Government Should Give Us All a Break. A Bathroom Break, That Is.

English: A bathroom.
English: A bathroom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently government solved all of society’s real problems while I wasn’t looking. Woo hoo! Violent crime has been eradicated. The Islamist terror threat is no more. Poverty? Everyone’s a millionaire with a Rolls in the driveway. Heck, the Cubs may even win the pennant this year. At least I have to assume all that’s been taken care of. Otherwise the politicians wouldn’t have time to argue over who gets to use which bathroom. And that’s what they’re doing, soooo …

Charlotte, North Carolina’s city council passed an anti-discrimination ordinance requiring both public venues (e.g. government schools) and private businesses to allow transgender people to use the bathrooms matching their gender identities.

Then the North Carolina state legislature passed a bill overruling Charlotte’s and FORBIDDING both public venues and private businesses to allow transgender people to use the bathrooms matching their gender identities.

Even though the North Carolina bill seems to be economically suicidal — it’s already cost the state money and jobs, including 400 new jobs at a PayPal operations center that was going to be built in Charlotte and now won’t be — lawmakers in South Carolina and Tennessee are taking up similar legislation.

Because, you know, this has been such a burning social problem in the past.

Except that it hasn’t.

For all the hobgoblin talk about men in dresses sexually molesting our daughters at rest stops, I’ve been unable to find any public mention of that happening. If it has, it’s either been very rare or kept under wraps. And the latter seems unlikely given the paranoia even talking about it seems to bring out in people.

If you don’t think you’ve ever shared a bathroom with a transgender person before, consider this: Depending on which study you believe, somewhere between 1 in 100 and in in 300 Americans are trans people. Now, think back over your life. All the school restrooms, highway rest stops, store bathrooms, concerts, ball games, and so on. Do you honestly think that over your life you’ve shared bathrooms with fewer than 300 people in all?

You’ve been sharing bathrooms with trans people your whole life, and you never noticed until some idiot fearmongering political hack brought it up because he thought he could scare you with it. Did it work?

This isn’t that complicated.

In  venues like government schools, politicians and their lackeys shouldn’t be allowed to peer up skirts and inside zippers like a bunch of pervs. Does your gender identity match the “M” or “F” on your birth certificate ? None of their business.

Businesses should be free to set whatever policies they like. If they want to keep their customers, they probably won’t get too nosy.

And as cultural changes do, this will all work itself out.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Trump’s Wall: Be Careful What You Wish For

East German construction workers building the ...
East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember Donald Trump’s promise to not only build a US-Mexico border wall, but make Mexico pay for it? If that promise sounded sketchy, maybe even ridiculous when he made it, his campaign’s March 31 memo to the Washington Post makes it sound like an authoritarian, and likely disastrous, extortion scheme.

Trump’s proposal, in a nutshell, is to abuse provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act — allegedly intended to fight terrorism — to promulgate a proposed rule which would stop undocumented Mexican workers in the US from sending money home to their families.

Since such “remittances,” according to Trump, come to nearly $25 billion per year, the Mexican government would gladly fork over a one-time payment of several billion dollars for the wall rather than lose the ongoing economic boost they get from the remittances. They cough up, Trump withdraws the proposed rule.

Pretty much the typical mob-style muscle job: “Nice mutually beneficial trade and labor arrangement we got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it …”

One problem with the scheme is that the incentive for the Mexican government to agree seems to exist only in Trump’s imagination. If Mexico doesn’t pay for the wall, he cuts off remittances from undocumented immigrant workers. If Mexico DOES pay for the wall, and if it works as advertised, the number of undocumented immigrant workers getting through and sending remittances home plummets anyway. Why pay for the same results one would expect from not paying?

Fortunately it probably wouldn’t work. “Securing the border” is a dystopian fantasy for tyrants to indulge and for demagogues to sell to us panicky rubes, not something that can actually be done.

But suppose it COULD work? The big problem with the idea (above and beyond the sheer immorality of trying to bar peaceful human travel, that is) isn’t so much with how to finance it as with how badly it would damage the US economy if it was built and if it worked.

Yes, Americans like to bellyache about “them foreigners, taking our jobs.” But Americans also like to buy fruit, vegetables and poultry at reasonable prices. Cut out the undocumented immigrant work force and there’s a different kind of bellyache to worry about: The bellyache of hunger. To the extent that those things remain available at all with a million workers missing from the fields, they’re going to get real expensive, real fast.

Ditto roofing, landscaping and a bunch of other jobs Americans want done but don’t particularly want to do themselves and certainly won’t do for others for the pay an undocumented immigrant will accept.

Mexico might pay for the wall, but not nearly as much as you would pay for it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Libertarians versus National Isolation

English: A peace march through Balboa Park, Sa...
English: A peace march through Balboa Park, San Diego, California, 2003 to protest the Iraq War seven days before it began. Photograph by Patty Mooney, Crystal Pyramid Productions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On April 1, Fox Business Network’s John Stossel hosted a debate featuring three candidates — Gary Johnson, John McAfee and Austin Petersen — for the Libertarian Party’s 2016 presidential nomination (a fourth, more radical libertarian, Darryl W. Perry was unfortunately excluded). Those seeking an alternative to America’s failed political system, in which one party masquerades as two and the range of respectable political opinion covers perhaps five degrees of a 360-degree circle, might do well to consider voting Libertarian this November.

One common accusation leveled against libertarians — those affiliated with the Libertarian Party and those who hang with other parties or eschew political activity altogether — is that we’re “isolationists” because we oppose US intervention in foreign conflicts.

The standard libertarian retort to that criticism is that we support, as Thomas Jefferson put it, “friendship and commerce with all nations, entangling alliances with none,” where real isolationists have historically opposed not just foreign wars but foreign commerce, calling for protectionist trade and immigration policies (which libertarians oppose) to “protect American jobs.”

All three candidates had good responses to foreign policy questions, but I was particularly intrigued by John McAfee’s take on the “i-word.”

“I think isolationism,” McAfee says, “is taking on the role of world policeman, making us a separate entity from the rest of the world. We’re the policemen and you guys are the people that we police. … Dropping bombs on families where mothers and fathers are killed, or brothers and sisters. I would be angry too. You would be angry too. So it is not isolationism to say that we need to bring our troops home, or that we need to stop interfering in the affairs of foreign nations. It is reality and practicality.”

Kind of refreshing, isn’t it? After 25 years of continuous war in the Middle East, the “major” parties continue to mainly offer up candidates who supported the US invasion of Iraq (Hillary Clinton), who want to know if sand glows in the dark (Ted Cruz), or who admit the Iraq war was a mistake but don’t seem to have learned anything from that mistake (Donald Trump).

Those candidates, with their Caligula-style approach to foreign policy — “let them hate us so long as they fear us” — are the real isolationists.

Libertarians, on the other hand, want to make America once again a peaceful member of the community of nations — a leader rather than a menace. Let’s take them up on it.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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