Archive for the ‘Unintended Consequences’ Category

An excellent piece from Jeffrey Tucker at the Laissez Faire Club (from a year or so ago):

…Soap doesn’t work. Toilets don’t flush. Clothes washers don’t clean. Light bulbs don’t illuminate. Refrigerators break too soon. Paint discolors. Lawnmowers have to be hacked. It’s all caused by idiotic government regulations that are wrecking our lives one consumer product at a time, all in ways we hardly notice.

It’s like the barbarian invasions that wrecked Rome, taking away the gains we’ve made in bettering our lives. It’s the bureaucrats’ way of reminding market producers and consumers who is in charge.

Surely, the gas can is protected. It’s just a can, for goodness sake. Yet he was right. This one doesn’t have a vent. Who would make a can without a vent unless it was done under duress? After all, everyone knows to vent anything that pours. Otherwise, it doesn’t pour right and is likely to spill.

It took one quick search. The whole trend began in (wait for it) California. Regulations began in 2000, with the idea of preventing spillage. The notion spread and was picked up by the EPA, which is always looking for new and innovative ways to spread as much human misery as possible.

An ominous regulatory announcement from the EPA came in 2007: “Starting with containers manufactured in 2009… it is expected that the new cans will be built with a simple and inexpensive permeation barrier and new spouts that close automatically.”

The government never said “no vents.” It abolished them de facto with new standards that every state had to adopt by 2009. So for the last three years, you have not been able to buy gas cans that work properly. They are not permitted to have a separate vent. The top has to close automatically. There are other silly things now, too, but the biggest problem is that they do not do well what cans are supposed to do.

This was news to him, because he had to use a gas can.  It’s not news to people who’ve been using them for a while.  There are a lot of folks already explaining workarounds.

The first minute talks about the differences between new and old gas cans, then explains a workaround.

Toilets have been wrecked for over a decade.

Three years ago we moved into our newly built home in Grand Blanc, Michigan. The whole family was excited.

While all new houses have some problems, I was not expecting the toilets to be among them. How could this be? After all, these toilets were brand new. As it turns out, that was precisely the reason they weren’t working. You see, I am the not-so-proud owner of three federally mandated environment-friendly, but consumer-unfriendly toilets. The primitive 3.5-gallon toilet, which worked, was outlawed by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1992 in favor of the politically correct 1.6-gallon toilet, which doesn’t work.

Pulling the lever on the 1.6-gallon toilet has become an anxious game of chance for all members of the family. Will it work as advertised? Will it require two or more flushes to get the job done? Will it clog up? Or, heaven forbid, will it overflow? Contrary to the assurances of consumer groups, environmentalists, and politicians, these new toilets are still not working as advertised. For the longest time my youngest daughter would not flush the government toilet for fear that it would overflow.

What was the end result of the government’s demand for 1.6 gallon toilets that “save water”?  People flush more.  A lot more.  The rule for the last decade or so, excepting those super loud jet pressure toilets, has been “one splash, one flush”.  They’re just built not to work, because some idiot in government decided it would be wonderful to “save” water by eliminating your freedom to choose.

What’s wrong with this scenario? Why don’t I have the right to choose? Isn’t this pro-choice America? If I want to buy a gas-guzzling environmentally unfriendly sport utility vehicle (SUV), that is—as of this writing—my choice. I can water my lawn all day and wash my car in the driveway. However, because of this government decree I am not allowed to choose a 3.5-gallon toilet. I am forced to buy a toilet that, in theory, saves 1.9 gallons of water per flush (this assumes no double or triple flushing) and saves me $50 per year, again in theory. For peace of mind, I am willing to forgo the mythical $50 savings. Unfortunately, I don’t have a choice.

What’s going on here? While the government says it will not dictate what we can or cannot do in the bedroom, the same is not true for the bathroom. Here, intrusive laws are permissible. Manufacturers who are caught selling or distributing toilets that work will be fined $100 (per toilet). In addition, new homes, or older homes with remodeled bathrooms, will not be able to pass inspection if any working toilets are found on the premises.

As a reminder, the same people who mandated toilets that don’t work are now running your health care.  More unaccountable bureaucrats who literally do not know shit, and ruin everything they touch.

It would almost be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

sigh charlie brown

We’ve talked about the push for an internet sales tax before, and some effects it’s going to have.  And now we’re seeing some more of those effects:

From the Miami Herald, about KC MO:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Online retailer Amazon is severing ties with its online associates in Missouri because of a new state law that subjects their transactions to sales taxes.

Amazon Associates write blogs or product reviews then link to Amazon.com, and collect commissions — between 4 percent and 8.5 percent — if people use that link to buy something on Amazon’s site.

Amazon is blaming a new Missouri new law that takes effect next week subjecting those online transactions to sales taxes for its decision to sever the ties, the Kansas City Star (http://is.gd/X0XZdE ) reported.

It’s worth noting that Amazon is for a federal internet sales tax, because it will be used to crush competitors.  Here they don’t like it because it bothers them.

The end result is that small internet companies are destroyed, the taxes that the government wants to wring out of the citizen vanish with the companies, and peoples’ livelihoods are harmed.  Those same citizens who owned the now dead companies now have less to spend in their own communities, and won’t pay state sales taxes or income taxes on income they no longer earn.  The community is now poorer.

From the Fiscal Times:

The Internet sales tax is hitting consumers like me in the gut – literally.

As someone interested in keeping my weight down (who isn’t), I order a supply of low-calorie pre-packaged meals from a food-and-lifestyle website – and have it delivered each month without so much as a keystroke if there’s no change to my existing order.

The company is based in Maryland, but that’s been irrelevant. The convenience of receiving the order at home in New York without thinking about how far the food travels has been hard to beat.

Recently, however, this polite but scary note hit my in-box – and by the way, when companies are this polite in an email you know it’s not good news:

“We wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that we will begin collecting and remitting sales and use taxes on all Internet sales where applicable as of September 1, 2013. The sales tax will be visible during checkout as part of the overall breakdown…

“Our decision to join other major Internet sellers in the collection of and remittance of sales and use taxes is in response to the growing instances of states legislatures and revenue agencies seeking the enforcement of Internet sales tax. We expect to see more measures enacted aimed at enforcement of sales and use tax collection.

He basically sums it up by saying he probably won’t be buying from the same company, since he’ll be paying more.  And he may simply change his buying habits altogether, and he wonders what kinds of taxes he’ll have to pay on that.

Well, the answer is screw you, citizen, because the government will wring every last dime out of you so it can fund more perpetual Democrat voters on the welfare plantation and buy them new Obamaphones.  You being free to choose what you like is a problem, because they need that money to fund their bigger and bigger governments, and you need to be nudged into the slot they want you in.  The Ruling Class will do as it pleases, and it will do as it pleases to you.

Elections have consequences, and the power to tax is the power to destroy.

From the KC MO story:

Amazon’s email to its associates in the state called the new law unconstitutional. LaFaver said the legislature did not hear from the company when the bill was being debated.

If you understand how the market works, then you know that raising taxes creates a cost on businesses.  Those costs will be passed on to customers.  In the meantime, the businesses may have to eat the cost until they can shift it to their customer base (which will shrink as a result of higher prices), and many businesses simply don’t want to deal with that.

Amazon previously said it was in favor of a national sales tax, but that’s because it’s used there as a barrier to competition that will crush their smaller competitors that can’t afford to comply with new rules.  Amazon can slowly creep towards monopoly by having the government crush its competition with regulations.  That’s cronyism.

Here, Amazon looked at the increased costs in one market and decided to cut off some business partners because that’s what the bottom line favored.

Of course Democrat LaFaver couldn’t possibly have forseen that an increase in taxes would result in harm to businesses.  He’s a Democrat, and therefore can’t understand that actions in the marketplace by government have consequences.  He seems to think you can just raise taxes and more money will magically appear.  But the private sector doesn’t have Ben Bernanke and can’t run on IOUs.

Last month, Slate had this interesting pro-polygamy piece by Jillian Keenan:

Recently, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council reintroduced a tired refrain: Legalized gay marriage could lead to other legal forms of marriage disaster, such as polygamy. Rick Santorum, Bill O’Reilly, and other social conservatives have made similar claims. It’s hardly a new prediction—we’ve been hearing it for years. Gay marriage is a slippery slope! A gateway drug! If we legalize it, then what’s next? Legalized polygamy?

We can only hope.

Yes, really. While the Supreme Court and the rest of us are all focused on the human right of marriage equality, let’s not forget that the fight doesn’t end with same-sex marriage. We need to legalize polygamy, too. Legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice. More importantly, it would actually help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families.

I’m not really going to look at gay marriage or the concept thereof.  The interests of liberty would probably best be suited by getting government out of it and letting individual churches decide; and otherwise leaving alone thousands of years worth of humanity’s history and understanding of marriage.

But polygamy starts to change the dynamic of human society much more violently, and leads us towards barbarism.

Read that last section and notice what’s missing.  Slate says it would “help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families.”

Notice what’s missing?

Polygamy is not good for men.

Before the institution of marriage came about, strong or fortunate males got mates, weak or unfortunate males did not.  That’s not exactly a world that preserves liberty.  That’s a world where a few powerful men with multiple wives procreate and advance their own personal societies, and extra men truly are made disposable.

As per the joke made by President Calvin Coolidge, a rooster can mate a dozen times a day… but he’ll do so with a dozen different hens.  Those dozen hens don’t need a dozen roosters.

Those other eleven roosters in a polygamous society, deprived at a basic level of ever being able to reproduce, or to create families of their own, aren’t going to ever be productive.  They are predetermined genetic losers because they didn’t have wealth and power enough to attract women – women who simply flock to the most powerful, best providers in society and join a harem.  That helps protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and the (powerful man’s) family, which Jillian advocates.

It also leaves the other eleven out there susceptible to the idea that if they blow themselves up and kill a bunch of people from a different society for the powerful man, they’ll get their own harem of 72 virgins in the afterlife.  So why not go on suicidal missions to protect that powerful man’s family?  Seems like a good enough idea.  They’re already destined for the genetic dustbin anyway.

From Slate commenter Paul Murray:

Polygamy is the natural state of affairs in our species. A small number of men – “partiarchs” – have multiple wives and children, forming tribes. They hand their wealth over to their heirs, and the other sons are discards, “arrows in your quiver”, to be spent and used up in incessant wars with the tribe on the other side of the river.

This is great for women. Any woman would rather be fourth wife to a winner than have a loser all to herself, and in a polygamous, patriarchal, tribal society almost all the men are losers.

Problem is: these men have no reason to contribute to society. None. So these societies tend to be poor because its mainly the labour of men that creates wealth. It is no coincidence that civilisation rose when monogamy was invented and mandated. It’s the promise “for every man who works, a wife and children” that built the roads, dams, and bridges.

You think polygamy is a fine idea? Head on over to tribal Africa, or tribal anywhere else, and welcome the future. How ironic that the end-game of feminism is to reintroduce actual patriarchy.

This feminist-leftist moral relativity about polygamy truly does begin to destroy society.

There are entire branches of the “pick-up artist” community dedicated to revenging the wrongs of their own beta-hood by treating women like dirt.  The theory is that women treated like dirt think that they’re in the presence of a great and powerful man – because that powerful man can afford to treat women like dirt, so then any man who treats women like dirt must be powerful enough to have his pick.  Really, he’s just an asshole, but he’s mimicking the tricks of powerful assholes, and turning everyone into assholes.

He’s half of the equation.  The other half is the Slate author who wants to join in polygamy with 100 other women and Brad Pitt.  He can afford to raise their offspring, she can be well-provided for, and she gets the status of being wife #384.  Remember what she writes:

it would actually help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families

Her perfect world where she’s wife #153 to George Clooney actually justifies the degenerate pick-up artist slimeball, and sends the world ever-spiraling down.

All of this slowly reduces society into a culture of barbarity, a culture where a few powerful men really can rule the world completely – a savage patriarchy – but women’s self-interest is preserved.  They get to pick powerful mates, and they get their genes provided for by the powerful males.  It’s a very brutal, animalistic tribalist society that replaces civilization.

Polygamy is great – if you’re one of the powerful men, or one of the chosen women.  To everyone else, it’s death one way or another.  The most successful elements of humanity did away with polygamy for a reason.

Didn’t expect to do another Obamacare post so fast, but I just found out my car insurance went up.  I’m with a very major insurance company, and in the many, many years I’ve been with them, they aren’t the type to raise rates arbitrarily.  I called up and asked why my rates went up about $50.

The answer I got was that in my state, the company has assessed the new costs of Obamacare and started raising rates to compensate for those increased costs that Obamacare is causing.  The increased health care costs as a result of Obamacare are now raising car insurance rates because those same car insurance companies also end up paying medical bills for those injured in car accidents.

So watch your statements, call and ask.

Somewhere in that red tape tower, your rates just went up.  Broken windows.

Via HotAir:

This makes me more enthusiastic about the sequester, just because now I’m curious to see how derelict he’s willing to be in his duties to in the name of putting political pressure on the GOP. Next up: Suspending TSA checkpoints at America’s airports, maybe? Where else is he going to find two percent savings in three-plus trillion in spending?

In a highly unusual move, federal immigration officials have released hundreds of detainees from immigration detention centers around the country in an effort to save money as automatic budget cuts loom in Washington, officials said…

The agency, Ms. Christensen added, “is continuing to prosecute their cases in immigration court and, when ordered, will seek their removal from the country.”

Officials did not reveal precisely how many detainees were released or where the releases took place, but immigrants’ advocates around the country have been reporting that hundreds of detainees were freed in numerous locations , including Hudson County, N.J.; Polk County, Texas; Broward County, Fla.; and New Orleans; and from centers in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and New York.\

What the folks at HotAir miss is that this is a win-win for Obama.  He gets to say that we don’t need border security.  If people don’t notice an immediate difference, he’ll be able to argue that border security isn’t important.  Those in favor of sequestration as a means to get any cuts at all are going to find that’s the consequence of that argument.

After sequester Obama can say that the border will be secured when the funding comes back, and in the meantime he gets to release some undocumented Democrats to go vote for his party several times over.

Drudge has this for his headline pic:

obama illegal alien tattoo drudge

Meanwhile via WaPo:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned Monday that her agency would be forced to furlough 5,000 border control agents under mandatory spending cuts, likely allowing more illegal immigrants into the country and potentially compromising national security.

Napolitano said the cuts, known as the sequester, would disrupt the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to conduct customs inspections at ports, leading to increased waiting times for travelers and cargo shipments. Disaster relief funding would be reduced by $1 billion, she added, meaning relief for victims of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy and tornados in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., could be cut.

At the borders, Napolitano said the department would have to scale back patrols between ports of entry in the southwest United States, after years of making progress in stopping people from entering the country illegally from Mexico.

Furlough for Border Patrol is primarily going to consist of rescinding what’s called administratively unscheduled overtime (AUO).  The short version is that Border Patrol Agents basically work 10 hours every day to cover overlapping shifts and so they can continue working when there’s work – it’s the nature of the job.

It’s not standard overtime – agents don’t make “time-and-a-half”, it’s basically just a 10-hour standard workday.  It’s set up so that if an agent is out chasing a group of illegals, he doesn’t just look at his watch and go “crap, shift’s over” and let bad guys he’s tracking go – and he doesn’t have to work to chase them down and do so without getting paid.  There’s also FLSA, which is Fair Labor & Standards Act pay.  AUO represents an increase over base pay of about 25%, and FLSA represents about another 5-7%, depending on the number of hours worked.  FLSA exists so that workers can’t be forced or incentivized to work for more hours with less pay.  After a 25% increase in hours – from 8 hour a day to 10 hours a day, from 40 per week to 50 per week – if an agent has to work 60 hours one week, AUO doesn’t pay anything additional.  The agent is basically working for free – that’s where FLSA comes into play.  It’s not a lot, but it’s some compensation for long hours.  Then there’s also discussion of cutting one day per two weeks for field agents – resulting in working 9 of 10 days – another 10% reduction in pay.

Ultimately, USBP personnel and some associated agencies are looking at about 40% pay cuts.

When that average of 2 hours of work per day goes away, you have that much less coverage.  When you cut down on hours, you cut coverage.

You also begin to hemorrhage good employees.  Congress through DHS has made nationwide pushes for new employees, especially the Border Patrol.  (They’ve also mandated certain numbers to be maintained.)  This brings in people from across the country to work in new locations – ultimately many good, qualified people lured in for the pay.  But the problem is that when you cut their pay by about 40%, you’re going to have employees leave.  “Federal agent” looks good on a resume, and there are plenty of police departments and sheriff’s offices who will offer lower pay that suddenly looks more appealing when agents can increase their standards of living by moving back home.

usbp new mexico

Not pictured: A good place to get pizza, someplace to go fishing, Hobby Lobby, Target, Dave & Busters, a motorcycle shop, a comic book shop, or much of civilization at all.

Another issue that will develop is corruption – for people who are flexible in their morals, the good pay is an incentive to stay on the straight and narrow.  With a 40% pay cut, those who were immunized to corruption by a good salary will suddenly find enticements by criminal enterprises that much more inviting.

All of this is no small part of what’s being targeted by Obama’s sequestration.  He’s already pushing for amnesty, and now the rumors of reductions in Border Patrol coverage have led to greater alien traffic.  Anyone who knows any Border Patrol Agents can ask them – they’ll tell you that traffic is up.

Reduction of coverage by Border Patrol, ICE, Customs, and other border control agencies ultimately do result in increased numbers of illegal aliens.  A drastic reduction in pay will lead to more officers committing criminal acts, and lead to a loss of good personnel.

And all of this contributes to damage done to the nation.  In the short-term, it can be used as a cudgel against political opponents.  In the long-term, it’s ultimately destructive to the nation and fitting to someone with a firmly anti-American mindset who’s out to fundamentally transform the nation in order to make things “fair” on the world stage.

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It is amazing how “discretionary” spending is paying for the fundamental functions of government – like military & border security, yet “mandatory” spending is paying for handouts to Democrat serf constituencies so they can keep getting their Obamaphones and EBT cards.

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Janet complains about lack of bed space:

“Look, we’re doing our very best to minimize the impacts of sequester.  But there’s only so much I can do,” Napolitano said. “I’m supposed to have 34,000 detention beds for immigration.  How do I pay for those?  We want to maintain 22,000-some odd Border Patrol agents. I got to be able to pay their salaries.”

Bed space solved.  With that money saved, pay agents.

From the NYT:

WASHINGTON — President Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour from $7.25 and to automatically adjust it with inflation, a move aimed at increasing the earnings of millions of cooks, janitors, aides to the elderly and other low-wage workers.

And it will do nothing to help anyone looking for a job.

The White House said that the move would have profoundly positive effects for low-income families without unduly burdening businesses or raising the unemployment rate. It cited research showing “no detectable employment losses from the kind of minimum wage increases we have seen in the United States.”

There are always losses as the cost of hiring employees goes up.  Thus employers hire fewer employees, and employees at entry level don’t get the skills they need to get the next rung up on the ladder.

The White House also pointed to companies like Costco, the retail discount chain, and Stride Rite, a children’s shoe seller, that have previously supported increasing the minimum wage as a way to reduce employee turnover and improve workers’ productivity.

As employers, they can increase wages on their own.  This is what Costco did.

As Costco Senior Vice President Jeff Long said recently in support of increasing New York state’s minimum wage, “At Costco, we know good wages are good business. We keep our overhead low while still paying a starting wage of $11 an hour. Our employees are a big reason why our sales per square foot is almost double that of our nearest competitor. Instead of minimizing wages, we know it’s a lot more profitable for the long term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity and commitment, product value, customer service and company reputation.”

And they’re also a very large business.  Y’know what a raise in the minimum wage does to them?  Nothing.  Y’know what happens to their competitors?  Their competitors have to spend more on employees.  It creates a barrier to entry.  This prevents their competitors from entering the marketplace with the advantages of being able to hire lower-wage workers.  This prevents unskilled workers from getting a stepping-stone job.

This makes life easier for Costco, who get to increase the expenses of their competitors through governmental fiat.  This is crony capitalism for Costco.

It hurts the people it’s supposed to “help”, driving them to unemployment and dependency on the government and right into the hands of political parties that will give them handouts.  The special interests in this case are the big businesses who benefit from destruction of smaller businesses, and the government officials who benefit from manufacturing more unemployment to create more people dependent on government handouts.

Mary Katherine Ham at HotAir begins to ask why men are falling behind in education, while women’s education is improving vastly:

Even addressing the issue of male academic underachievement can result in backlash from people incensed that society would bother caring about the disadvantages of men after spending decades and centuries ignoring the disadvantages of women. I understand that impulse, but as a person who cares deeply about her brothers, father, husband, and the possibility of raising decent men, should the opportunity arise, I have to care. Many others would no doubt feel the same if the problem were addressed with any frequency.

Boys score as well as or better than girls on most standardized tests, yet they are far less likely to get good grades, take advanced classes or attend college. Why? A study coming out this week in The Journal of Human Resources gives an important answer. Teachers of classes as early as kindergarten factor good behavior into grades — and girls, as a rule, comport themselves far better than boys.

She could begin to find the answer to the question here:

In fact, the greatest danger I see to us right now is that in our desperation to bend over and give women everything they want and everything that they say they need, we’ve unbalanced society to the point where we’re just in danger of seriously toppling over.

And really, the only difference I see between the traditional role and the new one for men with respect to disposability is that maleness, manhood – it used to be celebrated, it used to be admired, and it used to be rewarded – because it was really fucking necessary and because the personal cost of it to individual men was so incredibly high.

But now, we still expect men to put women first, we still expect society to put women first, and we still expect men to not complain about coming in dead last every damn time.  But men don’t even get our admiration anymore.  All they get in return is to hear about what assholes they are.

GirlWritesWhat has a rather large video series where she breaks down what’s going on in the gender politics realm, and how the feminist movement often ignores the fact that women have held a lot more power than they often claim.  These two videos wreak utter havoc on many feminist arguments.

When taken in that context, it’s easy to see why boys are falling behind.  Traditionally strong male roles are demonized, while the idea of male privilege (which was there to balance for male disposability) is still believed to hold some kind of influence.  Girls still get the advantages of traditional chivalrous protection, and now they get institutions that seek to “balance the scale”.  Girls are favored, boys are not.  Girls are given advantages while boys are told they’re the oppressor and that they’re needed as much as a fish needs a bicycle – because that’s how the educators view them as well.

It’s a cultural shift, much of it pushed by feminists of both genders and chivalrous men who wanted to put women higher on a pedestal with regards to the rest of life – who didn’t understand, didn’t know, or didn’t care what the effects of neglecting one gender at the expense of the other would mean.  We can see throughout the Middle East what nations that denigrate women amount to; and now we’re beginning to see what a nation that denigrates men amounts to.

Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This “pre-adulthood” has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it’s time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn’t bring out the best in men.

It’s been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.

Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men’s attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There’s nothing they have to do.

They might as well just have another beer.

Thomas Sowell’s quote about traditions being the distilled experience of millions of lives holds here quite well.  While some traditional roles that involve male disposability may start to decline as society advances (and some have), and some that involve protection of females decline, throwing all those gender roles away has led to big problems as well.

Interesting the WSJ writer’s use of the term sand box.  She uses it euphemistically to discuss a play area for child-men, but there are plenty of men in another sandbox on the other side of the world out doing traditional male roles as well (and some women who are also there out of their own sense of civic virtue – which goes to their personal character and changes in culture that allow them to serve – without sidetracking this too far).  Traditional roles aren’t totally broken everywhere – but that speaks to a different part of American culture.

From CNS News:

Senate Approves Bill that Legalizes Sodomy and Bestiality in U.S. Military

(CNSNews.com)(Updated) The Senate on Thursday evening voted 93-7 to approve a defense authorization bill that includes a provision which not only repeals the military law on sodomy, it also repeals the military ban on sex with animals–or bestiality.

On Nov. 15, the Senate Armed Services Committee had unanimously approved S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision to repeal Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Article 125 of the UCMJ makes it illegal to engage in both sodomy with humans and sex with animals.

“If we have a soldier who engages in sodomy with an animal – whether a government animal or a non-government animal – is it, in fact, a chargeable offense under the Uniform Code? I think that’s in question,” Maginnis told CNSNews.com.

“When the reader stops laughing, the reader needs to ask the question whether or not this is in the best interests of the government, in the best interests of the military and the best interests of the country? I think not.”

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Dave Attell explains some risks (NSFW language).

 

But they don’t call me MacGregor the barnbuilder or MacGregor the stonemason!

There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

The Wall Street Journal had a piece a while back on this very topic.

As federal criminal statutes have ballooned, it has become increasingly easy for Americans to end up on the wrong side of the law. Many of the new federal laws also set a lower bar for conviction than in the past: Prosecutors don’t necessarily need to show that the defendant had criminal intent.

These factors are contributing to some unusual applications of justice. Father-and-son arrowhead lovers can’t argue they made an innocent mistake. A lobster importer is convicted in the U.S. for violating a Honduran law that the Honduran government disavowed. A Pennsylvanian who injured her husband’s lover doesn’t face state criminal charges—instead, she faces federal charges tied to an international arms-control treaty.

The U.S. Constitution mentions three federal crimes by citizens: treason, piracy and counterfeiting. By the turn of the 20th century, the number of criminal statutes numbered in the dozens. Today, there are an estimated 4,500 crimes in federal statutes, according to a 2008 study by retired Louisiana State University law professor John Baker.

WSJ has a graphic here showing the expansion of federal sentences by type of law.  Those with regards to immigration may be disproportionately represented due to the constant violations of immigration law on the US southern border, but the rest paint an interesting picture.

There are also thousands of regulations that carry criminal penalties. Some laws are so complex, scholars debate whether they represent one offense, or scores of offenses.

This is where Cass Sunstein and the nudgers come in.  To give one example, 922(r) compliance.  It gets really complicated really fast.  The short version is that there are a limited number of foreign-made components that are allowed to be used in certain types of firearms.  Furthermore, the regulation is full of vague terms like “sporting purposes”.  Three Gun competition is a sport, but it’s not a Fudd sport approved by the Ruling Class, so it doesn’t count.

But “sporting purposes” turns into vague law that’s subject to the whim of whoever is enforcing it.  Assembling a firearm with the wrong number of components arbitrarily assigned turns into a 10 year prison sentence.

Counting them is impossible. The Justice Department spent two years trying in the 1980s, but produced only an estimate: 3,000 federal criminal offenses.

The American Bar Association tried in the late 1990s, but concluded only that the number was likely much higher than 3,000. The ABA’s report said “the amount of individual citizen behavior now potentially subject to federal criminal control has increased in astonishing proportions in the last few decades.”

A Justice spokeswoman said there was no quantifiable number. Criminal statutes are sprinkled throughout some 27,000 pages of the federal code.

This is where someone like a “regulatory czar” is a very, very bad thing.

One area of expansion has been environmental crimes. Since its inception in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency has grown to enforce some 25,000 pages of federal regulations, equivalent to about 15% of the entire body of federal rules. Many of the EPA rules carry potential criminal penalties.

Regulations on pollution output can kill industries, regulations on endangered species can destroy people’s rights to their own land, regulations on car MPG can destroy entire auto industries, regulations on oil drilling can artificially hike energy costs and shunt international dominance to nations willing to exploit available resources.

Occasionally, Americans are going to prison in the U.S. for violating the laws and rules of other countries. Last year, Abner Schoenwetter finished 69 months in federal prison for conspiracy and smuggling. His conviction was related to importing the wrong kinds of lobsters and bulk packaging them in plastic, rather than separately in boxes, in violation of Honduran laws.

According to court records and interviews, Mr. Schoenwetter had been importing lobsters from Honduras since the mid-1980s. In early 1999, federal officials seized a 70,000-pound shipment after a tip that the load violated a Honduran statute setting a minimum size on lobsters that could be caught. Such a shipment, in turn, violated a U.S. law, the Lacey Act, which makes it a felony to import fish or wildlife if it breaks another country’s laws. Roughly 2% of the seized shipment was clearly undersized, and records indicated other shipments carried much higher percentages, federal officials said.

Professor James Duane mentions this case in his video “Don’t Talk to the Police”.

The myriad of laws that no one, not even the lawyers, are aware of, is one of the big reasons Prof. Duane gives for not talking to the police and thoroughly exercising 5th Amendment rights.

This overabundance of laws and regulations and rules make it so that simply to CYA, you can’t even trust someone you should be able to trust.  Talking to police when you’re truly innocent could result in a prosecutor or bureaucrat somewhere along the line finding out that you’ve broken a law or regulation you didn’t even know existed.  This slowly turns people against each other, and makes everyone more suspicious of their government (not necessarily a bad thing), but the myriad of laws and regulations is so overwhelming that it makes people not trust anyone.  The officer at the end of the professor’s speech says he never tries to put innocent people in jail – and while he might not – a prosecutor or bureaucrat might.

Or the authority figure might just go after someone they’ve decided they don’t like through use of other means.

The number of regulations that exist without regard for consequences are legion, and every one is a slow affront to the freedom of the individual.  Not all regulations are bad, but many are mindless, and operate without any regard for the consequences or second and third-order effects of their regulation.  Plus government employees, by the nature of their employment, are usually insulated from any negative consequences that their own regulation creates.

Well, usually.

FOX has the story here.  H/T to ABR.

In a surprise move in a controversial case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona is opposing a routine motion by the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry to qualify as crime victims in the eyes of the court.

The family asked to intervene as victims in the case against Jamie Avila, the 23-year-old Phoenix man who purchased the guns allegedly used to kill Terry. Such motions are routinely approved by prosecutors, but may be opposed by defense attorneys.

However in this case, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke argues because the family was not “directly or proximately harmed” by the illegal purchase of the murder weapon, it does not meet the definition of “crime victim” in the Avila case. Burke claims the victim of the Avila’s gun purchases, “is not any particular person, but society in general.”

“Society in general.”  I guess he’s no particular person.

Under the federal Crime Victims Rights Act, the Terry family would have the right to confer with prosecutors and speak at Avila’s sentencing. Some speculate that the U.S. Attorney’s Office may cut a deal with Avila in exchange for information to be used against his associates. That deal could mean little or no jail time, and a controversial sentencing day in the courtroom. Having the Terry family fight that deal, could further embarrass and complicate Burke’s case.

Burke may also be trying to protect the federal government. The family may pursue a wrongful death claim against federal agents, including Burke himself.

“If the evidence shows Brian’s death was proximately caused by the negligence of government, there may be a cause of action,” said Paul Charlton, the family’s attorney.

Coffey says that puts Burke in a tough spot.

The government’s already been put on notice that they might be facing a wrongful death action by the family. And you have to wonder if the government’s efforts to deny the family the status of ‘crime victims’ is part of a strategy to avoid legal responsibility for some of the tragic mistakes of Operation Fast and Furious,” he said.

Burke refused comment when asked why he opposed the family’s motion and his possible conflict of interest.

A bureaucrat scumbag dodging responsibility and trying to protect the scumbags in government who were responsible for this from being held accountable?  Really?  Say it ain’t so!

Sipsey Street Irregulars has some comment on this.

Meanwhile a politician defends his pet bureaucrat.

President Barack Obama has forcefully rejected calls for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign over a controversial federal law enforcement operation that allegedly allowed hundreds of guns to flow to Mexican drug cartels.

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) and the National Rifle Association have called for Holder’s resignation over “Operation Fast and Furious,” the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives investigation that monitored suspicious gun sales. Several of the weapons have been recovered from drug gangs in Mexico and two guns were found at the scene of the shooting death of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent last December.

However, when asked at a roundtable with Spanish-language print media on Monday whether Holder should quit, Obama said flatly, “No.”

“He was kind of uncomfortable with the question, I’d say,” one of the journalists on hand, Antonieta Cadiz of La Opinion, said.

Given how politicians lie and would refuse to admit wrongdoing of any type, once enough info comes out in the mainstream on Holder, he’s likely to be out the door and under the bus as fast as communist revolutionary wannabe Van Jones or communist mass-murderer idolizer Anita Dunn.