Flynn’s Resignation

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Many people I know who support Edward Snowden and other leakers also support the leaking of Michael Flynn’s conversation with the Russian Ambassador before he was officially sworn in as the acting National Security Advisor, leading to his resignation.

 

At first glance that appears logical. As they all say when I protest, you can’t be for one and against the other just because it is against your political party’s interests.

 

They don’t seem to realise that there is a difference between the principled and honest leakers who risked everything to expose government surveillance, and the hacks who are leaking now by conducting government surveillance on a member of the President’s inner circle. One is motivated by a selfless wish to expose wrongdoing, the other to character assassinate a political rival.

 

But we can’t distinguish between illegal acts, they say, they should all be exposed.

 

But Michael Flynn didn’t even do anything illegal!

 

The Logan Act! They scream.

 

 

Ohhhh, the law that nobody has been prosecuted with since its creation in the eighteenth century. If Flynn is guilty, having talked to the Russian ambassador after Trump had won the Presidency, then shouldn’t Obama be prosecuted for touring several foreign countries before he won the Presidency in 2008 and talking on matters of foreign policy, as if he was already head of state?

 

Somehow I doubt they would approve of that.

Trump’s Trade Truths

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Many libertarians are worried about Trump’s hostility towards free trade. One argument I keep hearing is that free trade benefits both countries that are involved in it seeing as it is a voluntary arrangement which nobody is forced into. Mike Maloney is one such classical liberal who puts forward this argument on his Gold and Silver youtube channel which I enjoy watching; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy-JVNWm1K8.

 

But there is one big flaw in this argument as I see it. Countries don’t trade with each other, but rather individuals within these countries trade with other individuals (or collections of individuals in the case of companies) in other countries.

 

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‘China’ doesn’t sell cars to the ‘USA’. Car companies based in China sell cars to consumers in the USA. Classical Liberals are half right that in such transactions both parties benefit, or at least perceive themselves to benefit. But that is not to say that China and the USA benefit, because they are not the parties in this transaction.

 
Let’s take an example:

 

There are two cars exactly the same in specifications, but one is made in the USA at a cost of $20,000 and one in China for a cost of $18,000 including transport and tariffs. Mr Smith, being a rational individual, buys the Chinese one. The Chinese company (or a non-Chinese company based in China) and Mr Smith both benefit. The company gets the sale and Mr Smith saves $2,000.

 

But the company which has a factory in the USA loses out, and by extension so do other Americans who work (or would have worked) at the plant, and the surrounding area, as well as the shareholders who are presumably more likely to be Americans than the shareholders of the Chinese manufacturer. ‘America’ could well lose out even if Mr Smith (the ‘American’ part of this transaction as many Classical Liberals would tell the story) gains.

 

The losses for the American company, American workers, and the local area, could conceivably outweigh the gains that Mr Smith had.

 

The fault of the simplistic examples the Classical Liberals use lies in the fact that countries do not trade with each other, and in saying they do, they leave out the many Americans who lose out from international trade from being included in the ‘American’ part of the trade occurring between ‘China and America’.

 

To this the Classical Liberals might say that the dollars going from Mr Smith to the Chinese company must at some point be used to purchase American goods, and so in the long run trade benefits both parties.

 

But America has had huge trade deficits with countries like China and Mexico for several decades, which show no sign of ending. The destruction caused to America’s economy and to the many millions of American workers in this period would seem a very high price to pay for the promise of booming exports at some faraway date as dollars that had been accumulated by countries such as China and Mexico find their way back to America. And besides, at that point, after thirty, forty, or fifty years of trade deficits with these countries, such exports would simply be used to pay off the imports from previous generations, rather than create any new wealth.

 

 

 

Sometimes free trade works, sometimes it doesn’t. The last thirty years has shown us that free trade between very rich and very poor countries tends not to benefit the rich countries. This is especially true when the free trade in goods and services is coupled with a free movement of capital, allowing companies from the rich countries to invest in plants to export goods back home again.

 

On this, President Trump is right and the tired, lazy arguments of Classical Liberals with regards free trade are wearing increasingly thin.

Germany; you need to learn how to spend your surplus

This was an article that I wrote which found its way onto American Thinker, a website that I read more than once a day and recommend to all my conservative and libertarian minded readers out there. The link to it:

is: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/06/germany_you_need_to_learn_how_to_spend_your_surplus.html

Gun Control After Orlando

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I Know! A List Detailing Which Americans can own Firearms. It’ll be Yuuuuuuuge!

So-called ‘Safe Spaces’ and access to public lavatories have been high on the Left’s agenda in recent years, to the neglect of more traditional and some might say, pressing, issues such as Islamic terrorism. I found it somewhat symbolic then when a Muslim terrorist turned a public bathroom into a very unsafe space this past week whilst in the process of carving out a small segment of America in which Sharia Law would become the law of the land, if even for only a few hours.

To my surprise, the news was dominated in the preceding aftermath not by any internecine warfare within the increasingly uneasy Rainbow Coalition that forms the Democratic Party, or on the fact that Obama and Hillary were so reluctant and mild in saying this had anything to do with ISIS despite Omar Mateen himself saying as much and ISIS posting that an attack was imminent on Florida mere days before. Trump brought up his temporary Muslim immigration ban again, and perhaps it is a sign of how that idea is becoming more mainstream that it failed to pick up as much attention as it did even a few months ago.

But mostly, public debate was confined to outrage over the weapon that the killer used in committing this act of terrorism. The usual suspects were in on it, clamouring for another Assault Weapons Ban, even though that had no effect on gun crime whatsoever. As is standard practice for Obama after these killings he immediately demands more gun control as the solution, and the media laps it up.

What was unusual though was that this time Fox News seemed to sympathize, with Bill O’Reilly and Greta Van Sustern both supporting any new gun control legislation aimed at preventing high-powered assault rifles, even though both of them and nearly everyone else talking about this actually seemed to have gotten the specific assault rifle he used wrong; he used a Sig Sauer MCX and not an AR-15. Trump got in on the act too, saying that he would talk with the NRA about banning people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing weapons.

There are many Ted Cruz supporters, myself included, feeling somewhat vindicated right now, having known about Trump’s past support for gun control legislation. To be fair to Trump though, he is also making the point that the club was a gun free zone, and that fact meant far more died than would otherwise have been the case.

Politically, he may well feel that he has the pro-gun supporters locked up (which coincidentally is what Hillary Clinton would like to happen to them in a more literal sense). He probably figures he can reach out to moderates a little now with what he and many others might view as ‘common sense’ laws.

I would still oppose any moves by the Federal Government to strip people of their Constitutional Rights if they happen to find themselves on some government list, because with the best intentions in the world you can bet that very quickly who gets put on that list will become increasingly a matter of politics rather than intelligence.

At any rate, how are people put on the list right now?

Federal guidelines simply require ‘reasonable suspicion’ of involvement in terrorism. How can such reasonable suspicion be formed. One way is by tracking Facebook posts. Another way of judging reasonable suspicion in determining whether you will find yourself on the list that Trump proposes would determine whether you can purchase firearms is if another individual tells the Intelligence services they think you might be a terrorist. Another way is if you might know somebody who is a terrorist ‘terroristy’. And another way is simply having the same name as somebody else who is likely unlucky enough to come under the microscope of the Intelligence Services, as happened when a four year old boy was refused entry onto a plane.

It’s no wonder then that more than half a million people are on the terrorist watch-list (not including, you know, actual terrorists like the Tsarnaev brothers). With less than one percent of people reviewed for inclusion on this list being found innocent, it is likely that they are simply trying to cover their backs; nobody wants to be that person who made the decision that a soon-to-be terrorist was actually innocent.

 

And that’s half a million people on this list before the terrorist watch list becomes a back door route for Liberals to erode the Second Amendment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on the EU Referendum

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In a surprising lack of solidarity between EU Referendum related terms ironically sounding like Eastern European nationalities, recent Polls have been rather unkind to the Bremainians, showing those in favour of Britain leaving the EU commanding anywhere up to a ten-point lead. This comes despite of, or perhaps because of, recent dire predictions from those on the Remain side that should Britain leave anything from financial collapse, recession, societal breakdown, and World War III could occur.

 

The last one was suggested by the Prime Minister himself, which does call into question his judgement when last year he stated that he could vote either way in an upcoming referendum. With directly elected leaders like that, perhaps an unelected, unaccountable, unknown group of technocrats really is a good way to govern.

 

Like most young native-born Londoners, I am finding that a great proportion of my income goes towards renting a place to live. That is in large part due to the fact that London has experienced a growth in its population without a corresponding growth in its housing stock, and whilst the latter has nothing to do with the EU, the former certainly does. I am not alone in this view, so too is my Indian-born co-worker who is in the same boat as me. We both want Britain to leave the EU.

 

I find it highly ironic that it is the youth of Britain that generally want to remain in the EU and the older generation that want us to leave, when the politicians and experts are constantly warning that if we leave house prices will go down. For people of my generation, that would be a positive outcome seeing as few of us, unlike the older generation, own property. I get the same feeling when they say that if we leave the value of the pound will decrease; this would help us rebalance away from imports and consumption towards exports and savings. Ditto when they warn that leaving will lead to vacancies in certain professions due to a lack of immigrants. British companies might have to again start training British people in the skills the economy requires, sort of like we did from before England was actually called England right up until fifteen or so years ago when suddenly this rather basic and innocent sounding proposition became what most Economists described in various forms as economic illiteracy.

 

Swinging from wildly absurd scare stories that most can see through to counter-productive attempts at highlighting the ‘costs’ of leaving which many people would perceive as being beneficial, it is no wonder that the arguments the Remain Campaign has mustered so far have proven ineffective at steadying their numbers in the polls.

 

 

 

Annoying employment regulations

Does working with employment legislation also need a Manual Handling Certificate?

I don’t think it is out of concern for the health of my back that I require a manual handling certificate to work in a warehouse, but rather a concern from the employers in protecting their own.

 

Either an overzealous state has lawfully required this piece of paper be obtained in the name of ‘work place safety’, or similarly has created a legal environment where companies are afraid of acting, in the name of ‘compensation’.

 

Either way it surely cannot be because of the free market that every warehouse job I have seen advertised requires applicants to provide such proof when they possess nine months of warehouse experience.

 

This has greatly curtailed my job hunt as I am applying from abroad. Thanks to this piece of paper, I have to wait until I get to Ireland, pay 70 euros for a four hour course seemingly consisting of primarily videos, and then apply for jobs. Without this hindrance, I could instead have tried applying abroad and lined up a job for my arrival in Ireland.

 

I am very grateful to be able to move to Ireland in the first place, and this is not a serious problem of course.

 

Anyway, after three months of doing little physical work here in Kiev, attempting to pick my fat arse up to go back to work again could mean that reacquainting myself with lifting heavy objects is rather useful.

Israel and Hamas war demonstrates western militaries’ power over their own people

The Corner Shot, which can shoot around corners

 

Western outrage over Israel’s war against Hamas is likely based not so much on anti-Semitism, as many on the right claim, but rather because Israel is so much more powerful, thus ensuring that despite Israeli efforts to kill as few civilians as possible many more Gazans are losing their lives compared with Israeli citizens. This makes it seem more like a slaughter than a fair fight, even if the slaughter is fully intended not by Israel but rather by Hamas in order to win the propaganda war, with much help from the biased Western media who are essentially encouraging Hamas to continue their strategy of maximizing civilian casualties. And indeed, captured Hamas documents suggest that this is the strategy they are going for.

 

However, the power of Israel’s military in comparison with Hamas, which is better armed than any civilian population within western nation-states besides that of the United States, is not simply relevant to the current hostilities in the Middle East. It highlights a deeper question.

 

These hostilities demonstrate the current point at which we are at after a more than century-long march of military technology which has left western armed forces increasingly powerful, and disconnected, in relation to their own populations. One need only look at the success of the Iron Dome missile shield, or the effectiveness of guided missiles, Markava tanks, attack helicopters and personal weapons such as the Corner Shot to see how powerful they have become.

 

Perhaps the energy which has been funnelled into outrage towards Israel over its attempts at defending itself should instead be used to question; what are the implications for society when the armed forces now possess such awesome power in relation to those whom they serve?

 

It is a question I’m deeply interested in and will be the subject of many blog posts to come. This post is very brief, really I just wanted to pose the question first before continuing to answer it in coming posts.

But Who Will Build the Roads?

Mike Watts

Frustrated by a main road being blocked following a land slip in February a local man, Mike Watts, in England has created his own private toll road which allows motorists to go around the blockage.

 

This has cost him £300,000 in total and he will lose his house if he fails to recoup this investment by charging motorists £2 to use it. It is the first such private toll road in existence in England in more than 100 years.

 

His decision was prompted mostly by frustration at the council’s delays, who estimate they will not have fixed the main road by Christmas, rather than any profit motive.

 

This is a perfect example of private initiative and entrepreneurship.

Read more…

The Ukrainian Army assaults Donetsk

 

Sun Tzu once said “the worst policy is to attack cities”.

 

This was when civilians were not seen as an integral part of the mission who must be protected at all costs, and before force protection became such an important objective. His caution applies even more powerfully, then, today.
Read more…

A Libertarian’s view of the Crimea and the Ukraine Crisis

Pawns on a chess board

 

 

 

War is no friend to Libertarianism and its principles of individual liberty and minimalist government. Yet even foreign policy actions short of war often lead to similar outcomes to government intervention in domestic politics. The Ukraine crisis is a case in point.

Read more…