Monthly Archives: May 2012


Talk about surreal.

I did some shopping at my local Market Street grocery this afternoon.  I was checking out, preparing to pay with my debit card, when the cashier began ringing a bell and dancing up and down, soon to be followed by the bag girl.

Had I been in Britain I would have been nonplussed, here I settled for slackjawed.  Was Market Street now hiring Hari Krishnas?  Was I an unwitting participant in a cosmic joke?

Fortunately, nothing so bizarre. Shortly the cashier paused her bell ringing to inform me I had won free groceries.  Sure enough, the register screen was displaying $0.00 where seconds before it had read $208 and change. I shop there all the time, and had no idea they even did such a thing.

And 208 bucks beats a gaggle of Krishnas any day.

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Worth Considering…

For all my Progressive/Liberal friends who, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, still subscribe to the mantra that more government regulation and/or involvement in the banks, or healthcare, or whatever, will make those things safer, cheaper, fairer and so on, I offer up some info on one example where the U.S. did actually deregulate an industry:

In 1978, Congress deregulated the airline industry.  Between 1950 and 1978, the Civil Aeronautics Board had received 79 applications for startup interstate airlines, and rejected every one of them, effectively protecting the business and profits of a handful of legacy carriers.

Since 1978 however:

  • Airline fares have fallen eighteen percent in real dollar terms,
  • Airline safety has improved year after year and air travel is now safer than it has ever been,
  • Air travel has been opened up to the vast majority of Americans.  Prior to 1978, fewer than 20% of Americans had ever flown on a commercial airliner, today it is estimated that 85% have done so, and
  • Competition has increased dramatically, with airlines such as Southwest, Jet Blue, Horizon, and Virgin America (to name just a few) forcing what is left of the legacy carriers to reorganize, retool, and rethink their approach to the business.
Faced with these results, and the fact that most large industries are still heavily regulated, over-regulated actually, how can anyone argue that federal regulation or control is a good thing, or that the public interest would not be better served with far less regulation as opposed to more?

Ernie Hancock has famously stated that “There are only two kinds of people in the world, those who want to be left alone and those that won’t let them”.  I submit that the forces of regulation are manned entirely by “those who won’t let them”, and that they are what stands between Americans and cheaper, more accessible healthcare, lower bank fees, better energy sources, and on and on.  The cost to progress, and fairness, is enormous.


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Penn "Smokes" the President

Penn Jillette takes President Obama to task for his cavalier attitude about, and harsh treatment of,
non-violent drug offenders.


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The Law of Unintended Consequences…

One more example, two actually, of how Government Poisons Everything:

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Real Money…

A Libertarian friend, Jeffrey Jones, sent me the following info. It portrays as well as anything I have seen the awful impact out of control government spending and a money-printing Federal Reserve have had on our real wages and inflation. Imagine how much better off we’d be today if we were paid in gold, even without receiving a raise over the past 50 years.  

Average wages in 1959: $5,016 – or 143 oz. of Gold

Average wages in 1977: $15,000 – or 120 oz of Gold

Average wages in 1999: $28,970 – or 104 oz of Gold

Average wages in 2008: $41,335 – 53 oz of Gold

And they say Ron Paul is nuts!

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Epicurus, Lucretius, and Thomas Jefferson

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
Attributed to Epicurus, circa 300 BCE
In the strictest sense, Epicurus probably was not an Atheist.  He at least claimed to believe in the gods of ancient Greece, but at the same time curiously asserted that they were not at all concerned with humankind.  Being gods, what need might they have of us, or concern as to how we lived?
Other contributions of Epicurus include the promotion and further explanation of the atomist hypotheses generally attributed to Democritus, an early stab at a hypothesis of evolution, and the supposition that the earth was not the center of the “world”, nor for that matter was the sun.  Rather, he wrote, the stars were all suns like ours, and as such they would be surrounded by planets like our earth which would be inhabited by “other races”.  Further, he asserted, death was not to be feared – for we were dead before we were born.  Death was simply the atoms which composed our body rearranging themselves once again.  (And all this 300 years before a questionable and gory series of events in Palestine set human progress back at least a thousand years.
He may be best known however for his philosophy that living a life of pleasure was the highest ideal to which we can aspire.  By “pleasure” Epicurus was not referring to copious amounts of rich food, great wine, or sex, but rather to the simpler pleasures of learning, discourse, moderation, and living without fear.
Only three letters and a few small scraps of his writing is all we have left of Epicurus; all, except for the epic poem On the Nature of Things by the Roman writer and philosopher Lucretius.  The Roman’s work itself was nearly lost to us, only to be retrieved in the 15thcentury by Poggio Bracciolini, a Papal secretary.  Many historians credit the rediscovery of Lucretius’ work with providing an impetus for:  first the Renaissance, and later the Enlightenment.  We know that many Enlightenment figures such as Montaigne, Locke, and Diderot owned copies of, and made frequent reference to, On the Nature of Things.
And here’s the thing:  Thomas Jefferson owned at least five copies of the multi-volume poem, and referred to it frequently.  You certainly recall his phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”, the last phrase of which is pure Epicurus.
In the past, upon reading Jefferson’s phrase “Nature and Nature’s God…”, I have always assumed he was making a reference to the Deist god, a deity which after the act of creation went off to play Bridge, or perhaps badminton or something, with the other gods and was thus unconcerned with mere mortals or anything else in nature.  (Sorry Christian revisionists, T.J. was not one of you.) What if, however, Jefferson was instead referring to Einstein’s god; nature and the laws of nature themselves?  Einstein was familiar with Lucretius and thus Epicurean thought, just as was Jefferson.  I recently found what could be considered at least strong circumstantial evidence:
In a letter to William Short, dated October 31, 1819, Jefferson answered in response to an inquiry as to his guiding philosophy, “I am an Epicurean.”  Further, “I consider the genuine (not imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy…” In his diary, John Quincy Adams attributed a similar response to Jefferson during an 1807 dinner conversation.  At the very least we can rule out Christianity as being at the core of the author of the Declaration’s moral core.
Proof?  Perhaps not.  Stronger evidence however than the Cult of Torture and Human Sacrifice can offer, and that is a start.


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