Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! From KPC...

May your troubles be less. 
Your blessings be more.
And may nothing but pumpkins

Come through your back door!

Freedom of Sale

You can have stickers on your car.  Bumper stickers, etc.

In Alexandria, VA (and elsewhere), you can NOT have a "For Sale" sign sticker, though.

Or, can you?  One case.

Another case.

Cool quote: “I can put a bumper sticker on my vehicle about my religious views and moral views,” said McLean, 35 and a lawyer. “Those pocketbook issues are just as important. For me, free speech doesn’t have any qualifiers.” 

Last week, McLean and the foundation filed a lawsuit against the Alexandria government, calling the city’s decades-old no-sale-sign statute an arbitrary ban on commercial speech that violates the First Amendment. “We need the court to formally recognize the importance of the right to advertise and the ability to earn a living,” attorney Christina Martin said. “Free speech is essential to free enterprise.” 

The foundation made a video about the case and also produced a podcast, noting that the streets of Alexandria — and elsewhere — are full of commercial vehicles that offer goods and services for sale. 

With thanks to Chug.  His own letter of response, to Alan Gura:

Too bad we can't make the City refund all the charges (fines and other costs) paid by all the people who received those unconstitutional tickets over the last half century. 

And I have my doubts that the City would eventually get around to repealing the ordinance unless they had gotten some push back. It's depressing to think how many allegedly educated people, not to mention lawyers, dealt with that ordinance over the last 50-plus years and no one questioned it. 

 It is the multitude of idiotic things like this that gradually turned me in to a libertarian.   


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lyndon Johnson is still not popular in Vietnam!

From the redoubtable Jason Brennan comes this amazing research paper on the structural grammatical differences between "close the door" and "f**k you".

While the whole piece is a tour-de-force, I recommend page 4 (which, de facto is page 2) in particular to your attention.

This article is definitely NSFW!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Corruption: "Based on my training and experience, I'm going to steal your money"

The real problem with corruption in the U.S. is not at the margins, with bad cops taking bribes outside the law..

It's right at the center of government itself, with agencies using bad rules to take property overtly and using the court system for cover.

This CAF ("civil asset forfeiture") story is remarkable precisely because something like it happens every day.  Or, almost twice a day, because as the story notes there more than 600 CAFs in 2012.

Excerpt:

ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa — For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.

The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report. “How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”

The federal government does.

Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up....

There is nothing illegal about depositing less than $10,000 cash unless it is done specifically to evade the reporting requirement. But often a mere bank statement is enough for investigators to obtain a seizure warrant. In one Long Island case, the police submitted almost a year’s worth of daily deposits by a business, ranging from $5,550 to $9,910. The officer wrote in his warrant affidavit that based on his training and experience, the pattern “is consistent with structuring.” The government seized $447,000 from the business, a cash-intensive candy and cigarette distributor that has been run by one family for 27 years.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday's Child

1.  In today's Scott de Marchi corner....a spider the size of a puppy.

2.  NC has really high gas taxes, and yet claims to need tolls to build new roads.  Why?  Because it raids the highway fund for other purposes.  And remember that the NC has a Republican legislature.  It's not a partisan point.  It's just that politics is theft.

3.  Stay-at-home parents have my great respect.  Stay-at-home kids, much less so.  Todd Rundgren had a song for those kids. It does sound fun, I admit.

4.  Speaking of staying home, Latinos may be stay-at-home voters.  Nobody likes being taken for granted.

5.  If some drunk guy tried this ("What's that lipstick on your neck?"  "Honey, I'd love to tell you, but it's a matter of national security...") it would be laughable.  But if the U.S. government tries it...well, it's still laughable.

moremoremore....