Thursday, February 11, 2010

City of Denver full of love this Valentine's

This holiday weekend promised to bring about something I have not had in a long time... a date. I planned out every small detail and put together the itinerary, made reservations, etc. But it was not to be. Alas, my local government, in the interest of serving me and the People, has taken that date away.

I'd been diligently socking away my money in expectation of the Valentine's holiday. I'd also been scrambling to earn some extra spending money for this as well. In this regard- the quick scramble for cash- it appears me and The City of Denver are one in the same. We just have different ideas of how to spend that cash.

The City of Denver, as well as the State of Colorado, and most cities, are hurting for cash. To remedy this, Denver is stepping up its ticketing efforts in order to fill in the budget gaps. This becomes painfully clear when you receive 3 tickets in 4 days, all within the same two blocks in a downtown Denver neighborhood.

It began Monday morning with a parking ticket for remaining in a loading zone for 5 minutes too long ($25). Then, on Tuesday morning, came the missing front license plate ($75). Thursday morning: a repeat of the missing front license plate ticket ($75).

You see, I was recently granted temporary stewardship of my sister's car while she is out of the country. She handed me the keys to a vehicle with a missing front plate. Since Thursday is my only day off from the 2-3 jobs I work, I had to wait till Thursday to go to the DMV to get new plates. Thereafter, I took the tickets down to Denver Parking Magistrate with my new plates and asked if they could work a deal. The City could not, citing that the tickets were indeed 'valid.' So, it looks like I'll be spending all my savings for Valentine's on the parking tickets instead. Too bad the city can't give me a smooch good night.

1 loading zone ticket: $25
2 front license plate: $150

TOTAL: $175

ADDITIONAL COSTS IMPOSED: A Valentine's spent alone :-(

But the lost date opportunity is not the only thing that these parking tickets took away. They also took away business, and in turn, tax revenues. Here was the planned breakdown of my Valentine's date expenses:

$20 haircut, at a local Denver barber shop (not a chain store)
$25 for a dozen roses
$30 for food at a local Denver restaurant (again, not a chain)
$20 for drinks
$30 for the Denver Aquarium exhibit
$7 for parking at the Aquarium
$10 for chocolates
$5 for a card and chocolates for my mother

Total: $147

So a few local businesses will be without my anticipated business this weekend. Now, the lack of my business may not break the companies, but in a slowed economy, they need all the customers they can get. In addition to providing money to businesses who in turn use it for employment, my money spent generates sales tax for the city and helps businesses pay their payroll, property, and other business taxes to the state. At least my money would help to do that, had I the money to spend.

But since my parking tickets amount to $175, not only am I out of money for a date, but it looks like I'll also have to cut out of my lunch money fund for next week just to pay these off.

Sometimes Cupid's arrow really does draw blood.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Has Global Warming gone to the dogs?

Reported on AM 760 radio this morning, courtesy of host David Sirota, was this tail:

A new study suggests that a medium size dog has a greater carbon paw print than that of a 4x4 SUV vehicle on an annual basis. About two times greater in fact.

Does this mean that our owns pets are our greatest threat, or does this give credibility to those who find 'global warming' concerns to be a bit fishy.

Throw me a bone here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What do you think?

Share your answers with us in a comment to this blog post. It's OK to remain anonymous too. We want to get a good measure, so please only respond with answers once.

First, tell us about yourself:

I) Are you a: (select all that apply please)

1) Student at Metro State
2) Student at University of Colorado, Denver
3) Student at Community College of Denver
4) Student at another school
5) Not a student
6) Subscriber to this paper / blog

II) How do you identify politically? (circle one that best defines you please)

1) Republican
2) Democrat
3) Libertarian
4) Socialist / Communist
5) Independent
6) Other

III) Do your views tend to be more: (circle one that best defines you please)

1) Conservative
2) Liberal
3) Moderate
4) Libertarian

IV) How well do you think President Obama is doing? (circle one that best fits please)

1) Terrible
2) Not so well
3) Not too shabby
4) Decent
5) Doing good
6) Doing great
7) Awesome

V) How well did President Bush do as President? (circle one that best fits please)

1) Terrible
2) Not so well
3) Not too shabby
4) Decent
5) Doing good
6) Doing great
7) Awesome

VI) Who did you vote for in the last election?

1) Barack Obama
2) John McCain
3) Other
4) Did not vote

Now, on to the issues:

VII) National Health Care (circle one that best fits please)

1) The U.S. needs a government provided health care option
2) The U.S. needs a single payer option
3) The U.S. needs health care reform, but not the kind being proposed
4) The U.S. health care system is fine as is
5) Write in: _______________________________________________

VIII) Bailouts for All- are bailouts necessary? (circle one that best fits please)

1) Yes
2) No
3) Depends on the situation
4) Sometimes necessary to save the national economy
5) Write in: _______________________________________________

IX) Is global warming a real and an impending threat? (circle one that best fits please)

1) Yes
2) No
3) It may be real and we should be cautious

X) Who is most capable of fixing any "global warming" threat? (circle one that best fits please)

1) The U.S. government, by itself
2) A coalition of governments from developed and developing nations
3) The free market, when left alone can fix all problems
4) Not an issue- global warming does not exist
5) Write-in: _______________________________________________

XI) Which war is most important? (circle one that best fits please)

1) Iraq
2) Afghanistan
3) Pakistan, Iran, and beyond
4) Bring the troops home
5) War on Drugs
6) War on Poverty
7) War on Terror

XII) What is your favorite Auraria Campus newspaper?

1) The Constitutional Reporter
2) The Metropolitan
3) The Advocate
4) The CCD Campus Connection

Monday, August 17, 2009

So this is what "Astro-Turf" looks like...

The left and the right have been engaged lately in a battle of policies and ideas Each side has been eager to prove that the other is engaged in "Astro-Turfing," a clever name used to imply fake grassroots.

The Left accuses the anti-public option crowd of being bought and paid for by Big Pharma, while the Tea Party crowds are obviously contrived by Big Oil (according to the Left). Meanwhile, the Right has pointed to the organizational structure, efforts, and approach of political groups such as Progress Now,, and Acorn. The evidence submitted is the nice, printed signs held by pro-public option supporters, the emails sent out by these and similar organizations, as well as buses bearing those proud political organizations names and supporters to Obama's town hall meeting.

So who is right and who is wrong when it comes to labeling the other side as 'astro-turf?' Or is this really just a case of "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?"

Well, the Constitutional Reporter looked into this and dug up some good seeds. Sow these and tell us what you think:

The Right

Yes, the Right is talking about ObamaCare. So are the Libertarians and Independents. And they're legitimately afraid. This has made them active. The politically active Republicans are encouraging people to oppose ObamaCare. You can see their activity in the blogosphere. But there is no money trail. Nowhere have we been able to find any money being paid out here. And what's even more interesting, the vast majority of people who attend the protests have been, to our surprise, not connected to any GOP leaders. Having attended several Lincoln Day dinners, GOP breakfast clubs, etc., this year, our staff was surprised to see so many new faces at the protests who probably didn't even know that there are local breakfast clubs held weekly to talk about how bad ObamaCare and Democrat proposals are going to be!!

The Left

Here's where it gets interesting... The Constitutional Reporter sat in at an important activism meeting held by some Democrat organizers. They were looking to hire some field reps to go out and spread the word about Cap and Trade. Here is their game plan:

Environmental Defense Fund has hired a national political consulting firm called Field Works. They want to lobby the 'blue dog' Democratic US Senators to convince them to vote 'yes' on Cap and Trade.

Field Works is hiring 12 people at $90/day. Each person will then go out and for 40 hours a week, their job is to talk to people about supporting Cap and Trade to protect the environment. Each of these 12 people will be responsible for finding 12 other people, per day, to make a phone call directly to Senator Michael Bennet's office to urge him to support Cap and Trade. Additionally, each of those 12 field reps will be working to get 28 people, every day, to fill out a post card to be sent to Senator Bennet. (Field Works is providing the cell phones and post cards as well as postage)

This process will be continued, week in and week out, until October 2nd, and will also be conducted in six other states.

Now, if this isn't "Astro-Turf" then what is it- fertilizer?

Folks on the Right better be prepared for the well-oiled machine of the Left. This piece just gives a small taste of what happens when this well-funded machine is put to work. If there was ever a time to call Senator Bennet and tell him to oppose Cap and Trade, then you better do it before October 2nd. Ask Senator Bennet to grow some productive, free market solutions, instead of growing our taxes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Economic Lessons of SouthPark

by Sean Doherty, publisher

I hope President Obama wasn't watching SouthPark the other night, because if he had seen this episode, he may have picked up on some rather poorly drawn economic lessons.

The episode to which I'm referring involves an extraterrestrial visit to the small town of SouthPark, Colorado. One of the main characters, Stan, and his father, are charged with being the human liaisons between the spacemen and earth. The aliens “leave behind” an entire ship-full of 'space dollars' and the people of earth split this money up between several countries. Mexico immediately spends the space dollar money and builds something like thirty-two new hospitals and a few recreational water parks.

The economic lesson drawn here is that by simply expanding the supply of money, or by adding in a new supply of a different fiat currency -space dollars- the wealth of nations would effectively increase as well. As interesting as this premise is, and as funny as the SouthPark is, the premise is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Economist Murray Rothbard dealt with a similar example of the expansion of money supply, though he called his model the 'Angel Gabriel' model. Having listened to Rothbard lectures before, I was intrigued to see the 'Angel Gabriel' example illustrated through Southpark.

To sum up the economic errors of this episode, simply having more money does not increase the standards of living and wealth of a country. Nor does the addition of new money create more prosperity for the world. If that were the case, then the central banks around the world need only kick their printing presses into overdrive and everyone would live comfortably. But simply adding additional paper dollars into an economy does not account for limited resources. Because resources are limited, additional money means that the various available resources, materials, finished goods, and yes, even labor, are bid up to account for the extra money. Inflation. Price levels rise. Inflation happens as a result of more, new money injected in an economy to chase after the same amount of goods. If the money supply was doubled, then everyone would not be twice as rich and able to buy twice as much; instead, prices would double along with the money supply.

But the great economist Murray Rothbard went one step further and pointed out what many mainstream economists fail to recongize: the doubling of the money supply, even if it were to happen overnight, would not affect everyone equally with a corresponding doubling of prices. If it did, then there would be no point to it- everything would remain in equal proportion though at a higher price to match the larger money supply. What Rothbard clearly emphasized was that even if the money supply were to double overnight in equal portions to all participants, the smartest chaps would rush out right away and spend the money before prices adjusted.

Meanwhile, some of the more prudent folk would save the extra money thinking it better to hold on to. When they finally became ready to purchase, prices would have already roughly doubled, meaning that the early spenders were made wealthier while other spenders realized too late that prices adjusted and their new money could only keep up with inflation. The late spenders find themselves in the exact position that they were before, and it was only the 'early adopters' who seized the opportunity to gain from an increase in the money supply. And those in the middle, those who saved ½ of their new money and spent the other ½, would find prices adjusting upward and each dollar being able to buy less and less.

In the SouthPark example, Mexico is the early adopter and early spender. Since Mexico went on an immediate spending spree to build hospitals and some fancy water theme parks, their country would, on the surface, be made wealthier from taking advantage of the extra cash. And yet for most of the people in Mexico, they will be no better off or stand to be substantially worse off. But their many construction projects would quickly bid up the price limited resources like steel, concrete, chlorine, labor, timber, etc.

As a result, the remaining countries would face higher prices in those areas and would realize less benefit from their new moneys. And if each country began to spend that money at different times, then the countries to go last would notice that prices had jumped to nearly match money supply, meaning that any new wealth they had hoped to realize from the extra paper space dollars had evaporated. Those countries would be left with the same purchasing power as they had before, and Mexico would laugh all the way to the bank.

But wait- don't be fooled. Mexico does not, by any substantial means, come out ahead of the other countries. While their quick spending and project construction did allow Mexico to bid away limited resources before anyone else could, the people of Mexico will still be no better for it. The money spent will go to directly benefit the friends of the Mexican government, undoubtedly those in the health care industry, and to those employed by the new projects. But the nice things that the new 'space dollars' can buy will not be felt by everyone in Mexico—just those involved and working in the 32 new hospitals and few water parks. For everyone else, they will be left with the bill in a very real sense. Prices will adjust upwards and the people of Mexico will be faced with those higher prices, but they will only be armed with their incomes from the pre-'space dollar' price levels.

This means that the money people earn for their work will now buy less and less as a result of the increase in prices to match and keep up with an increase in the money supply! As necessary and as important as hospitals are, what good are they if your paycheck that fed four mouths every day can now only feed two?!?

At the end of the episode, the aliens depart from the SouthPark residents with some “progressive” words of wisdom, saying that “the space dollars only had as much value as you gave to them.”

But I find the words of Murray Rothbard to provide more clarity in this situation:

It is clear that while everyone would be euphoric from their seeming doubling of monetary wealth, society would in no way be better off: for there would be no increase in capital or productivity or supply of goods.

Simply having more paper dollars does not, in any way, change the economic reality of limited resources, nor will those additional paper dollars change the productivity of any economy. At the end of the day, those dollars are, well, just pieces of paper.

The real lesson to be drawn from this SouthPark lesson should have been that we cannot print or borrow our way out of a recession.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why are Students becoming Philosophy Majors?

Why are Students becoming Philosophy Majors? - Philosophical Ponderings
by Kirk Barbera, staff writer for The Constitutional Reporter

I was given an article from the New York Times that referred to a large growth in the number of students becoming philosophy majors. I was then asked the question why young ‘practical’ minded people are getting more interested in philosophy.

It is possible that young college students are becoming more enamored with philosophy simply because they are not satisfied with the abhorrent answers they normally get in the 'real world.' Some of these answers come from parents, teachers, bosses and even friends. The idea that everything is nothing may not bode well with some younger people who understand - on some level at least - that their life is something. They hear things like they are just a mass of protoplasm with no meaning. Young people are very impressionable, however, and I believe they do realize that their life is important to them: their future means something, and they wish to understand what is going on around them.

They see the giants of their world crumbling around them. They see the power of the presidency taken over by a man they helped put in to office, and do nothing but more of the same. They see pirates (yes PIRATES) hindering our trade as if we have returned to more primitive times. They understand that the majority of the country is against a war that is killing their friends, brothers, sisters, cousins; and yet their government heeds not their words. They remember hearing in history class and social studies that the government was set up as a system 'of the people by the people and for the people,' that there was supposed to be some semblance of morality, of reason, logic and so on. They see the rule of law being deteriorated around them, by such acts as imposing 'empathy' upon the judgments of judges. They see the erosion of property rights and wonder what is the 'principle' that backs property rights. They see the businessmen around them being punished, and wonder why. They don't understand why capitalism could have failed; they question, and hope philosophy will lead them towards the road of discovery. They wish to seek the best within themselves; they do not wish to allow the people of the world to condemn them for attempting greatness.

They possibly question things like socialized medicine. Why, they may ask, is it my duty to help others?

Some young men and women wish to bring back what they remember reading in their history books. 'Where are the great men who built this country?' They ask.
There are some who wish to have something to look forward to. They do not wish to be infringed upon, they have a sinking guilt in the bottom of their stomachs at seeing Neanderthals gyrating their bodies to the beat of a primitive drum claiming that 'we must leave nature alone!' spitting their fury at anyone who attempts the evil of living their life to the best of their ability.

And then there are those who wish to use philosophy to destroy the men and women I just described. They wish to use their greatest weapon against them, reason. They will twist reason to suit whatever needs they wish. And these young impressionable people can seek one defense; philosophy. If they do not understand the basics that philosophy teaches, such as, where we are, how we know it and what we should do once we know it, they will inevitably succumb to the gross ideology that is overtaking their world.

It is unfortunate that most of the people who are joining philosophy en masse are individuals who wish to destroy the best within others. They do not wish to be held to the responsibility of their own greatness, and seek to destroy what others wish to achieve. They use filthy language to impose guilt upon the aforementioned young people of the mind by saying 'they are greedy, they are selfish, and they have no empathy.'

These young people who wish to understand why they see people condemning the great men and women of industrial power and still they don't go to their defense because they feel guilty; they are the ones who need to be taught; not Plato, or Nietzsche, or Kant but Aristotle. They are the ones who should understand that values are something achievable, that we live in a world of concretes and they can either abide and prosper, or evade and perish.

It is also unfortunate that these young people may never have the courage to question; they may not have the ability to admire, nor to take pride in their own actions. They can, if they discover the proper philosophy. They must learn not that reason can be some 'sublime' fantasy, but it is their reality. They all have the ability to change; as long as we are human we have volition.

It is volition which eventually led mankind to throw off the shackles of, God, King, and now we must throw off the shackles of 'society.'

I can only hope that it will be the people of the mind who will give sanction to the best within themselves. We already seem to be going down a road quite opposite to this idea, and it is each of us who are paying the price.

to read more from Kirk Barbera, please visit his blog at:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Socrates and the State

by Kirk Barbera, staff writer for The Constitutional Reporter

On Socrates’ reasoning

First of all, I must commend Socrates for his effective use of logic. Socrates has succinctly used and or created logical discussion. He first defends himself from Crito by using Argumentum ad Numerum or even Argumentum ad Populum. The first 'Numerum' is the fallacy perpetrated by an individual who claims something is more right the more people hold it as true. As Crito seems to be doing when he says, “but do you see Socrates, that the opinion of the many must be regarded, as is evident in your own case, because they can do the very greatest evil to anyone who has lost their good opinion.” This is also similar to 'Populum' which is appealing to the people; this fallacy is usually characterized by emotive language which Crito obviously uses. These defenses by Socrates demonstrate his ability to be steadfast to reason under any incoming fire. Based upon the antiquated reasoning of the time Socrates does seem to be holding true to his integrity. So, if we define integrity as an unfaltering holding to ones values, whether there are other's watching or not, then Socrates is most assuredly a man of integrity.

However, I believe Socrates makes a few fundamental and costly mistakes in his assessments of the state. For one, to assume the state owns him simply because of some arbitrary 'social contract' is ludicrous. It is true that Socrates agreed to live under Athenian law, but when these laws are set in place for the mere ability of allowing the polis to create criminals at its discretion, the polis and not Socrates has betrayed any 'social contract.' Socrates fails to understand what the state is. As Murray Rothbard explicates in Anatomy of the State:

“The State is that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion."

Furthermore, Socrates makes the preeminent mistake most individuals make, which is equating each individual person as 'a part' of the state. In other words saying 'we’ are the state.' In essence, 'we,' as the individuals who make up the state, are made equivalent to some unknown controller of violence. We are made to believe that as citizens of such and such society 'we' are all one, and 'we' must obey the laws and dictums handed down from on high. The fundamental error here is that we are individuals. Rothbard shows that if we are the state, than anything the state forces upon us is done voluntarily. "Under this reasoning, any Jews murdered by the Nazi government were not murdered; instead, they must have "committed suicide," since they were the government (which was democratically chosen), and, therefore, anything the government did to them was voluntary on their part."

Also, simply because we are all participating in our societies does not implicate us to their every action. As Williamson M. Evers from the department of political science at Stanford elucidates, "Mere participation is not enough for obligation. If a burglar lets you argue with him while he is relieving you of your valuables, it does not place you under an obligation to him."

Socrates also uses the argument that he has accepted the ‘gifts’ from society i.e. schooling. This is once again a fundamental error in reasoning. He uses the analogy of parents giving a gift to their child as equivalent to the ‘gifts’ from society. The problem lies in the conditions in which the gifts are given in the two scenarios. When a parent gives something to their child, such as room and board, there is only an obligation to the parents for as long as the child accepts the gifts. When the child moves away from home and stops accepting gifts from their parents, they subsequently disallow all ‘rules’ or edicts handed down from their parents. The difference with the state is that one can not merely ‘shrug’ off their allotted ‘gifts.’ These so-called gifts are imposed rather than something that is attached as a condition to a gift.
Socrates, while defending his position, accepts many irrelevant and counter-intuitive ideals that unfortunately lead to his early demise. While it is admirable that Socrates had the integrity to stand up for what he believed was right, his failure to come to more correct and logical conclusions deprived him of years of life.

to read more from Kirk Barbera, please visit his blog at: