There is something very wrong with the Russian hacking story

Bronson Kaahui Blog, International Relations

In an interview in  2015, Colin Powell said about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, “The intelligence community, all 16 agencies assured us that it was right, my speech at the UN was based on that information.” In hindsight, it seems obvious that the “evidence” for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was always flimsy, but that ignores the incredibly emotionally charged political climate at the time. “Evidence” that should have been met with skepticism, or at a minimum, rational scrutiny from journalists, was instead parroted by every major publication in the country. Reporters simply repeated whatever the Bush administration had to say on the matter without bothering to validate any of these claims. Of course, Cheney and his gang of thugs never actually said that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11 or had ties to Al Qaeda, they were just sure to mention all 3 in every speech and, coincidentally, a majority of Americans believed that we were invading Iraq because of Saddam’s role in 9/11. In other words, “anonymous officials,” insinuations, circumstantial and highly ambiguous “evidence” were used to convince millions of people to go to war with a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the September 11th attacks. And now, just as then, the media is all too eager to report these insinuations and unverified reports of Russia “hacking the election.” 52% of Democratic voters believe that Russia “hacked” the voting machines despite the fact that zero evidence exists to support this belief, and neither President Obama nor the intelligence community ever stated this. Does any of this sound familiar? The “intelligence community” has, for unexplained reasons, become a sacrosanct institution in the media, above reproach or question. “Journalists” seem incredulous that Trump (or anyone for that matter) would even dare to express skepticism over the conclusions of …

Kenli Schoolland – How digital marketing is fuelling a revolution in education

Joe Kent Education, Entrepreneurship

“Think about what you wanted at 18 (years old),” said Kenli Schoolland during a presentation at the Foolish Things Salon on Oahu, Hawaii. “Would you take a $200,000 bet that that’s what you wanted to do ten years later? . . . Or for the rest of your life?” asked Kenli. Kenli said that education around the world has changed as government has subsidized higher education. “With these federal loans, people started to take gambles. They started to bet on what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives, with no money down.” Kenli showed that education today is changing — getting worse in the government, but getting much better outside the government. Inside the government system, Kenli said, debt is rising for college graduates. “The average debt is $35,000, though there are many that graduate with much more given that a college degree for four years can be upwards of $200,000.” What are people getting for that money? Many graduates today, said Kenli, are realizing that their degree isn’t worth what they paid for it, as job recruiters seek better qualified candidates with real world skills. However, Kenli said education outside the government sector is improving tremendously, where costs are falling and quality is rising. Online schools are one example where students can go take high quality courses for bargain prices. But another type of education is arising outside of the “school” model, in the form of digital marketing, said Kenli. “I’m sure maybe you’ve all seen an ad that says, ‘Earn $15,000 in passive income from your home!’ . . . so that’s a cheesy glimpse of it, but it’s actually part of a formula,” said Kenli. “People are being taught to market themselves . . . it’s actually creating a huge educational service, and it’s bringing …

Can economists predict the future?

Joe Kent Blog, Spontaneous Order, Uncategorized

I can make a prediction that will almost definitely come true: On July 28th, 2061, a bright comet will appear in the night sky. Of course, this is not my prediction, but Edmond Halley’s — which is where the name Halley’s comet comes from. Unfortunately, Halley died before he could view Halley’s comet for himself, but he is proven correct every 76 years. In a similar way, the economist Ludwig von Mises predicted the collapse of socialism. He also died before he could view the collapse of the socialist economies of his time, but he has been proven correct again and again. How did Mises and Halley know such bold things about the future? And how can we use their insight to make our own predictions about the future? The answer has less to do with mathematics, and more to do with simple logic. For Halley, he deduced that a comet going around the sun would be seen again in the future, and he was correct. But for Mises, the problem was a bit more complex, because there was no bright object in the sky for him to look at. Mises understood the many problems with socialism, and the inevitable collapse of such a system. He wrote about his findings in, “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth“. In this landmark essay, Mises proved that socialism could not work because the price system was broken. In a purely socialist system, prices are made up by bureaucrats, and this causes all kinds of chaos. Without real prices, no one has any clue how much anything really costs. When this happens, the entire system collapses. Mises and Halley predicted the future, but in reality, they were explaining a phenomenon, like a law of nature. Just like Albert Einstein predicted the existence of black holes, …

How the government broke my digital camera

Joe Kent Blog, Taxation

Once upon a time, the government decided break my digital camera. Like the mean kid who throws your favorite toy down the stairs, the government succeeded in making all DSLR cameras worse for no reason. The consequence is that today, my DSLR camera cannot record videos longer than 29 minutes. Sure, that may not seem like a big deal, but if you work with video, this gets annoying fast! Let’s say I want to record an hour long speech — I have to stop the recording half way through and re-start it, just so I can get the entire thing. When I watch my final video, I have a big black pause right in the middle of my video. Some may think the 29 minute limitation is because of a technical glitch, or to prevent from overheating, but the real reason involves international tax law. According to tax laws for some EU countries, any camera that records video for more than 29 minutes is classified as a “video camera” and subject to much higher taxes of 5 to 14 percent. So in order to get around it, DSLR cameras simply record less than 29 minutes at a time. But all is not lost. Sure, the government may have taken my camera and thrown it into traffic, but there’s a way to “fix” it! Hackers have come to the rescue across the internet by providing ways to correct the problem. Now you can record video for as long as you want — in exchange for voiding your warranty. Still, the fix may be worth it! Now I can set up a few tripods and record longer interviews, without worrying about whether or not the camera is still recording. But the strange camera quirk is just another example of how we live …

Liberals embrace gun ownership now that Trump is President

Joe Kent Blog, Civil Liberties, Crime and Self-Defense, Uncategorized

Liberals in the US are beginning to embrace gun ownership now that Trump is President. BBC News reported that liberal gun purchases may be rising, and liberal gun clubs are seeing a big boost in membership. Some liberals say they are buying guns to defend themselves against potential tyranny from the Trump administration. Gwendolyn Patton, a member of Pink Pistols, a club for gay, lesbian and transgender gun owners, told the BBC, “There are people who have professed to carrying a gun now because Trump made them feel unsafe . . . I think their fears are groundless but I can’t make them not be afraid, so whatever they need to do to feel safer, I don’t have a problem as long as they do it responsibly.” The change in attitude is a stark contrast to liberal views about gun ownership during the Obama years, when CNN host Piers Morgan scored high ratings calling for a ban on assault rifles. In 2013, Piers Morgan asked Ben Shapiro, “Why do they need those weapons?” Ben answered, “They need them for the prospective possibility of resistance to tyranny.” Piers asked, “Where do you expect the tyranny to come from?” Ben answered, “The tyranny would come from the government.” Piers asked, “Barack Obama’s government?” Yes, back then, it was almost impossible for liberals to imagine why anyone would be afraid of Barack Obama’s government. But now that Donald Trump will be president, many people see him and his administration as tyrannical. So will liberals become more pro 2nd amendment? For some people, the tyranny may not be so far fetched, as Trump said that he would deport 3 million undocumented immigrants after his inauguration. Some liberals may wish to defend against this — perhaps even with a gun, or an AR-15 rifle. For some people, …

Is liberty a “slippery slope?”

Joe Kent Blog, Political Philosophy, Spontaneous Order

Imagine a slippery slope where big government is at the top, and way down at the bottom is anarchy. Libertarians often stand on the middle of that slope. People constantly tell libertarians, “You kids can play on the slope, but don’t go too far or you’ll fall down!” The top is assumed to be safe. That’s where the government protects everybody, right? Personally, when I heard that liberty was a slippery slope, I immediately leaped off, and chose to live at the bottom. Why not? I begin with the assumption that a world without government would probably be a reasonably safe place to live. If someone proves me otherwise, then I’ll climb up the slope again. Sure, there will be lots to debate about — what about courts, fire, police, defense, seat-belts and schools? Let’s read, debate and discuss all these topics. But I think it’s unhealthy to start with the assumption that total government control is safe. Total government control has been tried, and millions of people died because of it. I don’t understand why we are supposed to assume that it is the safest starting point. So for me, I turn the whole mountain upside down. Let’s start with the assumption that a voluntary world would be ok. If anybody wants to propose a law, just know that you’re on a slippery slope towards totalitarian government control.

Is climate change really that scary?

Bronson Kaahui Blog, Environment

According to SkepticalScience, “rising sea levels are widely considered to be the greatest threat posed by climate change.”   For the purposes of this argument, we will ignore any kind of disagreement within the scientific community about other causes, or the extent to which humans have driven this warming, and treat the theory of anthropogenic climate change as scientific fact.  Due to the complex nature of the debate, we will also ignore any other adverse impacts of climate change, and focus specifically on what is “widely considered” to be the greatest threat posed by climate change — sea level rise. So, what does the science say about sea level rise?  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which broadly represents the scientific consensus on climate change, sea levels will continue to rise for the next century no matter what, but the rate at which they do depends on several factors.  Under the best case scenario, where governments take active measures to aggressively combat CO2 emissions, we can expect .28-.61 meters of sea level rise.  Under the worst IPCC projection, they expect .52 to .98 meters of sea level rise.  In other words, 1-3 feet by 2100. Now there are, of course, other projections which show higher rates of sea level rise due to Antarctica and Greenland contributing more in the next century (up to 2 meters in the worst case scenario), but these projections can hardly be described as the “consensus” of the scientific community.  Anyone familiar with even the basic fundamentals of the scientific method knows that outliers always exist and do not form the consensus.  If we’re gonna base our understanding of the issue on outliers, we would have to include those who don’t think the Earth will warm that much, or those who say the climate is less sensitive …

A Critique of Hans-Hermann Hoppe: Monarchy vs Democracy

Joe Kent Political Philosophy, Uncategorized

Which is better, a monarchy or a democracy? According to economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe, both are not good, but a monarchies probably do less harm than a democracies. In his book, “Democracy: The God that Failed,” Hoppe wrote that a monarchy is like a private government, and a democracy is like a public government. In that sense, the monarchies benefit from the advantages of private property, and have a higher incentive to invest in the long-term value of the country. However, Jacek Sierpinski argued that there may be flaws in this theory. In his paper titled, “A Critique of Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Thesis on Lesser Harmfulness of Monarchy than Democracy,” Sierpinski examined data which shows that monarchies may not be much better for citizens after all. Jacek Sierpinski’s paper has been posted below, along with Mr. Sierpinski’s introduction. The paper has been translated from Polish. Abstract The aim of this paper is to critically analyse the thesis of Hans-Herman Hoppe that although any government – taken as a territorial monopolist in the field of jurisdiction and tax imposition – is an organisation harmful both from the economic and ethical point of view since it violates property rights in an institutionalized and legal manner, exploiting private owners and contributing to the process of “decivilization,” yet the monarchy is less harmful than any democratic state. The ultimate point is to prove that Hoppe’s assumption on lower time preference of the governing monarch is not sufficient to conclude that monarchy is less responsible for violating property rights and that it contributes to the process of “decivilization” less than democracy. Introduction: Hoppe on monarchy and democracy In his works, Hans-Hermann Hoppe presents the thesis that any government – regarded as a territorial monopolist in the field of jurisdiction and tax imposition – is an organisation harmful both from …

Ken Schoolland – the Paradox of Politics

Joe Kent Blog, Political Philosophy

Ken Schoolland, President of Liberty International, talked about the Ethics of Liberty. He asked 3 questions generally speaking: Do you trust the campaign promises of politicians? Is an honest politician more likely to win an election than a dishonest politician? Are the moral standards of politicians higher than my own moral standards? Professor Schoolland said that most people answer the above questions, “No!” But most people answer the next question very differently: Generally speaking, do you trust that the government will do good and necessary things for the country? Professor Schoolland said that most people answer this question, “Yes!” Why is that? Why do people distrust individual politicians, but when politicians are grouped collectively, people tend to trust more? Ken Schoolland talks about this, and many other issues related to his talked titled, “The Ethics of Liberty”.

The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: Episode 2 – The Tall Tax

Joe Kent Blog, Jonathan Gullible, Taxation

Another episode of Jonathan Gullible has been produced. In this episode, Jonathan Gullible meets a man crawling on his knees to avoid the “tall tax”. Jonathan says, “That must hurt!” The man says, “Yeah, but it hurts more not to.” This is the second cartoon episode in a series being produced by Liberty International. Joe Kent helped to animate the characters, with voice-over help from Ken Schoolland, and students at Hawaii Pacific University. Ken Schoolland is also the author of Jonathan Gullible: a Free Market Odyssey, available here! Please feel free to re-post or share!