“Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.” — Oscar WildeIn the wacky world of American politics, if you as an employer have a religious objection to paying for your employees’ contraceptives, it is you who is contemptuous of religious freedom.As the New York Times editorial board lectured a judge who thinks otherwise, “the […]
Socialism is the big lie of the 20th century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may […]
Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government’s National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist’s camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a worldwide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I […]
I opened a new bottle of probiotics this morning, and it had one of those circular seals on the top. You know, the one that reads, “Sealed for your protection.”And that seal got me thinking… how much protection do we need? How much security is enough?How much homogenization, pasteurization, disinfection, national security, etc…. do we […]
Last spring, Barack Obama told the graduating class of Ohio State University:“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems… They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because […]
In the Huffington Post last week, Glenn Greenwald, Slate contributor Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim had an investigative piece reporting that the NSA had been tracking the online porn-viewing habits of several Muslim leaders whom it viewed as radicals. A top-secret document shows that the agency was considering exposing these firebrands’ Internet dalliances as a […]
Americans are still trying to get a handle on the full extent of the government’s domestic spying activities, including the recent revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting and storing the email address books of ordinary Americans using online messaging services. Many users of such services are looking to tech executives for […]
A few months ago at a demonstration against the president of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, a Canadian citizen made the following claim: “We don’t have guns, we are not Americans, we are civilized.” A few days before, in early July, a train of the company had run away and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing […]
From the Tongue-In-Cheek Department of Laissez Faire Books…Washington, D.C. — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced that her committee will hold a “major review into all intelligence-collection programs.” This surprising declaration followed the revelation, through documents leaked by government whistle-blower Edward Snowden, that the NSA has been listening to the […]
From the Tongue-in-Cheek Department of Laissez Faire Books…Washington, D.C. – The complex negotiations aimed at bringing a long-term solution to the federal government’s expenditure and debt problem have produced an unconventional proposal. “Although the solution only focuses on a tiny fraction of government expenditures,” declared President Barack Obama, “it is a step in the right […]
I’ve just spent a harrowing weekend reflecting on Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the pamphlet that came out in January 1776 and turned the public toward seeking independence from Britain. I say harrowing because the distance between the ideals found in this pamphlet and those of today’s America is so vast as to be nearly unrecognizable.The […]
It was a wild ride last week in the world of the Deep Web, that section of the Internet that requires special tools to access. The feds took down the site called Silk Road and claim to have arrested its founder and administrator. The news streams were filled with lurid tales of derring-do in this […]
Want to know just how invasive the state is going to get in the United States?Well, take a look across the pond.In terms of the large, invasive state, we English are way ahead of you guys. We’re a good 50 or more years further down the road to serfdom.Nineteenth-century Britain was about as glorious a […]
A tense drama unfolded this week with the virtual shutdown of vital government agencies: the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as many other such federal agencies. Without them, the Founding Fathers could not have imagined the republic.Even if fewer […]
Three months after Edward Snowden’s leaks began to reveal the extent of the U.S.’ mass surveillance program, “serious people” are beginning to make the case that it’s time for the outrage and indignation to subside and give way to a “national conversation” about the future of surveillance. So has the moment come for us to […]
A sixth-grader has been suspended for drawing an inappropriate picture. The drawing did not include any gun, but showed a checkpoint backed up by a SWAT team carrying flower pots while an unarmed drone hovered above.The suspended girl, whose name is kept secret at the request of her family, said she “just wanted to draw […]
The second part of this two-part article reveals an untold part of the story about how they were stopped last time. And shows how, if not again stopped, how it could lead to a fundamental loss of civil rights and freedom on the Internet.The offending legislation was barreling down the track, seemingly — even in […]
Two years ago, Hollywood, no kidding, masterminded a plot to, in effect, steal the Internet (by criminalizing certain conduct, booby trapping the Web in ways that few non-mega-corporations could cope with). There are signs, as perceptively flagged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that the perps are back at it. We should care.This two-part article reveals […]
It has now been nearly two centuries since French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville visited America and compared American democracy to the French variety. The Martian asked his Earth correspondent to redo the comparison.The typical Frenchman thinks that Paris is the center of the universe, life without a baguette is not worth living, France is […]
I was at the Canadian border, headed toward the freedom that exists a few feet beyond the last security check. I was gently waved down a side corridor.Ninety minutes later, I was let go, but not before something truly alarming happened. I’m pretty sure that the Canadian government captured a mirrored version of my smartphone […]
Fort Meade, MD – The United States, the least unfree country on Earth, is fighting a major invasion of the Blueshirts.The most visible Blueshirts constitute a 50,000-plus army that occupies all the airports in America. Recognizable by their blue shirts and their inquisitive eyes and hands, they search and humiliate all Americans trying to leave […]
Sometimes, the news of the day causes me to say, “Huh?” The New York Times revelations last month about NSA programs and activities to enhance the agency’s ability to spy on ordinary citizens prompts today’s “Huh?” Who knew that our every phone call, Internet post and tweet is being recorded by the government?I have operated […]
U.S. and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ […]
Oh, how the media love a good strike. Look at these fast-food workers and peasants standing up to the owners of capital! They aren’t going to take the oppression anymore. The suits in the boardrooms had better shape up and stop hoarding all that money. They need to give it up to the men and […]
Like all great historical ideas, the project of licensing journalists so that they may benefit from the First Amendment was born in a very modest place. In fact, it began in the most modest of all places: the brain of Dianne Feinstein, U.S. senator from California.The new law, which was just adopted by Congress and […]
The position that there need be a state is too often taken for granted.The main body of Sartwell’s book Against the State is dedicated to destroying the arguments for a state from the likes of Hobbes, Rousseau and Hegel. In fact, one thing that becomes crystal clear in reading Sartwell’s book is how bad the […]
Crispin Sartwell is someone you should know. He is doing important work in recovering forgotten greats in America’s anti-authoritarian tradition. Among other works, he’s put forward a lean and powerful book titled Against the State.In what follows, you’ll see why he’s my favorite living philosopher. Sartwell will take you on an intellectual tour de force […]
If I were an extremely cynical gun manufacturer, I would save some extra profits to give to Democratic candidates for president. Such presidents come to the White House under a cloud. No matter how many photo ops they hold with guns, many people suspect that they want to ban them.
It’s not a crazy assumption, either. In government’s ideal world, the politicians and their bureaucratic armies would have all the guns and the people would have none.
We know this from experience too. Look what happens in a natural disaster when FEMA takes over under martial law. They confiscate weapons. Heck, it’s true when the U.S. invades a foreign country. The people are disarmed, all in the name of keeping order. They did this in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So it’s not paranoia to suspect that government wants to disarm the population. That’s as true at home as it is abroad. It is all a matter of whether powerful rulers can get away with it.
Fortunately, in the U.S., it’s not so easy to just take people’s guns away. We have this thing called the Second Amendment. It turns out that sizeable parts of the population believe that it should be read and interpreted as if it were plain English. And for that reason, every president who wants to ban guns has to float the idea (a trial balloon) to push it through some kind of proto-legislative process.
Even since Clinton’s Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, trial balloons have been a “buy” signal in the gun market. Really, the whole thing is hilarious. The president’s threat to ban even small classes of weapons — inevitably — causes a massive, populationwide scramble to buy as many guns as possible. Talk about unintended consequences! These small-time gun skeptics end up being the direct cause of a whole population of people arming themselves to the teeth!
See Ruger’s stock price:
Anyone who reads my stuff knows that I’m not really into guns myself. But I directly benefit personally when other people arm themselves. I might be the only home on the block without a gun rack and a pistol in every room, but would-be criminals don’t know which is mine. In states where people can walk around packing heat, criminals can’t know who is and who isn’t. They have to be that much more careful.
So, of course, the same thing has happened with Obama. After the Sandy Hook massacre, left-liberal pundits went nuts, demanding new weapons laws. Then Obama himself passed some executive orders that didn’t amount to much, but vaguely seemed to look down on private ownership of guns.
That was the trigger. Backfire! Lines formed outside every gun shop in the country. My local places started staying open 12 and 18 hours. Ammunition flew off the shelves. Wal-Mart started rationing bullets. Others just ran out. Secondary markets started showing up in sketchy areas of the Web.
The shortage caused police departments themselves to stock up. That alone furthered speculation that the police state was imminent, thereby fueling more fears of future shortages. The whole problem has been going on for weeks now, getting worse and worse for consumers and better and better for the industry itself.
It’s been the same with gun ranges. You used to be able to walk in and get a spot to shoot. Now you need a reservation. And the more people shoot, the more they need to buy because, well, you use up bullets when you fire them.
In short, it is a bull market in weapons and ammunition. Ironically, the whole mania has been set off by the government’s own anti-gun language. It’s getting to the point that the best path to business success in America is for some powerful politician to suggest that your good or service might need to be banned.
What a symbol of the ineffectiveness of government in our time! The whole nation figures that government is up to no good (all polls show that government is more deeply unpopular than ever before), so whenever government says one thing, the people run out and do the other. It’s a great turn of events in the history of public policy and, truly, one worth celebrating!
But you might be thinking: This can’t be all good. After all, guns could actually be banned in time. They keep ramping up the restrictions year by year. More reporting. More background checks. More papers to sign. More disclosures. In time, it could really happen. They will grab them all. Then we’ll be sunk.
Not so fast. The market’s love of technology is coming to the rescue.
On the front lines is a group called Defense Distributed. Their idea is to develop and publish plans for guns that can be printed off 3-D printers. These contraptions are in the process of revolutionizing manufacturing. They are already used industrywide (including even building large aircraft) and are coming online for home use. With a wiki-gun blueprint, anyone will be able to print a gun at home. And so much for all gun control.
This is edgy, but not illegal. It is not illegal to manufacture guns; the restrictions pertain only to selling and buying them. So what Defense Distributed is suggesting here falls within the law. Still, it’s controversial. They first started raising money with Indiegogo, but the fundraising site caught wind of the project and pulled it. Fine. The group turned to raising money from its own website, encouraging Bitcoin donations. Problem solved.
But then another problem cropped up. They were leasing a big, expensive printer to do the testing from the company Stratasys. Stratasys too freaked out and demanded its printer back. Of course, any private company has the right to do this, but the hand of government — threatening everyone — is in the background here.
Such are the roadblocks to the future. But here’s a principle to learn and count on: Regulators and bureaucrats can slow down the future, but they can’t stop it. It is going to get here one way or another.
3-D printing promises to change the whole relationship between citizens and those who govern. Patents, regulations, product bans, prohibitions, taxes, and everything else collapse in the face of such things that smack of Star Trek replicators. When the whole world — even the physical world — is digitized, it is out of anyone’s control.
With technology, freedom is our destiny. Those who rely on command and control will find themselves without anything to command or anyone to control. It’s a beautiful thing.
If you are curious about Defense Distributed, take a few minutes and watch their video. This is serious. No one is going to stop it.