Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Sanitation Thugs Mug Queens Man, Then Steal His Aunt’s Car

July 15, 2010 3 comments

I’ve blogged previously about one of the more insane aspects of New York’s recycling law, which among other things makes it illegal to “steal” garbage once it’s been left curbside. What I didn’t realize is just how draconian the penalties are for this phony crime. Take, for example, the Middle Village, Queens, man who saw one of his neighbors disposing of an old air conditioner:

“As far as I knew it was a piece of garbage sitting on the curb,” Paul Lawrence said.

But what Lawrence didn’t know when he decided to pick up a discarded air conditioner sitting on the sidewalk in Middle Village, Queens is that once trash hits the curb, it’s technically city property.

And he was breaking the law.

“There was a lady here. I asked the lady can I take the air conditioner. She said go ahead take it. It’s garbage,” Lawrence said.

But not only was he fined $2,000 by a sanitation officer who watched him do it, the car he was driving was impounded.

And its owner — Lawrence’s Aunt, 73-year-old Margaret Colavita, was also slapped with a $2,000 fine.

“I said what is this and she said well we have to serve you with this. You’re the owner of the car and it says I gave him permission,” Colavita said.

I know jobs are hard to come by and these sanitation officers are probably decent enough folks around their friends and family. But honestly, if I had to fine someone $2,000 for picking garbage and then impound the car belonging to whoever was nice enough to lend it to the first victim, and then fine the second victim $2,000, I would not be able to look myself in the mirror.

All New Yorkers with any sense of decency should make it as hard as possible for these government parasites to function. Next time, instead of taking your used stuff to the curb to be recycled, save yourself the labor and post it on the “free” section of craigslist or on Someone will gratefully come to your home and take it away for you.

UPDATE: A judge has thrown out the fines.

Mine, All Mine

The Free Agent has continued to think about the Bingham Canyon mine after last week’s post.

As the mountain has come down, what has been built up is literally invaluable—knowledge.  In 2005, the value of once-nuisance molybdenum exceeded the value of the ever-useful copper.  As geologic knowledge and mine technology has increased, Kennecott is able to follow veins of ore much more accurately, necessitating removal/exploration of less non-ore mountain.  The combination of knowledge and its earthly handmaiden, technology, means that while this may be a mountain that was, it is now a mine that makes it unnecessary to dig other mines.

A maxim that’s true in other areas of life is also true with mining, you have to start from where you are.  In 1906, the only economical technique for extracting Bingham Canyon ore was scooping out chunks of mountain as if it were Ben & Jerry’s Oquirrh Mountain flavor.  The labor force required to work the ore in those days reached 20,000.  Today, only 1600 people are needed to extract many times the tonnage of the mine’s early days.  But in order to get from point A to D, you have to go through B and C.  (If for no other reason than that a lot of copper had to be mined to make the computers that map out the porphyry ore deposits!)

Another mountain of knowledge is in reclamation.  This is a First World problem, but a real one.  As it became clear the Kennecott mine could be exploited indefinitely, the company had to respond to residents’ and employees’ quality of life needs.  Oh, how the oh-niner miners would have howled had their bosses worried about sustainable development!  But don’t take my word, The Free Agent has seen for herself the ne plus ultra symbol of environmental consciousness heavy industry strives for: a flock of ducks on a former toxic waste heap.  The ducks, they won’t lie.

Another reality the 09ers knew is that mining is inherently dangerous.  Annual fatalities in the early Twentieth Century averaged 1500.  In the Twenty-First, we average 62.  Again, we have the slag heap of knowledge to thank for real, countable, human lives.

So keep your Disneyland, your St. Tropez, your under-age brothels—The Free Agent will vacation at a mine any day!

Paul Krugman: Are you serious?

May 17, 2010 Leave a comment

In his blog post  today  Paul Krugman suggests that Libertarian philosophy isn’t serious.  Paul Krugman isn’t a serious economist.  He is a political propagandist.  There is nothing wrong with being a political propagandist (um – some of my best friends are political propagandists?).   Just admit it.  Don’t try to pass yourself off as a serious analyst.  

Krugman’s blog is called “The Conscience of a Liberal”.  That would be a left-liberal – certainly not a classical liberal.  One of his favorite tactics is to dismiss his opponents without actually addressing the issue at all.  He is well-known for his refusal to debate Libertarians.  His big government left liberalism is a matter of fact that he happily acknowledges,  but does even he really believe the lame junk he writes?  Or maybe he is just willing to run any con he thinks will persuade a few gullible readers.

He can’t be serious about what he writes in his post today when he says that the BP oil spill is proof Libertarianism doesn’t work.   Is it possible his grasp of libertarian principles is really that bad?  Is it possible he knows that little about what he is talking about?  Or maybe he just thinks the people who read his blog are that simple-minded.

He correctly suggests that in a libertarian world

corporations know that if they do harm they’ll be sued.

That is, taking irresponsible risks is just bad business.  But then he somehow confuses up with down and suggests that Libertarianism is somehow connected with the corrupt government that limited BP’s liability and gave them a pass on the regulations that existed.   No Paul, that type of corruption can only exist in the type of big government that you love so dearly. 

Then in a truly amazing bit of double-talk he says

And don’t say that we just need better politicians. If libertarianism requires incorruptible politicians to work, it’s not serious

 Paul?  Are you serious?  Do even you beleive that? I’ll make is really simple so even you can understand it.

  1. Libertarians believe that individuals or businesses should not damage the property of other individuals or businesses.  If they do they should pay 100% of the costs of that damage – 100%.   That means every fisherman, every beach front hotel, every dive boat, every New York City seafood restaurant that can’t get shrimp for their scampi.   100% .    No whining about the country needs oil. 100%
  2. Libertarians believe the legitimate purpose of government is to PROTECT citizens’ property (and lives).  It’s NOT legitimate to take campaign contributions in return for granting businesses special favors like limited liability.
  3. Libertarians don’t believe in incorruptible politicians.  We don’t believe in politicians at all.  That’s why we trust free people and constitutional government and very definitely NOT politicians.

 It was big government that made the laws limiting oil companies’ liability.  It was big government who gave BP a pass on their own regulations.  How many libertarians were there in the Congress that passed that bill?  That would be ZERO.  Since Krugman is a Democrat – how many Democrats?  That would probably be 200 or 300 depending on when the law was passed.  How many Libertarians waived the regulations?  That would be ZERO again.

What kind of lame reasoning is Krugman running  and who takes him seriously?   It’s amazing what he gets away with.  But what do you expect from the Grey Lady of Statism – the New York Times?  I’m just amazed that even the New York Times will pay for shoddy analysis like Krugman’s that no serious person can take seriously.

NYPD Trashes Hundreds of Bikes on Earth Day

Emperor President Obama briefly visited New York City yesterday, Earth Day, burning hundreds of gallons of jet fuel to give a short speech that could have been delivered just as easily from the Rose Garden. Of course, whenever His Excellency graces us with his presence, ordinary life for the serfs grinds to a halt. Outbound flights are held on the ground, incoming flights are left circling outside New York air space, streets are closed, etc.

Houston Street was one of the main thoroughfares that was closed. Not taking any chances with the suspicious-looking bicycles locked to racks and lamp posts along the street (they could be bike-shaped bombs, after all), the NYPD fearlessly clipped the locks and tossed the bikes unceremoniously into the back of a truck. No notice was posted that bikes needed to be cleared.

Now that the Chosen One is gone, owners can apparently reclaim their stolen property from the cops who stole it at the 7th Precinct. As far as replacing the locks that the NYPD clipped, owners are apparently SOL.

Hat tip:

Just in Time for Earth Day… It’s Monoxitube!

April 22, 2010 3 comments

Holy environmental impact awareness, Batman! The Monoxitube, the brainchild of Dave Doctor, allows drivers to “face their exhaust.”

Before you whip out your credit card, no the Monoxitube is not a real product. Dave “invented” the Monoxitube to illustrate an obscure point made by the late Murray Rothbard in For a New Liberty. From the Monoxitube website:

Rothbard explained that soon after the invention of the internal combustion engine, people sued engine operators for producing harmful exhaust and irritating noise. The courts ruled the engine’s benefits for “society” superseded the harm caused by air and noise pollution. Engine operators then had no incentive to create non-toxic and quiet machines because they could offload the “cost” of their machines on to others. Had the courts ruled in favor of the victims, then inventors  long ago would have developed machines that don’t pollute the air.

After reading about these court cases, Dave Doctor, the creator of the Monoxitube spoof, never looked at exhaust the same way again. He thought, “how can people realize that air pollution is harmful, for the environment, but more immediately harmful to everyone who must inhale the pollution?” One answer is the Monoxitube spoof.

The Monoxitube spoof will hopefully encourage people to drive less and consider to what extent one person can pollute the air of another person.

Personally, I think Rothbard’s “societal benefits” argument may be a strawman. Although I haven’t read the court cases, it seems to me the more challenging aspect of bringing a tort against auto polluters would be proving that defendant’s X exhaust harmed plaintiff Y.

Perhaps one could bring a class action lawsuit where the plaintiffs are the class of people harmed by auto pollution (everyone? most people? some people? only people with lung cancer or emphysema not traceable to other possible causes?) and the defendants are everyone who has ever owned or driven an automobile. But it isn’t even provable that every driver has contributed to the alleged harm.

Anyway, even if the Monoxitube doesn’t reduce air pollution, I just thought of another use — a suicide machine for car owners without garages. It’s perfect for Manhattan.


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