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Journal Journal: Buy Nothing Day 1

I was browsing the post on Best Buy and Black Friday prices and inevitably was drawn into one of those perennial debates about the value of Buy Nothing Day. For those unfamiliar with the term, it's an effort by concerned citizens to reduce the bevy of materialism that dominates the holiday ('holy day') season in America by refusing to shop on the "biggest shopping day of the year," the Friday after Thanksgiving.

One user remarked that this was dumb (broke and hippie), because it won't accomplish anything and it will hurt the economy. He went on to describe how materialism has made us rich in America.

I wrote back for two reasons. One, I don't think Buy Nothing Day has anything to do with whacko ideas. I see it as a move in the direction of moderation, juxtaposed with the excesses of 364 other days of consumerism. I also contest the value of supporting the economy. For all the material goods and increased standard of living in America since World War II (the true era of mass consumption), people are actually LESS HAPPY than they were fifty years ago.

In other words, that old saw about money and happiness is true and perhaps it's worth taking a day off from the futile consumerist race to contemplate what in life is really worthwhile.

For more on Buy Nothing Day, check out their homepage at

User Journal

Journal Journal: Liberal media is the free market at work

A note to the members of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" on their theory of the "liberal/gay/Jewish media."

Has it ever occurred to you that in the free market of ideas that media represents, the reason there are many "liberal" media outlets is that more people want them? You don't seem to have much of a problem with right-wing dominance of talk radio...

While there is always some bias in news (objectivism is a ridiculously unattainable principle), at least the "liberal" mainstream media supports journalistic principles and codes of ethics. I don't recall Rush agreeing to any such thing.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Defeating spam through capitalism? 2

I'm starting to get frustrated with the recurring Slashdot discussion about spam. Inevitably some folks offer their filtering solutions, others talk about recent political changes empowering users, and there's always a free marketer or two saying that the solution is in the "vote with your dollar" principle (i.e. if you don't buy, then their business will die).

Obviously, there is a sufficiently large market to support spam, because otherwise they'd have to find something else to do to pay the bills. Therefore, individual effort is futile because by resisting the purchase you merely put one person of millions into the "no sale" column.

The alternative is to organize, politically or culturally. Political organizing to pass laws to regulate spam would at least be symbolically successful, even if legislation failed to produce reasonable enforcement. Cultural organizing, such as networking or boycotting might work, but is substantially more difficult, because nonparticipants are the problem and they won't necessarily want to sign up with you.

The part that makes me angry is the general application of the "vote with your dollars" principle that is used to ridicule boycotts, government regulation, and unions all in the same breath. The invisible hand, some ideologues would claim, regulates all aspects of the market. Therefore, you can individually vote with your dollars and successfully ensure living wages, a clean environment, and good healthcare by shopping at stores and buying brands who practice these things well. Ha!

Obviously, the disconnect between public opinion on these issues (vast support for) and the lack of actual success might suggest that the free market needs a tweak. But heaven forbid we use government (damn bureaucrats), consumer organizing (silly and ineffective), or union organizing (messing with the free labor market) to accomplish any of these. No, the market must reign supreme, even if it utterly fails to produce great wealth while protecting things we value. Damn the economic libertarians.

User Journal

Journal Journal: My Webpage

For those of you daring enough to access my webpage, there is a fairly significant caveat. I initially created the page in 1998 and it has evolved slowly over time. For the historical record, I've left most of the original comments, opinions, and philosophical ramblings intact. This means that the political views expressed do represent my opinion, but not necessarily my current worldview as it has evolved. In other words, please take it with a grain of salt, feel free to comment, and engage in good philosophical thought or discussion--the point of sharing it in the first place.
"In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith." - J. William Fulbright
User Journal

Journal Journal: A foe!

I added my first foe today for being a rabid 2nd Amendment booster. To educate this poor sap, I have included a little piece I wrote several years ago below:

The two important phrases in this controversial amendment are "well-organized militia" and "common defense." Individuals fulfill neither of these requirements for rights to bear arms, unless they are involved in law enforcement or the armed forces. The Supreme Court, which hasn't ruled on the Second Amendment since 1934, last stated that the individual interpretation is not the correct one.[1] Since the National Rifle Association, its members, and the people it represents are all individual owners of firearms, they have no real constitutional protection for their claims to gun rights and should recognize the use of sensible legislation for the common defense of citizens. Indeed, all other rights guaranteed in the Constitution (read First Amendment) are subject to reasonable regulation; firearms shouldn't be any kind of exception.[2]

[1]Ray Rivera, "Guns Have A Long History In The United States," The Salt Lake Tribune, (8/15/99),
[2]Daniel D. Polsby, "Second reading: treating the Second Amendment as normal constitutional law," (reprinted from 'Reason,' March 1996), Current (June 1996 n383 p3(5))

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Journal Journal: Yeah, I'm important!

Excellent! By becoming someone's foe, I finally have made my name at Slashdot. I matter to more than myself, he he he.

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