The Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare or; How I Learned to Stop Thinking and Love Totalitarianism

If I wasn’t pregnant, this would definitely be a night or two that involved a glass of whiskey.  The Supreme Court has ruled the individual mandate of Obamacare is constitutional.  I guess five justices bought into the last-minute argument that the $1,900-per-year penalty is a tax.  Because we don’t have enough of those to go around.  I’m sure that a good portion of the progressives I know are going to be throwing a party tonight.

Here’s the issue.  Constitutionally, Congress isn’t allowed to tell you what you will and will not buy.  It’s that simple.  You don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to understand this stuff.  Does that sound like it’s throwing shade at the five justices who voted in favor of the mandate?  It is, and it should be.  They have no more respect for the Constitution than I do for communists.  (That’s very little, not that I needed to tell you.)  To me, it takes nothing less than audacity to think that a penalty “tax” for not purchasing something doesn’t count as regulating individual commerce.  A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and the words “tax” and “penalty” are practically interchangeable to me.

As an expat, what I’m concerned most about right now is the possibility that I will be forced to pay this penalty, in spite of the fact that I’ve lived outside the US for over three years.  I have full coverage health insurance where I am now.  The original version of Obamacare mandated that even expats living outside the US take out a US health insurance policy or face the penalty, as it as called every day prior to the Supreme Court hearings.  Supposedly it was left out of the final draft, but frankly, I haven’t read the final draft, and if the Supreme Court is willing to rule that Congress can effectively tell me what I must and must not buy, then I wouldn’t put it past them to shove the penalty down my throat.

Do you want to know how much $1,900 is to me?  It’s almost a month’s salary, and from that salary, I already pay into my health insurance plan over here, as well as my state pension.  I also have to report my earnings to the IRS, which it doesn’t tax, since I’m obviously not a high earner.  I also pay property taxes to the state of Illinois, which went up this year in the spite of the fact that my property value has plummeted since 2008, and I couldn’t get rid of that land if I wanted to.  And I’d love to.  If anyone wants to buy some prime development land in a nice, upscale subdivision, feel free to email me!  But the point that I’m making is that it goads me – nay, pisses me off – that I am expected to pay rent on my own property, a portion of my earnings to the government as though I have no right to them in the first place, and perhaps even a penalty for being satisfied with my out-of-country health care plan.

I am a sovereign individual, as is everyone else who reads this post and everyone who doesn’t.  You owe the government nothing.  You have the right to keep every penny of what you’ve earned, and they have no right to take it from you.  The very notion of income taxes rests on the idea that the government owns your earnings, and they may redistribute them as they see fit.  This is legalized plunder.  Call it any other name – remember the rose – but it still has the same stench of theft.

Let it be said that I love my country.  I really do.  I ache for the wilderness and the spread of the North American continent.  The prairie is in my veins, much as the bored, fed up teenager in me hates to admit it.  But I do so very much hate our government right now.  They would take everything from us, if they thought they could get away with it, and we are heading increasingly in that direction.  There is more freedom and prosperity in other nations than in the US, and that is the honest truth.  The ideals of the constitutional republic, much as it saddens me to think this, seem to be alive only in the hearts and minds of a committed few, and some of them are getting the hell out of Dodge.  I think any truly honest libertarian would vow allegiance to himself and the principles of freedom long before he or she would ever vow allegiance to a morally and financially bankrupted government.  I am teetering tonight on that point myself.  As much as it pains me to say this, my mind is turning towards the idea of getting out for good, in spite of the 15% escape tax and wondering where I would go from there.

Times like this, I think of Daniel Day-Lewis in his role as Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans.  He is a man doesn’t consider himself subject to much of anything, and he refuses to live by another’s leave.  He is speaking frankly and yet eloquently about freedom, and if the absence of control by another is true freedom, it is no longer to be found in the US, the land which once so jealously guarded its freedom.  I hope things will change.  I really do.  There are a lot of people out there who are working towards it, but sometimes it seems like one step forward and two steps back.

I hope we will eventually see Obamacare repealed, but the blackguard cynic in me suspects that at least some parts of it will survive in the US tax code and health care Goliath that already give us so much headache.  Maybe I’m wrong.  But I doubt it.

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LED Bulbs: The Wave of the Future?

Have you ever noticed how some movies use different color filters to achieve various cinematic effects?  An example of this that always stands out in my mind is the movie Traffic, which used blue and yellow filters to great effect, if my memory serves.  Of course, this is hardly the only movie that does this, but it sticks out most clearly in my mind, for whatever reason.  Have you ever viewed things through a blue filter in real life?  If you’ve ever used an LED bulb, the answer to that question is probably yes.

I hate LED bulbs.  Yes, I know that they save energy.  Yes, I know that incandescent bulbs are single-handedly responsible for the downfall of mankind.  You know what?  I don’t give a toss.  I hate the unnatural, dim glow of LED bulbs.  It reminds me of being surrounded by the glow of a computer screen.  It makes me feel like a nerd in a Tron-like movie where I’m about to be sucked into an alternate universe and then chased by guys on really cool motorcycles, probably also lit by LED.  While this description may sound somewhat cool, it really isn’t.  Brushing my teeth in a blue-filtered, white-washed reality isn’t pleasing or nice; it makes me feel like I’m going insane.

Incandescent bulbs?  Totally different story.  We have an incandescent bulb in our hall that literally lights our entire apartment.  We have an LED in the bathroom and the incandescent in the hall.  The LED barely manages to illuminate our tiny bathroom, which is approximately 7’x2 1/2′, including the bathtub.  Believe me, it’s hardly asking the moon to light this closet-like space up, but that light bulb fails miserably at the task.  The incandescent bulb illuminates the majority of our living area and kitchen in a warm, yellow, inviting glow that makes me think of summer and/or 1975.  In other words, it makes me feel happy and at peace.  LED blueness makes me feel like I’m stuck in Alaska (Land of Winter and 18+ Hours of Night) on a permanent basis.

Why is this even mildly relevant?  Well, fortunately for you US readers, it really isn’t.  There was a move last year to ban incandescent light bulbs, but it failed to pass the Congress.  However, the area several other countries that are now facing bans on our yellow friends, including the whole of the EU, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, China, and South Korea.  Since I’m currently a SoKo expat, that would include me.

I had passingly followed the debate in the US, quickly decided that I was in favor of whatever the free market would do by itself, and didn’t think much more of it.  It seemed like there were bigger fish to fry, although the government telling you what bulbs you can and can’t use is about as close to telling you when to wipe your butt as you can get.  Unfortunately, if there was any debate in South Korea about the bulb wars, the incandescent bulb lost.  By 2013, incandescents will be totally phased out in Korea.

I went on a light bulb run about four months ago.  At that time, there were a few, though not many, incandescent bulbs available at our local discount store.  I picked up a bunch and a fluorescent for our overhead and went on my merry way.  Because we use the incandescent bulb a lot, they go quickly. We don’t turn on the LED or fluorescent lights, if we can avoid it, since we prefer the glow of the incandescent and don’t need a lot of lights on at night.  When I returned to buy another big ol’ box last weekend, they had mysteriously disappeared.  My husband and I were perplexed, until I thought of the proposed ban in the US.  I figured if the US was attempting to do it, there was a good chance it had already happened in other places.  Sure enough…

A lot of people have made the argument that we shouldn’t be using incandescents because they are so inefficient.  We should all be doing our part to save the environment.  Others make the argument that nobody should be forcing our choices on things like this.  The free market should decide.  Guess where I fall?

Here’s the thing.  I like the idea of saving money on lighting.  The thing is, I don’t use tons of lights, anyway.  At any given time, we have a maximum of three lights on in our apartment.  According to a nifty little calculator I found on the Internet, we could stand to save about $321 per year if we could switch to an LED bulb.  And another thing! In order to the get the same amount of light from one incandescent bulb, I need about three LED lights.  Seriously, they suck.  I read constantly at night, and they are terrible for reading.  Part of this is due to the fact that they tend to emit light in a direct beam, rather than radiating outward like incandescents.  Not brilliant for someone who spends a good 2-3 hours in any given night reading.

Before you jump all over me, no, I don’t think it’s a good idea to pollute the Earth.  I’m as big on trees and critters as the next person.  However, I also value a well-lit house, particularly in my reading nook.  I understand that people think we need to get away from incandescents, but are LED lights really the future of lighting technology?  Am I really going to have to view myself in blue for the rest of my life?

At the end of the day, I think the market should be making these decisions, not the government.  I don’t like LED lights.  I would prefer to buy incandescent bulbs, especially give that I am in a somewhat transient position now.  Korea is not my “forever” home; this is just a temporary stop.  Paying about $40 for a light bulb, at this point, means that I’m paying $40 for another year of use on the bulb.  I might need to replace the incandescent three or four times in that year-long period, but they only cost like, $3.  At most, I’d be paying $12.  So somewhere in there, my energy savings would have to amount to about $28 over a year on one light bulb for me to be able to break even.  Whether or not it would do that, I’m not sure.  Current estimates seem to suggest that it takes about two years to see a return on an initial LED bulb investment, which would indicate to me that I probably wouldn’t see a return on my investment.  Couple that with the facts that I really need three of the little buggers to sufficiently illuminate the same amount of space and I hate the blue glow and what it comes down to is this: I’d really rather just leave the LED on the shelf, at least for now.

I think LED technology is perhaps a transitional technology.  I know I’m not the only person who doesn’t feel 100% love for the Smurfs of the lighting world.  At this point, they’re quite expensive, which may make them somewhat inaccessible for folks in certain income brackets who don’t have the luxury of waiting to see returns on an investment.  Many people right now could not afford to be spending this sort of money on a light bulb.  Thankfully, the US government mandate failed.  This might be the one instance when government has worked in the favor of our pocketbooks recently.

In any case, I hope that the cost of these things comes down and quality improves over time.  I feel that eventually the mandate will be revived and will pass, which is usually what happens to this sort of thing.  I also wish that, at least here in Korea, we were being given the option of choice.  Let the two bulbs duke it out on the market.  If the LED bulb is not a worthy competitor, perhaps it should be replaced with something else that is – something cheap that lasts a long time and doesn’t make my house look like a scene from Tron.  Allowing a competitive market to force innovation: what a novel idea.  It’s working wonders in the tablet industry.  Why can’t it work in the lighting industry?

Read more about the blue wonders below.


“LED bulbs: The end of the lightbulb as we know it?” – BBC World News

“Congress overturns incandescent bulb ban” – The Washington Times

Paul Krugman Gives Me a Rash: A Rant

There are very few things that get me angrier than Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize-winning economic analyses.  Seeing people post his articles on Facebook and then worshipfully extolling the virtues of Keynesian economics is one of them.  I have to restrain myself from verbally attacking people on a personal level.  That is how much I can’t stand Paul Krugman.  Reason goes completely out the window.  Furthermore, I have noticed a pattern among these posters, and I now assume that they are all career students or professors who have never had a real job because, well, most of them are.  Call me judgmental.  It won’t hurt my feelings.

I can never quite decide if Paul Krugman is secretly a genius who knows that he’s writing pieces that are full of b.s., or if he legitimately believes what he’s saying.  I also can’t decide which option is worse.  Whatever the case, he seems to offer overly simplistic, one-sided solutions delivered with a healthy slathering of unclear language.  Because being obtuse makes you smarter…

I’m not going to cite any particular Krugman articles on here, since I’m filing this under “Rants,” and I’m going to speak purely about my personal opinion.  I feel like every Krugman article I read comes back to one central theme: we aren’t spending enough money.  Every time I read a Krugman statement that amounts to an admonition that we should be printing/spending more money, my left eye twitches and an overpowering urge to punch someone repeatedly in the face takes over.

Putting the fancy economic analysis aside, let’s address this with plain common sense.  How in the world is it possible to spend oneself into prosperity?  I’m sure Krugman has offered some explanation somewhere about spending oneself into prosperity, but I honestly can’t think of an instance in the last century when that has happened.  If any of you readers think of one, please do post it in the comments section.  Some folks will try to use WWII as an example, but the depression didn’t end until the post-war era, so that one falls flat for me.  Lord knows the New Deal didn’t do the job.

I am probably (hopefully) being somewhat extreme in my rantings, but I truly feel as though Krugman is constantly advocating greater and greater debt, saying that it generally doesn’t matter.  Just keep spending.  Keep driving consumption.  Spend, spend, spend.  Consume, consume, consume.  Um, isn’t that what most liberals/progressives/lefties/whatever trendy name they’re using now are generally against?  Consumption?

The on-the-books US debt right now $15.4 trillion.  That doesn’t include Fannie and Freddie, nor does it include the Fed’s off-balance sheet transactions.  I shudder to think what it would look like, were those additional items added to the computation.  As though $1 trillion isn’t a number too big to grasp!

The ever-increasing money supply can only have one final result: hyperinflation.  As I’ve stated previously, there are various reasons why hyperinflation hasn’t hit us yet.  For one thing, US and international banks are still sitting on a lot of that capital that is just floating around out there.  For another thing, it is being used outside the US to settle international transactions.  Again, this is why the US dollar’s status as a reserve currency is so important.  Were we to lose that privileged status, it wouldn’t be long before those dollars started making their way home.  There is only so far down that the Fed can drop interest rates, which seems to be Krugman’s other solution for every ill our economy faces.  If the money supply were suddenly contracted and interest rates were to go up, it would certainly make debt repayment a lot more interesting for the US government!

Whatever the case, I have caused myself a whole evening of stewing and mumbling to myself just for reading two Krugman articles.  I’m convinced that he has never taken the time to read and even passingly consider the Austrian business cycle model.  He laughingly brushes it off, but I have yet to see him mount a convincing argument against it.  I suppose he doesn’t have to.  He already has masses of slavering fans who adore him and think that his ideas about spending a seemingly endless supply of cash, soaking the rich, and redistributing the wealth are incomparable genius.  Maybe I’m the one who needs a reality check, but I don’t think so.

Taxation and wealth redistribution is still legalized plunder.  Creating an endless supply of cash with no backing will eventually lead to a hyper inflated currency.  Go ahead.  Ask the South Americans.  The Romans.  The French.  There are many, many examples throughout history of such a thing happening, so every time I hear a Keynesian say that it can’t happen here, I have to shake my head and remind them that it has, it can, and it could.  That’s usually about the point where someone says, “Oh, aren’t you a libertarian?  Yeah, you’re one of those Ron Paul supporters,” and they think that solves the matter.  I’m wrong, and they’re right.  I suppose if it helps them sleep better at night.  For my part, I think Krugman’s articles make far better bonfire starters than reality-based economic reading material.

Freedom Watch Booted from Fox Business

I am so disappointed to be writing this to you, readers.  Freedom Watch on Fox Business has been cancelled.  For those of you who don’t know about it, Freedom Watch was a show hosted by Judge Andrew Napolitano.  Judge, as he is commonly known, showcased Austrian economics, libertarian philosophy, and real news issues.  Judge was probably the only libertarian on the news, and now he’s been cancelled.  If you’ll allow me a moment of perfect candor, the first thought that I had when I was saw this headline was, This is bull$h1t!  I’m angry.

Judge was shining a bright light on the Fed, the NDAA, and the tomfoolery that goes on daily on the Hill.  Judge was the only host bringing us real straight talk about the economy and the state of the world today.  I watched his show often in clip version, as we don’t get it in Korea, and found every segment to be enjoyable and informative.  I will admit, of course, that he was preaching to the choir.

Why can’t libertarians have a newsman of their own?  I don’t believe that there weren’t enough viewers, because there are plenty of libertarians, and more are coming to the fold every day.  Judge was a great voice for liberty, and that voice has been silenced.

I, for one, don’t intend to take this lying down.  I love Judge’s show, and he is probably the only person on Fox – or TV, generally – for whom I have any respect.  If you are libertarian but you haven’t watched his show before, I suggest you head to Fox and watch some clips before they get removed.  I’m sure there will be plenty of devotees who have him on YouTube, as well.  I will continue to reuse and distribute his clips, as I think they are interesting and informative.  I’m also going to send an angry letter to Fox and tell them exactly what I think about this.  If you love Judge and refuse to let him go quietly into the night, I suggest you do the same!

Freedom Watch: Ron Paul Will Be On GOP Ticket

Continue reading on Examiner.com FreedomWatch with Judge Andrew Napolitano has been cancelled – Wilmington Civil Rights | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/civil-rights-in-wilmington/freedomwatch-with-judge-andrew-napolitano-has-been-cancelled#ixzz1m4uTqKet

**Addendum: Fox has apparently been inundated with emails about Freedom Watch.  Judge has posted on his Facebook page that, while he appreciates the show of support, the people at Fox are getting pretty irked about the constant emails, and he is requesting that people stop immediately.  We must respect Judge’s wishes on this matter.  Please DO NOT email Fox News about Freedom Watch.  I have taken down the links to the Fox exec’s emails.  

Judge has also stated that the decision was based purely on business and not on the content of the show.  He says that he accepted the decision cheerfully and feels that there will be another opportunity or project for him some time in the near future.  I can only hope this is true.  In any case, please don’t email Fox anymore, guys!

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

My husband just stumbled across this extremely upsetting article on the BBC News website about 274 US troops whose remains were disposed of in a landfill between 2004 and 2008.  Yes, you read that correctly: a landfill.  Although this practice has been halted, the Dover Air Base mortuary was doing this with incinerated partial remains as recently as three years ago.  The Dover base is the main port of entry for most US troop remains re-entering the US.

The Washington Post broke this story about a month ago, and since investigations have been done, it seems that an additional 1,762 unidentified remains were also disposed of in this fashion.  A federal investigation has turned up gross mismanagement and disrespectful treatment of remains.  According to the Post article, many of the remains were incinerated along with other “medical waste” and transported to a Virginia landfill.

This story breaks my heart.  Can you imagine?  Your sister or husband or brother gets sent to Iraq, gets killed in combat, and the Air Force sends them home to be cremated and disposed of in a damn landfill?!  I ask, where is our government’s respect for what it claims to be its most honored citizens?  Why are some of them buried at Arlington and others sent to a dump?  That, right there, should tell us exactly how much the lives of citizens mean to the US government: roughly the same as a used Coke can.

Our vets deserve proper burials.  There is no excuse whatsoever for this lack of oversight by the Air Force.  What more proof do we need that our people are over there, dying in vain and getting no thanks at home?  It looks like there is a new Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but there is no honor guard and no salute, no adoring crowd, and no one to take pictures or tell their story.  This, my friends, is a real epitaph to war.

It seems our military and government have forgotten that all unknown soldiers deserve respect and dignity.

This is Ridiculous

I just checked my email, and I received an email yesterday from the Ron Paul Campaign.  In the CBS debate Saturday night, Ron Paul was given a whopping 89 seconds of speaking time out of 90 minutes of debate time.  89 seconds.  Michele Bachmann didn’t fare any better.  I am really sick of this blatant blacklisting of Ron Paul by the mass media.  I’m not a big Bachmann fan, but you know, everyone deserves to have an equal say in a debate.

For those of you who don’t know who Ron Paul is – if you found your way here, you probably know who Ron Paul is – I strongly urge you to find out immediately.  Ron Paul is the only candidate who isn’t calling for an attack on Iran.  Ron Paul is the only candidate in favor of bringing our troops home and stopping these endless wars, which are contributing to our bankruptcy.  Ron Paul is the only candidate who is serious about shrinking the federal government to a manageable size.  And most importantly, he is the only candidate who is serious about ending the Federal Reserve.

Please, educate yourselves on Austrian economics.  I, too, thought economics was a dull subject intended only for math wizards and people with too much time on their hands, but Austrian economics is a genuinely rewarding, uplifting field of economic study.  Read Frederic Bastiat.  Read Murray Rothbard.  Read Ayn Rand.  Read Garett Garrett.  Do it now.  You will be so glad that you did.

Most importantly, if you’re a Ron Paul supporter, please donate to his campaign immediately.  I know that times are hard.  I know that most people don’t have a lot of extra money right now.  But if you can spare even five or ten bucks this month, please, invest it in liberty.  We have got to give this man a fighting chance.  We have to make a statement that we want real change, not more of the same, tired old rhetoric of war, endless spending, and lies.  It’s time America learned the truth and got back on track to prosperity and freedom.  But we have to stand up and fight for it.

I don’t mean to get up on a soapbox, but we’ve got to be vigilant.  This may be the most important election in the last century.  Are we really ready for four more years of Obama or – God forbid – Rick Perry or Mitt Romney?

I Don’t Even Love to Hate Him

I’m working on a more substantial post, but I was doing my evening watching of political videos that I might or might not enjoy, and then this honey came up.  It’s a Ron Paul interview done by none other than my (least) favorite spin doctor, Bill O’Reilly.

I can’t stand this a$$clown, if you’ll pardon my foul mouth.  Bill O’Reilly is a disrespectful, arrogant arse who can’t even be bothered to be courteous to the man he’s interviewing – a man who, might I politely add, is several points higher than O’Reilly on the IQ scale, not to mention infinitely more honest and well-mannered.  I realize that the mainstream media would love to convince middle America that Ron Paul is a total libertarian nutbag who is about as far from electable as you can get.  And unfortunately, as long as that’s what people keep hearing, that’s what they’ll believe, even if they like the message when they hear it.  The human brain only has to hear something three times before it unconsciously starts believing it.

But honestly, O’Reilly is too much.  He makes the comment that he doesn’t think Dr. Paul likes him all that much.  Frankly, I can’t imagine that anyone with ears would enjoy being talked down to like that.  I hardly think I would be able to keep my temper the way Dr. Paul manages to do.  I think I’d let O’Reilly have a taste of his own medicine, but I’m just not as mild-mannered as Ron Paul, for better or for worse.

In any case, if you love Ron Paul, hate Bill O’Reilly, or both (like me), you will find this video moderately to severely infuriating.  I wouldn’t recommend it if you have high blood pressure.

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