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.
By William R. Toler
Terril Byrd’s feathers are ruffled…and for good reason.
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.
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.
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.
By Corey Friedman
It’s not an choice between right or left, but a simple matter of right and wrong.
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.
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.
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.
By William R. Toler
“Bullies. Complete bullies.”
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.”
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 other 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.
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.]
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.
By Corey Friedman
A 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.”
By William R. Toler
Anarchist activist and libertarian femme fatale Amanda Billyrock will be sitting in a cage this weekend.
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.