Jorge's blog

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A big win in Costa Rica

The constitutional branch of the Costa Rican Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the police cannot conduct random roadblocks or checkpoints on the country's roads. This practice has been ruled unconstitutional. They must have specific cause to stop a motorist. This is a fantastic win for individual rights here. In the last few years the random roadblocks have become more frequent and more intrusive, as the police demand that they be "allowed" to search both the vehicle and the passengers. Refusal results in them detaining people until they can get a warrant, sometimes overnight.

This article from La Nación (Spanish) has the full story. Unfortunately the comments are running very strongly against the ruling. The public seems to support the "get tough on crime" approach and are more than willing to give up their rights. I hope this victory will not be short lived.

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Latin America

This piece over at LRC is making the rounds. So far I have seen it at Claire Wolfe's and at The Picket Line. Plus a couple of people have emailed me the link asking my opinion.

It is mostly an OK piece, but for the most part it treats Latin America as a monolith, which it is not, and it neglects to mention several "Elephants in the room".

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Being Counted

In Costa Rica, as in many other places, this year is a census year. I intend to do everything possible to avoid being counted.

My experience with the census started in 1970, when my parents received "the long form" (for lack of a better name). I recall my father feeling important because "they" wanted to know all about him. I saw the form and felt creeped out. It asked things like how many bathrooms in the house, how many TVs you owned, etc. I remember thinking that this was none of their business.

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Costa Rica, no longer recommended

As I have noted before Costa Rica is not a Libertarian paradise. Despite that I felt it was pretty good place for those who want a great deal of effective freedom. I am no longer sure about this position.

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Random Costa Rica related

I recently saw this video interview of Bill Maher by Olbermann where Maher explains why he is criticizing Obama. Basically it is because Obama is not socialist enough. Specifically he criticized Obama's statement that he was not out to install a government health care system. Maher said "... why not, maybe our health care situation in this country would be as good as Costa Rica's or Morocco's" (at about 4:00 into the video).

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Anyone of Sunni's 11 readers not using some anonymous search method? If yes please reconsider. I use scroogle and tor on top of it if it is really confidential, but then again, I am not paranoid. I know someone is out to get me.

Someone is out to get you too.

BTW, I have no opinion on the campaign itself.

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The coming collapse (or not)

These days it seems that almost everyone (yes I'm exaggerating) is talking about one type of "collapse" or another. We have Wendy talking about the collapse of the US$, Igor Panarin predicting the break-up of the U.S.A., Kunstler, John Michael Greer and others talking about Peak Oil and Man Made Climate Change. If you read The Daily Reckoning then you have been exposed to the view that the world economy is doomed. We have great choice in collapses. Which will happen? How to deal with them all?

First of all, what constitutes a collapse? I suspect from a personal POV it is going to be similar to the difference between recession (when your neighbor loses his job) and depression (when you lose yours). I think some hard times are coming, but I do not think that there will be a collapse. What follows are several different disaster/collapse scenarios, and how we would deal with them.

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Wendy has long been into frugality and voluntary simplicity, a way of living which is becoming more and more popular as the economy tanks. We see reflected in the blogs. Many people, who do not normally talk about frugality are now doing so. Two examples are Karen de Coster and J. D. Tuccille (Wendy has linked to them as well) I have also seen it in some tech blogs I read. In short, this is becoming a very popular topic.

However, as good as all the advice may be, there is something missing. Planning. It is fine to cut coupons, but we cannot since they are not offered in Costa Rica. It is also fine to turn your thermostat way down, but I do not have a thermostat. In fact, my heating and air conditioning costs are exactly zero, so this is not an area I can save in. Likewise, I can give good advice on cutting back your food costs, but it would involve living in a year-round temperate climate and growing 80% of your own food. Not applicable to many people.

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What if they have beer for breakfast?

For context see this.

A few days ago Annie and I ran into a woman who we hadn't seen in two or three years. I will refer to her as "D". D, unlike most of the people we know, is a libertarian. We were making the standard small talk including the usual chit-chat about out daughters. Annie mentioned that Ayn, who is now 16, has been working full time since February and that she went to Paris in August to meet with some friends she made on-line. D was, well, shocked. "You let her go!?" I was very surprised by this reaction, given that she is libertarian. Annie, who handles these things better than I do, simply said, "we raised her as a libertarian, it would not have made sense to tell her she could not go." The objections continued along the lines of "But she is only 16 and does not have good judgement/experience/etc". At some point I got involved and, perhaps rudely, pointed out that this applies to most adults, that we did tell our daughter these things, and that she decided to go anyway. Continuing, I asked if we should have used force to stop her. D was rather flustered and muttered something to the effect that she should not have been allowed to go, then made an excuse to get away from us.

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Sans government

Wendy McElroy writes "An aspect of the free market -- the real free market, sans government, not the wretched State capitalism of today -- that receives scant attention from libertarians is the vital role played by activist consumers and consumer advocacy groups. They are part of the feedback mechanism that makes the marketplace function well. Just as unions ((again sans government) act as a brake on bad labor practices ..." Stephan Kinsella says that corporations are valid entities, and that the problem is really the legal structure, i.e. the state.

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Libertarian values, narrowly defined

Please note that I use the term "libertarian" both for lack of another and because it is what others use. I realize that it has been greatly abused.

Kevin Carson says that "...hierarchies are repugnant to libertarian values...". Jim Davidson says "...that if you are a racist, you are not a libertarian, if you are a sexist, you are not a libertarian, if you are against equal freedom for gays, the transgendered, the polyamorous, you are not a libertarian, if you discriminate against people because of their choice of religion, you are not a libertarian, if you think people from other countries should be rejected because of their choices in clothing, culture, religion, or behavior, you are not a libertarian..." A while ago there was a troll who said that if you believed in a deity you could not be a libertarian. I know someone personally who holds that position. I am sure there are many other things (X) that someone, somewhere, considers anathema to their personal values and therefore has decided that those who believe (X) are not libertarian.

I view this as incorrect. I view libertarian values as very narrow. A libertarian is someone who does not violate the rights of others. Those rights are narrowly defined as Life, Liberty, justly acquired Property.

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Opening Night at the Met

Tonight was the opening night of The Metropolitan Opera. This season they are doing HD Live presentations around the world, one of those being in San Jose, Costa Rica. Ricardo and I went to see.

It was fantastic! When I lived in New York City 20+ years ago I would go to the Met several times a year. It was wonderful being able to see the opening night live, without the massive crowds. Renée Fleming is simply an amazing performer.

Sure, there were a couple of technical hiccups. At the beginning there was no sound, and in the second section the sound and video got out of sync, back in sync, then out of sync again. But that is to be expected with something new.

It was great to be at a live Met performance after all these years, it was one of the few things I still missed from NYC. To be able to do it at a 15 minute drive from my house is, well, just short of mind blowing.

Things like this remind me that as bad as some things are, the technical progress that is going on around us can make our lives richer and better.

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Empty nest

Well, not quite. Our daughters have both taken off, Ayn for Paris and Ada for the beach. Annie and I sort of feel we should take advantage of this and do something out of the ordinary. But what? Anything we want to we can do when the girls are here. If we are going out and they are home (which in the case of Ayn is becoming rarer and rarer) we tell them and ask if they want to come along. Unless it involves an expensive restaurant, the answer is usually "no". They have their own lives and are far too busy to tag along with a couple of old folks.

So we will probably just follow our normal routine, maybe go check out a new restaurant, but that is about it. It turns out that we are quite content with our lives and do not have a great need to escape.

With the girls gone the house feels empty. It is funny because since Ayn has been working she is almost never home, and Ada seems to be on a 30 hour day, so we sometimes go a couple of days without seeing each other. Even so, we know they are around.

Ada will be back in five days and Ayn in two weeks, it will be good to have them back and I look forward to hearing all about their trips.

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Religion & Freedom

Sunni posted A Request for Mama Liberty. I cannot respond to the request, but will respond to the insinuation (made by a visitor) "that in accepting any religion, one becomes subservient to its god(s), and thereby sets up a contradiction with being truly free."

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A comic strip I really like is Mafalda. A few days ago the local newspaper had one that is so good I have to share. I found a copy of it online here.

The first panel shows Mafalda reading the dictionary.

"DEMOCRACIA (del griego, demos, pueblo, y kratos, autoridad) Gobierno en que el pueblo ejerce la soberanía".

DEMOCRACY (from Greek, demos, people, and kratos, authority) Government in which the people exercise sovereignty.

The rest is self explanatory.