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Monday, June 27, 2011

Preventative Measures

It is now commonplace for people to be charged with crimes where there are no victims.  A car is speeding, maybe 10 miles over the posted speed limit, but maintains complete control of their vehicle.  A cop pulls the car over and issues a ticket, which then results in either a payment from the 'offender' or that person showing up in court and wasting time and money.  Who is harmed?  Who is the victim?  The only victim in this example is the police officer's pride (and of course the driver).

Let's say there is a person who likes to go home at night and smoke some marijuana, never leaving their home, where they live alone.  Some police walk by on the sidewalk, and smell a funny odor coming from the house.  Fearing destruction of evidence, they break down the door (without a warrant), and arrest the homeowner.  Who is harmed?  Who is the victim?

Hopefully you're with me so far.  What about someone who is driving drunk?  Let's say that a person enjoyed enough adult beverages to put themselves over the stated legal limit.  While driving, they are obeying all traffic signals and give no indication of being incapable of driving.  At a DUI Checkpoint, the police determine the driver is over the legal limit, though shows no signs of being drunk.  The driver is arrested, the car is towed and the license is suspended.  After a court hearing, classes are mandated.  Who is harmed?  Who is the victim?

But wait, you say, aren't these behaviors we want to discourage?  No, I say.  I have no problem with anyone's actions as long as they do not harm anybody else.  If somebody wants to smoke crack and lose all their teeth and worse, go for it, have fun.  If a young boy wants to go to school in a dress, go for it, have fun.  None of these things bother me.  What bothers me is our police force and court system taking it into their hands to punish people who might cause harm.  You either cause harm or you don't, you can't be somewhere in the middle.

Ok, so if we get rid of all the preventative laws what happens to the person who drinks and drives and kills somebody?  Instead of preventative laws, we need a tiered punishment for existings laws where harm is involved.  If somebody drove drunk and killed someone, the punishment would be in a higher tier than somebody who wasn't drunk, just for an example.  If you were speeding and hit another car, your punishment might be 10% more severe than someone driving the speed limit, and so on.  The tiers could be linked to how many miles over the speed limit they were traveling or how many points over the "legal limit" they were.

Preventative laws only prevent one thing: freedom.  They do little to deter those who would push the limits to the point of harming others.  More severe penalties for those who lose control of themselves would be a great deterant, and even better, it would allow for the maximum freedom to be enjoyed by the population.  As a society, we can't punish people for what they might do, even if what they are doing seems wrong to bystanders.  As long as they are harming nobody but themselves, I say they should be free to pursue whatever happiness they desire.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cash Cow Budgeting

Citizens are cash cows.  A cash cow is defined as, "a steady, dependable source of income."  As citizens, we are required by law, through threat of force, to pay taxes to the federal government.  The federal government could decide to tax us any amount they wished, and we would be forced to pay.  To refuse would be illegal, no matter how just.  Therefore, we are the government's cash cows.

Just what did the government spend our hard-earned money on in 2010?  22.62% was spent on health care (Medicare/Medicaid) and 20.04% was spent on Social Security.  The chart can be found here.  That means 42.66% of the federal budget was spent on welfare.  But what does that mean dollar-wise?  Going to the president's website, it is easy to find percentages, but difficult to find hard numbers.  In 2010, the federal government spent $3,456 billion ($3.456 trillion) while it only took in $2,162 billion ($2.162 trillion) in taxes.  Interestingly enough, if I spent more than I earned, I would be charges some serious overdraft charges from my bank.  I wonder where the government banks... Oh yeah, they bank with the Federal Reserve, a bank where money can be created from thin air.

Back to the number game: 23% of $3.5 trillion is $794 billion and 20% is $691 billion.  That equals $1.49 trillion spent on welfare alone.  That is over half of what the government brought in through taxes.  68% of our taxes go to welfare.  19.27% of the budget pays for our military and a mere 0.81% goes towards legal and immigration.  If we include the 3.26% that goes towards veteran benefits and the 1.65% towards international affairs, that brings us to 24.99% of our budget goes towards defense and legal.  $863.65 billion is spent on national defense and our legal system.

If the federal government only undertook its three responsibilities (military, court system and police force) the total budget spending would be roughly $863.65 billion per year, assuming we cut out all welfare and privatized everything else.  As of Feb. 16, 2011, the population of the United States was 310,831,978.  If we divided that out, every person in the United States would have to pay $2,778.51 per year to balance the budget.  Currently the average American pays roughly 20% of their salary to federal taxes, and the average salary is $29,500, which translates into about $5,900 in taxes per person.  That means, if the government only spent money on what was necessary, it would save the average American approximately $3,121.49 per year.

If we kept the taxes the same as they were in 2010 and from the $2.162 trillion subtracted the $863.65 billion for military and legal, the government would be left with $1.3 trillion.  The current US National debt is $14.13 trillion.  It would only take 11 years for the government to pay off the national debt under this plan, assuming the US government incurred no further debt.  11 years may seem like a long time to hold a debt, but when you consider Obama's current 2011 budget plans for an increase in national debt of $13 trillion, 11 years to being debt-free doesn't sound bad at all.

© 2011 Nate Phillipps

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sticks And Stones

We all know the difference between sticks and stones and words.  Or at least we all should.  A Milwaukee man said two words on a bus and got slapped with a $500 fine.  What are swear words?  Why are they offensive?  Who are they offensive to?  Whose quality of life goes down when they hear a word?

What are words?  Words are letters arranged in a way as to express a meaning.  Inherently words are neither good or bad, they simply are.  Words can only be bad or good if we assign that meaning to them.  We own the words, the words don't own us.  Words aren't dangerous.  Censorship of certain words isn't meant to prevent certain words from being said, it's to prevent certain ideas from being expressed.

In a supposedly free society, why are certain words taboo?  The Bible, a book many tout as holy and infallible, uses "damn" and "hell."  Yet when used in other settings, those two words can be offensive.  The definition of "sex" is the same as the definition of "fuck," and yet one is taboo.  According to some sites, the three most offensive swear words, in order of decreasing severity are: cunt, motherfucker, and fuck.

We've discussed "fuck."  In meaning, it is as harmless as the word "sex."  I don't understand why "motherfucker" has such a negative stigma attached to it, I mean, all fathers in heterosexual relationships are motherfuckers, and more than likely proud of the fact.  Cunt means the vagina, and only those who are intimidated or incapable of respecting women would consider that word offensive.  Life springs forth from the vagina.  Ok, maybe it doesn't spring as much as it squeezes out in a bloody mess, but you get the idea.

Examining these words one wouldn't think they were offensive at all, and in reality they are not offensive.  People mistakenly believe these words are offensive because of superstition.  Profane means something outside the church.  By that definition child molestation is not considered profane, as long as it occurs within the church.  If these words don't differ at the base level from accepted terms, how could they possibly harm anyone's quality of life?  Words are words.  If someone calls you a name, it doesn't make it true.  Superstition grants power to certain words which on their own are harmless.  Superstition has no place in our society.

Just as people used to stop dead in their tracks if a black cat crossed their path, some people to this day turn white at the mention of one word.  If you break a mirror you will not have bad luck for seven years.  If you say fuck in a group of people, those people aren't going to turn into homicidal maniacs.  Grow up people.

Do you realize that as a culture we burned people we thought were witches?  We did that because of superstition.  Luckily we learned how terribly we were mistaken.  How many people died for that superstition?

As for the undercover officers on the bus, the word police and thought police, I have a message for you: motherfuckers fuck cunts, it's just what they do.  Don't use my tax dollars to stick the proverbial soap into the mouths of citizens.  Instead, take the money you've wasted on undercover thought cops and buy some copies of the Bill of Rights.  Pay close attention to Amendment I.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never fucking hurt me.

© 2010 Nate Phillipps

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Government Takeover of Free Speech

With the Federal Communication Commission's latest decision with regard to the internet and the rights of the internet providers, our government is one step closer to gaining total control of the internet and our free speech.  This new ruling restrains existing internet providers from competing with others.  The FCC did say that they will allow internet providers to "reasonably manage their networks."  That may sound good, but with the government, when is anything reasonable?

This decision also mandates that the network management policies of broadband internet providers be made public.  No longer will individuality be tolerated.  No longer will success be allowed to flower in absence of weeds.  Now the government will swoop in and mandate that your business publishes its success tactics and chains you with non-competition legislation.

With the Patriot Act the government already gave itself the power to listen to our phone conversations, our internet posts, and whatever else they can manage to strain their ears to hear.  No longer do policemen need to obtain a search warrant; they can now enter and search based solely on probable cause.  Our lives are falling more and more in the overreaching view of the government.  The next big hurdle for them to overcome is the internet.

Saddling the internet with regulations under the guise of protecting consumers will ultimately allow the government to digitally enter our homes to keep tabs on us.  In the end, this will lead to a situation similar to the Chinese censorship of the internet.  For those who say it won't happen here, or that it can't happen here, the government already censors radio and television.  They can already prevent anyone from flying, simply by placing their name on the No Fly List, and to do so, they do not need proof or a reason, and their say is final.

By stripping us of our voices, they will soon be able to regulate unopposed.  Once it's illegal to disagree with the government it will be too late.  The internet is one of the last places free speech is allowed, and that soon will be gone.  The government is working hard to silence your tongue.  Just remember you can't voice your opinion when you're in a body bag.  This is an attack on our rights and on our lives.  Are we going to sit back and take it?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Clouds Hanging Overhead

Have you seen the Microsoft commercials where everyone goes to "the cloud?" Ever wonder what cloud they are talking about? There are some who say cloud computing is the next big technological breakthrough, but there is a darker truth lurking within the cloud.

To simplify the concept of cloud computing, it is best to think of an apartment building. In an apartment building, you rent the space you are living in, but you don't own the building. Cloud computing is similar, whereas your computer would be more of an access point than a work horse. Your computer would allow you access to a virtual server, which would be able to run all your applications and programs. If you have ever used remote access to log into another computer from your laptop, you should be fairly familiar with cloud computing. Basically, your computer would be the gateway to the unlimited resources of the cloud.

The cloud would provide all the memory, RAM, data storage, etc. that you would ever need. The upside is that you wouldn't have to buy expensive equipment but you'd still be able to run the most memory-intensive programs. You would also be able to log into your account at anytime and anywhere in the world.  If you use Hotmail or Yahoo, this is the basic concept behind their web-based email.  You would pay per use and not be subject to high traffic rates.  So what are the cons?

Cloud computing may be the next big threat to individualism.  Since your computer would only be a portal, your data would be stored in the cloud.  A company would store your data for you, and they would allow you to access it at any time.  Could the cloud ever claim ownership, like Google did with their Google Chrome User Agreement?

Microsoft already launched their Azure platform, which is a cloud-based operating system.  Cloud computing may soon be everywhere.  I am all for innovation, but it seems that with every new technological breakthrough comes ten different ways to infringe upon our privacy, individualism, and rights.

Stay smart.  Stay informed.

© 2010 Nate Phillipps

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Daylight Saving Time

Most of the world's population fell back (or will be falling back) soon to accommodate daylight saving time. Despite practicing DST for a century, give or take, some don't understand it, some are enraged by it, and some simply don't care.

In 1907, William Willett wrote an article titled, "The Waste of Daylight," in which he outlined the downfalls of the standard time and the benefits of shifting the clock to allow for more daylight during the 'day.'  The United States implemented DST in 1918 as part of the war effort.  Between WWI and WWII, DST ceased to exist.  Since the end of WWII, however, DST has been with most of us in the US in some form or another.

The reasons for supporting DST vary, as does the information to back up those claims.  Touted mostly as an energy-saver, the option to observe DST is left up to the states.  Today, 49 of the states observe Daylight Saving Time (the only state that does not observe it is Arizona).  For more information on the controversial past of DST, be sure to check out this site.

Who really cares if we are running an hour ahead or behind?  I mean, it's easy to change a clock, right?  The ease of moving the hands on a clock is not the primary concern of those opposed to Daylight Saving Time, as illustrated by a journal entry from 1947, "At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves."  I understand the need to have a consistent method for telling time, but it seems that the government is constantly changing the dates for DST, which lends an air of doubt to the whole practice.

Daylight Saving Time is one of those things that may have been useful back in the day, but more and more people work odd hours, and with our technology and 24 hour stores, doing things after the sun sets is no longer as problematic as it once may have been.  I don't want the government telling me when to go to bed, or when to rise.  Can't we pick one time and stick with it?

© 2010 Nate Phillipps

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The New Slavery of America

The thirteenth amendment states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist in the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” While the stereotypical slavery of plantations and railroads ended with the passage of this amendment in 1865, another form of slavery was introduced by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935.

The form of slavery introduced by FDR is technically called involuntary servitude. Involuntary servitude is when a person labors against their will to benefit another, under some form of coercion. By law, I am mandated to pay into the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program, commonly known as Social Security. A portion of every paycheck goes towards Social Security. Every paycheck, some elderly person receives 6.20% of my earnings. In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson added Medicare to FDR’s Social Security program. By law, I am mandated to pay into Medicare. Every paycheck, 1.45% of my earnings go to a sick, elderly person.

Social Security does not benefit me, nor does Medicare. Both of those programs benefit others. I work for money, and part of that money is stolen from me and given to people who didn’t plan for their retirement. What part of the Constitution gives the government the power to plan for all of our retirements? Lazy, leecher-like greed and a sense of entitlement is the only justification for Social Security and Medicare. In 2009, the United States government made $121 billion dollars from Social Security, and that’s after they made all the payments to the recipients.

You would think with a surplus of that much money we would see a break on our taxes, or a reduced deficit. What does the government need $121 billion for? Maybe the government wants to buy up car companies, banks, and other private businesses? What if we don’t want Social Security or Medicare benefits? You can opt-out of receiving benefits, but you’ll still have to pay into the programs. After all, a tax is a tax.

If we do not pay taxes, the IRS gets upset and we get in trouble, possibly fined or jailed or both. How’s that for coercion?

Social Security isn’t our money, it’s my money and it’s your money being used for others. In 2017 Social Security will start running on a deficit, and will continue downward after that. I won’t be retired by 2017. It is incredibly probable that I will never see a dime from Social Security, and yet I am forced to pay for the program. If people want to retire, they should start their own savings account. The government has no business enslaving all of us to pay for others. I am my only responsibility.

© 2010 Nate Phillipps