“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 […]
The Department of Energy, which is the Supreme Court of your home appliances, thinks you might be wasting precious energy. And the bureaucrats have a plan for doing something about it. They want to take away the clock on your microwave oven. You know, that’s the little digital display that we oddly depend on to tell us what time it is.
The bureaucrats say find some other way. Use your smartphone. Buy a wristwatch. Better yet, use a sundial. Whatever you do, just remember: The governing elites hate the time display on your microwave. Prisoners don’t really need to know the time anyway.
Yes, this is what these people are paid to do. You can read about their deliberations here, but I don’t recommend doing so unless you want to get really angry. The slogan under which the government is wrecking all your home appliances is “energy conservation.”
Consumers are starting to figure out the racket. When a product proclaims that it is super-duper energy efficient, that usually means that it doesn’t work as well as it used to. Your replacement model will be a generation behind the one you bought last time. New and improved is new and degraded.
It’s happened to everything in our homes. Our refrigerators are so “efficient” that they wear out in a few years. Our ovens need new coils every few years. Our clothes washers attempt to wash whole loads on a cup of lukewarm water (yuk!). The dishwasher is being killed with a thousand cuts. You have to run the dryer all night and set your alarm to restart the thing.
Home appliances liberated generations from drudgery. The government is bringing drudgery back, one mandate at a time. Think of it. If we wanted to be really, really, really efficient, we would just roll back history to the 1850s. Our streets would be lit with torches, our homes heated by wood-burning stoves and trivialities like microwaves would be unknown. Our refrigerators would be iceboxes, at best.
Every candle would have a big-fat “Energy Star” sticker on it. And it would be true. To the government, the hysteria over electricity at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 was capitalist decadence run wild. If only Ben Franklin had never flown that kite!
So what’s the deal with microwave clocks? Well, some bureaucrat has figured out that the microwave oven has to stay in the on position even when not in use for cooking food, and only to run that digital display. If the microwave were made so that it completely shut down when not cooking food, it could save, oh, a few pennies of energy expense over several lifetimes. Therefore, it has to go.
But hold on there just a minute. Can’t manufacturers figure this out for themselves? If consumers really want a feature like auto-shutdown on a microwave, don’t the manufacturers have every incentive to make it this way? Of course. This is particularly true with microwaves. For years, the makers have struggled to come up with features that will cause you to buy this one versus that one.
It’s cutthroat competition out there. Let’s face it: One model can zap that plate of leftovers just as well as the other one. There has been no real improvement in the underlying technology for decades. The improvement has to come from features like rotating plates, cool displays, nice colors and the like. If you could really entice people to buy a new microwave by building an auto-shutdown into it, it would be done in a day.
But it turns out that consumers apparently like the clock display. That could change tomorrow and manufacturers would respond. We don’t need the geniuses at the Department of Energy to tell us what we want and mandate it. All they are really doing is imposing yet another thing to go wrong.
And what about the fact that if we don’t have this display we have to buy a clock? It would run on batteries or be plugged in. Either way, that uses energy. What, then, would be the next step? How about a mandate that specifies precisely how many clocks you have running in each room? Then we would need home inspections to enforce it.
All in the name of saving energy. You would swear that the bureaucrats are unaware that we do actually pay for the energy we use. The system isn’t perfect, because it is a public-private partnership, instead of being purely private. But the fact remains that we pay more when we use more. How about a bit of deference to consumer sovereignty here?
The DoE doesn’t see it this way. I swear that these people imagine themselves to be our dictators. Nothing is outside their purview. Nothing in life is permitted to take place without their permission. And their goal is not really to bring us more energy, but rather to take it away from us. They are against wall outlets. They want us drawing all things from the sun and rain like some primitive cave people.
What a far cry we come from the policy fashions from the 1930s. A big goal of the 1930s in the United States was to bring electrification to the rural areas. Forced progress isn’t better than forced regress, but this generation of politicians wasn’t so insane as to believe in forcibly driving us back to the Stone Age and expecting us to love them for it.
Foreigners used to say of America that it is a great country because everything works. Sadly, this is no longer true. The litany of stuff that no longer works is getting ever longer. And there is one reason for this: regulations. Wicked, anti-human regulations. They more they regulate, the less choice we have and the less freedom manufacturers have to serve us. The whole story is starting to read like a dystopian novel. If you like it, they will ban it.
The heck of it is that these people work in secret. Hardly anyone follows their deliberations, and no one reads the Federal Register. We buy things, they break and we blame capitalism instead of the real culprits, who dwell in their concrete palaces in the Beltway, people who were never elected and can never be fired no matter who is president.
This is the very strange form that American tyranny is taking. It makes no headlines. There is no debate. It appears in our homes in a form that we don’t notice until it is too late. Not one in a million people understands the real cause.
Get a good look at the lineup of microwave ovens at the store. You might even pick up a spare while you can. The government might soon make them all disappear and replace them with something else. It’s always and everywhere worse than what came before.