Tag Archives: libertarians

Oh Facebook Meme, Oh Facebook Meme, Not Always What You Seem

We ran across this meme on Facebook critical of Rand Paul.  To a regular progressive person this might seem innocuous and typical enough, but then if you read through it you’ll find one glaringly important error committed by just one word.  The sentence “I’m a libertarian, but…” then goes into how he has stated he believes the Civil Rights Act goes too far.  The exact quote came from an exchange between him and someone else on television.

But that’s not what’s germaine here.  The problem is that the meme uses the contrasting word “but” in the first statement that he is a Libertarian and then goes on to summarize his position on civil rights.

The meme does not inform, it misleads.  Libertarians have stated over and over again in public, in their writings, on Facebook, on blogs and even in person, that they do not support any regulation by the “state”.  That includes any efforts to equalize systemic oppression.  The reasons for this are varied, but in a nutshell, Libertarians base an individual’s success or failure entirely on that individual’s agency to act.  Libertarians believe we all have equal agency to act on our behalf.  They do not recognize privilege, whether class, race, gender, tribal association or whatever else required to obtain power in a hierarchical social system.

They believe in a meritorious system they proclaim, wherein all people succeed by the sweat of their own brow — that is their merit.  That’s all well and good, we can all get behind that.  But there isn’t a social system on earth today that doesn’t have a structural system based on privilege. Whether adopted upon birth, obtained by service, by gender, by racial affiliation or group affiliation, certain people get a lot of the resources and certain people get none.  That’s a fact and its got a lot more to do with complexities of social and economic power than it has to do with the simple rationalization that poor people don’t work hard enough.

Thus the meme effectively makes a wrong turn down the road and fails to connect Rand Paul’s extremist views with Libertarianism, within which Rand Paul, just like daddy-Paul, is fully entrenched.  Also, all the listed antis of Rand Paul’s positions reflect his anti-government, libertarian philosophies and those of his father.  While the Paul’s have no problem with restricting a woman’s right to liberty over her body and they both have had no problem living off the government dole (pretending to be civil servants) themselves, everything else about them both is pretty consistent with Libertarianism.

Messaging is everything and unless the maker of this meme can’t proof read well, one could infer that the intention of this meme was not to call into question Rand Paul and Libertarianism, but instead to alienate Rand Paul from Libertarianism and simultaneously white-wash Libertarianism.  Sometimes messages and propaganda appear like this; to provide information to a specific audience about something which they agree on, but buried within the message, usually only due to a turn of phrase or as in this case, one word, context changes and thus the message changes as well.

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…and speaking of Libertarians and other local nutjobs…

Susanthebruce has noted the odd ruminations and actions of some of the Free Staters and wing-nut/tea bagger factions on the right this week.  First, there’s JR Hoell, state representative, Republican, of Hudson who as we have it on the downlow, actually had to fight for his seat this last session because some determined progressives decided to give him a run for his money. And now we show you one example of why progressives shouldn’t let up but instead fight relentlessly to unseat people like Hoell:

In Susan’s twitter feed:

Hoell calls himself NH_Braveheart.  Yes, you read it right.  The guy who one session famously put forward a piece of legislation that still had the watermark from the infamous one size fits all states bill-mill, ALEC.  Hoell was too clueless to at least remove the ALEC marking before introducing legislation and pretending that he originated it out of his own head.

Hoell, who comforted the grieving families and community-members after the tragic Newtown Connecticut shooting by repeating shallow PR lines from the NRA and thus placing blame on the victims and minimizing the tragedy.

Hoell, who looking like the ass he apparently is willing to be for the gun lobby, said the right-wing darling, Scott Brown was not actually right-wing enough and he’d incite an “armed rebellion” if Scott were elected to the New Hampshire senate.  Scott was of course defeated to relief of everyone, despite the opportunity many saw to put Hoell out of his misery once and for all.

JR Hoell

JR Hoell. Imagine this man with a gun.

Hoell, who bragged of his practice of registering domain names using the names of state politicians or even those seeking office.  At least one state rep candidate in 2014 has complained to the secretary of state’s office about this practice and how it was used as a means to harass and slander her by publishing misleading or downright lies about her on a page dressed up to appear as her campaign page.  No charges were filed.

Hoell, who introduced legislation attempting to ban state enforcement of federal firearms regulations (constitutionally impossible) that was proposed by another outside organization.

Hoell who, out of concern for the “excessive paperwork” of some companies, proposed with another state legislator, to ban employee lunch breaks across the board in New HampshireLet’s say that again in case you didn’t get it the first time:

They proposed to remove the requirement of work places to allow for at least a half-hour lunch break when an employee works seven hours or more (as the law now requires in NH).  Hoell and his twenty-year old legislative cohort didn’t have an opinion on the required fifteen-minute break after four hours, but we’d assume they’d see that as an unnecessary burden to companies as well.

Hoell, who works hard to restrict a woman’s right to choose, including participating in and supporting pro-life groups at every opportunity, even supporting the supreme court attack on the buffer zone law meant to keep religious zealots from harassing patients entering or leaving women’s health clinics (which for the majority of care do not perform abortions, but the zealots don’t care; a harlot is a harlot to them).

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Libertarian Based Uber Driver Services Pushed into Manchester by Democrats??

Jon Hopwood gives a very thorough analysis of the Uber “ride sharing” program as it pushes its way across the country, leaving a trail of injuries, assaults, rapes and even complaints of price gouging.  As Jon Hopwood notes and as is supported by this Wa-Po article, former Obama advisor David Plouffe has thrown his hat into the ring of cash opportunity by accepting a position as their PR chief.  We’ve been told that Uber was also used by NH Democratic leadership to shuttle party dignitaries  back and forth to the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner last October.

Its troubling that Democrats support the Uber “ride sharing” company even though Uber’s business model mimics a popular trend of companies skirting employment law by declaring their workforce comprises “independent contractors“.  This practice, popular among unethical business owners and especially among libertarians, shifts the burden of business expenses and losses from the business owner directly onto the worker.  Also called misclassification this practice has already caused the erosion of living wages and protections for workers in many industries such as construction, IT and many service industries.  In 2014, as this report from the Boston Globe states, a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Boston Uber drivers claiming that their classification as independent contractors amounts to fraud, the drivers also claimed that Uber demanded a portion of all tips as well, contrary to Massachusetts law.

As traditional supporters of labor and workers, that the Democratic leadership in New Hampshire would choose to support and even hire this very anti-worker and anti-consumer company speaks volumes.  That Garth Corriveau, a Manchester alderman and darling of the Democratic leadership, would be pushing Uber onto Manchester despite many of the well documented problems it poses and its threat to further eroding regulations to protect workers should cause good people to stop and think.  Does the Democratic leadership in New Hampshire really care about workers? Many at the state level have vowed to assist labor in working to stop the erosion of worker’s protections and the fraud of misclassification.  With their leadership treating the issue so cavalierly, can we be confident that they will in fact defend labor?  Will they work to rid New Hampshire of the economic and social scourge of misclassification?  Some things to think about.  Now onto Jon Hopwood’s look at Uber and its efforts to destroy regulations of drivers in Manchester and other cities to gain a foothold on the market:

Uber Über Manchester: Ride-Sharing Company Lobbies For Special Treatment

Alderman Garth Corriveau (l.) & BOMA Chair Dan O'Neil
Alderman Garth Corriveau (l.) & BOMA Chair Dan O’Neil
Jon Hopwood

MANCHESTER, NH — The controversial ride-sharing company Uber has brought its confrontational management style to Manchester. Buoyed by a lobbying effort marshaled nationally by former Obama presidential campaign major domo David Plouffe, Uber is trying to justify its Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged management philosophy as a harbinger of 21st Century High Tech new millennialism rather than a throwback to the dog-eat-dog, the public-be-damned social Darwinism of the Gilded Age.

Manchester is home to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT), New England’s fourth busiest airport. Approximately 2.5 million passengers used MHT in 2013, making it a major market for the livery services that a ride-sharing company like Uber can provide.

App or Transportation Company?

The major question being asked in Manchester, as well across the nation: Is Uber a tech company selling an app, or a transportation company?

During a December 19th, 2014 appearance on the Girard at Large radio show, Ward 6 Alderman Garth Corriveau — Uber’s paladin on the Queen City Board of Mayor and Alderman (BOMA) — made the argument that Uber was a tech company peddling an app, though under questioning, he did concede that it was a transportation services company.

The crux of Corriveau’s argument was that Uber drivers were independent contractors and, unlike taxi cab companies, Uber did not own the fleet. Ride-share drivers provide their own vehicles. The Democrat Corriveau agreed with ultra-conservative Republican radio show host Rich Girard that the market should regulate Uber.

While Uber’s stance that its drivers are independent contactors isn’t questioned by Corriveau, it has been by some of the company’s drivers and by federal judges.

Independent Contractors or Employees?

In California, Uber drivers disenchanted with the company have sued the company on the grounds that they’re employees entitled to minimum wage, reimbursement for expenses and other benefits. Skeptical that Uber’s drivers are independent contractors, a federal judge in the 9th Circuit declared while adjudicating a lawsuit pitting Uber against its so-called “independent contractors” that they may, indeed, have to be treated as employees.

Uber’s contention that is is merely an app (software program), a view shared by Alderman Corriveau, has not been embraced by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen.

“The idea that Uber is simply a software platform,” Chen said, “ I don’t find that a very persuasive argument.”

It is important for the members of Manchester’s BOMA (aside from Corriveau) to note that Uber uses the “independent contractor” argument to deflect liability for accidents and corporate responsibility for discrimination practiced by its drivers.

When a national group representing the disabled attacked Uber over complaints that its drivers discriminated against the blind, the company dismissed the allegations on the grounds that it can’t control what its drivers do because they’re independent contractors. Uber rejected a request by the group to negotiate a solution to the problem of its drivers refusing to service the blind and, in one instance, mistreating a blind-person’s guide dog.

Taxi cab operators are forbidden by federal law from discriminating against the disabled, regardless of whether cabbies legally are considered independent contractors.

Background Checks

Uber has had problems with its background checks of drivers. Without a regulation requiring the use of a sophisticated background checking system, Uber and other ride-sharing companies can eschew more thorough (and thus more expensive) background checks in favor of cheaper, less thorough checks, such as those services that glean info from online government databases. The updating of those databases often is spotty.

Uber failed to perform background checks on at least one of its drivers in Chicago.

Uber, Lyft and Sidecar — two other ride-sharing companies in the Chicago market – use different background check services, raising the specter of “gaps” in the researching of the criminal backgrounds of potential ride-share drivers. Without a regulation on background checks mandating the scope of the coverage, no one can be sure how thorough or up-to-date the search is.

Background checks can be cursory and create a static picture in time, i.e., one that is not updated after the initial check. Taxi cab companies in California use “Live Scan”, a dynamic service that combs databases and updates information about new offenses, informing the cab company when a driver has incurred a violation.

Incidentally, Live Scan was NOT mandated by California’s state regulatory authority for Uber or other ride-sharing companies. Uber had launched an intense lobbying effort on the California Public Utilities Commission, and the lack of a mandate for Live Scan may be a result. The background checks for Uber drivers in California likely will be less stringent than that of cab drivers.

In response to problems with Uber and the other ride-sharing companies, Chicago regulators proposed the standardization of regulations on background checks and a mandate requiring the name and photo of drivers on ride-share company’s apps and web sites, akin to the “licenses” posted in taxis.

Safety and the Insurance Gap

The Uber app poses a safety issue, akin to the problem of texting by drivers. Uber drivers use a dashboard mounted app akin to a GPS that – along with the cutthroat nature of the taxi business – might distract them.

The app is always on and Uber drivers, competing against each other and traditional “hail” taxis, are constantly monitoring it in the fierce competition for fares. There is concern that the distraction of driver monitoring of the Uber app may cause accidents and that accidents that occur before or after a driver ferries a passenger will not be covered by insurance.

Compounding the problem is Uber’s use of a donut hole defense to deny responsibility for accidents that occur when the driver is not actually transporting a fare, most notably in the death of a San Francisco girl killed by one of its drivers. Unlike a traditional, regulated taxi company, Uber claims that its insurance only kicks in when the driver picks up a fare; while a driver is waiting for passengers, driving to a passenger, and after discharging a passenger, Uber claims it bearsd no liability for the actions of its drivers. In contrast, cabbies working for traditional taxi services are covered at all times.)

Uber’s insurance coverage paradigm has created a “gap” in coverage. This gap may provide a ride-share driver’s auto insurer with the grounds to deny coverage for those accidents Uber refuses to cover, as the insurer may consider them actually working for Uber at the time of the accident.

Because of the uniqueness of the ride-sharing model, insurance companies increasingly are refusing coverage to drivers.

To Regulate or Not to Regulate

That Uber drivers not ferrying a passenger, and thus not covered by Uber’s commercial general liability insurance, likely are distracted by the pressure of monitoring Uber’s app, raises questions over safety and an “insurance gap” that only regulators like Manchester’s BOMA can answer.

In response to these problems, Uber was classified as a a transportation company by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in September 2013 because it performs like a telephone dispatch taxi service. Creating a new category of livery service called “Transportation Network Company” (TNC) for Uber and its ride-sharing kin that provide online apps to book rides, the CPUC became the first state regulator to recognize ride-sharing as an official transportation service.

The new regs were akin to those governing the provision of limousine services. They covered background checks, drug testing, liability insurance and driver training.

In November 2014, the CPUC issued more stringent regulations on insurance coverage, tackling the issue of the gap in insurance coverage. The CPUC mandated that there were three “periods” in the provision of ride-sharing services: Period One, when the TNC’s app is open and the TNC driver is waiting for a fare, called a “match” of the driver and the passenger; Period Two, when the match has been accepted but the driver has not yet picked up the passenger; and Period Three, when the driver transports the passenger on a trip, from the time the client enters the vehicle and until they exit it.

For the first period, the regs mandate a minimum of coverage of $100,000 for one person and $300,000 for two or more people, plus $50,000 for property damage. For the second and third periods, a minimum of $1 million in primary commercial liability insurance coverage is required. The coverage can be provided by the TNC in whole or in partnership with the driver.

The CPUC regulations, which also cover such areas as licensing, vehicle inspection, and providing service at airports, provide a template for the BOMA for regulating TNCs in Manchester.

Jon’s article was originally published in the Examiner, we use it here in full with his permission.

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Cop Killing With Cantwell

Our esteemed susanthebruce blog just posted a great analysis of Chris Cantwell, an individual of some controversy within the Free State Project, mostly because he takes the Non-Aggression Principle to its logical end and well, that makes some Free Staters a little uncomfortable.  The Free Staters like to say Cantwell was banned from the Free State Project but as the photos below illustrate and as Susanthebruce points out, that just doesn’t appear to be the case or they’ve changed their minds.

Anyway, more of Susan’s excellent points on Cantwell below:

Cop Killing With Cantwell

This is Chris Cantwell. This is his Halloween costume, worn at a recent Free State Project convention in Keene.

He moved to NH as part of the Free State Project, the armed band of miscreants that are moving, en masse, to colonize NH, take over and dismantle our state government, then threaten secession.

Cantwell wants to kill cops. Well, not really – he wants to “inspire” other people into killing cops.

Read the rest here: Cop Killing With Cantwell

Cantwell on "media" panel.

Cantwell on “media” panel, Keenevention 2014.

 

Cantwell with Ian “Freeman” (formerly Bernard) at 2013 Keenevention.

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So Lab Rats are Smarter Than Libertarians

Lab rat works to free captive where no obvious capital incentive exists.

Empathy: the one human emotion that makes Ayn Rand roll in her grave and gives all Free Staters and other Libertarians the willies — except when their own necks are on the line and they could use a hand.  It is well known that Ayn Rand had no problem living off the empathy of those who came before her and struggled for her right to receive social security and Medicare benefits in her old age.  Regardless though, Libertarians continue to preach that the way to peace is just to be a self centered prick and not bother to worry about the consequences of your actions on others, or to stop and help others.

Of course, according to this study, proof exists that lab rats are smarter than Libertarians, since they’ve apparently figured out that helping out your friends and neighbors and even sharing your booty is a good thing for your own future welfare; we all need each other and more than likely sometime down the line you will need others to give a damn about you when you and be willing to work to make your life — and in turn their life, better.  What a concept! Sounds like socialism!

Let’s take that thought a little further down the road of Logic and Plain Simple Thinking (deserves capitalization since its so under-rated these days), cut a little with Occam’s Razor and viola! We come across this excellent animation from Upworthy, made by Roman Krznaric on the power of empathy as a force for human change.  A very good animation and talk on the power of human empathy; what it means and how has a natural human emotion, we all have the ability to harness this to make positive social change and work toward peace, locally and globally.

Enjoy:

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New Embassy to be Built in Grafton NH

Free Grafton Embassy guard.

We have before us yet another tortuously boring production from the FSP.  First off we hear from a guy with a beard and a pony tail (awfully hippie for an anarcho-capitalist) talk about Burning Porc, apparently an effort that started a few years ago, but died off, which of course means its time to revive it, because there’s nothing like a sucky idea the second time around right?  The speaker asks, “Why Burning Porc?”  which is really a good question, why would anarcho-capitalists want to imitate a ceremony developed as an anti-capitalist expression even going so far as mentioning ‘communal’ in its principles (true evidence of commie infiltration)?  The speaker tells us we have to wait for our answer, but like most Free Nut videos, one will no doubt come away with a mix of astonishment at how little sense it takes to manage to exist everyday and a feeling that your crazy anti-tax, anti-government uncle you have to bear every Thanksgiving might have secretly mutated and taken over your local government.

But that hippie Burning Man thing sure was cool amirite? Anyway, as the video shows some people trying and failing miserably to figure out how to make and use a Slip N’Slide, the speaker then goes into talking about the lovely Free Stater utopia called Grafton.  Once a small town in New Hampshire populated by cranky old dairy farmers, now home to what appears to be people who like to chop weeds, wear floppy leather hippie hats (there’s that hippie thing again) and something significant we’re not told about goats in hatchbacks.

For reasons not really explained, the gentleman in the beard and long pony tail explains his latest brain-child; a Grafton Embassy.  But not a big one like the one the Evil Government is building in Iraq, but a little tiny one in the town of Grafton that has suffered an influx of Free Nuts as of the past few years.  Bearded man explains that this will be an outpost for Free State folks to hang out and talk Free Nut talk to an angry looking young man shown in a still picture in the video. Welcome to the Free Nut lair where you will in fact be taught to love your liberty.

Now its easy to assume that everyone understands the purpose of embassies.  Everyone who didn’t skip out on ninth grade American History and Civics classes to hit the bong behind the cafeteria that is. Putting aside discussion about foreign policy and other complications, the Free Wiki Dictionary tells us:

em·bas·sy  

n. pl. em·bas·sies

1. A building containing the offices of an ambassador and staff.
2. The position, function, or assignment of an ambassador.
3. A mission to a foreign government headed by an ambassador.
4. A staff of diplomatic representatives headed by an ambassador.

So what would the purpose of the Grafton embassy be pray tell?  Has the Free State Project now declared itself a country? Is Grafton, or for that matter, New Hampshire aware of this development?  Will Grafton cede a part of its land to the new FSPutopia so that it can build its embassy on neutral ground?  The speaker tells his audience the outpost will provide a place for Free Nuts to hang out and express their Free Nuts ideas without we guess, fear of persecution from their fellow Freedom Lovers? They need a neutral territory to hide from themselves?

For those of us who’ve had the misfortune of attempting to explain foreign policy, economics or the social contract to a Free Nut, the idea of needing a refuge from themselves doesn’t actually seem all that ridiculous.  Many would not doubt that the tendency to obsess about guns and a narcissistic predisposition with “liberty” might act as buddy repellent.  Hence the need to make a place where there is on duty, a friendly dude (well maybe) willing to be their bud and hang out with them.

Its worth noting and someone should tell the Free Nuts that outside the Free Nut Zone of Grafton there exist places that seem eerily similar to this Free Grafton Embassy idea.  Extra-Free Nutters call them ‘home’. They have living rooms, porches and kitchens for hanging out.  These people invite friends over, or their friends invite them to their home.  Then again with all the unregulated gun orgasms target shooting and survivalist practice going on outside, residents in the Free State of Grafton might have trouble finding a place to hang out where they won’t get hit by a stray bullet might.

What possibly serves as the best analogy of the Free Nutter mind though was the speaker’s claim that the embassy won’t be as big as Iraq.  The video shows some wing-nut porn runs a clip of American soldiers with big guns, guarding what we’re told by a narrator is the Iraqi embassy.   No, its not as big as that says the speaker, belying the hurt many men feel when they discover its only average, or in the case of the speaker’s embassy dream, really, really tiny.  Its also worth nothing that embassies represent governments, get funded by governments and work to serve the interest primarily of governments.  Seems a bit contrary to Free Stater ideology.

Finally let’s contrast and compare: Iraqi Embassy and the Free Nut Embassy idea; one has become a representation of grotesque American imperialism; an expression of dominance by a conquering warrior-state over its captor and the way in which the Free State Project adherents view their grandiose Imperial mission to turn New Hampshire into their Free State-topia, whether the rest of us want it or not.

Possibly the speaker has in mind another popular institution among non Free Staters; the clubhouse.  You know, like the old clubs in Manchester such as the Ukranian, the Pericles or the Davignon, relics of a time when immigrants came to work in the mills and needed a refuge from Anglo-American culture, where they could share a similar culture, language and community.  This might make sense if again, this existed in the extra-Free State area, but it makes little sense to have such if Grafton has indeed become their Free Nut Happy Goat Liberty Utopia Zone like the speaker claims.

So if not that, then what purpose is this embassy? Remember the shack you and your friends built in the woods behind your mom’s house where all your cool friends could hang out, drink the scotch you stole from dad’s liquor cabinet, read porn mags and talk about sex with the opposite sex.

Fun times indeed.  Just remember to bring your own stash because Libertarians don’t like to feel compelled to share (its theft remember?).

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