Thank You, Gubment, For Protecting Me From My Allergies

I suffer from allergies; namely dust, mold, and pet dander. I’ve been on immunotherapy (allergy shots) for over 5 years with great success. However, I have found additional relief in OTC drugs, one of which is Claritin-D. A small part (5 mg) of the pill is Loratadine which acts as an antihistamine. But the majority is pseusophedrine sulfate (120 mg) which is a decongestant (the D in Claritin-D). If you’ve watched even one episode of Breaking Bad, you know that pseudophedrine is a key ingredient in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. Because of this, there are federal and state laws in place to regulate how much a person may buy in an attempt to control illicit production.

In a classic example of unintended consequences, though, I join a group of people whose health concerns have taken a backseat to the warring crusade against drugs. As the social conservatives clutch their pearls, I am told that a runny nose is a small price to pay to ensure that little Timmy is never offered a crack pipe on the playground after school. The state will never see me sneeze, or attempt to plug my leaking dam of a nose with kleenex; much less, recognize the epicenter I live near. No, what they saw was a dimwitted Jesse Pinkman wander into his local Kroger in an attempt further destroy the moral core of this country.

I don’t use meth – never have, never will. And I’ve never cooked it – never have, never will. And despite my convictions that it’s a dumb thing to do, it’s not in my right to tell you what to do, or to use coercive means to obtain a desired result. While I don’t have hard numbers – if X is the number of meth cooks stopped by this legislation, and Y is the number of allergy patients who benefit from the sinus clearing capability of pseudophedrine – then I bet you dollars to doughnuts, Y > X any day of the week.

So praise to be to the Controlled Substances Act and the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act! And in addition, all related Kentucky state level legislation. In their absence, a less oxygen deprived man would be typing to you today.

pseudo

Bias: It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

bias /ˈbaɪ əs/ noun – a particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned

Bias. While it is not a word exclusive to politics, the political realm is where it is tossed out the most. Used to describe news channels, pundits, politicians and more, “bias” has become a vulgar epithet intended to discredit the opposition. But if you read through the provided definition, there is nothing inherently negative about “tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion.” It is very much subjective and dependent on the person using it.

Recently, I was happy to learn about Ford’s announcement of the production of the Focus RS for their 2016 model line up. This innocuous statement displays my own bias. While I don’t claim to be a library of knowledge on the history of automotive racing, I know enough (on that, among other things) that this simple statement sparked my excitement. The “RS” moniker, for most manufacturers, means “Rally Sport.” Rallying is a fast paced and exciting form of off road racing utilizing high horsepower turbocharged 4- and 5-cylinder engines, performance suspension, and all wheel drive transmissions. While this car isn’t ready to race from the factory, it will be half-way there if similar vehicles are any indication of the Focus’ competition. Combined with a working knowledge of the partnership between Ford and the legendary Cosworth in the racing world, my biased opinion is that the Focus RS will be quite the pocket rocket and find its way to my garage – hopefully, some day soon.

That’s all that bias is. I heard a statement, compared it against what I know or assume to be true, and formed an opinion. I’m sure someone is out there who completely disagrees with me based on their own biased opinions, and that is perfectly ok! Disagreement encourages research and discussion. The result of which is progress that benefits everyone. How boring would be if everyone blindly agreed to everything? What if everyone was ok with walking everywhere? Someone had to say, “I disagree! I want to travel faster!” Animals were then harnessed and carriages built. And in the last century, the development and refinement of the automobile. What awesome stuff!

Particularly in the political realm, how did bias come to have such a negative, derogatory implication? Your guess is as good as mine. And it’s not just negative or derogatory. In context, it is used to convey that something is objectively wrong or incorrect. It happens all over the spectrum:

“You’re free to use any news source except Fox because they’re too biased.”

“Typical HuffPo bias…”

“Apparently Fox is running a story on reporting bias in media. Talk about irony.”

“Leave it to MSNBC to talk about their own biases than report facts.”

All of these are examples that I’ve personally seen or heard. Particularly in the first example (a former professor of mine at UK, by the way), bias is used to imply that Fox is objectively and measurably wrong. Are they? It depends on who you ask. I am neither defending nor condemning Fox News. The same can be said for MSNBC in the last comment.

We rely on news channels because – let’s be honest – we’d rather get reports on ISIS in the comfort of our homes than hunkered down behind a wall in Syria, avoiding AK47 gun fire. We expect the news channels to present things clearly, truthfully, and objectively. However, as demonstrated above and especially in light of the Brian Williams fiasco, we know that this doesn’t always happen. International stories, violent incidents, political policies, and even local reporting can incite a range of emotions, reactions, and discussions. Attempting a discussion amongst the static from the Godwins and Poes of the internet can be equally unnerving.

The point is… It’s not about whether or not a news source is objectively correct; it’s about recognizing that A) the anchors, reporters, executives, etc. have their own opinions that will inevitably ooze into the segments and B) every single person on the planet is guilty of confirmation bias. We hate being told when we’re wrong or having to admit when we’re wrong. It’s human nature. Some of us handle it better, but overall, we hate it because it’s uncomfortable. In an attempt to minimize that, we seek out information that reaffirms our beliefs. This is confirmation bias. Re-read the previous examples and you’ll recognize it. Anytime you hear someone say something along the lines of “I like MSNBC (Fox) because it’s honest reporting – unlike Fox (MSNBC) which is too biased for me.” It’s not about honesty – it’s about someone authoritative (an adjective sometimes used for news anchors) sharing a similar opinion as truth. This is why the left prefers Maddow, the right prefers Limbaugh, and libertarians (like me) prefer Stossel.

After the Trayvon Martin incident, there was *a lot* of speculation and interpretation. Even a court trial can only do so much. During the ordeal, I kept saying, “Only three people know for a fact what happened that night: Trayvon, Zimmerman, and God. One is dead, one has testified, and the other is choosing to sit out for some reason. All we know after that is what is presented.” Enter – biased news anchors, and with them, their interpretations and opinions. Where would we be without them? Like I said before, someone has to say “I disagree” and present their evidence to the contrary. It’s with that evidence of the contrary that changes are made – progress is made – innovation is bestowed upon us. People dig and provide details that weren’t initially presented.

And we’re all better off – and better informed – because of it.

Further Reading: Hostile Media Effect

Oh yeah….

Before someone asks…

Here’s your meme:

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Je suis Charlie? What about Je suis Michael Moore?

Please read this in its entirety before you send hate mail.

The past few days have been a whirlwind around the globe, particularly in regards to free speech rights. Not even two weeks ago, gunmen stormed the offices of the French satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo. They claimed to be members of a Yemen based Al-Qaeda group, and stated the attack was a defensive act against the publication’s depictions of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. A few days later, several world leaders along with millions of protesters joined in Paris to demonstrate their unity for free speech. Gathered under the moniker “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), the rally was supposed to stand in defiance of violent retaliation to unpopular speech. A demonstration that, for lack of a better phrase, was complete and utter bullshit.

Why?

Because not long after this gathering, French police arrested a comedian over a Facebook post about the attack. On top of that, this eagle eye identified numerous people among the demonstrators who are also guilty of the same speech persecution the rally claimed to be against – including the lone U.S. representative, Eric Holder. Furthermore, Americans were upset that the U.S. didn’t have a bigger presence because our narrative of “liberty and justice for all.” Considering we’re the same country that targeted particular political interest groups, I’d say we had no fucking business at all participating. Our involvement in that rally, or lack thereof, was probably the most honest thing Washington has ever done.

On a completely unrelated note, ultra left wing filmmaker Michael Moore came under fire for his Twitter remarks about military snipers – assumed to be a response to the movie, American Sniper. He later explained his comments; stating that they had nothing to do with the new Bradley Cooper movie, which he even praised. His comments were more personal commentary on the concept of a sniper in a military conflict due to personal reasons involving his uncle in World War II.

What the hell do these situations have in common? Freedom of speech, obviously. More specifically, what freedom of speech is and what it isn’t, and the public’s response. Speech is a natural right. It is an innate concept from our birth, and continues to be present as we grow and develop – building our language, vocabulary, dialect, etc. Despite popular opinion, is it not bestowed upon us by a government, state, or agent or representative of those bodies. In terms of the United States, carefully read the First Amendment and you will see that it does not grant the freedom of speech, but rather states that Congress shall not infringe upon it:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The artists at Charlie Hebdo who drew the illustrations of Muhammad were well within their right to do so. Was it “culturally insensitive,” and kind of a dick move? Sure. Are people free to express their displeasure? Absolutely. I’m not a Muslim but I can understand why someone would be upset. Personally, I have no boundaries. I’m drawn to profane and insensitive humor (like that of Daniel Tosh, Anthony Jeselnik, George Carlin, Bill Hicks, and liberty loving Doug Stanhope). However, no matter how crass, rude, and inappropriate their animations were…

THEY DID NOT DESERVE TO DIE!

What does this have to do with Michael Moore’s comments? Of the public outrage in response to his comments, there is a common theme of, “he should be sent overseas and made to endure what our military snipers endure – THEN he would change his mind.” In other words, he should be taken against his will (he obviously has no desire to go to the Middle East or he would have gone already) and put in a dangerous situation in order to change his mind to a more favorable opinion. Let that sink in for a moment. People are not only upset, but they want to use the threat of violence in order to get a desired result. This is called coercion. And since opinions on the military fall into the political realm, using coercive force to achieve a particular political goal is the textbook definition of terrorism. Now…

I am not referring to people upset with Michael Moore as terrorists.

Bolded for emphasis. I am not name calling or making accusations. While I haven’t seen any direct calls for violence, what I have seen are suggestions of him being placed in a dangerous situation to encourage him to change his mind. While desires for violence are not the same as committing violence, it is a very dangerous line to walk along. A line, that if crossed, comes with consequences because now you are infringing upon another person’s life and safety. Perhaps what is even more disturbing is that some of these people were hashtagging Je suis Charlie just a few weeks ago. The situation of free speech doesn’t change just because the sacred cow changes. The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were well within their right to make their illustrations. Michael Moore is also within his right to make his comments. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you’re free from criticism. You must endure any social consequences. But violence is not a legitimate response.

I fucking hate Michael Moore. He is a scumbag. He can take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut for all I care. He is so insignificant to me, that I don’t even have an opinion on his statements. You’re free to feel however you want about him. You can hate him all you want. You are free to call him a fat fuck, shit stain, clit blister for all I care. What you are not free to do, however, is commit a violent infraction against him.

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em!

On Thursday, November 13, Lexington City Council added e-cigarettes (commonly known as vapes) to its already existing indoor smoking ban. Heeding to outcries of public health concerns, the City Council extended the idea that we citizens lack the competence and capability to make decisions regarding our health and property. Some are quick to argue the case for public health. To paraphrase a famous Vulcan, the need of fresh air to many is more important than the desire for clouds to a few. There is a host of fallacious arguments and rationale in the passing of this legislature though.

Individuals & Subjective Value

First and foremost, is the idea of the “public” being a singular collective unit; that the loudest voices dictate movement and control. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is, the public is made up of individuals. Individuals with their own names, identities, dreams, hopes, desires, needs, and wants. Frequently, these needs and wants overlap. This is how different social groups form. People who find Idea A more important than Idea B huddle together, and vice versa. Even more, these groups are not mutually exclusive. Person A can have 99.9% similar interests as Person B. Statistically speaking, any outlying differences are negligible and these people are one and the same. But because of subjective value, the 0.1% difference that separates Person A from Person B is viewed with different levels of importance. What is a mountain to one may be a mole hill to another.

Subjective value is exactly what you think it is. The value we, as individuals, put on an object, idea, place, etc. is different for every person because of the aforementioned needs and wants. It is completely separated from monetary price. Picture, if you will, a Lamborghini Aventador. Beautiful futuristic, and aerodynamic, styling. More horsepower than a bluegrass pasture. A stunning engineering marvel. The base price of this machine is just under $400,000. That number is objective, though it may change over time due to depreciation. It’s the same price regardless of who approaches it. But what is the VALUE of this vehicle? How much value would a family of five put on this? Considering its very low daily driver usability, the family of five may not put much value on said vehicle (except, maybe to sell it and collect the money for a more appropriate vehicle like a minivan). What about the value placed on it by, say, Bruce Wayne? Being a billionaire with money to spend, Bruce probably places great value on the machine as a means of pleasure and enjoyment. This is subjective value. 

What does this have to do with an e-cig ban? Much like the Lamborghini, people value the presence of e-cigs in businesses differently, as both business owners and customers. The bar owner, in an attempt to appeal to the “smoking” crowd, may find it advantageous to allow e-cigs in their establishment. The profit gain is valued more than any perceived health risks (or the profit gain offsets the health risks). Who might value the absence of e-cigs? What about family practitioners, yoga studios, or other health-oriented businesses? Wouldn’t these places possibly forbid the presence of e-cigs in the building regardless of legislature? That is the subjective value of the business owners. What about the subject value of the consumers? Instead of voting in polls on officials who will often make decisions that do no please everyone, consumers vote a different way: they “vote” as customers, casting dollars instead of ballots. This is why libertarians prefer market action over government action. With government action, there is always a guaranteed loser. And that loser is the minority of an election. In a free market, people are free to pursue their interests because of the presence of multiple businesses, and there is no “one size fits most” model. If there is no such business in place to appeal to a certain demographic, then people are free to start one. The customer benefits by having a demand for a need or want satisfied, which in turn enhances their quality of life. They value the product or service more than they value the money required to obtain it. Bruce Wayne values a Lamborghini in his garage more than he values $400,000 in his bank account, for example. The person(s) who start the business receive monetary gain from the sale of the product or service. This monetary gain enhances the quality of their life because it enhances their economic freedom; they now have the capital means to pursue their own needs and wants. This snowball effect is how capitalism raises the standard of quality for all people involved. This idea has been discussed numerous times by other professionals in the field, and will be mentioned again in later posts of mine.

Property Rights

Whenever a proposed ban is introduced, the word “rights” gets thrown around by a lot of people. In this case, with the e-cig ban, there are three main groups claiming rights infringement:

  1. The rights of the people who use e-cigs
  2. The rights of the people who wish to breathe air that is free of e-cig vapor
  3. The rights of the business owners who are affected by the ban

So who has proper claim to their rights? First, we establish that there are two different kinds of rights: positive rights and negative rights. These have nothing to do with the conventional definitions of positive and negative, or good and bad. Instead, they describe an obligation to action or inaction. A positive right requires action to be made by someone else. In the legal system, these are usually referred to as entitlements. When someone claims a right to food, shelter, or healthcare, this is an example of a positive right. Someone must act to provide the food, shelter, or healthcare. A negative right is the right to inaction; to not be subject to the actions of another person. If I say “I have the right to pursue (blank),” what I am referring to is the pursuit of whatever idea, object, or service I desire. I have the right to make an attempt. No one else has the right to stop me from making an attempting. Dr. Aeon Skoble, professor of philosophy at Bridgewater State University, does a much better job of explaining this concept.

For the e-cig users, they own their e-cigs. That’s their property. As such, they are free to pursue usage of their property. Thus, they’re in the clear. For the non-users, they are free to pursue businesses whose air is free from the vapor. No one has to supply it. Thus, they are in the clear as well. Business owners, like the e-cig owners, are free to pursue whatever they like with their property. If they want, they can allow e-cig usage on their property or forbid it. They, too, are also in the clear. So whose rights trump whose? It ultimately goes to the business owners. They own the property and premises (or rent and use within the binding terms of their lease) while customers are merely passing through. It is no different than someone having rules and guidelines for their personal house. They own the house. They call the shots. The same is true for a business. If a person invites you to their house, and one of the conditions of that visit is that you don’t smoke in the house, yet you light up anyways, what’s going to happen? You’ll be asked to stop, leave, or will be forcibly removed. This logic holds true for businesses. When you go into Kroger, it is implied that you are there to purchase food goods. If you begin throwing produce on the ground and destroying it, what is going to happen? The produce is the product of Kroger. They own it until a customer agrees to pay the desired price. When you destroy that, you destroy property AND potential profit gain. You’ll be asked to leave, if not arrested for property damage. In the case of Lexington’s City Council ruling, business owners are allowed to do whatever they want with their property – EXCEPT allow the usage the e-cigs. This turned the negative right of patrons pursuing cleaner air at a business into a positive right. It dictates that someone else (in this case, business owners) must take action in order to provide the clean air. This infringes on not only the rights of the business owner to provide an e-cig friendly establishment, but also the e-cig users who normally would have entered a business agreement with the aforementioned e-cig friendly business owners.

Enter market action again. All three groups could easily co-exist. If e-cig users value the e-cigs that much, they can “vote with their dollars” at businesses that allow e-cigs or other vapor devices. If non-users value vapor free air that much, they can “vote with their dollars” at businesses that forbid e-cigs. If there is truly a public health concern over e-cigs (like lobbyists claim), then the business that forbid it will thrive and the others will not. That is the flip side of property rights: you are free to do with your property whatever you wish. You are not free from the economic consequences as a result of those decisions.

Unseen Consequences

For my final critique, I’m enlisting the help of Henry Hazlitt. Mr Hazlitt was a prolific figure in Austrian theory economics, contributing to such publications as The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and The New York Times, and writing numerous books and articles. His most famous work would have to be Economics In One Lesson. It is a fantastic, short, easy to read book that lays out economic lessons in such a way that anyone, of any discipline, can easily understand. To jump ahead, and offer as a spoiler, I refer to the lesson as suggested by the title, which is:

The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

To paraphrase, any economic action has both seen and unseen consequences, for intended and unintended groups. Majority of the time, when a governing body seeks to make a ruling similar to what has transgressed with the Lexington City Council, the elected officials only see the obvious effects and the obvious targets. In this case, the target was business owners and the effect was to appease the demands of the anti e-cig lobby. “Our intent was not to put anyone out of business,” says Vice Mayor Linda Gorton (from the article). While it might be a stretch to say that this will put people out of business, what about unintended consequences though? This is difficult, perhaps even impossible, to measure because it involves what could have been. From the article:

Bill Anderson at Precision Vapor on Southland Drive, said business has been growing. Precision Vapor was the first electronic cigarette store in Lexington when it opened two years ago. Now there are at least a half-dozen stores dedicated solely to electronic nicotine-delivery systems in Fayette County.

Anderson said he hasn’t heard whether e-cigarette stores are exempt under the ban that prohibits smoking in workplaces that are open to the public. But if tobacco stores are exempt, electronic cigarette stores should be as well, he said.

First off, this legislation was passed just last Thursday and already e-cig suppliers are worrying about the future of their businesses. Preliminary assumptions indicate that they should be safe. Emphasis on should. Unintended consequence #1: possible lost sales and/or possible lost businesses in the e-cig industry. This is especially damning considering the emphasis put on small businesses and the “buy local” tendency of Lexington citizens. Feel free to start to a business! Just hope that busybodies don’t find some hidden “hazard” whilst, at the same time, blatantly ignoring the idea of individual choice and autonomy, and that no one is forcing them to use said product (cough like health insurance cough cough).

Aside from the obvious damage done to the local economy and small businesses who would be hurt, all products sold related to e-cigs are subject to the 6% sales tax imposed by Kentucky. Unintended consequence #2: reduced sales tax revenue related to the e-cig industry. I mention this not as an advocate for the sales tax, but as a reminder that the sales tax exists to generate revenue for the government. This is not the first time that legislature conflicts with itself. First, you have a tax that exists to collect revenue. Then a new product is on the market which is subject to this tax. Win for the state, right? Then, because of secondary regulation, that revenue is lost because their regulation cut into the sales of the previously mentioned product. So what do they value more: revenue or the protection of “public health”?

Remember my previous example of a bar owner who might benefit by catering to e-cig users? The sales tax example expands even further. There is a sizable “I smoke when I drink” crowd out there. If that demographic is negatively affected, then we come to unintended consequence #3: reduced profits for the bars, and unintended consequence #4: reduced alcohol tax revenue. Wash, rinse, and repeat of my previous statements about small businesses being harmed since nearly all bars are small businesses. The bar example has a particularly interesting domino effect so I’ll illustrate a scenario:

Diane owns a bar in downtown Lexington. It’s quite the hot spot. She opened her doors after Lexington’s first smoking ban. Diane is also an e-cig/vape enthusiast. She regularly hosts meetings for other enthusiasts and is happy to allow e-cigs in her establishment. Essentially, she has created a niche market. In addition, her bar operates under the concept of “no crap on tap.” Twenty beers are on tap and all are of exquisite quality in the craft beer world. Even better, half of which are local brews; West 6th, Country Boy, Blue Stallion, etc. This bar is a haven for locavores. Now it’s safe to say that Diane will retain a large chunk of loyal customers. after the e-cig ban, but here is what is unknown –

  • How many customers will she lose because of the e-cig ban?
  • How much will the customer loss translate to profit loss?
  • Will the profit loss affect what she can keep on tap?
  • If so, will this affect how much she buys and keeps on hand? Thus, affecting sales with West 6th, Country Boy, Blue Stallion, etc.
  • Imagine there are ten more bars just like Diane’s. How much will this affect West 6th, Country Boy, Blue Stallion, etc. as businesses?

I understand what you’re thinking. Braaaaaad…. You don’t know any of this for fact. I never claimed to, but that doesn’t rule out these possibilities from ever happening. That’s the point that Henry Hazlitt was trying to make. Every economic decision… Every policy… Every move in the market has seen and unseen consequences. It creates a ripple effect. When businesses act, they act with caution because every step made has to be met with customer approval. Losing customers means you lose profits. Losing profits means you shut down if you can’t recover and/or adjust. Politicians do not act with such caution. To politicians, “getting stuff done” is what earns you votes. Gone are the days of government protecting your property and rights. People have realized that you can use government force to get what you want; possibly even affecting the market in such a way that benefits you financially. I cannot say with certain who benefited from Thursday’s ruling, but it wasn’t the citizens of Lexington.

“How Can You Vote For A Losing Candidate?” – A Response To Kentucky’s Senate Race

Preface

This piece was originally written on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 . The positive responses on other social media platforms were the inspiration for the start of this blog.

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As someone registered with a third party, I frequently face the same question from pundits and journalists: “How can you step into a voting booth knowing that your candidate is going to lose?” Ideally, I would love to respond with a challenge to their understanding of there being no discernible difference between Team Red and Team Blue, and that they are collectively and aggressively fucking the nation (without lube, dinner, or flowers I might add). However, some wise, dead white guy who probably spent too much time in the woods and read by candlelight, once observed that a person can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. I can’t say wise, dead white guys have ever lied to me before (though, I could be wrong) so in the interest of maintaining a perfect record (assumingly) of solid advice from wise, dead white guys, I am going to try the honey.

sips tea I’ve been awake since 4, and it took until 9:30 for me to have the mental capacity to attempt this so bear with me.

Yesterday, Kentucky citizens went to the polls and…

Pumpkin spice, in case you were wondering. Found it at Kroger. Quite delicious. Feel free to quietly chuckle at any “basic” jokes that come to mind.

We went to the polls, bubbled in boxes on a piece of paper, submitted this page to a machine, patted ourselves on the back for doing our civic duty, and collected a gold star “I Voted” sticker. At least, that’s what y’all did. I drew the line at number three. There was no patting myself on the back. Not even the holy “I Voted” sticker. Just get in, get out. Quit fucking about. Ya ho, ya ho, ya ho. (Y’all know that song, right?) To confirm the views of the aforementioned pundits and journalists, yes, I went into it knowing that my candidate – the one and only David Patterson – was going to lose. And not just lose, but absolutely stomped. Call me bitter. Call me jaded. I still showed up. The official results, according to AP, are as follows:

Mitch McConnell (R) – 806,806 – 56.19%
Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) – 584,791 – 40.73%
David Patterson (L) – 44,337 – 3.09%

If this were a day at Keeneland, you best believe that I would place no bets on the Patterson Thoroughbred. However, that reduces a public selection of the people who control handle the laws that outline our lives down to a horse race and the idealist side of me cringes at the thought.

Add “idealist” to the list of things I’ve been called. Democrats call me a Republican. Republicans call me a Democrat. And both have referred to me as a nihilist, an anarchist, an extremist, a tea bagger, a conspiracy theorist, and a host of other things that I now shrug off. As stated in the About Me section, I’m a student of Austrian Theory economics; usually recognized as “anarchism,” “anarcho-capitalism,” or “laissez faire.” If you’ve met anyone else from this group, chances are, they’re also part of the crowd that abhors voting because “it only encourages the bastards.” For me, anything that is a step in the right direction is a step that should be made, even if it doesn’t perfectly mesh up with deeply held beliefs…as I continue to illustrate.

So why bother? Why not act like a normal person and pick the lesser of two evils? At the risk of sounding like a pompous jackass, I prefer sticking to principles. I don’t like Republicans, but I absolutely hate Democrats.

This is 99% in reference to the politician arena, not the voter population. I like to think that I’m able to maintain civility and develop common ground with the average voter. Granted, there is a 1% group of extremists on both sides that I would love to throw into the ocean with life rings made of salt. Chances are, if you’ve made it this far into this piece, you’re not in that 1% group.

And above all else, I truly and honestly felt in my heart that Patterson had the right ideas and goals in mind, and would perform well. Aside from the Non-Aggression Principle, a core belief of libertarianism is the idea of “only you know what’s best for you, and no one should interfere with that,” which is a common thing that I hear from people from all different political identities. Combine that with media reports of low voter turnouts on election days, and I think it is clear to see in what direction the country is headed and I want to be a part of it. Rather than go on and on about “muh feelings” though, I’d rather present another set of numbers courtesy of census.gov:

2013 Kentucky Population: 4,395,300 (approx.)
2013 Kentucky Population over 18: 3,379,986 (approx.)
2014 Total Votes between D, R, and L parties: 1,435,934

Assuming universal eligibility for people over the age of 18 in the state and no one wrote in a candidate, this leaves a population slightly larger than 1.9 million who are unaccounted for in the election. Those 1.9 million people could have easily given Patterson a landslide win.

“But Braaaaad… they didn’t. What’s your point?” Calm your tits. I’m getting there.

Here are some numbers from a 2013 Gallup poll regarding voter party identification on the national scale:

Identify as Republican: 25%
Identify as Democrat: 31%
Identify as Independent: 42%

Yes, I am fully aware that says “independent” and not “libertarian.” This doesn’t mean that I’m not ecstatic that almost half of the country identifies outside of the Two Party paradigm. This means (according to who you ask and I’m obviously biased in what I’m going to say) that 42% of eligible voters in the US are open to something new. 42% of voters are willing to negotiate. 42% of voters hold ideas and opinions that don’t perfectly mesh up with one party or the other. And in a perfect world (perfect to me), these are 42% of voters willing to vote libertarian. This obviously isn’t the case, so I leave it as 42% of voters who are open minded enough to hear something new. Regardless, this is a record high (since 1988) for people who are breaking away and trying to get a better option in the political realm. Following the trend from the Gallup chart, this number is expected to continue upwards.

“But Braaaaad… The political world is so polarized these days. How can things be getting better if they’re getting worse!?”

You are absolutely right. NPR reported on it. The Mises Institute had an excellent analysis. The original study can be found here. For the people who identify with Team Red or Team Blue, it is no longer just a simple alignment or identity tag. It is bordering on a cultural war.

For Democrats, Republicans are awful people who eat puppies and deserve to burn in hell.

For Republicans, Democrats are awful people who eat puppies and deserve to burn in hell.

As mentioned in About Me, hyperbole is a cornerstone of my humor. Deal with it.

So 56% of people have their convictions. Their voices are getting louder because government gets a little more involved in our personal lives every year. When their (perceived) enemies want to change that, they have more partisan ideas at stake. They can’t afford to lose their grip. Thus, they scream louder. It seems more deafening now than it did in years past. Regardless of the volume, though, the number of voices is getting smaller. Besides, they’re not the ones I’m concentrated on. Yes, they’re a threat to our individual liberties, but they will eventually implode on themselves. The point I want to drive home is that 42% of the country’s population identifying as independent is a big chunk of people; a chunk big enough that it would be ludicrous of the media to try to ignore it. Why am I putting so much emphasis on people identifying as independents? McConnell won the Kentucky race. He won with a clear 16-percentage point lead. Remember: almost 2 million eligible voters did not participate. Almost 2 million independent people abstained from the polls in Kentucky. Let’s recalculate what McConnell and Grimes got relative to voter eligibility:

McConnell: 806,806 votes of (approx.) 3,379,986 = 23.87%
Grimes: 584,791 votes of (approx.) 3,379,986 = 17.30%

Rounded up to 24%, McConnell’s poll earnings nearly match up perfectly with the Gallup Poll’s findings for Republican identity from last year. Grimes, however, falls short of the 31% national average for Democrat identity. Chalk this up to Team Blue losing ground in a red state, or members of Team Blue not viewing Grimes as a viable candidate. It’s open to interpretation.

My opinion: Kentucky is a coal state. Miners, and their supporters, vote Republican. As long as that remains a fact, the Dems will never gain traction.

The point is – when put into perspective with the number of eligible voters in the state – the two major parties fell short this year.

Despite the polarization…

Despite the massive donations

Despite keeping the voice of third party opposition out of the public light

The establishment (D and R combined) picked up a mere 41.17% of Kentucky’s approval. 58.83% of the state’s population (much higher than the previously mentioned 42%) said, “I am not impressed with what you’re doing or what you are offering.” 58.83% of the state wants a better option. 58.83% of the state felt it was better to stay at home than to disgrace themselves by choosing between a giant douche and a turd sandwich.

I hope Bill Lamb of WDRB is paying attention. I hope he can do basic math to check my numbers, because I want that 58.83% figure to ring in his head the next time he makes a foolish statement about how “a libertarian candidate has zero chance of winning this election.” No chance, you say? Patterson finished out yesterday with approval from 44,337 voters; a 3% total of participants. That could have been exponentially higher with adequate, and fair, public exposure along with participation in the candidate debate. In the meantime, libertarians will have to rely on old-fashioned grassroots campaigning (since we can’t get corporate sponsorship). Campaigning that will not only spread the word of a viable third candidate, but also spreading the idea of removing the sugar coated, Two Party veil from the eyes of the public. 1,988,446 Kentuckians. That’s a lot of people, but as long as the establishment continues their mudslinging and inability to maintain approval ratings, we will get there in no time. The days of bipartisan bickering are numbered. Real change is coming. And if a publicly described nihilist… anarchist… extremist…etc etc what have you, can possibly lead by example and head to the polls to demonstrate the public demand for a worthy candidate, then so be it.

And that is why I vote.