U.S. Treasury and General Motors Go Their Separate Ways

Government-Motors-Corporation

The United States Treasury Department issued the announcement on December 19, 2012 that it would at long last (though, to little avail) be divorcing itself from its partnership with General Motors,  revealing plans to sell off the remaining 300 million shares of the company by 2014.  The decision marks the close of the Treasury Department’s stint enforcing a reign of corporate tyranny, where it served its role in providing private financial gains to various corporations (GM among them) while socializing the costs, leaving the public to foot the bill with billions of dollars in stolen tax money.  The end result of the Department’s corporate and state collusion has been the effective funneling of billions of dollars from the pockets of American taxpayers into the wallets of employees on the payroll of mega-corporations in industries such as automobile manufacturing and banking.

The ownership of GM by the United States government was only one of the questionable partnerships to have been formed back in 2008 during the financial crisis, when companies like GM, Chrysler, and AIG decided that their corrupt and fiscally-irresponsible business models were insufficient to keep them financially afloat.  After instructing members of Congress that they would require roughly $418 billion in funds stolen from taxpayers in order to to resurrect their decrepit rackets from the trenches of well-deserved bankruptcy, many of the corporations that benefited from the enormous bailouts were unable to pay back their plundered loot.  Of these conglomerate debtor companies, the Treasury Department has predicted that the bailed out automobile giants will finish first in the rat race to most efficiently embezzle as much money from the American public as possible.  Once all of their shares have been sold back to the private sector and the partnership between the government and corporate interests has been severed, companies like the aptly-nicknamed “Government Motors” will have done rather well for themselves at the expense of the American people.  Amazingly, however, GM in particular (despite representing the greatest financial loss to the United States government) has managed to bring in profits of over $16 billion for itself in just the last three years–a far cry from the state of pathetic economic ruin in which it had been found back in 2008, when discussions of bailouts between morally-dubious politicians and their corporate higher-ups first began.

Also amazing is the revelation that government officials have openly stated that they never even expected to have all of the bailout funds repaid back to the government (and the taxpayers who fund it) in the first place–even as far back as 2009!  Former “auto czar” (whatever that is) Steve Rattner had speculated in 2009 at the peak of the bailouts that the government would lose billions of dollars bailing out Chrysler and GM alone, but that such an extravagant loss would assuredly be “worth the money” (whatever that means) in terms of the jobs that would be saved by preventing the two companies from going bust.  By the time that all of these morally and financially-bankrupt cash-grabbing shenanigans between the state and its corporate overlords come to an economically-exhausted finale, TARP is estimated to have lost $45.6 billion ($42.1 billion of which comprises a loss to government programs that would have been used to support homeowners facing foreclosures).  It would appear as though the government has determined in its infinite wisdom that if anybody ought to have been bailed out during the financial crash of 2008, it should most definitely have been the largest and most inefficiently-managed corporations (in the hopes that they might continue to provide jobs in the future for the soon-to-be-homeless American public).  After all, who cares where one lies one’s head down to rest at night, so long as one still has a conveyor belt position at a previously-bankrupt auto factory to wake up to and slave over during the next consecutive business day?

Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Stability, Timothy Massad, feels as though it’s about time that the government divorced itself from the private enterprises for which it had been playing the role of malevolent parasite, preying upon the earnings of American taxpayers for so long.  Despite defending the bailout policies by remarking that, “The auto industry rescue helped save more than a million jobs during a severe economic crisis,” Massad went on to add that, “The government should really not be in the business of owning stakes in private companies for an indefinite period of time.”  Massad’s sentiments echo those of more economically-conservative market non-interventionists, who agree that six years of government ownership of private corporations would indeed constitute an indefinite period of time, but that a five-year business partnership more reasonably fits within the bracket of time that can be adequately labeled, “definite and brief.”

Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics was among many of those who were saddened to see the five-year relationship between the two sectors come to a bittersweet end as the two begin to go on with their separate ways, each claiming to each other that they just, “Need a little time to think–a break, is all.  It’s not you, baby, it’s me, I promise.”  It is truly a sorrow to witness a relationship of such magnitude fall to the wayside, but nevertheless, Zandi looks back fondly on the flame that had been kindled between the public and the private sector.  “It was a slam dunk success!” he proclaimed.  “It was vitally necessary and proved to be a key to ending the financial panic and jump-start an economic recovery.” He personally expects the final government loss to private corporations from the TARP bailouts to total out at a mere $24 billion (an alimony that private sector companies like GM described as, “an act of pity,” considering all the bullshit that they had had to put up with over the course of their five-year engagements with one another), though sources say that Zandi’s estimate is rather forgiving, to say the least.

The Fallacy Of Gun Control For Aims Of Safety

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As reluctant as I am to even address such a horrific and tragic display of unthinkably inhuman cruelty as the December 14, 2012 massacre at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, the debate regarding the necessity for stricter national gun control laws has unfortunately compelled me to do so.  Several other recent shootings (most notably the Aurora, Colorado movie theater murders and the multiple homicide that occurred in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin) have elevated the public’s concerns about the issue of gun control regulations to a certain extent, though none have catapulted the debate into becoming the suddenly-inescapable hot topic of conversation that it is today.  Everywhere, one can hear and read the words of shocked, confused, and angry individuals demanding an explanation for this inexplicable horror.  Many of these people, due in part to the absence within them of a thorough and unbiased foreknowledge of the implications of their demands, are seeking emotional respite and the illusion of safety in as quick and easy a manner as can be conceived by their politically unenlightened and unimaginative mindsets.  The individuals and their opinions being referred to here are those among us who are continuing to clamor on about the need for stricter government regulations of firearms (and those calling for their outright prohibition, altogether).

The conclusion that has naturally been drawn by many who favor gun control policies follows the simplistic line of thinking that, “if people kill each other with guns, then the best way to stop violent gun crimes is to simply take the guns away from people.”  This is, of course, a cripplingly near-sighted (though admittedly somewhat logical, albeit fragmented) conclusion to draw in the philosophic short-term: if “A” (guns) plus “B” (people) equals “C” (violent crimes), simply subtract “A” from the equation and “C” should undoubtedly become obsolete! It is easy to understand why so many individuals often reach such a conclusion so hastily, but a further and more through examination of the many ramifications of the issue reveals that a solution that is as cut-and-dry as simply “taking the guns away” will do little to resolve the dilemma of gun violence at all, contrary though it may be to the beliefs of many.

Murder, for instance, has long been (and presently remains, for obvious reasons) both socially-unacceptable and prohibited outright, and yet people still continue to commit acts of murder every day.  Governments even sanction such crimes when it is convenient for them to do so, chalking their sins off as “necessary acts of war,” despite the cruel and despicable nature of the many atrocities of battle.  Every single day around the world, murderers with widely-varying motivations continue to take lives, despite the universal human taboo that is rightly associated with the grisly act of homicide.  Murderers continue to kill, disregarding entirely the edicts of any laws, just as drug users in the United States risk fines and incarceration in order to continue to abuse illicit substances despite their having been forbidden according to the statutes of law.  What unique characteristic might a firearm possibly possess that would guarantee its complete eradication from public accessibility if it were to be banned?  If murderers still murder and drug users still use drugs (despite both having been made illegal), why would guns be any different?  Wouldn’t they just end up in the hands of criminals, the hands of people who don’t follow the law to begin with–people like murderers?  And what happens when only the criminals have guns?  What then?

With regard to the prospect of gun prohibition as providing a solution to the recurring problem of gun violence, one of the most interesting and crucial points to consider about the Sandy Hook, Aurora, and Oak Creek shootings (as well as that of Columbine High School, among many others) is that each of the aforementioned crime scenes were, somewhat astonishingly, established prior to the murders that occurred there as having been “gun-free zones”.  This is no mere coincidence, however, but is instead the direct result of the failed attempts to prohibit the access of individuals to firearms that may be used in self-defense.  In fact, for reasons I’m about to explain, stricter regulation and/or prohibition of firearms will serve only to aid those violent individuals seeking to use guns to commit crimes.  Due to the forceful disarming (via the rule of law) of those other individuals who may have been able to wield a weapon responsibly in order to stop a crime while it was still in the process of being committed, people who may otherwise have been heroes often become victims.

The location selected to become the scene of Adam Lanza’s horrific massacre, Sandy Hook Elementary School, served to be quite the convenient location for a madman of such caliber to be mostly uninterrupted while in the process of butchering 26 innocent children.  The school, like so many others across the United States, had been established as a “gun-free zone” by the government, rendering the school’s teachers, staff, and students utterly powerless to defend themselves against the onslaught of aggression brought on without warning by Lanza on that tragic and fateful day.  The school’s status as having been an area wherein the individuals who occupied it were denied access to firearms assuredly made the location an easy target for the diabolical plans of a renegade murderer like Lanza: after all, with no guns permitted on the premises, who would be able to stop him?  The answer, of course, is “no one”–at least until the police were able to arrive at the scene and put an end to the spree of homicides (a spree which, thanks to the school’s “gun-free zone” status, left behind a staggering death toll of 26 young children before police managed to intervene).

A common reaction I receive from those who praise the notion of gun control as being a solution to prevent the future recurrence of such heinous acts is that, “if teachers were all armed, then who would stop them from going insane and shooting their students and co-workers?”  My response has always been unwaveringly simple: the other teachers would stop such a criminal.  If teachers–and this argument is not at all exclusive to teachers, but extends to any other line of occupation, as well–were given access to firearms and were mandated by their employers to become well-educated on how to safely and effectively use them in defense of themselves and/or others, individuals on the premises of the school (or other such business) would not only be stopped in their tracks by a defensive bullet before being able to rack up nearly as high of a death toll as at Sandy Hook, but would as a result also be far more reluctant to even attempt such acts of violence.  

Think about it: would you as an individual be as likely to rob a bank if you knew with certainty that many, if not all, of the people inside were armed and prepared to defensively retaliate?  I’m inclined to assume logically that such foreknowledge of potential danger would serve to deter any criminal from committing an act of treachery, and that this discouragement to commit a crime would be shared by both the customers and employees alike of the bank in question.  It is for this reason that the nickname “The Great Equalizer” has been affectionately assigned to the modern firearm: in a well-armed society, no one is immune to swift justice, and no one is granted extra privileges which provide unfair advantages over others (such as are granted by a scenario in which only one individual, generally either a criminal or a member of law enforcement, possesses a weapon and is therefore able to exert power over others who are present and unarmed).

And while it is true that the possibility remains that a teacher themselves might one day become violent and attempt to commit such unthinkable acts, those around him or her who are also armed (namely the rest of the teaching staff) would almost certainly be able to put a stop to the violence far more quickly than would have been possible in any other set of circumstances.  In any scenario where waiting helplessly for the authorities to arrive is one’s only pitiful alternative, the scope of the crime is inevitably much greater in magnitude and the body counts are always higher in number (the Sandy Hook incident being no exception).  In any case, there would be almost no potential for a death toll of victims that is as staggering and high in count as that of Sandy Hook’s.  Perhaps several casualties might come to result from such an altercation at most, but certainly not dozens.

A prime demonstration of such a scenario that had the potential to have been fatal to many, but was averted by proper use of a firearm occurred very recently, on December 16, 2012 (only two days after the incident in Sandy Hook).  A lone gunman, Jesus Manuel Garcia, attempted to take the lives of theater-goers in San Antonio, Texas before being apprehended by armed off-duty sergeant Lisa Castellano, who had been working at the movie theater as a security guard that night.  When Gargia continued to threateningly approach her, weapon drawn, after having been instructed to lower his gun and remain still, Castellano fired four times, wounding Garcia and preventing what could have easily become a potential repeat of the recent killings in Aurora, Colorado.  Only one man besides Garcia was wounded in the altercation, having been struck by one of Garcia’s shots.  Both men are expected to make a full recovery, and (thanks to both Castellano’s heroism and her preparedness for self-defense), no one was killed that night.  It is heartbreaking and unfortunate that the events in some of the more recent shootings transpired much more tragically than the showdown that took place inside of the movie theater in San Antonio that night; had circumstances been different, there would doubtlessly have been far fewer fatalities.

Another example of how guns can save lives is the 1997 case of a high school shooting in Pearl, Mississippi, where sixteen-year-old gunman Luke Woodham decided to lash out against his classmates with murderous wrath and was subdued by the school’s Assistant Principle, Joel Myrick, before leaving the premises (presumably to continue on with his deadly killing spree).  Myrick, despite having knowingly violated the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act, had taken to the practice of keeping a loaded handgun in his desk, “just in case something like this ever happened.”  Thanks to Joel Myrick and his conscientious foresight, an unknown number of lives may very well have been saved.  It remains to be speculated upon, however, whether or not Woodham would have ever even attempted to commit such atrocities in the first place, had it not been for the Gun Free School Zones Act and its guarantee that no one would be able to fire back at him.

Perhaps knowing that any act of murderous aggression attempted on school property would surely result in retaliation with deadly force would have prevented Woodham from ever considering such a violent course of action.  As I mentioned before, the understanding by an individual that others within close proximity to him are also armed would have a significant effect in deterring such outbreaks of violence and criminality altogether: acts of violence would simply no longer be worth taking the risk to commit in the first place, unless the criminal harbored a personal death-wish (and even if so, the outcome of death tolls would still be lower in such cases than in instances of gun violence that take place in allegedly “gun-free zones”).

I’m sure that most people would agree that every single life counts and is worth saving, and it is because of this that I encourage everyone to objectively consider the issue of gun control with an attitude that is diplomatic to both reaching an understanding of the factual realities that surround this complicated issue, as well as to the application of such truths in the form of reason to guide us to a solution to this problem.

Drone Warfare As A Military Recruitment Tactic

predator-Drone-firing-missiles

In the grand scheme of human history, the 20th and 21st centuries have become the beacon of innovation, and the birth of modern technology.  From the advent of the telegraph, all the way to the unfathomable abilities of the iPhone, new breakthroughs in communication, transportation, and electronics have re-shaped the course of human history.  And while many of these creations have served as assets to humankind, there have also been great strides made in industries of a darker nature, specifically in the field of weapons technology to be used by governments in order to wage more modernized incarnations of war.  These cutting-edge killing devices have done much to not only increase the scope and destruction of modern warfare, but to desensitize those doing the killing from the atrocities that they commit on a daily basis.

The largest contribution by far to the restructuring of modern war tactics has been the introduction of pilot-less drone warfare, which has recently been utilized by the United States government in various regions of the Middle East under the Obama administration.  For the first time in history, soldiers are now able to guide militarized aircraft from the safety of remote locations into areas of military conflict, where they can watch the action from an infrared screen and simply push a button to deploy explosive devices directed at various enemy targets.  Soldiers who may never before have been able to muster the courage to move to the front lines of battle can now take part in the action without ever risking an injury, a fact which supporters of drone warfare laud as serving to reduce the number of American casualties.  And while it’s true that American lives may be saved as a result of such military tactics, the reality is that drone warfare both desensitizes those who operate these killing machines and create an increased number of foreign civilian casualties.

In a recent Spiegel article, these negative consequences of using drones in combat are highlighted through various interviews with their former operators.  The telling conversations range from stories of human compassion being cut back by the call of duty, and go on to recall some of the often-overlooked horrors and realities of war.

A night-time drone patrolmen, Brandon Bryant, tells of watching Afghani citizens having sex on their roofs (where they sleep at night to fight the heat), and of the attachments he developed to many of the individuals he was later instructed to murder.  From the article:

He [Bryant] observed people for weeks, including Taliban fighters hiding weapons, and people who were on lists because the military, the intelligence agencies or local informants knew something about them.

“I got to know them. Until someone higher up in the chain of command gave me the order to shoot.” He felt remorse because of the children, whose fathers he was taking away. “They were good daddies,” he says.

Bryant also tells us of the horrific realization he had when, following the deployment of a guided missile, he realized in those few seconds before the explosive struck its target that a child was also to become a casualty of the weapon he’d been assigned to operate.  His remorse follows him to this day.  Also from the article:

Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.

“Did we just kill a kid?” he asked the man sitting next to him.

“Yeah, I guess that was a kid,” the pilot replied.

Major Vanessa Meyer tells us of the sensation of tremendous power she experienced while operating the drones.  She remarks, “Sometimes I felt like God hurling thunderbolts from afar.”  Her statements reveal much of the sort of desensitization that results from being engaged in (yet physically absent from) conflict: “There was no time for feelings…When the decision had been made, and they [the United States military] saw that this was an enemy, a hostile person, a legal target that was worthy of being destroyed, I had no problem with taking the shot.”

Each of these stories (and the others contained within the text of the article) illuminate the harsh realities of drone warfare.  When individuals are removed from combat, they are perhaps far more likely to commit acts of aggression which require merely the push of a button.  Any of the courage, skill, and moral determination one might feel while engaged in battle for a just and worthy cause (such as defending one’s homeland from foreign invasion) is forgone, favoring instead a sensation of apathetic duty to simply “follow one’s orders.”  When the reality of murder is removed from the act of committing it, it becomes much easier to overlook the blood on one’s hands (and to kill greater numbers of individuals).

Following the announcement this year that General Atomics has been commissioned by the Department of Defense to design new “death-ray” lasers for which drones are soon-to-be equipped, it’s predictable that future acts of war will delve deeper into the pseudo-simulation of a video gaming experience and away from the heinous and traumatic realities of organized murder.  Soldiers whose humanities have been dulled by the government mantras of “civic duties,” “patriotic service,” “defending freedom,” and “spreading democracy,” will likely find a thrill in watching targets evaporate via laser technologies, their minds further sheltered even from the previously-standard images associated with 20th-century warfare (such as explosions and ballistic reckonings).

To conclude with a few personal thoughts, I am inclined to wonder if the ongoing desensitization of soldiers through the use of remotely-operated drone tactics coincides with the American public’s increasingly cynical skepticism regarding the true motivations of the United States’ involvements in the Middle East.  With more and more Americans (and foreigners, to boot) waking up to the morally-questionable nature of the U.S. military’s intentions for the region, and as the number of soldiers annually enlisting for military service continues to dwindle, it is possible for me to conclude that far fewer individuals are willing to risk their lives on the front lines of combat for a war that is as mysterious to the public in its intentions as it is in its foreseeable duration.  It simply makes sense that individuals would be far more reluctant to die in a seemingly-endless, morally-questionable war that may not even be necessary to fight in terms of preserving the domestic tranquility of the United States.

When offered a paycheck, college tuition, and a pension/retirement plan (offers which are desperately needed by so many in these dire economic times) in exchange for operating a remote-controlled killing machine that removes soldiers from battle and does all of the fighting for them, individuals are likely to be more willing to take part in wars they otherwise may have been reluctant to support altogether.  Could it be possible that drone warfare has become the solution created by the U.S. Department of Defense to counter the decline in numbers of enlisting soldiers that has resulted from the public’s disillusionment with America’s foreign entanglements?  It certainly seems plausible to me, anyway.

Philadelphia Traffic Court Corruption II: “The Parking Authority”

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(Please check out the precursor to this post, “Philadelphia Traffic Court Corruption: The Problem and the Solution”, before reading this one.)

The monopoly ruling over Philadelphia’s market for parking services, known as the Philadelphia Parking Authority (or “PPA” for short), has been the subject of much controversy over the last several years, due in part to the spotlight cast upon the organization when it was featured as the permanent location for the filming of the popular television series “Parking Wars.”  City locals tell stories ranging from examples of extreme oppression by the PPA (such as having a metal “boot” placed on the wheel of a car, making driving impossible) to acts of heroism committed by local “superheroes” who are notorious for illegally removing such contraptions and liberating the public.

Parking Authority enforcers are everywhere: in some areas of downtown Philadelphia, there are as many as one patrolman per city block.  For this reason, I have always referred to them as being the “cockroaches of bureaucratic extortion.”  They are everywhere, lowly, and persistent. However, when the duties of one’s workday consist solely of pacing consecutively around the same city block for eight hours and the only source of stimulation comes from getting into an altercation with an angry victim of a parking fine, who could blame metermaids for leaping at every chance to issue a ticket that might present itself over the course of a day’s work?

In Keene, New Hampshire (a hotbed of libertarian activism), “robin hooding” is a popular activist past-time.  The process involves an activist or two going around the town with a bag of coins, buying more time on the meters of parked cars that are soon-to-be expired.  Such activities are done in an effort to prevent the city government from receiving any additional tax revenue than is provided by the meters (revenue that is predominantly taken in the form of fines and parking tickets).  However, this practice is nearly-impossible in Philadelphia, where kiosks that print receipts showing the expiration time of the driver’s parking spot have replaced old-fashioned meters.  There is no effective way to prevent additional government extortion and fines from happening to the victims of the Parking Authority, and little can be done to help those subjected to its monetary demands.

Recently, I posted an article I wrote about the corruption discovered among the ranks of officials working within the Philadelphia Traffic Court.  In it, I explained my perspectives on why I believe a free market solution to the issue of deviance within such legal bodies is the only viable option to combat these injustices and the dangers they present.  I believe that the predicament being posed by the monopolistic authority of the PPA can be resolved in a similar manner.

By privatizing parking areas in a competitive marketplace (as well as the systems of justice that enforce them), the frustrations and injustices that result each and every day at the hands of the PPA could be greatly alleviated, if not done away with entirely.  Those parking their cars would develop personal business relationships and contractual agreements with those leasing out parking spaces, and as a result, bargains would be struck and interpersonal relationships would form.  IOU’s could become a possibility in such an economic environment, as well–for example, if one was short on parking fees, he or she could pay the lot owner back the next day rather than being unable to park (lest such an individual risk an outrageous parking fine).  Such an advantage in the marketplace for parking has naturally never been considered by the PPA, or has otherwise been ruled out as a possibility.  Such is the price to be paid for the ongoing existence of such a monopoly over any form of service.

New possibilities in pricing, leasing agreements, long-term parking spaces, and instances of forgiveness would arise by doing so.  It’s quite possible that such an arrangement would be far more profitable both for those seeking to park and those owning the parking spaces alike.  The frustrations and unjust seizure of money and automobile property from the public by the PPA would be abolished, instead leaving room for negotiation, trade, and healthy new interpersonal business relations (as well as the creation of new industries to negotiate such matters, as well as innovations in collection technology).  The money saved in this method could then be used more productively than it otherwise would have been if the state had collected it, since people would thereby be paying for exactly those services they desired, receiving them when they wanted them and in the manner in which they wanted them performed.  The monetary wastes resulting from taxation would also be eliminated, so that money could be more directly and efficiently applied to worthwhile causes and projects by individuals themselves, rather than squandered in the tedium and expansiveness of bureaucracy.

Why force people to have only one option for a service, when in a free society, the possibilities for achieving a goal (in this case, parking) in the most efficient and preferable way are limitless?

Philadelphia Traffic Court Corruption: The Problem and the Solution

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Following a prompt by Supreme Court Justice Ronald D. Castille to look into the workings of the Philadelphia Traffic Court, investigator William G. Chadwick published an investigative report illuminating some rather interesting (and potentially damning) discoveries about the organization.  The push to see an investigation regarding the affairs of the city’s Traffic Court was made by Castille after it’s headquarters building was raided by the FBI under suspicions of corrupt activity.

Chadwick learned throughout the course of his probings that ticket-fixing, legal favors, and perhaps even bribery were rampant within the bureaucratic association.  In fact, a staggering total of four judges and nearly two dozen members of the court’s staff attested to the allegations and confirmed that such corrupt goings-on were indeed quite commonplace.

From the philly.com article:

Philadelphians were shocked, just shocked, to discover that tickets were being fixed at Traffic Court, while some Supreme Court justices reportedly seemed more upset that the report was released than troubled by its contents.

And in a cynical town, the allegations also hardly stunned ordinary folks who sought justice from Hogeland on that July day. But they said they were still troubled and frustrated that the system did not work the same for all.

“It’s not fair,” said Modugno, 38, one of several people interviewed by The Inquirer after the newspaper used court records to identify drivers whose tickets were handled by Hogeland that day.

“It’s just unfair that somebody sitting next to me could get a lesser charge because they know somebody,” Modugno said.

“Is it fair? No,” Clements, 55, said. “Just because you know somebody, to get out of the ticket? Nope. But I’m sure it happens all the time.”

The report also went on to paint a detailed picture of internal legal corruption by revealing that William Hird, the former director of operations for the Philadelphia Traffic Court, had been waiving traffic tickets and vehicle charges since he first took the position at the court in 2008.  In a particularly outrageous confession, Supreme Court Justice William Seamus McCaffery acknowledged that even he himself had contacted Hird via text message during Hird’s stint as director to see to it that his wife’s traffic violations were officially dismissed in court.  Hird eventually resigned following the FBI’s 2011 raid of the Traffic Court’s headquarters, and naturally (being the typical government crook that he is) refused to be interviewed both for Chadwick’s report and by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

It should come as no surprise (contrary to the reaction cited by the article’s excerpt) to the general public that such acts of corruption in the so-called “justice system” take place not only occasionally, but are indeed frequent occurrences.  Logically, I’m inclined to doubt that such devious behaviors are unique to Philadelphia’s court systems (traffic courts or otherwise).  In any societal system that has been organized based upon the legislation of a centralized government authority (especially a society which also has a government court system to rule upon the enforcement of such laws), the granting of special priveleges for the friends and associates of those in power will be naturally prevalent.

If the government’s monopoly over the justice system as a whole were to be dismantled, and private companies were then permitted to establish their own businesses which would essentially act as courts on behalf of various business and property owners, this kind of injustice would be far less frequent.  If the owner of a space of land wanted to collect a small, voluntarily-provided fee as part of the terms for letting another individual park on his land, that would be his option.  Anyone who violated this term of agreement and parked on the owner’s land without contributing the fee for parking would therefore be subject to the penalties established and enforced by the privateindependent justice firm that such an owner would inevitably have hired in order to protect and uphold his private parking contracts.  Rather than opt to vigilantly patrol his parking lot day and night with some kind of weapon to fend off parking thieves (which would be dangerous, tiresome, and expensive), the owner would be naturally compelled to employ this sort of private justice firm to ensure that he would continue to receive proper compensation in the future for providing consumers with parking services.  If reports of corruption and the handing-out of extra privileges to special interests (such as the friends and family of the court’s judges, as in the case of Philadelphia) were running rampant among members of the public, land owners would be far more reluctant to do business with such crooked private court systems, and would instead hire more honest and reputable legal firms.

Why would anyone who owns space for public parking want to hire a court system that would let a judge’s friends and family slide without paying their fair share in exchange for using the owner’s property?  If the owner of a commercial parking lot were to hire such a corrupt justice firm, he would probably make little to no money off of the lot at all, due to the fact that the legal personnel he had foolishly hired (and their associates) would have free reign over his property.  Their individual parking fees (and the penalties for not paying such fees) could then be waived altogether, and naturally these privileged individuals would flock to the parking lots in which they held some legal pull in an effort to save money on parking.  This would potentially prevent other individuals who lack personal connections to the employees of the justice firm from obtaining affordable parking within the lot.  The outcome of such conditions would eventually lead to an increase in the price of parking so that the owner may attempt to make up for his financial losses.  This price increase would only further drive away honest consumers seeking to make use of his parking services.  The long-term result of such a scenario would therefore naturally end up with the outright looting of such parking property from its rightful holder, and predictably the eventual bankruptcy of the owner.  Unless further action were to be taken on the owner’s behalf to hire another, less corrupt provider of court services (which he would be free to do in a stateless society), the demise of his parking business would be predictably inevitable.

In other words: on the free market, corrupt courts wouldn’t be in business.  Competition would weed them out in favor of affordable, honest, and efficient providers of justice.  In a society controlled by a central authority (aka “government”), such competition is stifled out entirely, and every individual that is subject to government rule must be forced to settle with whatever outcome is decided upon by its officially-appointed judges–regardless of either the fairness or corrupt injustices of a ruling.  In such a system, only those with connections to positions of power within the government are likely to prosper and live comfortably; the rest of the common citizens must thereby suffer and bear the brunt of the unfair advantages taken by the members of the ruling elite and their well-connected special interests.

While it is unfortunate that the so-called “government” presently holds a total monopoly over all legal proceedings, it is somewhat comforting that instances such as the aforementioned expose regarding the Philadelphia Traffic Court can manage to create a current of outrage among those common citizens who fall victim to such tyranny.  These moments of public revelation serve as pinnacle opportunities to point out and emphasize government’s inefficiencies and outright corruption.  It is for this reason that I try, whenever possible, to seize such windows of opportunity in an attempt to illustrate my Austrian views to those individuals still supporting the idea that government is in any way beneficial to humanity.   Utilizing such instances to illuminate the potential for peaceful alternatives that could be opened up by a transition to a free market and a stateless society is, in my opinion, the best manner in which to approach this task.

Were it not for the monopoly over courts by the institution known as the “government,” the corruption and special favors in the Philadelphia Traffic Court would not be possible.  To prevent such instances of deviance within the present legal system before first abolishing its status as a monopoly over matters of justice is an impossibility–it is not simply a matter of “getting the right people in power.”  It is only through dismantling the government monopoly on justice and allowing for competition among private courts that individuals can expect to receive not only legal treatment that is equal to that of their peers (regardless of one’s political connections), but any semblance of justice at all.

Realization of Oppression: The Bright Side of the Drug War

war-on-drugs

As the war on drugs rages on, increasing numbers of individuals are finding themselves directly affected by its destructive potential. It’s no secret that the vast majority of prison inmates are presently being held captive for non-violent, drug-related offenses–the practice has managed to feed not only the parasitical racket of the modern jail circuit, but has also fattened the pockets of officials of the highest and lowest of ranks. Judges and officers of law enforcement alike have managed to sustain the funding for their unjust rule through such avenues as the drug war–traffic violations and similarly punishable (though non-violent) discrepancies provide further funding for the perpetuation of these injustices. In fact, it is difficult (if not impossible) to imagine a wealthy and functional state without the generous provisions absorbed forcefully by the unfair and aggressive penalties that it imposes upon peaceful individuals in order to generate revenue and counter its business competition for alcohol sales.

Despite these disheartening conditions, there is, perhaps, some hope that can be brought to light as a result of the perpetuation of such an unjust, oppressive, and downright greedy organization and its intrusive policies. If there is anything to be gained from the massive bureaucratic experiment commonly deemed the “war on drugs”, it is the solace in knowing that should society come to refute any possibility that a victimless action could possibly be considered criminal in nature, the state would assuredly collapse due to its own suddenly-inadequate funding.

This possibility, that the individuals comprising society at large could one day come to embrace the slogan, “No victim, no crime!”, and in doing so reduce state revenue significantly enough to effectively bankrupt it, is what fuels me in my ongoing crusade against the tyranny of government.

That I might live to see the realization of such an ideal is my greatest aspiration. Until then, the best I can do is try to teach myself so that I might teach others the ways of freedom–the exchange of such crucial ideas is the best defense one has against the injustices of a system that perpetuates the irrational and destructive practice of imposing penalties for peaceful and victimless actions.

Probation for Rape (If You’re A Cop)

rape

So, just to start off, while combing through the news yesterday, I was outraged to discover an article from Eatontown, NJ that detailed the story of a detective there who had been formally accused of raping a local woman.  During his trial, while on the stand, he reportedly broke down into tears, exclaiming that he, “just wanted to go on with his life.”  The judge, in a swift and mighty act of almost-divine pardoning, granted him this wish, and the detective’s final punishment was two concurrent sentences of probation totaling five years and a permanent prohibition from an occupation in law enforcement.  In other words, his sentence altogether was five years probation, but other than that, he’s free to go. Now he can go on to rape another woman as a mall security cop or a TSA agent–they’d probably be glad to hire him.

From the article:

“Through a barely audible whimper, the former police officer acknowledged what he had done and said he wanted to go on with his life.  ‘You are not going to jail, as we traditionally know the concept of jail, today. But with many respects, given what your childhood dream was, you’re going to be in jail the rest of your life,’ said the Judge.”

Of course, the state would probably throw a drug offender away for less, even if he pleaded “not guilty” (and for context, it should be noted that 4/10 narcotics cases involve marijuana charges)!  But this guy, “Detective” Philip Emanuel, even admitted to his own guilt!

It is truly amazing and disturbing to witness the vagrant displays of total corruption in each and every office of every department of government, and this case is no exception.  Frankly, I’m surprised that there isn’t an angry mob outside both Philip Emanuel’s house and Judge Thomas F. Scully’s.  Both the officer and the judge should be held accountable by the public!  Hopefully there’s at least a good and honest lawyer out there who can work with Emanuel’s victim and her family to bring about some real justice.

If only police officers worked for private firms instead of government–then, they’d be held accountable for their actions by those hiring them for protective services, and would be fired and ostracized and punished by those in their community, as well as by the private court systems contractually agreed upon to enforce such policies.  Outrageous.

Here’s a link to the article, if you care to read it.