Recycling Is a Red Herring

Consider the problem of polio, a disease that killed tens of thousands and ruined the lives of millions around the world in the 1930s through 1950s. One solution was to try to ease the suffering of polio victims, developing better iron lungs and systems of braces, wheelchairs, and prosthetics to make it possible that they could live some kind of life. This industry was enormous, and highly profitable.

The other solution was to develop a vaccine, the one that Dr. Jonas Salk finally perfected in 1952, and which showed itself to be effective within a decade. By the late 1960s, polio had been reduced sharply in the United States. Now, it is almost unknown here and in most of the rest of the world. Of course, the makers of braces, crutches, and iron lungs took a beating, because no one needed their products anymore. But the total costs to society were dramatically reduced, even accounting for the “loss” to the equipment manufacturers.

When it comes to waste management, we are at the stage of manufacturing braces and iron lungs.

via Recycling Is a Red Herring | Cato Unbound.

Schneier on Security: Blowback from the NSA Surveillance

… when countries like Russia and Iran say the US is simply too untrustworthy to manage the Internet, no one will be able to argue.

We can’t fight for Internet freedom around the world, then turn around and destroy it back home. Even if we don’t see the contradiction, the rest of the world does.

via Schneier on Security: Blowback from the NSA Surveillance.

IRS Training with Assault Rifles

A bureaucracy is bad. A politicized bureaucracy is worse. A paramilitary politicized bureaucracy is nuts. And, in fact, evil. There is no reason in a civilized society why the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Paperwork should have his own SEAL Team Six.

The police state is not “coming” — it’s *here*. Abolish the IRS and replace it with the Fair Tax. Via When Your W-2 Meets an AR-15 | National Review Online.

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.

Centralized Services Make It Easier To Spy

With Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and various “cloud” services, the strength is in the efficiencies of scale. The weakness is that they are centralized; if government wishes to spy, they need only deal with a small number of large corporate entities to do so. If these services were distributed, efficiencies would drop, but the effort needed to spy would rise.

“I am not here as a serf or vassal. I am not begging my lords for mercy.”

“I’m a born free American woman, wife, mother and citizen. And I’m telling my government that you’ve forgotten your place. It’s not your responsibility to look out for my well-being, and to monitor my speech. It’s not your right to assert an agenda. Your post, the post that you occupy, exists to preserve American liberty. You’ve sworn to perform that duty. And you have faltered.”

Via Althouse. Go to the link for video; the quoted part begins at 2:45. This is not a Your Team vs My Team issue; this is a Government vs Citizens issue; or, if you like, a Tyranny vs Liberty issue.

Canadian relief for Moore tornado victims denied at border

A Canadian shipment of relief goods bound for storm-ravaged Oklahoma has been stopped at the Canada-U.S. border in Windsor, Ont.

American officials will not allow the 20,000 kilograms of food, blankets and diapers into the country until every item on board is itemized in alphabetical order and has the country of origin of every product noted.

Dennis Sauve, the volunteer co-ordinator for Windsor Lifeline Outreach and the food bank co-ordinator at the Windsor Christian Fellowship, the two organizations that gathered the goods, said it’s a “physical impossibility” to do the paperwork required in time to get the perishable food to Oklahoma before it spoils.

Because U.S. President Barack Obama hasn’t declared Moore, Okla., tornado a disaster area, the 52-foot trailer of goods is considered a commercial shipment rather than humanitarian aid.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Via Canadian relief for Moore tornado victims denied at border – Windsor – CBC News.