More Sequestration: The Best Bad Thing, For Now

English: CBO Long-Term Public Debt Scenarios
English: CBO Long-Term Public [sic] Debt Scenarios (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


If American politicians lived in the real world, US president Barack Obama would propose and Congress would pass a balanced budget for the federal government.

But American politicians don’t live in the real world. Since World War II they’ve inhabited a utopian fantasy in which the federal government has continuously spent more money than it has brought in, on the promise that that debt will eventually be paid off.


By someone.

So we’ve once again reached the periodic moment of untruth, with a September 30th deadline for Congress to decide between three alternatives:

Obama’s completely insane budget proposal (which increases spending across the board on both the military and civilian sides of government); or

One of several equally crazy Republican budget proposals (which would likely increase military spending and make some cosmetic cuts to civilian spending); or

Another fake “government shutdown,” accompanied by automatic “sequestration” entailing trivial cuts in both areas.

Under each of these alternatives, the federal government will run a deficit (in English, it will kite a check and overdraw its accounts), adding half a trillion dollars or so to the federal government’s debt (euphemistically referred to as the “national debt” or “public debt” — the politicians want to keep you believing that you’re responsible for their fiscal irresponsibility, and their creditors believing that you’ll cough up someday).

The best choice — in fact, the only reasonable choice — would be for the president and Congress to bite the bullet and balance the budget. That is, make a reasonable estimate of revenues and craft a budget that appropriates and spends less than that estimate.

But, like I said, reasonable is off the table. Neither the president nor Congress is willing to balance the budget this year, or to commit to doing so for any year in the near future. So it looks sequestration is the best we can hope for right now.

How about the next crop of politicians?

American voters will elect a new president, replace (or re-elect) the entire House of Representatives, and replace (or re-elect) 1/3 of the US Senate next year, to take power in January of 2017.

Many of the campaigns are already under way, and the presidential candidates are already debating each other in public.

Why not hold their feet to the fire, and let them know that any candidate who proposes to continue deficit spending will not receive your vote?

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


Just Say No to the FCC’s Router Power Grab

Wi-Fi Signal logo
Wi-Fi Signal logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Federal Communications Commission is at it again.

After its massive, illegal “net neutrality” power grab in February, you might think Washington’s chief ministry for the suppression of information freedom and restraint of digital trade would take a break to digest its prey. But no. Now they’ve set their sights on controlling your home Wi-Fi router, too.

If you run Wi-Fi in your home, you probably know that most routers allow users to “flash” the factory-installed firmware — either to update to the maker’s newest version, killing newly discovered bugs and so forth, or to install alternative, open-source firmware with different capabilities and no factory-installed secrets.

The FCC’s new rules revisions for routers using the 5GHz band require that those routers be “secured” against the user’s ability to flash new firmware that isn’t approved and authenticated by the router’s manufacturer.

The proposed rule, specifically and by name, targets DD-WRT, a popular Linux-based firmware set compatible with a number of routers.

Why does the FCC hate your Wi-Fi freedom? Because if you can easily replace the firmware on your router, you might be able to do things the FCC doesn’t want you to do now … or might not want you to do in the future.

Is this really important to you? SHOULD it be important to you? Yes.

Over the last few years around the world, governments have responded to protests, revolutions and other designated “emergencies” by shutting down Internet and/or cellular access.

Not just Third World totalitarian regimes, either. Right here in America, in 2011, San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system shut down cell and wireless service in several of its stations in a bid to suppress  protests over the police murder of a passenger.

Activists have responded by using apps and networking schemes that get around those shutdowns, or just around network congestion. For example, last year in Hong Kong, pro-democracy protesters used FireChat, a “mesh networking” application, to organize when cell service wasn’t working.

Mesh networking allows wireless devices, including the routers and access points the FCC is targeting with these new rules, to form “ad hoc” networks with other nearby devices whether Internet access is available or not.

But, of course, you can’t hook your router into a mesh network unless the firmware is set up to allow you to. And the FCC wants to make sure that it, rather than you, decides what firmware you can run and what that firmware can do.

I don’t trust the FCC’s intentions. Neither should you. I suggest grabbing a spare un-neutered router or three before the new rules get implemented. And asking your representatives in Congress to sponsor legislation reining in, or better yet disbanding, the FCC.

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


Religious Liberty: Some Unsolicited Career Advice for Kim Davis

RGBStock Holding Hands

One of the jobs of the County Clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky is to issue marriage licenses to couples who meet the legal standards for such licenses. Recently, those standards changed, and now same-sex couples can license their marriages.

That new standard conflicts with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’s religious belief that marriage is only valid between one man and one woman. No problem. There’s a simple way to handle that situation. If she isn’t willing to do the job, she should quit the job.

Instead, Davis asserts that her religious belief entitles her to continue holding the title, and continue collecting her $80,000 annual salary from Rowan County’s taxpayers, without doing the job.

She stopped issuing (and allowing her deputy clerks to issue) marriage licenses two months ago after the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Not just to same-sex couples, but to everyone.

As of this writing, she continues to refuse to issue marriage licenses even after multiple courts have ordered her to do so and after the US Supreme Court has denied her appeals of those orders.

In a statement issued through Liberty Counsel, the Christian organization representing her in those appeals, Davis states that “some people have said I should resign, but I have done my job well. … It is a matter of religious liberty …. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.”

Not doing one’s job at all is not doing it “well.” Refusing to serve the people of Rowan County is not “serving the people of Rowan County.”

Religious liberty is an important thing. Important enough, I think, that we shouldn’t willfully twist its meaning.

No, religious liberty does not entitle Kim Davis to a continuing government position with a very nice paycheck for declining to do the job she was elected to do and promised to do.

Kim Davis is not a martyr for religious freedom. She’s a layabout, a no-show, collecting a paycheck for work she refuses to do. Martyrs make decisions on principle and accept the consequences of those decisions.

If the requirements of the job have become, as Davis calls them, a “Heaven or Hell decision,” then she should make that decision and act accordingly. She should resign her position as Rowan County clerk and go seek other employment —  employment which doesn’t conflict with her religious beliefs.

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