Quick Roundup 372

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Can I Abstain from Endorsing?

Myrhaf recently endorsed abstaining during the next presidential election. Diana Hsieh and Craig Biddle also recommend abstention.

My position was probably closest to Diana's until a few days ago. As she put it, "McCain is particularly revolting. So if I vote for anyone, I'll vote for Obama. He's beyond awful, but I have some reason to hope that he'll be ineffectual."

But the more I learn about Obama, particularly with the prospect of his party gaining an iron grip on Congress, the more frightening that prospect looks to me. In particular, I'm hearing more and more about the possibility that the "Fairness" Doctrine will be reimposed.

Now we have two candidates who have demonstrated hostility to freedom of speech, the original reason I said I could not vote for McCain. There remains the matter of it being better to have an actual socialist (rather than a professed or assumed pro-capitalist) being the one to impose such laws, so I can see there being an argument to vote for Obama, but it increasingly looks like my freedom will be at the tender mercies of chance no matter who wins. I am losing sleep over what the next few years might bring. Everything I love is going to be under active attack after Bush, who has started things early with his "bailout", leaves office.

The prospect of voting for either man is extremely revolting to me.

I walked past a line full of ne'er-do-wells the other day at the grocery store and noticed that they were there for early voting. (And I just now recall several odd encounters with people trying to strike up conversations with me out of the blue over high food prices during previous trips to the same store. Suddenly, all this makes sense to me now.) Leftists whine all the time about people too lazy to show up to vote being "disenfranchised". At the risk of sounding like one of them, it is I who have been disenfranchised this time around.

Thus the struggle to restore individual rights begins against the ironic backdrop of a line that includes many black voters who will be casting ballots for a black Presidential candidate -- who wants to impose slavery on everyone.

I am beginning to wonder whether the very act of voting in this election risks lending moral sanction to an obscene pretense.

The Problem with Licensing

Brian Phillips has posted an interesting piece against state-mandated licensing over at Houston Property Rights Live Oaks:

[L]icensing is nothing more than legalized thuggery. Coercion is used to prevent entry into a profession and impose higher costs on consumers. If a contractor beat up a competitor at the paint store he would be charged with battery. If he took money from a customer he would be charged with theft. The nature of his actions do not change simply because he uses government coercion in the form of licensing as his proxy.
This is in addition to the fact that it fails to achieve its alleged purpose, the protection of consumers from incompetents.

Licensing may have affected me personally, as the spouse of a physician. Because my wife, a medical resident, spent time performing basic research between licensing exams, she would have faced review due to the amount of time between her exams by a board for one of the residencies she had been looking at.

There was no way to have this decision made before she started her residency. Since an unfavorable decision could have potentially ended up causing her to be arbitrarily kicked out of her residency, she had to take this threat to her career into account when she ranked the schools she interviewed. One could argue that in our case, (assuming she would have ranked this program higher than her current one) licensing caused our cost of living to be dramatically higher for the next several years than it might otherwise have been.

A Viral Phenomenon

Some time ago, after several fruitless hunts at airports for wireless Internet connections, I googled "free public wi-fi" and found the following very interesting article:
While on vacation last month, I kept spotting "Free Public WiFi" ad-hoc nodes wherever I went, particularly in airports.

Finally, my wife mentioned that she was in her office building the other, opened her notebook looking for connectivity and saw "Free Public WiFi". She connected to it, but was unable to get anywhere.

So what are these things? In doing a search, I found some references in security-related discussion groups to the phenomenon, and lots of instances of people spotting these, even on airplanes. But didn't see what I was afraid I'd find -- that this is some kind of virus or spyware that sets up an ad hoc network as a trap.

It appears to be a manifestation of a feature of Windows that I wrote about earlier this year. When Windows connects to a network, it retains that network's name, or SSID, then broadcasts its as an ad hoc network, essentially inviting a connection. You can find more details here. Microsoft has said it will fix this in the next XP service pack; it's unclear if Windows Vista behaves this way.

So why do you see so many of these? My theory: It's viral, but not a virus!
I once even spotted one of these nodes during a flight....

-- CAV


: Corrected name of Brian Phillips' blog, which he renamed today. (It will remain Houston Property Rights in the sidebar until the next time I do a batch of template edits.)


Mover Mike said...

Maybe, it's time to stop voting for the lesser of two evils and vote our conscience. At least we can be true to ourselves.

Gus Van Horn said...

This election is as close to being asked whether I would rather be shot point-blank from the left side of my skull or the right as I care to get. There is no rational way I can see to even tell what the lesser of two evils is here. My point is that this isn't a choice in any meaningful sense.

So the only way to be true to oneself here is not to help anyone pretend that this is a real choice now, and to work to make better choices available later.

Clay said...

Yes, the free public wifi thing is a harmless virus. once you click on it, you've got it and pass it along to the next person who clicks on it, while retaining it yourself.

Gus Van Horn said...

No. Not a virus.... A feature!

Sorry, couldn't resist!

Joseph Kellard said...

Gus, I agree with you 100 percent:

"I am beginning to wonder whether the very act of voting in this election risks lending moral sanction to an obscene pretense."


"So the only way to be true to oneself here is not to help anyone pretend that this is a real choice now, and to work to make better choices available later."

I'm abstaining from voting for president for exactly the reasons you cite.

Gus Van Horn said...

That's what I am going to do. My decision is made easier by the fact that McCain will probably carry Texas by such a wide margin that exercising the other option (i.e., voting for Obama) would probably make no difference.

Having yet another blank-at-the-top ballot (assuming that these are counted here) and, more important, explaining why I refused to vote, are the best way to go here. (This does not resolve the dilemma for people in very close states.)

Anonymous said...

I wish there was a "None of the above" option. Some states and local governments have this feature in place, and if it receives the majority of votes, the election is repeated with a new set of candidates.

Gus Van Horn said...


What an interesting, if futile option, replacing the candidates!

It's sort of like term limits: It tries to fix the electoral symptom without addressing the cultural disease that causes a lousy pool of candidates in the first place.


For some reason, your comment, obviously in reply to this post, wound up here.