State provides what the market demands

By Eli Harman

One recurrent (and basically valid) libertarian criticism of the state is that it offers a “bundle” of services, that you can only take, in toto, or leave, with great difficulty and expense, by moving thousands of miles cutting ties with friends and family, etc.

But when you tell non-libertarians that they could simply shop for these services individually, purchase defense from one source, arbitration and dispute resolution from another, roads from still another, etc. (and refrain entirely from purchasing services they don’t want) they gape in disbelief or recoil in horror.

This tells me that there is strong market demand for this bundling service (states.) It’s all simply more than most people want to sort out for themselves. Libertarians discount the transaction costs and information costs because we already have this abnormal compulsion to examine everything in insane detail. But they are real, and it’s not reasonable to expect normal people to be willing or able to do what we do.

This is actually good, because there are services (the provision of public goods) that people would free ride if not required to purchase. Bundling is one practical, historically proven method of accomplishing this.
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Chickens killed following chargeless cockfighting suspicion

By William R. Toler

Terril Byrd’s feathers are ruffled…and for good reason. byrd

Back in December, New Bern police seized nearly 60 chickens (hens and roosters) from Byrd’s property on suspicion of cockfighting, according to NewsChannel 12. The station reports officers also seized training muffs, a vest, syringes and antibiotics.

Byrd told the station in January that he hadn’t done anything wrong. “They’re show birds,” he said. “I show them at the fair.” He also explained that the muffs were used for breeding and the vest was actually a beer holder.

Earlier this month, the station reported that District Attorney Scott Thomas said there was not enough evidence to charge Byrd and he gave the go-ahead for the chickens to be returned, passing the buck to Animal control.

“They were my pets,” he said. “The birds mean everything to me.”

Before he could get them back, some of the birds allegedly contracted “a contagious disease.” Some died. The rest were killed by the county government.
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Amanda Billyrock takes a plea

By William R. Toler

The trial of Amanda Billyrock didn’t exactly go as planned Monday morning.ab

Instead of making the state prove her guilt in court, she decided it was in her best interest to take a deal and plead guilty to the charge of “disobeying” a law enforcement officer. The charges of having an open container and resisting arrest were dropped.

Billyrock, whose given name is Amanda Johnson, was originally charged with five “crimes” following a December traffic stop, which we were the first to report. In January, two of those charges were dropped.

When originally reached for comment Monday, Billyrock said she would explain everything in an upcoming video. Wednesday, she released a statement on her Facebook page explaining why she took the plea:
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N.C. town imposes yard sale restrictions

By William R. Toler

Yard sales are a common occurrence across the fruited plain, however one North Carolina town wants them to occur less commonly. newton

Earlier this month, the town of Newton decided to impose several restrictions regarding how and when people can sell their own belongings from their own yards, according to the Hickory Daily Record.

One restriction was to limit the number of yard sales/garage sales to four per year. Another stipulation constrains each event to a 36-hour time limit, with all items being removed after the event. As if the time limit isn’t enough, sales are also banned on Sundays.

The vote for the draconian amendment was approved after a tie-breaker by Mayor Anne Steadman. Steadman said changes had been considered for several months months but “It’s now time to get it done.” She pointed out that the amendment graciously (my sarcasm, not her word) increased the number of events from three to four.
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Student suspended for simple mistake

By William R. Toler

A Tennessee high school student has been suspended and faces criminal charges for a mistake made by his father. knifekid

David Duren-Sanner, a senior at Northeast High School in Clarksville, received a 10-day suspension after a knife was found in the car he drove to school. His father’s car…his father’s knife.

The car was randomly selected during a random vehicle check on campus. “I didn’t have anything to hide,” Duren-Sanner told WTVF. He says he told investigators they might find snuff in the car, since his dad dips tobacco.
Instead they found a knife his father uses in his job as a commercial fisherman.

Because of the zero-tolerance policy, the student faces a charge of having a weapon on school grounds, according to a petition set up on his behalf.

If the punishment is upheld, he will have to attend an alternative school for 90 days following the suspension. He will not be able to attend prom, the JROTC ball or graduation.
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Don’t play politics with the people’s records

By Corey Friedman

It’s not an choice between right or left, but a simple matter of right and wrong. ncpubrec

A showdown between Attorney General Roy Cooper — a likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2016 — and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory is making public records a political hot potato.

McCrory’s office charges fees of up to $54 an hour for copies of public records when records requests take the governor’s staff more than a half-hour to fulfill. The fees reimburse state government for the salary and benefits of the workers who make the copies.

Cooper, the state’s chief law enforcement officer, says the fees are flat-out wrong. He expressed serious concern last October after learning the town of Middlesex had authorized nearly identical service charges for records requests. In a letter to the governor a couple weeks ago, Cooper cautioned the governor that the fees might be unlawful.

“I believe these policies violate the spirit and perhaps the legislative intent of the North Carolina Public Records Act,” he wrote.

McCrory responded in a letter from Bob Stephens, his general counsel. The governor’s office believes state law allows the fees and wants Cooper to butt out. Stephens called the attorney general’s letter “unsolicited public policy advice.”

The dispute boils down to a difference in interpretation of state public records laws. McCrory and town officials in Middlesex say they’re just applying a special service charge the law allows for requests that require extensive use of labor or technical resources. Critics point to another passage that defines the costs government may charge and specifically excludes costs that would stay the same — like full-time workers’ salaries — if a records request hadn’t been made.

Cooper believes McCrory and Middlesex are making up the rules as they go along. Who says a half-hour of staff time is extensive? The 30-minute charge clock is arbitrary, and officials haven’t explained how or why they chose that length of time.
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Snow curfews an abuse of power

By Corey Friedman

[Note: This post was originally written as an editorial for The Wilson Times following the storm that blanketed eastern North Carolina with snow and ice the last week of January.]

Wilson County officials told residents to use their best judgment. But leaders in another eastern North Carolina county took that judgment away. Onslow_County,_North_Carolina_seal

As a Deep South snowstorm blasted eastern North Carolina, Onslow County ordered people indoors and told them to stay off the roads after dark on Tuesday and Wednesday. The county commissioners’ chairman set a nighttime curfew for residents of Onslow’s unincorporated areas in a Tuesday proclamation.

Residents were confined to private property from 7 p.m. Tuesday to 7 a.m. Wednesday and from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday. Board of Commissioners Chairman Paul Buchanan called the curfew “a matter of public safety.”

“It is essential for the citizens to be off the roads in order for the sheriff and deputies to be able to respond to calls for assistance and for overall safety,” Buchanan said in a statement. “The curfew will also prevent crimes of opportunity while our citizens are safe in their homes. Our emergency responders will be able to react and respond safely to minimize loss and maintain security and safety measures.”

Under state law, curfew violators are guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. Penalties can range from a few days of community punishment to 60 days in jail depending on a convict’s past criminal record.

Concern for residents’ safety is understandable in a coastal North Carolina county more accustomed to tropical storms than snowstorms. But officials could have relied on education rather than intimidation.
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Store owner speaks about January raid

By William R. Toler

“Bullies. Complete bullies.” VideoSweepstakes

That’s how Mahmoud Salameh describes the law enforcement officers that raided his business last month to local televison station WCTI-12.

Salameh’s store, KP Mini Mart, was one of 22 businesses in Pitt County targeted for a multi-jursidictional crackdown on “illegal” gambling machines Jan. 7 in “Operation Pot of Gold.”

“I felt like I was in Iraq,” said Salemeh. “Literally, like, you walk in here, you have police officers with…AR-15s and pistols, with six or seven clips on their chest. It’s a ridiculous experience.”

But the machines weren’t the only thing taken from Salemeh that day.

“I tried to pull out my cellphone to record them, what was goin’ on,” he said. “They took my phone, deleted the footage.”
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Cash, property taken from Pitt County businesses in raid

By William R. Toler

Earlier this month, heavily-armed gangs stormed nearly 30 Pitt County businesses in a calculated heist, stealing more than $30,000 in cash and otherVideoSweepstakes property.

Sounds horrible, right?

Mainstream news accounts read something more like this: Police and deputies seized numerous illegal gambling machines from businesses across Pitt County in a morning raid called “Operation Pot of Gold.”

That makes it all better, right? Not for the business owners.

The people calling themselves the State of North Carolina have taken it upon themselves, allegedly at the will of the people, to declare certain types of machines “illegal.” Therefore, those sworn to uphold the law, took it upon themselves to rid the county of the scourge of gambling.

Unless, of course, that gambling pertains to the state-sanctioned “Education” Lottery.

Local media outlets had a frontrow seat for this show of force against these brazen store owners who dared to try and fill a void in the market by providing a service that customers wanted as they were on a ride-along, capturing the confiscation on video.
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Two out of five ain’t bad: Some charges dropped in Billyrock case

By William R. Toler

Two of the five charges against Amanda Billyrock have been dropped, according to the “adorable anarchist” herself.billyrock_new

Friday afternoon, she posted an update on her Facebook page “on the false crusade against me by a few individuals who call themselves ‘the state of New Hampshire.’” The two accusations no longer being levied are the charges of possession of a controlled substance and driving under the influence.

It is unclear at the time of this writing if her state permission to drive (license) has been reinstated.

Three more allegations remain: open container, disobeying an officer and resisting arrest. (The latter two can be combined to make “contempt of cop.”)

Since her December arrest in Laconia, N.H., Billyrock has released several video statements. She had initially posted the video of the arrest after being released from a night in a cage, but promptly removed it. In one video, she addressed the charges individually.

Her most recent statement, posted Jan. 2, Billyrock talked about the night in a bit more detail. In reference to the “violent tendencies” of arresting officer Michael Armstrong, she says: “He threatened to smash in my car window within 60 seconds of approaching my car.” A caption also flashes on the screen stating that Armstrong failed to inform her why she was pulled over in the first place…which is still unclear.
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A look back at 2013

Another year is in the can and another begins.

That means it’s time for another obligatory year-in-review story, or as Contributing Editor Corey Friedman says: “It’s time to do this thing we do infrequently.” [We haven't done one the past two years.] irshadows

2013 was a good year for IndieRegister.com. We managed to actually break a few stories on the site and gain peaks of readership.

Out of our top 10 most read stories of the year, six were about activists either getting arrested or released. The most popular story was about a couple detained in the “City of Brotherly Love” for daring to pass out flyers without permission from government. Likewise, jury nullifcation activist Mark Scmitder was released from his cage after a ludicrous sentence for passing out pamphlets in Florida.

We were the first outlet to break the news of the arrest of the adoreable anarchist Amanda Billyrock following her arrest in Laconia, New Hampsire for the act of remaining silent during a traffic stop. She later released a video addressing the charges levied against her, which are all victimless crimes. There will be more to come in 2014 as her case progresses.
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Billyrock addresses criminal charges

By William R. Toler

Following a brief information blackout, libertarian vlogger Amanda Billyrock issued a video statement Wednesday rebuking all charges levied against her by the State. [See video at the bottom of page.]billyrock3

Billyrock, whose “legal” name is Amanda Johnson, was arrested following a traffic stop late Friday night in Laconia, N.H.

In the video she asserts that “all five charges are completely false.” Those charges are: DUI,  transportation of open container, possession of a controlled drug, disobeying an officer and resisting arrest. She goes on to tackle each charge individually.

DUI: “I was not intoxicated. I was not impaired. I had my wits about me the entire time. I chose not to speak, not because I was impaired, but because it is my right not to speak.”

Possession of a controlled drug: “What they’re referring to…are my prescriptions. They’re referring to substances for which I hold current, valid prescriptions from a licensed family doctor.”

Open container: “I did not have any alcohol, open or closed, in my car. And I was unaware of any of my passengers having anything like that either.”
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Five Iron Frenzy roars back to life

By Corey Friedman

EOMP-Cover-wSticker-1200A trigger-happy Prince of Peace mowing down mortals with machine gun blasts. A singer posing as a heroin pusher. A deathbed dirge inspired by Shakespearean suicide.

It isn’t your typical Christian rock album, but then, Five Iron Frenzy has never adhered to the Bible-bookstore formula. Roaring back from a 10-year hiatus, the iconoclastic octet isn’t about to start now.

Financed by a much-publicized Kickstarter campaign — the Denver-based band sought just $30,000, but fans pledged nearly a quarter-million — Five Iron is back with “Engine of A Million Plots,” an independent Nov. 25 release. Faith provides some buoyancy in the 12-track, 41-minute offering, but the group explores dark territory and unapologetically plants its flag there.

In “Zen and the Art of Xenophobia,” frontman and chief lyricist Reese Roper lashes out at fundamentalist anti-Muslim sentiment and the hypocrisy of warmongering conservatives. “Shut the door and save the kids,” Roper sings. “Lock and load — just like Jesus did.”

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Billyrock released, charges discovered

By William R. Toler

After spending  nearly 12 hours in a cage, Amanda Billyrock  is free(r).billyrockv_peace

Billyrock was arrested by police in Laconia, New Hampshire after a “routine traffic stop” for allegedly running a red light late Friday. At the time of our initial story , details of the arrest and the charges were not known.

The story spread like wildfire across the liberty community, with many people calling the jail asking questions and advocating her release. She was let go late Saturday morning, according to her lawyer, Seth Hipple. He posted:

She was principled yet polite to the guards and that, along with all the calls I think, meant they wanted her out. Normally, she would’ve been in there until Monday, but she’s out today, which is fantastic.

He went on to write:

The bail commissioner was confused by the fact that Amanda wasn’t just doing whatever she was told without question. She asked me if she was under the influence. I said no. “Then why?” “She doesn’t believe in the legitimacy of the state as an institution.” Things got quieter.

Later that day, Billyrock issued her own statement on Facebook, overwhelmed by the outpouring of support:

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Billyrock caged, charges unknown

By William R. Toler

Anarchist activist and libertarian femme fatale Amanda Billyrock will be sitting in a cage this weekend. abillyrock

According to Ademo Freeman of Cop Block, Billyrock was socializing with him and others when she was arrested. He says the only video of the arrest was taken with her phone.

A call to the Belknap County “Department of Corrections” wasn’t very enlightening. The individual I spoke to said that he “couldn’t” tell me what the charges were against her, but did say that there was no bail. He added that “she probably refused bail.”

“I believe she was arrested for not answering questions, like what’s your address?,” Freeman said. “So they are not telling us the charges because a) they don’t want to or b) they haven’t decided yet.”

So…basically, it sounds like a charge of “contempt of cop” for standing her ground and not answering questions.
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