Quote for the Day: Via Brad Spangler 2009-05-02, Mikhail Bakunin on spontaneous order and the utopia of utopias:
… [W]e neither intend nor desire to thrust upon our own or any other people any scheme of social organization taken from books or concocted by ourselves. We are convinced that the masses of the people carry in themselves, in their instincts (more or less developed by history), in their daily necessities, and. in their conscious or unconscious aspirations, all the elements of the future social organization. We seek this ideal in the people themselves. Every state power, every government, by its very nature places itself outside and over the people and inevitably subordinates them to an organization and to aims which are foreign to and opposed to the real needs and aspirations of the people. We declare ourselves the enemies of every government and every state power, and of governmental organization in general. We think that people can be free and happy only when organized from the bottom up in completely free and independent associations, without governmental paternalism though not without the influence of a variety of free individuals and parties.
— Mikhail Bakunin, Critique of the Marxist Theory of the State
Obama’s Earth Day: Crispin Sartwell, eye of the storm (2009-05-07). In the spirit of this administration.
The War on the Informal Sector: Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-04-10): Air Force Unable to Hold Bake Sale to Buy Bomber, in which, thank God, the Professionalizing State saves us from the menace of unfettered pie-baking at the Friday fish-fry.
The War on Urban Homesteaders: Daniel Santana, Los Angeles IMC (2009-04-25): Never Forever 21 Action: Round 3 4/25/09, in which the South Central Farmers continue their fight to reclaim their homesteaded land from the city government bulldozer-brigade
Developmentschemes (cf. GT 2006-06-14: Enclosure comes to Los Angeles), currently slated to be turned over for a Forever 21 clothing warehouse. They’re calling for protests to the city government and a boycott of Forever 21.
On Libertarian Fissionism and open Anarchism: Brad Spangler (2009-04-30): Left Libertarian Terminology and Strategy: Obama the statist and more
Congratulations to Jeff Riggenbach: his fine little book, Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism is now available for free online (or you can pay to get it in print or on Kindle, if you prefer).
On Patriotic Correctness run amok: Dennis Perrin (2009-05-02): Just Kidding! Ltd., on corporate liberal pressure-valve Jon Stewart, the nuclear terrorist, war criminal, and President Harry S. Truman, and the horizons of acceptable satire in the American Patriotically-Correct media.
Anarchy in L.A. a Report-back: Rockero, Los Angeles IMC (2009-04-24): The Resistance is Not Quiet: 2009 Anarchist Activist Conference at Pitzer College in Claremont, California.
Anarcho-Nerdery: Roderick Long, Austro-Athenian Empire (2009-05-11): Dilithium Dynamite, in which a bunch of us anarchists get together to geek out (including the time-honored geek tradition of lodging endless nitpicking quibbles) about the new Star Trek.
On home cookin’: Jennifer Reese, Slate (2009-04-22): Scratch That: How cost-effective is it to make homemade pantry staples? Answer seems to be that it’s mostly a win, although not always. My own experience is that it becomes even more cost-effective compared to store-bought when you get all your vegetables for free through Food Not Bombs.
War news: While on patrol in Baghdad in 2007, Master Sergeant John E. Hatley, Private Michael Leahy, and Sergeant First Class Joseph P. Mayo, soldiers in the U.S. government’s army, murdered four Iraqi captives by shooting them in the back of the head at point-blank range while they were tied up and blindfolded. Then they dumped the bodies in a canal. Major General Qassim Atta, a general in the U.S.-approved Iraqi government’s military, is filing suit in order to get the government to forcibly shut down a major newspaper and an Iraqi television station for publishing claims that the government claims to be false.
On legal lynching: Joshua Holland, AlterNet (2009-04-01): Ted Stevens’ Charges Dropped: A Tale of Two Justice Systems. When Anarchists propose that all the functions currently controlled by the authoritarian State, including the judgment of cases involving disputes or violent crimes, we are inevitably told that without a State-controlled, hierarchical system of courts, you’d have nothing more than the justice of the lynch mob. This is actually a classic example of statist inversion: by focusing on the dangers that informal and irregular efforts at seeking justice will lead to a disregard for objectivity or evidence, the statist completely blanks out the ways in which formalization and enforced hierarchy oblige government courts to disregard evidence themselves in the name of formal procedures, and to elevate authority above objectivity, by standing on ceremony or respect for turf at the expense of substantive justice. If the state’s plans to murder Troy Anthony Davis are not an example of a slow-motion lynching, what is?
On tearing down the walls (of Facebook): Martin Blaabjerg, Kaplak Blog (2009-05-10): When The Garden Walls Come Crumbling Down, Or what would happen if Facebook went GPL. One thing I would like to see more of is a discussion not only of using Facebook’s code, and of exporting its data for open reuse, but also the kind of architectural and structural changes you might expect to see as a result of those garden walls crumbling. If the data moves freely and exchanges between countless networking tools, you can expect to see emergent networks that aren’t dependent on any single site, and that provide real polycentric social networking, where the platform is the Internet, not one company’s server grid, with the rich features of social networking sites dispersed out to billions of far-flung nodes and hubs. What might it look like, and what would be the implications? Technologically? Socially?
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Reporting from Las Vegas — In a city launched by shotgun weddings and quickie divorces, and which offers the chance to be wed by faux Liberaces, King Tuts and Grim Reapers, there remains at least one nuptial taboo: You can’t be married by an atheist.
Michael Jacobson, a 64-year-old retiree who calls himself a lifelong atheist, tried this year to get a license to perform weddings. Clark County rejected his application because he had no ties to a congregation, as state law requires.
So Jacobson and attorneys from two national secular groups — the American Humanist Assn. and the Center for Inquiry — are trying to change things. If they can’t persuade the state Legislature to rework the law, they plan to sue.
When Lipman and his wife moved to Florida this spring, Jacobson — a balding man with a thin, white mustache and a trace of his native Philadelphia in his voice — decided to become the local atheist celebrant.
But I’m not going to do it by saying I belong to a religious organization,he said.That’s a sham, because atheists are not religious.
Jacobson filled out an application to perform marriages, but sidestepped the questions on religion. County Clerk Shirley Parraguirre said she had little choice but to reject it.
As Nevada law requires, all of the county’s 2,500 or so licensed officiants are connected to a congregation — though some are as small as two people, Parraguirre said. (Judges and commissioners of civil marriages can also lead ceremonies.)
Some of the state’s regulations hark back to the 1960s, when ministers were dumping their flocks to become wealthyMarrying Sams,according to the book Las Vegas: An Unconventional History. One would-be officiant apparently hoped to marry enough people to finance his divorce.
Lawmakers, trying to ferret out the profit-hungry, said weddings must be among a minister’sincidentalduties. Drive past the string of neon-lighted downtown chapels, and you’ll see that didn’t quite pan out.
Clark County issues nearly 100,000 marriage licenses a year and boasts dozens of places to exchange vows — atop Harley-Davidsons, in Renaissance costumes, aboard gondolas — 24 hours a day. The competition is so fierce that in recent years, employees at rival chapels have accused one another of slashing tires and shouting death threats.Someone is working at all of these chapels,said Parraguirre, whose office doesn’t have the resources to track down ministers flouting the law. In fact, she worries that if the criteria to become an officiant changes, her staff will bebombarded with people coming in and just doing it for a job.
Judges performing ceremonies, for example, don’t have to meet religious criteria, so it’s absurd to make anyone else do so, [Lynne Henderson, a law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas] said. Officials could regulate celebrants in other ways, such as making them get training.
Let’s suppose it’s true that County Clerk Shirley Parraguirre’s office just hasn’t got the resources to deal with all the applications that would
bombard them if Nevada did away its mandates for state discrimination against religiously unconventional marriages. It seems to me there’s a simple solution: save County Clerk Shirley Parraguirre the work by abolishing the laws that require wedding officiants to get a license from the State in the first place. If there’s no licensure requirement, there will be no discrimination lawsuits, and also no applications to
bombard poor County Clerk Shirley Parraguirre.
If your Elvis-impersonating streetside neon-chapel minister’s motives are really focused on making a living rather than on serving the Lord, who cares? Couples who want a religiously serious wedding will presumably go to a church or temple or mosque where they can get one.
If your Starfleet-uniformed Captain of the Starship of Love hasn’t had some State-sanctioned course of
training (training in what?), who cares? Couples who want to vet their celebrants for training or competency will do so.
Even if you think that the State has some legitimate business using a licensing system to pick and choose which marriages it will or will not recognize (I don’t), what possible purpose can it serve to require not only the couple, but also the third party that they hire to officiate — whose only legal function is to witness the vows and attest that these folks mean what they say — to get specially vetted and licensed by the State? Really, seriously, bureaucratic rationality aside, who could possibly care, and why?
Every spring and every fall for the past two decades, Laura Soelberg has had a yard sale. She is 72 years old and she makes a little bit of money for herself selling her old things in the yard of her late mother’s house. Her friends and neighbors look forward to the event and familiar faces greet her every year. She does no advertising, collects no taxes, and has no employees. And now she faces up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Laura Soelberg’s fall garage sale began much as it had for 19 years: Friends parked in the church lot next to her mother’s Minnetonka house, greeted her with hugs and gifts, and began browsing.
But within half an hour, the authorities arrived to shut her down.
A police officer and two city workers ordered a halt to the Oct. 24 event, telling everyone to get out, shoppers said.
It was almost like they were breaking up an underage party,said Laurel Elhart, a Minnetonka resident who had attended the sales for at least a dozen years.
Now Soelberg, 72, could face criminal charges — and if convicted, up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and a year of probation.
The city considers Soelberg’s yard sales a zoning violation, in part because, while the Deephaven resident owns the house, she does not live in it.
Soelberg looks upon her twice-a-year sales as a tradition she started with her mother in the 1980s and merely continued at her mother’s home after her mother’s death in the late ’90s.
I don’t understand. This is such a minor, little thing,she said.Everyone likes a garage sale.
Before each sale, which generally runs four days, Soelberg sends out reminder postcards to those who request them and gives the neighbors a heads up. Andy Martin, who lives next door, wrote a letter to the city in support of Soelberg, saying that his family is probablythe most impacted of anyone by her sale.But her events, in contrast to others he’s seen in the city, are infrequent.
Before you sanction her, you would need to sanction many others,Martin wrote.
Yvonne Brown, who has known Soelberg for 20 years, arrived two hours after the authorities did on Oct. 24 and found the few people still therehad stunned looks on their faces. It was like the Gestapo had just come and left,she said.
I couldn’t believe it. There are garage sales all over all the neighborhoods. Why this one?
But the city has raised another question: Are Soelberg’s events really garage sales?
In general, the city draws a legal distinction between a garage sale and a commercial venture, city planner Julie Wischnack said:The difference is whether someone is utilizing the sale for an income-generating venture. Is it truly trying to get rid of items around the house? Or is it a commercial operation?
… Herfriends/customers,as she calls them, have voiced support for her in letters and a petition. Elhart said most of the shoppers are acquaintances — middle-aged and elderly women who have met at the sales over the years. And most were shocked bythe police invasion.It’s odd that it’s been going on for so long and now, all of a sudden, it’s an issue,Elhart said.
So there you have it. City cops busted up an peaceful neighborhood yard sale and now they are threatening a 72 year old woman with jail and a $1,000 fine because she might be making a little extra to support herself through yard sales, without first going through the red tape and expense for a city business license. Also because there’s a zoning code, and the peace and quiet of the neighborhood needs to be protected whether her neighbors care or not. If the city government weren’t there to butt in and hassle Laura Soelberg, her happy neighbors, and her willing customers, who would? Without those zoning and business license regulations, just what would save quiet Minnesota neighborhoods from the rapacity of unfettered flea markets?
Bureaucratic rationality, n.: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy without permission.
First the IRS ate your Christmas turkey. Now they are coming to crush your childhood dreams, too.
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — Brian Emmett’s childhood fantasy came true when he won a free trip to outer space.
But the 31-year-old was crushed when he had to cancel his reservation because of Uncle Sam.
Emmett won his ticket to the stars in a 2005 sweepstakes by Oracle Corp., in which he answered a series of online questions on Java computer code.
He became an instant celebrity, giving media interviews and appearing on stage at Oracle’s trade show.
For the self-described space buff who has attended space camp and watched shuttle launches from Kennedy Space Center, it seemed like a chance to become an astronaut on a dime.
Then reality hit. After some number-crunching, Emmett realized he would have to report the $138,000 galactic joy ride as income and owe $25,000 in taxes.
Unwilling to sink into debt, the software consultant from the San Francisco Bay area gave up his seat.
There was definitely a period of mourning. I was totally crestfallen,Emmett said.Everything you had hoped for as a kid sort of evaporates in front of you.
Normally you would think that winning a contest would be the only way that people other than the hyper-rich might have a chance to experience space tourism in the near future; right now the cash price of a space trip is prohibitiely expensive for anyone else. So prohibitively expensive that just paying the tax on that much income would be prohibitively expensive for anyone else, too.
But if the tax bureaucrats didn’t make sure that you pay for your once-in-a-lifetime chance a trip to the stars, at a rate assessed according to the current, prohibitively expensive cash value of that trip, then who would? Best to keep the rabble away from a chance at being astronauts anyway; hopes and dreams can be dangerous things.
Bureaucratic rationality, n. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy without permission.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind., March 29 — Angela Hendrix-Petry gave birth to her daughter Chloe by candlelight in her bedroom here in the early morning of March 12, with a thunderstorm raging outside and her family and midwife huddled around her.
It was the most cozy, lovely, lush experience,Ms. Hendrix-Petry said.
According to Indiana law, though, the midwife who assisted Ms. Hendrix-Petry, Mary Helen Ayres, committed a felony punishable by up to eight years in prison. Ms. Ayres was, according to the state, practicing medicine and midwifery without a license.
Doctors, legislators and prosecutors in Indiana and in the nine other states with laws prohibiting midwifery by people other than doctors and nurses say home births supervised by midwives present grave and unacceptable medical risks. Nurse-midwives in Indiana are permitted to deliver babies at home, but most work in hospitals.
Midwives see it differently. They say the ability of women to choose to give birth at home is under assault from a medical establishment dominated by men who, for reasons of money and status, resent a centuries-old tradition that long ago anticipated the concerns of modern feminism.
Chloe Hendrix-Petry’s birth has not given rise to criminal charges, but a prosecution against another midwife, Jennifer Williams, is pending in Shelbyville, Ind. It was prompted by the death of a baby named Oliver Meredith that Ms. Williams delivered in June. But she is not charged with causing or contributing to Oliver’s death.
… According to an affidavit filed by Rick Isgrigg, an investigator with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, Ms. Williams conducted a dozen prenatal examinations on Oliver’s mother, Kristi Jo Meredith; monitored the fetal heart rate during labor; made a surgical incision known as an episiotomy when she detected fetal distress; performed frantic CPR on the baby when he emerged; and sutured the incision afterward. Ms. Williams charged the Merediths $1,550.
… Oliver Meredith’s parents have showed little enthusiasm for the prosecution, people on both sides of the case said.It’s not like they’re knocking down our doors to pursue the matter,Mr. Apsley acknowledged.They just want to get on with their lives.
Here we have state prosecutors barging in punish a woman for providing responsible medical care to a willing patient who apparently isn’t interested in prosecuting her for anything in connection with a stillbirth which not even the state or the AMA alleges to have been her fault. Why? Because she dared to help willing mothers give birth without a permission slip from the state government or the doctors’ guild, and because it’s apparently a compelling state interest for guild rules to be enforced and all births to be properly institutionalized. If the state doesn’t protect women from freely deciding to have a cozy, lovely, lush experience giving birth at home, with the help of a midwife whom they’ve selected, after nine months of due consideration, who will?
But wait, there’s more. Here’s the Loyal Opposition, with their solution to the problem:
Peggy Welch, a Democratic state representative in Bloomington, has introduced legislation in Indiana to recognize and regulate lay midwives. She said the issue boiled down to choice and safety.
… because I guess the problem here is that the government’s enforcement of Birth Guild rules doesn’t extend far enough. Without the government to tell women whom they can choose to help them give birth, or to lock up midwives who haven’t been duly approved in triplicate by the proper authorities, how in the world would we protect choice and safety?
Bureaucratic rationality, n.: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may have something good in their life without your authorization.