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.

Unintended Consequences: How Government Gets Everything Wrong

May 7, 2009 1 comment

My left-liberal (as opposed to classical liberal) friends tell me to shut up when I harp on how Government can’t do anything right.  They tell me it’s a worn out cliche.  It’s a cliche for a reason.  It’s true.  Think about it. I’ll bet you can’t name a single thing that the government gets right.  And by “right” I mean it does it as well or better than the alternative – which is of course free human beings making their own decisions ( a sneaky way of saying “free markets”).   Go ahead – name one. I’m waiting…..

Remember it wasn’t so long ago that Congress preferenced Ethanol and caused a net increase in fossil fuel usage and disruptions in food markets.  Surprise! They did it again.  Here’s a post on the always informative  that points out unintended negative consequences of Congress meddling in energy markets via tax preferences. 

Prior to Congress deciding it could use tax policy to re-engineer America’s energy use from on-high, the paper industry had been 70% fueled by something called black liquor, a natural by-product of the paper making process. In other words, the paper industry was inherently energy efficient, until Congress got involved.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized a 50-cent per gallon tax credit for mixing gasoline or diesel with an alternative fuel. To get the credit, paper companies began to mix diesel with their black liquor. In other words . . .

  • The government is paying the paper industry to use a less efficient, environmentally-destructive fuel!
  • The cost of this scam could reach $8 billion this year. [Source: The Nation]
  • Even the New York Times reports conclusive evidence.  Of course The Times doesn’t see it as evidence of Government incompetence.   The Times  acquired it’s new office space by getting government to take it by force from small businesses via eminent domain.   I’m not surprised they are reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them. Cozy arrangement.

    Check out this Times post with comments by Doug Tatum, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Tatum, an Atlanta-based consulting and executive search firm that specializes in helping growing companies with finance issues.

     Entrepreneurs have a limited amount of bandwidth, and they have to quit wasting their time chasing the impossible. They need to think about how they can change their business model to become profitable. That’s where the capital to grow will come from

    Finance growth with profits?  What?  That’s so pre-Obama.   That would mean something like cutting taxes would be better for the economy than massive stimulus packages.   But of course few in Government have ever turned a profit in the free market so they wouldn’t know about that.   Bam has of course made millions from his book sales. But profiting on his Presidential campaign isn’t really that close to a free market activity in today’s two flavors of one party system.   Also cutting taxes would mean that regular working people and entrepreneurs would make the decisions about where the money got spent and that would mean Government can’t determine the winners and the losers.   Quaint notion.

    Tatum continues:

    Banks have become cautious about what they have on their balance sheets. They still don’t know what their portfolios are worth. That means they’re waiting for the next shoe to drop, which could be the commercial markets. I talked to the C.E.O. of a community bank who told me that they have the regulators telling them when and where they can lend money. So while you might have politicians saying, ’Lend, lend, lend,’ the regulators are holding the banks back.

    Banks becoming cautious and refusing to lend when Congress tells them to?  Didn’t Congress tell them to lend to sub-prime home buyers and sell the paper to Fannie Mae?  How did that work out for them?  But it’s OK because the banks aren’t THAT stupid – well not any more.  They can ignore Congress because the regulators make them.  So Congress can continue to pander and not worry that the banks will actually take their disastrous advice – again.

    It’s amazing to me that people can continue to cling to the idea that Government decisions can ever outperform free market decisions.  But most people don’t know much economic history or economic principles.   And the history and principles they do know are fed to them by the Government propaganda machine – organizations like the New York Times.

    The truth is out there for anyone who wants to learn it.   If you don’t know – here are two great places to start :  and  .

    We hate to say we told you so, but…….

    April 17, 2009 Leave a comment

    Advocates of free markets have been trying tell the tax-and-spend and borrow- and- spend crowd since Adam, ( that’s Adam Smith) that central planners in government just don’t have the information (not to mention the motivati0n) to allocate resources effectively.   Seems like the stimulus package is just another example of a billion  (or two or three) of taxpayer money, and your retirement money, and your children’s money down the government rathole.

    Accdording to this article on yahoo news today

    Some town leaders say the federal stimulus package, with its promise of creating jobs, is neglecting to invest in the cornerstones of community life, from new city halls to recreation centers.  There’s some money to hire police officers, but no money to rebuild the stations they work in. The opposite’s true for firefighters. No money to hire more, but at least some funding to improve firehouses. Money for wind turbines? Yes. New traffic signs? Yes. Hybrid car discounts? Yes. Money for new libraries? No. New town halls? No. Swimming pools? No. School athletic stadiums? No.  While there may be some money to plunk solar panels on that aging municipal building, there’s no money set aside to replace it.

    “This is trickle-down stimulus,” said Joseph Fernandes, town administrator in Plainville, Mass., a town of about 8,000 south of Boston. Fernandes was hoping for help building a new, $12.5 million fire, police and town hall complex, which he said could put people to work as quickly as some of the highway projects receiving stimulus dollars.

    Gee- could it be that we can make better decisions with our own money than the bureaucrats in Washington?  What a concept?  Why doesn’t someone tell the President?

    The article continues:

    Early on, many state officials hoped the stimulus money would arrive in huge blocks with few strings. Most states pulled together what amounted to massive statewide wish lists, raising hopes for municipal makeovers.  In the end, Congress opted to funnel much of the money through existing federal channels and created a confusing hodgepodge of rules about which local projects might be eligible.  “Does it really matter if it’s … a police station or a fire station?” Fernandes said. “At the end of the day it’s money that would have to be spent eventually.”

    Let me see if I have this straight.  It doesn’t really matter what it’s spent on as long as it gets spent?  So we may as well just drop it out of helicopters after all.  At least then the bubble gets spread evenly.  Oh – but make sure they are green helicopters.