2018 Elections: Sit Down, Strap In and Hold on Tight

By Bradley Harrington

“The right to vote is a consequence, not a primary cause, of a free social system — and its value depends on the constitutional structure implementing and strictly delimiting the voters’ power; unlimited majority rule is an instance of the principle of tyranny.” — Ayn Rand, “The Lessons of Vietnam,” 1974 —

WTE3 Column #101 Illustration -- 2018 ElectionsWell, Dear Readers, as we all know, 2018 is an election year, which means: We are now in the process of being inundated with promises to, as Herbert Hoover opined back in 1928, put “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”

These promises will only progress in their frequency and intensity from now until Election Day on Nov. 6, a veritable circus-time which will be replete with signs, news stories, interviews and sundry other proclamations. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear, by mid-October, some would-be social engineer coming out in favor of squaring the circle.

We are also going to be deluged with much opinion and commentary, of course, and — as a regular column-writer for this newspaper — that’s where I’m going to come in.

Naturally, I’ve got a number of things to say on a number of races — as will the WTE’s editorial staff, other regular column-writers, guest columnists and letter-writers as well.

What you’ll not be getting from most of them, however, that you WILL be getting from me, is a non-political-party, liberty-oriented perspective solidly grounded in philosophy and reality. For anyone who reads me at all knows that, to me, politics is but the final expression of our fundamental ideas. And it’s those ideas that truly capture my interest; the rest of it is merely by-product.

Still, elections can be extremely entertaining, and this year is certainly shaping up to be one of the most interesting ever. Nor can I help but wonder, of all the candidates out there offering up those chickens and cars, which will bother telling you that it’s YOU, as a working stiff, who’s going to be paying for it all. (That’s one of those “ideas” you won’t be hearing too much about from anybody else.)

And, as I observe the slate of candidates now running for the various offices scattered throughout our fair land, I have to ask myself: How many of them truly understand what the proper role of government IS in our society?

For government, readers might recall, does not operate in this country on an unlimited basis, and our Founders were well aware that government, as a social institution, poses the greatest threat to man’s liberty in history. That’s why the Constitution was written, after all — to limit state power over our lives.

At least, that’s the way it used to be, another one of those ideas that you won’t be hearing too much about from other writers … Or most of our office-seekers, either, a few of whom will be accepting their victories come Nov. 6 as a “mandate” from the voters to do whatever they feel like doing.

Again, they’ll be doing whatever they’re going to do with YOUR money, since government doesn’t have any resources of its own that it hasn’t taken from us first. You, Dear Readers, might want to consider that fact of reality VERY carefully as you listen to the upcoming plethora of commitments, pledges, vows, affirmations, pacts, assurances, guarantees and other hot-air stipulations you’re about to be swamped with.

So, what’s our timetable? The filing period for all races ended as of June 1, with the exceptions of school and college board filings (Aug. 8-27) and minor-and-provisional-party filings (Aug. 20). The primary is on Aug. 21, and absentee voting for that primary begins on July 6.

So, time is flying by faster than you think, and NOW is the time to evaluate what your candidates are telling you; if you wait until the day you pull the lever, you’re probably going to be more uninformed than you should be.

Therefore, between now and then, I’ll be devoting a few columns to analyzing some of what I consider to be our key races as well as the candidates running in them. For our “right to vote,” while not an irreducible primary in our society, is still an extremely important expression of the few freedoms our culture has left to it — and that right should be exercised with intelligence and prudence.

So, as the Romans used to say, “let the games begin,” for — if what’s transpired so far this “silly season” is any guide — you’re going to need to sit down, strap in and hold on tight for the ride.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:  bradhgt1776@gmail.com.

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on June 10, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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Cheyenne’s Airline Subsidy is Folly of the Highest Order

By Bradley Harrington

“It is characteristic of the unlearned that they are forever proposing something which is old, and because it has recently come to their own attention, supposing it to be new.” — Calvin Coolidge, “Address at Holy Cross,” 1919 —

WTE3 Column #100 Illustration --- 'CYS' Equals 'Collect Your Subsidy'For anyone who’s never seen wasteful government spending at its finest, it would be difficult to find a better local example than this:

“The Cheyenne City Council voted 8-0 to put up to $600,000 toward a subsidy for a prospective new airline … The city’s spending will be combined with county, state, federal and private money to form a ‘minimum revenue guarantee’ designed to help an airline avoid losing too much money when it takes a chance on a new market.” (“Cheyenne City Council approves $600K to attract new airline,” WTE, May 30.)

Nor is our local Governing Body alone in its desire to hand out money that belongs to others, for they’ve got plenty of company:

“The county is expected to pledge up to the same amount in the coming weeks. The Cheyenne Airport Board has $200,000 in federal money and plans to apply for $580,000 more from the state. And CRAFT, a private advocacy group, has raised $85,000 so far, according to group president Wendy Volk.”

Of all that money, it’s only the last — the private donations — that have any moral merit whatsoever; the rest of it is just as much of a pile of loot as is the $600,000 the City wants to blow on this airline fiasco.

Nor do the financial states of any of those other “donors” offer much comfort:

■ In Laramie County, “intergovernmental transfers” (NOT counting sales, use or severance taxes, just federal grants and other governmental funds),  totaled out at over $16 million for FY 2014 (the last year that ‘intergovernmental transfers’ were even listed as such in the budget).

■ Regarding our airport board, they’ve already admitted to spending money they don’t own — and, instead of being ashamed of it, they’re angling for more … While they can’t even collect the $325,000 the last knuckled-headed airline that tucked its tail up its tail and blew out of here, still owes them.

■ And the state? Wyoming’s income from the Feds clocks in at a whopping 35.2 percent of its total (FY2014) — and we’re STILL looking at budget deficits of over half a billion dollars for the next biennium.

■ And the Feds, the final backstop for all these “free” dollars? Shucks, folks, they’re over $127 trillion in the hole.

Nor, on our own small scale, is the City of Cheyenne doing any better. Keep in mind, as you ponder that $600,000 disappearing into the airport’s insatiable maw, that just before the Governing Body approved it, they wrestled with a budget (FY 2018-2019) that, in the words of Councilman Dicky Shanor, “is by far the heaviest lift I’ve ever had to see a Council do.” (“City Facebook video,” May 29.)

Indeed, noted Shanor, our budget’s gone up by “18 percent” this year, and we’re going to raid our reserves for “$5.5 million” just to pay for that.

And THIS, Dear Readers, is what passes for “fiscal responsibility” in our city/county/state/country today. To even consider, in the context of such financial foolishness, throwing another $600,000 down the same rathole we’ve all pitched millions and millions of dollars down already, is absolute folly of the highest order — and every one of you City Council people who voted for this insanity should be relieved of your duties on the basis of dereliction of duty.

But don’t stop there, for “the hits just keep on comin’”:

“Councilman Rocky Case, who sponsored the resolution, acknowledged some residents’ concerns about the spending, but said it was necessary to ensure the $18 million in public money going toward building a new terminal and related projects didn’t go to waste. ‘The consequences of not doing something in partnership with the state and the county and CRAFT are going to be an $18 million ‘airport to nowhere’ or warehouse,’ he said.”

So: We spent $18 million on a boondoggle of a terminal that was never supported by market demand in the first place — and, in order to KEEP that from being a waste, we’ve got to keep shoveling MORE money down the same hole? Are you serious?

As for the “consequences” of “partnering” with the all the rest of those government bureaucracies: Yes, we’re going to suffer “consequences” alright … When all those phony bottoms finally fall out. But it won’t be you City Council members who’ll be paying THAT price, now will it?

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:  bradhgt1776@gmail.com.

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on June 3, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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Cheyenne DDA Intrusive, Meddlesome to its Core

By Bradley Harrington

“Government cannot make man richer, but it can make him poorer.” — Ludwig von Mises, “A Critique of Interventionism,” 1929 —

WTE3 Column #99 Illustration -- DDA Slopping at Public TroughSo, it appears that Cheyenne’s very own Downtown Development Authority (DDA) now considers itself in dire need of an image makeover — and is, therefore, about to spend quite a few thousands of dollars in order to bring it about:

“‘Through some of our strategic planning efforts in the last year, we decided to focus on a rebrand initiative for the organization, taking a look at our logo, taglines and website to give a fresh face to how we present ourselves as an organization,’ Program Manager Desiree Brothe said … The organization has roughly $50,000 to offer the firm [Flood Marketing] … Brothe said $30,000 will come from budgeted strategic planning funds for Fiscal Year 2019, while $20,000 may come from reserve funds.” (“DDA selects Sheridan-based Flood Marketing for rebranding effort,” WTE, May 20.)

Well, there’s certainly no doubt that SOMETHING needs to be done with the DDA’s website (https://downtowncheyenne.com/), inasmuch as:

■ The latest “Annual Report,” announcing that it’s “updated!”, is from FY 2016;

■ The “Strategic Plan” is showing its age as well, with its “latest” entries being from 2016 and 2017;

■ Likewise for the “Downtown Core Plan,” with entries circa 2016, and ditto for the  Promotion Committee’s “latest” minutes, also from over two years ago.

So, clearly, the DDA’s web presence needs to be “tuned up”; whether we need to blow $50,000 on that project, however, is certainly up for debate.

Meanwhile, as the DDA moves forward with its “re-branding” efforts, while the downtown (and other) taxpayers foot the bill, the question bears asking: Just how DOES the DDA “present itself as an organization”?

For a significant clue on that front, consider this paragraph, taken from the DDA’s “Economic Vitality Committee” page:

“Through economic restructuring, downtown’s existing economic assets are strengthened while diversifying its economic base. This is accomplished by evaluating how to retain and expand successful businesses to provide a balanced commercial mix, sharpening the competitiveness and merchandising skills of business owners, and attracting new businesses that the market can support.”

Really, you DDA people? I would submit that any political “organization,” funded through taxpayer loot and backed up by government guns, that views its role as one of “balancing” or “economically restructuring” an area’s business environment, qualifies as a nascent totalitarian state.

How, after all, would you DDA bureaucrats ever be able to determine just what kinds of “new businesses” the “market can support,” without actually leaving the market alone to function on its own?

Instead of doing so, however, you people blow taxpayer dollars on “evaluating” what YOU assert are the proper methods to “retain and expand successful businesses” … As if you actually had the glimmer of a clue as to how to bring that result about. Have any of you ever taken the time to study the social and economic paralysis that afflicts any city/county/state/country that employs such methods of “organization”? A short listing of such failures would be: Detroit, Cook County, California and North Korea.

You DDA bureaucrats are experts at paying lip service to the “market” — while you seek to throttle it with your “vision” of a “balanced commercial mix” — where YOU,  with your plunder and your guns, get to define the terms of the “balance.”

And as for your alleged ability for “sharpening the competitiveness and merchandising skills of business owners” — well, wouldn’t you need to possess those skills, yourself, first? You can’t even post your latest Annual Reports — but we’re supposed to trust you to have knowledge on how to run an actual business downtown? You have GOT to be kidding me.

Instead of taking a serious look at such realities, however, you people have fooled yourself into believing that all it’s going to take to “re-brand” yourselves is “logos,” “taglines” and a new “website.”

Which, of course, is nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig. As long as you remain a taxpayer-funded “organization” that does nothing but meddle into downtown affairs, how do you expect your “presentation” to ever change?

Now, were you people actually willing to (1) abolish your onerous downtown mill levy; (2) end your constant slurpings at the city’s and the county’s public troughs; and (3) announce yourselves, henceforth, as a complete VOLUNTARY organization —  THAT would be a “re-branding” effort worthy of consideration.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:  bradhgt1776@gmail.com.

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on May 27, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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“Extremist” is a Badge of Honor I’ll Wear with Pride

By Bradley Harrington

“The best proof of an intellectual movement’s collapse is the day when it has nothing to offer as an ultimate ideal but a plea for ‘moderation.’” — Ayn Rand, “‘Extremism,’ or the Art of Smearing,” 1964 —

WTE3 Column #98 Illustration -- 'Extremism'Of all the cultural accusations being thrown around today, not a one of them is as nonsensical intellectually, or as corrosive ethically and politically, as the label of “extremism.”

Just from writers right here in town, for instance, consider a couple of examples:

“The Arizona-based right wing Christian extremist group [Alliance Defending Freedom] has its fingerprints on anti-gay causes all over the world …” (“Anti-LGBT extremists back Wyoming judge,” Kerry Drake opinion column, WTE, May 13, 2016.)

Or: “.. There have been far more bombings, arson, shootings and murder in the United States from right-wing extremist groups than Islamists.” (“Far-right extremists more dangerous than Muslims,” Roger MacDonald-Evoy opinion column, WTE, March 30, 2016.)

“Extremism,” to such writers, is clearly a bad thing. Or so they would have you believe. Well, folks, you’re about to read a minority viewpoint.

To begin with, let’s define our terms: Webster’s says that “extremism” is “the quality or state of being extreme” — while “extreme,” in its turn, is defined as “very great or intense; very severe or drastic.”

Observe that, while both words denote the degree or magnitude of something, neither specifies what that something is. Which leads to the obvious question of, “‘Extremism’ … In regard to WHAT?”

Well, whatever you want to apply it to — such as “extreme” temperature, for instance (very hot, very cold); an “extreme” sport (BASE jumping, white-water rafting); and so on. It’s the “extremeness,” in and of itself, that is obviously the essential characteristic here — not the particular instances to which such a description could be applied.

And, of course, some “extremes” ARE bad for us: Who wants to be roasting in Death Valley or suffer from highly-pronounced poverty?

To use such instances as “proof” that ALL “extremes” are evil, however, is to engage in the worst kind of conceptual obfuscation.

After all, to cite from the same article as quoted above at the top of this rant, “Are an extreme of health and an extreme of disease equally undesirable? Are extreme intelligence and extreme stupidity — both equally far removed ‘from the ordinary or average’ — equally unworthy? Are extreme honesty and extreme dishonesty equally immoral? Are a man of extreme virtue and extreme depravity equally evil?”

Indeed, with reference to the last two examples in particular, isn’t it true that it’s ONLY the “extremes” of honesty and virtue that have any meaning or value?

So, aside from being rationally indefensible, it’s clear that characterizing all “extremes” as evil is nothing more than an ambitious attempt to wipe out all of ethics as well — since, in that field, it is ONLY completely unbreached consistency that has any significance. “What is the moral status of a man of ‘moderate’ integrity?”

And, since political philosophy is but the extrapolation of individual ethics into the social arena — where it serves as the base, the frame of reference, for how we choose to organize ourselves as a culture — it should come as no surprise that it’s politics that’s the next target for the “anti-extremists.”

As examples, consider the hysterical calls for “moderation” in all things political (mainly by the “Leftists,” but also, shamefully, by some so-called “Rightists,” too). Whether it’s guns, eminent domain, “welfare,” foreign policy, taxation or regulation, any “extremes” in this field are regarded as “evil” as well.

 (SIDEBAR: I use “Leftist” and “Rightist” in quotes because such terms have become so polluted by today’s philosophical chaos that they can be stretched to mean anything to anybody, which means: They now mean NOTHING at all. As I use the terms, “Left” refers to altruism and collectivism while “Right” refers to individualism and capitalism.)

Since ethics DOES serve as the base of all politics, however, the fallacies of “anti-extremism” inherent in the former therefore apply equally to the latter, as well — where pleas for “the middle of the road” thus serve as little more than attempts to destroy the integrity of politics in the same way it’s already being used to wipe out morality. “What is the status of a free country whose government violates its citizens’ rights every once in a while?”

So, Dear Readers, when it comes to “extremism” in either ethics or politics, I’ll wear that label as a badge of honor, with pride — as it’s all of the sit-on-the-fence, “anti-extremist” sell-outs who ought to be hanging their heads in shame instead.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: bradhgt1776@gmail.com.

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on May 20, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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City’s New Airport Terminal is as “Potemkin” as it Gets

By Bradley Harrington

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Elective Affinities,” 1809 —

WTE3 Column #97 Illustration -- Airport Cardboard CutoutsA “Potemkin Village,” according to Webster’s, is an “impressive façade or show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition,” and stems from an old Russian story about Crimean Governor Grigory Potemkin building a fake portable village on the Dnieper River in order to bedazzle Empress Catherine II as she journeyed throughout the area back in 1787.

As the Empress progressed on her travels, so the tale continues, the “village” would be broken down and reconstructed elsewhere in order to bamboozle her into thinking the region was much more developed and economically viable than it truly was. That way, you see, the put-on would serve to attract the people and economic growth the phoniness was pretending to have already.

Despite the fact that most historians agree this narrative is little more than a fable, however, the IDEA of a “Potemkin Village” is clearly alive and well — and the best example of such a false front here in Cheyenne is none other than our own new airport terminal.

After all, aren’t such buildings supposed to service airlines and their passengers? Since we have neither, though, doesn’t that make our new terminal, built at a taxpayer cost of over $18 million, just about as phony of a façade as it gets?

True, we can’t break it down and move it around in order to fool the Feds into thinking we’ve got two or three of them, say, which would have been nice — but that’s just a minor detail.

Now, if we had raided taxpayer pockets for another $1 million or so, we could have at least put up a few “life-sized” airplane silhouettes … And a few dozen John Wayne and Clint Eastwood cardboard cutouts would have been a great touch for grouping around on the tarmac, too, don’t you think? I mean, just how “Wyoming” do you want to get? We certainly wouldn’t have to worry about them getting run over by a plane or anything.

Oh, well; it was just a thought.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, it appears our airport’s got some serious airline funding issues. According to one WTE story, in fact, we have “90 days to secure a replacement carrier or the Transportation Security Administration will de-federalize” our checkpoint, and re-establishing it “could take more than six months.” (“Cheyenne Regional Airport taskforce in talks with Allegiant Air and SkyWest,” WTE, March 30.)

Oops, but that story’s already well over a month old, isn’t it? So, I guess this particular gallon of milk’s getting ready to expire as of  “June 24” the story said, which is barely a month-and-a-half away … My, how the time flies! Certainly much better than our airplanes.

So, what’s going to happen if that magic day arrives and we’re still short an airline? Well, Dear Readers, then we have a problem, for “‘closing that federal security checkpoint is like closing our interstate,’ said [CRAFT President Wendy] Volk. ‘If we do nothing, it would be a loss of $850,000 in Federal Aviation Administration entitlement funds for maintenance and projects.’”

Oh, my! WHAT “projects”? The cardboard cutout crowds? Shucks, how about if we use that money to pay off the “roughly $325,500 in lease payments and operational costs” still owed the airport by Great Lakes Aviation, the last airline (of many) to permanently fly off into the sunset out of Cheyenne? (“Airport officials optimistic as Great Lakes shuts down service,” WTE, March 28.)

That would still leave us with $524,500 of federal loot to play with, you know, and I’ve got a great use for that, too: Let’s pay off Knife River, the contractor who built the roads and aviation apron around our new terminal, but who is now busy “suing the Cheyenne Regional Airport Board for unpaid expenses” (“Knife River suing Cheyenne Regional Airport Board,” WTE, April 19).

Yep, it appears that “during contract work throughout 2016 and 2017, the city of Cheyenne endured a storm that led to additional costs associated with the completion of projects” — extra costs that Airport Director Tim Barth approved “in a written confirmation, according to Knife River,” all of which totaled up to “$314,541, plus attorney and court fees.”

So, that means we’d still have $209,959 laying around — and, if you ask me, we’d best use that for our 2019 federal qualifications. After all, THAT kind of money will not only get us plenty more of the John Wayne and Clint Eastwood cutouts we need, but we’d even be able to throw in a bunch of Elvis Presleys and Marilyn Monroes as well.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:  bradhgt1776@gmail.com.

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on May 13, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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UW Weapons: Let’s Get Rid of Vehicles and Knives, Too

By Bradley Harrington

“Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.” — Elbridge Gerry, “First Annals of Congress,” 1789 —

WTE3 Column #96 Illustration -- The Experts Agree ... Gun Control Works!As a general rule, I ignore the columns of Rodger McDaniel, as they simply aren’t worth the powder it takes to blow them apart.

Once in a while, however, he’s so outrageous that wasting some good powder looks preferable to allowing his nonsense to propagate itself unchallenged.

Nonsense like this, for instance: “Old Laramie was the scene of a poor re-enactment of the ‘Gunfight at the OK Corral’ last weekend … Like the 1957 movie, it involved outlaws packing heat and challenging the law …” (“GOP protest of UW’s gun policy was shameful,” WTE, April 29.)

And the actual event McDaniel is hyperbolizing? No, it wasn’t an armed shootout at Hoyt Hall, but … Some Republicans, present for the GOP’s state convention at the University of Wyoming, deciding it was high time to contest the university’s inane ban on a citizen’s right to carry instead.

Apparently, you see, it’s OK for McDaniel to toot his horn against “demonizing the exercise of First Amendment rights,” as he did last year by joining the protests at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota (“Senate File 74 is about demonizing First Amendment rights actions,” WTE, March 4).

Dare to stand up and protest for your SECOND Amendment rights, however, and it’s now a “shameful demonstration of disrespect for the state’s one university” — as if our rights are determined by the number of universities we have.

So, McDaniel: What makes it OK for you to violate private property rights and be proud of it, while anyone who contests a bogus UW gun regulation meriting nothing but abolition, gets little more than epithets such as “increasingly extreme,” “far-right” and “radical” hurled at them? Just out of curiosity, when was the last time you labeled yourself as “far-left” or as a “double-standard mongerer”?

Never one to pay much attention to the facts, however, McDaniel merely continues, quoting the UW regulation itself: “No dangerous weapon may be stored or carried in or upon university facilities. Any person carrying a dangerous weapon in a university facility is required to relinquish the weapon to the UW Police Department voluntarily or upon request.” (“UW Regulation 2-178, Section VI, Clause D.”) This, according to McDaniel, is “crystal clear and imminently reasonable.”

Really, McDaniel? That all depends on just how one defines a “dangerous weapon,” doesn’t it? When that weapon is a GUN, it suits your purposes of disarmament just fine — but what about when someone else defines it as a Ryder van, and then mows down 26 people with it, killing 10, as happened in Toronto just two weeks ago?

Or, how about when somebody else gets it in their thick skull to define it as a knife instead, and then kills 19 people with it, as happened in Sagamihara, Japan back in 2016?

In those cases, McDaniel, by your “crystal clear” logic, shouldn’t all vehicles and knives be banned as “dangerous weapons,” too?

And, if so, then how am I supposed to even drive onto the UW campus, much less find a place to park, since that’s now “weapon storage”? And shouldn’t I also be handing my pocketknife and nail clippers over to the UW police as well?

Which makes me wonder, McDaniel: Where does it end? After all, objects such as banjos, microwaves, socks, frying pans, fireplace pokers, pickle jars and dumbbells can — and have — been used as murder weapons before (“The most unusual murder weapons ever used,” “Ranker,” undated story). Indeed, in one truly bizarre instance, the victim was pummeled to death with a loaf of pumpernickel bread.

Shucks, for that matter, McDaniel, even a person’s bare hands and feet, for a martial arts expert, can be used to kill. So, by your lights, wouldn’t it now be “imminently reasonable” to have the UW police strip everybody down and tie them all up until they’ve been interrogated as to their karate classification, and whether or not they’ve strangled anybody with their socks lately?

And I guess that’ll be the end of any future UW bake sales, too — at least for any kind of bread approaching the hardness of pumpernickel.

In the real world, however, and especially under American jurisprudence, most of the rest of us understand that we don’t hold some people responsible for the actions of others. Something that you, McDaniel, having “practiced law for 25 years,” should have been able to grasp decades ago.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:  bradhgt1776@gmail.com.

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on May 6, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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The Collapse of Venezuela: It Goes for Us in the U.S. as Well

By Bradley Harrington

 “Directive 10-289, Point One: All workers, wage earners and employees of any kind whatsoever shall henceforth be attached to their jobs and shall not leave nor be dismissed nor change employment, under penalty of a term in jail …” — Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged,” 1957 —

WTE3 Column #95 Illustration -- Protesting Starvation in VenezuelaThe above quote comes from a work of fiction.

THIS, however, does not:

“Thousands of oil workers are fleeing the state-run oil firm [PDVSA] under the watch of its new military commander [Venezuelan Oil Minister Major General Manuel Quevedo], who has quickly alienated the firm’s embattled upper echelon and its rank-and-file … Some PDVSA offices now have lines outside with dozens of workers waiting to quit. In at least one administrative office in Zulia state, human resources staff quit processing out the quitters, hanging a sign, ‘we do not accept resignations,’ an oil worker there told Reuters.” (“Workers are fleeing Venezuela’s state oil company, radiating pain through the country’s already crippled economy,”  “The Business Insider,” April 17.)

Anyone want to start up an office pool on how long it will take Venezuela to adopt the principle of Directive 10-289’s Point One explicitly, and actually OUTLAW workers quitting their jobs?

And, speaking of Venezuela:

■ In response to a murder rate of 18,000 people per year back in 2011, Venezuela, in 2012, instituted a ban on the private ownership of firearms as well as bans on private purchases of firearms and ammunition. And, now? Venezuela’s murder rate comes in at well over 27,000 people annually, an increase of 50 percent while population has only increased by 9 percent — and Caracas is now listed as the second-most violent city in the world.

■ And, in 2017, “Prices in Venezuela rose 4,068 percent in the 12 months to the end of January [2018], according to estimates by the country’s opposition-led National Assembly, broadly in line with independent economists’ figures.” (“Venezuela annual inflation at more than 4,000 percent,” “Reuters,” Feb. 7.) And, now? “Inflation in January alone was 84.2 percent … The monthly figure implies annualized inflation of more than 150,000 percent and that prices will double at least every 35 days.”

■ And, also in 2017: “Zoo animals in Venezuela are being stolen and eaten as the country sinks further into a food shortage crisis, local police have said” (“Venezuela crisis: Zoo animals stolen and eaten amid food shortages,” “The Independent,” Aug. 17). And, now? “Disturbing footage showing a malnourished man butchering a dog in the street has been shared to highlight the dire economic state in Venezuela.” (“Horrific footage of starving man butchering dog in the street shared to highlight food crisis in Venezuela,” “The Mirror,” March 6).

Well, there’s plenty more where that came from including parents abandoning their children at orphanages because they can no longer feed them — but we’ve seen enough to ask ourselves, in shocked horror: WHAT is going on in Venezuela?

Well, Dear Readers, I’ll give you that answer in one word: Socialism.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s what a native has to say: “We have experienced hyperinflation. We have people eating garbage, schools that do not teach, hospitals that do not heal, long and humiliating lines to buy flour, bread and basic medicines. We endure the militarization of practically every aspect of life.” (“How socialism ruined Venezuela,” Rafael Acevedo, “The Mises Institute,” Oct. 13, 2017.)

And, amidst all of those abominations — what have we got going on, right here in the United States?

Socialism is all the rage in the colleges and coffee shops all across our land, touted by many Millennials as the supposed “system of the future” for mankind. And who can forget 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, himself an avowed socialist, hailing Venezuela as one of the places in which “incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger”? (“Close the gaps: Disparities that threaten America,” Aug. 5, 2011.) (Of those Millennials, by the way, 55 percent of them had a favorable opinion of Sanders.)

Maybe what all of these “useful idiots” really need, is a one-way flight to Caracas — assuming the airports still work there, that is. Or, short of that, maybe our high-school students, so eager to take to the streets to protest “injustice,” will decide to hold their protests on the steps of the Venezuelan embassy instead?

For, as Venezuela spirals down into debilitating chaos and destruction, we should remember that what went for Cuba, Russia and North Korea goes for Venezuela, too.

And, of course, it goes for us here in the United States as well.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:  bradhgt1776@gmail.com.

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on April 29, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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