Tag Archives: capitalism

Laws don’t Protect Consumers

I found this page the other day on Huffington Post about Seattle banning ride share apps. Basically, there are phone applications used to connect riders with drivers and are allowing people to save a lot of money on rides around town. I have never used one of these but have friends who rave about them. Seattle, apparently is a testing ground for these kind things. It seems to be working out well for Car-2-Go as well as the companies listed in the article as well as my friends who use the systems.

rideshareSeattleBut of course, the taxi cab companies already have a foothold in our local political system and have manipulated and pressured the city council into considering a ban on. They claim it’s for public safety, but if you follow the money, it’s clear they are merely trying to protect their income without being forced to re-evaluate their business model for a changing society. Ultimately, consumers are suffering, as we are still being forced to wait 45 minutes for a cab so we can pay $30 to get across town.

It’s just one example out of a myriad of how our government and lawmakers just cause problems for the general population for the benefit of a small minority. Most of the time they sneak these bans in and no one notices. I can’t imagine just how much innovation has been stifled throughout the years by companies who use legislation to stifle their competition instead of working on a fair playing field.

And people try to use examples of how government helps us, claiming consumer protection is so important, but I believe this protection is largely a myth. The government built all our roads for the car companies instead of forcing them to compete with the railroad and bicycle companies on a fair playing field. Now we live in a society where everyone just blindly accepts that cars are the only way to get around, despite how they have forced us to use tax dollars to pave over our wilderness, are destroying our atmosphere and forcing parents and pet owners to keep their loved ones locked inside for fear they will be run over.

I could go on for example after example I think, but I’ll just do one more: almost ten years ago, I tried switching my internet service to a company called Clearwire. When I signed up they promised their internet service was comparable to Comcast, but I soon found that I was unable to watch even YouTube videos and some things wouldn’t connect at all. When I tried to cancel, they charged me over $300 for an early-termination fee, something that was buried in the fine-print of the contract and which the salesman had specifically told me did not exist. I attempted to fight it by cancelling my credit card, but they harassed me until I finally compromised and gave them about $200 to forgive the “debt.” I was rather poor at the time so this was a lot of money for me. People complain so often about Comcast’s customer service, but I tell you it is a world better than Clearwire was.

Now, the other day, nearly ten years after I went through all this frustration, I got a letter in the mail with a check for a little over $14, after a lawsuit settlement against Clearwire on behalf of all the people they did this to.

So even when there are legal successes on the consumer’s behalf, it doesn’t even begin to make up for the problems these selfish and underhanded companies cause for society.

Compare that to my experiences in the unregulated underground marijuana distribution. I mean, I bought marijuana literally several hundred times from dozens of different dealers in quantities ranging from a gram to a pound. Not once was I ever ripped off. Not once did a dealer ever pad a sack with catnip and not once did they ever “just take the money and run”. Not one single time.

So yeah, consumer protection is a joke. The government does far more to protect morally void companies from consumer backlash.

We are Preparing for Massive Civil War, Says DHS Informant – YouTube

Ah, yes, it’s becoming 1984 quite quickly around here. Personally I think Animal Farm does a better job of painting the picture of how our government becomes totalitarian. It’s just that we need to wake up here and realize what’s happening, how power-hungry and sadistic people are dominating our culture and manipulating the masses. And we’re not waking up to see it and try to put a stop to it. Maybe it’s partly because hollywood puts out so many amazingly entertaining movies and tv shows that we never have the time to sit and watch something of value like this video that’s basically a collection of news clips set up to tell the story of how our country is deteriorating into another totalitarian regime, right before our eyes.

Most people say it’ll never happen to them until it does. Then they become unable to deal with it. For many people, sometimes entirely law-abiding people, a run-in with a police officer can be the most traumatizing event of their entire lives, and every year that goes by those instances are increasing in both volume and intensity. Compassionate people should always oppose increases in the police force.

I’m a Recent Ron Paul Convert

So I think I’ve finally jumped the fence and turned into a Ron Paul supporter. It feels kinda weird. I don’t like the idea of voting Republican. I thought I would never even consider that, but the more I watch of him, the more I realize he is not like other republicans.

I will admit the initial reason I started looking at Ron Paul over Obama is his stance on marijuana legalization. I have since found a long list of other reasons to support him, but Ron Paul supporters are often accused of just wanting to get high, as though marijuana legalization is some stupid side-issue that only affects a few hippie stoners and we’re just stupid and selfish for choosing a candidate based on this issue. I particularly resent this attitude.

If a politician refused to acknowledge that women have equal rights, would you really blame women for not voting for him, even if he were the perfect candidate in every other way? There are countless gay people who make their voting decisions based on gay issues. Do their fellow liberals say condescending things about them and accuse them of just wanting to have butt sex? Why are marijuana smokers belittled and treated like our issue is not important when we are the most persecuted group in America? For every gay person who wishes the government would give him a piece of paper acknowledging his marriage, there’s a dozen pot smokers who fear going to prison, losing their jobs, their homes, getting beaten by police, and having their families torn apart. Not to mention the sick and dying patients who need it to lead a normal life. The government, as a matter of policy, blatantly lies to our children about who we are and how we behave, hides scientific evidence and manipulates its people into looking down on us. There is no social group in America that faces as much misinformation, hatred and discrimination, so I would feel justified making my decision based on this issue. Ron Paul claims that he’s never been in the same room with someone smoking marijuana and has never known a user, yet he still sees us as human beings and respects our choices. This, to me, is indicative of a deeper intelligence. If the liberals cannot produce a candidate who sees me as a human being and respects me as a person, then sorry, I’m gonna go to the other side.

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It seems odd that, as an anarchist, it took me a long time to warm up to Ron Paul, mostly because he’s a capitalist anarchist, which in my opinion, won’t work long-term (for the simple fact that someone has to print the money and there’s no way to ensure they won’t become corrupt) though I do think it would be preferable over our current system. I’m not a fan of money, so putting it in charge of everything scares me, so I understand why Ron Paul scares so many liberals, but again, I think it’s preferable to our current system. At least money works more consistently and with less bias than politicians. I’d prefer a world based on love, kindness, team-building, common goals, and peace, but I’d settle for a world that’s not based on insanity, and Ron Paul is the only one who has a plan to make that happen. It seems like most politicians and their supporters, both liberal and conservative, seem to be on the same basic page about many things. Everyone seems to feel like we have to keep the status-quo and just make the best of it. We’re in Iraq for better or worse. Let’s just make the best of it. Education is failing, but lets just try to tweak the current system because there couldn’t possibly be a better way. Our transportation system is in shambles, but lets just try to revive the auto industry. The banks are failing. Let’s just bail them out and move on. Ron Paul, though I don’t agree with everything he says, is the only candidate who has the balls to call for real, long-term change.

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So Ron Paul is accused of wanting to “gut education”. At first when I heard this, it rubbed me the wrong way. My instinct is to say that there’s no way we can cut spending on education and just leave the next generation hanging. Now I’m thinking that’s unfair to assume that’s what Paul has in mind. There’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t want a transitional period and there’s no reason to believe that because he doesn’t support federally controlled education he doesn’t support education. The federal government has been doing an awful job with our education system so far. It’s so massive and inflexible that, as much as I hate corporations and capitalism, I think a dynamic, money-based system would leave fewer kids behind than our current system. It’s not my ideal, but it would be better than what we currently have or anything the liberals have suggested.

He’s also accused of being a racist. I think this is unfair as well, because when it comes to the bottom line, what really matters is do the policies that he supports benefit minorities and help them to live more equal lives? Perhaps there were a few newsletters that had some inappropriate language (BTW – how can liberals call pot smokers petty for voting based on our desire to smoke when they’re asking us to discredit a candidate over some wording in a couple newsletters he didn’t even write?). However, I think the fact that Ron Paul has the courage to speak out against the two most racist entities in America: the drug war and the death penalty is pretty good evidence that he’s not particularly racist. He also doesn’t want to blow people up just for being Muslim. Ron Paul actually changed his opinion on the death penalty because he learned how crazy racist it is. But the drug war is really where the racism lies in The United States. If you look at the actual statistics of how much marijuana is consumed by minorities versus how many are in prison, it’s pretty easy to argue the drug war is ludicrously racist. Ron Paul is the only one with the courage to speak out against this so I think it is tremendously unfair to accuse him of being racist.

The deal is similar with gay marriage. He believes the government has no right to dictate marriage, period. Regardless of what he believes about gay marriage himself, getting government out of marriage would be beneficial to the gay community. There are countless churches across the country who already perform gay marriages. Taking the issue out of government would put it square in the lap of the churches and the communities. The churches are not going to want to appear divided, the LGBT community is not going to back down, and the communities are not going to want to be assholes to people’s faces. It’s easy to be an asshole on the federal level. Much harder on the community level. Thus, gay marriage would flourish organically and people’s minds would change naturally, instead of forcing them into a perspective that would make them resentful of the gay community.

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There’s a host of other issues I agree with him on, and I’ll hopefully be able to address those in upcoming posts, but it is worth mentioning that after watching many hours worth of Ron Paul speeches and interviews in the last couple weeks, Ron Paul still has not changed my positions on any single issue. Everything he’s saying, with the exception of the things I disagree with, are all things I’ve believed for over a decade. There are a few things I disagree with, of course. Abortion, for one, though he’s not a nut about it. He came to be pro-life because he cares about the rights of the person-to-be, compared to Obama, who is opposed to abortion because his religion tells him to be. Paul believes global warming is a myth, but again, he’s not the anti-environmentalist that people try to paint him as. Sure he considers creationism a possibility, though again, he’s reasonable about it and doesn’t see it as fact.

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But all of these arguments pale in comparison to the real reason I’ve finally decided to support Ron Paul. Because he believes in peace. I’m thirty-three years old and this is the first time I’ve ever seen a serious political candidate who genuinely believes in peace. To me that’s more meaningful than anything else. He thinks aggression should be seen as an absolute last resort (this seems like common sense to me, but he appears to be the only one who sees it), and he’s consistent in this belief with his social policies, with the way he interacts with his enemies, right down to the fact that he didn’t spank his children. I’ve lived my entire life under the shadow of war, knowing it’s there, in the background, never being directly affected by it, but always wondering how truly horrifying it could be, but at the same time not wanting to know. I’m sick of knowing the rest of the world hates me because of the deeds of the nation where I was born. I’m sick and tired of seeing my tax dollars going toward racially and financially motivated, unconstitutional acts of worldwide aggression.

So the bottom line is I want a president who believes in peace and thinks I should be treated as a human being. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. In all fairness, I think Obama is the best president I could have hoped for out of any traditional candidates, but he’s not good enough for America. I want a man of peace in the white house.

But it’s not so much about the Presidency. Ron Paul isn’t particularly running for president. He’s running to present a new perspective, one which America desperately needs. He doesn’t stand much of a chance against Obama, even if he could beat Romney in the Primaries, so why not support his message of peace and freedom in the meantime? I don’t support everything he stands for, but the important parts are far too important to ignore, and I think the liberal community, and the world as a whole, would be well served to support, or at the very least, really examine his perspective.

“There’s something wrong when you’re more afraid of your neighbor than you are of your government.” – Ron Paul

SOPA and PIPA, the Next Drug War

So thankfully today the internet is up in arms over SOPA and PIPA. Most people are terrified of their freedom of speech being violated, as these bills give the entertainment mega-companies power to blacklist websites and content without a trial or even hard-evidence of copyright violations and they could easily be used as a back door to censor anyone the government or media companies disapprove of.

This is, in my opinion a greater assault on our personal liberties and the United States Bill of Rights than the patriot act.

However, SOPA and PIPA won’t mean the end to online freedom. They will mean the beginning of the online war for our freedom.

If these bills pass, the internet will become a battle ground. Countries all over the world attempt to ban websites, but anyone with a little knowledge can find a proxy and hide their activity. The main thing that stops them are harsh criminal penalties or possibly a sense of loyalty to their country. Here in the United States we have neither of those things. The web pirates and the downloaders who love them are not going to just roll over and accept their fate and start allowing iTunes to rape their wallets. No, we’re going to go through proxy servers.

Then what is the government going to do? Outlaw proxies? That would make most of our current server configurations illegal. Proxies are used every day in a multitude of ways, most of the time  for perfectly legal reasons. There is no easy way around using them. It wouldn’t take long before half the internet users were running through proxies and the government would need to continually ramp up their efforts at catching these pirates, costing the taxpayers and internet businesses more and more money.

A huge number of the people working to build the internet are people who are not getting paid for their time. The systems that drive servers are mostly open-source, written by volunteers. How is it reasonable to expect people who are volunteering their time to change the way they are doing things, put in extra work to limit the functionality of what they’re building, all so a few millionaires in Hollywood can make some extra cash.

If government did somehow manage to filter out all the illegal use of proxies, then we would go back to burning DVD’s and passing them around. Physical discs, unlike online media, can be sold for a profit. Pirates could once again profit from their ventures and it wouldn’t take long before criminal organizations got involved.

If somehow government cripples our ability to burn DVD’s, then we’ll start transferring files with our cell phones. Freedom loving online pirates are not going to back down from this any more than marijuana dealers are willing to back down from the drug war… and drug dealers face much harsher penalties. Are you going to start giving life sentences to people who only want to see the public have access to music and other media that enriches their lives?

What we would have is another un-winnable drug war. It would be one more thing to divide the nation, one more thing to cost taxpayers insane amounts of money, potentially one more thing to profit organized crime, and one more thing to strip the people of their basic freedoms.

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Yeah, I download “illegal” movies and music. I haven’t bought a CD in ten years. I’ll admit to that… nay, I’ll announce it with pride. There is nothing wrong with downloading and using copyrighted material and those of us who do it should be proud that we aren’t suckers and that our sense of right and wrong has not been manipulated by big-business interests.

First of all, in my personal defense, I have contributed as much to the creative community as anyone I personally know. I’ve written four books, plus everything you see on this website. People have told me that my books have changed their lives. My novel, Against A Rock is a better piece of fiction than any of the professionally published EVE novels. My WordPress plugins which you see on the left have been used by thousands of websites, plus I have more stuff on KalinFlash.com. I have received less than a total of a hundred dollars for all my personal creative work over the past fifteen years. If anyone wants to accuse me of stealing or being a “pirate” because I download music and movies, then I want them to explain how this is fair that I can put in all this work, creating quality products and I get nothing and I want them to show me how they have contributed to the creative community. What right do people who have never created a piece of art have to dictate how the artistic community behaves?

Think about all the bands you see in the bars working for beer, sometimes racing from their day jobs to get to their gigs on time. Most of them aren’t that great, sure, but they are still putting real effort into it and are usually making less than minimum wage. However, more than a few of them have real talent. Sometimes people’s favorite bands are locals playing for beer, and surprisingly frequently they have more skill than the millionaire bands. Most of these guys never get signed and never make it in the industry because the big businesses in Hollywood have the monopoly. They’ve created a system where they decide what the public watches and listens to and the creative community must pander to their wishes and focus on trying to get signed. Without this corporate monopoly we could have a system based, not on someone’s ability to know a producer and slip into a contract, but on the actual quality of their creative work and the affect it has on it’s consumers. Quality bands could be bubbling up naturally in a fair and equal manner.

If you think online pirating is so wrong, think about this: without those pirates, there would be no Hulu or Netflix streaming services… or if there were, they would cost as much or more than a movie rental at the video store. These services were started as a direct response to online piracy. Without the pirates, do you really think the media companies would be giving their wares away at reasonable prices like they do on Hulu and Netflix? No, if they had total control over their media, they’d be charging as much as they possibly could.

Remember when CD’s came out? Cassette tapes at the time cost 8 or 9 bucks. CD’s came out and immediately cost 12 to 15 bucks. However, CD’s were significantly cheaper to produce, right from the beginning. No moving parts. But because it was a new, fancy technology they were able to pretend like they were more valuable and subsequently gouged the public. When the internet opened up, they felt like they were entitled to continue their scheme instead of respecting the basics of capitalism and updating their business models to a changing landscape. The consumers and the internet community at large are the ones who have suffered the most as a result of this.

So this is why I’m opposed to SOPA and PIPA as an anarchist, as a web developer and as a writer and why I am announcing my intent to use my web development skills to deliberately undermine these laws if they happen pass.

I Am the Nine Percent

If us land were divided like US wealth
I think the land is already divided like this. There is no "if".

Today I posted Cops Have No Morals, a depiction of one of the most eye-opening conversations I’ve ever had. It’s a story that is as much about corporate America and our capitalist society as it is about a police officer. Spoiler alert: in 1998 a police officer insisted that there was no such thing as a cop who cared about right and wrong, then went on to reveal the secret to success in Capitalist America.

I’m sure if you’ve looked around this site you can probably guess that I support Occupy Wall Street and my local version, Occupy Seattle, but at the same time I don’t particularly feel as though I’m one of the ninety-nine percent.

In the last few years, the economy has been very good to me. My income has steadily increased. I bought a condo after the housing bust and got a great deal at a low interest rate. I have a fancy corporate job with full medical and dental, doing something I love. I can sometimes spend nearly a thousand dollars in a month on restaurants alone. I have a sun room overlooking a golf course… well, a driving range and mini-putt. I have a guest bedroom with a liquor cabinet and I buy my weed by the ounce.

Then the other day, I saw this picture posted to Facebook and thought it was perfect, because I think that’s where I am. I am one of that nine percent.

I’m not a millionaire, of course. I’m not part of the one percent, but I don’t have any kids and have made good investments, but I see so many others out there who are struggling to feed their families, who would be devastated if they lost their job, and have no clue what they’re going to do about retirement. I don’t need to worry about any of that.

The main difference I’ve noticed between them and me? They chose to make careers out of things they felt would help society, things they felt needed to get done. I made a career out of something fun that would make money.

The reason I was able to do this, to think of only myself, to “look out for number one”, was because of what this officer told me. He taught me how to be selfish.

For years this speech creeped me out. I ran it through my head over and over again for years, and was horrified. But what’s truly horrifying about this speech, I found out years later, is that every word he said was true.

I had promised myself that I would never work for another corporation, that I would always do something to contribute, that I would always be humble, I wouldn’t do destructive things like drive a car or eat farmed fish and all that. After a few years, however, society beat me down. Every time someone tried to tell me the police were the good guys the officer’s speech ran through my head, telling me I was a fool for caring about right and wrong, and over the years, I simply gave up.

Since then I’ve worked for several companies that I felt were ripping off their customers, knowingly selling faulty products as well as companies whose sole purpose was to manipulate people into buying things. I’ve sat in meetings where we cracked jokes about how rational people should see us as evil. In one meeting with hundreds of people, a corporate representative literally told us that it didn’t matter what was true or not in our sales pitches. I can deal with this because of that officer who taught me how to shut off my sense of right and wrong.

I see teachers, firefighters and plumbers out there who saw a gap in society, something that needed to get done, and used that to guide their career decisions. They cared about society before themselves. A friend recently got fired for failing a pee test and had a hard time getting another job as a result. Turned out he was listing the job on applications because he felt some kind of moral obligation to be honest about his work history. I had to tell him, this is the real world. Nobody’s gonna reward you for honesty, and nobody’s gonna care if you tell a few lies. Manipulation and lies are an integral part of the financial game in America and every one of the one percent and the majority of the nine percent have accepted that and have blatantly exploited it, at the expense of the 90 percent. And they did it right under your noses.

And I’m part of the problem. I’m an anarchist and a socialist, but I behave like a capitalist. I’m a hypocrite. I know it’s wrong. I feel bad, but not bad enough to stop, because I love my job, I love my condo, and I love sushi and creme brule.

So just remember occupiers, those police surrounding you and the one percent they represent, they don’t care about right and wrong the way you do. Just remember that. Otherwise you will be truly shocked at what they are capable of.

The Arctic Rose Tragedy – The Conspiracy

So I wrote this post several months ago and have been sitting on it, afraid to post it because I feel guilty for not talking about this earlier and also because I’m embarrassed that it might all be totally false, someone just pulling my leg, and because some of my facts may be wrong. Then last night, April 2, 2011, I saw a news program talking about The Arctic Rose Tragedy:

So I guess it’s been ten years as of yesterday since this occurred, so I think this is a good time to finally publish this post.

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Around the turn of the century I was working for an all-you-can-eat fish and chips restaurant, up in Bellingham Washington. We had some of the best and the cheapest fried Alaskan cod in the city.

One day I saw on the front page of the local paper a tragedy had occurred up in the Bering Sea. A ship called The Arctic Rose went down, killing all 13 on board. The ship had been from Bellingham. If you look at this link you’ll see it’s considered “the worst fishing tragedy in U.S. waters for 50 years”.

However, at first I didn’t think anything of it. People die on the highways every day. There’s no reason to think arctic waters are any safer. But then, the manager mentioned the incident, and seemed surprisingly upset about it, and said, “we don’t know where we’re gonna get our fish now.”

“We were buying our fish from the Arctic Rose?” I asked.

“Yup.” He put his finger to his lip. “But don’t say anything. It’s kinda hush-hush… we kinda… well… it’s kinda our fault this happened.”

“I don’t remember reading anything about this place.”

“Of course not. It wasn’t on the books.”

“I read they got way off course or something.”

“Nope. They were right where they were supposed to be, fishing for our cod. Officially though, they were supposed to be miles away fishing for Sole. How do you think we keep our fish prices so low? By not paying taxes or obeying fishing laws. John and the captain of The Arctic Rose had a special agreement.”

“So the investigation is completely off base?” I asked.

“They’ve spent like $100,000 on investigating this, and they don’t even have the basic information about what was going on. They’re probably gonna say officially it was a navigation error which sent them into stormy waters, which is just ludicrous. What we think happened was they over-filled their hull with a big catch, the freezer went haywire and the ice accumulated and they didn’t want to call for help because their hull was filled with illegal fish. They got greedy. But we’re certainly not gonna say anything. John would have a fit if he knew I was telling you about this.”

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I payed attention to the story after that, but kept my mouth shut about what I’d been told. In fact, I haven’t really talked about this until now, and I still don’t know what to think. The manager may have been talking out his ass, making up stories. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d seen him tell a lie, though I had never seen him lie simply for the fun of it. I certainly never discussed this with the owner. However, we did have problems getting fish after that, and we raised our prices shortly after.

I knew if I talked about this, and it wasn’t just a lie, I would lose my job. I was just a prep-cook, and certainly didn’t have the programming skills I have now so keeping that kitchen job was necessary for my well-being.

So over the years since this I’ve thought about what it means to my anarchism.

If not for our system of capitalism I could have talked about this years ago without the fear of destroying my ability to feed myself. If not for our economic system, they never would have had a motivation to fish in such a dangerous and environmentally damaging way in the first place. If not for the fear of governmental retribution, we all could have been open and honest about this incident.

Then I think about all the people out there who think conspiracy theorists are all wackos, that it’s simply ludicrous that, for example, someone in the White House may have known about 911 before it happened, or that the average police officer occasionally frames innocent people.

I was a prep-cook, making $8.50 per hour, and I was–possibly–a part of a conspiracy where 13 people died. Just imagine what kind of conspiracies are possible with people who are trained in the art of deceit and dealing with millions of dollars.

Dangerous Drive-Thrus and Laws Justifying Laws

Yesterday I got a comment on my story, The Sacred Rules of the Drive-Thru, disagreeing with my idea that banning bicycles and pedestrians at drive-thrus is counter-productive to safety and that there are moral issues with the fact that they are promoting drunk driving. After reading it, I realized that I’d forgotten to add a link to the blog post I made about it, which kind of addresses a couple of her points. Anyway, I felt her thoughts did a good job of illustrating how many people perceive law and order and how it relates to our moral values. I know it’s kind of a mundane subject and nothing to get upset about, but I felt it was a great opportunity to show the difference in my own anarchistic way of thinking with a topic that’s not too offensive for either perspective. So here’s her comment:

i’m sorry but i disagree. It is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists to be in the drivethru, and it isn’t the restaurant’s problem if the person is drunk or doesn’t have a car, they are a business and so it is in their best interests to obey their insurance rules….much more important than a drunk’s measly ten dollars and need to eat. I don’t have a car but i dont go screaming discriminatiom when i can’t have a big mac at 2am….i either make sure i have food in the house or go without.

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Okay, first you say that it is dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists to be in a drive-thru. I did a Google search and couldn’t find a single instance of someone being hurt in a drive-thru, but did find a number of instances of drive-thrus allowing pedestrians and bicyclists. I’ve been through hundreds of drive-thrus and never seen so much a dented bumper. What is your “drive-thrus are dangerous” theory based on? Have you seen statistics about this, or witnessed accidents?

What I think is that in cases like this people are likely to believe something is dangerous based on the laws surrounding it, rather than on actual statistics or things they’ve seen. It doesn’t make logical sense that something would be banned if it wasn’t problematic, so we assume that it is, and the idea is just kind of drilled into our minds. (We see the same thing, of course, with marijuana. The vast majority of people who are opposed to marijuana know little to nothing about it and are just running under the assumption that our laws know what they’re doing.)

People get injured doing just about anything and I doubt that a pedestrian in a drive-thru would be much more dangerous than a pedestrian crossing an intersection, and certainly not as dangerous as a bicyclist riding through the city. Countless other things in our society are more dangerous than a pedestrian in a drive-thru. That doesn’t give us the right to ban them unless they’re putting someone else at risk.

Then you’ve got the argument that these slight dangers could be mitigated with policies, warning signs or a number of other things. The only time the foot-customer would need to be in the line would be when ordering and picking up. He could stand to the side the rest of the time.

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Then you state, “it isn’t the restaurant’s problem if the person is drunk”. Well, this is true from a legal standpoint, but I’m an anarchist and I think and write about stuff from a moral perspective, not a legal one. If you have a friend who is totally drunk and decides to go drive, it’s certainly not your legal responsibility to stop him, but is it the moral thing to do? It’s not illegal to ask him to drive to get more beer, but is it the right thing to do? Doesn’t it seem like you should do the right thing, even though it’s not legally required of you? By this same token, shouldn’t businesses do the right thing and do their small part to prevent drunk driving? Why are businesses exempt from this sense of moral obligation? It seems like in our society, all expectations of a moral code are out the window as soon as you’re doing something that makes you or your investors money. Suddenly the only thing that matters is law. This, I believe illuminates one of the fundamental flaws in capitalism, or at the very least, the way we currently run capitalism.

Next you wrote, “they are a business and so it is in their best interests to obey their insurance rules.” This is certainly true, and admittedly if I owned a drive-thru there is a chance that I would be a hypocrite to everything I’m saying for my own financial best interests. I’m not faulting the restaurant owners for this. I’m faulting the fundamental ways that our laws and capitalism function. This is the overall point I was trying to make. These rules are based on insurance policies and fear of getting sued, not on actual safety. They tell us it’s for our safety to keep people like me from getting pissed off, but in reality, they just don’t want to get sued. The fact they don’t refuse service to drunk drivers is pretty good evidence they’re not concerned about safety directly.

So this is basically a law justifying another law. The rules of the insurance company dictate the rules the customers must follow at the drive-thru, and those insurance company rules were dictated by even bigger rules about who can sue who over what, which in turn were dictated by the rules of capitalism and exchange of money. Rules based on rules based on rules in a self-perpetuating cascade until we’ve lost touch with our moral values and the reasons why we even had rules in the first place.

The laws of our society should be dictated by our lifestyles, situations, and moral values; not the other way around.

New Friday True Story: Intro to Capitalism

Today I posted another Friday true story called My Intro to Capitalism.

First I should say that this is one of those stories that is so crazy and happened so long ago, that I have to shake my head and wonder if it actually happened, particularly since I’ve never talked about it with anyone until today. It’s something that profoundly affected my whole life, but I don’t know if I exaggerated things in my head. Either way, what I wrote is how I remember it.

I wonder if people are going tell me that the title isn’t fair, that the story is about feelings of ownership, and since there’s no exchange of money, it’s not really about capitalism. This is true, but I decided to give it this title, because that’s how I think about it. I believe this may be the first incident that caused me to start thinking about how we distribute possessions and wealth in our modern society, which for us, is capitalism.

Now, selfishness is one thing. You can argue selfishness would still be around without capitalism or law, and you’re certainly correct, but without capitalism it wouldn’t have the open-ended right to flourish. We also wouldn’t go to the extremes as we do in our society, where we feel the rules of capitalism are more important than human feelings and interactions. Laws and rules become an obsession sometimes, like a religion, and as you see in this story, our sense of humanity and common decency can be lost as a result. The concept of capitalism is just an extension of the idea of property ownership, placing a dollar value and deed of ownership on everything while ignoring the real-world human value and  usefulness of the objects in our world.

Now in this story, I was technically the bad guy. I was the one committing a crime, and there’s no way for me to argue against that. But did I really do anything wrong?

Kalin’s Next 9 Short Stories

Now that I’m done with my 27 chapters of Genesis, taking up the month of February 2011, the next thing I’m going to do with KalinBooks.com is post my next nine (or more) short true stories that I have ready. Every Friday I’m going to post a new true short story to go along with my current collection of 24 True Stories of things that have all actually happened to me. I have nine stories currently complete and ready to go. Here’s the list:

Intro to Capitalism – The time I got in trouble for taking a drink of water.

Drunk and Horny College Chicks – The night I went home with a very hot, drunk, crazy and horny genetic engineer.

Searching My Apartment For Dead Bodies – The time the police searched my apartment for dead bodies, but all they found was massive quantities of marijuana.

Just a Coincidence – The time every electrical object in my life broke at the exact same time.

The Flood – The time my friends and I flooded a greenhouse and had to race to save the plants.

Amtrak Weed – The time on an Amtrak ride when I unwittingly got between a knife wielding maniac and his prey, then smoothed the whole thing over with a  little marijuana.

The Sacred Rules of the Drive-thru – Two stories about how discriminatory fast-food drive-thru policies put everyone at risk.

Free Drugs – The time a mysterious person gave us some mysterious pills.

Field of Dead Bodies – The time God used bloody visions and mathematics to tell me  that capitalism is murderer.

By the time I get all these posted, I hope to have more ready. Hopefully I can keep writing fast enough to post a new short story every Friday for the next four or five months.

Currently the right sidebar navigation on this website is all hard-coded, since I like to totally customize the links. I can schedule the story to be posted automatically, but unfortunately I have to set a reminder for myself to change the navigation. Since these stories are going to be posted as pages rather than posts, you may see them show up in my RSS Feed before you find them in the menu.

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I know I promised to post my EVE Online short stories, but one of them was accepted into the latest issue of EON and another one, currently titled I Killed Him Daddy (the editor and I both agree the name needs to change) has also been accepted for some future issue… except for the problem that it’s double their maximum length. That’s pretty flattering that they’re willing to rearrange their magazine to fit my story. So I can’t post those stories on my site. I have a third story, which I’m almost certain won’t be accepted into the magazine because it’s even longer. However, I’m still going to wait to post it until I’m sure they’re not interested. I also want to post my Against A Rock sequel outline as well as a few sample chapters from another EVE novel that I’ve been playing around with in my mind. I’m going to log back into EVE before I post those, though, so no telling when it’s going to happen.

Why is Breast Cancer not Scary?

This is a nice little post from my favorite atheist blog.

Blag Hag: I like it to actually have a point.

First, I’ll copy a point I really liked from this blog post.

Our society needs to stop treating women’s sexuality like it’s only acceptable when used as a tool or in jest. It’s just as sad that women are perpetuating it. They’re effectively saying “This is funny because I would never actually talk openly about my sexual preferences, or even admit to being sexual, and I like confusing guys so they’ll give me attention!…” Cut it out, ladies.

Too many feminists don’t recognize the harmful effects of the way many women use their sexuality to manipulate or play jokes on men… especially since it’s the guys who respect women who are most vulnerable to this, so I had to copy this and say thanks.

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The other interesting and rather unrelated note about this article is that it’s all a discussion about a campaign to make women aware that they should get breast exams, and whether or not this campaign is effective. Sure, they’re looking for donations as well, but the real issue is “breast cancer awareness.”

I feel like we should take a step back and just recognize how ridiculous this is that we need these kind of awareness campaigns compared to other things that we’re concerned about in society. What if we needed to have these kind of campaigns to warn people to lock their doors because there might be burglars out there, or remind them to look both ways before crossing the street. I haven’t actually checked any statistics, but I have a feeling that breast cancer probably kills more people than terrorism, but we don’t need any kind of Facebook campaign to remind us that terrorists exist. (I just checked one site and noticed that breast cancer actually killed 40,000 women in 2006 in the United States. Close to the same as the total people who die on highways each year, and according to crime statistics, more than double the number of people who were murdered.)

So I just wonder, what’s the difference with breast cancer? Is it because it happens somewhere sexual that we don’t like to talk about? Is it because it happens to women more than men? Is it because health-care is such big-business and they’re motivated to keep people sick by keeping them unaware? Is it because it’s not exciting the way burglary or terrorism is so it never gets media coverage and people never have that immediate sense of danger until it’s too late?

Honestly, I think it’s that last point, if I had to guess. I think the other three are factors, but breast cancer, other than the fact that it’s an excuse to talk about boobies, is really pretty boring, so nobody cares until it happens to someone they know.

So this brings me to a couple points I have, one about atheism, and one about anarchism. First, I think that the concept of faith plays a big part in this phenomenon of only being scared of things that are exciting, because people of faith tend to rely on their emotions–what they may interpret as ‘spirits’ or ‘God’–instead of looking toward real-world statistics to decide what they should be afraid of.

My anarchistic (or maybe socialist, I’m not sure) point is about the media, of course, and their decision to neglect issues like breast cancer while focusing on petty crimes, balloon boys and the sex lives of sports stars. If they didn’t have money to overshadow all their other decisions, I believe the media would be focused on supporting our community instead of on profit.