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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

If anything, I consider myself a "whatworksian". If it works, I'm for it. ... Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan would tear each other apart; but they were both cut from similar cloth and if you asked either one of them they'd say they'd certainly agree they wanted to make America work.

So you give more examples of leaders that spent vast amounts of money and interfered in every aspect of economic and private life.

I don't think we should be striving towards any particular ideology. If some ideological strain starts leading us down a path that is contrary to our objectives, then it's time to abandon the ideology, not the objective.

What you call "our objectives" and "what works" is what other people call "an ideology". We have more common names for your "whatworksianism" and "honorablemenism", you're just unwilling to use them because you like to live under the illusion that they are new ideologies, rather than known and failed ones.

You know, there used to be some consensus in this country on what it meant for things to "work".

Yes, an anti-liberal consensus among big-government Democrats and big-government Republicans, a consensus mostly rooted in their common lust for power, money, and votes, and the lack of public awareness of what they have been up to.

Fortunately, people slowly seem to be waking up to the fact that this is a lousy direction for the country to go in and the the country's problems will not get fixed by attempting to send "honorable men" to Washington and that the right direction is to stop trying to do "what works".

I think the Internet is helping by not letting politicians hide behind the filter of sycophantic national news media, as they used to.

about 2 months ago
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Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change

stenvar Re:funny (567 comments)

All we'd have then is no smog, non-polluting power and clean water.

Sure, by just going back to an agrarian society.

about 2 months ago
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Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change

stenvar Re:Weather is NOT climate (567 comments)

Yes, I can see the rise. And I still don't care because (1) it's slow and it looks like it's not a big deal, and (2) nobody has come up with a feasible and reliable way of changing it anyway.

about 2 months ago
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Facial Recognition Might Be Coming To Your Car

stenvar Key. Pin. Fingerprint. (131 comments)

Keys seem to be fine to "authenticate" to my car. If more security were really desired (and I can't imagine why), pins and fingerprints would work too.

Face recognition is a lousy authentication technique.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

I think we'd actually agree that a sparse regulatory regime accompanied by men of honor would do a fine job. I just don't think we have enough men of honor these days for that to work

I'm glad you find a sparse regulatory regime desirable. But we don't agree on the "men of honor" thing. The role of government should be limited enough that it doesn't matter whether it's run by crooks.

Yours is the age-old confusion of progressives and intellectuals, the erroneous assumption that "government is a way in which you put unselfish and ungreedy men in charge of selfish and greedy men. But government is an institution whereby the people who have the greatest drive get power over their fellow men get in positions of controlling them." (Friedman)

I read "classical liberalism" as being very much laissez-faire, which we never totally had either

I didn't say we had it; I said it was the principle we should be striving towards, as opposed to striving towards progressivism. Actually, simply getting back to making federal spending less than 10% of GDP and prohibiting all branches of the federal government from keeping records on law-abiding citizens in any form would be a good start, both conditions that existed throughout most of our history.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: SIM-Card Solutions In North America?

stenvar prepare (146 comments)

There are a bunch of companies selling SIM cards online (e.g. Telestial), both for the US and for global roaming; just search on Google. I've found that kind of mail-order to be the best source for SIM cards for travel.

Walmart, some electronics retailers, and some drugstores also sell cheap prepaid SIM cards that are easy to activate.

Since only half of US carriers use GSM, your choices are a bit limited. Also, most Americans apparently prefer subsidized phones and subscription plans, since the prepaid BYOP plans are just not that popular.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

Of course, I meant: That's probably why both progressives and conservatives can keep accusing each other of fascist tendencies: you both have them

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

I don't recall that we were discussing Rent-Seeking at all. Our discussion seemed to center more around Regulatory Capture. I introduced Corruption as a new branch in the discussion

Rent seeking, regulatory capture, and criminal corruption are all forms of political corruption. The forms of political corruption that have been relevant to our discussion are almost entirely rent seeking and regulatory capture, because those are the prevalent forms of corruption under Western democracies, as well as progressivism and fascism. Your attempts to introduce discussions of other forms of corruption was apparently simply intended to deflect the discussion onto something irrelevant.

We started on the semantics of Progressivism and it just started spiraling more and more out of control from there...

This is not a "semantic debate". You have given examples of progressivism and progressivist politicians, and I agree that those are progressives. We are talking about the long term consequences of those policies and their historical similarities and ties to fascism.

It is simply a historical fact that on economic issues, modern American progressives share a great deal with German fascists of the late 1920's and early 1930's (before they simply became genocidal maniacs); you can see that by looking at speeches, policies, and party programs. If you like to rationalize and justify those similarities, go right ahead and give it a try, but denying them is silly.

(On social issues, modern social conservatives in the US share a great deal with German fascists of the 1930's. That's probably why both progressives and liberals can keep accusing each other of fascist tendencies: you both have them.)

You asked what we should do as a society, and the answer is pretty simple: go back to classical liberalism, the philosophy of the enlightenment and reason that this nation was founded on.

about 2 months ago
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Germany's Glut of Electricity Causing Prices To Plummet

stenvar Re:Another misconception bites the dust (365 comments)

You will have to wait until the current generation of politicians has retired. Then a new generation of politicians will be in power who will make new impossible promises that they will then not fulfill until they retire.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

Sigh... words in my mouth, improper inferences, strawmen...

I didn't "put words in your mouth", which implies misquoting. I paraphrase or respond to what I think you said. That's what people do in debates. They also misunderstand each other. That's why people clarify. You're just using these baseless accusations to avoid debate.

And now I offer as an example of someone who didn't fail at fighting corruption, Fiorello H. La Guardia

The term "corruption" has several meanings. Up to now, we've been using it in the informal sense of "successful rent seeking", which is usually not illegal. Now you switched meanings to the illegal kind (bribery, racketeering). Is that sort of dishonest debating strategy so deeply ingrained in you that you don't notice, or do you simply not understand the difference between illegal corruption and rent seeking?

And I'm not sure what the reference to LaGuardia and corruption is supposed to prove. While fighting illegal corruption is certainly a worthwhile cause, many politicians do it while they support massive rent seeking or even are corrupt themselves. LaGuardia was eminently "corrupt" in the rent seeking sense. Filthy, crowded, decaying LaGuardia airport, built for a wealthy elite of air travelers, is symbolic of his politics and where the country is heading under progressivism, as will be the tax dollars and new debt used to fix it up.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

LOL, Godwin's law much? Like all too many discussions on the 'net, this may have devolved into a pointless semantic debate too.

First of all, it was you and others who accused libertarians of somehow being linked to Massachusetts going the direction of serfdom and fascism. I was responding to that and pointing out how ludicrous it is for a state run by a Democratic, progressive supermajority.

You and others correctly identified SWAT teams and the privatization of SWAT teams as having fascist tendencies, but for some utterly weird reason you make excuses for the party in power that instituted those policies and blame people with no political power whatsoever.

I would submit that it's not a question of quantity, but of type. ... I offer for your consideration the idea that reducing regulation isn't the answer--restoring INTEGRITY is the answer.

Restoring integrity? How can you restore something that has never existed? What we have today is a pretty good democracy with, by and large, pretty decent and well meaning people, in all political parties. We aren't going to get any better people or any better policies. All we can do is decide how much power we give these people and how much money we let them spend on corporate cronyism.

every once in a while he'll mention a guy over there who is crusading against corruption

Politicians crusade against corruption all the time, it gets them votes. Many of them may even seriously believe that they are doing something. But that doesn't change the fact that they fail.

I think our big difference is that you are keyed into the org, gov, org revolving door which is a big Dem problem, as opposed to the corp, gov, corp revolving door which is more GOP (although I think both parties are in on that one).

Nowhere have I said that Republicans are any better. It's you who is foolishly viewing this as an us-vs-them kind of discussion.

All I am saying is that people who believe that the Democrats are saviors from this kind of governmental abuse of power are fooling themselves.

And if you have an ounce of intelligence, then do what I and others did, leave the Democratic party, become an independent, and learn about what liberalism actually means. The problem in both parties is that they hate liberalism and individuality.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

OK fine, but why mislabel it? In the Progressive movement, the state acts as a counter-balance to firms.

You're not getting it: I'm not mislabeling it. This is what Hitler promised (direct quote) in order to get elected:

we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance

Here is what Hitler said about America:

I don't see much future for the Americans ... it's a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities

That could come straight from Hillary or Obama or any other modern progressive. I doubt anybody who voted for him wanted to murder millions of Jews or fight a hopeless war; that happens later, when these people are at risk of losing power because they inevitably utterly fail to deliver what they promise and instead end up just wrecking the economy.

Letting the firms do anything because somebody told you they would ride in on rainbow-colored unicorns if you did that?

Libertarians don't want to "let firms do anything"; there is a minimum level of regulation that is necessary, but we are far beyond that. Furthermore, regulation often protects firms from liability and competition, and that is exactly why companies get away with murder today. We need to get tough on companies, and that means generally: no subsidies, no exemption from liability due to regulation, and no artificial monopolies, exactly the opposite of what progressives actually do.

Even worse, we are at a stage now where Democrats propose bad regulations in order to fix problems that were caused by bad regulations in the first place. When that sort of thing goes unchecked for too long, it spirals out of control until the economy collapses entirely, and usually democracy with it.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

I don't think people plan much for the day they become the "customer" of a SWAT team and I don't even wish that you become one ;).

Quite right. If you contract out your security, you get a choice what kind of service you want: with-SWAT or without-SWAT. Most people are going to opt for without-SWAT. That's, generally speaking, the libertarian view: you should have a choice.

Democrats argue that how policing and security are provided should be left to government experts; they obviously have decided they need SWAT teams, and you don't have a choice in the matter.

Here's a map of botched paramilitary police raids, compiled by the Cato institute, which is highly critical of these practices:

http://www.cato.org/raidmap

about 2 months ago
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Interviews: Ask Lawrence Lessig About His Mayday PAC

stenvar Re:Should the US government censor political blogs (308 comments)

This idea that I see brewing in conservative circles, that it should be alright to just flat out cut a check to a politician in any amount is baffling.

What is baffling is that you consider this a problem, without any evidence whatsoever. Contrary to what you have been indoctrinated to think, the US is not a paradise created by rich people for rich people; there are far better places in the world to be rich. If anything, it is the US middle class that is far too powerful in US politics and enriching themselves at the expense of others.

Furthermore, even if it did cause problems, nobody has proposed better alternatives. Public financing of campaigns ends up being far more corrupt in practice (and there is plenty of experience).

Provide strong evidence that this is a significant problem, and then provide strong evidence that you have a solution that actually works better: that should be the bar people have to reach in order to reform in this area.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

No. The merger of corporation and state is fascism.

Yes, my point exactly.

You just need to take off your ideological blinders and see where it is happening around you.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

That was kind of my point, like the OP I was referring to the subset of present-day libertarians that advocate laissez-faire capitalism and who advocate this kind of crap.

It really defies belief how you can attempt to blame the policies of a Democratic supermajority in Massachusetts on libertarians.

What is happening in Massachusetts is what Democrats do. It is precisely "this kind of crap" that libertarians are opposed to. And it is libertarian opposition to "this kind of crap" that is the reason why the Democratic establishment heaps such vitriol on libertarians.

Laissez-faire capitalists will cheer along as these privatised forces morph into corporate armies until they them selves are being targeted.

The Massachusetts SWAT teams aren't "privatized" in the sense of laissez-faire capitalism; they don't operate independently of government, they don't provide a service in a free market, they are a government monopoly, and they aren't subject to civil lawsuits. Massachusetts SWAT teams are "privatized" in the way fascists and progressives "privatize" things: government subsidized and regulated monopolies exempted from market forces and liability, and even exempted from government accountability. That is exactly the kinds of abuse of power that libertarians are strongly opposed to.

Do some reading:

http://www.cato-unbound.org/20...

In a sweeping essay, Sheldon Richman explains why private property and free competition are superior to state-provided goods and services. He warns against granting “private” corporate monopolies, which are not true privatizations, but act as arms of the state. He adds that for many state activities, the best way to privatize is not to provide the service at all — as in the case of punishing victimless crimes, which no one should do. For legitimate services, he recommends a “homesteading” approach, in which stakeholders in a public service, such as a school, would receive shares in a new, independent corporation.

Here's some more on SWAT teams:

http://www.cato.org/raidmap

https://www.google.com/search?...

I cited Niemöller quite deliberately precisely because he cheered along with the Nazis until they got around to targeting him.

Yes, and my point is that Niemöller never actually changed or understood where is moral failure was: he always stayed a totalitarian at heart and always remained opposed to individual liberties. He simply shifted allegiances as it was politically expedient and to assuage his guilty conscience.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

Sounds like "maffia" to me.

No, a "mafia" is when other people blackmail you into giving them you money.

If the voluntary pool becomes large enough, we call it "government".

Participation in government programs isn't voluntary, so that statement is false.

Libertarianism is one of those things that only works in small groups

Libertarianism isn't an all-encompassing ideology; it's a preference for individual liberties and private solutions.

(and then only helps that small group)

Yes: you make choices to collaborate with others, and if you make choices that work, you reap the rewards. If you make bad choices, you lose. Why does that bother you?

but fails on a nation-wide scale.

As opposed to the war on drugs, the war on obesity, the war on poverty, the stimulus, and the national educational efforts? They have all failed to deliver what they promised.

Nothing can ever reliably work "on a nation-wide scale", people and the country are too diverse and too unpredictable for that; that's the point of libertarians. What does work is to give people the freedom to find their own local and individual solutions to their own local and individual problems. That will never make everybody happy or help everybody, but it's the best we can do. You instead want to follow charlatans who promise solutions "on a nation-wide scale" but never actually deliver, and instead just end up being corrupt and destructive.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar why don't you look at actual libertarian positions (534 comments)

Here is what the Cato institute put out about the rise of SWAT teams:

Americans have long maintained that a man's home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders. Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing. Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they're sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

This paper presents a history and overview of the issue of paramilitary drug raids, provides an extensive catalogue of abuses and mistaken raids, and offers recommendations for reform.

http://store.cato.org/reports/...

To demonstrate how much of a problem this is, there is even a map of incidents:

http://www.cato.org/raidmap

Reason hasn't had a commentary on it yet, but they have already posted information about the privatized SWAT teams:

http://reason.com/blog/2014/06...

I expect in a day or two, you'll see a Reason article condemning the practice strongly for what it is: crony capitalism, lack of government accountability, and government overreach.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

It's ironic for you to cite Martin Niemöller in this context. Niemöller was initially a supporter of the Nazi regime, anti-Semitic, anti-liberal, and anti-democratic. His statement is truthful: he only started opposing the Nazis when they started making his life difficult, and he really only broke with Nazi ideology after having been imprisoned for years. But his apology and subsequent pacifism themselves were opportunism, and he just moved on from supporting one form of totalitarianism to another one.

In fact, it's libertarians (classical liberals) that are warning you of the dangers of what's happening in Massachusetts and the rise of paramilitary-style police, and obviously getting quite a bit of abuse for it from the political establishment.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

stenvar Re:Libertarian nirvana (534 comments)

What you call "simply a contracting issue" is at the heart of the problem with crony capitalism, as advocated and practiced by Democrats. The libertarian view is that it is impossible to avoid corruption in these kinds of government-private contract.

In different words, ultimately, it's private companies doing services for private citizens. Putting the government as a contractor in between the citizens and the businesses removes the primary way by which the widespread greed and abuses of private companies is kept in check: their customers going elsewhere when they are not satisfied.

about 2 months ago

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climate change found responsible for technological innovation

stenvar stenvar writes  |  about a year ago

stenvar (2789879) writes "By looking at climate reconstruction and correlating it with archaeological evidence, researchers have found that climate change appears to have driven innovation in Homo sapiens: "Sophisticated stone tool-making, artistic symbolism and trade networks were all innovated during times in the Stone Age when the South African climate abruptly became warmer and wetter, according to a new study.""
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