A Philosopher's Blog

Protests, Peaceful and Otherwise

Posted in Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Race by Michael LaBossiere on November 27, 2014

In response to the nighttime announcement of the Ferguson verdict in which officer Wilson was not indicted, some people attacked the police and damaged property. Some experts have been critical of the decision to make the announcement at night, since the time of day does actually influence how people behave. In general, making such an announcement at night is a bad idea—unless one intends to increase the chances that people will respond badly.

Obviously enough, peacefully protesting is a basic right and in a democratic state the police should not interfere with that right. However, protests do escalate and violence can occur. In the United States it is all too common for peaceful protests to be marred by violence—most commonly damage to businesses and looting.

When considering reports of damage and looting during protests it is reasonable to consider whether or not the damage and looting is being done by actual protestors or by people who are opportunists using the protest as cover or an excuse. An actual protestor is someone whose primary motivation is a moral one—she is there to express her moral condemnation of something she perceives as wrong. Not all people who go to protests are actual protestors—some are there for other reasons, some of which are not morally commendable. Some people, not surprisingly, know that a protest can provide an excellent opportunity to engage in criminal activity—to commit violence, to damage property and to loot. Protests do, sadly, attract such people and often these are people who are not from the area.

Of course, actual protesters can engage in violence and damage property. Perhaps they can even engage in looting (though that almost certainly crosses a moral line). Anger and rage are powerful things, especially righteous anger. A protestor who is motivated by her moral condemnation of a perceived wrong can give in to her anger and do damage to others or their property. When people damage the businesses in their own community, this sort of behavior seems irrational—probably because it is. After all, setting a local gas station on fire is hardly morally justified by the alleged injustice of the grand jury’s verdict in regards to not indicting Officer Wilson for the shooting of Brown. However, anger tends to impede rationality. I, and I assume most people, have seen people angry enough to break their own property.

While I am not a psychologist, I do suspect that people do such damage when they are angry because they cannot actually reach the target of their anger. Alternatively, they might be damaging property to vent their rage in place of harming people. I have seen people do just that. For example, I saw a person hit a metal door frame (and break his hand) rather than hit the person he was mad at. Anger does summon up a need to express itself and this can easily take the form of property damage.

When a protest becomes destructive (or those using it for cover start destroying things), the police do have a legitimate role to play at protests. While protests are intended to draw attention and often aim to do so by creating a disruption of the normal course of events, a state of protest does not grant protestors a carte blanche right to interfere with the legitimate rights of others. As such, the police have a legitimate right to prevent protestors from violating the rights of others and this can correctly involve the use of force.

That said, the role of rage needs to be considered. When property is destroyed during protests, some people immediately condemn the destruction and wonder why people are destroying their own neighborhoods. In some cases, as noted above, the people doing the damage might not be from the neighborhood at all and might be there to destroy rather than to protest. If such people can be identified, they should be dealt with as the criminals they are. What becomes somewhat more morally problematic are people who are driven to such destruction by moral rage—that is, they have been pushed to a point at which they believe they must use violence and destruction to express their moral condemnation.

When looked at from the cool and calm perspective of distance, such behavior seems irrational and unwarranted.  And, I think, it usually is. However, it is well worth it to think of something that has caused the fire of righteous anger to ignite your soul. Think of that and consider how you might respond if you believed that you have been systematically denied justice. Over. And over. Again.


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  1. TJB said, on November 27, 2014 at 10:06 am

    This is exactly what you are doing, Mike:

    To restate the “civil rights” argument in a clearer way: Young black men are disproportionately imprisoned. One in three black men have gone to prison at some time in their life. According to the ACLU, one in fifteen black men are incarcerated, vs. one in 106 white men. That by itself is proof of racism; the fact that these individuals were individually prosecuted for individual crimes has no bearing on the matter. All that matters is the outcome. Because the behavior of young black men is not likely to change, what must change is the way that society recognizes crime itself. The answer is to remove stigma of crime attached to certain behavior, for example, physical altercations, petty theft, and drug-dealing on a certain scale. The former civil rights movement no longer focuses its attention on supposedly ameliorative social spending, for example, preschool programs for minority children, although these remain somewhere down the list in the litany of demands. What energizes and motivates the movement is the demand that society redefine deviancy to exclude certain classes of violent as well as non-violent felonies.

    The logic of the criminals’ rights movement is as clear as it is crazy: Because the outcome of the criminal justice system disproportionately penalizes African-Americans, the solution is to decriminalize behavior that all civilized countries have suppressed and punished since the dawn of history. Because felonious behavior is so widespread and the causes of it so intractable, the criminals’ rights movement insists, society “cannot afford to recognize” criminal behavior below a certain threshold.


    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 27, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      I have not advocated decriminalizing theft, drug dealing and so on. So, no that is not what I am doing.

      It is not just outcome that matters. One must also look at the cases to see if white defendants and black defendants in relevantly similar circumstances receive comparable treatment in terms of convictions, sentencing and so on. If justice is being dispensed justly, then all is well. If there are statistically significant differences linked to race, then there is a problem.

  2. T. J. Babson said, on November 27, 2014 at 10:23 am

    What energizes and motivates the movement is the demand that society redefine deviancy to exclude certain classes of violent as well as non-violent felonies.

    Isn’t this really what you want, Mike?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      On what basis would you make such a claim? Or are you just trying to troll me here?

      • T. J. Babson said, on November 27, 2014 at 8:04 pm

        Not at all. Just trying to drill down to what you think the problem is and how you plan to deal with it. If the problem is that there are too many blacks in prison, the solution is to make it harder to put them there by “defining deviancy down” in Patrick Moynihan’s memorable phrase.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 28, 2014 at 7:39 am

          It is a problem that too many people are in prison. In some cases, decriminalizing some things would help. However, these should be things that create more harm when they are criminalized than if they were not. Mainly I am thinking of minor drug offenses, like possessing or using small amounts of pot.

          Decriminalizing serious crimes would reduce prison population, but would almost certainly create considerable harm. That would not be an option.

          Increasing educational and economic opportunities for people would help some with crime-if people have more chance of success outside of crime, they are less likely to engage in crime. Maybe.

          The better solution is to address the reasons why people engage in criminal activity.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 28, 2014 at 7:41 am

          So, it is not a matter if redefining deviancy, but determining why people become criminals and redefining those factors for real and not just semantically.

          • TJB said, on November 28, 2014 at 10:26 am

            What if the problem is the breakdown of the African American family and the lack of strong male role models?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 28, 2014 at 1:10 pm

              First, those are certainly factors that should be considered. Second, there are also the questions of why the family is breaking down and why there is a lack of such role models. Much of the discussion focuses on the impact of poverty on the family. It would certainly make sense that the economic system is impacting the social system (and doing so across ethnic boundaries).

            • ronster12012 said, on November 29, 2014 at 10:36 am


              ‘ It would certainly make sense that the economic system is impacting the social system (and doing so across ethnic boundaries).’
              It seems that your political/economic elite are quite ready to sell out the rest of you by shipping all the jobs that can be shipped, to Mexico or China or wherever while allowing massive illegal immigration to keep downward pressure on wages at the same time expanding the consumer base.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 1, 2014 at 11:06 am

              Yes, yes they are. For many companies, this is rational in the sense that they can increase profits. However, one problem is that sending jobs overseas can impact the U.S. Consumers and result in less money being spent on consumer goods. So, they need to strive for a balance-the people who buy need to make enough money to buy the goods made overseas. This creates a situation in which some companies are subsidizing others-they pay their workers enough to buy the stuff made cheaply overseas by other companies.

            • T. J. Babson said, on November 29, 2014 at 1:12 pm

              The best way to help lower income people is to ensure there is a shortage of labor so that wages rise in response.

              Flooding the market with low skilled immigrant labor hurts the very people the Dems say they want to help. It also increases income inequality in society. So the Dems complain about income inequality and then enact policies that deliberately make the problem worse.

            • wtp said, on November 29, 2014 at 3:58 pm

              Please, TJ. The best way to help low income people is to encourage them to acquire viable, marketable skills and to lower the barriers for employment. Similarly, ask yourself why can’t low income people do the jobs that immigrant labor does today?

            • T. J. Babson said, on November 29, 2014 at 4:46 pm

              “Similarly, ask yourself why can’t low income people do the jobs that immigrant labor does today?”

              They can and would if the wages were higher.

            • wtp said, on November 29, 2014 at 5:52 pm

              Something I’ve suspected for some time now. There are a few fundamental aspects of economics you don’t understand. Wages, one way or another, must match the approximate productivity of the worker. If not, either someone else must bear the burden, that usually being other coworkers, or the job will not exist. Increasing the cost of labor beyond its viability is not a wealth producing path.

              Two factors off the top of my head, there may be more, keep US workers from taking lower wage jobs. The primary one being a minimum wage set way above the value of the labor. It is way easier to hire illegal immigrant labor than to employ legal citizens under-the-table as both parties in the former case have incentive to keep things on the QT. The second factor touted by many conservatives, and I would say overstated especially in regard to the first item, is a welfare system and underground economy that makes not working more desirable than legal work.

            • TJB said, on November 29, 2014 at 6:37 pm

              WTP, you are forgetting that the “value” of labor is set by the market, and the market responds according to supply and demand. If the labor supply is limited than wages will go up. Flooding the labor market with cheap immigrant labor holds down the wages of the people at the bottom of the income ladder.

              This is not the same as raising the minimum wage.

              Let’s say that farmers had to pay $12/hr for workers to to pick tomatoes instead of $7/hr. The cost of tomatoes would go up, and so would the “value” of the labor.

              Where is my error?

            • wtp said, on November 29, 2014 at 8:51 pm

              No TJ, I’m not forgetting about the market, the market is exactly what I’m talking about. Immigration laws, for better or worse, warp the ability of the market to function efficiently. They prevent workers from working the available jobs.

              Your error is in not understanding that people are only willing to pay so much for tomatoes. If they don’t want to pay too much for tomatoes, if they can’t buy tomatoes that were produced more cheaply elsewhere and then imported to the U.S. market, people will buy some other fruit/vegetable/whatevs. You are also ignoring the capital side of the equation. Those who run the farms, market the product, and coordinate its movement to market will only produce tomatoes so long as it is economically viable for them to do so. If they don’t see enough profit to justify the risk of the necessary capital outlay, they will invest in some other more profitable line of business and there will be no tomato picking jobs.

            • T. J. Babson said, on November 30, 2014 at 12:05 am

              A leading immigration economist. Note the use of the term “wage losses.”

              At current levels of around one million immigrants per year, immigration makes the U.S. economy (GDP) significantly larger, with almost all of this increase in GDP accruing to the immigrants themselves as a payment for their labor services.

              For American workers, immigration is primarily a redistributive policy. Economic theory predicts that immigration will redistribute income by lowering the wages of competing American workers and increasing the wages of complementary American workers as well as profits for business owners and other “users” of immigrant labor. Although the overall net impact on the native-born is small, the loss or gain for particular groups of the population can be substantial.

              The best empirical research that tries to examine what has actually happened in the U.S. labor market aligns well with economy theory: An increase in the number of workers leads to lower wages. This report focuses on the labor market impact of immigration.


              Even though the overall net impact on natives is small, this does not mean that the wage losses suffered by some natives or the income gains accruing to other natives are not substantial. Some groups of workers face a great deal of competition from immigrants. These workers are primarily, but by no means exclusively, at the bottom end of the skill distribution, doing low-wage jobs that require modest levels of education. Such workers make up a significant share of the nation’s working poor. The biggest winners from immigration are owners of businesses that employ a lot of immigrant labor and other users of immigrant labor. The other big winners are the immigrants themselves.


            • Anonymous said, on November 30, 2014 at 12:09 pm

              TJ, there is, without a doubt, a downward pressure on wages with immigrant labor. No question about it and I do not support the open borders attitude for both national security purposes and the economic effect on lower income wages and labor. However, the “economist” you reference is focused on immigrant labor issues. He either glosses over or ignores the other 80% of the economic equation, part of that 80% being what I stated previously. If you focus on just that one aspect of the issue, the cost of the labor and thus the supply and demand curves for that labor, you can’t help but come to that conclusion. However economics does not occur in a laboratory. Literally countless other factors are involved. There are numerous other markets to consider, as I said above, preeminently the consumers and their willingness to pay a certain price for a certain product at a certain level of quality determines all else. The factors of supply and demand of all related markets of any given larger market can easily override whichever sub-market you focus on.

              One of the other side effects of Marxist thought, aside from the obvious disasters it has led to, is an obsessive focus in economic literature and otherwise on labor while dismissive of capital. Ironic given the title Das Kapital. The vast majority of people cannot name an economist beyond Karl Marx. This severely warps the thinking on the subject of capitalism, even among so-called conservatives and libertarians. Capital risk, even in a communist economy, cannot be ignored. You do understand this, yes?

            • wtp said, on November 30, 2014 at 12:10 pm

              above, obviously me, WTP. Too many computers in my life…

            • TJB said, on December 1, 2014 at 10:59 pm

              WTP, you make a fair point that the market is now global, so any attempt to locally influence it is doomed to,partial success. I think this is definitely true for some things, like tomatoes, but what about roofers or plumbers? These jobs are not really part of the global market.

            • WTP said, on December 2, 2014 at 10:19 am

              Yes, again there definitely are jobs that cannot be exported. However the cost of those jobs, especially ones where the labor is the most significant factor, will go up if employers are forced to pay more for that labor. If the cost of something goes up, the demand for that something will come down relative to the elasticity of the supply and demand curves. The demand curve drops as price increases, thus there will be fewer jobs no matter who does them. Note also that the elasticity of supply is influenced by factors other than just the cost of labor. Again as I asked above, given current employment conditions what is the reason Americans are not taking these jobs? And again, which is a better way to lift the standard of living of low income workers, by chasing out workers who willingly produce labor at a lower cost or by raising the skill set of lower income workers via work experience gained by reducing burdens on employers when hiring new/unskilled labor?

              And again, I am not saying the problem of illegal labor should not be addressed, my point was to your statement on how to best improve the lives of lower income workers. Removing/reducing the illegal immigrant labor market helps, but only in so far as allowing American workers to take lower paying jobs. The effects, I believe, are overstated due to other market factors. And one other aside, hire an illegal plumber and you get what you pay for. Don’t discount the skill plumbing involves.

              Also, per my above post, Capital risk, even in a communist economy, cannot be ignored. You do understand this, yes?

            • TJB said, on December 2, 2014 at 11:21 am

              WTP, what is your understanding of why unskilled American workers did so well in the 1950s and 1960s? My understanding is that this happened because (1) the economy was not yet globalized, and (2) brisk economic growth led to a comparative shortage of labor. I would like to recreate those conditions as far as possible.

              I’m not sure exactly what you are getting at with capital risk aside from the obvious point that if the people with the capital do not think they will get a sufficient return on their investment they will hold on to their money.

            • WTP said, on December 2, 2014 at 11:26 am

              Something else I meant to address in the context of by raising the skill set of lower income workers via work experience…One of the more valuable things the illegal immigrants acquire is experience. I wouldn’t know for sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the opportunity to work and learn more advanced skills in the US far exceeds that in the countries from which they come. Even if sent back, they go home with an understanding of these higher standards and improved efficiencies. Another nasty by-product of Marxist thought is a static view of labor and obliviousness/ignorance/dismissive attitude to the value of transition from low to higher skill labor.

            • WTP said, on December 2, 2014 at 11:31 am

              Crossing each other here and got busy…will get back to this but quickly to your one point…

              the people with the capital do not think they will get a sufficient return on their investment they will hold on to their money.

              The people with the capital are unlikely to sit on their money. They will likely invest it elsewhere in opportunites where higher skill labor is used. Many, many factors involved in that consequence and one could argue that such is for the better overall. I would say not for various reasons. But one big loser in any latter scenario is negative for low skill labor.

            • WTP said, on December 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm

              As to what is your understanding of why unskilled American workers did so well in the 1950s and 1960s? My understanding is that this happened because (1) the economy was not yet globalized, and (2) brisk economic growth led to a comparative shortage of labor.

              First off, don’t put too much stock into what some economist say caused what. Especially the majority of economists. Most are not economists but political “science” types (put on your hipboots, it gets deep) with an objective to make and use economic terminology to justify their political point rather than looking at facts to see where they lead. There’s a big ego factor involved as well as macro economic theory leads many to pretend to play God. It’s like the climate, too many factors to say that you really understand what/why/when economic events occur. But one can deduce, to some degree, what constitutes incentives, abilities, etc. Though much also depends on the slippery meaning of “unskilled” labor. Does unskilled include such diverse abilities as picking tomatoes, roofing, plumbing, welding, electricians? Where does that term begin and end.

              As to the myriad factors regarding such labor…And keep in mind there was a post-war recession in 1945, as there almost always is when a significant percentage of a country’s resources are redirected from guns to butter, and another slight recession from ’48-’49. Some possibly due to the need to pay for all those guns over the previous 6 years (remember we were “lending/leasing” guns for the Allies prior to Pearl Harbor). Demand, suppressed during war either self-imposed by a patriotic sprit or by force via rationing, rebounded. But some of what was learned during the war was applied to a peacetime economy:
              * Efficiencies in supply chains
              * Coordination across American sub-cultures. Many Americans from diverse areas of the country were thrown together and learned to work together. This lead to…
              * Cross pollination of ideas
              * A demand for labor in factories provided lower skill farm laborers (and some women) with higher productivity skills (welding, smelting, riveting, driving cars/trucks/airplanes).
              * Greater mobility of workforce due to better, more reliable, and more efficient transportation options

              Keep in mind also that the clout of unions did improve wages but was temporary until it became untenable and jobs moved overseas (see textiles over auto). Just a personal anecdote…My uncle worked for J&L Steel in Pittsburgh. He would get 13 weeks off every year. About drove him nuts what to do with all that extra time. There is no more J&L Steel, nor US Steel, etc. in Pittsburgh today. Those jobs ceased to exist and Pittsburgh went into a downward spiral until they latched on to tech and medical industries.

            • TJB said, on December 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm


              Along with temporary deportation relief for millions, President Obama’s executive action will increase the number of U.S. college graduates from abroad who can temporarily be hired by U.S. corporations. That hasn’t satisfied tech companies and trade groups, which contend more green cards or guest worker visas are needed to keep tech industries growing because of a shortage of qualified American workers. But scholars say there’s a problem with that argument: The tech worker shortage doesn’t actually exist.

              “There’s no evidence of any way, shape, or form that there’s a shortage in the conventional sense,” says Hal Salzman, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University. “They may not be able to find them at the price they want. But I’m not sure that qualifies as a shortage, any more than my not being able to find a half-priced TV.”

              For a real-life example of an actual worker shortage, Salzman points to the case of petroleum engineers, where the supply of workers has failed to keep up with the growth in oil exploration. The result, says Salzman, was just what economists would have predicted: Employers started offering more money, more people started becoming petroleum engineers, and the shortage was solved. In contrast, Salzman concluded in a paper released last year by the liberal Economic Policy Institute, real IT wages are about the same as they were in 1999. Further, he and his co-authors found, only half of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) college graduates each year get hired into STEM jobs. “We don’t dispute the fact at all that Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT) would like to have more, cheaper workers,” says Salzman’s co-author Daniel Kuehn, now a research associate at the Urban Institute. “But that doesn’t constitute a shortage.”

              The real issue, say Salzman and others, is the industry’s desire for lower-wage, more-exploitable guest workers, not a lack of available American staff. “It seems pretty clear that the industry just wants lower-cost labor,” Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, wrote in an e-mail. A 2011 review by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the H-1B visa program, which is what industry groups are lobbying to expand, had “fragmented and restricted” oversight that weakened its ostensible labor standards. “Many in the tech industry are using it for cheaper, indentured labor,” says Rochester Institute of Technology public policy associate professor Ron Hira, an EPI research associate and co-author of the book Outsourcing America.


            • WTP said, on December 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm

              Yes, again it has the hallmarks of an argument from yet another someone with a labor ax to grind. Skilled labor will meet its level. The H1B whining has been going on for decades now, yet software development has been one of the healthiest sectors of the US economy. I tire of hearing my coworkers whine about this, yet they all continue to make 6 figure and near-six-figure salaries. Decades after the supposed problem first reared it’s “ugly” head. Again the focus is on just one aspect of the market. Same principle applies, though. And high tech jobs are far more transferable across borders than roofers.

              Years ago the company I worked for saw, like many other companies at the time, all this cheap software development labor in India. I was tasked to develop training classes for this labor as our company imported these workers on temporary visas to be trained here and sent back home to do our jobs. Well, what actually happened was once these workers got a little experience, they walked across the street to Oracle or whomever and took those other jobs for a slightly higher salary. Yet our company had paid money to move those people over here, house them, and train them. The “savings” in labor costs were not exactly what our genius CEOs, etc. expected. Now granted, things are a little different with H1-B’s in that the visa is held over Vijay’s head and those labor costs are somewhat constrained. But still once here they can apply for a green card and US Citizenship, either of which there is significant incentive to do so. Also while here they are contributing to the economy. Ask yourself, how are H1-B visas any different from a phony credentialing system or any other such mechanism designed to limit labor competition? Should we as software developers demand strict standards on who can or cannot be a software engineer? I’m not saying voluntary credentialing as in what remains of academia or the various MS, Oracle, Java, etc. certifications. I mean the real restrictive “you can’t do that until we say you can” sort of laws like exist in much of Europe. There is a reason we are a nation of immigrants.

              And again, I do have serious concerns from a cultural and national security perspective regarding H1-Bs just as I do with illegals. However, with H1-B’s these concerns are significantly less prominent.

            • TJB said, on December 2, 2014 at 2:51 pm

              WTP, I am a little unclear about what, if any, protections you believe the U.S. government should offer to American workers.

              There are 7 billion people in the world, and lots would love to work in the U.S. if they could. Should U.S. workers be forced to compete against anybody in the world who wants to come here?

            • WTP said, on December 2, 2014 at 3:25 pm

              There are 7 billion people in the world, and lots would love to work in the U.S. if they could. Should U.S. workers be forced to compete against anybody in the world who wants to come here?

              No, you’re glossing over my national security concerns. Also, very, very few of those 7 billion have anywhere near the skills required, even at the low-skill end. And most of those with skills have no desire to leave their homes, learn a new language (for most of them), and take on the various other risks. I used to mock my co-workers’ racist misconceptions that “Them Asians is smart!”. Living here in the US we see the cream of the crop of what China/Hong Kong/Taiwan, India, etc. produce. Huge swaths of China and India, while markedly improved over the last couple decades, are still light years from the talent and skill level of those who come here. Think about what the skill set, etc would be for a Mexican to take a job at a bank in India (must be at least one of those). And many in Taiwan are staying there. In Hong Kong as well, though wouldn’t surprise me if that changes shortly.

              Either way, we all are forced to compete in a global marketplace. It’s just the way the world is and such is to the benefit of the vast majority. You ignore how this brings down the cost of goods and services on an enormous scale. When you and I were born, the vast majority of the world was a much poorer, more backward, exploitative place than it is today. Yes, there are lots of problems. Always will be problems. But many of today’s problems didn’t have the necessary prerequisites to exist back then. And the vast majority of these improvements have come with the fall of (most) Communism and other autocratic, despotic users. And none of us had a cell phone, let alone a smart one.

              I’m just touching the surface here, need I go on?

            • WTP said, on December 2, 2014 at 3:47 pm

              Let me also address this question:

              the people with the capital do not think they will get a sufficient return on their investment they will hold on to their money.

              from another angle…Remember months ago when I suggested that the minimum wage be raised to $20/hr as it will create jobs for us engineers? That is precisely what I am talking about here. Again, say the minimum wage goes to $20/hr. Who is going to take the risk of laying out the cash to build a restaurant, train staff, purchase insurance, etc. etc. etc. if after calculating all your fixed and variable costs you will need to charge $8 for a Big Mac. But suppose an engineering firm figures out how to automate the process so you don’t need to pay 50-60 people per franchise, along with benefits involved. Who wins, who loses?

            • T. J. Babson said, on December 2, 2014 at 8:45 pm

              “Either way, we all are forced to compete in a global marketplace. It’s just the way the world is and such is to the benefit of the vast majority. You ignore how this brings down the cost of goods and services on an enormous scale.”

              It is only partially true that “we are all” forced to compete in a global marketplace. I don’t think U.S. physicians, for example, are forced to compete globally. Nor are defense contractors forced to compete globally.

              Let’s say one of my kids wants to become a scientist, like me. What are his chances when he has to compete against the best in the world for a job in his own country? Is it even rational for a U.S. kid to pursue a scientific career?

            • wtp said, on December 2, 2014 at 10:33 pm

              What percentage of doctors do you know who were born and had their primary education in this country? Robotics even now have us on the edge of doing surgery remotely.

              Go to wiki and search on “List of United States defense contractors”.

              As for your kid, I’m sure he can get a job doing science competing against the rest of the world. He’s got far more opportunity, better fed, better educated on average than the rest of the world. Is the demand for science finite? What I see in your response is looking at the problem from just an American protectionist perspective. Americans can and do work, scientific work for other countries. The defense contractor I work for has contracts prividing defense services to other countries. I’ve done defense work myself for Iraq and Singapore. Some of my current work may well be used by all NATO countries, Israel, Turkey, Australia, Japan, and other U.S. allies. If we do work for other countries why prohibit smart people from other countries doing work for us?

            • T. J. Babson said, on December 2, 2014 at 11:24 pm

              WTP, look at the faculty in the hard sciences or engineering of any major research university in the U.S. and you will see only a small percentage of native born Americans. If you look at any other university in any other country in the world you will find mostly native born faculty.

              You also need to keep in mind that most foreign students did not pay for their education, whereas U.S. students often go deep in debt.

              One wonders why a country like China would pay for a student’s education and then not mind if that student goes to the U.S.

            • wtp said, on December 2, 2014 at 11:57 pm

              From what quick searching I could do, it seems there are about 650,000 people here on h-1b visas. Meanwhile between 3 and 6 million Americans work in other countries. Why is this a problem? When I have a job that needs to be done, I don’t care the race or nationality of the person doing it, I just want the job done properly. It’s my job to assign to whom I please. Why is that anyone’s business, so long as it’s not a security issue. The jobs don’t belong to workers, the jobs belong to employers. You do understand this? I need a solid answer on this one.

              As for who pays for the education…I’ve heard this whine before. Most Americans don’t pay for their entire education either. Huge subsidies come from the U.S. governments for state schools and most scholarships to private ones. And are you saying that China and India and such just give away education completely to the students who come here? Do the math on how that would work. Do you think China and India are training people to work in America for free? Why would they continue to do that? If so, we’re getting a deal.

              You are only seeing a small part of the equation. Again, as I said above some of the greater damage done by Marxism is the focus on labor without understanding much of anything else.

            • T. J. Babson said, on December 3, 2014 at 12:08 am

              “The jobs don’t belong to workers, the jobs belong to employers. You do understand this? I need a solid answer on this one.”

              If the U.S. taxpayers are picking up the tab, the jobs do not only belong to the employers.

            • wtp said, on December 3, 2014 at 12:29 am

              Yeah…not following you there. What taxpayer? An entity determines that a task needs to be done. The entity created that task. The definition and fulfillment of that task belong to the entity. If that entity is the government, then yes, the taxpayer. If that entity is not the government, where. Does the taxpayer come in? On the legal up-and-up, the person performing the job may have his income taxed and the entity, if a for profit entity, will have its profits taxed, so in that sense THEY are the taxpayers. But only after the fact.

            • TJB said, on December 3, 2014 at 12:41 am

              If the U.S. needs to build new fighter planes, the contract should go to a company that employs U.S. workers.

            • wtp said, on December 3, 2014 at 7:09 am

              National security concerns aside, why? If we can buy an F-69 from The UK for $75million vs. building one here in the US costing us $85 million, why pay more? Why not get the same airplane and have $10 million dollars to spend on weapons, infrastructure, etc.? And in the context of our allies, if we block them from having the opportunity to sell us fighter jets, wouldn’t they then be forced to protect their own jobs by denying us the opportunity to sell them tanks?

              Again, this is putting national security concerns aside and making a huge assumption that the quality would be the same.

            • T. J. Babson said, on December 3, 2014 at 8:20 am

              Economic stimulus. Unless there is no other option, U.S. tax dollars should be used to help stimulate our own economy and provide jobs for our own workers.

            • WTP said, on December 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

              Stimulus…sigh…not that there’s not a point in regard to the tangential businesses but you’re missing the bigger picture. Were the savings only say, a million per airplane one could argue that keeping the jobs here in the US, spending the money at home, is better than sending the job overseas. But at $10 million (or pick your figure) the savings outweigh the limited “stimulus” benefits. The $10 million in savings could be poured back into real stimulus of fixing roads and bridges or (God forbid) returning the money to the taxpayers to spend as they see fit. Also, you are ignoring the other aspects of the scenario I described. What about the tanks we would be selling to the UK? Is it worth keeping the F-69 project in the US if we lose the T-1776 contract with the UK when they go all protectionist themselves?

              At it’s heart what you are making is a protectionist argument. Do your libertarian ways end at your pocket book? Protectionism, trade wars, etc. have been proven time and time again to be bad for all parties involved. This is pretty well understood by the vast majority of economists, though the poli-sci crowd tries, fails, regroups, and tries and fails over and over again to refute this understanding.

              And also in regard to stimulus, you should do some reading on the trade offs of guns vs. butter. At some point defense spending is simply sending money down a black hole. Past what is necessary for defense, you’re wasting money.

              Specific to this point, in the defense industry we make way more stuff for other countries than they make for us so it definitely benefits us to take the high road and let our allies make a few bucks off of us once in a while.

            • T. J. Babson said, on December 3, 2014 at 10:24 am

              I’m not an absolutist. I just feel that tax dollars should be spent in the rational self interest of the people of the U.S. (the ones who supplied the tax dollars). For example, knowing that the E.U. massively subsidizes Airbus, for the U.S. to buy from Airbus and perhaps put Boeing out of business is not in our best interest.

              Likewise, a corporation should act in the rational self-interest of its stockholders.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 3, 2014 at 12:30 pm

              I do agree that the US should consider the nationality of companies when doing business with them as well as how it would impact American jobs. So, if assigning a contract to Boeing would help Americans and the plane is good, then the state should go with Boeing over Airbus. But, of course, companies should reciprocate such loyalty. If companies bail on the US to get better tax deals, then they should not be considered US companies anymore.

            • WTP said, on December 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

              Agree. But these massive subsidies, either by the EU to Airbus or by the Chinese or Indian governments to their students’ education, they don’t grow on trees. It is costing the taxpaying citizens of those countries. When the EU subsidizes Airbus in order to sell us airplanes, what is actually happening is we are getting the taxpayers of the EU to pay for some of our airplanes. Sounds good to me. Now granted, there are monopoly issues to consider. Airbus could be driving down prices to put Boeing out of business so that they can later jack up prices once they have a monopoly on the airplane tanker business. And I’m sure Boeing is doing everything in its power to make those taxpayers aware that their money is being used to subsidize the American war machine. Of course, IMNSHO that’s the least they owe us given that we protect their sorry asses for decades on end…but I digress…

              To be clear, I do not support government subsidizing businesses. Not just for the many other obvious reasons but also because t’s the road to fascism. But if other governments are going to be that stupid, and once other factors are considered, we should take advantage if Pierre and Hans want to be our suckers. Not to mention that keeping a defense contract in the US simply for the reason of “jobs” is a subsidy to some extent. Especially when doing so costs jobs elsewhere in the economy.

            • WTP said, on December 3, 2014 at 12:52 pm

              It should be noted that my “Agree” @ December 3, 2014 at 10:49 am was in response to what TJ posted at December 3, 2014 at 10:24 am. How Mike’s comment appears inbetween @ December 3, 2014 at 12:30 pm, I have no idea. As usual, Mike has no idea what he’s talking about on economic matters. Especially when, like here, he’s actually saying nothing at all.

  3. ajmacdonaldjr said, on November 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    There are also agents provocateurs in the crowds, whose purpose is to discredit an otherwise peaceful protest via destruction of property, arson, and violence against police. In this case, I think we have both agents provocateurs and criminal elements involved. These criminals, like the criminal Michael Brown, “honor” Brown by stealing property, as Brown did himself, shortly before he assaulted Officer Wilson and was shot to death. I have zero sympathy for Brown and anyone stupid enough to hitch their wagon of hope and change to Brown’s lost and pathetic criminal cause. In this case, I support the police and Officer Wilson. The Gospel of Michael Brown http://wp.me/pPnn7-2IL

  4. ajmacdonaldjr said, on November 27, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    • ronster12012 said, on November 29, 2014 at 10:22 am


      Speaking as an Aussie from 15000km away, I find the whole race issue in the US quite strange. If any white in the US made a video talking about killing blacks,hispanics, jews or anyone else, ‘jokingly’ or not I am sure there would be serious repercussions.

      So how can it be shrugged off so easily especially when blacks kill/rape a disproportionate number of whites? How can the victims(whites) be so accommodating? Don’t ‘race hate’ laws apply to non whites?

      Another question, Why can blacks call whites ‘crackers’ ‘whitey’ etc and all is cool but all hell breaks loose if a white person calls them a nigger, even though they are known to call each other that? Surely what is good for one is good for the other.

      It seems to me(and as an outsider I could be completely wrong so please feel free to correct me)that it is all about white guilt or at least the guilt that whites have been fed and have now internalised. If anyone was ‘guilty’ then it was solely the white slaveowners and of course the african slave sellers who originally captured and sold those slaves, not the average white american. It seems that the blacks(amongst others) have figured out that whites wallow in guilt and will never say no if they play the race card.

  5. ajmacdonaldjr said, on November 28, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    POLITICO – The Ferguson Fraud

    “The bitter irony of the Michael Brown case is that if he had actually put his hands up and said don’t shoot, he would almost certainly be alive today. His family would have been spared an unspeakable loss, and Ferguson, Missouri wouldn’t have experienced multiple bouts of rioting, including the torching of at least a dozen businesses the night it was announced that Officer Darren Wilson wouldn’t be charged with a crime.

    “Instead, the credible evidence (i.e., the testimony that doesn’t contradict itself or the physical evidence) suggests that Michael Brown had no interest in surrendering. After committing an act of petty robbery at a local business, he attacked Officer Wilson when he stopped him on the street. Brown punched Wilson when the officer was still in his patrol car and attempted to take his gun from him…”

    Read more: The Ferguson Fraud http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/11/ferguson-fraud-113178.html

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 28, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      If Wilson hadn’t stopped Brown, Brown would still be alive. While we now know that Brown had stolen some cigarillos, it does not seem that Wilson was even aware of the theft (though accounts vary). In the versions I have read, Wilson stopped Brown for walking in the street and then things escalated.

      Perhaps if Brown had put up his hands and said “don’t shoot” things would have ended differently. According to one witness, Brown did say he didn’t have a gun and was also out of melee distance from Wilson.

      You are right to note that Brown was no angel-he stole cigarillos openly. However, there is still the question of whether his killing was morally justified or not.

      It could have played out exactly how Wilson claimed-Brown engaged in what seems to be suicidal behavior (attacking a cop, daring the cop to shoot him, etc.). Or perhaps it played out differently, perhaps in a way that the shooting was not justified.

      The evidence is consistent with both, but not strong enough (as far as the known evidence goes) to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting was not justified.

      There is talk of a civil trial and a federal investigation, so we will perhaps see more about this matter.

      • ronster12012 said, on November 29, 2014 at 10:51 am


        Why all the fuss about Michael Brown being shot when there have been plenty of unarmed white people shot by police? So it seems that the response is all to do with skin colour, black….then obviously a grave injustice therefore rioting, looting, demos etc, and if a grand jury doesn’t agree with the mob then more of the same but if white then oh well, bad luck, let’s move on. So who are the oppressed ones then?

        • T. J. Babson said, on November 29, 2014 at 11:58 am

          It is all a circus with the top Dems as ringmasters. They purposely divide the country along the lines of race, sex, and ethnicity.

          • ronster12012 said, on November 29, 2014 at 12:34 pm


            The US may be something like Australia in this regard.Twenty or thirty years ago all sorts of anti discrimination laws were passed. Discrimination on ethnic, gender, religious, then sexual preference etc was supposedly outlawed. What those laws actually caused was discrimination, just different groups were discriminated against.
            Same goes for privacy laws…..everything is private except for govcorp which knows and spies everything!!

            • T. J. Babson said, on November 29, 2014 at 12:58 pm

              Everything is not perfect, but the U.S. has made incredible progress in eliminating institutionalized racism. Whatever racism still exists has gone underground and is hard to pin down.

              However, for some people it is always 1964. They want to keep reliving the triumphs of the civil rights movement again and again, like in the movie Groundhog Day.

              Why is it so hard for black leaders to come out and say that there is no excuse for rioting and looting?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 1, 2014 at 11:07 am

              Some do say that.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 1, 2014 at 11:00 am

          Police shooting white people bothers me as well. While there are justified shootings, it would certainly be better if the causes that result in the police being in shooting situations were addressed. One area that needs work is how the U.S. Handles mental health. Naturally, I do get the idea of personal responsibility, but circumstances can limit a person’s range of choices.

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