Debt reduction via a police state

As the Federal debt started exploding a few years ago I tried to look ahead and figure out what would happen. Lots of bad things of course, but one potential outcome, as I mentioned in a blog post a few days ago, was that a new wave of politicians would get elected and scrap most or all of the nanny state agencies to cut expenses. Sort of “every cloud has a silver lining” kind of thing.

I should know better than to think any government operation could have a “silver lining”.

What I had never considered, not even in my most pessimistic moments was that the Feds would find a way to turn the crisis into a way to further expand their control. Instead of control weakening as funding became harder to get there is a path whereby funding is obtained by increasing control. Sure, I know about the war on drugs and confiscating property “involved” in a drug crime being used to fund law enforcement. But this is much, much worse.

I recently had a reliable source tell me the EPA, OSHA, and other regulatory agencies have been told to explore how they can supply their own revenue such that they become self supporting. “Run like a business” and even potentially make a profit. My source explicitly called out the EPA and OSHA but one can easily imagine how this mandate will be extended to the ATF and hundreds of other government organizations.

If the color didn’t just drain out of your face and you nearly fainted you either don’t have a very good imagination or you have a government job.

The only way these regulators can “make” money is through fines and confiscation of property. One of the examples given to me was of dust production in a particular type of facility of which there are thousands all across the country. I’ll not name them to avoid giving the Feds easy targets but these facilities have existed for many decades and are an essential part of our infrastructure. The regulations say that if more than 0.125” of dust builds up on the interior surfaces of the buildings they must be cleaned or else they can be fined. The problem is that no one knows of a fix for the problem. It would take 7 to 8 hours to clean a facility. It’s a problem similar to the classic “If one man can dig a post hole in two minutes how many minutes would it take two men to dig a post hole?” It just can’t be done in less than 7 to 8 hours. Once the facility goes back into production the dust will exceed spec in about 30 minutes. Obviously a facility that is in maintenance mode 15 times as much as it is in production mode is not viable. So maybe they could just pay the fine and figure that is “just the cost of doing business”. That doesn’t work either.

If the Feds come back a week later and they are out of spec the fine can be doubled. And doubled again the next week (or day) if they are still in production. Basically it amounts to after the first fine the operator will have to shutdown the facility or find a permanent fix to the dust problem—and no such solution exists. Dust, in many situations, cannot be significantly reduced.

Numerous other examples were given to me of extremely low-hanging fruit that the Feds can “harvest” at will if they only know where to look. This type of problem exists essentially everywhere. It’s Huffman’s rule of firearms law on a massive scale applied to nearly every industry and every person (remember Three Felonies a Day?). That is how they can generate revenue, “become profitable”, and our country becomes a police state.

Boomershoot 2012 prep

Son-in-law Caleb and I went out to the Boomershoot site yesterday. Caleb staked out the four corners of where we will place the shipping container for the new reactive target production facility:


The corners stake out an area 8’ x 40’. We brought a laser level and Caleb was able to determine that I had got it level within three inches using my eyeball and the old dozer. After the crop has been taken off the surrounding field this fall we will go back in with a pickup load of gravel and put a little gravel on each of the four corner locations making the rear end about 3” higher to keep water from draining to the rear, settle the railroad ties from Matthew into the gravel, and then bring in the shipping container.

While Caleb worked on staking and leveling task I worked on getting the Wi-Fi connection set up and then did some further tests on Internet provider options. One of the options included putting an antenna on a distance hill that is visible both from Mecca (this Boomershoot production facility), my brother Doug’s home, and Teakean Butte where First Step Research has high-speed wireless link available. Doug would pay the recurring Internet bill and I would pay for the equipment and do the installation.

Currently we are getting service from a neighbor who has a satellite connection but does not have visibility of Teakean Butte. The connection is slower and cheaper than the connection from First Step, a latency you could measure with a sundial, and “Fair Access” limits of only a few gigabytes per month. Doug does not have visibility of Teakean Butte either but if I were to put up a solar powered FSR connection on the hill at the power pole in the distance (about 0.75 miles away from the Wi-Fi access point in the foreground below) I could service both all of the Boomershoot site and my brother Doug.


The picture above was taken with a 300 mm lens which gives about a 6 X boost from a normal view.

The question was could I make the 0.75 mile connection with the current technology I have or would I need better antennas and/or higher powered transmitters. I pointed my antenna at the distance hill, connected to the neighbors satellite powered access point via the rear lobe of the directional antenna which was about 0.7 miles away through a few trees. I then went to the distance hill to measure the signal strength—with my cell phone. I could not connect from the distant hill but I could measure the signal strength. It will work. The signal strength would probably be strong enough I could even connect with some laptop computers. Propagation was very good and the noise floor was very low. That appears to be a viable option.

Dolly Sewell (“War Horse”)

While visiting with my parents yesterday my Dad told a story. I had heard it many time while growing up but had forgotten about it until he told it again. There were some additional details I noticed this time which I hadn’t put in proper perspective before.

The story, from about 75 years ago is about two students in Dads class at the Teakean grade school. It happened about 1936 when Dad was in the 6th or 7th grade. I decided to post it here so it would have a better chance of being remembered and some other people might appreciate it.

There were only about 10 kids in all eight grades so there was no hiding in the crowd or any hope of not being identified if you pulled off a prank in public.

A girl in the grade ahead of Dad was named Dolly Sewell. At age 13 or 14 she had hit her growth spurt and was taller than any kid in the entire school. She could also run far faster than anyone else. In any foot races she out distanced by a large margin the next fastest runner. Another student was Leon Coe. He was a little bit of trouble maker and, as boys of that age are prone to, liked to tease the girls. Because of Dolly’s height and running abilities Leon started calling Dolly “War Horse”. This was not a reflection on her general appearances as she was really a very nice looking girl. But Leon should have thought things through a little better before he decided to push things a little too far with someone he knew was his physical superior.

One day at recess Dolly and some of the other girls were playing jump rope. I was just an old length of rope they found. Nothing special but it worked. Leon started daring Dad and some of the other boys to grab the rope and take it away from the girls. No one would take him up on his dare and finally he said, “If none of you guys are brave enough I’ll show you how it’s done.” He then ran over, grabbed the rope and took off back to his buddies who were watching. Dolly took off after him and he tossed the rope on top of the roof as he went by. There was a ladder leaning up against the building and Dolly used the ladder to recover the rope.

As Dolly came down off the ladder she spotted Leon and Dad told Leon that he better get out of there. Leon took off running as fast as he could and Dolly, rope in hand, took off after him. Even though they were not supposed to leave the property of the school Leon took off through the gate. Dolly followed him and easily caught up. She didn’t try to knock him down but instead trotted along behind and used the rope as bull whip and repeatedly smacked him on the rear side as Leon tried in vain to escape. They were just disappearing over the top top of the second hill when the bell ran and the rest of the kids went back to class.

A few minutes later Dolly came back and sat down in her seat looking cool, calm, and collected. Leon came back several minutes after Dolly all sweaty, very bedraggled, and presumably wiser.

Dad saw Dolly a few years ago at the Old Timers Picnic at the Teakean Grange Hall. She had apparently done quite well. She and her husband lived someplace in California and had flown their own airplane up from California to attend the picnic. Dad asked what sort of business they were in and got a somewhat minimalist response of “the hamburger business”.

Dolly died last year and is buried near her parents in the Teakean cemetery.

What I hadn’t noticed before was that Dolly’s last name was Sewell. Barbara and I had a classmate when we went to High School in Orofino by the name of Nancy Sewell. Nancy’s parents were very good friends with Barb’s parents so when I got home I asked Barbara what Nancy’s father name was. It was Jim. So I then called up Dad and asked him what the names of Dolly’s brothers were. Dad said her siblings were named and were born in this approximate order: Ida, Lora (both missionaries) , Wally, Dolly, Elmer (who later drove the truck which pulled my Great Uncle Walt’s mobile home from Lewiston where he bought it to the farm where he lived for several years), Walter, and Johnny (who was a car salesman in Orofino for several years). Her parents were Charlie and Alice Sewell. They only lived there for a couple years but had a home on the east side of Meridian Road just north of the turn in for the shooting line at Boomershoot.

They may not be related at all but at best it appears that the father of our classmate Nancy was a cousin of Sewell family Dad knew. If someone stumbles across this and knows the answer I would appreciate hearing about it.

Unintended consequences

When possession of firearms is discouraged it is inevitable that familiarity with them decreases. And even firearm safety training is discouraged. Just look at the resistance to the Eddy Eagle program where no guns are even present!

The unintended consequence of this is accidents such as this:

A Banning woman accidentally shot her 12-year-old daughter after pulling the trigger of a miniature revolver she had mistaken for a novelty cigarette lighter, authorities said Thursday.

As soon as children go through puberty they will start experimenting with sex even if their parents keep them isolated and ignorant. There will always be recreational drugs around even if they are banned and there are police knocking down peoples doors in the middle of the night. And there will always be guns around. It is time to admit this and teach them gun safety as a standard part of growing up.

Via email from Donald W.

Origins of progressives

According to one source the origin of the term “progressive” came about in the late1800s:

The first citation of the term “progressivism” in the Oxford English Dictionary is dated to 1892, in England. At that time the St. James Gazette used it as a term of derision, equating it with “radicalism”. However, the St. James usage doesn’t suggest that a neologism was being coined for the occasion (nor does the OED say as much).

As it turned out, the identification of biological evolution with social advancement was based on confused and ultimately false ideas; but Spencer’s elaboration of an essentially inevitable and indefinite social progress proved extraordinarily popular — even among those who would today be described as conservatives. (Spencer and Sumner were both arch conservatives.) Among those most taken by Spencer’s ideas was the young Englishman Winwood Reade, who popularized them in The Martyrdom of Man. Reade’s book, originally published in 1872, was read so widely that it reached an eighth edition just twelve years later — shortly before the St. James Gazette would use the term “progressivism” in its pages.

In the U.S. the Progressive Party was formed in 1912 and supported many of the positions associated with progressives today. As a third party in the U.S. it did quite well but still withered and died as the other two major parties adopted the more popular ideas from them.

The progressives of Europe in the early 20th Century were a somewhat different origin. They were the students of Marx and Engels who believed a proper study of history would allow the prediction of the future. The end of capitalism and the rise of socialism and communism was inevitable. Those advancing communism were progressives and those opposed to communism were anti-progress. This “progress” could only come through revolution.

According to Timothy Snyder in Bloodlands—Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, Stalin used this label in his exterminations of millions of people. He was advocating the inevitable progress of society and he and his supporters were progressives. Who could be against progress? Whoever such people were they were deserving of death. The utopia of a perfect communist society was just ahead and these people, these millions of murdered people, were a small price to pay to these progressives. They were starved in great famines caused by the seizing the food in the Ukraine, which was the food basket of Europe. Think about that. Millions of people starved to death in the major food production area of the continent due to progressives.

Millions more were arrested then sent to the Gulag after show trials or simply shot in the basements of the police buildings by the progressives of the Soviet Union.

In the U.S. progressives advocated for a vast increase in government power. In the USSR and elsewhere progressives used expanded power of government to murder tens of millions of people.

I see the social inequities which progressives use as their talking points. I understand the appeal of the “progressive” approach to social inequities. But progressives appear to not understand the terrible risks that have been demonstrated by their political ancestors.

I believe a much better term to describe their political persuasion is that advocated by Ayn Rand—looters.

Quote of the day—Thomas Sowell

Egalitarians create the most dangerous inequality of all — inequality of power. Allowing politicians to determine what all other human beings will be allowed to earn is one of the most reckless gambles imaginable. Like the income tax, it may start off being applied only to the rich but it will inevitably reach us all.

Thomas Sowell
[I really like this. It translates into a “sound bite” rebuttal. Those that advocate for the equalization of outcomes cannot implement such a system without creating an inequality of power.-Joe]

Quote of the day—Winston Churchill

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.
Winston Churchill
[Socialists and communists claim a more equal and just society. Before you buy into that ask someone who grew up in such a society. Even in very small groups (how many communions have been created and failed in this country?) it has a strong tendency to fail. In groups larger than a few hundred I am of the opinion it is not possible for it succeed in a form its advocates claim. In very small tight knit groups, such as a family, where shame and social rejection are powerful tools I think it can work. But it just doesn’t scale. Those that claim otherwise are ignorant, stupid, or power hungry.—Joe]

Quote of the day—jason

Now on the topic of guns, we must ban them. Plain and simple.

Ban them all.

July 26, 2011
Comment to Even Democrats Oppose Obama On Gun Control Treaty.
[No mention is made of that little speed bump known as The Bill of Rights. The rest of the comment is just as disconnected from reality. I thought it was an interesting mix with a rant about the 14th Amendment causing us to become subjects of an elected monarch with a demand that all guns be banned.

As is probably the case with most fervent believers in the utility of gun bans he hasn’t been taking his anti-psychotic mediations recently.—Joe]

Quote of the day—PT

Joe Huffman, somebody to take on the “E” in “BATFE.”

July 27, 2011
Comment to Time for a St. Louis Revolt?
[This is in regard to, somewhat tongue in check, nominations for the NRA board of directors. While I haven’t really brought it up before I think it should be fairly obvious that explosives should be covered in “the right to keep and bear arms”. It just not quite the right time politically to bring that up. Although if there were a serious move to abolish the ATF I have a story or two that would fuel that fire.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Frank Gelett Burgess

Without bigots, eccentrics, cranks, and heretics, the world would not progress.

Frank Gelett Burgess
[I’m elaborating still more on what some people claim is the basis for “progress”. Soon I’ll tell you about the origins of people who call themselves “progressives”.—Joe]

Applying commonsense to gun laws

Alan doesn’t spell it quite as clearly as I would like but he does explain what President Obama and the ATF want to do “is strictly forbidden under federal law”.

What should have been said is that in order to know if “multiple rifle sales are made to the same buyer within a five-day period” there needs to be central records kept of firearms sales. If such a central record store does not exist then it is trivial to defeat the reporting requirement. The multiple firearm buyer merely goes down the street and purchases a single firearm from every dealer. As far as each of the dealers is concerned it was a single firearm sale. The only way to block this “loophole” is a firearm owner registry maintained by a single entity. It is illegal for any Federal agency to create such a registry.

Even if the individual states were to do this long guns may be purchased in states other than your home state so the loophole would exist even if implemented by the states. Instead of going down the street the buyers would have to cross the state lines but in many locations that wouldn’t be that big of a issue.

In addition to such a registry being illegal a firearms owners registry in this country would be a huge failure with massive disobedience on a scale much larger than that experienced by Canada’s boondoggle.

Commonsense says that if it is illegal and it wouldn’t work even if it were legal any effort expended on the plan is wasted. Surely we can all agree that government waste is something to avoid.

Steve Lacy is dead

Via Peter N. Biddle I discovered a former co-worker of mine, Steve Lacy, was killed in a car accident on Sunday:

A volatile mix of speed, alcohol and road rage claimed the life of an innocent victim Sunday who happened to be driving in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Washington State Patrol says the incident began at about 2 p.m. when a man driving a black Hyundai SUV was involved in a road rage incident on Interstate 405.

Witnesses told troopers the Hyundai driver began following a driver who he believed had cut him off as he headed south down the freeway.

As the Hyundai driver took the Northeast 85th Street off-ramp, he was speeding and lost control, flying across the eastbound lanes of Northeast 85th into the westbound traffic.

At that point, the Hyundai slammed into a gray BMW that was heading west on 85th Street and had not been involved in the earlier road rage incident.

The impact killed the driver of the BMW. He was identified as Steve Lacey, a software engineer at Google and father of two young children.

I have driven on both that freeway and that street countless time. I’ve even walked up and down that street more times than I can count. Sometimes there just isn’t anything you can do about it when death comes calling.

It was this Steve that I blogged about a few years ago.

Steve came to the U.S. from the U.K. when Microsoft purchased the company he worked for. This company had a 3-D graphics rendering package. Steve wrote a lot of the code that is now known as Direct-X 3D. Every time you play a video game on a Windows machine that does 3-D rendering you are executing code that Steve wrote. The world is a poorer place now not only because of the contributions he would have continued to make but because he was also a really nice guy.

Quote of the day—Samuel Butler

All progress is based on the universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.

Samuel Butler
[While this is widely attributed to Samuel Butler it is not found in a search this particular Samuel Butler’s work. It could be it is a different Samuel Butler or the collection is incomplete. But regardless of who should be given credit I think it is worthwhile to note that while this statement has a great deal of truth to it catastrophic failure is also associated with living beyond one’s income. If you question the validity of this latter claim you should run for public office. If you “know” it is false and can convince enough people of your delusion you too could become president.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Dave Barry

But the greatest Electrical Pioneer of them all was Thomas Edison, who was a brilliant inventor despite the fact that he had little formal education and lived in New Jersey.  Edison’s first major invention in 1877, was the phonograph, which could soon be found in thousands of American homes, where it basically sat until 1923, when the record was invented.  But Edison’s greatest achievement came in 1879, when he invented the electric company.  Edison’s design was a brilliant adaptation of the simple electrical circuit: The electric company sends electricity through a wire to a customer, then immediately gets the electricity back through another wire, then (this is the brilliant part) sends it right back to the customer again.

This means that an electric company can sell a customer the same batch of electricity thousands of times a day and never get caught, since very few customers take the time to examine their electricity closely. In fact the last year any new electricity was generated in the United States was 1937; the electric companies have been merely re-selling it ever since, which is why they have so much free time to apply for rate increases.

Dave Barry
The History of Electricity
[I’m reminded of this by Barron’s Power Series. Normally I get really annoyed when someone gets some technological detail all wrong and I praise those that get everything correct. But In this case I’m going to reverse myself and give Barry the edge over Barron for pleasurable reading.—Joe]

Quote of the day—James Madison

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.

James Madison
For context and related quotes see here.
[It’s too bad we don’t have still have a constitution Madison would recognize. If we did we wouldn’t be in the middle of an economic and financial crisis.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Fabio Periera

This is a tragedy, both that 80 lives were lost & that right-wing gun nuts exist worldwide.

Fabio Periera
July 23, 2011
Saved from the memory hole by Linoge.
[One has to wonder how Periera would like to remedy the problem of that existence. Certainly others had and implemented effective government programs for that sort of problem. And it is because of the existence of people like Periera that I have Boomershoot.—Joe]

Quote of the day—William Van Alstyne

The essential claim (certainly not every claim–but the essential claim) advanced by the NRA with respect to the Second Amendment is extremely strong. Indeed, one may fairly declare, it is at least as well anchored in the Constitution in its own way as were the essential claims with respect to the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech as first advanced on the Supreme Court by Holmes and Brandeis, seventy years ago. And until the Supreme Court manages to express the central premise of the Second Amendment more fully and far more appropriately than it has done thus far, the constructive role of the NRA today, like the role of the ACLU in the 1920s with respect to the First Amendment (as it then was), ought itself not lightly to be dismissed. Indeed, it is largely by the “unreasonable” persistence of just such organizations in this country that the Bill of Rights has endured.

William Van Alstyne
[I’m reminded of the adage that “all progress depends on the unreasonable man”. Keep that in mind when the anti-gun people demand “reasonable gun laws”. They are anti-progress.

But beyond that there can little doubt that the “unreasonableness” of the ACLU has shaped the legal contours of the First and Fifth Amendments. Many could claim the protections carved out by the courts under pressure from the ACLU extend well beyond “reasonable” limits. We certainly have those that claim the limits of the Second Amendment are too broad now with essentially just one win under our belt. Extending the elimination of gun bans to non-Federal jurisdictions expands the domain but not the shape of the protection. What I’m curious about is if perhaps the ACLU blazed a trail for SAF, NRA, et. al. such that Second Amendment protections will advance to boundaries comparable to the First Amendment at a much more rapid pace than it took for the ACLU to get us where we are today. Will there ever come a time somewhere along the way where the majority of people will concede that the limits on the Second should be similar to the limits on the First and the mass of repressive anti-gun laws all across the land will suddenly topple over like dominos. Will our fight take 70 years? Forever? Or will it only be 10?

I don’t know the answer. But I am certain that the more we push that meme the greater chance it has of becoming reality.—Joe]

Random thought of the day

I won’t pretend to say I know what they really think, if they think at all, but what many of the anti-gun people express is they fear the things gun owners might do. We might commit a violent crime. We might accidently shoot someone. We might try to overthrow the government. And they want laws in place to prevent such things.

How is this different than those that expressed fear about what people with dark colored skin might do if they were given their freedom, or allowed to vote, or mingle with your white skinned daughters?

It is time they moved past their imaginary fears. People must be judged on what they actually do and not on what they might do. Prevention is prior restraint and that cannot be allowed for a specific enumerated right.

Certainly judgment can and should be passed on the results of what actually happens. And if mixed race marriages occur or even a government is overthrown occasionally the possibility of that being a good thing should be considered in the light of the actuality rather than in the potentiality.

Quote of the day—Paul Brinkley

The point of citizen resistance isn’t to be able to kick your own government’s ass; it’s to make clear that it would spend more to oppress you than it would by leaving you free. (Granted, some governments take more convincing than others. But that’s an education problem.)

Paul Brinkley
July 18th, 2011 at 6:54 pm
Comment to the post Brin on Heinlein on guns is dead wrong.
[Via email from Rich R.

And what better way to educate a government on the costs of oppression than by shooting back and/or shooting the tax collectors?—Joe]