Archive | June 2014

The Kangaroo Question

Why do some species of animals only live in one specific part of the world? There are different factors that influence the answer to this question.

One of the reasons some species cannot live in other areas of the world is because of climate. Some animals live in hot areas and a more temperate climate would not be suitable for their constitution. There are species that need dry areas to live in, others might prefer humid areas, some might want heating weather, others freezing weather. The climate also affects physical factors in which the individual is made and accustomed to live in. The pH of the soil could be more acidic and not fit the preferences of a species or there could be lots of forest fires in some times of the year that the species could not be able to support. Some species might also rather having less salinity in the land or receive a lot more sunlight. All these type of factors are classified as abiotic factors, for they are not alive.

There also exists living or biotic factors that contribute to the inability of a species to live in other areas of the world. Biotic factors include parasites and pathogens that could sicken and end up wiping out the species in the land. There is also the problem of predators, incorrect vegetation, and competitors that use the same resources to survive. All these could extinguish a species or make it really difficult for it to reproduce and become numerous in a specific area, ultimately making it impossible for it to inhabit in that place.

The movement of a certain species of animals to another place could also be obstructed by geographical barriers. A Kangaroo living in Australia doesn’t also live in California because it can’t swim through the ocean. Imagining it could swim through the ocean, the Kangaroo would have to climb some mountains to get to a suitable habitat and then find a mate to reproduce.

Finally, some species might just not want the suitable habitat. Their behavior could most likely reject it. For example, the European Corn Borer Larvae only places its eggs in corn to feed when they are born. When they want to reproduce, the larvae look for mates in the corn. This behavioral pattern of the Corn Borer does not allow it inhabit in other bunch of habitats that would suit it perfectly.

All these factors are reasons why some animals only live in certain parts of the world when they could live in many others as well.

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So What?

Every single day of your life is important. In them you always learn something new; you always solve problems or encounter new ones to overcome. Every breath is valuable and therefore each day is, too.

However, when you write an autobiography, you can’t include every single detail of your life. If you do this, you will bore your readers out, unless you lived a life in which every second was intense. We must always ask ourselves the question, “so what?”, in analyzing the content of our autobiography and almost every piece of writing we read or write. The events of great relevance and perhaps, of great interest to the reader are the ones we should incorporate in our autobiography. These events are:

  1. Those that shaped you for the rest of your life.
  2. Those that shaped others’ lives, including your family, community, and nation.
  3. The problems you faced and how you solved them.
  4. The problems others’ faced and how they solved them. Including your family, community, and nation.
  5. The current or past situation of your nation or community and how it influences your life and your family.
  6. The series of events that took you to achieve something important and at least impacted the life of one person.

When you write about these events, you must take into account to whom you are addressing them and be certain that they will find them interesting enough to turn the page. You must organize them in a way that makes sense chronologically. You must try your best to create mental images with your words. You must be able to generate the readers’ sympathy and be capable of persuading them. Finally, you have to know that the resolutions will be good enough to leave a legacy to future generations. I believe that the question “so what?” might pretty well be the one that determines the success of an autobiography and maybe every single type of writing that exists.

Free Market Solutions

Part 2: Illicit Drugs

I am not in favor of the use of drugs. I do not take any sort of illicit drugs nor have ever done or will ever do such thing. However, ever since the war on drugs began, no manly effort has ever been able to abolish the use of illegal drugs and quite frankly, I do not think that any effort man makes to eliminate this market will ever be profitable. As a matter of fact, the expenses made by this war have been in the trillions and have not solved any real crime at all. In addition, statistics actually show that drug abuse has not been declining in any way whatsoever.

The first major drug battling campaign since Richard Nixon was in the 1980s. When this crackdown started running crime against property, like theft, increased. This occurred because there was a shift of public resources from working against property crimes to drug prohibition enforcement. Every policy has inevitable tradeoffs. If you are going to take resources and use them to fight illicit drugs, there will be a shortage when battling against property crimes or other sorts.

Have you ever asked yourself why the government dedicates itself so much into drug enforcement when it is a victimless crime? In other words, no one is injured, but the person who voluntarily uses the drug. Therefore, no one reports a crime. Unless, someone who is using an illegal drug calls 911 and tells them, “Hey, why don’t you come and get me, I’m smoking some pot, sniffing some cocaine, and injecting myself some heroin. The address is…”

When you have no idea who is drugging themselves you must search profoundly to get to the person committing the crime against their own body. The search power has to be employed aggressively, with violence, and overzealously for police to find any of these crimes at all. Meanwhile, numerous surveys state that judges believe false testimony declaring that the legitimacy of the searches is a common occurrence. Hence, when the police breaks down your door, enters with guns pointing at you, screaming to get on the ground, grabbing you by force, cuffing you, and taking away your property, it is part of a routine search that simply does not care if you are innocent or not.

There are roughly 1.4 million drug arrests per year, more than half of which are not incarcerated or proven guilty. Data also shows that 80% of people who lose their property in this manner are never charged with a criminal offense. When someone is found to be innocent, they have to go through the trouble of suing the government to get their property back.

Paul Craig Roberts, formerly of the Reagan administration, said that the “main result” of implementing these laws has been “the routine confiscation of the assets of the innocent.” They take away your property that supposedly has been associated with drugs and you are guilty until you prove your innocence (opposite of “you are innocent until proven otherwise”). In different terms, Americans can be stripped of their property without a warrant, but on the basis of a mere probable cause. These unreasonable searches and seizures that take place without a based foundation of proof hinder civil rights and the privacy rights to one’s home. They hamper the rights you have of being “innocent until proven guilty”.

Even so, people see the news and continue to say, “Wow, the government is really doing a good job to fight the illicit drug market, they are making lots of arrests. I think that the illicit drug market is coming to its end.” You see, when people want something they will obtain it at all costs. It is very difficult to compete against the free market and the will of a determined person. If people are capable of getting drugs in high security prisons, they will most likely get them anywhere else.

Let us face reality and uncover the nucleus of the problem; corruption exists. To understand what I am about to say a little better, remember that the free market has a price system and a feedback mechanism that comes through prices. Thus, if a private security firm took care of the crimes in society they would know what the people need. Nevertheless, the government doesn’t have a feedback mechanism. Hence, they do not even know how many police officers we need per town and which specific crimes to investigate for the people. When it is about drug gangs, the police perfectly know what they want. Why? Well, gangs pay cops a nice salary to protect their territory from competition. He, who pays better, will eliminate the competition by killing it or putting it in jail. This is how economists David Rasmussen and Bruce Benson put it: “The illicit drug market is probably the most lucrative source of police corruption that has ever existed in the United States.”

It might pretty well seem obvious that corruption is the one responsible for not stopping the illicit drug market, but don’t be too quick to draw conclusions.  Of course corruption has the biggest piece of the cake, but there are other factors that influence the incapability of stopping this market. The General Accounting Office said, “Arrests and seizures are significant only when they help raise costs and risks enough to deter traffickers, and there is no indication they are approaching that point.” In different words, to stop drug trafficking you must put fear in the traffickers, something that has never been achieved.

Judge Volney Brown on the Office for Drug Abuse Law Enforcement Effort in San Diego recalled in the 1990s something his office did to try to stop heroin trafficking in the city during the 1970s. They chose to arrest all 39 major heroin dealers through a series of raids in a single day. Their goal was reached and they succeeded in putting all of them in jail. In the next week, it was practically impossible to obtain heroin in San Diego. After two weeks, however, the supply began to reappear and a month later, the trafficking was back to its original level. The only difference was that the authorities had no idea who was selling the heroin.

They could have spent billions of dollars in the fight, but it would not have mattered. Anything they could have done, would have not been relevant to reduce the drug market. Judge Brown said that they had not been able to make any substantial dent whatsoever in the drug’s market or in its demand. In order to achieve such triumph, it would be necessary to prevent the importation or production of 75% of all drugs, a figure that not even in the wildest dreams has been remotely approached. What man tries to do and the arguments it can present against illicit drugs to eliminate this market, do not achieve anything, it is almost impossible for us to extinguish it.

In the end, there are people in the bureaucracy that consider the war on drugs a personal interest. The reason is that many of them have a salary that depends on the existence of the war. Those people will be the first to make sure the market keeps running and lobby for the war on drugs to continue.

The government has only wasted trillions of dollars in this war and achieved no reward for society. The drug war began in the early 1970s and forty years later, students still use illegal drugs at the same rate of 1970. The only difference is that drug overdoses have been rising steadily throughout the years.

 

 

Free Market Solutions

Part 1: The Environment

The environment has been a recent excuse of worry in past and recent years. Everywhere you turn there is at least one person mentioning pollution, the massive cutting of trees, the overhunting of animals, or overfishing. In today’s rates this is indeed a matter of concern. However, whether we need government intervention to solve these problems is something absolutely debatable.

Usually people are made to believe that, “throughout the history of pollution, greedy factory owners didn’t care about the health or property of others. The owners chose to pollute because this gained them the highest profit and the law allowed them to do so. Then, in the 1970’s the government passed the Clean Air Act due to air pollution.” While we own our lawn, we do not own the air. Therefore, it is basically said that in order to deal with polluted air entering your property we need government intervention.

The real history of the United States tells us that in the early decades of the 19th century, the law stated that if someone was polluting and damaging neighboring homes or businesses, they would be enjoined by the court. Before the case took place and was analyzed, the court would tell factory owners to stop polluting. This was a more libertarian view, for it protected property rights. Nevertheless, in the 1840s and 1850s the law shifted and so did court reasoning. This is when the “common good” argument arose.

This argument declared economic prosperity was an important objective to achieve for the common good. If industrialization and polluting factories were the cost of achieving economic power, then no one could oppose them by enforcing their health or property rights. The government allowed pollution to take place in the midst of seeking economic power and in the 1970s it pretended to discover pollution once more. The increase in the wealth of the nation became more important than the health of its citizens.

Before the shift in the law, the position of the court was strict liability, which established pollution as a form of invasion that violated human property rights. This position caused factory owners to act in socially responsible ways. They voluntarily (not forced) began to use clean burning anthracite coal instead of the cheaper and dirtier type with sulfur. They also chose to install scrubbers and use various ways of pollution diminution. The court’s position took factory owners to research for new ways of keeping pollution to their selves and use better smoke prevention devices. It also increased the tendency to build factories away from populated areas and environmental forensics was in the process of being developed.

Now, did this prohibition to pollute include the tiniest amount of it? Well, think about it, if you are deaf and a little kid is screaming you will not hear the noise, thus, the noise, even though it is there, doesn’t affect you and you can easily allow it. This also applies to pollution. There can be pollution, but only in the tiniest amount where it doesn’t alter you in any way and allows you to live as if it weren’t there. This is also known as the deminimis principle, where something exists, but not enough to damage you in any way at all.

Some noise can be really annoying and even considered as pollution for it damages your health or violates your property by penetrating it. Like an airport for example, they are making noise all the time and might not let you sleep peacefully. Gratefully, we have the right of homesteading an easement in the libertarian view of politics. You can’t sue an airport for its noise because they got to that area first and mixed their labor with it or homesteaded an easement. However, if you got there first and the airport built next to your home, you are the one who has the right. Therefore, they would have to compensate you for the noise or you would have to come to a satisfactory arrangement about it. You have the right to protect your property.

“But, how about when no one owns a property or at least there exists no clear owner?” That is a good question. When there is no owner of a property or a definite one, we will have something known as the tragedy of the commons. Let me put it to you this way, if there was an ownerless forest with a lake, animal diversity, gold, and so on, people would have an incentive to enter that forest and utterly waste its resources in the blink of an eye. Since there are no property rights for that forest, you cannot stop people from doing what they want with it. No one will see and try to protect the long-term capital value of the place.

A miner, for example, will have no reason to not undermine. Imagine a bunch of miners going into that forest, they take all the gold, and none is left for the future, there will be no long-term capital value. If one of the miners says, “ok I won’t mine all the gold, I’m going to leave some out there for the future.” someone else will just come and take everything that he or she didn’t take. No one owns the forest; hence, they can’t be stopped.

When you are offered something for free, you will want to get as much as you can from it. Like little kids offered free ice cream. They will try to chug in all the ice cream they can and not think about leaving some for the future. Whatever ice cream is left behind by one smart kid thinking of the future, will be eaten by another kid. It is free, no one owns it, and you cannot stop them. “Yes, but we are not kids, we are adults.” Well, it is the same thing, offer free gasoline and see what happens.

If you own a property, you have the rights to exercise control and dominion over it. If you own a forest, you can establish a boundary that only permits certain people hunt a certain amount of animals, mine for gold, chop down trees, spend time around the lake, etc. You can even charge people to enter your property. Therefore, the resources of the forest would not be wasted at all and you would be able to preserve the long-term value of the resources without the fear of having someone else taking them away or misusing them. It is your private property and you have the right to protect it. Capitalism or the free market allows you to protect your property; it supports the protection of it, as a matter of fact.

What has the government solved? Well, it has about 14,000 animal species on the endangered list, and it has only rescued six. Is the free market a terrible thing? No, it has property rights and you can diminish the opportunities others have to waste resources when someone owns a property. It is like owning yourself. You own you; you have a will no one can touch, unless you voluntarily allow them to touch it. When you own yourself, you have rights to protect or defend yourself from any assault, control, robbery, or manipulation you might receive from others. No one can trespass the boundary of your being, the decisions you make, and the consequences you receive out of them. The same is true when you own a property, it is yours and no one can touch it, unless you allow them to do so.

You see, there is no such thing as public property, because the things that taxpayers pay for the government to do are not owned by the taxpayers, but by the people temporarily holding office. It is free stuff given to these persons. If something is temporarily freely owned for about five years, you will want to exploit it to its maximum in that period of time and not even take into account its long-term capital value. The government cannot do anything profitable with what you give to them for the people temporarily holding office will waste it as fast as they can.

In the 1980s and 1990s there was a huge debate on the pros and cons of using paper or plastic. What was and has continued to be pointed out is that plastic is harmful for the environment. Assuming plastic is really that horrible, it is said that when buried underground in dumpsites or just thrown out wherever in urban or rural areas, it can cause poisoning and deliver diseases. It might harm the water and poison it or pollute the plants and ultimately the air. The free market can perfectly deal with this problem.

Today, the government owns garbage trucks and dumpsites. While that service tends to be taken as free and for the public, it is really taxpayers who are providing it and government officials who are temporarily owning it. However, if we gave the charge of that service to a private owner, a few good things would happen. First, if the plastic buried or burnt in his or her dumpsite polluted the air, water, and the overall environment affecting the private properties around it, he or she could be sued. Second, the owner of the dumpsite would now have to compensate his neighbors economically for the damages his property caused. Third, this would take the owner of the garbage disposal service to charge greater fees for throwing out trash, specifically plastic. Finally, garbage disposal would cost the benefiters of such service a bit more to use it. This would lead them to have an incentive of avoiding the use of plastic materials for they would now know the cost of the pollution this material supposedly provokes.

In conclusion, the environmental problems we have to today, exist because the government practically supported them in the first place. The solutions they have proposed have not solved anything and they say that the free market is a very horrible system when they have not even tried it. As much as we want pollution to halt we cannot do much about it because economic prosperity is still part of the government’s agenda and if you dare to do something against that you will be punished. Actually, the government is more focused in taxing us, than in protecting the environment. Seriously, do want the government to continue intervening?