Friday, February 22, 2008

Ground Floor Opportunity

I get really, really tired of always being part of the "acceptable collateral damage" in the government's wars. I'm not hypocritical enough to become a government warrior (what an ironic label to apply to bureaucrats and politicians), and I'm not involved in anything they've declared war on, so I just get to pay for the war and watch it ravage the wealth and property my hard work has bought me.

For once, though, I foresee a government war that I can really get behind. No, I still won't take the side of the government - I'm going to join the underground plaque economy.

Via The Agitator, police in Lawrence, MA are up in arms over plaques they received in the mail. The plaques, received by the police chief and three others, are awards for corruption. With all other crime in Lawrence solved, Chief Romero has dedicated Lawrence's world-renowned investigative unit to discovering the identity of the sender.

Even stranger than the chief's Roscoe P. Coltrain-esque response to criticism is the breathless treatment given to the story by Eagle-Tribune staff writer Jill Harmacinski:

LAWRENCE — They were real looking enough. Three wooden plaques each embossed with a gold police shield, a small gun piece and each engraved with an officer's name.

But these "plaques" sent to the police department Sunday were no awards. They came from a bogus address in Puerto Rico, supposedly sent from a former assistant district attorney and were in recognition for the officers being "corrupt." They were dated "9-11-2007."

Now, I've made plaques before. It's kind of fun to watch the engraver work and to be creative with elements to make something unique to present as an award. I was unaware, however, that my plaques could be considered "fakes" or even "plaques." I didn't know you needed the king's stamp for them to be real (or maybe just the foil sticker on the back identifying the trophy shop that made them).

Heck, when I receive a plaque I typically toss it in the garbage as soon as I get home. Little have I known that I might be complicit (even actively engaged) in the heretofore unknown scourge on society of plaque counterfeiting.

Thanks to Romero's vows of pressing for a federal government War on Plaques and
Harmacinski's expose of the underground plaque trade, I now know that I possess skills and knowledge valuable in this market. Hell, if the black market profits are a fraction of those created by the War on Drugs, I'll be living in style on my mega-yacht in no time!

Harry Reid, report to your office! I'll be mailing a draft copy of a bill I would like you to introduce in the Senate immediately declaring officially a federal War on Plaques. I expect this bill will get broad, bipartisan support - it's just the kind of thing this congress specializes in!

Oh, and we need to keep the precursors under lock and key! Planers, shapers, and engravers all need to be strictly controlled by Home Depot. I've already got mine, so I'll be able to set up a plaque lab in my garage and a backup plaque lab in Mexico.

Harry, this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship! I just hope Romero and Harmacinski don't make us look stupid.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008


I wonder what they're making here?


Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Government We Choose for You

With the ouster of South African President Thabo Mbeki, three free-market fellows see hope for Ben Bernanke's model economy, Zimbabwe. In the Washington Times, Tom Woods of the Heritage Foundation, Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute, and Marian Tupy from CATO pin their hopes on the newly-elected Jacob Zuma with the aid of US President George Bush.

While praising the US State Department's free-market, targeted sanctions and deference to Mbeki's leadership in the past, the trio hope that Zuma adopts a more proactive, free-market “tightening of the noose on the Mugabe regime.” Additionally, they hope that George Bush, the champion of English teachers and civil libertarians worldwide, will host the Zimbabwean opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, in the Oval Office and break away from the talks between Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC. Rather, the UN should engage Zuma and the ANC's Executive Council on the future of Zimbabwe.

There is no doubt that the Zimbabwean people are suffering through THE humanitarian crisis in the world right this moment. As noted, a third of the population has fled the country, and those that remain burn old mattresses and furniture for fuel and scramble for whatever food they can purchase on the black market. But, there is also no doubt that the Zimbabwean people do not suffer from a lack of government intervention.

Quite the contrary, and unsurprisingly, the Zimbabwean people suffer and die because of government interference, a fact that three supposed free-market fellows should acknowledge.

I've made no secret of my opinion of Mugabe. He's a thug; a tin-pot dictator not worth the price of the bullet to execute him. But, the only people who can morally seize control of their country, try Mugabe for crimes against humanity, and establish their chosen rule of law are the Zimbabweans. Woods, Bate, and Tupy, seemingly, will have none of that.

“None can fault past U.S. policy, which has featured tough rhetoric and sustained effort to coax the world to act by embracing targeted sanctions,” they write. Well, let me be the first, then.

Throughout history, US sanctions have had two effects in the nations they were imposed against: they impoverish and starve the people of that nation and enrich the ruling elite. The people, who have not just the moral right, but also the obligation to overthrow a dictatorial regime are left decimated and too weak to mount a credible defense of their own lives. The sanctions strengthen the power of the regime over the people and grant them the ability to quell any dissent.

One need not make a scholarly study of the history and writings of Woods, Bate, and Tupy to recognize that, while the plight of the Zimbabwean people pains them, they are grateful for the opportunity that plight presents to establish a Zimbabwean regime beholden to the UN and ANC. Despite their “democratic reform” rhetoric, a quick glance at the trio's CVs reveals their preference for the soft fascism that so often seeks cover under the guise of “free market.”

A truly free market would unconsciously use, as it already does, the extensive underground economy that has developed in Zimbabwe to undermine the Mugabe regime. A truly free market would, as it already does, develop alternative communication mechanisms – the people of Harare hide their satellite dishes in water barrels on the roofs of their tenements. A truly free market would get food within days to starving people.

Woods, Bate, and Tupy, however, choose to ignore the underground economy that is actually feeding people and instead cheer lead for sanctions to thwart that mechanism and UN, ANC, SA, and US interference to establish democratic elections, regardless of the cost in Zimbabwean life.

I'm sure Zimbabwean ballots are just as nutritional as Florida ballots, chads and all.

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