Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Black Hills: Not Theirs to Give

A hundred and forty years ago today, the US government gave away the Black Hills to the Indians in the Treaty of Fort Laramie.

Since white settlers finally took possession of the land in the 1870s, the Sioux have demanded that it be returned to their control. A strange wish for people who deny the validity of the concept "property." However, the federal government had no right to give the land away to the Indians in the first place, for the federal government never owned it.

According to the law of causality, every thing belongs to the individual who created it. Unowned land, useless wilderness, is acquired by the individual who improves it, who makes it useful — who builds a mine, a farm, a trading post, or a railroad on it.

Which means that most of the land there remained unowned until white settlers arrived, excepting whatever permanent settlements the Indians may have built there before, if any. The Indians didn't own land just because they roamed and hunted there. (By the way, the Lakota took the land by force from other tribes.)

The Spanish and French did not own the land just because they explored it. Thus, the French had no right to sell the land to the US in the Louisiana Purchase.

Of course, Jefferson should not have left Louisiana to France. But the US did not buy the land, it merely ransomed it. It had never been owned by France. Accordingly, the US could not buy it from France, no matter how much money the federal government paid. What the US should have to done after ransoming the land is to open it up to settlement immediately, instead of pretending the Indians or the government owned it and could make it the subject of treaties.

But let the Indians speak for themselves. Given their "spirituality" — their mysticism — what would they do with the land if they ever got hold of it again?

Yet hear me, my people, we have now to deal with another race — small and feeble when our fathers first met them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possessions is a disease with them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break, but the poor may not. They take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the earth, for their own and fence their neighbors away; they deface her with their buildings and their refuse. That nation is like a spring freshet that overruns its banks and destroys all who are in its path.

— Sitting Bull

Now I submit, to use one of Ayn Rand's favorite words, that someone who's insane enough to lump in buildings with refuse is incompetent to manage any land anyway. There may be ugly buildings. But the who claims that buildings per se deface nature obviously has screws loose to the degree of being too stupid to live.

What is beauty? Natura non contristatur. Nature doesn't care. "Beautiful" is a human standard. Form follows function: What is good for man's life is beautiful. Thus, it is buildings and structures — skyscrapers, homes, broadcasting towers, oil derricks — that add meaning and beauty to nature.

So it is for their virtues that Sitting Bull blamed Americans: their creativity, their productivity, their prudence, their thrift. It is precisely by fencing their neighbors away, by private property, that men have an incentive to produce. That would of course never have occurred to that original savage.

Still, from what I've seen, those Indians most vocal about having the land turned over to them remain the most irrational. As long as Indians remain irrational, they are not competent to manage property. They would let the land lay fallow as a wasteland, considering themselves stewards preserving the wilderness for a ghost that demands they live in stagnant sloth.

The only good part of the Treaty of Fort Laramie was that it provided for an "English," a Western, education of Indian children. Sure, maybe the missionaries who were expected to educate the Indians would only have made them swap one self-destructive cult for another.

Yet, then as now, giving the Indians a truly rational Western education is the only chance for a future they have. Encouraging Indian kids to explore their savage roots, the anti-mind, anti-man roots our eco-terrorists admire so much, means having their minds self-destruct before they ever knew reason.

Word of the Day: Menino

menino (me nē' nō), adj. 1. paranoid, especially due to ignorance: Where's my Colt and body armor? I feel a bit menino today. — n. 2. a paranoid person: A Mooninite is to a menino what kryptonite is to Superman. [2007; special use of proper name]

Monday, April 28, 2008

It Takes Government to S and M

This article conflates a digital download licensing scheme with a tax and then argues that the government better levy a real tax and have the Copyright Office pass it on to artists.

Why would the government be preferable over the record majors as a middleman? Why should the government be trusted to not raise the $5 to $7.50? If record execs love to line their pockets, how much more does the government love to line its pockets?

Who's been cutting prices historically? Private industry or the government? And who's been raising taxes all along? Until 2006, there was a tax on telecommunications on the books that had been levied to pay for the Spanish-American War.

The only good point the article makes is that the Copyright Office is required to accept all registrations. But why do people love force so much? Is everybody into S and M?

"Is reason so dear, or liberty so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of voluntarism and capitalism? Forbid it, almighty government! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me slavery or give me death!" — Kinky Henry, Patrick Henry's lesser known cousin.

Sorry, socialists, such a one-stop rights management service monopoly needn't be compulsory. The record majors could as part of the deal with ISPs agree to sign up every comer, like the Copyright Office, and in case his music is downloaded, pass his share of the $5 on to him. And that Nielsen-style system to track downloads, who would run it more efficiently, the government or private industry?

If the record majors refuse to sign up every comer, here's a business idea for you: Why don't you found an e-"record label" that signs up every comer? If you get the ten percent of independent artists and labels as your customers, you can negotiate with ISPs and get the same deal as the majors. Just my two cents.

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master." — George Washington

Dark Justice

[T]he philosophy itself, I think, is perfectly sound. It's the best thing going out there. Is it perfect? Well, I'm not a philosopher, but, for example, once you go down the path that there are objective truths and realities, particularly in the moral realm dealing with values, then it doesn't take long for some people to go from there to judging other people fairly harshly.

— Michael Schermer

Alex sayz: If you're an Objectivist, or consider becoming one, write this down a hundred times. Two hundred, if you ever heard the words "Leonard Peikoff" or "Ayn Rand Institute."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Walk! Bike! Subway! Now!

It's funny that though a majority seems to believe in global warming and even wants governments to do something about it by force, people keep riding around in SUVs.

If you believe in global warming and don't want to stop driving your SUV, what is the government supposed to do about it? Force you to get out of your vehicle? Ration gasoline?

Build more subways? But what good is that if you can't be bothered to walk to the subway, or let your kids ride it?

Look at this:

Back in 1972, when many of today's parents were kids, 87 percent of children who lived within a mile of school walked or biked every day. But today, the Centers for Disease Control report that only 13 percent of children bike, walk or otherwise get themselves to school. (That lack of physical activity has prompted the CDC to create outreach programs designed to get kids walking to school again, in an effort to combat the childhood obesity epidemic.)

Looks like the reason kids keep getting ever fatter is that parents don't let them out of the house on their own anymore.

If you can't be bothered to get out of your car, at least leave your kids alone. As the saying goes, there's the love of apes and the love of eagles. (In case you've never heard it, apes allegedly hug their young to death, while eagles drop them from the sky to teach them how to fly.) And this brand of ape love is breeding a generation of fat paranoids.

If you're afraid for the safety of your kids, teach them self-defense, but don't put them on a leash. One day they'll have to learn it anyway.

Learn more:

"Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone"

Free Range Kids

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Space Frogs Green with Envy

Today, the European Union voted to sink another $3.8 billion into their "Galileo" ersatz GPS project.

Isn't it bad enough that in countries around the world, governments rob money at gunpoint (euphemism: tax) to pay for services that should be provided by voluntarily cooperating individuals? In a free country, all services, including infrastructure and defense, would be provided that way.

Wasn't it bad enough that the US government robbed its citizens to pay for Interstates and GPS, citing national defense? Do governments have to add insult to injury by requiring redundant services out of sheer vanity?

European and other countries bilk their citizens for billions of dollars for what is nothing but a useless duplication of the GPS system. Europeans might as well use the existing GPS system for free instead.

If European rulers don't have a $3.8 billion chip on their collective shoulder, I've never seen any. There's no justification for duplicating GPS but sheer envy.

It's like in the early twentieth century, when every country had to have battleships for white elephants. The result was WWI, by the way.

Gains in accuracy would be marginal. The US government has disabled selective availability permanently. And the argument that GPS civilian service may be turned off in times of military conflict is disingenuous, as no doubt the EU too would turn off Galileo in such a crisis, lest the "enemy" use it.

If you want a global navigation satellite system safe from government abuse and interference, it has to be built by private businesses. But then they would need to base their ground stations on privately owned islands — and need a private Navy and Air Force to defend the system from governments. After all, governments would try to disable such a private global navigation satellite system by force in times of war, lest it benefit their "enemies."

Indeed, "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." Obviously, that will remain true as long as governments exist.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Eco-Terrorism Day!

In other words: Happy Earth Day, suckers. Ever heard, "Either you eat the bear or the bear eats you"? Well, either man shapes earth to serve his needs, or men become fertilizer for earth. Which one do you want?

Either you burn oil, or you burn food (ethanol, that is, grain). I hope you're proud of yourself the next time you put a starving Ethernopian's lunch in your tank.

Did I mention that it often (depending on what is done with byproducts) takes more than one gallon of oil to produce one gallon of ethanol? So by filling up on bio-fuel, you're not only driving up food prices, you may even be increasing oil consumption, too.

Wake up and smell the coffee. All you're doing is making Al Gore and the farmers rich.

Do you want your lunch to be guzzled up by Al Gore's motorcade? Do you want to have all your money robbed at gunpoint by eco-terrorist governments to fund harebrained schemes to profit their cronies? Schemes that do little or nothing to stop mostly nonexistent threats?

If there is something like global warming, and that is a big if, the solution is not to burn your food, or to make Al the Goron king. If the sea level rises, you build higher levees. If storms get stronger, you build houses from steel and concrete instead of wood and tarpaper. Did I mention that the latter are firetraps anyway?

If oil and coal run out one day, you research technologies that do at least have a chance of working, like fusion power, instead of Rube Goldberg stuff like wind, solar, or bio-fuel power, which cannot work efficiently or effectively by their very nature.

Happy Suicide Day, suckers. If you go back to living like tribal cavemen, you're gonna have the life expectancy of a caveman, too. All that keeps you alive is science, technology, and industry.

Science, technology, and industry don't need you. But you need science, technology, and industry. I suggest you keep that in mind the next time you feel like supporting eco-terrorism.

Word of the Day: Algora

algora (al' gər ə), n., pl. -orae (-ə rē'). an event featuring a ridiculously overpaid speaker who spreads fear and platitudes among the audience: Welcome to the algora. The end of the world is nigh! But if you give me your money and follow my orders, there's an outside chance I can save you. [2008; Al Gore + agora]

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Pope's Agenda

After desecrating the World Trade Center, praying for his fellow mystics, the terrorists, the next stops on the papal itinerary include:

The Tomb of the Unknown Choirboy, raped and murdered by a priest condemned to celibacy.

The Tomb of the Unknown Mother, who died because she could not get a legal abortion.

The Tomb of the Unknown Heretic, burned by the Catholic Church for what he said.

The Tomb of the Unknown Book, burned at an auto-da-fe.

The Tomb of the Unknown Coward, murdered when he refused to be drafted into a religious war.

The Tomb of the Unknown Martyr, killed when one of his listeners snapped after having to tolerate his sanctimonious spiel way past endurance.

The Tomb of the Unknown Protestant, murdered by the Catholic Church and their government henchmen after he, disgusted with the excesses of said church, founded a new cult every bit as irrational.

The Tomb of the Unknown Sucker, who paid his tithe, vegetated… um, lived by the self-destructive commandments of Christianity, only to become worm food after his death, just like everybody else so far.

The Tomb of the Unknown Human, who would not have had to die if the assorted mystics of all faiths had not stifled science for centuries.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Word of the Day: Algorithm

algorithm (al' gə rith' əm), n. a shiver, especially one induced by cold: Man, I got an awful algorithm 'cause the eco-nazis have turned down my heat. [2008; Al Gore + rhythm]