Archive for March, 2007

 This I Believe

This essay began as a manifesto of sorts. Inspired by National Public Radio‘s series This I Believe, I thought it might be worthwhile and instructive to actually try to record my beliefs in writing. I’m not sure that I will actually submit this to the radio show, since I don’t think this can be trimmed down to meet their three-minute time limit, but I hope it will still be useful to some and might spur discussion.

I believe that I have an obligation to myself, my children and my fellow human beings to find truth in this life and pass it along. Here is what I believe and what I intend to teach my offspring about how they should live their lives, and how they should expect to be treated by others.

My belief system consists of three principles:

  1. All Men Are Created Equal
  2. The Initiation of Force Is Immoral
  3. You Have the Right To Do Whatever You Want, Unless or Until It Infringes Upon the Rights of Another To Do the Same

 Cops Are Criminals, Scalpers Are Fine

Yesterday the Post Dispatch reported on ten St. Louis cops who are under investigation for… well, no one seems to be sure what they did wrong. Except for me, of course.

They allegedly used World Series tickets last fall that had been confiscated as evidence from so-called scalpers, and then returned the tickets to evidence after attending the game. The Post Dispatch reports, “As the department considers discipline, legal minds ponder what crime might have been committed, and who the victim might be.”

This is actually a very realistic approach, and I think I’ll use it. Let’s identify the victim first, and that should tell us what crime was committed. Let’s start with the person who was selling his tickets outside the stadium. Some people call them scalpers because they think they have a natural human right to attend baseball games for what they think is a reasonable price. In reality, they have a right to freely contract, just like every other human — including the one selling the tickets.

Scalping is not a crime, because there is no victim. Both the seller and the buyer enter into the transaction voluntarily, and they both mutually benefit from it (or presumably they wouldn’t go through with it). No one’s rights are violated, and both parties get what they want. To put it simply, there is no crime.

Once you look at the story from this perspective, it is easy to see who the victim was: the person or person(s) who had their property stolen by police under color of law. What the police did with the stolen property after the fact is irrelevant — the crime had already been committed.

But, of course, you won’t hear anyone at the Post Dispatch report on that. They’ll ask the question, who is the victim? But they don’t really want to know the answer.

 Craigslist

I finally took the plunge and upgraded from my 802.11b wireless router to the faster 802.11g. But this isn’t really a review of this new piece of hardware, since it is virtually identical to the old one. This is more about the reason I chose to upgrade at this particular time. One word: craigslist.

I found this router on craigslist for $40. Which is quite a bit cheaper than anywhere else online, and even cheaper than Sam’s. Sure it’s used, but who cares? There aren’t any moving parts to wear out, so as long as it works, it doesn’t matter.

My own price point for this item was $40, and I had been checking on and off for quite a while (since before Christmas) and my patience was finally rewarded. Craigslist may be a better deal for the sellers than the buyers — it’s not eBay, where you are guaranteed to find any item on Earth — but if you’re not in a big hurry for something, it is usually a great deal. The sellers are all local, so you are going to get to see the item before you buy it, just like retail stores, and of course there is no shipping because you have to go pick it up.

The same holds true for many other items, furniture for instance. We’ve been lucky to find some great deals on used furniture, and it’s all stuff that we probably couldn’t afford to buy new, but if it’s still in decent shape, it really doesn’t matter that it’s not brand new.

If you haven’t checked out Craigslist yet, give it a shot. If you are patient, and have reasonable expectations about what you will get, you will be glad you did.