Thursday, November 09, 2017

Private Roads?



        Libertarians ask why the state government of Virginia acts more as an impediment to solutions to transportation problems than as a facilitator. 

        In this country, this is a development coincident with the arrival of the misnamed Progressives, the socialists of the early 1900's, who encouraged the governments at all levels to take over the means of transportation.  Before the socialists, roadways were provided by the private sector -- examples include the Brook Turnpike (now US Route 1), Three Chopt Road (the traditional name of what is now US Rt 250), Telegraph Road in Northern Virginia, etc.

        These examples provide refutation of the popular idea that if roads weren't provided by the state, no one would build them.   Indeed, the state would rather you didn't know that the majority of pavement put down here is built almost entirely by developers.  However, state law makes it all but impossible for developers to retain or sell roadways, so in most cases the road is ceded to the state or local government upon completion of each development.

        Further, it takes a bunch of legal wrangling with the state and local authorities to build a road not on the Department of Transportation's wish list.  It takes all that and an act of the General Assembly -- or several of them -- to build a private toll highway like the Dulles Greenway.  Even then, so egregious are the government's restrictions and requirements even when approved that the ability of those roadways to pay their investors back is hobbled to the point of being a guaranteed money-loser.

        The biggest boon to be realized from allowing the private sector to provide roadways is that they would be built and used more efficiently.  For example, governments have never used demand-based pricing.  That's why many government roads turn into parking lots around rush hour, and it's why buses and trains remain basically empty most of the time.  It's also why a relatively rigid 9 - to - 5 work-hour mindset now pervades the nation.  Most importantly, free government roadways have directly caused explosive urban sprawl.

        Consider: a private road operator would see the massive demand around 9:00 and 5:00, and would adjust the prices (tolls) charged to get on the road during those hours, to reflect the heightened demand.  As a result, road users would have a greater incentive to use alternative means to avoid the rush hour pricing -- riding buses & trains & carpools, moving closer to their work, pressuring their employer to offer alternative work hours and telecommuting. 

        With state ownership or control of the transportation system, there will always be massive resistance to making efficiency improvements of any sort, so no one should be surprised at the super-jams in Northern VA and the growing jams around Richmond and Tidewater.  Nor should anyone be surprised at empty mass transit vehicles, and explosive urban sprawl.

        Privatizing the means of transportation would allow new ideas to be brought into an industry that has been horribly stagnant since governments took it away from the private sector in the twenties and thirties.  The prime example is AVI -- Automatic Vehicle Identification -- a method of charging tolls without stopping the vehicle to exchange money.  AVI has been around for forty years but was effectively shelved until only very recently because the state had no incentive to develop it.  Who knows what other conveniences and efficiencies could be obtained by getting the slow, inertia-laden hand of the state out of the transportation business?

        There is the problem of government (and corporate) tracking of your movements with AVI.  That is a problem, and there are ways to address it, but that could be a long discussion that is outside of the scope of this article.

        Libertarians would abolish invasive agencies such as the DMV and instead allow any notary public to document vehicle ownership changes.  Private entities should be allowed to sell license plates to car owners.

Further, Virginia's Vehicle Inspection regulations and insurance requirements should be repealed.  Once roads are privatized, road owners would be free to require the equivalent if they wish, and the road owner's liability insurance provider would also be free to set their coverage rates appropriately.

        Separation of Transportation and State is a long-overdue idea.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Take a Knee To Smash the State

In all of the fake outrage over taking a knee (or NOT taking a knee) in NFL games, there are a few things missing in the discussion.

Keep in mind that the gladiatorial arenas are provided by coercion: Taxpayers are forced to pay for them.

It's also very important to keep in mind WHY some players have chosen to kneel: because of the behavior of police.  American police have killed roughly 1,400 Americans in each of 2015 and 2016; and they are on track to kill a similar number in 2017.  Even though about a third of those killed are running away, or are unarmed and not resisting, vanishingly few of the responsible officers are even brought to trial, much less given the same prosecutorial aggression Average Joe would be faced with for committing the exact same act.

There are far more whites killed by police -- but it is true that blacks are killed at a higher rate relative to their population.

In any case, there are roughly 1,400 deaths annually at the hands of police -- and tens of thousands more who are alive but injured or permanently and horribly maimed (just ask Walter DeLeon).

Who hires those cops, and refuses to fire them when they can't keep their fingers off the bang switch?

City governments.

The very same entities that will send the same costumed revenue enhancers around to your house if you refuse to pay their extortion that pays for those stadiums and those subsidized multi-million-dollar salaries of the professional sports class.

Football players (along with most other pro sports enterprises) are essentially taxpayer-funded welfare queens.

Beginning with stadiums but hardly limited to just those, American gladiatorial sports spectacles are endowed with a truly impressive network of subsidies.

It starts with the lavish spending on school sports.  These are subsidies to jocks, and the main beneficiaries are the vanishingly few who will go on to professional sports.

Think of the message government schools send to the most intelligent kids:

"We might let you play with other nerds on the Battle of the Brains team, which won't be televised or reported in your local newspaper.  We'll allow the jocks to harass you as you walk through the school, and to laugh at your accomplishments.  But the jocks -- we're going to turn them into stars for the whole student body to worship and cheer.  We'll build gigantic facilities for them to practice in.  Oh, and you and your parents are going to pay for it all, too."

The best of the jocks are offered full or partial rides to college, and then get a break on what kind of classes they must take -- and pro scouts will sniff out the best of them.

Most of the large sports colleges are themselves largely taxpayer-funded, to the tune of over $80 billion annually by the feds, with a similar amount coming from states.  A large fraction of those billions goes to sports and athletes.

Then, once an athlete turns pro, they will be the recipient of further taxpayer loot: Many pro sports stadiums are funded by cities, states, and even the federal government.  For instance, the federal government has -- for decades -- paid the gladiators to do the patriotic circus before each game, at least partly as an indoctrination measure but also to boost military worship and recruitment.  This week, because of all the ginned-up outrage over "taking a knee", the NFL refunded three-quarters of a million back to Leviathan.

The players who make it to those professional teams are the privileged of the privileged of the privileged.

Every last side in this fiasco -- from the posturing players, to the posturing bureaucrat class, to the outraged "patriotic" class, is a hypocrite.

If the NFL players really wanted to protest injustice, they should be protesting government involvement in sports, from elementary school right on through their paychecks.

But more importantly, they should be demanding the Abolition of  the Police.

Because for all of the five thousand years of civilization, government police have *always* been a brutal occupying force.  There is no "reform", because the incentives are completely wrong.  Millions of people have tried to reform police; or to protest, or even to resist their worst aggression.

But nothing changes.

The experiment has failed.  It is beyond time to Abolish the Police.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Erdogan's Reichstag Fire

Islamists and the American political left have been attempting mightily to portray ISIS as a project of Israel.

It would be hilarious if normal people didn't think it was a credible story.

It is true that American money and material support has found its way to the murderous 8th century bigots of ISIS.  But ISIS would not exist without Turkey.  It is a proxy militia that was created, armed, and supported by Turkish intelligence. 

Who has profited the most from events in Syria?  Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan, the wannabe sultan of The Restored Ottoman Empire.  De-stabilizing Syria at the moment of Arab Spring was a golden opportunity Erdogan couldn't pass up.
The Syrian civil war is largely an Erdogan project.   He hated Assad.  Further, he wanted to drive a wedge through the heart of the Christian, Alawite, Kurd, and other political and religious minorities that live along the border region in both Turkey and Syria.

Those border residents are descended from refugees who fled the genocide of millions by Muslim Turks in the early 1900's.  As far as the Turks are concerned, those damned Jews/Christians/Kurds/Armenians/etc simply can't move far enough away from the Fatherland -- we have to reach out and kill them wherever we find them!

Erdogan had the same designs on Iraq but that one was easy because the central government was impotent.

Erdogan is a mafia don who is no different from 1500 years of Ottoman corruptocrats, and his family is profiting immensely from his racist, bigoted policies. The Restored Ottoman Empire will make his family rich beyond their wet dreams.

Of course, there is no doubt that US material and money has gotten to ISIS in a dumb attempt to support "rebel" groups that US spooks don't really know a damned thing about.

Turkish spooks aren't nearly as stupid as American spooks.  They are all over Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, and they're much better at blending in.

The Syrian rebellion was sprinkled from the beginning by Turkish black ops assets.

No, this is a Turkish war of destabilization, and then ultimately, reconquest; in the long term.  Short term, profit for Erdogan's family (various estimates place his family's worth now well in excess of a half-billion dollars -- all riches gained in the last ten years and amassed largely from profits from looted oil fields in Syria and Iraq, gun running, and illegal (under Syrian law) trade in antiquities and looted mine products.  And from opium smuggling.

Now about that "coup" attempt.

The "coup" was engineered by Erdogan to rid the military and police of those who did not demonstrate perfect loyalty -- to Erdogan.

Up until the coup, Erdogan was struggling with sagging approval ratings and a restive population.  What to do but generate a swell of nationalism with which to cape himself?

So Erdogan goes on a vacation to a secret location hidden even from the military. When the military overthrew Morsi in Egypt, what was the very first thing on their to-do list?  To capture Morsi.  In Chile?  Capture Allende.  In Turkey?  Capture a bridge.


That was simply too dumb to have been anything but a feint set up by Erdogan.

a)  Erdogan convinced top allied generals to spread news of a coup

b)  Fed-up officers who didn't like Erdogan "join" the coup and mobilized their soldiers, believing they are part of a majority of the army.

c)  As the day progresses, opposition officers quickly figure out they were tricked and are a minority.

d)  Worse yet, they have been revealed.  Cornered, some of them decide to fight anyway, but it´s a battle they've already lost.

e)  Erdogan now knows which officers that not only are against him, but that would also participate in coups, and he now has an excuse to slaughter them outright, and if they are not killed, to torture and kill them later.

f)  Erdogan now has a good excuse to increase his powers, which he had done during previous opportunities.  Turkey is well on its way to one-man-rule.  He declares martial law, and purges 100,000 teachers, judges, civil servants, officers, and other bureaucrats he wanted to get rid of anyway, who had committed the crime of being in the political opposition.

g)  Erdogan stirs up nationalist sentiments among the low-information populace.

h)  Most army units on the streets who were participating in the coup surrendered peacefully; but some massacred civilians.

That may have happened as a REACTION, after all, Erdogan itself clamored for his supporters to take arms and FIGHT the coup perpetrators. (really, ask civilians to fight with bricks and handguns to fight tanks and choppers to protect HIS POWER?). Cornered officers and soldiers. A single shot against them, may have mass panicked and run the tanks over people. Plus some that may have done so out of pure cruelty.

Self coups are extremely common, and in Ottoman days, they were perfected to an art form.

What should "be done" about the situation?
Nothing, at least, nothing by the United States or NATO.

Savages and religious bigots stuck in the 8th century will remain savage and bigoted.  No effort by us will ever change them.

We should disengage.

No American government assets, troops, or dollars should go anywhere near any nation in the region.  Ottomans have sought to dominate and forcibly convert all minorities for well over a thousand years.  Nothing has changed in this century.  Being on the losing side in 1915 was a temporary setback for the empire, nothing more.

Let the Russians, Indians, and Chinese deal with them, because eventually they will have to.

Turkey should be thrown out of NATO, the US should dismantle its base at Incirlik, it should end its ties with Europe and all of the 8th-century bigot regimes in the Middle East...

And then go the hell home.

Bottom-Shelf Sustenance

[Editor's Note: This article was written in 2010 by Chad Quella, who retains all rights to it.]

With a cartful of our staple groceries at the usual family trip to the Mechanicsville Kroger, we got into the shortest checkout line and waited.  But after a while of staying in one spot and not advancing in line, I began to pay attention to what was going on ahead of me.

It appeared that there was a new trainee on the register with a more seasoned employee beside her, but what had caused the delay was a non-standard transaction that required some hands-on training.  She would get plenty of experience with that type of transaction by the time her customer finished checking out.

Lined-up on the conveyor belt were five separate clusters of items, each topped with a receipt-like strip of paper.  It immediately struck me as poor decision-making that this customer in front of me had selected several gallons of milk, but also several pints of milk.  The milk in a pint bottle of course is more expensive than the milk in a gallon bottle, and anyway I couldn’t imagine what might be going on in this woman’s home that would require that much milk, or even allow it to all get drank before it spoils.  But hey, it isn’t my milk.

There were a few other things too, I recall a package of individually-wrapped cheese food slices, and a tub of cottage cheese.  Big dairy fan, I chuckled to myself.  But there was one last cluster of items, different from the rest in that it didn’t have a slip of paper on top, and rather than dairy, it was a package of seafood salad, a styrofoam tray containing a pair of deviled crabs, and a bag of fresh lobster from the seafood counter.

As I stood and waited and watched, these clusters of food slowly made their way down the conveyor belt being rung up in separate transactions, I realized that the little slips of paper were not coupons or shopping lists, they were being used as payment!

For the first time, I took a look at who was making these purchases.  A couple, probably in their mid-30’s, both quite overweight, sporting sweat pants and t-shirts.  No kids were to be seen.  I began to put together that the paper slips must be some kind of government-issued vouchers, and the pints of milk and other small items were probably rounding out the value of each voucher.  I was informed later that this is the form that WIC benefits are paid in, and the fact that it was the first of the month made this the likely case.

I watched, incredulous, as the gallons upon gallons of milk went back into the cart, and the lobster, crabs and seafood salad were rung up.  The lady produced a card for payment of these items.  I couldn’t see what kind of card it was, but the standard “debit or
credit” question went unasked.  The dairy-laden couple went on their way, allowing the Kroger bagger to take their load out for them, and leaving us to bag our own items.

Now maybe I’ve led a sheltered life, but I don’t recall ever having seen such a thing before.  I went home and googled “WIC lobster” on a whim.  Turns out I’m not alone!  A quick search turned up these results:

Almost right on cue, local media added a little more insight – just not in the way they intended.  First, a story in the 8/10/10 issue of Style Weekly highlighted a Whitcomb Court mother of six, and her monthly early-morning dash to the nearest supermarket to exchange her government-provided purchasing power for food.  The story was meant to call attention to the “food deserts” that exist where, coincidentally, the few food stores that remain do almost all of their business at the beginning of the month, and almost exclusively in government benefits.

Then, our local TV news monster ran a similar story into the ground on their channels 12, 35, and 65 afternoon, evening, and night broadcasts on 9/1/10.  It was meant to highlight another Whitcomb Court resident who was fit to be tied because a government computer system snafu had delayed the automatic deposit of money-for-nothing into her account.

The TV story even went so far as to bemoan the plight of a sink full of dirty dishes – dirty because the woman couldn’t afford to buy soap.  But after she called an automated service for the umpteenth time that day and discovered that she had received her handout, the last shot in the story showed her at last standing over the sink scrubbing a frying pan. 

What the article and TV news report really did for me was provide some perspective on the welfare state and the establishment and political attitudes that produce it.  In neither case did the journalist inquire about how these poor, downtrodden mothers ended up single, living their pathetic existences in government-funded housing, clinging to government-provided money to go to some horrible store and use it to buy bottom-shelf sustenance for themselves and their children.

All they focused on was the fact that they were waiting for that check, and couldn’t wait to spend it when it came.


Chad Quella lives with his family near Richmond, Virginia.