready,
**He gets called out of bed at 2 am after working 12 hours and has to be into work A.S.A.P. for a homicide.
That would have to be one helluva homicide involving multiple bodies. This just doesn’t happen.

*You go to the mall and get your hair redone,
**He holds the hair of some college girl while she’s puking in the back of his patrol car.
Please. He would have pushed the kid out to keep from fouling his vehicle. And if she got any puke on him, he would have charged her with assault.

*You’re angry because your class ran 5 minutes over,
**His shift ended 4 hours ago and there’s no end in sight.
Post-arrest paperwork is a bitch, ain’t it. Solution, stop arresting people for bullshit.

*You call your girlfriend and set a date for tonight,
**He can’t make any plans because on his off days he still gets called back into work.
More likely, he spent his day off beating his wife and/or girlfriend. Cops have an abysmal domestic abuse rate.

*You yell and scream at the squad car that just past you because they slowed you down,
**He’s in the driver seat of the squad car, going to cut somebody out of their car.
Cops don’t cut people out of cars. They direct traffic around the accident. The fire dept cuts people out of cars.

*You roll your eyes when a baby cries in public,
**He picks up a dead child in his arms and prays that it was crying.
No. That would be tampering with evidence. Picking up the dead child is the corner’s job.

*You criticize your police department and say they’re never there quick enough,
**He blasts the siren while the person in front of him refuses to move while talking on their cell phone.
I never say the police are not quick enough because I don’t call the police.

*You hear the jokes about fallen officers and say they should have known better,
**He is a hero and runs into situations when everyone else is running away in order to make sure no one else gets hurt and loses his life doing it.
Hero is not the word assigned to most cops. Fire fighters? Hero. Paramedics? Hero. Cops? Revenue collectors, megalomaniacs, bullies, yes, but not hero.

*You are asked to go to the store by your parents, you don’t,
**He would take a bullet for his buddy without question.
I’m sorry. I’m laughing too hard to type a response to this one.

*You sit there and judge him, saying that it’s a waste of money to have them around,
**Yet as soon as you need help he is there.
Nope. No he’s not. Like I said, I don’t call the cops, don’t want them around, and have no use for them. Cops inevitably make a situation worse. They are trained to respond in only one way to all situations…with force. Cops don’t make things better. I could quote three stories from the last six months where cops in North Carolina, California, and Virginia were called to help with mentally unstable children and, in all three cases, ended up killing the kids. Don’t call the cops.

Posted in Blogroll | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Coming to America

Posted by theBarefoot on July 5, 2014


The influx of children, unaccompanied minors, refugees, illegal immigrants, whatever you want to call them, from Central America that started in 2011, but has reached fevered pitch here in 2014, has boiled over into the political landscape, leaving scarred and seared political principles throughout the USA. Feelings generally fall into two categories: the “send ‘em back to Mexico” category, despite none of these children are from Mexico; and the “I have a heart” category that is often labeled “bleeding heart liberal.”

I guess I fall into the a third category, the “I have heart, but I’m not fool” category. Not being a fool, I don’t suffer them long or lightly. When I expressed my opinion on the matter in a recent internet story, I was appalled by some of the replies. They fell loosely along the following lines.

Why don’t you take them in?
How does showing a little empathy and compassion equate to adopting a child? How do you know I wouldn’t gladly adopt one of these kids? There’s a time and place to make a stand and/or have a debate about immigration. Taking your stand against pre-teens who are fleeing horrific conditions, drug cartels, and rape gangs means you’re only going to come off looking like the cold-hearted bastard you are.

We’ve got our own to take care of.
Now you’ve graduated from cold-hearted bastard to racist fucktard. If you type long enough, it becomes very clear that your definition of “our own” is some weird graph where geographic location of birth is on the X-axis, and skin tone is on the Y-axis. What you’re really saying is, “We need to take care of the little, white, ‘Merican children.” Never mind the fact that we aren’t even doing that. This is the same mindset that recently cut EBT benefits to those same little, white, black, brown, and yellow ‘Merican children. If you really wanted to take care of our own, you wouldn’t be using that as a lame rally cry. You’d be calling your Congressional representative and telling them to reinstate some benefits for these ‘Merican kids. You’re now a fully matriculated racist who majored in hypocrisy and minored in short-term memory loss.

Spend your money. Not mine.
You have no clue how the government works. My favorite definition of government is “an alignment of mutual interest to accomplish things that cannot be achieved individually.” It’s great that you have some pie-in-the-sky, 18th century, romanticized idea that we should all be wholly self-reliant, but that has never been the case, not even in the 18th century. The very definition of civilization is the combining of specialized skills to benefit the larger society. If all you needed was a mountain stream and some nuts and berries, you could go live off the grid and shout, “Not in my back yard!” until you were blue. The fact that you have an internet connection tells me you don’t really believe in the self-reliant bullshit you’re typing. You like your internet connection. You like electricity coming to your house. You like the running, clean water that magically appears when you turn your faucet. You’re plugged in and you like it. You believe in trade. Trade is where you got that new tablet or laptop through which you spout your ignorance and hypocrisy. So don’t spout your randomly-connected words of self-reliance at me. Maybe trade is only good when it’s electronics and not people?

The Federal government, the great satanic enemy of all neo-Naz…er…neo-conservatives, actually has already set aside your tax dollars to handle situations like minors coming across the border. They actually had the foresight to pass a few laws that specifically deal with just this situation. So whether it’s yours, mine, or our tax dollars, they’re already spent. If you want to rail about reigning in Federal spending, you need to get out in front of the budget that Congress can’t seem to pass and just keeps continuing from previous years. (Insert meme about “You had one job, Congress.”) If there’s not enough money to care for a few thousand kids in our $3.9 trillion budget, we’re just going to have to tax the rich.

Move out of my state
You know what? It’s my state, too. I live here. I’ve lived here for over 30 years. My children were born and raised here. Geography isn’t like the internet. You can’t run and hide in some internet echo chamber where other extremist feed your view of the world. Real life means living next to people who may believe differently than you. It means compromising on things. It means following some basic rules that we developed in the last 10,000 years of civilization. This is why I’m glad we don’t have pure democracy in the USA. If we did, the fear-induced stampede of wrongheadedness would destroy everything we’ve built over the last 235 years.

Obama is breaking the law, bringing them here, or I hate everything Obama does
Fine. You hate President Obama. The person you voted for didn’t get elected and now you’re upset. That’s the way our system works. You get to be upset until the next election, but that doesn’t mean everything the man is doing is illegal, immoral, and fattening. He didn’t send invitations to Central Americas to come to the USA. The truth is, President Obama is following the law, enforcing the law, two very specific laws. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Refugee Act of 2008, both passed before Obama was President, clearly outline how unaccompanied minors are to be dealt with. Mexicans are repatriated. Those from other countries are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services which then attempts to place them with a relative or, barring that, into foster care. That’s the law. These kids cannot be legally sent back to their respective countries. President Obama has asked Congress to change the law so these children can be handled differently, but Congress has refused. They know it’s a win-win situation for Republicans because slack-jawed, knee-jerk, uneducated yokels will always blame Obama for everything. This is just one more situation where the President is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

Idiots block HHS bus

Dumbassary In Action

OK. They can stay, but not in my backyard.
Here we have the most liberal heart found on the normally rabid, attack-mode-only side of the political spectrum. They either have enough empathy or have resigned themselves to the fact that these kids must stay. They acquiesce to letting them stay in the USA, if only temporarily, but NIMBY! Don’t bring them to my state! This is where the most depressing photograph taken in recent times comes into play. This photo above is heartless, neo-cons blocking a bus full of children from entering Murrieta, CA. The picture is the most revolting use of an American flag I’ve ever witnessed. Men and women fought and died for the principles behind those colors. They believed in equality, freedom, hope, and a better life for the next generation. That flag was once a beacon for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free. It was never meant to be used to destroy the only chance an 8 year-old had to be safe, warm, and hopeful. Those flags in Murrieta showed a bus full of children that the United States is now closed for business. We’ve given up hope, freedom, and the chance to better ourselves. We’ve sunken into a mire of our own fears and prejudices. We’re stuck so deep in this mire, we can’t even extend a slice of bread and warm blanket to a child.

It was easy for these fear mongers to stop a bus. I wonder if they could have look into the faces of the children on the bus and stood their ground. It’s easy to wave your “I hate Obama” sign at a bus. It’s a different thing to wave it in the face of a hungry child. Therein lies our moral. Government, the coming together to do that which is mutually beneficial and which we cannot do individually, has a human face. There are definitely principles government adheres to, but in the end, government is people helping people, people building communities, people bettering a nation. When we remove the human component from our politics, we begin a short slide into the dehumanized side of governments. That’s the pit out of which we had to climb by fighting World War II. That’s the pit wherein dehumanized people are slaughtered. That’s the pit beyond the line of human decency. It’s a short step from the mire of fear to the pit of despair.


The author didn’t not vote for Obama. In fact, the author has never even voted Democrat. The author was, until recently, a Republican, but alas, you’ve changed Republicans. You’ve changed.

Posted in Political correctness, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Fire The Police?

Posted by theBarefoot on June 23, 2014


police-tape

Does your city need to save millions in tax expenditure? Here is one simple, cost-saving solution: fire the police.

It sounds radical, because it is. I’m not advocating the complete removal of the police in your community. I am suggesting that huge amounts of money could be saved by removing what most people think of when they think of “the police,” the patrol cop. This is not an “I hate cops” rant. I’ve never been arrested and never gotten more than a minor traffic ticket in 35 years of driving. This is a logical, economic-driven solution. It’s about saving tax dollars without increasing crime.

Constables on Patrol (cops)
No other job except police includes the need to drive around looking for work. None of the other tax-provided services work this way. Firefighters and paramedics don’t scourer the city streets looking for emergencies. They wait until they are called. This can work just as well for police.

Why do police patrol? The most basic reason is, because it’s always been done this way and no one has taken much time to consider if it’s effective. Prior to the automobile, foot patrols were very necessary, otherwise, cops might as well be 100 miles away. With automobiles, having a cop in the station house is just as close as having one on foot 10 blocks away.

Patrolling is commonly dressed up as community involvement, a crime deterrent, or reduction in response time, but none of these are worth the money required to keep cops roaming the streets. They aren’t even valid reasons for patrolling. Studies, like the famous Kansas City Patrol Experiment, conclude that regular police patrols have no effect on crime or citizen satisfaction with their police. They also don’t decrease response times because most calls for service never involve only the closest officer. By policy, many situations require the officer to wait for back-up which negates the response-time argument.

The need for community involvement spawns more serious questions. Why does the community need better relations with the police? Police, like their fire and EMS counterparts, provide a service. Why are public relations a concern? When is the last time paramedics came to your house just to chat and see how you’re doing? Beyond the guy soliciting donations for the volunteer fire department, do firefighters ever drive around to simply show a presence or impress our youth? What is the mysterious relationship police departments are trying to foster? Community relations is really a euphemism for “damage control”. The damaged caused by the increasing, militaristic behavior of police and the natural backlash of the community’s declining respect for police can be better addressed in more economical ways.

What about traffic enforcement?
Won’t our streets turn into a bastardized, full-contact, demolition derby without cops on the streets? Nope. Most people obey traffic rules out of respect and safety. Few start their cars and think, “I’d better not speed because I could get a ticket” or “I wonder what I can get away with today.” The overwhelming majority of drivers are safe, courteous, and sensible. The few that aren’t are not weeded out by issuing the rest tickets.

In 2005, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, in response to rampant police corruption especially traffic stop shakedowns, fired the country’s 30,000 police officers. In the months it took to replace the old guard, there was no appreciable increase in crime, either violent or non-violent. There was no change in the number of traffic accidents. As President Saakashvili put it, crime actually decreased.

But I think that the overall picture of crime has decreased. The old police used to beat up people. They basically used what amounted to torture to extort the evidence. And the new police force was educated and is controlled in a way where nothing like this–there is zero tolerance towards torture. Zero tolerance. Everybody thought that there was no way to keep crimes checked unless you occasionally beat them up or managed them with beating them up or blackmail them into something. No, our examples show that you can reverse the crime trend even by being civilized.

Kill the self-feeding monster.
As with most things in life, little things grow to be big things, then giant things, then the unavoidable, mindless apparatus that most government is. Take traffic laws. We codify the reasonable things most people are doing anyway (e.g. slowing down or stopping at intersections, following color-coded traffic signals, stopping for pedestrians, etc.) Now that these are laws, we tell our police they must enforce the rules by ticketing or arresting those who break the rules. The city government now needs to hire more officers to enforce the laws. How to pay for the additional police needed? Collect fines from the rule-breakers, of course. Now we have hundreds of city employees and thousands of dollars and other resources dedicated solely to traffic law enforcement, fine collection, and an entire court set aside just for traffic violations. Throw in the natural need to defend one’s job and the status quo, and we have created the proverbial snake eating its tail. If we could do away with the cost of all that enforcement and collections, the cost of the additional police would evaporate, and the number of traffic accidents would remain unchanged. For even a moderately-sized city, that would free up thousands of dollars, money for things like road improvements that reduce accidents. Missing from the list of things that reduce traffic accidents is “increased police presence.”

The rules police enforce were designed to make people safer, but is anyone safer because of enforcement? The rules came from the fact that most people were doing those things in the first place, without anyone looking over their shoulder for red-and-blues. It’s unclear how police on every corner, collecting money from motorist, makes my daily commute safer. Most days, I don’t see a cop and I still don’t speed or run red lights. I, like most, follow the rules of the road in a very non-altruistic need to remain safe. I expect others to do the same. Before you know it, we have a community working together so everyone gets where they’re going safely without anyone making us wait precariously on the shoulder for some useless paperwork while other cars whiz past at 100 kph.

Safer for cops
Contrary to what most police tell you, being a cop is not the most dangerous job in the world. Cop doesn’t even make the top 10. But when cops are hurt, the main cause is traffic accidents. A little math tells us that minimizing their exposure to traffic would reduce police injury rates by almost 40%. We spend millions of dollars on bullet-proof vests and other equipment to protect officers, but we still send them out in the middle of their most dangerous predator, the automobile. Additionally, we tell them, they need to park their cars on the shoulder, precariously close to high-speed traffic, and distract themselves with document collection and form completion. The side of an interstate highway is hardly a conducive spot for office work.

Additionally, when city’s budgets require austerity, they typically eliminate police partnerships, sending most cops out on patrol alone. If police are held in reserve until dispatched, they can be dispatched in numbers required to deal with the call. No longer would cops be left alone in situations that have the most potential to cause harm. Single-officer traffic stops are the primary source of injury from both agitated motorist and traffic accidents. Taking the patrol officer off the road will eliminate their exposure to this potential harm.

What exactly do cops do?
It is the rare exception that police are in the position to prevent a crime from happening. When it does happen, it makes headlines exactly because it is the exception to the rule. The bulk of police work is post-crime. Investigations, interviews, evidence gathering, prosecution, and paperwork make up the majority of policing. Imagine how many crimes could be solved by reallocating the roving officers to these duties. But if money is to be saved, imagine how things would remain unchanged if the police department consisted of only the investigative wing.

Alternatives
We’ve come to believe police have special powers, but in most states, any citizen has almost all the same powers a cops has. Police simply have cute uniforms, shiny badges, government-issued guns, and special immunity. It’s that immunity that is the rub. Immunity fosters no accountability. Private security can and does offer all, if not more, of the protection the police provide. Plus, they are accountable for their behavior. If the police beat a suspect, they answer to only themselves via internal affairs. If a security guard beats someone, they answer to their employer and the courts. That puts a new spin on “justifiable force.” A private company or employee has a direct incentive in the form of a contract or paycheck to do their job. Police, on the other hand, are notoriously difficult to fire even in cases of extreme negligence. Try telling a cop, “I pay your salary,” and see what reaction you get. Now tell your private security guard that same thing and see if their job performance doesn’t improve. (See how Threat Management is effectively addressing the crumbling police infrastructure in Detroit.)

Technological innovations offer other cost-effective alternatives. I’m not talking about traffic cameras that mail out anonymous tickets, either. Those have serious 6th Amendment issues. Nor am I suggesting we employ a fleet of drones and CCTV cameras to monitor every nook and cranny of our towns. Those have serious privacy and other Constitutional hills to climb. I am suggesting we get our laws around our technologies and employ them in a safe, sane way to improve our lives. But in all honesty, being in public is just that. In today’s camera-laden world, you must expect that if you pick your nose at a red light today, it will be on Youtube tomorrow. The great thing about technology is a definite price tag comes attached. Hiring a city employee comes with all sorts of long-term, unadvertised costs. Buying a camera is a clear red-ink item on the city budget. You know exactly what you’re getting and how much it costs. Your town is also in less danger of running out of money in 20 years because some retirement investment went belly-up.

This is madness!
If cities really want to save money and spend their collected taxes wisely, rethinking how we police is long overdue. We are operating on 19th century policing principles well into the 21st century. It’s time to redefine why we have police and how they effectively manage crime. Reallocating or eliminating patrols has proven to have no effect on the crime rate. Why not take this to its logical conclusion? The first step is an honest evaluation of what police in our society really do and should do. It requires we drop any sentimental feelings we have for a uniform and honestly examine the mission of our police departments. If we want them to be self-feeding, collection agencies with little accountability, we can proceed with the status quo. If we want them to be effective crime* prosecution forces, it’s time to reorganize exactly what they do, how they do it, and how we pay for it.


*Crime here is defined as acts that cause harm to another person or another person’s property. This definition does not include the prosecution of actions that don’t involve harm to others. If cities need to raise revenue from people’s personal choices, they should tax those activities instead of criminalizing them.

Posted in crime | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Plant Stand Problem: Build a Bench

Posted by theBarefoot on March 3, 2014


I’ve been Googling plant stands to fill a corner of my deck. The former occupant, a child-size bench, finally succumbed to the weather. I found plenty of designs that I liked and that were terribly complex to build. I finally realized how simple the little bench was to build. Being the laziest man on Earth, I decided to build a replacement bench.

Building the little bench is an easy project for any novice woodworker. It only requires 2, 1″x12″x72″ boards, basic tools, and a splash of paint. I used pocket holes to assemble mine, but you can use screws or even nails through the sides to attach the back and bottom. I know that the back and bottom could be higher to give it more of a bench-like look, but remember, for me, this is a plant stand.

Keep chasing the odd, little happy.

Posted in DIY, Woodworking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cutting Board Storage Inside a Cabinet Door

Posted by theBarefoot on February 25, 2014


I was really tired of leaving my cutting boards on my kitchen counter top, but if I put them in a cabinet, they would slowly disappear and I couldn’t find them easily. I got this idea from Pintrest and modified it to my liking using the materials I had on-hand. It’s a simple concept and even easier project to execute. Just be sure your cabinet will close with the pocket in place and that the pocket is big enough for your boards. Other than that, here’s how it goes

Keep chasing the odd, little happy.

Posted in DIY | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 817 other followers