Monthly Archives: February 2014

Let’s get rid of the Selective Service System

It has been 40 years since the United States has used a draft.  In fact, did you know that in 1975, registration for the draft was ended through executive order by President Ford?  No males had to register for the draft until July 1980 when the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan forced President Carter to re-institute the registration of all men aged 18-25.  We never used it in the 80s, and eventually the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.  Yet here we are almost 34 years later, and we still force virtually all males to register for a draft that will never happen.  It’s not just politically unlikely–it would require a good deal of investment and restructuring for the current all-professional US military to be able to handle an influx of draftees.  We are essentially throwing away the $24 million a year it takes to run the Selective Service System to maintain a database of names we cannot use.

Furthermore, there is no political interest group that wants a draft, and registration can be ended through executive order without any negotiating in Congress. This needs to happen now so we can focus on more pressing issues, but we might as well start with the easy stuff.  Sign the petition I made here.

If you’d like to read more about the Selective Service, read this.

The gay marriage debate is still missing something

This is something I wrote on my old blog almost four years ago:

August 6, 2010

Yesterday, a federal district judge deemed Proposition 8 in California unconstitutional. Social conservative groups were outraged and gay rights groups were jubilant.  In the case, Perry v Schwarzenegger, Judge Vaughn Walker found that Proposition 8 violated the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 5th and 14th Amendments.  What the Judge found essentially, is that there is a Federally protected right to marriage, that this right is fundamental and inalienable, and that therefore, no government, State or Federal, can abridge a right to marriage.  Does this make sense to libertarians?  I think so.  Everyone should have a right to marry whomever they choose, and governments should not have the power to stop consenting adults doing whatever they want as long as they don’t hurt others.

Opponents of gay marriage maintain that marriage is a traditional institution and a societal concept exclusively between a man and a woman. Gay marriage proponents say that people should have the freedom to do whatever they want, and that gays shouldn’t be second-class citizens with a different set of rights.  However, I think both miss a very important point: why do we have to register with the state to get married?  Doesn’t this strike anyone else as weird or creepy?  In 1984, citizens were married through the state as well.  Obviously, I don’t think we live in a 1984-type state, but the point remains.  Everyone seems to take it for granted that marriages should be registered with the government, but that makes no sense to me.

As Marc Eisner at Pileus states, “the government shouldn’t marry anyone” [emphasis added].  Because marriages certainly have some repercussions as far as property rights and such, I believe we could still have civil unions registered with the state for the purposes of tax returns and bank accounts. But I do think social conservatives have a small point in that marriage is traditionally a religious institution. Therefore, I think we should  separate it from the state completely.

Of course, this is very much a minority position, and most people continue to want state intervention into marriage, which will continue to cause problems and conflicts as people of different beliefs try to enforce their ideas of marriage on each other.

We’ve made great strides in the years since then, but again, after this most recent Virginia District Court ruling, I’m left saying the exact same thing as four years ago, as conservatives are once again horrified at the court’s ruling.  It is really weird to have to ask the state permission to get married. It should make all conservatives extremely uncomfortable, and much more uncomfortable than any step towards legalizing same-sex marriage.  But in the meantime, since we’re stuck having the government mediate marriage, I hope we can keep making it easier for everyone to live their lives how they want.  This is great news from Virginia, and inevitably more and more states are changing their stances on this issue.

Links for Tuesday, February 11

Here are the links I’ve tweeted about recently. Check them out:
We have really dumb protections on sugar imports in the US because those 4500 sugar growers know their politics
RT @emmakelly93: Why buying likes on Facebook not only costs you money but costs you likes from your target audience!
The Economist is all over this. You can be deported for pot violations 20 years ago. Makes no sense.
US Deportation and Border Patrol costs more than all other federal law enforcement combined
Bill Nye did an excellent job critiquing creationism, but should he have stooped so low as to debate at all?
Not so much an LGBT rights issue as a public schools issue @emmakelly93
RT @emmakelly93: 8 US states limit speech about homosexuality. Not quite as much as Russia, but still. #HomeOfTheFre…
Worst of the Month—January 2014, police shot a 90 pound, mentally-ill teen being held down by 2 officers via @NPMRP

Copyright needs Reform

You are reading an article whose copyright will expire in over a century.  Given the life expectancy of an American male born in 1992, I’m scheduled to exit the scene sometime around 2070-2075.  70 years after that, my copyrights will expire, meaning you will be free to incorporate this article into a movie or perhaps a 3D hologram, sometime around 2140.  Of course, that assumes copyright law won’t change in the intervening 130 years.  History seems to indicate otherwise, as 130 years ago, my copyright would have only lasted 56 years, which suggests my copyright might not expire until 2170, or maybe even 2200!

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The Diamond Age

Neal Stephenson’s 1995 novel The Diamond Age is a fascinating story which provides a lot of relevant discussion about the conflicts between east-Asian and western values, especially in education and social issues.  Additionally vital to book is the advanced technological setting, a future of eartch future revolutionized by nanotechnology.  In fact, for much of the book, the exploration of this nanotechnological future was at least as interesting as the plot.

Use of this book for discussion purposes qualifies as Fair Use. Click for link.

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