The "Stop Online Piracy Act", if passed, will allow "content owners" (studios, TV networks and record labels mainly) to order entire websites taken down if anybody posts "pirated content" there or even links to same. With so many videos being uploaded to Youtube and the like, monitoring or pre-approving videos is impossible and Google is on record as saying this bill will kill off Youtube completely. The existing piracy controls are bad enough: the "content owners" can issue take-down notices when they spot piracy, but as long as Youtube or the like takes the stuff down (barring a counter-notification), Youtube can't be held legally responsible. The classic role of the record companies going back to the first years of rock was to sign up a good bar band, lock 'em into a ghastly contract, get 'em radio time, promote the hell out of their album(s), get 'em concerts and pay them a relative pittance for the first few years. That was the norm. That norm is breaking down because via Youtube and the like, brand new artists can connect directly with their audiences. The artist makes more money off of google adsense than they would as an obscure act on a large label, they can sell direct on iTunes or the like and they also sell CDs directly. Via the tracking on Youtube for number of views they build proof of their audience - which leads to either concert gigs and/or a contract with a record label that doesn't rape them. This is exactly what Justin Beiber did. Here's some other examples - pay attention to the number of views: Ronald Jenkees  - almost 8 million hits on that one song and over a quarter mil subscribers to his channel. Andy McKee  - 42 million views! He's signed with a small label specializing in acoustic/folk, which is probably a much better deal than a major label. This sort of thing is pure poison if you're one of the execs at a big parasitic label. SOPA is how you stop it.

I've written before on the meaning of Romans 13, that chapter of the Bible which includes the admonition to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." That chapter does not mean that Christians are to be ultimately beholden to their governments. In context, it is an indictment against violence, and a statement about the duties of government. But today's church ignores this. Today's church is often a cheerleading platform for the state and the military as much as for God and for charity. The clearest examples of this are the flags which often stand behind the pulpit: the stars and stripes of the united states, and the Christian flag developed in the late 19th century. This represents a dangerous conflict of interest: are we to regard our allegiance to God as equal with our allegiance to the government? The traditional separation of the church from the state in this country serves not only to keep religious law from interfering with the laws of the land, but also to protect religions from the state. Remember, the early Puritans, the 'Pilgrims' of the Thanksgiving story, fled England to escape the British crown's oppression of their faith. While kings and governments are ordained and permitted by God, our universal submission to them is not; witness the children of Israel, resisting Pharaoh, and King Herod's fear and persecution of Jesus. When we stand the battle flag of our country in a church, we endorse an unholy union between the church and the state. No longer can we say...

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms willfully delivered firearms into the waiting hands of the Mexican drug cartels. You may speculate as to their reasons for doing so, but these activities were certainly illegal and immoral. Knowledge of this operation, called "Fast and Furious," reaches at least as high as the United States Attorney General's office, and therefore the current Attorney General, Eric Holder, should be made to answer for his wrongdoing. Holder is a Democrat, as could be expected in a Democrat's administration. This leads some Republicans to blame "the Democrats" for BATFE's wrongdoing. Arizona's SB1070 is perhaps the most racist piece of legislation authored so far in the 21st century. This bill allows unreasonable search and seizure without basis at the discretion of police officers. Arizona State Senate President Russel Pearce, recently removed from office in a recall election, was a lead sponsor of this bill. Pearce is a Republican, as might be expected in a state full of Republican voters. This leads some Democrats to blame "the Republicans" for Pearce's wrongdoing. George W. Bush was president during the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the first part of the latest market downturn, so these things are his fault, and by extension the fault of the Republican party. Barack Obama was president during the implementation of the latest bailouts, the NATO invasion of Libya, and the economically ridiculous "Cash for Clunkers" program, and so of course everyone who carries a (D) ought to be burned at the stake for those...

"Now something must be done about vengeance, a badge, and a gun"
-Zack de la Rocha
The picture above is probably the most powerful picture I have seen in a long time. As my mind dissected this picture, I had a thousand thoughts, and not one word. I had read the caption under the picture so I knew this young man's name was Scott Olsen. I know he is a 24 year old Marine Veteran, and he had served two tours in Iraq. This man is laying bleeding from his head in the arms of people he has probably never met. He has part of his military uniform on, perhaps a uniform he was issued. It looks like he has some kind of military pack on. The pack is splattered with blood, and his hair is matted into the blood on his forehead. This Marine is badly in need of medical attention. As this young man lay horizontally in the arms of strangers, his unbuttoned camouflage blouse had draped to either side of him. Under that blouse was a black undershirt with a white dove pictured on it. I stopped and focused on that dove for a minute. The photographer had managed to place it almost directly in the middle of the picture. My eyes were stuck on that dove as I wondered what events had taken place in his life that drove him to be an advocate for peace. Words can not accurately describe the power of this picture, so I won't even try. If it was up to me, one of these pictures would be handed out to every returning soldier with these two words, "welcome home." All of these thoughts quickly disappeared when I thought to myself, why is this man not on a stretcher? Why is this man being cared for in this manner? Why is he being carried around like this?
 Then I watched the video....
That is a War Zone.
Editor's note: Chris has a sense of serendipity, and has supplied another insightful essay while Bill and I are occupied at Libertopia. If you'd like to contribute an essay, please email them to kaiserleib@gmail.com. We may edit your essay for mechanics, but never for content. -KL
"No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck." ~Frederick Douglass
This essay is a follow-up to my last essay that was posted here at ZeroGov. I don't think I properly got my point across, and I do not want to appear as a man who does not take freedom seriously enough to take the time to explain how it would work. Please allow me this opportunity to explain myself a little further. I have read many books, essays, and such explaining how the people will have to be shown concrete alternatives to the state apparatus before they have the courage to abandon it. They will have to be shown how they would travel, and not just traveling by automobile, an explanation has to be given for air travel and air traffic control also. They need to be explained how they would receive justice in a free society, or shown examples of how justice has been handled in the past and present absent the state. Certainly the problem of pollution cannot be left up in the air when trying to explain why a free society would be better. These are only a few problems that exist now, and will undoubtedly exist in a voluntary society. Somehow we will have to show working alternatives to every one of these problems before the people throw off the shackles they have placed upon themselves. And this is the reason why we will fail at this monumental task of trying to explain freedom, although our minds are free, our bodies are not. We can build in our heads, but we lack the right to build with our hands. The abolitionists of the past did not know of companies like, John Deere, Kubota, or International Harvester. They would never witness the invention of the tractor and all of the wonderful implements that can be attached to them that make life on a farm so much easier. They would never witness the fabulous invention known as the internal combustion engine, or the introduction of hydraulic systems that make all of this technology possible. They were not concerned with any of this, they did not care about what would replace the slave; they only fought to end the horrible institution of chattel slavery. This is the root I was trying to strike with my last essay. I only wish to abolish slavery. I see something as wrong, I should not have to devise a working model as an alternative to this wretched practice. Is it not enough to expose the slavery in the system to get my fellow humans to throw off their shackles? Do I have to tempt them with new systems? Chattel slavery, although practiced for many, many centuries, is now seen as a horribly immoral institution. Slave owners of the past were not presented with cost benefit analysis, or return on investment sheets. The moral argument was presented, and it was supported with the fact that man is a self-owner, no matter the color of his skin. When comparing slavery and the state, some may think it's a bit over the top, or is meant to invoke emotion. I assure you that the comparison is accurate and correct. To be a self-owner, one needs to believe in self-ownership. If one believes in ownership, then one also believes in possession. Let me give you an example: let's say you find someone's keys in a parking lot, and you pick them up. At this time, you are in possession of the keys, but they are not yours. The owner comes along and makes a claim on his property; he can stake an ownership claim. You being the good and helpful person you are gladly hand this man his keys, because he is the true and rightful owner. Let's turn the tables, you have lost your keys, and you find a man in possession of them in a parking lot. As you approach this man you give him your gratitude for finding the lost set of keys, but instead the man runs away. He runs because he understands that you are the rightful owner, and he is merely in possession of the keys. It is not his property and he knows it. He is the wrongful owner.

Yet, clever people fall for far more dangerous ideas of the exact same form. In Philadelphia, a group of remarkably intelligent men came together to form a government. These men had seen full-grown governments before, had in fact just freed themselves from one. Yet here they were, feeding and nourishing a small baby government, playing with it, considering it so cute and adorable that they just had to have one. -Joshua Katz, "Don't Buy a Tiger" My previous piece was an attempt at a polite hatchet job on the OWS movement. That was hypocritical and wrong. I apologize, more to my friends who read it and agreed than to the OWS types who (like the rest of the world) remain largely unaware of the existence of ZeroGov. I stand by my criticism of the unfocused nature of the protests. I agree with the sentiment of frequent ZeroGov commenter mot, who wrote: "“They ask evil to protect them from evil….” That’s the old Biblical example of trying to cast out Beelzebub in the name of Beelzebub. It simply doesn’t happen." And I still oppose the sentiment of this young man and those like him who, rather than being upset that the fruits of their labor has been wrongly appropriated by those in power, instead demand a share of the spoils. But these protests are, so far, spontaneous order without coercion or force (although there are some disturbing omens that the will of the many might soon be imposed on the few). Until force is used, until laws are imposed...

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." -H. L. Mencken In the etymological sense, all societies are democracies. No government could remain in power, even with the support of the police and the military, if every citizen were simply to pick up a rock and throw it. Therefore, any government which remains in power has the tacit consent of the people, or at least a plurality of motivated people. It seems that the American government is losing this tacit consent. The Occupy Wall Street protests and the copycat movements across the country are evidence of that. These protesters are not a majority of the people. They are not a plurality of the people. They do, however, represent one majority opinion: that the nature of the present relationship between government and high finance is intolerable, and must be changed. The rest of the protesters' message is unclear, because it is unfocused. Polling would indicate that the protesters want more government regulation, but determining the nature of that regulation would be left to existing powers - leaving us exactly where we are now, albeit with shiny new lipstick on our pig of a financial system. And what of the wars, against "terrorism" and "drugs?" Have those been forgotten, or are the prison-industrial and military-industrial complexes simply a smaller threat to our well being than the undefined greed of the "1%"? The Occupy Wall Street movement is composed of people who have every reason to...

"You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments: rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws...."

~ John Adams

As I have mentioned before, I am an Auto Mechanic. As part of my job I test drive customer vehicles to verify a complaint, and to recheck my work when it's completed. The other Technicians I work with do the same thing, so when Law Enforcement has set up a speed trap, or are actively running radar in the area where most of us test drive, word spreads like wildfire. But this time was different.... My buddy walked down to me and explained to me that he had just got stopped by the cops. I thought to myself that he must have been speeding, or committed the heinous crime of rolling through a stop sign, or some other arbitrary traffic infraction so I asked him what he had done. He told me that he had done nothing wrong, but a roadblock had been set up, and he went through it. He told me that the road was blocked off in either direction, and they were stopping both sides of the road. He explained the roadblock was rather large, and it was a collaboration between Local and State Law Enforcement. I asked if any Military was present, he said no, but said they sure did look and act like the Military. He was not in his personal vehicle when they stopped him, and he was also wearing gloves.  Technicians wear gloves to protect themselves from chemicals, and other substances that could cause harm. He was asked to produce his license and registration. He pulled out his license, and held up the work order explaining to this Jackboot that this was not his vehicle.  He pointed to the Honda emblem on his shirt, and also pointed out the rest of his uniform.  The Officer then asked if there was anything in the van that he should know about. My buddy responded, again, that this was not his vehicle, and he has no idea what's in the van. The Officer then noticed that he was wearing gloves, and for some odd reason became very alarmed. The officer asked him why he was wearing gloves. He said it's for protection from oil, brake clean, and other harmful fluids in the shop. The officer then asked him if he was sure that was the reason he was wearing gloves. My friend, at this point puzzled, responded with yes. The Officer then took his license and work order and walked away. He came back in about two minutes and told him he was "cleared to leave". It's important to note that the armed State Employee who was busy interrupting the daily commerce of everyone who happened to drive down that road was concerned by my friend's uniform. How bizarre, an armed man standing in the middle of the road with the rest of his armed gang was alarmed my a man trying to fix this person's vehicle.

Foreign intervention is the pride of American policy. It has been our raison d'être for a century, beginning with the Spanish-American war in the late 1890s and continuing without meaningful interruption. The people of these united States are amenable to these constant entanglements, it seems, because our enlightened system of democracy allows us to decide what is best for the rest of the world. Our latest humanitarian effort is the destruction (and forthcoming rebuilding) of Libya. Our intervention in Libya is justified by international consensus, the dictator's evilness, access to natural resources, and perhaps the specter of weapons of mass destruction. For this reason it is different and more justified than our entanglement in Afghanistan, which was justified by international consensus, the Taliban's evilness, access to natural resources, and the bad acts of a wealthy Saudi; or our invasion of Iraq, which was justified by international consensus, the dictator's evilness, access to natural resources, and the specter of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Libya, I am told, is in Africa, a continent full of people who cannot be trusted with their own governance. This is obvious due to how poorly they've behaved themselves when conquered, ruled, armed and raped by Europeans. Furthermore, Africans are incapable of conducting successful revolutions without outside help; this is evidenced by the terrible situation in South Sudan. For this reason, it was absolutely necessary for the Western nations to render the rebels assistance against the Gadaffyduck regime, which had been previously armed by Western nations. After the...

The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass has released a statement in support of the economic stimulus activities undertaken this week in London. "Over the past three nights," said guild spokesman JM Keynes, "The brave young people of London have taken it upon themselves to guarantee the economic health of our city for years to come." Keynes went on to explain that the Glaziers expect a 10,000% increase in demand for new glass windows over the coming weeks, which will employ hundreds of new glassmakers, who are paid as much as six francs for each new window produced. Shopkeeper F Bastiat took a rather dimmer view of the stimulus package, citing its cost to his business. "Look here," he said, gesturing to his store's broken window. "They broke that, broke the door, came in and took things right off the shelves." Bastiat expects that his insurance will cover some of the damages, but that much of his inventory will be a total loss. "I had a year's profits tied up, just in what was on the shelves," he explained. "And some of it they just destroyed! This television was too heavy to steal, I suppose, so they just smashed it." Bastiat's selfishness, though, is not representative of most Londoners.  In addition to creating jobs and increasing private spending, the stimulus is providing an increased standard of living for some participants. "I got tones of stuff todayyyy!" explained one of the stimulus agents via twitter, " ...