Republic Reborn

Fight For The Future of Liberty

02/12/18 Morning Links

02/12/18 Overnight Links

Seattle scores a victory against the Surveillance State

Yes, it is possible to push back against surveillance expansion, and reclaim ground in the battle for privacy from government snooping.  The news out of Seattle is proof of this:

In 2013, the Seattle PD installed a “wireless mesh network” with $3.6 million in grants from the Department of Homeland Security.  This network consists of dozens of surveillance cameras, along with 158 “wireless access points”: small, white boxes installed on utility poles.  This system can continuously track any wireless device within its perimeter, meaning it can track everyone with a cellphone.  Once the ACLU of Washington caught wind of the program, along with local privacy advocacy groups, outcry ensued, and the Seattle PD deactivated the system “until city council approves a draft (privacy) policy and until there’s an opportunity for vigorous public debate.”

Now the city is spending $150,000 to have the entire network dismantled.

A big problem with programs like these is the fact that police departments across the country are setting up this technology with little oversight and no debate whatsoever.  Another big problem is the fact that a federal department is providing funding for local police.  Local police departments should be funded by the community they serve.  That connection creates accountability.  The argument is identical to the argument against foreign aid: The foreign aid is given to the foreign government, severing that government’s ties to the people they rule.  Corruption and tyranny shortly emerge like the plague, with similar results.

The biggest objection, however, is that this technology violates our most fundamental capacity for self-preservation as a species: the ability to hide from our own government.  The ability to live our lives unencumbered by the knowledge that someone within our government may be watching.

Total surveillance isn’t inevitable.  The death of liberty isn’t inevitable, although every government in history has developed highly sophisticated web of propaganda to make it seem so.  It is possible to recover ground, if only a small minority of organized, intelligent, and stubborn activists refuse to give up.

02/11/18 Overnight Links

02/10/18 Morning Links

The importance of understanding “regulatory capture”

Libertarians find joy in proclaiming that they are against “regulation” of the economy, much to the horror of the majority of people who don’t quite know what they mean. In essence what they mean is that they are against any undue restriction on voluntary activity, which restricts the number and variation of voluntary interactions which would occur, thereby putting a damper on the prosperity that would emerge.

Most people would counter with, ‘Sure, that works in theory, but we need regulatory bodies to watch over the dominant players in any industry to ensure they’re playing fair’.  Which would be a good time to bring up the concept, and very real phenomenon, of regulatory capture.

Basically, regulatory capture refers to when the major companies in an industry gain such influence over the regulatory agency supposedly keeping them in line that the agency itself begins promoting and protecting the interests of those dominant players.  The agency becomes the policy arm of the industry, effectively “captured” by those players.

Wikipedia explains it slightly better: …“regulatory capture occurs because groups or individuals with a high-stakes interest in the outcome of policy or regulatory decisions can be expected to focus their resources and energies in attempting to gain the policy outcomes they prefer, while members of the public, each with only a tiny individual stake in the outcome, will ignore it altogether.[2] Regulatory capture refers to the actions by interest groups when this imbalance of focused resources devoted to a particular policy outcome is successful at “capturing” influence with the staff or commission members of the regulatory agency, so that the preferred policy outcomes of the special interest groups are implemented.”

It doesn’t take much imagination to realize this is happening at every level of government, at all times.

It’s fascinating, in a way, but more importantly it’s a stark example of how good-intentioned intervention into the market can have the exact opposite effect of the one desired.  For society to function, we merely need to protect voluntary behavior. Everything will fall into place as long as voluntary interaction is expanded into as many areas of the economy as possible. Regulatory interventions backfire spectacularly.

The vaccine question

There are a lot of night owls on here, apparently.  I appreciate the views.  Cosmetically, the site may change from time to time, but the content will be basically as it is now.  I would like it to be slightly more consistent so you readers know what to expect each day.  Other than that, what you see is what you will be getting for the duration.

So, to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question in a sense.  As a parent, it’s something I debate internally, but have made up my mind on, for the most part. I’m not actively anti-vaccine, and don’t voice my thoughts on it all that much.  But thankfully there is data to look at and judge for yourself.

Most people, when they think of a vaccine, picture the polio vaccine.  And it is undoubtedly a miracle of modern medicine.  What I’ve found troubling, though, is that the majority of modern vaccines seem to be riding the coattails of that shining picture in our mind, of that success, and leading us to use little in the way of judgment when it comes to what we allow to be injected into ourselves and our kids.

To question the safety of certain vaccines brings with it a huge stigma, and the label “anti-vaxxer”. Criticism of any kind of the current vaccine schedule or particular vaccines brings with it a level of emotionalism that seems to be on par with criticism of police or any other “pillar of society”.  It’s very hard to have a real debate in that kind of atmosphere.

One observation I’d like to put out here first is this: those people who are ridiculed and branded as “anti-vax” aren’t anti-vaccine in any all-encompassing sense.  Their main criticism focuses either on the method of vaccine preservation, the enormous amount of vaccines that children under 3 are subjected to, the strange lack of rigorous testing that vaccines undergo compared to every other pharmaceutical on the market, and the data surrounding the MMR vaccine in particular.  In short, these people don’t blindly reject all vaccination.  They naturally question the safety of a compound being injected into their children at such a young age.

They also understand that something in our environment is causing a stratospheric rise in autism rates in the developed world.  According to the CDC’s latest data brief on rates of autism and developmental disabilities, the rate of autism among children in the US stands at 2.76%.  The rate of increase is faster than any other developmental disability, pushing them to question what in our environment is the culprit.

Then there is the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which is rarely discussed, but has paid out $3.6 billion since its creation in 1986 to the families of children who suffered adverse reactions to vaccines.  The program was created with the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.  The Act also granted pharmaceutical companies immunity and prevented parents from suing the vaccine’s manufacturers in the event of injury or death.

There are also the many stories of healthy, developing children under 3 rapidly regressing into autism after having been given a buffet of vaccines.

There is also the question of how a pharmaceutical company lobbies to get their vaccine placed on the child vaccine schedule, thereby ensuring a never-ending flow of money into their coffers.

I’m not saying to be anti-vaccine, but to be skeptical, especially with those aspects of society that are treated as “beyond debate”.  That is usually a sign there’s usually something dubious happening in the halls of power.

To look at it another way, just look at the behavior of every other multinational corporation that is involved with government in some way.  There’s usually massive corruption and hidden schemes to shaft the public in some way or another.  Pharmaceutical companies make billions off of their patent, petri dish poisons that they pedal 24/7.  They also have the advantage of cloaking themselves in the beyond-reproach white coat of science.  These companies’ livelihoods depend on convincing us that there’s something wrong with us that could be cured with one of their prescription “products”.  They depend on the sick and mentally ill for their gravy train.  It’s not different at all from the weapons industry.  To keep the money flowing, they need a perpetual theater of war somewhere in the world where their products can be used by their various “customers”.

It’s about being skeptical of power.  Vaccines, pills, wars, new laws, tax increases, bank bailouts, are all sold to us in the exact same way.  In that, if we don’t accept it all then the world will no doubt end very soon. We need to look closer at who’s doing the selling, and follow the money.

02/10/18 Overnight Links

02/09/18 Morning Links

02/09/18 Overnight Links

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