Why Stand Your Ground laws are unintentionally racist and anti-liberty
Posted on March 3, 2014 at 10.16 am
Thanks to Rare for publishing my latest:
Most of the clashes between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives can be boiled down to one thing: Do we believe in individualism vs. collectivism?
Do our lives belong to us—or the government?
Those of who value liberty usually come down on the side of individualism. They don’t trust the government to dictate how we should drink, eat, smoke, or spend our money (or, nowadays, not spend our money); and believe every person has inherent value and the right to make their own choices.
But while individualism is important, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Social structures do exist, particularly those created by government.
The concept of social structures can be vague, so let’s make a little more concrete—look at the way our justice system treats minorities.
The war on drugs is an obvious example.
Black and white people use marijuana at almost identical rates, but black people are four times more likely to be arrested for smoking pot—in fact, “in some states, including Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, blacks were around eight times as likely to be arrested.”
Once convicted (which is also more likely), black people are usually assured a harsher sentence than white people convicted of the exact same behavior. Black drug offenders are 27% more likely to go to jail than their white counterparts (a figure which jumps to a whopping 800% in Chicago), and prison time for crimes across the board averages 60% longer for blacks than whites.
Now, crack isn’t actually more dangerous than powder cocaine, but there is a significant difference in who tends to use each drug. Crack has historically been more popular with the poor and minorities, while “blow” is favored by wealthy whites.
These are massive differences. Why are minorities treated so unfairly?
Let’s take a look at another racially-charged justice issue which has dominated news cycles of late: Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws.
Still confused about net neutrality? Here’s what you need to know
Posted on February 25, 2014 at 12.03 pm
Thanks to Rare for publishing my latest:
Net neutrality is regularly in the news, but it’s a confusing topic at best—with both sides of the debate declaring themselves the Last True Defenders of the free internet. So here’s a quick guide to net neutrality and where the real danger to liberty actually lies.
What is net neutrality? In simplest terms, it’s the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast shouldn’t favor some websites over others by making it faster for users like us to connect to/stream from the favored sites.
Why would companies oppose net neutrality? Well, for ISPs, it’s largely a financial decision. It costs them more to stream more data, so they’d like to be paid more for it. And this isn’t totally unreasonable: It’s pretty common to charge more money for more of a product or service.
There’s also what amounts to an advertising opportunity: For example, Comcast could say to Netflix, “We’re the only way you can deliver your product to your consumers in many areas, and it costs us a lot to make that happen. Pay us a fee or we’ll throttle your speeds—and your customers won’t like that.”
Why would someone who isn’t an ISP oppose net neutrality? Net neutrality opponents typically aren’t making the case that unequal internet access is desirable for users. That would be annoying, and it has a real potential for abuse. For instance, why would Comcast want to make it easy for you to research other ISPs in your area?
But there are also questions of freedom at stake: Why does the government get to regulate businesses’ pricing plans? And what if an ISP’s owners have a moral or religious conviction about blocking certain content, like Westboro Baptist Church sites or child pornography? Also, saving money by throttling speeds could potentially help new ISP competitors get off the ground.
7 Ways Republicans and Democrats are exactly the same
Posted on February 20, 2014 at 4.49 pm
Thanks to Rare for publishing this piece! Original version here.
Cats vs. dogs. Coke vs. Pepsi. Democrats vs. Republicans.
These are the great divisions of life. But what if one of those rivalries isn’t actually much of a division at all?
Don’t worry, I’m not trying to reignite the cola wars of the 90s. (Besides, we all know Coke is the clear winner: Do you order a Jack and Pepsi?)
No, I’m talking about Democrats and Republicans—or rather, the out-of-date and out-of-step establishments of both parties.
For libertarians, saying both parties are the same is a common theme. Democrat and Republican partisans dismiss such critiques as cynical or unserious, but there’s a real case to be made if we look at the cold, hard facts.
Here are 7 big reasons there’s no difference between establishment Democrats and Republicans:
1. Both support endless war. It’s been more than a decade since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and America’s entanglements are far from over. Though Bush is remembered as the consummate hawk, Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama has used his time in office to start or maintain additional wars in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. Now, he wants to add Syria to the list. My generation can barely remember peace—and there’s no end in sight for a foreign policy with devastating human and financial costs.
2. Both engage in out-of-control spending. Yes, deficit spending has accelerated under Barack Obama. But you know what? There was also a massive acceleration under Bush. The fact is, debt is a bipartisan problem, and neither party is innocent. With $17 trillion of debt (and rapidly counting) as the consequence of decades of bipartisan irresponsibility, the time has passed for pointing fingers and dubbing a slightly slower rate of spending growth a “historic cut.”
3. Both ignore our most basic rights. CNN recently asked “When can a government kill its own people?” but for President Obama and some old guard GOP leaders like Sen. John McCain, that question has already been answered: Pretty much whenever it’s convenient. In fact, the U.S. government has already assassinated a 16-year-old American citizen by drone strike, killing a boy who was neither accused nor suspected of any crime.
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