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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Berries, Bullets and Bureaucracy

Yesterday was supposed to be our big foraging day - for blackberries.  Well..... it was a bust.  I just don't get it.  At this time last year, my friend and I had a massive haul of berries.  Another friend and I went out yesterday, and not a ripe berry was to be found.

The stores are full of blackberries, so they're ripe somewhere (hot house?).  I'd guess these wild berries won't be ready for another month or so.  Quite disappointing.

One bright spot - the bushes are massively full.  There is going to be great haul - it will just be a delayed one!  Plus, while I was gone, a neighbor brought over a big old bag of peaches.  Not exactly foraging, but it beats a sharp stick in the eye...

I just read the best reasoning for supporing the Second Amendment that I have ever read in my life.  I am shocked where I found the article. 

The Daily Kos.

I kid you not.  It is titled, Why Liberals Should Love The Second Amendment.  Take the time to read the whole thing - it is so very well written and reasoned.
Those who fight against Second Amendment rights cite statistics about gun violence, as if such numbers are evidence enough that our rights should be restricted. But Chicago and Washington DC, the two cities from which came the most recent Supreme Court decisions on Second Amendment rights, had some of the most restrictive laws in the nation, and also some of the highest rates of violent crime. Clearly, such restrictions do not correlate with preventing crime.
You go, girl!

I figured that the lady that wrote the article was a token conservative on the site.  Nope.  I read some of her other posts, and she's a dyed-in-the-wool Big Government believer.  Quite simply, she "gets it" when it comes to the taking of our rights - any of our rights.

Semi-deep thoughts:  I heard someone saying on the radio that economist Milton Friedman was a believer that there should be no licensure requirements for opening a business or performing a service.  I have no idea if that's true or not - I don't really care.

But it got me thinking.  I agree with the idea.

I remember reading a story a few years back about a guy named Roger Bean that made and repaired dentures for old folks down in Florida.  He charged his customers about 10% or 20% of what his competition charged.  He'd never had a complaint about his work, and all of his customers were from word-of-mouth referrals.

He made the dentures in some grimy garage.  He was charged with a felony - practicing dentistry without a license.  No one was injured.  No one complained about his quality.  Some dentist probably found out about him and "dropped a dime".  And now he's a felon simply for not getting the proper paperwork and governmental blessings.

It seems to me that you should be able to start any business you'd like.  Any certifications or degrees that you want to obtain to demonstrate your expertise are a matter that should be between you and your customers.

The big item that people point to are doctors, "I don't want some crack-pot taking out my appendix!"  Great.  Choose a doctor that has all of the degrees and experience that make you as a customer confident that things will turn out right.

Instead of people actually looking into the background of people that perform services for them, they assume that, in the case of a doctor, that seeing, "MD" after their name guarantees competence.
According to Dr. Barbara Starfield of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 250,000 deaths per year are caused by medical errors, making this the third-largest cause of death in the U.S., following heart disease and cancer.
That is stunning.  A quarter of a million people dead because they went to the doctor.  That's a lot of death caused by people who presumably know what they're doing.  Every one of them had the government Seal Of Approval.  In every one of those instances, the Seal was worthless.

How about the government regulation being that you have to have a certain amount of liability insurance?  If someone is harmed by faulty dentures, or bad pizza or crappy tire repair, they have a way to get financial satisfaction in the event you won't make good on whatever warranty you offer.

I'm not so naive to not know that most of the regulation has more to do with control and taxation than on consumer protection.  We see time and again that the regulation either does nothing (can you say "BP Oil Spill"?) or is a driving cause of a problem (i.e., the housing market melt-down).

The problem with regulation is that the regulators are never held accountable when their regulatees mess up.  Who in the government has lost their job over the housing crisis, the BP spill or any of the other messes happening in regulated industries?  No one.

I'm sure everyone has heard of the Jaycee Dugard case.  The girl that was kidnapped and made a sexual slave for 20 years.  This whole mess happened not 10 miles from where I live. 

The rapist had regular visits from out local sherrifs and parole officers.  It turns out now that these incompetent asses actually spoke with Jaycee on a number of occasions, PLUS spoke with the children she had with the rapist.

This massive incompetence by government officials cost Jaycee her childhood.  She will likely be messed up for her entire life.  We Californians now get to pay her $20 million dollars on top of this all (and I don't begrudge her a dime of it).

Instead, just like the regulators of banks that were encouraged to make un-payable loans, or regulators that didn't verify that the disaster plans BP supposedly had in place WERE ACTUALLY THERE, these sheriffs, parole officers and police officials that screwed up by not doing their jobs should have their retirement accounts seized to pay for this payment to Jaycee.

They didn't do what they were being paid to do.  They don't deserve to retire on our dime.

There have to be consequences to their (in)actions or the regulatory framework is worthless as teats on a bull.  We all know that consequences will never happen, so we might as well do away with the regulatory framework, because it does nothing for us.
Arghhhh.  I know I can close my eyes, click my heals and hope it will all get better.  Of course, it won't.  In all of the cases I mentioned, regulation is being increased, not corrected.  The government tries to look like it knows how to fix the problem, and it always seems to come with more bureaucracy and taxes.  Accountability is still not a part of any equation.  It never will be.

More taxes, more control, more incompetence.

See what we've got to look forward to?

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MikeH. said...

"More taxes, more control, more incompetence."

And people say the government isn't good at anything. But they must be doing something right because most of us stand in line to be sheared and slaughtered with little resistance.


Anonymous said...

Here in Oregon every contractor and lawn and yard worker has to be licensed. Seems like a good idea it all came about due to a few contractors running out on their work and bills. But no! Now it is a protective society run by the government (works like a union) that prevents non-dues paying workers from competing. Have you noticed how much it costs to get your lawn mowed or roof replaced? Thank you states contractor board.

Chief Instructor said...

Mike, indeed. I have found it interesting that I've been coming in contact with more and more people just saying, "screw it" - they are openly thumbing their nose at more and more laws (usually tax related).

Anon, we see all the time that if a business person is going to run out on their customers and bills, simply having government permission to do biz won't stop them. As you noted, it is very much like paying union dues. It has nothing to do with quality or professionalism.

suek said...

You might find this site to be of interest, although this particular page is limited in application. Go to their main page and do some searching - a large part of their cases are licensing cases. And it will make you feel a little bit better to learn that they've won a lot of them. It will also make you feel bad that there are so many licensing laws out there that still remain to be challenged!

suek said...

And I forgot to mention:

I took a course in Viticulture years and years ago, and one of the topics concerned suitability of various climates. They discussed "degree days" criteria for suitability, and what that meant was the number of days with the required temperature for growth and ripening of the grapes. My guess is that your problem is linked. I don't know the specifics - I've never seen them for blackberries - but the time of year they'll ripen berries is going to depend on the number os days when the temperature is warm enough. Have you have an unusually cool summer up till now? I'm in Southern Cal, and I can tell you we certainly have. We've had early cloud cover almost every day since the first of June. It's normal to have about two weeks of "June gloom", but by the 1st of July, it's pretty much sunshine from 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM.

You might look for the citydata site for your closest city - they have average temperature data. Not really specific enough for exact info, but a start.

Chief Instructor said...

suek, interesting. The IJ sure seems to do a lot with hairbraiding! But the point is well-taken - what legitimate purpose could the government have for regulating hairbraiders? Insane.

I'm up in the SF Bay Area, and we had a VERY wet and coo spring. It took forever for things to warm up. That was one of my guesses as to what happened. I'll tell you, though, the "crop" is going to be huge because of it!

suek said...

One of the things I'd like to add is a minimum-maximum thermometer - they have digital ones that you can have with an indoor/outdoor wireless readout. Haven't actually made this an item to add onto a wish list, but I'm close.

Since global warmers are claiming temps will increase over the next 10 years, and those who attribute the changes to solar activity say it will decrease, it might be a way to determine what's going on locally at least. You'd have to keep your own records on a year to year basis, but global trends don't mean much on a local veggie scale - and that's what you need to track.

By the way...added toilet paper to my list of things to stockpile. You "stand-uppers" don't care much about that particular nicety, but us "sitter-downers" do...!
We take so much of our comforts for granted!!

Chief Instructor said...

Personally, I think global warming is nothing but a hoax. It's a scam to develop a way to tax us and to make money, literally, from thin air.

Humans adapt. Whether we cause a change, or nature does it, we'll adapt.

TP will be gold if TSHTF. I have a decent amount in our BOBs that is vacuum sealed to save space, and a couple cases just stored away.

I think it was during the war in the Balkins or Sareavo that one of the survivors said you were a rich man if you had clean water and TP!

Anonymous said...

much of the data to support global warming has been fabricated. This has been proven in many different cases and it was done by different groups. Global warming/cooling is cyclical, this is our 33rd global warming since the last ice age. Interspersed between all 33 global warmings has been global cooling. The global cooling periods have generally been disasterous for humans and other large animals. The global warming periods on the other hand have been very benign. In fact our 6.5 billion population is a result of this particular global warming period and when global cooling comes back most of those people will die! Let that sink in a moment... Some scientists believe the next global cooling is right around the corner (in scientific terma that could be anything from next year to next century). But make no mistake global cooling is coming and humans won't have caused that and will not be able to stop it. Right now the next cycle is a solar minimum which most scientists believe we are about to enter. No big deal really except it will be cooler and more ice in the arctic, etc. But it illustrates the cyclical nature of earths long term weather patterns.

suek said...

>>Humans adapt.>>

True. But plants that we need - not so much. Some have a really wide temperature tolerance, others simply don't. For example, tomatoes won't set fruit if the night time temps are below 50*. Or if you live in an area where you have only 120 days with no're going to have to do some adaptations of your own to make a strong harvest a reasonable expectation. You can stretch the season in both directions with intelligent use of plastic, glass, or other transparent protection - but you need to know your micro climate, the macro climate and the requirements of the plants you're dealing with. And how to get the seeds you want from year to year. You may not be able to depend on Park Seeds...!!

Chief Instructor said...

Anon, yeah, I should have been more clear in my "global warming is a hoax" comment. Global warming may or maynot be happening, but man has little to do with it. The Flim Flam men in DC are using a natural cycle as a way of taxing us. THAT'S the hoax.

suek, part of our adapation will be to find strains that are heat or cold tolerant. We may adapt by using our intellect and building hot-houses, etc. Or, we simply move to areas that are more conducive to human life.