Why a Trauma Kit is essential and what it should contain

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Tiny SquirrelGun shows are great places to meet kindred spirits and at the last one I went to I met David Dietrich who is co-owner of GetReady! Emergency Planning Center, getemergencyready.com. He was selling a fantastic range of Trauma items (although I admit he got my attention with a small pack on his stall labeled “Vasectomy Kit.”) Anyway, I asked him to come up with something that would really be of use to you guys and he produced a doozy. Check this list out. Thanks David, this is really useful. 

Most people likely think about equipment for trained specialists in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) when they hear “Trauma Kit.”  Other terms used are “Blow-Out Kit,” and “Individual First Aid Kit” (IFAK).  However, they would be wrong.  Such kits are instead designed to be used by the first responder, whether he is a police officer, infantryman, or just a Good Samaritan.

A Trauma Kit is a far cry from a typical First Aid Kit.  While the latter is designed to support minor injuries and medical issues, the former is essential for saving someone’s life in the next ten minutes.  That means such kits are focused on major bleeding from gunshots, stabbings, and amputations.  In addition, they address breathing obstructions from anaphylaxis or massive tissue damage.

For the purposes of post-disaster preparedness, a Trauma Kit provides coverage where there will likely be no medical services for some time.  That means we will be on our own.  We ourselves may be not only the first responder, but also the last.  So, acquiring and learning to use the components of such a kit is a critical capability.  This is one reason why so many military combatants have survived serious wounds in our recent wars.

One axiom is indisputable – all bleeding stops.  The question becomes, how it will stop?  Do you want to let it stop on its own, after the casualty has bled out, or do you want to play an active role, stopping the bleeding yourself in sufficient time for the casualty to become an asset once again?  The Trauma Kit provides a means to that end, through various included devices.

jbc-corporation-medical-assault-kit
Image: Pictured are the JBC Corporation Medical Assault Kit, costing over $200, and the GetReady! Field Trauma Kit, listing at $99.95.

So, what does a Trauma Kit look like?  First of all, it is relatively small, easily carried on a belt, armor plate, or in a backpack.  Secondly, it does not usually contain the items we expect to see in First Aid Kits.  Rather, they include tourniquets, pressure bandages, blood clotting agent, occlusive dressing, tension pneumothorax needle, and nasopharyngeal airway. There may be a few other odds and ends as well, but those are the basics.

 

Let’s take a look at components of a trauma kit, to better understand why they are used:

 

tourniquets
Image: Pictured are rubber tubing, RATS, SWAT-T, and CAT-T.  Others to consider are are SOF-TT, and TK-4.  They range in price from approximately $6 to $32 each.

Tourniquet.  There are many designs and brand available, from simple rubber tubing to complex windlass or ratcheting designs.  But, they all have one purpose – to constrict or eliminate blood flow to the bleeding extremity.  While these used to be a tool of last resort, military experience has proven their worth in saving lives as the tool of first choice.  If properly applied and combined with other devices, they can be safely removed later.

 

compression-bandages
Pictured are the H&H Medical H-Bandage and the ubiquitous “Israeli Bandage.”  They range in price from approximately $6 to $15 each.

Compression (Pressure) Bandage.  There are several commercial brands out there, typically based on the original Israeli Bandage.  As the tried and true method for staunching blood flow is pressure and elevation, their purpose is to maintain pressure at the injury site, as well as provide a clotting medium.  This is accomplished through an integrated dressing and pressure device.  The hands are then left free to perform other functions. Here are some examples of commercially available Pressure Bandages:

 

Pictured are the Celox Hemostatic Granules,  QuikClot Combat Gauze, and QuikClot Clotting Sponge.  They range in price from approximately $13 to $42 each.
Pictured are the Celox Hemostatic Granules,  QuikClot Combat Gauze, and QuikClot Clotting Sponge.  They range in price from approximately $13 to $42 each.

Hemostatic (Clotting) Agent.  There are mainly two commercial brands out there, found in three forms.  These are QuikClot and Celox, using sponges, gauze wraps, or poured granules.  The key component is either a clay mineral (kaolin), used in QuikClot, or a crustacean derivative (chitosan), used in Celox.  Both types interact with blood plasma to rapidly form clots.  They work independently of blood platelets or thinning drugs.

 

 

Pictured are the H&H Medical Wound Seal Kit and Compact Wound Seal.  Other companies also produce simple and valved options.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $30 each.
Pictured are the H&H Medical Wound Seal Kit and Compact Wound Seal.  Other companies also produce simple and valved options.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $30 each.

Occlusive Dressing (aka Chest Seal).  Several brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are designed to block inhalation through the thoracic cavity, rather than normally, into the lungs.  If such a condition, known as a “sucking chest wound,” is allowed to continue, the lung on that side will likely collapse, putting pressure on the aorta and heart, resulting in painful breathing and associated circulatory problems.

 

 

 

Pictured are the BD Angiocath and the H&H Medical Tension Pneumothorax Needle.  Enhanced versions are also available.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $43 each.
Pictured are the BD Angiocath and the H&H Medical Tension Pneumothorax Needle.  Enhanced versions are also available.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $43 each.

Tension Pneumothorax Needle (TPN).  Several brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are designed to release air and/or fluid pressure in the external thoracic cavity that may lead to the same conditions described under Occlusive Dressing above.  So, this device is for closed, versus open chest wounds.  The TPN is probably the most difficult of all the Trauma Kit devices to apply, and should by studied and practiced.

 

Naso-Pharyngeal Airway (NPA)

Pictured is the Rusch Robertazzi Nasopharyngeal Airway.  Packaged with water-soluble lubricant, they range in price from approximately $5 to $15 each.
Pictured is the Rusch Robertazzi Nasopharyngeal Airway.  Packaged with water-soluble lubricant, they range in price from approximately $5 to $15 each.

Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies. They are used to maintain breathing in the event of an airway blockage due to anaphylaxis or tissue damage.  They are basically comprised of a stiffened rubber tube, beveled on one end and enlarged into a bell shape on the other.  Assisted by accompanying water-based lubricant, they are fully inserted into a nostril up to the bell.

compressed-gauzeCompressed Gauze.  Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are used primarily to absorb and aid in the clotting of blood.  Almost always comprised of cotton, they are the most versatile Trauma Kit component.  And it cannot be overstated that you can never have enough gauze.  Additional uses include absorbing other bodily fluids, covering burns and lacerations, wrapping dressings, and securing splints.

 

Trauma Shears

Pictured are 3.5” and 5.5” light duty Trauma Sheers from Rescue Essentials and Ronson.  Other, more robust sheers are available.  They range in price from approximately $3 to $50 each.
Pictured are 3.5” and 5.5” light duty Trauma Sheers from Rescue Essentials and Ronson.  Other, more robust sheers are available.  They range in price from approximately $3 to $50 each.

Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are used primarily to cut away clothing and other accessories (eg bra underwire) to quickly access the point of injury.  Their unique design provides a safe and easy method to cut through almost anything, including coins!  The major take-away regarding arterial bleeding is that saving clothing comes in a distant second to saving a life.

 

 

 

 Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Medical (Duct) Tape.  This ubiquitous resource really comes into its own in a medical kit.  Not only can it be used to secure bandages and dressings, but it also has applications for foot care (eg prevention and treatment of blisters), wrapping splints, making snow goggles, and repairing medical gear and other items.  Mini rolls, primarily for storage purposes, are the best configuration.  Don’t leave home without them!

 

 

Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.
Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Medical Gloves.  These are included in Trauma Kits primarily to protect the responder, not the patient.  Bodily fluids can carry many dangerous diseases, and having additional barriers during treatment may keep the responder from becoming a casualty.  In addition, they may preclude the need for further cleansing following treatment.  Simple glove removal and disposal may be sufficient action under tactical conditions.

Marking Pen

Pictured are mini Sharpies.  Full-sized versions can also be used.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $3 each.
Pictured are mini Sharpies.  Full-sized versions can also be used.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $3 each.

This is important not only for recording information on a Casualty Card, but also for marking other information, such as the date and time of a tourniquet application.  Such marking can be on the device itself, or even on the forehead of the patient.  There are other uses for such pens, such as taking notes on environmental conditions, and descriptions of agents (eg animals, plants, suspects) involved.

 

Pictured are the H&H Medical standard and Marine Combat Casualty Care Cards.  They range in price from approximately $2 to $4 each.
Pictured are the H&H Medical standard and Marine Combat Casualty Care Cards.  They range in price from approximately $2 to $4 each.

Casualty Response Documentation Tool (CRDT).

This is an event recording card, containing information describing patient and injury, treatment (including drugs) administered, mental state, circulation, respiration, mechanisms of injury (MOIs), medical conditions, and overall patient medical status, from routine to critical.  It’s always good to keep track of what’s happening in such cases, for reference prior to future treatment.

 

 Pictured are medical pouches from Eagle Industries and Maxpedition.  Another common brand is Rothco.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $45 each.

Pictured are medical pouches from Eagle Industries and Maxpedition.  Another common brand is Rothco.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $45 each.

Pouch.  Typical military kit dimensions are 8 inches long by 6 inches wide by four inches deep when full.  It uses the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) to fasten to Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) configured backpacks.  Made of rugged Cordura nylon, this Pouch can be used under adverse environmental and tactical conditions.  It should be readily accessible for immediate use.

 

Other Components.  A number of other items may be included in a Trauma Kit for various reasons.  For example, if the owner would like to access the kit for minor injuries, and not dip into important trauma components, then adhesive bandages may be included.  In addition, medications (eg aspirin) should be considered.  Sterile wipes and water for cleaning wounds, flashlight for nighttime, and CPR shield round out the list.

 Pictured are a CPR Shield, regular strength Aspirin, Moist Towelettes, Sterile Water, Penlight, Adhesive Bandages, and Gauze Pads.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $5 each.

Pictured are a CPR Shield, regular strength Aspirin, Moist Towelettes, Sterile Water, Penlight, Adhesive Bandages, and Gauze Pads.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $5 each.

_________________________________________________________________

 

David Dietrich is co-owner of GetReady! Emergency Planning Center, getemergencyready.com. He has been preparing for uncertainty since he was a youth, recognizing that backpacking is about smaller, lighter, and multi-capability.  His experiences in the Boy Scouts and military have given him an appreciation for the real meaning of the Scout Motto – “Be Prepared.”  Today, David runs a disaster preparedness business that is focused on the creed – helping you help yourself.  It is about delivering resources, training, education, and consulting in preparation for a failure of civility.  Prepared people are survivors.

 

 

 

 

What you didn’t learn in Conceal Carry Training. And how this information could change your life.

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Image: Target shooting, Kelly McCarthy. Now’s the time to think about the consequences of pulling the trigger in a defensive situation

Pulling that trigger is something you need to have thought about BEFORE you ever have to do it. Could you shoot a kid? No? Could you shoot a kid with a gun aimed at your wife? Maybe? Could you shoot a pregnant woman? Never? Could you shoot a pregnant woman with a gun to your kid’s head. Would you shoot a gunman threatening a clerk in a convenience store if you’re safely hiding at the back and in no immediate danger? Could you shoot your wife? Are you going to risk your life for a stranger? Are you willing to endure the court case? The massive hit to your finances? To even, possibly, have to move town because people won’t believe that what you did was necessary. So many ifs, right?

Here are the steps that COULD follow a defensive shooting:

  • Shots Fired
  • 911 Call
  • First Responders
  • Local law enforcement supervisors
  • Detectives – In some places the ADA will be dispatched
  • Investigation/Questioning
  • Prosecutor Determination
  • Trial Phase
  • Sentencing
  • Appeal Process
  • Civil Trial

See what I mean. Being the hero can get you in a whole world of trouble? That’s why I am probably only going to draw and shoot if I’m saving someone with the same last name as me.

Reporting a defensive shooting

So you pulled the trigger. You need to prepare for how you would report a defensive shooting. Rule No. 1. Don’t incriminate yourself. The 911 operator is not your friend but is trained to keep asking questions which are being recorded. Keep it simple.

  • Dial 911
  • Report there’s been a shooting.
  • Give them your name and the address you’re at
  • Tell them who is in the house/building. (Maybe send the kids next door if they are present.)
  • Describe any injuries and whether you need EMS
  • Describe yourself, your clothes. Put your weapon on the floor or in clear sight. (Unless you are using it to subdue a criminal.)
  • If you are insured with an organization that provides an attorney, call them. If you have an attorney call them.
  • Tell the police the bare minimum. Be cooperative but spare the details. Say only:
    • Officer, I was in fear of my life/my family member was threatened and at risk of losing their life. (You would not pull the trigger to save property. The fallout is NOT worth it for something insured or inanimate.)
    • I will sign the complaint.
    • Be helpful and show them what the assailant used to attack you.
    • Introduce any witnesses.
    • Tell them you are invoking the Fifth Amendment until you have had time to talk to your attorney and calm yourself down. You should say you’ll be back within 24 hours to talk to them. Be prepared to be arrested. And be prepared to spend a long time being questioned.
    • Remember to say: “If he/she survives I want to press charges.” Remind everyone that you’re not the aggressor here. 

Christmas carols played on some interesting percussion instruments!

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Santa came early and he brought a bag of guns. And some carols.

Remember these classic toys from the 60s and 70s?!

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You watched the TV and you dreamed of owning these. How many did you actually ever play with?

Could fat cells now repair any type of body tissue?

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According to Australian researchers, fat cells can be converted into stem cells can repair any damaged tissues. They appear to have figured out how to reprogram adult bone or fat cells to form stem cells that could potentially regenerate any damaged tissue in the body.

The researchers were inspired by the way salamanders are able to replace lost limbs, and regenerate multiple cell types – in what is known as multipotency. That means the new stem cells can hypothetically repair any injury in the body, from severed spinal cords to joint and muscle degeneration. This is significant because we haven’t yet found a way to make adult stem cells naturally regenerate different tissue types.

“This technique is a significant advance on many of the current unproven stem cell therapies, which have shown little or no objective evidence they contribute directly to new tissue formation,” said lead researcher John Pimanda from the University of New South Wales, Faculty of Medicine (UNSW Medicine). “We are currently assessing whether adult human fat cells reprogrammed into [induced multipotent stem cells (iMS cells)] can safely repair damaged tissue in mice, with human trials expected to begin in late 2017.”

How ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Symbolizes the Triumph of Common Sense

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December 9th marks the anniversary of the Christmas TV special which basically birthed all others: “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Most Americans know the plot well. The despondent Charlie Brown who just can’t work up his Christmas cheer amidst crass commercialism. The confident and obnoxious Lucy, who finds the allegedly perfect solution to Charlie Brown’s gloom. The ill-fated Christmas pageant, which confirms Charlie Brown’s status as a loser. And finally, the rebirth of Christmas cheer that comes through Linus’ recitation of the original Christmas story.

But while the basic story is a charming tale with which many of us can empathize, I find the backstory of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” almost more so.

For those unfamiliar with the tale, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” went from conception to classic in a manner of months, something that simply doesn’t happen in the world of television production.

But what few people know is that before the special aired on television, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz and his crew believed their Christmas special was following in the footsteps of Charlie Brown himself and was doomed to be a failure. Just like in Charlie Brown’s Christmas story, those who had commissioned Schulz and his crew to do the show were quick to pile on and express their disappointment with the television product. Mark Evanier, an animator and historian, explains this disappointment in “A Christmas Miracle: The Making of a Charlie Brown Christmas”:

“The networks were against it. It went against the conventional thinking at the time of what a children’s special – a Christmas special – had to be.”

Fred Silverman, a CBS executive at the time explains:

“There was (sic) specific, negative comments about the music, you know, the piano music. Some of the voicing, which sounded kind of amateurish – and indeed it was amateurish because a lot of them were kid actors. But it was a commitment and the film was made.”

Producer Lee Mendelson continues the story:

“They said, ‘Well, it’s on the TV Guide logs, we’ve got to put it on the air, but nice try, you know, we’ll put it on once and that will be it.’ So we figured it was over and it was done.”

But as we now know, Schulz, his crew, and the executives from CBS were dead wrong. The program became an overnight hit, pulling in almost half of the TV ratings for the evening. The show went on to win both an Emmy and a Peabody award, and has been broadcast every Christmas since that memorable one in 1965.

The reason I find the backstory behind “A Charlie Brown Christmas” so fascinating is because of how it highlights the great disconnect between the ordinary, average American and those in life who pull the strings.

Charles Schulz is the epitome of the average American. He had a simple, common sense, yet often forgotten message to tell in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” He insisted on sticking with that message and that simplistic style, even when it looked like it wouldn’t get off the ground. In other words, he was a man who stuck to his principles and wouldn’t compromise them even when they might land him in hot water.

The bigwigs at CBS, however, thought they knew better, and if time hadn’t constrained them, they likely would have attempted to rewrite Schulz’s simple, common sense production for something flashy and more politically correct. They were, in a sense, the precursor of today’s marketing elites, who all seem to know what is best for middle America to digest and swallow.

In the current culture of chaos, it’s easy to throw up our hands and give in to the demands of those who stand out and seemingly call the shots. But instead of giving in to political correctness, do we need to take a page from Charles Schulz’ book? In the end, will gentle persistence, common sense, and faithful adherence to solid principles be the pathway to success and fulfillment?

This post How ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Symbolizes the Triumph of Common Sense was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Annie Holmqvist. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except for material where copyright is reserved by a party other than Intellectual Takeout.

Are Americans losing faith in the U.S. justice system?

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Image: https://pixabay.com/en/users/WilliamCho-1724357/

The U.S. Justice system is in trouble, not just the federal system, but the state and local systems as well. A disturbing trend of politically motivated prosecutions has emerged across the country. Congress has the role of oversight, but many Members, themselves former District Attorneys or U.S. Attorneys, seem hesitant to be critical of the Justice Department. It could be for fear of tarnishing their own legacy while they were a prosecutor, or they don’t want to believe a club they belonged to has gone rotten. Either way, Congress must wake up take a hard look at the U.S. justice system from the point of view of someone being falsely accused by a legal behemoth with unlimited resources.

In one of the most egregious examples of the politicization of justice, the Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm launched a succession of John Doe investigations against his Republican enemies. John Doe investigations are special investigations into alleged criminal activity that are conducted in secret. In the investigations, a strict gag order is imposed, and the targets are not allowed to speak about the investigation. It is important to note that a crime doesn’t have to be committed for the investigation to take place, the statute is used to ascertain whether a crime has been committed and, if so, by whom.

The investigations started after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed making Wisconsin a right to work state. The proposal infuriated thousands of union members, including the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s wife, herself a teacher’s union shop steward, conflict of interest anyone. The investigations would take years and include pre-dawn paramilitary raids of volunteers and donors of Walker. Because these were John Doe investigations, the people could not tell their neighbors what the raids were about.

While the victims of the inquisitions could not speak up, that didn’t stop leaks sprouting from the investigators. In 2016, TheGuardian.com published documents from the “secret” documents. An investigation was finally launched by State Attorney General Brad Schimel. Last week, Schimel released a stunning 91-page report recommending contempt proceedings for a prosecutor and eight officials. Just one of the egregious examples of misconduct found personal emails of subjects in folders marked “opposition research.” How is anyone in Wisconsin supposed to trust state justice officials if they use law enforcement for political purposes?

Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry was a victim of the politicization of justice also. When Perry was governor of Texas in 2013, he vetoed state funding for the Public Accountability Office. The agency was overseen by the Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, herself involved in a drunk driving incident. The governor was asking Lehmberg to step down, for obvious reasons. It would be hard for the people of Texas to trust the Public Accountability Office when the people running it have drunk driving problems.

DA Lehmberg refused to step down accusing the governor of abuse of power. The battle would lead to an ethics complaint filed by a non-profit ally of Lehmberg, leading to a special prosecutor. The case would make national headlines and force Perry to spend time and money defending himself. The case would eventually be thrown out, but not after the negative publicity from the case damaged Perry’s run for President.

The misconduct is not limited to state and local district attorneys; the federal justice system is also rife with bad behavior. The late Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was the target of such an unjust attack.

In 2008, 100 days before the elections, Department of Justice prosecutors indicted the Alaskan Senator on seven counts of making false statements related to gift giving. Stevens would ask for a speedy trial and be granted one. In October of 2008, Stevens was found guilty of seven counts of making false statements.

The story doesn’t end there. In February 2009 a whistleblower came forward with damning claims of prosecutorial misconduct. One of the FBI agents involved in the case had an inappropriate relationship with the prosecution’s star witness Bill Allen. To further complicate matters, the whistleblower alleged Allen also gave gifts to FBI agents and even helped a family member of an FBI agent get a job. The prosecutors withheld exculpatory material from the defense, including witness statements that refuted the prosecution’s case.

A few weeks after the whistleblower came forward, the judge in the case would hold the prosecutors in contempt calling the conduct outrageous. Six weeks later the Justice Department would submit a motion to set aside the verdict and dismiss the indictment with prejudice. At the same time the Department launched an investigation that lasted three years, concluding with a 525 page report stating, “The investigation and prosecution of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens were permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens’s defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.”

Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor, authored the book Licensed to Lie in 2015, detailing prosecutorial misconduct in dozens of federal cases. A quick glance at the Robert Mueller-led Special Counsel investigation into the 2016 election, with the multiple conflicts of interest and stonewalling of Congress, scream for another chapter in the book. Congress and Attorney General Jeff Sessions must put their personal feelings aside, and identify rot in the system when they see it regardless if it’s coming from the federal, state, or local officials. People are losing faith in the Justice System and actions must be taken to restore it before it is too late.

Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government. Reproduced with permission. Original can be viewed here

Taking care of yourself. Rest and Quiet Contemplation: We Need More

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Image: https://pixabay.com/en/users/winner01-1957125/ CC0

At meetings, conferences, receptions, and even during casual conversations I’m inevitably asked if I saw so-and-so on the stir-the-pot talk show last night or if I listened to talking-head-Bob this afternoon on his critique-everything radio show. Inevitably, my answer is, “No.”

The same sorts of questions arise when it comes to the latest release of talking-head-Jane’s book or her most recent editorial. I’m sorry, but I probably didn’t read them.

If I’m honest with myself, I could take the time to do so, but why? How much do we really benefit from being continuously plugged-in and outraged? How much can the chattering class actually help me be a better person, a better husband, a better father, or a better boss?

It’s not that I don’t read or listen or watch; I just read, listen, and watch very different things.

It’s very easy to be sucked into the world of the chattering class, to believe that you must always be engaged, reading, watching, commenting, tweeting, messaging, sharing pictures, and on and on and on. And if you’re not? Well, then you’re uninformed and a disengaged citizen.

Then there is, of course, the sense that if we’re personally not sharing every thought or detail of our life and commenting on everyone else’s updates that we’re somehow not connected, don’t have friends, or we’re missing out on opportunities.

But, again, what do we really gain by being plugged-in and oversharing other than elevated blood pressure and a bad case of paranoia, narcissism, or both?

No, life is already far too busy with plenty of distractions and stresses. Perhaps we would do better to use our time to focus on those things we can impact personally. To do so, though, requires time for rest and quiet contemplation. In On Christian Contemplation, Thomas Merton argues, “… contemplation must be possible if man is to remain human.”

He continues,

Man has an instinctive need for harmony and peace, for tranquility, order, and meaning. None of those seem to be the most salient characteristics of modern society…

We must face the fact that the mere thought of contemplation is one which deeply troubles the person who takes it seriously. It is so contrary to the modern way of life, so apparently alien, so seemingly impossible, that the modern man who even considers it finds, at first, that his whole being rebels against it … We would like to be quiet, but our restlessness will not allow it.

Guilty, as charged. So much of our lives are wrapped up in doing while simply being is actually hard to do. As a society, we place little to no value on regular, purposeful and quiet solitude. Indeed, such behavior is often considered anti-social.

When I was growing up, work seemed to be the measure of my value. If you didn’t work, do chores, help out, etc., then you were wasting time and holding the family back. Similarly, many American workers are expected to be perpetually connected to work, checking e-mail on their phones whenever they’re away from the office (even on vacation) and burning the midnight oil to stay on top of their duties. Taking time to rest and reflect is perceived as something that takes away from the bottom line.

Yet, there is tremendous value in rest and quiet contemplation. Furthermore, there is strong evidence that in our technological, plugged-in society, contemplation is even more necessary. As Merton explains:

Ancient and traditional societies, whether of Asia or of the West, always specifically recognized ‘the way’ of the wise, the way of spiritual discipline in which there was at once wisdom and method, and by which, whether in art, in philosophy, in religion, or in the monastic life, some men would attain to the inner meaning of being, they would experience this meaning for all their brothers, they would so to speak bring together in themselves the divisions or complications that confused the life of their fellows.

By healing the divisions in themselves they would help heal the divisions of the whole world…

Science and technology are indeed admirable in many respects and if they fulfill their promises they can do much for man. But they can never solve his deepest problems. On the contrary without wisdom, without the intuition and freedom that enable man to return to the root of his being, science can only precipitate him still further into the centrifugal flight that flings him, in all his compact and uncomprehending isolation, into the darkness of outer space without purpose and without objective.

While news serves a purpose, is it possible that, as Merton argues, the franticness of modern life and the great uncertainties arising from a hyper-competitive, global economy are further aggravated by obsessing over the perpetual clashes of the chattering class? Our nation is divided, there is no doubt about it. But what would happen if more of us turned off the TV and the radio, if we quit or dialed-back social media, and used our time instead to “root our being”, discern wisdom, and find peace?

This post Rest and Quiet Contemplation: We Need More was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Devin Foley. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except for material where copyright is reserved by a party other than Intellectual Takeout.

Unless it’s repealed by Jan 1, American Seniors Face Return of Obamacare Tax in 2018

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The clock is ticking for the return of an Obamacare tax that opponents say will hit older Americans on fixed incomes particularly hard, costing them an extra $500 per couple.

“For seniors on fixed incomes, my heavens, it’s a real problem,” @60PlusAssoc says.

Congress hasn’t taken action to delay or eliminate the tax before Jan. 1, when a moratorium on it expires. In 2015, Congress acted on a bipartisan basis to postpone the tax, which dates to President Barack Obama’s second year in office.

“It’s not just seniors, but clearly seniors are more financially strapped. And $500 per couple might not seem like a lot, but for seniors on fixed incomes, my heavens, it’s a real problem,” Jim Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association, a conservative organization for senior citizens, told The Daily Signal.

The estimated average of $500 per year per couple is based on an October study by Oliver Wyman Health, a health research firm that says the tax would mean a “$255 increase per Medicare Advantage member (including Special Needs Plans and Employer Group Waiver Plans).”

According to the study:

In 2018, that translates to annual premium increases ranging from $165 to more than $500, depending on the enrollee and product. Projected increases include:

$165 increase per person in the individual market

$193 increase per person and $523 increase per family in the small group market

$196 increase per person and $563 increase per family contract in the large group market

$255 increase per Medicare Advantage member (including Special Needs Plans and Employer Group Waiver Plans)

$195 increase per Medicaid managed care enrollee

Over the next 10 years, this equates to premium increases ranging from $2,376 per person in the individual market to $6,969 per family in the large group market; and $3,156 per Medicare Advantage member and $2,559 per Medicaid managed care enrollee.

Medicare Advantage is a supplemental benefits program in which more than 100 private insurers compete for customers within the federal Medicare program. It covers about one-third of all Medicare beneficiaries.

In 2010, when Democrats in Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, the lawmakers included what the Internal Revenue Service calls the “health insurance provider fee.” Opponents call it the “health insurance tax,” or HIT.

The fee is a tax on health insurance companies, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected the tax “would be largely passed through to consumers in the form of higher premiums for private coverage.”

“The bottom line is that HIT is a $12 billion tax annually on health insurance companies,” Martin said. “Guess what the companies are going to do? They’re going to pass it on.”

The 60 Plus Association launched a $500,000 TV ad campaign in November calling on Congress to block the Obamacare tax.

The tax collected $8 billion from insurers after going into effect in 2014. The tax doesn’t have a specific rate, but is set to grow every year based on the rate of growth in premiums. The Department of Health and Human Services sets the rate each year based on what it considers needed revenue.

Congress imposed the moratorium on the tax in 2015 to slow the rise in insurance premiums.

“It’s an excise tax with a twist that you’re raising a fixed amount of money, and therefore instead of the revenue from the tax varying, the tax rate varies,” Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in health policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.

Haislmaier continued:

If you have a fixed excise tax like gasoline, if people drive more and consume more gas, the government gets more revenue from the tax. This is one where it says the government wants to get X revenue and if people drive more, we’ll lower the tax and if people drive less, we’ll raise the tax, so that we always get the same amount of revenue.

So, it has this perverse effect, to the extent that fewer people buy insurance, the people that do buy insurance end up paying a higher rate.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who sponsored legislation to delay the tax for another year, spoke about it Wednesday to conservatives gathered in Washington at a meeting convened by Americans for Tax Reform.

In a formal statement after introducing the bill in September, Gardner said: “We need to look at every avenue we can to provide relief to the American people from the high costs created by the Affordable Care Act.”

Last month, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., touted his opposition to the coming tax in meeting with business owners in his district.

More than 20 percent of the health insurance tax falls on Medicare Advantage, according to the Better Medicare Alliance, an advocacy group for Medicare recipients.

“The HIT tax is applied to all private health insurance plans, but its impact on the senior population will affect those on a fixed income and [who have] less capacity to absorb higher taxes,” Robert Moffit, a senior fellow in health policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.

The Great Horse-Manure Crisis of 1894

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We commonly read or hear reports to the effect that “If trend X continues, the result will be disaster.” The subject can be almost anything, but the pattern of these stories is identical. These reports take a current trend and extrapolate it into the future as the basis for their gloomy prognostications. The conclusion is, to quote a character from a famous British sitcom, “We’re doomed, I tell you. We’re doomed!” Unless, that is, we mend our ways according to the author’s prescription. This almost invariably involves restrictions on personal liberty.

These prophets of doom rely on one thing—that their audience will not check the record of such predictions. In fact, the history of prophecy is one of failure and oversight. Many predictions (usually of doom) have not come to pass, while other things have happened that nobody foresaw. Even brief research will turn up numerous examples of both, such as the many predictions in the 1930s—about a decade before the baby boom began—that the populations of most Western countries were about to enter a terminal decline. In other cases, people have made predictions that have turned out to be laughably overmodest, such as the nineteenth-century editor’s much-ridiculed forecast that by 1950 every town in America would have a telephone, or Bill Gates’s remark a few years ago that 64 kilobytes of memory is enough for anyone.

The fundamental problem with most predictions of this kind, and particularly the gloomy ones, is that they make a critical, false assumption: that things will go on as they are. This assumption in turn comes from overlooking one of the basic insights of economics: that people respond to incentives. In a system of free exchange, people receive all kinds of signals that lead them to solve problems. The prophets of doom come to their despondent conclusions because in their world, nobody has any kind of creativity or independence of thought—except for themselves of course.

A classic example of this is a problem that was getting steadily worse about a hundred years ago, so much so that it drove most observers to despair. This was the great horse-manure crisis.

Nineteenth-century cities depended on thousands of horses for their daily functioning. All transport, whether of goods or people, was drawn by horses. London in 1900 had 11,000 cabs, all horse-powered. There were also several thousand buses, each of which required 12 horses per day, a total of more than 50,000 horses. In addition, there were countless carts, drays, and wains, all working constantly to deliver the goods needed by the rapidly growing population of what was then the largest city in the world. Similar figures could be produced for any great city of the time.*

The problem of course was that all these horses produced huge amounts of manure. A horse will on average produce between 15 and 35 pounds of manure per day. Consequently, the streets of nineteenth-century cities were covered by horse manure. This in turn attracted huge numbers of flies, and the dried and ground-up manure was blown everywhere. In New York in 1900, the population of 100,000 horses produced 2.5 million pounds of horse manure per day, which all had to be swept up and disposed of. (See Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1999]).

In 1898 the first international urban-planning conference convened in New York. It was abandoned after three days, instead of the scheduled ten, because none of the delegates could see any solution to the growing crisis posed by urban horses and their output.

The problem did indeed seem intractable. The larger and richer that cities became, the more horses they needed to function. The more horses, the more manure. Writing in the Times of London in 1894, one writer estimated that in 50 years every street in London would be buried under nine feet of manure. Moreover, all these horses had to be stabled, which used up ever-larger areas of increasingly valuable land. And as the number of horses grew, ever-more land had to be devoted to producing hay to feed them (rather than producing food for people), and this had to be brought into cities and distributed—by horse-drawn vehicles. It seemed that urban civilization was doomed.

Crisis Vanished

Of course, urban civilization was not buried in manure. The great crisis vanished when millions of horses were replaced by motor vehicles. This was possible because of the ingenuity of inventors and entrepreneurs such as Gottlieb Daimler and Henry Ford, and a system that gave them the freedom to put their ideas into practice. Even more important, however, was the existence of the price mechanism. The problems described earlier meant that the price of horse-drawn transport rose steadily as the cost of feeding and housing horses increased. This created strong incentives for people to find alternatives.

No doubt in the Paleolithic era there was panic about the growing exhaustion of flint supplies. Somehow the great flint crisis, like the great horse-manure crisis, never came to pass.

The closest modern counterpart to the late nineteenth-century panic about horse manure is agitation about the future course of oil prices. The price of crude oil is rising, partly due to political uncertainty, but primarily because of rapid growth in China and India. This has led to a spate of articles predicting that oil production will soon peak, that prices will rise, and that, given the central part played by oil products in the modern economy, we are facing intractable problems. We’re doomed!

What this misses is that in a competitive market economy, as any resource becomes more costly, human ingenuity will find alternatives.

We should draw two lessons from this. First, human beings, left to their own devices, will usually find solutions to problems, but only if they are allowed to; that is, if they have economic institutions, such as property rights and free exchange, that create the right incentives and give them the freedom to respond. If these are absent or are replaced by political mechanisms, problems will not be solved.

Second, the sheer difficulty of predicting the future, and in particular of foreseeing the outcome of human creativity, is yet another reason for rejecting the planning or controlling of people’s choices. Above all, we should reject the currently fashionable “precautionary principle,” which would forbid the use of any technology until proved absolutely harmless.

Left to themselves, our grandparents solved the great horse-manure problem. If things had been left to the urban planners, they would almost certainly have turned out worse.

*See Joel Tarr and Clay McShane, “The Centrality of the Horse to the Nineteenth Century American City,” in Raymond Mohl, ed., The Making of Urban America (New York: SR Publishers, 1997), pp. 105–30. See also Ralph Turvey, “Work Horses in Victorian London” at www.turvey.demon.co.uk.

Stephen Davies


Stephen Davies

Stephen Davies is a program officer at the Institute for Humane Studies and the education director at the Institute for Economics Affairs in London.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except for material where copyright is reserved by a party other than FEE.

One Way Poor People Can Buy Land With No Money

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Want to homestead? Don’t have any money for land? Becky explains how owner financing works, how to study flood records, how to look for a well and how you need to be savvy when dealing with zoning issues.

This is one way to buy property when you’re poor and you have no credit. In this homesteading video Becky explains step by step how she bought land if you’re poor and have no money and no credit or bad credit.

Watch Jerry take his family from living in his car to creating his own homestead in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

How an igloo keeps you warm

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Interesting. Trapped air. Just like a down jacket.

It is time to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard? Yer think?

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By Printus LeBlanc

Two political powerhouses are getting ready to do battle. Texas and Louisiana are the hub of U.S. energy production, and Iowa and Nebraska are the hub of U.S. ethanol production. The two groups are battling over a law passed over a decade ago that made one region of the country the king of subsidies. Those subsidies are now putting pressure on large swaths of the economy and must be addressed.

On Dec. 1, Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate for Texas.

First, a quick primer on the RFS. In 2005, the RFS was established under the guise of helping the environment with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The program requires fuel sold in the U.S. to contain a minimal amount of renewable fuels, the majority being corn ethanol. To track the renewable fuel, a Renewable Identification Number (RIN) is assigned to each batch of biofuel. The RINs count towards the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO), an amount designated to each refinery by the EPA.

Seems somewhat simple, but there is a problem for exporters and refiners that do not have the ability to blend. The rule for a gallon of ethanol consumed in the U.S. is different for a gallon consumed outside the country. The rule states, “if a gallon of ethanol is produced in the U.S. but consumed outside of the U.S., the RIN associated with that gallon is not valid for RFS compliance purposes since the RFS program is intended to require a specific volume of renewable fuel to be consumed in the U.S.”

The rule forces exporters of ethanol and fuel blended with ethanol to lose the RIN credit. The refiner had to purchase the credit to make the fuel, now has to buy another credit to go towards the RVO. This is the point of Governor Abbott’s letter.

The RINs have now become Wall Street speculators’ weapon. Big banks are buying the credits from producers and hoarding them in dark markets, driving up the price. The increase in cost is being passed up the supply chain.

RINs are having a detrimental effect on refiners across the nation. Many are spending more on RINs than labor. The cost has already caused one refinery to close in Delaware and is threatening a closure in Pennsylvania(And we can ill afford to lose refineries, we haven’t had a brand new one for decades~Kelly)

The cost is also being passed up the supply chain. Alex Holcomb, professor of finance at The University of Texas-El Paso, studied the impact of high RINs prices on employment nationwide, finding that: “The RIN mandate, as its currently structured, puts refiners at higher risk of bankruptcy, placing at risk a significant number of jobs that are tied to the refinery sector both directly and indirectly. As is usually the case in bankruptcy, workers end up suffering the most acute economic hardship, especially if they are unable to quickly find comparable re-employment. From steelworkers to truckers, to the men and women earning minimum wage at their local gas station, an estimated 75,000 to 150,000 American jobs are potentially at risk if U.S. independent refiners go out of business.”

However, there is a middle ground everyone can agree on. Allowing RINs attached to exported biofuels to be counted towards the RVO benefits almost everyone:

  1. The refiners no longer must pay twice for RINs;
  2. The corn producers still produce the same amount of corn, and will have greater access to overseas markets;
  3. Increases American exports;

There is one group the compromise does not benefit, Wall Street speculators. Since they did such a bang-up job with the housing market, no one is worried about them not profiting from a compromise.

It would behoove King Corn to pay attention. Yes, they are a potent political force, but several influential groups are drifting together to oppose them. More and more studies being done show the RFS does more harm than good to the environment.

Environmentalists are starting to turn on the mandate. King Corn could soon be facing a united front of environmentalists (California, Oregon and Washington) and refiners (Texas, Pennsylvania and Louisiana), a lot more than the four Senators and seven House members in Iowa and Nebraska.

For over a decade the corn lobby has been getting billions in subsidies. It is time for them to allow the EPA to level the playing field for all in the fuel business. No one is trying to remove the mandate, yet. Iowa and Nebraska should get on board with reforming the RFS for the good of every American.

Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor at Americas for Limited Government. Article reproduced with permission. View the original here

Comment 

Most engines get reduced mileage with the ethanol mix. Larger transportation vehicles cope with it better but ethanol attracts water and that can lead to rust in small cars.  More here.

Here’s a hypermiling video to help you get more from your engine.

Throwing Good Money after Bad Doesn’t Improve Government Schools

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Whenever I discuss education policy with one of my leftist friends, it usually follows the same script.

They’ll ask whether I want good education for kids. I’ll say yes. They’ll then say we should devote more money to government schools.

I then show them this powerful chart and point out that we’ve been following their approach for 40-plus years and that it hasn’t worked.

None of them has ever had an effective or coherent response.

I then point out that the United States spends far morethan other developed nations, on a per-pupil basis. Yet our national test scores are dismal compared to other developed nations.

Once again, none of them has ever had an effective or coherent response.

The simple reality if that giving more money to government schools is a foolish gesture.

Today, we’re going to look at some additional evidence.

Research from the World Bank pours cold water on the notion that more money for teachers leads to better outcomes for students.

…countries sometimes implement large increases in public-sector salaries to attract higher-quality applicants to government jobs and to better motivate existing employees. …understanding the extent to which unconditional pay increases make incumbent public-sector workers more motivated and productive is a key consideration in evaluating the cost effectiveness of such salary increases. …In this paper, we provide experimental evidence on the impact of a large unconditional salary increase on the effort and productivity of incumbent public employees. Our study was conducted in the context of a policy change in Indonesia that permanently doubled the base pay of eligible civil-service teachers… The reform moved teacher salaries from the 50th to the 90th percentile of the college-graduate salary distribution. Civil-service teachers in Indonesia also enjoy generous benefits and high job security, and quit rates were very low even before the pay increase. Thus, the teachers in our study are typical of public-sector employees in many low- and middle-income countries, who hold highly coveted jobs and enjoy a significant wage premium relative to their private-sector counterparts.

So what were the results of this experiment? The good news, as you might expect, is that teachers were quite happy.

The experiment significantly improved measures of teacher welfare: At the end of two and three years of the experiment, teachers in treated schools had higher income, were more likely to be satisfied with their income, and were less likely to report financial stress.

But for those of us who actually want better education for children, the results were not very satisfactory.

…despite this improvement in incumbent teachers’ pay, satisfaction, …the policy did not improve either their effort or student learning. Teachers in treated schools did not score better on tests of teacher subject knowledge, and we find no consistent pattern of impact on self-reported measures of teacher attendance. Most importantly, we find no difference in student test scores in language, mathematics, or science across treatment and control schools. …Finally, we use the school-level random assignment as an instrumental variable for being taught by a certified teacher in a given year, and find no improvement in student test scores from being taught by a certified teacher (relative to students in control schools taught by similar “target” teachers). These effects are also precisely estimated…our results are consistent with other studies finding no correlation between teacher salaries in the public sector and their teaching effectiveness (Muralidharan and Sundararaman 2011, Bau and Das 2017), and with studies finding that contract teachers who are paid much lower salaries than civil-service teachers are no less effective (Muralidharan and Sundararaman 2013, Duflo, Dupas, and Kremer 2015, Bau and Das 2017).

Indonesia is not similar to the United States, so some people will want to dismiss these finding.

But the authors note that U.S.-focused studies have reached the same conclusion.

Our results are consistent with prior studies finding no correlation between in creases in teacher pay and improved student performance in the US (Hanushek 1986; Betts 1995; Grogger 1996).

If giving teachers more money doesn’t work, is it possible that spending more money on facilities will help?

Let’s look at another academic study, published in the Journal of Public Economics, for some insight. Here’s the approach used by the scholars.

In this paper we provide the most comprehensive assessment of achievement effects from school facility investments initiated and financed by local school districts. The first part of the analysis examines the impact of nearly 1400 capital campaigns initiated by 748 school districts in the state of Texas over a 14-year period. …We examine the impact of capital campaigns on student outcomes using information on all tested students in the state over this time period, which includes all 3rd through 8th graders and 10th or 11th graders that take the state’s high school exit exam.

And here are the very disappointing results.

…the second part of the study directly measures the effect of capital investment on students actually exposed to it by analyzing more than 1300 major campus renovations. Controls for lagged individual test scores permit us to address changes in student composition resulting from capital investment, analogous to “value-added” models of teacher effectiveness. With or without this adjustment, we find no evidence of achievement effects of major campus renovations, even for renovations that appear to have generated large improvements in school facility conditions. Our estimates are sufficiently precise such that we can rule out positive effects larger than about 0.02 for math and 0.01 for reading for the first four years following a campus renovation.

By the way, I’m not arguing that pay and facilities are irrelevant. I think the takeaway from these studies is that more money doesn’t help when the underlying structure of the education system is faulty. So long as we have a centralized monopoly, more money isn’t going to help.

Unfortunately, American politicians are part of the problem.

Under President George W. Bush, the federal government spent more money on education and grabbed more control of the sector as part of the so-called No Child Left Behind initiative. That didn’t yield good results.

Under President Barack Obama, the same thing happened. Thanks to Common Core, the federal government spent more money on education and grabbed more control of the sector. That didn’t yield good results.

Indeed, a report last year for the National Center for Policy Analysis notes the dismal impact of the federal government.

Over the years, federal funding of primary and secondary education has increased, while students’ academic performance has flatlined. For instance, the high school reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress show that student performance has remained flat for the past 20 years… education reform initiatives by several administrations produced, at best, minimal improvements in student performance at a high price to taxpayers. Given its track record, the federal government should get out of the education business. Federal education reforms have failed to achieve their goals and failed to have a positive impact on education performance.

Amen. The Department of Education in Washington should be eliminated. It’s part of the problem.

Let’s close with a Reason video that looks at some absurd examples of how taxpayer money is wasted by the government school monopoly. Free boob jobs, really?!

P.S. Let’s close with a bit of humor showing the evolution of math lessons in government schools.

P.P.S. If you want some unintentional humor, the New York Times thinks that government education spending has been reduced.

P.P.P.S. And you’ll also be amused (and outraged and disgusted) by the truly bizarre examples of political correctness in government schools.

UPDATE: National Conceal Carry Reciprocity passes House. It’s time to call your Senators!

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The House passed legislation to permit concealed carry license holders to conceal a handgun in other states.

The “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” passed 231-198. Senate Democrats are expected to block the measure.

It’s time to lobby your Senator! Here’s the list: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm


Alexander, Lamar – (R – TN)
Class II
455 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4944

Baldwin, Tammy – (D – WI)
Class I
709 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5653

Barrasso, John – (R – WY)
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307 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6441

Bennet, Michael F. – (D – CO)
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261 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Blumenthal, Richard – (D – CT)
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706 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2823

Blunt, Roy – (R – MO)
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260 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Booker, Cory A. – (D – NJ)
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Boozman, John – (R – AR)
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Brown, Sherrod – (D – OH)
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Burr, Richard – (R – NC)
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Cantwell, Maria – (D – WA)
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172 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Cardin, Benjamin L. – (D – MD)
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Carper, Thomas R. – (D – DE)
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Cassidy, Bill – (R – LA)
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Cochran, Thad – (R – MS)
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Collins, Susan M. – (R – ME)
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Corker, Bob – (R – TN)
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Cornyn, John – (R – TX)
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Cotton, Tom – (R – AR)
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Crapo, Mike – (R – ID)
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Cruz, Ted – (R – TX)
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Daines, Steve – (R – MT)
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Donnelly, Joe – (D – IN)
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720 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Duckworth, Tammy – (D – IL)
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Durbin, Richard J. – (D – IL)
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Enzi, Michael B. – (R – WY)
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Ernst, Joni – (R – IA)
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Feinstein, Dianne – (D – CA)
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331 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Fischer, Deb – (R – NE)
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Flake, Jeff – (R – AZ)
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Franken, Al – (D – MN)
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Gardner, Cory – (R – CO)
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478 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Graham, Lindsey – (R – SC)
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Grassley, Chuck – (R – IA)
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Harris, Kamala D. – (D – CA)
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330 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Hatch, Orrin G. – (R – UT)
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Heinrich, Martin – (D – NM)
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Heitkamp, Heidi – (D – ND)
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Hirono, Mazie K. – (D – HI)
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Hoeven, John – (R – ND)
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Isakson, Johnny – (R – GA)
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Johnson, Ron – (R – WI)
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328 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Kaine, Tim – (D – VA)
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231 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Kennedy, John – (R – LA)
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383 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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King, Angus S., Jr. – (I – ME)
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Klobuchar, Amy – (D – MN)
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302 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Lankford, James – (R – OK)
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316 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Leahy, Patrick J. – (D – VT)
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437 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
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Lee, Mike – (R – UT)
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Manchin, Joe, III – (D – WV)
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Perdue, David – (R – GA)
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Portman, Rob – (R – OH)
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Reed, Jack – (D – RI)
Class II
728 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4642

Risch, James E. – (R – ID)
Class II
483 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2752

Roberts, Pat – (R – KS)
Class II
109 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4774

Rounds, Mike – (R – SD)
Class II
502 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5842

Rubio, Marco – (R – FL)
Class III
284 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3041

Sanders, Bernard – (I – VT)
Class I
332 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5141

Sasse, Ben – (R – NE)
Class II
136 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4224

Schatz, Brian – (D – HI)
Class III
722 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3934

Schumer, Charles E. – (D – NY)
Class III
322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6542

Scott, Tim – (R – SC)
Class III
717 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6121

Shaheen, Jeanne – (D – NH)
Class II
506 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2841

Shelby, Richard C. – (R – AL)
Class III
304 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5744

Stabenow, Debbie – (D – MI)
Class I
731 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4822

Strange, Luther – (R – AL)
Class II
326 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4124

Sullivan, Dan – (R – AK)
Class II
702 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3004

Tester, Jon – (D – MT)
Class I
311 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2644

Thune, John – (R – SD)
Class III
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2321

Tillis, Thom – (R – NC)
Class II
185 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6342

Toomey, Patrick J. – (R – PA)
Class III
248 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4254

Udall, Tom – (D – NM)
Class II
531 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6621

Van Hollen, Chris – (D – MD)
Class III
110 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4654

Warner, Mark R. – (D – VA)
Class II
703 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2023

Warren, Elizabeth – (D – MA)
Class I
317 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4543

Whitehouse, Sheldon – (D – RI)
Class I
530 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2921

Wicker, Roger F. – (R – MS)
Class I
555 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6253

Wyden, Ron – (D – OR)
Class III
221 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5244

Young, Todd – (R – IN)
Class III
400 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5623

Uncle Sam is About to Sell 10,000 Surplus 1911s. Here’s How You Can Get One.

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The 1911 was the United States’ service pistol of choice for most of the 20th century. It was replaced by the Beretta M9 in the 1980s but despite the increase in magazine capacity, the Beretta just couldn’t win the hearts of the military like the 1911 and is currently being replaced by the M17 and M18 (both variants of a new modular handgun designed by Sig Sauer).

So right now there are around 10,000 1911s coming down the pike.

If you qualify, you’ll be allowed to buy one 1911 per calendar year but your name will first go into a lottery. As you can imagine, demand will be high for this weapon. For more information go to the Civilian Marksmanship Program which handles ex-military sales. According to The Tribunist, the CMP has a history of selling off government surplus to members of participating gun clubs. Their goal is to increase participation in shooting sports.They’ve had the 1911s for a while, but haven’t had a clear government mandate to sell them off.

According to The Tribunist, they also sell other surplus guns as they become available. M1 Garands and 1903 Springfields are their most popular offerings, though there is a push to bring thousands of M1 Carbines back from Korea. Those guns were left in service with the South Koreans after the war, and have been warehoused over there for years.

The bad news seems to be the price. CMP is pricing them at $800 – $1100 depending on condition which is a lot when you think you can get a good 1911 for around $500 – and it hasn’t been shot up on the range. I guess they’re selling these to collectors – and trying to self-police by only selling to “responsible” people.

From Wikipedia:

The M1911 is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1986. It was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The pistol’s formal designation as of 1940 was Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911 for the original model of 1911 or Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1 for the M1911A1, adopted in 1924. The designation changed to Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1 in the Vietnam War era.

The U.S. procured around 2.7 million M1911 and M1911A1 pistols in military contracts during its service life. The M1911 was replaced by the 9mm Beretta M9 pistol as the standard U.S. sidearm in October 1986, but due to its popularity among users, it has not been completely phased out. Modernized derivative variants of the M1911 are still in use by some units of the U.S. Army Special Forces, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

Designed by John Browning, the M1911 is the best-known of his designs to use the short recoil principle in its basic design. The pistol was widely copied, and this operating system rose to become the preeminent type of the 20th century and of nearly all modern centerfire pistols. It is popular with civilian shooters in competitive events such as USPSA, IDPA, International Practical Shooting Confederation, and Bullseye shooting. Compact variants are popular civilian concealed carry weapons in the U.S. because of the design’s relatively slim width and stopping power of the .45 ACP cartridge.

That Bud Light “Dilly Dilly” Commercial explained (and why it’s actually clever not stupid.)

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The Genius of the “Dilly Dilly” Commercial

Sometimes a commercial appears that both shatters a paradigm and creates a popular meme that truly sticks. The genius is undeniable but extremely hard to manufacture from a formula. It just works. Think of “I’d like to teach the world to sing,” “Where’s the beef?”, “Mikey likes it!”, and “Do you have any Grey Poupon?” All these were huge cultural moments that managed to achieve what advertising is supposed to achieve: brand recognition, pride in consumption, affirmation of cultural identity.

We had another one come to us in 2017. It’s Bud Light’s Dilly Dilly commercial that first ran during an NFL game.

I ordered a Bud Light at a random bar in Chicago this weekend. The bartender said “Dilly Dilly” to me and I said it back and we smiled and moved on. When I was speaking the previous day, I kept a Bud Light on the podium and, at some point, held it up and said “Dilly Dilly” and half the audience lost it (while the other half was just lost).

Let’s examine what makes this commercial genius. As Americans we love art that flips class caricatures and plays with the mobility of class status. This is a signature of the national culture, an extension of the idea of freedom. We love to see the high go low and the low go high, and laugh at the irony – and the reality – of it all.

This is the cultural feel explored in this commercial.

People Rule

It opens with a “Games of Thrones” scene from some vague European past, though the stained glass in the throne room suggests perhaps 15th century. There is a ruling family sitting at the head table, a man in charge and his queen and a servant of the crown. The music in the background is some tooling-around wood recorders we vaguely associate with throne rooms from the period.

The first person approaches the crown and he is addressed as “Sir Jeremy,” so apparently we are in England. But there is something odd here. The gift brought to the crown is a six pack of Bud Light! Immediately the king (or whatever he is) says “You are a true friend of the crown.” Everyone toasts by raising a Bud Light the strange and ridiculous toast: “Dilly Dilly.”

The next person to approach the crown is a woman but she has a 20 pack of the same. She is declared to be “an even truer friend of the crown,” because, of course, more Bud Light is always better than less. Then the toast happens again: “Dilly Dilly.”

We know this dude! He only drinks the best and only the most obscure. The next person is a snobby hipster with an affected way, that guy who loves craft beers and always has more knowledge and drinks something better than you. He is dressed in courtly clothing of the highest order, like St. Thomas More. He brings a single bottle of something with a wax top. He says: “this is a spiced honey mead wine that I have really been into lately.”

We know this dude! He only drinks the best and only the most obscure. Until you have had his latest passion, you are just a loser, maybe even someone who drinks cheap domestics!

But as we can see, something is upside down in this land. The people (and their tastes) are now in charge. It is not the finely dressed fuss buckets who prevail, with their pretentious and rarefied tastes. No. Now real people rule, with down-to-earth practicality. And these rulers are not so keen to celebrate elitist affectations.

The man asks if he can have a Dilly Dilly. The king stares disapprovingly.

The Pit of Misery

When I first saw this, I laughed so hard to the point of nearly crying.

Instead, after a long silence, the king says: “Please follow Sir Brad. He is going to give you a tour of the Pit of Misery.” And the man is dragged off – to the cheers of the audience.

When I first saw this, I laughed so hard to the point of nearly crying. This one ad brilliantly calls out the snobbery of craft brew culture and all the pomp that goes with it. Nowhere does it make a direct pitch for Bud Light. It just says exactly what we think but never say: Bud Light is a people’s beer, and that’s just fine because now the people rule.

So embedded in this commercial is a bit of the story of the rise of capitalism itself. It was the marketing principle that flipped history. No longer would the elite of the past determine the tastes of the kingdom and the way resources would be used. There would be mass production for the masses of people. It was a revolution in history, and one that would never stop.

And from a marketing point of view, this commercial deals directly with Bud Light’s real competition in the craft brew industry, which is making inroads by the day. Bud Light obviously cannot claim to have a better product. And guess what? Everyone knows that. Everyone knows what a Bud Light is: it is a beer-like drink that is watery but let’s you drink a six pack in an evening without any great disaster the next day. Sorry snobs, but the people like this feature.

No More Cowering

In this game of thrones, it is the people who are in charge.  But how do you advertise such a thing? How do you make it a thing to be proud of? You put on display a world in which the people rule and they are proud of what they do and what they consume. No more hiding. No more cowering in the face of the power of the elites. No more of this feeling of intimidation that comes from being surrounded by people who claim to be better than you.

In this game of thrones, it is the people who are in charge. Dilly Dilly! And that meaningless slogan: how preposterous! But guess what? You kind of want to say it. You want to order a Bud Light and feel entitled to say that extremely silly thing.

Then there is the follow-up commercial, which takes us to the Pit of Misery, where people are on racks, hanging upside down, and living in cages. A former inmate shows up with the greeting “Dilly Dilly.” He passes out Bud Light to everyone there. There is some banter and it ends.

And this is why we love advertising. The best of it comes to define the times.  Of course the commercial makes absolutely no sense unless you are in on the joke. If you are in the know, you are starting to get the sense of a whole world in which the tastes and habits of regular people have become the prevailing cultural sense. No more T.S. Eliot and his top-down cultural impositions. It is the people and their consumption and spending habits that prevail, the old-world ruling class be damned.

Of course there is something not really true about the whole ethos here. In the real world, it is the local craft brews that broke the monopoly control of the old-world domestics, to add some free-market competition to a stagnant industry. And that makes this ad even more special, with Bud Light trying to recapture the legitimacy of its dominant market position. It’s not easy but this ad does it.

And this is why we love advertising. The best of it comes to define the times. It deserves the title art, perhaps not “high art” but an art designed to achieve that remarkable thing: persuade you and me to enter into a trading relationship with a producer. In this case, it works, so I say to you “Dilly Dilly.”

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, economics adviser to FreeSociety.com, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books, most recently Right-Wing Collectivism: The Other Threat to Liberty, with a preface by Deirdre McCloskey (FEE 2017). He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press. He is available for press interviews via his email.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except for material where copyright is reserved by a party other than FEE.

17-foot python that could ‘pretty much kill any full-grown man’ caught in Everglades

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A monster 17-foot python that was captured in the Florida Everglades over the weekend is the largest caught so far under Florida’s python elimination program. Launched in March, the South Florida Water Management District’s python elimination program pays hunters $8.10 an hour. It then pays an extra $50 for a 4-foot snake and $25 for each additional foot beyond that. For this python, the three hunters will reportedly get $375.

Image: South Florida Water Management District

They caught this 132-pound Burmese python at the Big Cypress National Preserve. The hunters said it was much larger when they initially wrangled it. Burmese pythons eat alligators, raccoons, possums, otters, and all smaller prey and have no natural predators themselves.

Detroit Blew Up the Silverdome. And Failed. Spectacularly [VIDEO]

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The Lions get in one last fumble.

Then they got it right!

Like seeing stadiums get blown up? Try these!

That classic book you read as a child? It’s probably here! FREE

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The University of Florida’s Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature has an extensive collection of children’s books from the 19th century, which they have digitized and made available free of charge.

The Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Florida’s George A. Smathers Libraries contains more than 130,000 books and periodicals published in the United States and Great Britain from the mid-1600s to present day. The Library also has manuscript collections, original artwork, and assorted ephemera such as board games, puzzles, and toys. The Baldwin Library is known for comparative editions of books, with special emphasis on Robinson Crusoe, Pilgrim’s Progress, Aesop’s Fables, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The Library also has the largest collection of Early American Juvenile Imprints of any academic institution in the United States.

Other strengths and distinctions of the Baldwin Library include: marginalia and inscriptions, the Hans Christian Andersen Awards Collection, Little Golden Books, religious tracts, and illustrated editions from the Golden Age of Children’s Literature. Scholars worldwide use the Baldwin Library for research in fables, fairy tales, alphabet books, morality tales and religious tracts, conduct of life, gender roles, comparison of editions, adve

nture stories, and boys’/girls’ series books.

See all of the books in the library catalog for the Baldwin Library (over 87,

000 catalogued books) and see only the digitized books. See also, annotated list of selected genre terms for children’s literature.

Stachys byzantine – The miracle plant that kids can grow

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Image: By Jean-Pol GRANDMONT (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Wooly Lamb’s Ear, (Stachys byzantine), has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. It’s so easy to grow that it’s recommended for children’s gardens and it has many medical uses. You can even eat the leaves and drink tea made from them!

In the past it was used as a wound dressing on battlefields because its fluffy leaves are absorbent and contain antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. These qualities also make it a suitable emergency substitute for bandages, sanitary pads and toilet paper.

Other Medicinal Uses

As well as their direct application uses, if you drop a few hand-crushed leaves into boiling water, and let it cool, you can use the solution to wash wounds, to rinse eyes (pinkeye and sties), to gargle for sore throats and to gently wash a baby’s bottom!

Want to grow it? There are techniques here and here.

How this deer disease could change the face of hunting

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Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk (or “wapiti”), moose, and reindeer.  CWD has so far been found in 24 states and 2 Canadian provinces. CWD is caused by abnormal infectious proteins called prions. Prions can pass between deer through saliva, feces, urine, and through water or soil contaminated with prions.

Most cases of CWD occur in adult animals; the youngest animal diagnosed with natural CWD was 17 months. The disease is progressive and always fatal. The first signs are difficulties in movement. The most obvious and consistent clinical sign of CWD is weight loss over time. Behavioral changes also occur in the majority of cases, including decreased interactions with other animals, listlessness, lowering of the head, tremors, repetitive walking in set patterns, and nervousness. Excessive salivation and grinding of the teeth also are observed. Most deer show increased drinking and urination; the increased drinking and salivation may contribute to the spread of the disease.

CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). As of 2016, CWD had only been found in members of the deer family. First recognized as a clinical “wasting” syndrome in 1967 in mule deer in a wildlife research facility in northern Colorado, USA, it was identified as a TSE in 1978 and has spread to free-ranging and captive populations in 23 US states and two Canadian provinces. CWD is typified by chronic weight loss leading to death. No relationship is known between CWD and any other TSE of animals or people. TSE is a reaction of the dreaded BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalitis) or “Mad Cow Disease.”

Although reports in the popular press have been made of humans being affected by CWD, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests, “[m]ore epidemiologic and laboratory studies are needed to monitor the possibility of such transmissions”. However, they went on to warn, “[a]s a precaution, hunters should avoid eating deer and elk tissues known to harbor the CWD agent (e.g., brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes) from areas where CWD has been identified”. It is feared that this disease is about to pass to humans.

Hunters across America are responding responsibly (AS WE KNEW THEY WOULD!) to calls to take kills to Deer Check Stations. Each state has different rules, but many now require you to take the deer to a Check Station. What parts of the deer you take away from the Stations may also be subject to rules. In addition, to prevent herds gathering, hunters and landowners in some areas can no longer use supplemental feed or distribute minerals, nor can they use urine lures.

There has been a reported case of a hamster picking up the prions form infected urine through straw placed in its cage. This is not a disease we want passing to humans. Hunters and landowners are the front line in the battle against this devastating and incurable disease. There’s a good article here if you want more information.

And here’s a very informative video by a great outdoorsman, deer farmer and Patriot.

It’s time to modernize the Endangered Species Act; people are more important than bait fish.

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Image: By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the most weaponized law in America. Radical environmentalists use the law as a blunt object to push the zero-growth agenda on the rest of the country, even invading private property. The law prioritizes bait fish over children, kills thousands of jobs, puts people into poverty, and violates the constitution. It is time for Congress to modernize the law and recognize some things are more important than a two-inch fish.

As with most laws passed by Congress, the ESA had good intentions when it was signed into law in 1973. However, that quickly changed when radical environmentalists realized Congress handed them a weapon. One of the first cases after the law’s passage set a precedent for how the ESA could be used as a blunt force object by the federal government and environmental groups.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was building the Tellico Dam in the mid-70s. It was the last of 68 dams constructed in the Tennessee River Valley. A second-year law student at the University of Tennessee, Hiram Hill, submitted a petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to list the snail darter, a small fish the size of a paper clip, as endangered. FWS agreed with the petition and ruled the species was endangered. In 1976, Hill filed suit, using the power of the ESA, to seek an injunction and stop construction of the dam.

After several court decisions going back and forth, the case made its way to the Supreme Court in 1978 and became known as TVA v. Hill. The Supreme Court would rule in favor of Hill with Chief Justice Burger delivering the opinion of the court stating, “One would be hard-pressed to find a statutory provision whose terms were any plainer than those in Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Its very words affirmatively command all federal agencies ‘to ensure that actions authorized, funded, or carried out by them do not jeopardize the continued existence’ of an endangered species or ‘result in the destruction or modification of habitat of such species . . . .’ 16 U.S.C. 1536 (1976 ed.). This language admits of no exception.”

The federal government and environmental radicals now knew their weapon worked. The Supreme Court ruling gave opponents a blueprint to stop whatever construction project they disagreed with, meaning all.

The Delta Smelt is another small fish causing significant problems. Its habitat is in the Sacramento — San Joaquin River Delta, hence the name Delta Smelt. Never in history has a two-inch fish created so many problems. The small fish was put on the endangered species list in 1993. Since then, biologists and environmental officials have been doing whatever it takes to save the fish, including the not diverting fresh river runoff.

This is a problem because the delta is a giant intersection of snow-melt and ocean. When the snow melts, or it rains in northern California, the runoff is carried to the delta and pumped to 25 million Californians and hundreds of farms. However, the pumps can suck up the fish and are being turned off with the fresh water instead flowing out to sea, despite a 2015 survey only finding one Delta Smelt.

The region around the delta is some of the most fertile farmland in the world. The inability to pump water to the crops is putting hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland at risk. Over a third of the nation’s vegetables and nearly two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts come from California, according to the Department of Agriculture. Central Valley farmers say the bait fish has cost them $1.5 billion in lost income and 40,000 jobs.

Forgetting what the Delta Smelt cost the farmers, workers, and consumers, the California State government is looking at plans to save the bait fish that could cost billions more. They are now discussing plans to build tunnels from northern California that bypass the delta region altogether, thereby negating the need for the pumps. Early estimates have the project costing at least $17 billion, sure to blow up California’s budget deficit.

The ESA doesn’t stop at public projects; it goes onto private property. Developers in Utah are finding this out the hard way. The state has 80,000 prairie dogs with a distinctive black eyebrow marking over each eye, making them “different” from the millions of other prairie dogs in the country. Because the Utah prairie dogs are on the ESA, the owners of the private property are not allowed to develop their private property the way they want, despite there being over 80,000 of them in the state. The developers are now depending on the Supreme Court to take up the case.

Radical environmentalists have succeeded in stopping local and state governments from completing infrastructure projects; now they are intent on preventing private citizens from developing their private property. If the ruling is upheld, how long before property rights become nonexistent?

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning is in favor of an update to the law stating, “The Endangered Species Act is one of the most abused laws in American history. Congress must act to restore the balance and ensure private property rights are restored.”

The ESA must be modernized. Radical environmentalists have used the law as a weapon to kill industries it disagrees with. The private property of citizens and the welfare of families should not be discounted because of a two-inch fish or prairie dogs. It is time for Congress to put people first.

Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government. This article was originally published here

FREE BOOK: Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

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You’ve heard of “The Broken Window Theory”  but have you read about it? It’s the second chapter in a classic book from Henry Hazlitt, the genius American economist.

In the spirit of the Golden Age of America when ordinary people were committed to self-improvement and gaining knowledge – not rotting in front of the TV watching mindless celebrities – I am pleased to offer you a free download – or an audio option – of  this great work.

This primer on economic principles brilliantly analyzes the seen and unseen consequences of political and economic actions. In the words of F.A. Hayek, there is “no other modern book from which the intelligent layman can learn so much about the basic truths of economics in so short a time.”

Henry Hazlitt Economics in One Lesson Click here to download the book

https://fee.org/media/14947/economicsinonelesson.mp3 Click here to listen

 

This Mom taught her kids to read at 12th Grade level in one day. (Hint, it was ages ago.)

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Image Credit: Public Domain

When it comes to education, learning to read is probably at the top of everyone’s list in terms of importance. Yet learning to read has become a long and arduous process through which parents and teachers hope and pray their students will make it.

The long and arduous process of learning to read raises the question: are we making it harder than it really needs to be?

This question came to mind when I happened upon Susanna Wesley’s account of how she taught her children to read. Living around the turn of the 18th century, Mrs. Wesley raised and educated 19 children, two of whom were the founders of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley. Later in life, she wrote the following account of her teaching methods to her son John:

“None of them were taught to read till five years old… The way of teaching was this: the day before a child began to learn, the house was set in order, every one’s work appointed them, and a charge given that none should come into the room from nine till twelve, or from two till five, which were our school hours. One day was allowed the child wherein to learn its letters, and each of them did in that time know all its letters, great and small, except Molly and Nancy, who were a day and a half before they knew them perfectly; for which I then thought them very dull: but the reason why I thought them so was, because the rest learned them so readily, and your brother Samuel, who was the first child I ever taught, learnt the alphabet in a few hours. He was five years old on the tenth of February; the next day he began to learn, and as soon as he knew the letters began at the first chapter of Genesis. He was taught to spell the first verse, then to read it over and over, till he could read it off hand without any hesitation; so on to the second, &c. till he took ten verses for a lesson, which he quickly did.

The same method was observed with them all. As soon as they knew the letters they were first put to spell, and read one line, then a verse, never leaving till perfect in their lessons, were it shorter or longer. So one or other continued reading at school time without any intermission; and before we left school, each child read what he had learnt that morning; and ere we parted in the afternoon, what they had learned that day.”

Forget colorful posters, word charts, and “I-Can-Read” books. With a few hours of concentrated effort, Mrs. Wesley taught her 5-year-old children to read a book written at a 12th grade level! (That’s even more impressive when we consider that 50% of today’s adults can’t read a book written at an 8th grade level.)

The fact that Mrs. Wesley, a mother of 19, could teach her children to read in a single day leaves me wondering: are children capable of far more than today’s schools give them credit for?

This post This Mother Taught Her Children to Read at a 12th Grade Level in ONE Day! was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Annie Holmquist.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except for material where copyright is reserved by a party other than Intellectual Takeout.

Is writing on money illegal?

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Many people assume that it’s illegal to stamp or write on paper currency, but they’re wrong! There are three things that you CANNOT do to paper currency:

  1. You CANNOT change the denomination — for example, you cannot add to zeros to a one dollar bill and pretend that it’s a one hundred dollar bill. That’s illegal.
  2. You CANNOT burn, shred, or destroy currency, rendering it unfit for circulation.
  3. You CANNOT advertise a business on paper currency. For example, if you own a Bagel shop, you cannot stamp “Eat at Joe’s Bagel’s” on a dollar.

But we are putting political messages on the bills, not commercial advertisements. Because we all want these bills to stay in circulation and we’re stamping to send a message about an issue that’s important to us, it’s legal!

You can read a legal opinion from Alan Levine, Esq. a noted constitutional lawyer and professor. You can also read a legal opinion from Stephen Justino, Esq. below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the law actually say?

Defacement of U.S. currency is regulated by 18 USC 333, which states:

[W]hoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. [Emphasis added]

There’s also a law prohibiting the use of paper money as advertising, 18 USC 475, which states:

[W]hoever . . . writes, prints, or otherwise impresses upon . . . any [coin or currency] of the United States, any business or professional card, notice, or advertisement, or any notice or advertisement whatever, shall be fined under this title. [Emphasis added]

18 USC 333 is written to prohibit the malicious destruction of currency, and 18 USC 475 is written to prevent currency from becoming a vehicle for commercial advertising, like for Burger King. Because we want stamped money to stay in circulation and we’re stamping to express our opinions about a political issue, not to make a profit, we’re good to go. And you can read our lawyer’s legal opinion on the matter here.

Has anyone gotten in trouble for stamping?

Our Head Stamper Ben Cohen has been stamping on national television – CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, etc. – since 2012, and he has shown stamped bills to politicians and government officials as high up as the U.S. president. Many other celebrities, politicians, and public figures have also stamped their money, but Ben has yet to be reprimanded for his stamping and no other stamper has faced legal issues for stamping either. One stamper even took the issue of stamping straight to his local police department to ask them about it, and they politely informed him that it seemed legal and harmless and therefore wasn’t something they’d even consider pursuing. Ultimately the Secret Service is the federal agency tasked with enforcing the laws relevant to stamping money, not the police, and if the Secret Service is watching your behavior then stamping should be the least of your concerns.

Has anyone gotten in trouble for stamping?

31 USC 5103 states: “United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.” As the U.S. Treasury Department has noted, however, there is no Federal law requiring a business to accept cash as payment:

Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy. (Source)

It’s worth noting that this discusses denominations of currency and cash generally. With that in mind it seems unlikely that stamped bills, which are legal tender, should be treated any differently than unstamped bills. We occasionally hear about local businesses that have policies not to accept any marked currency, usually as a precaution against counterfeiting, but It’s not clear whether or not such a policy is legal. They do appear to be well-intentioned and do not discriminate against stamped bills in particular.

The bank says my stamped money is defaced/mutilated/altered – is it?

No. There is no lawful or practical reason for a bank to refuse stamped currency.

Stamped bills are not defaced. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, currency defacement is generally defined as follows:

Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. (Source)

An argument could certainly be made that stamping ‘disfigures’ currency, but stamping still passes the most important test to not be considered defacement – the intent. Even if a bank still insists stamped money is defaced, the U.S. Federal Reserve guidelines for banks instruct them to include “torn, dirty, limp, worn, or defaced” bills in their regular deposits. (Source)

Stamped bills are also self-evidently not mutilated. Think of cash damaged in a fire or rust-encrusted coins, or see the source below for pictured examples. If it’s in good condition and you can tell what denomination it is, you’re good to go. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, mutilated currency is:

Currency that has been damaged to the extent that one-half or less of the note remains, or its condition is such that its value is questionable and special examination by trained experts at the Department of the Treasury or the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is required. (Source)

Some banks may also say that stamped bills are “unlawfully altered,” but this is a confusion between the common definition of altered and the legal definition, which refers to currency whose value has been fraudulently changed, such as changing a $10 bill to a $100 bill. According to the Federal Reserve, if they detect “counterfeit or unlawfully altered currency in an institution’s deposit, it is forwarded to the Secret Service, and the institution is charged for the difference” (Source). Stamped bills do not fit the definition of altered currency, so your bank will not be penalized for depositing them and they should accept them without complaint.

From January, these 9 States will require a Passport for domestic flights

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As I mentioned last month, some states do not meet federal requirements for REAL ID when issuing drivers’ licenses.  And from January 22, nine states will require supplemental ID to allow passengers board domestic flights. If you’ve flown recently you might have seen the signs in airports warning passengers from these states.

Residents of Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington will have to use alternate ID forms (passport, military ID, or permanent resident card) to pass TSA security checkpoints—even for domestic travel.
Travelers who are not from the nine states will not be affected by the change in 2018. But by 2020, all travelers must have identification in compliance with REAL ID or they will not be allowed through TSA security checkpoints. This was a result of post-9/11 findings that found terrorists could too easily acquire licenses allowing them to move around the US unimpeded.
Only 24 states (plus Washington, D.C.) currently comply with the rules set forward in the act. The remaining states have been given extensions (through 2017) to meet REAL ID standards.

Documentation required before issuing a license or ID card

Before a card can be issued, the applicant must provide the following documentation:

  • A photo ID, or a non-photo ID that includes full legal name and birthdate
  • Documentation of birth date
  • Documentation of legal status and Social Security number
  • Documentation showing name and principal residence address

Digital images of each document will be stored in each state DMV database.

Document verification requirements

Section 202(c)(3) of the Real ID Act requires the states to “verify, with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity, and completeness of each document” that is required to be presented by a driver’s license applicant to prove their identity, birth date, legal status in the U.S., social security number and the address of their principal residence. The same section states that the only foreign document acceptable is a foreign passport.

Thug Breaks into Home – Family members shoot back. Now he’s a late thug.

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According to this report, a neighborhood thug broke into a home at night.  Hearing him, the father, mother and son, who were all armed, fired a warning shot to let him know that they had firearms. He kept coming. Big mistake.

I’m not sure how I haven’t heard of this classic example of using The Castle Doctrine before. If you’re not sure whether you’re covered by it, check out this article. 

Statistician Rethinks Gun Control After Digging into the Data

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Statistician Leah Libresco said she used to be for gun control. Then she looked at the data.

Writing at the Washington Post, the former newswriter for the data journalism site FiveThirtyEight explained her epiphany.

“Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.

Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way. We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence.”

Libresco pointed out, as we have at Intellectual Takeout, that media have drawn misguided conclusions about the effectiveness of gun control in nations such as Australia and the United Kingdom. She “concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be.”

From silencers, to bans on “assault weapons,” to magazine capacity limits, all of the policy prescriptions she had heard politicians talk about for years would be basically meaningless, Libresco concluded upon digging into the numbers.

The truth is suicide counts for the vast majority of gun deaths in the U.S (two-thirds). The next largest death figures come from homicides involving young men (15-34), deaths that often involve gang conflicts in which shooters use firearms obtained unlawfully. Gun legislation, she concluded, would have a minimal impact on gun deaths in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean we should do nothing.

“A reduction in gun deaths is most likely to come from finding smaller chances for victories and expanding those solutions as much as possible,” Libresco writes. “We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers, not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves.”

Libresco’s story was a true “mugging by reality,” and one cannot help be impressed that the social scientist did something that seems increasingly rare in modern society: she changed her mind. As Jacob Sullum wryly noted at Reason, “If only politicians were so open to contradiction by reality.”

The problem is that gun control has become a moral issue in American culture as much as a political one. Take a look at the video below, for example:

 

Mere facts have difficulty standing up to moral outrage of this kind. But facts, as they say, are stubborn things.

This post Statistician Rethinks Gun Control After Digging into the Data was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Jon Multimode. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except for material where copyright is reserved by a party other than Intellectual Takeout.

Want fewer car crashes? Take down the signs.

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Hans Monderman, the Dutch traffic engineer, observed that when the power went out to a set of traffic lights, accidents were reduced not increased. Because people are basically programed to observe self-preservation and will be on the alert. Oh, and if you treat people like idiots, they act like idiots.

As an experiment, he replaced the busiest traffic-light intersection in Drachten, handling 22,000 cars a day, with a traffic circle, an extended cycle path, and a pedestrian area. In the two years following . . . the number of accidents plummeted to only two, compared with thirty-six crashes in the four years prior. Traffic moves more briskly through the intersection when all drivers know they must be alert and use their common sense, while backups and the road rage associated with them have virtually disappeared. Monderman likened it to skaters in a crowded ice rink who manage successfully to tailor their movements to those of the other skaters. He also believed that an excess of signage led drivers to take their eyes off the road, and actually contributed to making junctions less safe. More here. 

 

Over at FEE, Prof Tucker was almost killed at a stop sign and came up with these thoughts:

This morning, I was sitting at a stop light and heard a terrifying screeching. A black sedan headed my direction from the oncoming lane was careening across six lanes of traffic, with squealing brakes and tires, through the intersection, flying forward some 75 or so yards and finally landing against a pole with a mighty impact. Terror shot through everyone in the vicinity.

Green means go. The problem was that there were cars in the way.

What happened? The woman behind the wheel had been driving 45 mph and saw a green light ahead of her. Green means go. The problem was that there were cars in the way. By the time she took note of this, it was too late. She swerved into the next lane and lost control of her car. Even an hour later, there were still police cars, fire engines, and ambulances everywhere. It was very bad, but it could have been much worse.

She should have been more alert, of course. But like most drivers, her attention was entirely on the fact that the green light gave her the right of way, regardless of what was around her. Green gives her the legal right to drive forward. It doesn’t guarantee that doing so will be safe.

Traffic engineers need to rig the signaling system to let people know that most basic condition of driving: for your sake and others, be safe. Increasingly, in Europe, they are addressing the problem in an unusual way: fewer lights, stops, rules, and signals are better than more. Some cities are eliminating signs and signals at major intersections completely, based on the realization that individual, on-the-ground rationality works better than top-down rules.

Traffic and Liberty

In the 1960s, when libertarianism as a political outlook was coming into its own, people made lots of fun of our obsession with laws and rules. They said that instead of saving civilization from barbarians, we spent all our time kvetching about the stop sign down the street.

Modern traffic theory is coming around to the view that signs, rules, and instructions have made the roads far less safe.

It is funny caricature. But every caricature contains truth. Stop signs and traffic lights, on public property and enforced by agents of the state, can in fact have grimly coercive features. I rolled through one once, got a ticket, forgot to pay it, and found myself arrested during Sunday brunch. As I languished in jail, I was given a poignant illustration of the maxim that every law is ultimately enforced at the point of a gun.

Here’s what’s interesting: it seems that libertarians did not in fact spend enough time kvetching about stop signs. Modern traffic theory is coming around to the view that signs, rules, and instructions have made the roads far less safe. When you remove them, the results point to a paradox: the less you tell people what to do, the better people are at figuring it out for themselves.

Vox, which is known as a center-left political publication, has made an interesting film about this theory in practice. They present it as a purely engineering point. Drivers need visual cues to govern how fast they are going. These cues are called “edge friction.” If you eliminate them all, traffic speeds up and drivers become less interested in and cautious about possible signs of danger around them. But when you add random cues all around–pedestrians, drivers of all sorts going every which way–people become attentive to others.

With shared space and no formal rules, everyone stays on the move but with a sense of navigating obstacles. This can have the effect of causing traffic overall to navigate the space better.

Maybe you have experienced this before in your town. The main light in the town center is a major clog on all days. Then one day the electricity blasts their functionality. Drivers intuitively turn it into a causal four-way stop. For the first time ever, there is no clog. Everyone stays on the move but with caution.

The Bigger Implications

The video doesn’t go into it but consider the implications of the American system of red lights and green lights. The case I saw this morning illustrates the point. How many times have you had a clear lane with a red light that suddenly turns green? We naturally think that this means that we are safe to step on the gas. If there were no light at all, we would approach the situation very differently.

If street intersections function better without top-down management and imposition, what about the rest of the social order?

So it is with the texting and driving problem. Drivers need a reason to stop texting, something more than a law. If roads really were multiuse and filled with uncertainty, people would have to start paying attention rather than merely complying with signs and rules. They would have to engage their brains with the task at hand.

The texting-while-driving problem stems from the perception that the rules, signs, and signals keep us safe, so why not find something else to pay attention to, such as my social feed? If we drivers had an ongoing job to do, the incentives would change completely.

The Vox video only frustrated me for failing to draw out the larger implications of the discovery that evolving patterns of adaptive behavior are more socially functional than laws and signs. In other words, the more that systems are structured to elicit the decentralized intelligence of drivers, the more likely they are to serve human welfare.

That’s the broader point about this microcosm that has gigantic implications about the macrocosm. If street intersections function better without top-down management and imposition, what about the rest of the social order? There are are other forms of accidents, wrecks, and pile-ups going on every day in the business world, all due to too much coercive management rather than trusting people to figure things out on their own.

F.A. Hayek’s main point against central planning is that it is impossible for minds operating outside the system to outthink the decentralized knowledge that is embedded in the social process of discovery, with its constantly changing conditions, multitudinous minds at work, and huge diffusion of plans. What emerges in a state of freedom are adaptive institutions and rules of thumb that make society function better than laws and legislation.

The gradual realization of a better way to manage traffic has implications that go far beyond how well cars navigate the intersection down the street. It should tell us something much larger: liberty always works better than social and economic engineering managed from legislatures and bureaucracies. It’s not just about “edge friction”; it’s about life philosophy.

 


Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, economics adviser to FreeSociety.com, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books, most recently Right-Wing Collectivism: The Other Threat to Liberty, with a preface by Deirdre McCloskey (FEE 2017). He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press. He is available for press interviews via his email.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Couples Don’t Need Wedding Loans. They Need More Modest Weddings

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Image: https://www.pexels.com/u/asadphotography/ CC0

I just saw this great article over on www.acculturated.com by  It’s about the fashion for massive, expensive weddings. I worry for the young people who have never encountered the word “No.” They run up loans on college degrees that are proving difficult to repay. They max out credit cards. (Don’t get me started on the fact they can’t fight their own battles and take every grievance to a higher authority — and I don’t mean God!) They figure they “deserve” it. Disclaimer: This is not every kid. But there are enough of them around to make it a trend. 

Think back a few years.

“Then…there wasn’t such a thing as a destination wedding or a performance wedding, and no commercial market for wedding loans, so there was not yet a need for a scathing exposé of an industry that makes both of these things seem necessary.

Now, alas, there is, and wedding loans are a “thing” for couples who find that their combined student-loan debt doesn’t concentrate the mind wonderfully enough. “You shouldn’t let your finances or your credit keep you from having the wedding you’ve always wanted,” chirps the website Bridalloans.com, encouragingly. (Note to brides: Actually, yes, you should. It’s called living within one’s means, and those who do it fare better on every scale of physical and emotional health than those who don’t).

Another website, myweddingloans.com, frets with brides-to-be over the cost of the photographer ($2,000!), the caterer ($65 per person!), and the “Historic church you’ve always dreamed of exchanging your vows in” ($4,000!).  You know, in case the Mandarin Oriental isn’t available. At least we now know what churches will be used for when the secularization of America is complete…

Remember what old-fashioned photos looked like, a picture on the church steps and maybe a simple reception at an hotel. Now, weddings are like Cecil B. DeMille movies!

“You shouldn’t let your finances or your credit keep you from having the wedding you’ve always wanted,” chirps the website Bridalloans.com, encouragingly. (Note to brides: Actually, yes, you should. It’s called living within one’s means, and those who do it fare better on every scale of physical and emotional health than those who don’t).

I have a daughter. She knows that when her folks got married there wasn’t much money around. We invested in a pair of good wedding rings and a DIY wedding reception. It was fun and it freed up a little money for a honeymoon spent traveling – something dear to the hearts of the bride and groom. Now she’s planning hers along similar lines.

As society takes religion out of marriage, it will become more and more hedonistic. There has to be a line somewhere. Let that line be economy, and fewer parents prepared to submit to the blackmail of “It’s the most important day of my life.”

Yes! Be the Master of the Thrift Store

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Brand new Cole-Haan leather shoes, just my size: $5. Four matching framed prints of old Roman coins: $4. Ralph Lauren windowpane-checked three-button suit: $20. Waist-length mink coat: $32. Real pearl and rare stone necklace: $3.50. Hand-painted wine carafe imported from Israel: $2. Twinkie warmer circa 1983: $1.50.

Don’t let snobbery stop you.

I’m talking thrift store here, as in Goodwill. You got $20 in your pocket, so time to pop some tags.

You would never shop there, right? Well, why not? Don’t let snobbery stop you. There are amazing things in the Goodwill, or any thrift store, but you have to have the right attitude, an eagle eye, a sense of adventure, and a love of lost treasure.

Once you focus and get dedicated, the place is awesome. For my part, I go every two weeks. I often leave without anything, it’s true. It’s fun in any case. But you find just the thing, pay a fraction of the retail price, and leave happy. Get enough of this stuff, and you live happy.

We Are All Poor

But, wait, isn’t this just for poor people? Not at all. Goodwill has an amazing economic model. They take donations, and people drop their stuff off every day, in exchange for which the donor gets a tax write-off. That alone is interesting: you are supporting lower taxes just by shopping there! The employees get paid out of the revenue, and any additional profits go to gradual upgrades in the shopping environment. In this way, you are also supporting jobs for people who otherwise might not find a place in the job marketplace. So you can feel good about that too.

At first glance, it looks like a pile of rubbish.

Mostly, you stand a good chance of getting great stuff cheap. It’s true that 95% of the items in the thrift store are stuff you don’t want. You would call it junk. Fine. But let’s be realistic. The same is true of high-end stores. Most of that stuff you don’t want, and what you do want is way too expensive. You often roam the aisles for hours and come away empty-handed. At least at the thrift store, you can pretty much afford everything, so it all comes down to finding something that works for you.

If you shop there enough, and develop a mastery of the place, you are left wondering how malls survive at all. But here’s why. You know that feeling when you walk into Bloomingdale’s? There’s a sense of awe at the appearance of vast wealth: the astonishing appeal of luxury items that you would love to have if only you had the money. It may or may not be true, but this is the impression you are given.

Well, the Thrift Store is none of that. At first glance, it looks like a pile of rubbish. If that is the only takeaway you have, you lose. The joy of thrift store shopping comes from the hunt itself, the sense that you are outsmarting everyone who allows snobbery to get in the way of saving money. Your reward is to be the smartest dude around.

Navigating the Thrift Store

Let’s cover some basics. There are five main sections I care about: clothing (including shirts, sweaters, sport coats, and suits), shoes, household items, wall hangings, and jewelry. You should cover each section with each visit.

Look for name brand items. For example, in shoes, go with Cole-Haan, Johnson & Murphy, Footjoy, and other known items. If it looks weird, it probably is weird. There’s a slim chance that it will fit you but it is always worth a try if you find the right shoe. When it works, it’s a delight. You have just saved 95% on something you want!

Shirts are the easiest win in the thrift store because the sizes are all marked.

It’s the same with suits. You can always google the brand on your smartphone. The trick with suits is finding the right size. With experience, you can tell on sight. Once you have the right jacket, now you have the daunting problem of finding the right pants, since the stores usually keep these separate. Check the pattern, color, and weave carefully and plant if firmly in your mind. Start looking through pants with an eye toward this one thing. Half the time you won’t find it. But when you do, bingo, you win!

Shirts are the easiest win in the thrift store because the sizes are all marked. You can make out like gangbusters here. Instead of $50 to $100, you will pay $2. Sweet!

Household items are so much fun to shop for. You can get great vases, wine and martini glasses, knives, bottles, plates, and so on. But what about getting things that match? Don’t all the things in your kitchen need to line up in terms of style and color? I have one thing to say about this: boring. It’s actually much more interesting to have a big variety of glasses, plates, and even flatware. I’ve seen the fanciest of restaurants do this; why not your home? Once you get used to it, life is much more interesting.

Always check the wall hangings. There is probably a blank space somewhere in your house. And there’s nothing wrong with throwing out what you have and replacing it with something better. In fact, this is a great way to keep your household interior fresh. It’s strange how people keep the same paintings up for their whole lives, even several generations. Forget it! We change our clothes, paint our walls, and buy new homes. Why not switch out wall hangings too? The thrift store makes it super easy.

Thrift stores have lots of costume jewelry, most it of horribly tacky. But every once in awhile – and you have to look closely for the “diamond in the rough” – you will find just the thing. Test the pearls with your teeth to make sure they are scratchy. Gold is usually marked with its fineness. Diamonds usually stand out.

And let’s not forget sports equipment. You might snag a $200 tennis racket for $2 (like I did!). 

Even if you never buy anything in these stores, there is something like archeological joy in just looking.

The main thing is to treat the whole experience as a game, a kind of treasure hunt, as with the Parable in the Bible in which the guy sees a treasure in the field and buys the whole property from the unknowing owner just to get it. Jesus said that this was an awesome thing to do.

One more thing. Even if you never buy anything in these stores, there is something like archeological joy in just looking. This is the stuff that capitalism creates that people are willing to give away! That alone is a wonderful thing. Our refuse is more wonderful than anything Louis XIV would have had in his private quarters.

After all, just imagine how dazzled he would have been with a Twinkie warmer. Now we look at it and think: that’s perfectly ridiculous. Or is it? Wouldn’t you actually like a warm Twinkie right now?

And about that mink coat, similar to Macklemore’s, I found it in the Halloween dress-up section.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except for material where copyright is reserved by a party other than FEE.

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, economics adviser to FreeSociety.com, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books, most recently Right-Wing Collectivism: The Other Threat to Liberty, with a preface by Deirdre McCloskey (FEE 2017). He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press. He is available for press interviews via his email.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

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