Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

By R.C. Seely

NEVER HAS A PRESIDENT CAUSED SUCH A RUCKUS WITH mere rhetoric as Donald Trump. Take his “fire and fury” remark to North Korea, threatening to react in kind if North Korea turns violent towards the US or other nations. Oh no, he’s saying he will retaliate! How is that any different from say, “the red line” for Syria by Obama? And so far Trump hasn’t added any new military interventions, sadly he hasn’t ended any either, but he hasn’t added any. Ending a few would be a welcome change. 

    Many were led to believe that because of his inflammatory campaign trail soliloquies he was essentially declaring war with the world. Trade wars maybe, but military entanglements, not really. The only exception could be his comments about Mexico. Continually saying he would have “the wall built and Mexico would be paying for it,” is a promise I hope no one expects to come to fruition. Iran is a slight possibility, if he rescinds the nuclear deal made by the previous administration. Personally the major issue I had with the Iran deal wasn’t the sanctions being lifted, more that we would be paying for another country’s nuclear development. That’s simply insane.

    If he ends up going to war with North Korea, Iran, Mexico or any other new country–on top of the list of Middle East nations we are currently still fighting from the Bush adminstration’s “War on Terror”–he will simply be continuing the tradition of almost every US President. While most statistics I question, the ones claiming “the US has been at war 222 years out of the 239 of it’s existence” sounds about right. That’s 93% of our history in conflict with other nations and itself. 

    The “anti-war” presidents were not an exception, ask Lybia how much of a “peaceful president” Barack Obama was. It hasn’t been the same since Gaddafi’s assassination. How about Bill Clinton’s trek of violence in Bosnia and Kosovo? Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt reneged on their promises to keep the country out of the World Wars. No president kept the US out of Korea or Vietnam. Why not? To look powerful in the eyes of the rest of the world is a part of it but also to accomplish their agendas without any barricades. 

    Despite knowing better US citizens are not all that reluctant to trade liberty for security, and war is an excellent excuse for spending and putting those pesky rights on hold. Why should we need a legal writ or warrant before having our homes searched–call a whistleblower a subversive and it’s considered acceptable. If you’re critical of the government, that’s the case anyway isn’t it? So what if you disagree with a police action in another nation, you’re getting drafted. You’re now officially a slave of the US government and no longer own your mind or body. If Hillary Clinton had won it would be both your sons and daughters getting drafted. That kind of implies she may have intended to start a fight. So much for the peaceful anti-war progressives of the United States.

    Not to defend his decision but the point is, if Trump does go after North Korea he is no different than any other president. At least he has demonstrated restraint so far, hopefully that status remains the same and the president does not go to war with North Korea. Another president to adopt this policy was Reagan, he didn’t have to start a war with the soviets and he openly called them the “evil empire.” That’s a foreign policy that works. Not off the dictator and force American values down the throats of every nation. Let’s not stir the hornets nest any more and instead leave the hornets alone unless they provoke us. It’s difficult to defend the “land of the free” title when in a perpetual state of warfare.

R.C. Seely is the founder of americanuslibertae.com and ALTV. He has also written books on pop culture, he most recent Victims of White Male: How Victim Culture Victimizes Society is available at Amazon.

By R.C. Seely

IN THE NINETIES IT WAS BEANIE BABIES, a market that when it went bust financially, hurt many who had expected it to be a long term trend. The early 2000s gave us the “Tickle me Elmo” doll craze, that caused violence as determined consumers fought each other for their doll. Today we have similiar product–one that I myself have made a modest investment in–with the Funko Pop figures. Will this be the next Beanie Babies or a substantial investment opportunity? I don’t know, only time will tell. 

    Fashion in general would be considered a “Fad Investment,” you spend lots of money at times, for an article of clothing that you will only wear once or until the trend ends. Not because you don’t like it or it’s in a state of disrepair but because you have to follow the crowd, that has already moved on. Bell bottoms gave way to baggie jeans, which moved over for skinny jeans. I hate skinny jeans and now they are everywhere. Worse still, is the material used, a nasty denim/spandex mutant fabric. Where are the natural advocates when they are needed? The major criticism here is that the retailers are choosing to cater to a single demographic. Like most trends, the skinny jeans are pretty much guaranteed to be temporary but for now it is an inconvenience. I doubt I’m alone in the hatred of this fabric. 

    Electronics–like clothing–are practical to an extent but it’s easy to make it a Fad Investment when obsessively buying the newest smart phone or a 3D HD TV or computer that has a feature that you won’t even use. But you must have it! This mindset makes even practical purchases a Fad Investment. 

    A little common sense in your purchases can help you avoid Fad Investing. For starters, if you have to mortgage your home to “complete the collection” then you might want to rethink your financial strategy. Gold or silver are a far better bet and will always retain some value. Precious metals have been around for thousands of years after all. Both are used in electronics currently so it’s naive to think gold and silver won’t be a sound investment in the future. The only real downside is that because of fiat currency the value is more organic and can be manipulated. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are also a better investment than those skinny jeans or the “the next must have toy.” Another way to steer clear of the Fad Investing is only purchase practical items–clothing and electronics for example–when replacing another product or has a feature that will be used regularly. If the purchase doesn’t break the bank or has genuine benefit for you, then go ahead and get it. As for me, after losing 10 pounds from going to the gym everyday, it looks like I’ll just have to keep tightening my belt until the “flex skinny jeans” fad passes. 

R.C. Seely is the founder of americanuslibertae.com and ALTV. He has also written books on pop culture and his most recent Victims of White Male: How Victim Culture Victimizes Society is available at Amazon.

By R.C. Seely

FEBRUARY OF 2017, ON THE WAY TO MY REGULAR workout a PT Cruiser with an Arizonia license plate hits into the driver’s side of my Mustang. At first it didn’t seem like a big deal–only appearing to be dented but still operable–on closer inspection it was far worse, the whole front of the car had shifted and the hood locked in place. The passenger side door scraping against the frame, when I opened it to get my bag, is how I found out. In short, the car that was paid off, that I  had for over ten years, what I considered really my first car, was totaled. That ended up being the least of my worries.

    Because of an error with the paperwork upon purchasing the vehicle, the title was in limbo. And when trying to figure out what had happened before, had lead nowhere. It’s difficult to raise hell when you don’t know where the foul up took place. Now back the present.

    So now I have two options: Wait for the settlement to get a new car, or get a new car now by borrowing the money for the down payment. Thankfully, I went the second route! The next couple of months were spent making phone call after phone call, multiple trips to the DMV, all because the dealership put the wrong bank down as the financier. The original financial institution petitioned for the loan turned it down and the mistake was never corrected. 

    Eventually the documentation that was needed was delivered, but not after being given the run around by both financial institutions, trying to cover their assets rather than deliver excellent customer service. Adding to the frustration was the day when–a couple months later–I got my first statement for the new car; before the settlement check! The insurance company kept calling about the missing title and I had to tell them, “I don’t have it or even know for sure where it is.” 

    Finally I got everything from the DMV and the Power of Attorney from the insurance company together and sent off. This headache would be over at last! A couple of weeks go by and another call from the insurance company–asking for the title! NO! You already have it! So thinking I got the wrong document–or that it was supposed to go to the DMV–I went back to the DMV, AGAIN! Just to discover that I had done everything right. So, I called the insurance company, AGAIN, only to find out that they had the copy of the title in their records. So I waited–expecting yet another problem to emerge. Then it happened, an email stating that the payment of $5,953 has been approved. Now it is over.

    So why am I telling you all this? Well, this is a site for social criticism and this is an event worthy of criticism! The anti-capitalists who read this will probably gloat. Oh look, this little libertarian, defender of free markets has to admit he was wrong. Yes! Actually, as a capitalist, I never said the market would solve all problems. Or that everyone in business are entirely ethical, many are not. Besides, part of what caused the complication was that there is a third party, in this case the DMV. That’s what happens when we invite federal “do-gooders” to try and fix things. They make them worse. When others get worked up about privatizing the post office, I’d prefer privatizing the DMV.

R.C. Seely is the founder of americanuslibertae.com and ALTV. He has also written books on pop culture, the most recent Victims of White Male: How Victim Culture Victimizes Society is available at Amazon.

By R.C. Seely

ALONG WITH UBER AND AIRBNB, THE MONOPOLIES to traditional markets have another rookie to bring competition to another market–housing. Like other monopolies, the status quo titans are not giving up their power without a fight and the standard weapon of choice is the law.

    From Curbed.com, a housing business website:

“Despite the growing enthusiasm for tiny houses, it still isn’t easy to legally build them for full time use. Zoning laws and building codes by and large, require a minimum square footage for new construction homes, and progress to reduce that square footage is slow. 

Cities and towns that have started to accommodate tiny houses have typically been pushed by grassroots organizers asking government officials for changes to local building and zoning codes.”

    A little about “tiny houses” you should know, they are either a type of recreational vehicle or have a solid foundation like regular buildings. It’s the ones with the foundation that seem to have state legislatures in a frenzy. Many states are only allowing tiny houses to build within a tiny house community, if at all. The strict construction codes have mostly come from the same source, the International Residential Code (IRC) with such requirements as 70 square feet for room size and 7 foot tall ceilings, and a minimum 1,000 square feet for construction, all fairly common zoning guidelines. Also absurd for tiny houses.

    “Construction codes tell you how to build your home,”Andrew Morrison, of Tiny House Build says. “Zoning depends on where you build your home.” There are some states choosing to embrace the movement. Certain counties in the states of California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Texas–but again still check out the zoning laws beforehand since it’s only select counties within those states. For more information, the American Tiny House Association has compiled a list of state regulations and state chapter leaders. They might even be of assistance in getting a variance for your state or county.

    The state of Utah might be joining the list, all with the help of the Utah based legal activist organization, The Libertas Instititute. Along with the other economic and civil causes on their long list, the right to build on your property free from the zoning gestapo. With the trend of the smaller dwellings popularity with millenials a reevaluation might end up being more than something to consider, but a necessity. Options for housing could help reinvigorate the housing market for the demographic most cynical about the idea of being home owners. Because of the economic incentive and not just the novelty of tiny houses, it appears to be more than “just a trend.” And the first step is to reconsider is the zoning laws. “There’s plenty of momentum to continue changing zoning regulations at the local level. But there’s movement on the national level, too. Tiny house advocates are currently pushing to include a tiny house code in the International Residential Code,” explains Morrison.

    Adapting the zoning and construction regulations would not only make sense economically but is protecting the homeowner’s right to utilize their property in the manner best for their needs. Control obsessed state and county legislatures shouldn’t have more say about what is built on your property or how you use it than you do. If you live in a planned community you have certain bylaws you agree to, that’s a voluntary transaction. You can always leave if you want or petition the board and your neighbors to change the rules. But you still had the choice. With these sort of laws you are robbed of that choice, whether it’s a traditional home or tiny one.

R.C. Seely is the founder of americanuslibertae.com and ALTV. He has also written books on pop culture, his most recent Victims of White Male: How Victim Culture Victimizes Society is available on Amazon

By R.C. Seely

AS MANY OF YOU HAVE PROBABLY FIGURED OUT, government health care is not going away any time soon and neither is the duopoly effort to take the credit–or blame, depending on who you ask–for the law. The republican party was running on the promise to repeal the law, but along the way it seems to have lost even the will to attempt that. There are a few GOP senators who hold strong in their opposition. Senators like Rand Paul and Thomas Massie seem perfectly fine with the notion of repeal and don’t replace. With the unfortunate rise in popularity of the law according to the polls, that scenario is becoming more unlikely. And the support for it has more to do with scare-mongering than the efficiency of the law, since the real world effectiveness is impossible to judge so early on. 

    The propaganda for the single-payer system is what’s truly effective and efficient. An email from Senator Elizabeth Warren describes “the fight to protect the Affordable Care Act is personal” and she’s going to give it everything… [she’s] got.” She is right on one point, more than likely “we all know someone–a cancer survivor, a mom who went into early labor, or a parent or grandparent who got Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s and needed help.” Problem is that a single-payer system won’t lower costs simply spreads them around and worse it stiffles medical innovations by handcuffing health care service providers with strict restrictions and burdensome paperwork.

    In the DNC Chair Tom Perez donation drive email, he recounts that “millions of Americans from every corner of this country made calls, sent emails and letters, rallied and protested” against the health care repeal. Former DNC Chair Donna Brazile claimed the Trump administration has “stripped away health care for tens of millions” and “left women without critical reproductive care.” Senator Al Franken has sent numerous emails condemning it, in one paraphrasing Mitch McConnell:

But here’s what Mitch McConnell is telling them: Relax. It’ll all blow over. The President will tweet something insane, and everyone will get distracted, and we can bring this bill back. Heck, by the next election, everyone will have forgotten how we took away tens of millions of people’s health care without so much as a public hearing. 

Well, not in exactly those words. But that’s what he’s thinking.”

    So Franken is a mind reader now? In another email Franken exercises his (lack of) an ability to come up with a nuanced response by rattling off a bunch of single word responses for Trumpcare, “contemptible” and “despicable” and “exercrable” are a sample. And we can’t leave CREDO out of the “health care crisis” discussion and their push for the implementation of “universal health care for all.” They make the revolutionaryesque war cry for democrats to “unite behind a bold and clear alternative [to Trumpcare] like Medicare for All, also known as ‘single-payer’ health care.” 

    As you can see there’s a lot of support for Obamacare and not for it’s repeal. But this is based on fear and misinformation, clouding the judgement of the nation’s citizens. Like a drug addict, Americans have gotten hooked on “free health care” and until the high crashes and it’s time for rehabilitation, we’re stuck with laws such as the ACA or the AHCA. The current proposed measure from the Trump administration is the Better Care Act but whether it’s really any better is still debatable. Another plan offered by the GOP comes from Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. Considering the determination of gridlock by democrats, in regards to health care, even a compromise is not promising. But let’s push through the partisian distortion and reexamine this with the light of objectivity. Yes, there will be people who will be denied coverage or lose their existing coverage under what the republican plan ends up being, and it could be the CBO’s “24 million.” But people lost their coverage under Obamacare while he was still in office–millions of them–and many insurance companies are opting out of the exchanges. That trend will only continue the longer the ACA is place. The promise of “everyone being covered” has already been broken by Barack Obama.

    All the problems everyone is concerned about only get worse the more government gets involved in health care, since they treat you not as an individual but a number. A doctor in the free market system of medicine has to keep your business and so he looks out for your best interest. The government and it’s system has no such benevolent incentives, their interest is to get and expand control and what better way than through health care. That’s why control freak Saul Alinsky put it on the list, of Rules for Radicals. Whatever the republican plan is it’s surely going to have more to do with maintaining control of health care and branding it with an “R.” That’s not in the public’s best interest and we shouldn’t be coerced into a bad plan  out of scare tactics. After all “we have nothing to fear, but fear itself,” right?

R.C. Seely is the founder of americanuslibertae.com and ALTV and has written books about pop culture. His most recent book, Victims of White Male: How Victim Culture Victimizes Society is available at Amazon.

By R.C. Seely

EVERY JULY 4TH WE CELEBRATE THE ANNUAL birthday of the United States of America. Against all greater odds this great nation was formed, to give the world an example of what freedom could be, or that’s what we were told. Where did it go wrong? To avoid the majority rules, it was built as an amalgamation of constitutional republic and democratic order. And it was working but somewhere we, the people failed. The majority started wanting “free stuff” and freedom became less important. That’s the entire reason Bernie Sanders was even in the running for president.

    The question is: Can people change their thinking and return to the path of individual choice and personal accountability? There have been a few positive signs. Another widely popular presidential contender was Rand Paul. While not a “true libertarian” he has always been an ally to the party and his presidency would have been a way for the Libertarian Party to get invited to the adult table. Talking to progressives who supported Sanders, Paul would have been a welcomed option and polls showed that he could have carried enough support from the Democrats and Republicans to have bested Clinton even without the “rigging from the electorial college.” Is this the last time that Rand will run? Or will he pick up where his father Ron left off? I hope so, either Paul would be a welcomed–and accurately named–the true “hope and change” president. Maine passed a “food sovereignty” law which means the cities and towns of the state “may regulate by ordinance local food systems, and the state shall recognize such ordinances.” It applies solely to local markets “who sell directly to the consumers” for the time being but it’s a start. Nevada joins the growing number of states that have full legalization of marijuana and have started selling. Uber and Lyft are also spreading, opening up into Alaska now, a very positive sign for the future of the shared economy. Oregon lifted a restriction that their bars couldn’t​ post their happy hour special prices. And love him or hate him, Gary Johnson brought attention to the Libertarian Party and more were considering the alternative. If not for the presidential debates commission upholding it’s ruling against third parties, who knows what could have happened. Oh well, maybe things will go better for the Larry Sharpe 2020 campaign.

    With the good comes the bad, such as Minneapolis passing the $15 minimum wage completely ignoring the consequences of it from Seattle. Obamacare is still not repealed and Trumpcare isn’t looking like a better option. How about repealed and don’t replace, let the market take over. TSA is talking about expanding their security measures but books are not included. So you won’t loose your place in that paperback but you also won’t be leaving the security lines anytime soon, so better stock up on reading material. Trump plans more punitive tariffs, making sure all your consumables are labeled “Made in America” putting it at prices you can’t afford. Trump continues his war on the media and in the Middle East, both which appear unending. As does the federal prohibition on marijuana so watch out for the feds when in a Las Vegas pot shop. 

    All the bad mentioned have one thing in common, the absence of independence and the adoption of the collective ideals. The abandonment of the independent soveriegn individual’s right of personal choice. Whenever a law is passed that robs the individual of their right to make a personal choice–as long as it doesn’t harm another–then this is a loss of freedom. We have to get out of the mindset that independence is about defending our choices; but instead defending everyone’s choices. As long as those choices don’t cause physical injury to another person or damage property–even if you find those choices morally reprehensible–stand up for another’s right to make those decisions free from unreasonable federal consequences. That is independence. 

    Keep in mind that someone, somewhere will find a personal choice you make objectionable and might find it proper to try to strip you of that right. Don’t be like them, be better. Anyone who does so is in the wrong, even if it’s for the right. Dictating your personal morality on others by supporting prohibitions and “sin taxes” are the easy ways to force society to conform to your norms. Besides the fact such laws are not effective, they are also a violation of the principles of liberty. The principles of America. There are also enormous costs of fortune and freedom because of these actions. I’m no anarchist and not advocating the abolishment of all government, just shrinking it back to it’s proper manageable size and scope. Much of what has been granted as the duties of the government can and should be managed in a far superior manner by the states, which is why our Constitution specifically stipulated that it was the state’s duties. That way it’s far easier for tyrants be to managed and individualism protected. This is not anarchy, this is not madness, this is independence!

R.C. Seely is the founder of americanuslibertae.com and ALTV and has written books about pop culture, his most recent Victims of White Male: How Victim Culture Victimizes Society is available on Amazon.

By R.C. Seely

“WARNING SIGNS OF UNSAFE OR LOW-VALUE CARE are detectable with existing data but often are overlooked,” charges Dr. Andrew M. Ibrahim. “Rather than duplicate and collect more data, health care leaders should renew their focus on better use of available data.” Sounds logical and makes perfect sense.

Ibrahim goes on to say, in his article for JAMA, that the laproscopic gastric band is one example of the necessity of more due diligence from the medical community in regards to safeguarding the public from faulty medical equipment.

“The advent, increase, and decrease of the laproscopic gastric band to treat morbid obesity … was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001 and peaked in usuage in 2008. However, use of the device gradually declined as reports emerged describing complications and variable effectiveness [leading to the need to] … remove the device.” The FDA approved the device and the device failed, also makes sense. Under the FDA 100,000s of people die annually because of their guidelines keeping drug choices low. Dr. Ibrahim has more faith in the agency than I do.

“Before a class III medical device in the United States can be brought to market, it must undergo a series of premarket trials that are submitted by the FDA,” typically performed on a sample of sufferers of the condition being treated by “experienced clinicians.” But due to limited sample size and inefficient follow-up the trials results are somewhat unreliable. That is also true, most studies have extremely small samples making it difficult to properly gauge their merit as a measuring tool.

What’s the proposed solution? More post approval monitoring by the FDA. Increasing the awareness of the health care device manufacturers and hospital care givers of the monitoring system currently in place for medical devices, and encouraging faster reporting of malfunctions to the FDA. A congressional evaluation of the current system ended with concerns. Mostly tied to backlogs of data from so many reports coming in and not being addressed.

Another solution is increasing the number of medical devices with a “unique device identifier,” the before mentioned gastric band doesn’t have one. Obviously such a marker would make cataloguing complaints easier. “Legislation that would require all FDA approved devices to be trackable within data that are already collected could be a useful strategy to help ensure that … the warning signs of … widely adapted devices are not missed,” Ibrahim states. If Ibrahim is right, the news on solution number two is not great.

“The majority of medical devices used in practice today … cannot be identified within existing administrative data because they lack device specific … Current Procedural Terminology codes.” So the same agency that has such a horrible track record should be trusted with providing a situation to a problem they more than likely caused? Sorry doctor, but the FDA is not the right direction to turn for monitoring medical devices, they have difficult enough time with what they have to do now. Ready to explore free market alternatives yet?

R.C. Seely is the founder of americanuslibertae.com and ALTV. He has written books about pop culture, the most recent Victims of White Male: How Victim Culture of Victimizes Society is available on Amazon.