Thursday, April 30, 2009

My disagreement with Bill Cosby (well, sorta)...

So a coworker was showing me one of those emails at work today, supposedly a quote from Bill Cosby. It's old news, and has been circulating since around the summer of 2008...and WASN'T penned by Mr. Cosby.

It goes on about a "write-in" vote, under the following platform:

(1) Press 1 for English is immediately banned. English is the official language; speak it or wait at the border until you can.

(2) We will immediately go into a two year isolationist posture to straighten out the country's attitude. NO imports, no exports. We will use the 'Walmart' policy, 'If we ain't got it, you don't need it.'

(3) When imports are allowed, there will be a 100% import tax on it.

(4) All retired military personnel will be required to man one of our many observation towers on the southern border. (six month tour) They will be under strict orders not to fire on SOUTHBOUND aliens.

(5) Social security will immediately return to its original state. If you didn't put nuttin in, you ain't gettin nuttin out. The president nor any other politician will not be able to touch it.

(6) Welfare - Checks will be handed out on Fridays at the end of the 40 hour school week and the successful completion of urinalysis and a passing grade.

(7) Professional Athletes --Steroids - The FIRST time you check positive you're banned for life.

(8) Crime - We will adopt the Turkish method, the first time you steal, you lose your right hand. There is no more life sentences. If convicted, you will be put to death by the same method you chose for your victim; gun, knife, strangulation, etc.

(9) One export will be allowed; Wheat, The world needs to eat. A bushel of wheat will be the exact price of a barrel of oil.

(10) All foreign aid using American taxpayer money will immediately cease, and the saved money will pay off the national debt and ultimately lower taxes. When disasters occur around the world, we'll ask the American people if they want to donate to a disaster fund, and each citizen can make the decision whether it's a worthy cause.

(11) The Pledge of Allegiance will be said every day at school and every day in Congress.

(12) The National Anthem will be played at all appropriate ceremonies, sporting events, outings, etc.

Now, there are some individual parts of this that I firmly agree with, but most of it is a bunch of trite bullshit.

Obviously, this was someone's idea of a hoax or a bad joke, and shouldn't be taken seriously. Sadly, everyone I know that has seen it responded with "Hell yeah! I'd vote for that!". And this jingoist nationalism, coupled with the "Us v. Them" mentality of those who oppose it for whatever reason, is the reason why our nation is in such bad shape right now.

Here's my take on the situation:

1) I agree that it irritates the living crap out of me, having to "press one for English". I know barely enough Spanish to order my breakfast tacos from Jovi's Tamale Hut, and the rest of the Spanish I know would likely get me arrested if I were to ever use it for anything beyond ordering a beer. However, an all-out govt ban of ANYTHING is a loss of liberty.

Want to declare English the "official language" of the United States? Fine with me. Want to stop using tax dollars to print govt forms in a language other than English? Also fine with me. However, banning the usage of an automated customer service machine for a private entity's service department if it allows for a language other than English is nonsense. Personally, I'd prefer that we ban automated customer service machines, for they cause me far more headaches than the option of pressing one for English.

2) An isolationist policy is, quite simply, retarded. Banning the import or export of ANYTHING that does not present an immediate health hazard (for instance, diseased produce or livestock) hampers free trade, causes artificial inflation, and destroys the free-market economy. Foreign trade should not be restricted under any circumstances, unless we are actively engaged in a declared war with the nation of origin. If you have a problem with Chinese goods, STOP BUYING THEM. Buy the good stuff. Personally, I don't use a claw hammer often enough to need an industrial-grade, Made In The USA Craftsman that is gonna cost me three times as much as a Chinese-made model available from Wal-Mart...I just need a blunt piece of metal on a stick.

3) Again, any regulation on imports (outright bans OR tariffs) does absolutely nothing positive for our economy. If people would rather buy a cheaper-made good, as opposed to purchasing YOUR product, then you need to step up your game. You need to make your assembly line more efficient, your quality a bit better, and your prices a bit lower.

Even though it was instituted for a different reason, look at the "assault weapons import ban" we're currently running under in this country, and what it has done to the gun market. Because certain types of guns and/or gun parts are now illegal to import into this country, they must be made in the United States. In some cases, the quality is many cases, it isn't. In all cases, the price has increased. Because we have prohibited firearm imports from China, a Norinco .22 "plinker" rifle (the kind my uncle bought for myself and my cousin in our youth as Christmas presents) is now illegal to import into America. To my knowledge, there are no other companies currently producing them other than Browning (the original manufacturer, whose patent expired decades ago). At the time of purchase almost two decades ago, the price of the Chinese knockoff was less than one hundred dollars. Today, because Browning is the only company making them, you're going to pay more than five times that much. The quality of my rifle is still every bit as good as an actual Browning, because they are cut from the same set of prints. Because we have restricted the importation of these plinkers, it will cost me a week's wages, instead of a day's wages, to buy one.

4) Requiring ANYONE to do ANYTHING is tantamount to slavery. On top of that, we currently have hundreds of thousands of able-bodied young men and women who are perfectly capable of securing our borders. Illegal immigration IS a threat to our national security, and we should be doing everything within our power to stop it. However, that's no excuse to be taking the path of least efficiency...especially when there are hundreds of thousands of people who will VOLUNTEER for this job, if Uncle Sam provides food, shelter, and ammo while doing it.

5) The only "improvement" to social security that needs to be made is the ABOLITION of social security as a government entity. The money of a person should not be mandated into a savings account by our government. It should be privatized, to allow for the tax-free savings of every man and woman who works for a living, without having to fund others against our will. If my family needs something, they need to do no more than ask. If myself and the remainder of my family can't get together and make it happen better than our government can, there's a problem somewhere. On top of that, every person working for the social security administration is drawing a wage...and that's money that ISN'T going to pay for grandma's new dentures.

6) Welfare...SHOULD NOT BE HANDED OUT BY GOVERNMENT. At all. Period. Benefit to starving children? There are plenty of fine charitable organizations that can handle this on a case-by-case basis, without resorting to excessive paperwork hassles and government bureaucracy. Every dollar handed out in a welfare check is a dollar stolen from men and women who earn their money honestly, that could be used to help a friend in need. It could be used to pay wages for a person looking for a job. It could be used to buy a brand-new SUV. What that money is used for is honestly irrelevant, so long as it is used by the person who earned it.

7) If professional athletes want to destroy their bodies and make their manly parts shrivel to the size of a Vienna sausage, that's not your business...and it's not my business, either. You have a right to pay a ridiculous amount of your hard-earned money to watch a professional baseball game in person. You have the right to say "I don't want to pay $8 for a beer while I watch a bunch of steroid-junkies beating the crap out of each other on a Sunday afternoon." You don't, however, have the right to tell another person what he or she has the right to put into his or her body. Unless you actually own the team, you don't have the right to tell your employees what he or she can or cannot put into his or her body. Unless you are a part of the league, you don't have the right to weigh in on the rules concerning the league's participants. Instituting govt intervention into professional sports is nothing more than the govt telling a company who it can or cannot hire. Doing so is not only communist, but also very expensive...because along with these rules, there must be enforcement of these rules. That requires the hiring of people with the responsibility to test the athletes, as well as the equipment and supplies to test for steroids.

8) The so-called "Turkish Method" has the exact same fault as "mandatory minimum sentencing" that is currently plaguing our nation. In the absence of such mandatory minimum sentencing, on rare occasions, a jury or judge (depending on which state you live in) will actually hand down a sentence inconsistent with the crime. Mandatory minimum sentences, instead, take away the ability of judges and juries to allow the sentence to fit the crime at hand. If you decide to steal $50 from a charity food pantry donation bucket, you have robbed a family of a weeks' worth of Top Ramen, canned tuna, and baby formula. It's hardly the same thing as taking an extra newspaper out of the machine so you can have the extra coupons for the grocery store...but, in the eyes of the law, they are listed as the same exact crime of misdemeanor theft. Even if no one was going to buy the paper, even if it was two days old. The fact remains that "zero tolerance" policies often do far more harm than good, because they catch minor infractions in with the large ones. The law is already clear about what is considered "theft". Removing a quarter from a pay phone's coin return slot, if it isn't yours, also falls into the same category as the two above-mentioned offenses. At the age of 14, you can be tried as an adult in the state of Texas...and I know this from personal experience, it almost happened to me at the age of 15. I don't think being 14 years old and taking a quarter from a pay phone's coin drop is a crime worthy of having your hand cut off. On the other hand, if you're a chronic delinquent and you hijack a truck full of stereos at the age of 16, you're more than likely going to do some time...and a lot of it.

Furthermore, I would like to say that I support capital punishment on moral grounds but oppose it on practical grounds. There have been literally DOZENS of convicted felons exonerated, in the state of Texas alone, based upon DNA evidence proving their innocence. For every 12 people we have executed in the United States since the reinstatement of the Death Penalty, there has been one person released from Death Row (and exonerated) based upon indisputable evidence of innocence. This state executes, per capita, more people than anywhere else in the United States...and also has had more problems with tainted evidence than anywhere else in the civilized world. Just today, a man was freed from prison after 22 years behind bars, when it was revealed that the crime lab responsible for handling the evidence had failed to report evidence supporting his defense, fabricated evidence supporting the prosecution, and had an "expert" knowingly give false testimony under oath.

The price of the "Drain-O Cocktail" used in a Texas Lethal Injection costs approximately $68. The average cost of actually prosecuting a capital case in Texas (just the trial itself) is roughly twice the average cost of prosecuting a man, having him sentenced to a life term, AND imprisoning him for the rest of his life. On top of this, you have the constitutionally-guaranteed appeals process granted by our US constitution. Unfortunately, the facts of the case themselves cannot be contested in an appeal. An appellate court is lawfully allowed to only determine whether proper legal procedures were followed during the investigation and prosecution of the case. When we have so many people being wrongfully arrested, wrongfully prosecuted, and wrongfully convicted, I am rather leery of sentencing anyone to have a needle full of drain cleaner stuck in his arm...even if they do knock him out first. I really think we need to fix our current system, before we start dismembering anyone with a damned chainsaw as sentenced by a court of law.

9) In a perfect world, it would be great to make demands that a product necessary to our function (in this case, crude oil) be made fiscally equivalent to something necessary to a random person's survival (in this case, a bushel of wheat). Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. As the UN Oil for Food program has so eloquently shown us, such a system is bound to be rife with corruption, at every level of the game. If we have a problem with the cost of OPEC-controlled oil prices, perhaps we need to start producing oil at home. And no, I'm not talking about destroying wildlife preserves in Alaska or destroying our oceans. I'm talking about opening up all the producing (yet capped, due to federal regulations) oil wells right here in Texas. There are literally thousands of them. Ever hear of "West Texas Crude"?

Our SPRs (Strategic Petroleum Reserves) hold a retardedly sick amount of oil. Even though our government won't release official figures, I can say with a good deal of certainty (I used to work there, I've been searched by the guards carrying M16s, I've spoken to people who know!) that the Bryan Mound SPR, located near Freeport TX, holds enough oil to fill the entire Astrodome. Five times. The Bryan Mound SPR isn't the only one we have. Yet, for some reason, we're still forcing our wells in Texas (which are in the middle of nowhere, without any exotic and endangered species to speak of, without any mass population to worry about, without any severe danger of environmental disaster) to remain capped while we lobby for the drilling offshore and in Alaska. Could it be because there's money to be made for certain oilfield services companies to be made in Alaska and offshore?

10) As surprising as it may seem, I actually agree with this one, as it falls directly in line with the Libertarian line of thinking.

11) The Pledge of Allegiance is something that every man, woman, and child in this nation should say voluntarily. Many people no longer agree with the direction that this nation has taken. As is their right, many citizens of this nation don't believe in God (as a matter of fact, our own government provides GI-issued tombstones for our uniformed warriors who have died in her service, with symbols depicting their NON-BELIEF IN GOD...humanism and atheism are among them). The phrase "Under God" was not added until decades after the pledge was originally authored, and was only added to further enhance our "supremacy" over the "godless heathen communists" during the Cold War. Forcing anyone to speak this pledge does not force anyone to believe it, it merely forces them to speak it. Furthermore, we must look at the cost of requirement...just like laws against steroids and everything else, a law is meaningless if there is no enforcement of that law. Enforcement is going to cost money.

12) Requiring the national anthem at a professional sporting event? Are you serious? It's a that, unfortunately, is often sung rather badly. Much like the Pledge of Allegiance, it's rather meaningless if it's forced, instead of allowing people to have the option. Furthermore, if our government is not sponsoring a sporting event, they have no right to legislate what happens at that sporting event. Didn't we already go over govt sponsorship of sports earlier?

And so there you have it. These are my disagreements with "Bill Cosby" (or whoever the shitstick was, that felt the need to post his picture in order to make this crap more "socially acceptable"). Live Free. Choose Liberty. Vote Libertarian!

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