Government is never “us.” It is always “them.”

Repeat after me: Government is power. Government is not to be trusted. Ever. Even if you believe that some government is and will always be necessary, that ‘necessary’ piece of government should always be regarded as a prudent lion tamer regards the big carnivorous cats that are ‘necessary’ for him to make a living. To imagine that seemingly subdued purring lions can be trusted to be dealt with in any ways that do not include the use of strong cages, leashes, ceaseless and deep suspicion, and escape hatches is the height of romantic absurdity – wishful thinking of the most extreme and inexcusable sort. Government is by its very nature a dangerous, untrustworthy, dishonest, arrogant, slippery entity – characteristics that are by no means reduced anywhere near to insignificance by a wide franchise, regular elections, and sturdy ink-on-parchment documents called “constitutions.”

Unless you are a high-ranking government official, government – no government – is ever “Us.” It is always “Them.” And They are not to be trusted. Ever.

via Some Snowden Links.

We should know much about *public* servants; they should know little about *private* citizens.

The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what they do: that’s why they’re called public servants. They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called private individuals.

This dynamic – the hallmark of a healthy and free society – has been radically reversed. Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That’s the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.

(Emphasis in original.) Via On whistleblowers and government threats of investigation | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

This Is Not How A Free Society Treats People

This is where Eduardo Saverin comes in. The Facebook co-founder, who finds himself a few billion dollars richer this week, recently renounced his US citizenship. And, to the intelligentsia, it’s not ‘fair’.

‘Saverin needs to pay his fair share! He owes America more,’ they whine, completely ignorant that the 30-year old is already forking over a $500+ million exit tax which may end up in the billions.

Apparently it’s not good enough that the company Saverin co-founded has created tens of thousands of jobs, spawned entire industries, and produced oodles of new millionaires. Oh yeah, it’s also made things damn easy for the CIA, NSA, and FBI. You’d think Uncle Sam would pin a medal on his chest.

But no. Saverin left behind a lot of value and decided to move on to greener pastures in Singapore. Now the do-gooders in Congress are cooking up new legislation the EX-PATRIOT Act designed to permanently bar ‘renunciants’ like Saverin from re-entering the United States.

It’s interesting that, rather than change their ways of doing business and introducing legislation that provides incentives for productive people to come here and stay here, they maintain policies that chase people away, and introduce new ones to lock the door after they’re gone.

via Guest Post: Regardless Of What The Propaganda Says, This Is Not How A Free Society Treats People | ZeroHedge.

TSA Screeners Profit From Drug War Via Bribery

Four current and former Transportation Security Administration screeners have been arrested and face charges of taking bribes and looking the other way while suitcases filled with cocaine, methamphetamine or marijuana passed through X-ray machines at Los Angeles International Airport, federal authorities announced Wednesday.

The TSA screeners, who were arrested Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, allegedly received up to $2,400 in cash bribes in exchange for allowing large drug shipments to pass through checkpoints in what the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles called a “significant breakdown” of security.

In addition to the two current and two former screeners, prosecutors also indicted two alleged drug couriers and a third who allegedly tried to smuggle 11 pounds of cocaine but was nabbed when he went through the wrong security checkpoint.

One wonders, what else could a TSA screener be bribed to let through? Via TSA screeners allegedly let drug-filled luggage through LAX for cash – latimes.com.

Would Cars Be Government-Approved Today?

… have you considered how lucky we are that the government lets us drive cars at all?

Imagine if cars hadn’t been around for a century, but instead were just invented today. Is there any way they’d be approved for individual use? …

Even aside from pollution, the government wouldn’t allow the risks to safety.

“So you’re proposing that people speed around in tons of metal? You must mean only really smart, well-trained people?”

“No. Everyone. Even stupid people.”

“Won’t millions be killed?”

“Oh, no. Not that many. Just a little more than 40,000 a year.”

“And injuries?”

“Oh . . . millions.”

There’s no way that would get approved today.

Driving is basically a grandfathered freedom from back when people cared less about pollution and danger and valued progress and liberty over safety. They had different equations related to human life then: We could lose 10,000 men in a single battle in a war and call it a victory.

Via Driving: Will nanny state take it away?—Frank J. Fleming – NYPOST.com.

SOPA: Yet Another Reason To Keep Government Small

A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything away from you – including your Internet freedom.

It’s bizarre and entertaining to hear people who yesterday were all about allegedly benign and intelligent government interventions suddenly discovering that in practice, what they get is stupid and vicious legislation that has been captured by a venal and evil interest group.

Yeah, no shit? How…how do they avoid noticing that in reality it’s like this all the time?

So here’s a clue: the only way to keep your freedom – on the Internet or anywhere else – is to defend everyone else’s freedom as well, by keeping your government tiny and starved and rigidly constrained in what it can do. Otherwise, the future you’re begging for is SOPAs without end.

Please, read the whole thing. It’s short. Via Armed and Dangerous » Blog Archive » SOPA and the oblivious.

A Cuts-Only Budget — Well, Almost

… here’s my back-of-the-envelope balanced budget, with no tax increases:

1.      Social Security: Yeah, they’ll say you’re throwing Granny off the cliff. But it’s her or the grandkids. So implement aggressive means-testing and other reforms to cut 20 percent of spending for $150 billion in savings.

2.      Medicare: Ditto, for $100 billion in savings.

3.      Keep on going and reduce Medicaid and other health-care services spending by 10 percent: $33 billion.

4.      National defense: Republicans will howl, but there’s room for a 10 percent cut to all national-defense spending, including non-DoD activities such as DoE’s work maintaining our nuclear arsenal. That nets $74 billion in savings. Surely we can slaughter hapless desert barbarians more cheaply.

5.      “Other income security.” That’s the welfare state bits and pieces not included in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, etc. Welfare of the checks-from-Uncle variety. Eliminating it entirely saves $159 billion. 

6.      Welfare for bureaucrats: Making federal-employee retirement and disability systems totally self-funding saves $123 billion.

7.      Eliminate federal education spending entirely: elementary, secondary, and higher-ed. Leaving it to the states and to the market saves us $106 billion. Harvard will figure something out.

8.      Eliminate “community and regional-development” spending, a.k.a. boondoogles and slush funds, except for disaster relief: $15 billion.

9.      Get farmers off welfare: $19 billion. Suck it up, Elmer.

10.  Foreign aid, international development, international-security assistance, etc. Quit meddling abroad and propping up Third World potentates, and save $44 billion.

11.  Cut all the “energy” spending on “energy information,” “energy emergency preparedness,” etc. — all the energy spending that doesn’t actually produce any energy. And throw federal energy-conservation spending on the fire, too. Cutting the bureaucratic answer to Jimmy Carter’s sweater saves $12 billion.

12.  “Advancing commerce” doesn’t. We’re looking at you, SBA et al.: $23 billion.

13.  Federal law enforcement: Cut spending by 10 percent. Legalizing it saves us $3 billion.

14.  Space flight: We aren’t flying in space anymore. Staying grounded saves $17 billion.

15.  Downsize Smokey the Bear: Cutting land-management, recreation, natural resources, etc., by half saves $21 billion.

16.  Quit subsidizing suburban sprawl: Cutting transportation spending by 10 percent saves $10 billion.

17.  Save $36 billion by cutting health research and training. Let Pfizer do it.

18.  The real-estate market isn’t going to make a comeback. So eliminate federal housing assistance and save $60 billion.

19.  Cut food stamps by 10 percent, save $11 billion.

20.  I know, I promised no tax increases, so that’s a 19-point plan to balance the budget: Just over $1 trillion in savings. No. 20 is a bonus tax hike: Eliminate the stupid and destructive mortgage-interest deduction and have the national debt paid off by the time the kids being born this year graduate from college.

via Back-of-the-Envelope Balanced Budget – By Kevin D. Williamson – Exchequer – National Review Online.

Switching license plates is what *criminals* do

Lying about sexting apparently isn’t Rep. Anthony Weiner’s only gray area.

When Weiner (D-Queens, Brooklyn) was photographed by the Daily News fleeing the Capitol in his Nissan Pathfinder, it was clear the July 2007 registration sticker in his window was expired, and there was no inspection sticker to be seen. Weiner, through a staffer, said the 1988 Nissan Pathfinder was registered in New York State.

Not so, said the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

The New York license plate bolted on Weiner’s Pathfinder – US Congress 9 – had expired as of 2006, according to the DMV.

"That license plate should not be on a car," a DMV spokeswoman said. It wasn’t even issued to the Pathfinder, but to another one of Weiner’s cars, a Honda, according to vehicle records.

Valid plates were issued to Weiner’s Pathfinder, but they don’t have the helpful words "US Congress" on them, and so look less official. It’s unclear what happened to those plates.

via JammieWearingFool: Above the Law: Weiner’s Pathfinder Has Different Plates, is Unregistered.

What does the Education Department need shotguns for?

Why is the Education Department purchasing 27 Remington Brand Model 870 police 12-gauge shotguns (all new, no re-manufactured products, thank you)?

The guns are to replace old firearms used by Education’s Office of Inspector General, which is the law enforcement arm of the department.

via The Answer Sheet – Education Department buying 27 shotguns.

Victims of Communism Day

May Day began as a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, not just communists. But over time, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes and used as a propaganda tool to prop up their regimes. I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes’ millions of victims. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined. We appropriately have a Holocaust Memorial Day. It is equally appropriate to commemorate the victims of the twentieth century’s other great totalitarian tyranny. And May Day is the most fitting day to do so. I suggest that May Day be turned into Victims of Communism Day….

The main alternative to May 1 is November 7, the anniversary of the communist coup in Russia. However, choosing that date might be interpreted as focusing exclusively on the Soviet Union, while ignoring the equally horrendous communist mass murders in China, Camobodia, and elsewhere. So May 1 is the best choice.

via The Volokh Conspiracy » Victims of Communism Day.