It would be awesome if we could dance to Electric Six!

I saw “Dick Valentine,” the lead singer of Electric Six, on a Red Eye rerun last night and was intrigued. It turns out that his style of music is satirical, using a disco base with punk sensibilities to make points not unfamiliar to Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. Plus, he isn’t a knee-jerk liberal tool. E6 is  most certainly not family friendly (see Gay Bar). Yet for old timers like me, who grew up on the Ramones and the Sex Pistols, it is mother’s milk. I’ve chosen three mostly non-offensive videos as a sampler of the Electric Six style.

Let’s start with their cover of “Radio Ga Ga,” in which E6 pay tribute to Queen and Freddie Mercury while literally dancing on Freddie Mercury’s grave.

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“Right to life” vs. “License to kill”: A Libertarian Pro-Life Argument

The abortion issue involves vast deeps of confusion about the nature of rights, freedom and the lack thereof, choice, license, responsibilities, and obligations. In this essay I attempt to cut away all the confusion to get to the heart of things from a classical liberal approach.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Until it gets to the First Amendment, the Constitution has nothing to say on the matter of unalienable Human Rights. This doesn’t mean they didn’t exist until then. Americans had Rights before the Bill of Rights passed. Our Rights descended from English common, statute, and chancery law, and before that from the ancient traditions of free Christian Englishmen (the 1689 Bill of Rights not least among these enumerations of rights). But those are peripheral sources of Rights for Americans. Most central to the American concept of Rights is The Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence, in which our Rights as Americans and humans were so eloquently advanced, stated that all humans are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable (intrinsic, non-severable) Rights. It does not state that humans are born equal, but created so. For this reason it matters when human life is created. For the answer we turn to science.

Ask any geneticist when life begins and (assuming sexual reproduction) they’ll tell you it’s when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm. At that point the fertilized egg has the same genetic structure it will have for its entire life, and much of the course of its future life is set, unless interrupted by accident or violent attack. Life begins when the genetic structure is in place and the biological processes begin. It’s the same with a human as it is with a kangaroo or an amoeba. Life, human or otherwise, begins at the beginning. That is the instant of creation. The act of creation invoked in the Declaration is found at the beginning of life.

Rights such as the rights to life, liberty, and property permit the rights-holder to live or die, to own, control, keep, give and sell his self, the product of his own labor, and the inventions of his mind as he likes, so long as he does not infringe on the rights of others. This is Liberty. Anything else is human bondage. Each human is created with a full set of rights, beginning with the right to life. The other rights are meaningless without the right to life so it stands alone as the foundation of all the rights.

The unalienable human rights do not include the so-called right to seize the property or infringe on the rights of another. Such so-called rights are better called “license,” as in James Bond’s fictional “license to kill” or the IRS’s all-too-real “license to tax.” License so understood is not any part of a society of free humans but rather a way of allowing one person to force others into bondage, slavery, or slaughter.

The right to life is the most basic, foundational right without which other rights mean nothing. So how is it that one person’s so-called rights can allow her to take away the foundational rights of another? The answer is they can’t. There are no such rights. This would be license. But license is not endowed upon humans by their Creator. It is claimed by those who wish to oppress others while claiming victimhood for themselves. By misusing the language of rights the proponents of a so-called right to abortion have invented a license to kill for the mother while denying the child any rights at all. This is hardly an example of human beings created equal. It is a much better example of human beings created different and at war.

But surely, you say, a woman has a choice not to carry a child to term. Yes, I would respond. She has that right of choice before a child grows within her. When she has sex she earns the responsibility to deal with the consequences of her actions. Responsibility is always the inevitable result of having done something to earn it.

What about force, you may probe more deeply. Does not a woman who is raped or the victim of incest have the right to choose whether to carry a child to term? Let us consider, I respond. This is where good people may differ. Some may say that when the woman’s right to choose when to have a child is infringed on by violence, she may lawfully exercise that right upon discovering she is pregnant. They say that if she likes, she may take on the obligation to carry the child of rape or incest to term, but obligation being a voluntary choice, it is not an inevitable result like a responsibility would be.

Others see it differently. I, for one, believe giving birth to a child even of rape or incest is still an inevitable responsibility, not a voluntary obligation.

This scenario may illustrate why. I believe it will be persuasive. A woman, let us call her Mary, catches typhoid fever. She is infected through no fault of her own. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and became the target of a hostile microbe. She does not have an active infection, but is a carrier. Typhoid Mary has the right to do as she sees fit, so long as she does not infringe on the rights of others. Non-infringement on others’ rights is the only limit to rights. But this means she can’t simply do as she wishes, because she will keep on passing on the infection to others. Others will die from Typhoid Mary, unless she is quarantined. So she has the responsibility to quarantine herself away from other people until she is cured or no longer communicable. She has earned that responsibility by becoming infected with typhoid, even though she did not choose it. By this example, we see that responsibility is the inevitable result of voluntary and also involuntary actions and changes. It is not guilt. It is not blame. It is something else entirely.

Typhoid Mary did not choose to become infected with typhoid. A rape victim who becomes pregnant did not choose to have sex. Yet both have a responsibility to change what they do and where they go so as not to kill others. This is unfortunate. But there is no such thing as a right to good fortune.

Remember, any so-called right to good fortune or be free from want is actually a disguised license to take the life or property of others. The one who exercises such license becomes an oppressor.

Well, you ask, what about circumstances where the mother will die if she gives birth? Bingo, I respond. You finally got the circumstance where the libertarian argument is squarely on the side of abortion. You see, I simplified things earlier in the argument when I stated there are no rights to take away the rights of another. I did that so I wouldn’t throw too many thoughts in the air at once. That was incorrect. There is one such circumstance and right. It is the right to self-defense. There is one circumstance in which humans have a right to hurt, immobilize, disable or kill another human, and that is when the other human is going to kill them (whether intentionally or not). A woman who aborts a child for purposes of self-defense will be subject to investigation and perhaps trial by a jury of her peers, as will the doctors or others who assisted with or performed the abortion procedure. The presumption of innocence would be pretty strong in these self-defense cases. And I can’t imagine the penalties for most women who claim self-defense and abort their children, except the most egregious examples of women who make it a habit, being very severe. Doctors might have it somewhat rougher. The result will be as just as the justice system, which is at heart a system of mutual self-defense to protect precisely the rights I’ve been going on and on about, allows it to be.

The confusion in our society about rights, license, responsibility and obligation is monumental. That’s no reason why we cannot overcome it. In any case, the libertarian or classical liberal’s case for the unborn child’s right to life, buttressed by the Declaration of Independence, is air tight. I invite all libertarians who have not already done so to join the right side of the abortion issue.


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Tools for Would-be Poets

I thought I’d like to write a poem or two,
And so set out that pleasant task to do,
But quickly was I seized by quicksand words.
The lines grew troublesome and most absurd.

That bit of doggerel was written in iambic pentameter, with an AABB rhyme scheme. Because poetry is spoken music, and in English tradition is densely packed with meaning, every piece of doggerel or poetry needs to have some things that normal prose doesn’t have.

  1. The right words
  2. With the right meanings
  3. To tell what the writer is driven to tell
  4. Arranged rhythmically
  5. (Optional) That rhyme

Note the non-optional nature of #4. I do not accept free verse as poetry. Without rhythm music is just a bunch of notes, and poetry without rhythm is self-indulgent, a mere rant that falls apart and fades from memory.


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Relentless: The Ten Year Campaign

One thing Republicans should have learned from the last sixteen years is when campaigning stops it is as good as surrendering to the Democrats.

I just hope that the next time we Republicans grab the big brass ring our President realizes he or she will have to conduct a 10 year campaign. Two years before the election and eight years in office. Follow Bill Clinton’s model. He was a master campaigner, who was even better at communicating his message than Obama.

While running for office, keep to no more than three or four themes (in addition to ridiculing the claims and media portrayal of the opponent). Each theme is a conservative principle or is supported by one. One theme should be primary at any time. Make messages match the theme. Get them out daily over the objections of the media. Do live interviews only. Do not consent to edited interviews. Stick to the themes. Identify distractions from the Pravda media for what they are: distractions. Shut distractions down. Discipline members of the press by refusing to call on them when they repeat distractions. Trumpet results of actions and lessons learned over the heads of the media. Conservatism is all about rational action and results testing, not simply shooting from the hip and doing what seems good. Make that so clear that even the media can’t cover it up.

Once in office, you can have more themes than three or four. But still no more than one primary theme at a time. One primary theme will carry on for days. Every day has its own message that gets communicated to the people over the objection of the media, expressed in legislative or regulatory actions, supported with research, and the results tied together in a pretty package so the Pravda press can’t ignore them. Make every day’s message on theme. Enlist or hire the best conservative talkers, the most lucid masters of policy details, and get them on all the shows to pound that theme, the relevant or supporting principle, the message of the day, the research, and recent results. Keep no primary theme for more than two weeks uninterrupted. If it’s important enough bring it up again in a month for another two weeks.

In the meantime, don’t ever give up the campaign. Don’t ever let Democrats and their Pravda press define the Republican theme or messages. Pound the real themes so hard nobody can misrepresent them without looking like an idiot.

The more Republicans beat on the Pravda press and keep them honest on the principles they follow, the more the people will be with Republicans. Republicans should feel free to be extremely confrontational, though sarcasm is a bad idea. The people realize the power and corruption of the press, even if the press doesn’t. They also recognize principled convictions, when forcefully expressed.

For that matter, highlight the moral corruption of the left. The Pravda press sure won’t. Hold the press, the leftist Academy, and Democrats to the same ethical standards that conservatives hold for themselves and Republicans. Do not let the left get away with claims they never promised to be ethical or moral, stick to the truth, or even obey the law. Force them to claim they are ethical, moral, truthful and not lawbreakers, and when they lapse, as they will, nail them to the wall. Speaking of this, why isn’t Dollar Bill Cunningham in the news every single day? And why isn’t the New York Times reviled every day by conservatives for its treasonous serial publication of Top Secret intelligence information?

There is another thing that has been missing. The Republican President has acted like he wasn’t proud to be a Republican. He has thrown away his good name and the good name of his party through passivity in the face of relentless attacks against himself and his party. There is only one way to defend against relentless attacks, to counterattack aggressively and gain the momentum. Get inside the decision loop of the Pravda media and the Democrats and exploit their confusion to defeat them. This is the strategic reasoning behind the relentless, continuous 10-year campaign.

Other Republicans in office have been working against their own party and with the other party. Though it sounds nice, in real life “bipartisanship” means Republicans doing Democrats’ bidding. Democrats don’t play the “bipartisan” tune. Republicans should not either. Principles matter. “Bipartisanship” bargains away conservative principles for illusory progress.

I also don’t want to hear another Republican Presidential candidate saying he will do what is right without hogging the limelight or playing partisan politics, and let himself and his party be attacked without responding to or defending himself or the party. That is the way to destroy the rest of the party, as we’ve learned to our woe the last eight years. If the President is of a party then he or she had better darn well be partisan! There is no downside to it. Partisanship is the way to strengthen both the party and the Presidency. A strong party strengthens the Presidency and vice versa. Partisanship and winning with conservative principles leads to strength. And the President should hog the limelight. The President is the star of the party, the leader of the party, the biggest face and name in the world. In the mind of the people, the President is the party. When the President gets the limelight, the party benefits. By pounding conservative principles the President can not only keep them in the minds of the people, but also keep weak sisters in the party from losing their principles.

It’s the same set of rules all winning teams follow. Everyone is for the team. There is no fighting allowed within the team. Everyone plays a part. Everyone helps the team’s stars be the best stars possible. Everyone lifts up the weak players on their own team. The bench is always ready to substitute in. Do sports teams reach out to help the other team score? They don’t. Yet sports are a game. They don’t really matter; not like politics matters. If a sports team loses, they lost a game. If you lose at politics your principles lose with you. If you win, they win. There is no virtue in compromising right principles. After all, if principles matter, they and the party that holds them are worth fighting for and winning for. If they don’t matter, why be a member of the party that has the principles?

Truth over falsehood: That’s the contest that matters in politics. Play to win. Win it for conservative principles. And after we win the first one, win the next one. Keep the streak running as long as possible. Be the EverReady party.

Keep winning. The media loves a winner.

It’s all common sense. That’s what we need.

It’s time to win one for the Gipper, again.

* * *

This posting grew from a comment I made at Red State.


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Classy Harry Reid glad he doesn’t have to smell Americans anymore

Harry Reid

Image by Cosmic Smudge via Flickr

Smelly tourists.

The US Capitol Visitors Center opened this morning, seven years after ground broke, and after overrunning the budget by 800%*, giving tourists a place to visit that doesn’t put them in contact with high muckety-muck Democrat Senators and Representatives like Dingy Harry Reid and San Fran Nan Pelosi, let alone such law-making and breaking stalwarts as Dollar Bill Jefferson. “Phew,” our American aristocracy sniffs, and shudders at the now-unthinkable thought of experiencing the proletarian stench.

“They can’t carry Arrid XXTra Dry on the plane? Let them wash with Chanel,” Pelosi blinked.**

h/t: Capital Research

* $71M to $621M counts as an 800% increase in my book.
** I made that part up. But not the rest.


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The Real Cost of Government Regulation is Paid With Human Lives

The US government has set the price of a human life for the purposes of new regulations at 7 million dollars.

The US government does a cost benefit analysis on proposed regulations to see if they make economic sense. This seems like a good idea. Certainly we don’t need regulations that have greater costs than benefits. Now, when it comes to health and safety regulations, in order to perform this analysis the government has to put a value on a human life. The number the government has come up with is somewhere between 7 and 8 million dollars per human life.

As an aside, it’s nice to know they value my life at 7 or 8 million dollars. That’s more than I have it insured for. Maybe I should get a bigger life insurance policy.

The way the government uses this number is, if proposed regulations cost no more than 7 million dollars for each life that is saved then the bean-counters consider the regulations prudent. This makes sense as far as it goes. It accounts for the effects that are seen. But what about the unseen effects?

It is a truism that in every economic transaction there is the seen and the unseen. When 7 million dollars is taken out of productive uses and put into complying with regulations the complying companies lose 7 million dollars of something else. That “something else” is the unseen in this transaction. In the case of money spent by companies on regulations, that money would have otherwise been spent directly or indirectly on employment. Reinvestment, tool and material purchases, and other expenditures cause the money to be circulated in the economy. This means jobs, no matter how it works. Either the business would have employed someone with that money, or it would have invested or spent the money. The economy wide effect of a regulation that imposes 7 million dollars of additional cost will be 7 million dollars worth of unemployment.

How many unemployed? The median annual income is roughly 40 thousand dollars. If you divide that out, you get 175 jobs lost from a 7 million dollar regulation.

What is the effect of unemployment on human lives? According to a National Institute of Health study, unemployment reduces life expectancy by about 10 years for 25 year olds, 8 years for 45 year olds, and 3 years for 65 year olds. Assuming an even distribution among ages, I get about 1,225 human life years of total reduction in life expectancy when I work the numbers. That is 35 lost adult lives, if you go by standard life expectancy tables.

Now, to be fair to the regulating bureaucrats, In the long run most of those 175 people their regulation drove out of work will get new jobs, but at lower income levels. Not only will their income levels be lower, so will lots of other people. If income levels are 5% lower, then 20 times as many will have lower incomes because of our 7 million dollar regulation. If we accept 5 percent as the reduction in salaries, that makes for a total of 3,500 people with 5 percent reduced salaries. According to the same National Institute of Health website, lower incomes also reduce life expectancy. For those with median salaries, 5 percent drops them from 40 thousand to 38 thousand. The table shows that life expectancy drops about 2 years from the above 50 thousand range to just below 25 thousand. That’s about .08 years of life expectancy per thousand dollars, or .16 years for our average worker. Multiplying 3,500 by .16 years gives 560 life years lost, or 16 lost adult lives of 35 years each.

What is the cost of a human life, again? It appears that for the US government it is 7 million dollars and between 16 and 35 other human lives lost.

Summing up, doing the math based on permanent unemployment says that each 7 million dollar regulation costs 35 lives. Based on reduced income levels a 7 million dollar regulation costs 16 lives. It is likely that the actual answer is somewhere in-between the two figures, as some people never do get lost jobs back. In either case the lives lost by the costs of the regulation are more than the 1 life justification for the rule.

This should be a reminder to government regulators that the unseen effects of their regulations can do a lot more damage than the danger they are trying to regulate out of existence. It should also be a call to arms for Americans. Government regulations are literally killing us and our fellow citizens, and they grow every single day.


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