Volkswagen and Foreign Policy

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Government Motors executives knowingly kept putting faulty ignition switches on vehicles, playing the numbers game and covering up its con game that killed 120+ people. Then they pocket the US Justice Department and walk away with inconsequential fines and no criminal prosecution.

The Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) will have 3 corporate officers/managers sent to prison for a very long time for a salmonella outbreak, even in spite of shaky evidence that these folks were acting out in a criminal manner.

Volkswagen *increases its investment in Russia* and bypasses the EPA’s politically-motivated, special interest-benefiting mandates, and so the company is currently being threatened with $18B in fines, while that same Justice Department cranks up a criminal probe and the financial markets slaughter 20%+ of the company’s value. Volkswagen is now an object of US foreign policy and Middle East diplomacy.

As dominoes continue to fall — Germany, France, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Italy are calling for queries into Volkswagen — the damage to the iconic German company became more clear Tuesday. Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has apologized and is fighting to keep his job, denying reports in German media that he would be replaced by Matthias Müller, the chairman of VW’s sister company Porsche. Volkswagen’s stock dropped nearly 20 percent Tuesday, a repeat of Monday’s slide. Qatar, the oil rich nation that is one of the Volkswagen’s largest shareholders, has already lost $5 billion on its investment.


“But what is death? It depends.”

Sunday, August 30, 2015
Posted in category Economics

Bioethicists want “experts” to redefine death to harvest your organs and supply the government’s monopoly on the distribution of human organs. To quote from the article:

In light of all this, I suggest it is time to reconsider the constraints of the DDR, time to think about harvesting organs from some living patients – those who persistently fail to maintain consciousness before the brain is technically dead.

…Even if conscious, such patients could be given analgesia or anaesthesia to prevent pain during organ procurement – and their organs could be put to good use.

…In some circumstances, when donation is a high priority for an individual, we could even remove organs from those with full capacity for consciousness whose lives might go on and on in deep suffering and pain. Among the candidates include those with locked-in syndrome and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, where degenerating motor neurons render the person increasingly paralysed and unable to move.

“High priority,” in this case, refers to the overabundance of sick people waiting for healthy organs that are not being supplied. The organ shortage is created by government because people have no economic incentive to donate their organs, hence they are not incentivized to do anything but take their healthy organs with them into death. To quote David Howden from the Mises Institute:

In blood and organ markets the relevant price is set at zero, since one is not allowed to sell them for pecuniary gain. Like other similar markets (like rent controlled apartments), there is a large amount of people who want organs when the price is free and very few want to give them away. It’s not just an economic disaster, but a healthcare one as well.

This is nightmarish stuff for a whole host of reasons, among them being the fact that diseases or conditions that may render persons chronically ill – such a Lyme disease or spinal cord compression – are often misdiagnosed as ALS and other degenerative muscular diseases. If we are witnessing, as Walter Block has written, “a current system that enables medical bureaucrats to play God,” wait until these same bureaucrats can anoint so-called experts to determine that humans are “dead enough” for their body parts to be harvested and handed out to recipients according to bureaucratic decree.

Don’t Make Eye Contact With a Cop

Saturday, August 29, 2015
Posted in category police state

A young, black male from Detroit, who was peacefully making his way through Dayton, Ohio, was pulled over for … not signaling … on second thought, not turning on his turn signal 100 feet prior to his turn. But then, the cop admits why he really got pulled over. The cop had been trailing the young man for some distance, and when Sir Cop passed the young man, it is alleged that the young man made “direct eye contact and held onto it…” Here it is. And thank goodness for cameras being everywhere.

We Are All Caitlyn Now, Ze Said

Saturday, August 29, 2015
Posted in category Feminism

Here’s just one more reason to not send your son to a government university. This is from the University of Tennessee Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

“We should not assume someone’s gender by their appearance, nor by what is listed on a roster or in student information systems,” Donna Braquet, the Director of the University of Tennessee’s Pride Center said. “Transgender people and people who do not identify within the gender binary may use a different name than their legal name and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth.”

For the first week of classes, Braquet is also asking teachers to ask everyone to provide their name and pronoun instead of calling roll. “The name a student uses may not be the one on the official roster, and the roster name may not be the same gender as the one the student now uses,” ze said.

What is “ze,” you say? Why it’s a made-up pronoun created so as not to not offend the perpetually offended. It is a ”gender-neutral singular version of a pronoun.” Here’s the chart so you can start practicing for your conformity to our dystopian state.


Anarcho-Libraries vs the State

Saturday, August 29, 2015
Posted in category Voluntaryist

Little Free Libraries is a great story of ordinary folks who decided that voluntarily sharing books is a great way to meet people and enrich communities. Some months go, The Atlantic described how local governments were threatening residents with citations for constructing Little Free Library structures, which are communal bookshelves where residents are encouraged to “take a book, leave a book.” The Atlantic referred to this as “the danger of being neighborly without a permit.”

Free and voluntary exchange between cooperating human beings is becoming a crime in a country where governments have come to dominate every aspect of our lives. In Shreveport, Louisiana, antiquated zoning laws on the books were used to prohibit these communal exchanges from occurring.

“The free flow of information — the exchange of information — is nothing that anybody wants to inhibit,” Sweeney said “The catch here is that the current ordinance says, basically, that it doesn’t allow this as permissible use in a residential area. And then the other thing is that it’s an accessory structure, and we have a rule on our books that says no accessory structures can be in the front yards.”

Little Free Library has become a global movement in a very short time period. The organization says there are over 30,000 around the world. People are circumventing the official channels and government gatekeepers to build, buy, install or donate money for Little Free Libraries, and each one is wonderfully distinct from all the rest.


The Detroit Little Library culture here is huge and still growing. Free Little Libraries are all over the city, and they are quickly spreading to the suburbs. The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press even took to donating news racks that will be converted to Free Little Libraries. Our Detroit cycling group – Detroit Bikes – held a special cycling ride through the city this summer wherein we all carried books and made multiple stops to drop them off at targeted Free Little Libraries that needed some new stock. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed loading up my bicycle with all of my extra copies of books on political philosophy, history, Austrian Economics, etc., and I especially enjoyed dropping off a copy of Rothbard’s Power and Market.

We Hate Haters, Inc. Hates Trump

Friday, August 28, 2015
Posted in category political correctness

Looks like the Southern Poverty Law Center is finally going to add Trump to its Hate Map.

More Anti-Gun Squealing

Friday, August 28, 2015
Posted in category guns

Note the qualifier at the beginning of the article: “This is an opinion piece written by a father who grew up in an extended family of hunters with rifles and other types of guns.” So that, apparently, makes him independent and non-emotional, and a pro-gun advocate from the womb. Or so he plays it out. It also makes the rest of the article perfectly predictable. Then you read the piece, as such:

I see that NRA decal on the rear window of your car and my eyes narrow. I look at the back of your head in the driver’s seat and I wonder if you are a threat.

A threat to my children. A threat to me. A threat to society.

To quote him, folks who value their own lives and the lives of their loved ones, enough to defend those lives, are “a potential threat”; “endorsing violence”; “don’t care about the loss of human life”; and they are making this poor fella “appalled and saddened and sickened and angry.” If you take “appalled and saddened and sickened” and turn it into an acronym, you come up with a fair assessment of him.

And of course, all of us who uphold our right to live in peace are the “next good guys to snap.” This is the sappiest pile of illogical overindulgence I have ever seen on the gun issue. His near-ending is so insightful that is causes me to think he has extrasensory powers that none of us can comprehend.

“All I know is what the NRA decal in the rear window of your car tells me.”

I will have nothing to do with the NRA because of its bad politics and penchant for being a money-begging machine that doesn’t intend to protect the absolute rights of gun owners. But I’m sure this writer of this scrap-heap-of-a-blog would be more offended by a sticker noting the JPFO (Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership).

The War on Cholesterol is Too Profitable to Give Up

Friday, August 28, 2015
Posted in category Big Pharma

In spite of the so-called “change of heart” on the cholesterol issue, from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, another headline announcing that a “New Drug Could Dramatically Reduce Cholesterol” is hitting the wires today. Amgen’s evolocumab is the second PCSK9 inhibitor drug to be approved, as Praulent had already been approved by the FDA. A cardiologist and CEO at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center says:

“The FDA is really setting a new norm” by approving cholesterol drugs that have no evidence of actually preventing heart attack, Patterson said.

Now that statins have lost government patent protection, generic statins can be had for $250 per year while these new class of injectable cholesterol drugs (PCSK-9 inhibitors) may cost over $14,000 per year, although some industry estimates come in lower. To quote from the article, “The costs of the new cholesterol fighters is compounded by the fact that patients would be expected to take them for the rest of their lives.

This class of drugs “have the potential to grow over the next several years to become the costliest therapy class our country has seen,” said Steve Miller, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Express Scripts, a leading pharmacy benefit manager, in a statement.

The side effects include “sore throats, upper respiratory tract infections, flu, back pain and bruises or sore where the injections are given, according to the FDA,” but then again, this was just what was observed in small clinical trials. Even mainstream doctors are questioning these drugs and the various unknown side effects from longer-term use. Other reports I have read point to the potential for neuro-cognitive adverse events.

In spite of the fact that allowable cholesterol levels are politically influenced to get more people on profitable drugs, and in spite of the fact that there is no evidence that these injectable drugs can prevent heart attacks because the complete data is not yet all in, Time magazine has referred to these drugs “game-changers.” I do think the PCSK9 inhibitors can potentially be a great alternative to statins for people who really have a concrete need for it, but the problem is that conventional wisdom and the medical-pharmaceutical-industrial complex have blurred the lines between real need and merely pushing drugs for profit onto as much of the population as possible. Bill Sardi recently wrote an article on this that I think is extremely informative for understanding the plus-side of PCSK9 inhibitors as opposed to the horrors of statins.

The interesting issue, in my mind, is how these drugs will be managed by pharmacy benefit managers and health insurance companies. The pop-culture stories are reporting that health insurers will put strict limits on the drug’s use, however, that is far too simplistic. This article from Modern Healthcare tells of a more accurate picture:

Pharmacy benefit managers and integrated providers already are mulling their options, recognizing it will difficult to limit use. Dr. Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer at CVS Health, and his colleagues, writing in Health Affairs, said pharmacy benefit managers will try to limit the number of patients taking the new drugs, based on clinical guidelines and expert opinion. Patients “will likely require laboratory tests to show evidence of muscle inflammation or liver damage before allowing treatment for those with statin intolerance,” they said in the article. “But it is unclear how much these medical management efforts will limit utilization.”

Indeed, the pressure is already on for pharmacy benefit managers and health insurers to provide coverage to patients in need, and how that need will be determined will surely be influenced by political dictates and entitlement theory.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Posted in category Detroit

When the government left these Detroit residents a road sinkhole and refused to own up to fixing that sinkhole, the residents turned it into an aquarium. While the hole remained for years, and filling with water, residents cleaned the hole of algae and stocked it with fish. This mini-pond encased in asphalt had become a home for many carp, catfish, and blue gill.

No government department has wanted to own up to the hole, of course, until it became a focus of national news. Residents claim that the Detroit Water & Sewage Department tore up the road, but that government department has pointed a finger at a utility company – DTE Energy – as having created the mess. So while the various monopolists fight over who gets to claim the whole hole, the city came out to empty the hole and relocate the fish, because, as one worker said, they suspected ulterior motives in order to draw public criticism to the city and get the hole repaired. Well, it worked.


FEE Promotes FrankenAnimals as a “Revolution.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Posted in category Food Politics

So now FEE is promoting gene-editing and genetically-engineered animals as a free-market alternative for farming while making the case that to do so will foil the rotten FDA, essentially trying to string up this position as a libertarian, free-market position. Besides being some of the worst writing I have ever seen on FEE, this writer doesn’t have a clue about farming, and in fact, two-thirds the article is quoted from others. Why is FEE promoting this shoddy trash? To quote the writer:

Of course, nothing in this world is simple. The technology itself is safe, straightforward, and well-understood, but like all progress, there’s nothing so cool and so beneficial that the government can’t screw it up.

The government has never approved a genetically engineered animal, and for small companies, the regulations and hurdles for GMO foods are nearly insurmountable.

I have no idea what this is meant to convey, but the writer, Daniel Bier, attempts to interject some anemic libertarian dogma by producing many of the so-called key words and phrases: FDA regulations bad (yes, we know that); animal cruelty can be ended (yes, we agree); and lastly, he includes the really big phrase-of-the-day in his title: “anti-GMO activists.” I’ve got news for Mr. Bier – the crazed, libertarian case for Frankenfoods as a free-market concept went away, for the most part, years ago, because most libertarians came to realize that the Big Food-Big Agra Machine that kept this “progressive” technology afloat was rooted in massive government subsidies; rent-seeking manipulations; political cronyism; and economic oligarchy. Mr. Bier is about ten years behind the headlines. I pity him.

Historically, libertarians and libertarian organizations have been very pro-GMO and biotech, in particular. Once upon a time, all the think tanks – and Reason Magazine – wrote vehemently in favor of this sort of thing, citing it as human progress. And anyone who opposed it was anti-tech, anti-progress, anti-free market, and a fool. Many bad articles that assumed the pro-Frankenfoods position were published by libertarians and libertarian organizations.

Lew Rockwell pointed out to me, and others, about a dozen years ago, that I was the very first libertarian to bring this issue any substantial visibility, with the approach that Frankenfoods were not a “free market” gizmo, and I was able to make the case as to *why* by using sound economic principles and historical facts, as well as understanding the mechanics of the CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Organization) as an antithesis to the free market. Lew said I turned his own position on this issue, which is quite the honor. Bier, because he is uneducated in these matters, keeps the CAFO (subsidized-industrialized system) subject hush-hush in his article while advocating for technology that aims to keep the current system intact with so-called “humane” genetic modifications to bypass the worst horrors of the industrial CAFO system.

Maybe Mr. Bier should go to Joel Salatin’s 550-acre farm for a half -a-day to understand polyculture, and what animals – real, humanely-treated animals – actually contribute to conservation and the eco-agricultural system in a sustainable farming system that rejects both the politicized status quo and corporate-state, politicized, genetic tomfoolery.