Category Archives: Protecting Your Liberty

A Simple Solution for Businesses Whose Religious Convictions Will Not Allow Them To Serve Gays

melissassweetcakesNote: This post, like a prior one on race (Yes, Race Can Be Discussed Constructively and Civilly), is intended to provide an example of how Engineering Thinking can be used to discuss contentious issues in a good-natured and civil manner.

Engineering Thinking principles tell us that gays are usually gay because they were born that way. A logical analysis supports this. In decades past, gays who were openly gay were risking loss of jobs, loss of societal respect, and in many cases violence. Therefore, it can be argued, with such penalties in force against being gay, why would someone choose to be gay? In addition, studies of animals have found that a small percentage of the members of numerous species engage in homosexual behavior, including same-sex mating.

These factors lead to the strong hypothesis that being gay is simply a natural phenomenon. (If you disagree please provide your logic-based or empirical arguments, and you will receive a respectful and fair hearing, although I reserve the right to question your comments from a science perspective. Also, anti-gay comments solely based on emotion will not be posted.)

But what about those folks whose cultural/religious beliefs prevent them from arriving at this gay-is-okay conclusion? Should they be forced to change their views (e.g. “Christian bakers face $135K fine for refusing to make cake for gay wedding“)? If this is what you think, then you are subscribing to a view that is as unscientific as it is tyrannical.

Although science indicates that being gay is a natural phenomenon, science also says that people who have deep emotional imprints due to long-held cultural beliefs are not going to rapidly change their views, regardless of rapid changes in the general culture. Forcing folks (by penalty of fines or imprisonment) to immediately adopt the latest “politically correct” beliefs (which are often based on junk science) can be just as damaging to society as the maintenance of beliefs that have been shown by science to be invalid.

Here’s the solution: A business that does not wish to serve gays should simply change the business to a members-only club — a private club. Patrons can be charged a modest annual fee to become a member, and membership can be made contingent upon the values held by the club. For example, Melissa’s Sweet Cakes becomes Melissa’s Christian Sweet Cakes (Private Club).

Private clubs can therefore provide a civil intermediate step that allows those with emotionally-ingrained habits to follow their beliefs, until such time as the results of good science — a long-term process — percolate throughout the general culture.

Ed Walker

Related: I Don’t Want To Hear It



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GOVERNMENT FOOLISHNESS: Incandescent Bulbs Banned? No Problem, Just Buy A Rugged Version

incandescent_light_bulbHere’s an option to bypass our busybody government’s anti-freedom and anti-science ban of incandescent light bulbs: buy a “rough service” version. “Rough service” lamps are the same as standard incandescents, but are more rugged and not affected by the ban. One source for such bulbs is Newcandescent.

Also see:

Unintended Consequences: Nanny Engineering,” 2nd Qtr 2011 DACI Newsletter

GOVERNMENT FOOLISHNESS: Incandescent Bulbs Banned? No Problem, Just Buy A Heat Ball,” 1st Qtr 2012 DACI Newsletter

-Ed Walker


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Why Obamacare Is Like A Government Smartphone

Engineering Thinking principle: comparative analysis

cellphonesWhen you make a decision to purchase an auto or a cell phone or a home, you have lots of choices, because you have a lot of companies competing for your business. You can compare features and prices — do a comparative analysis — and arrive at a rational decision of which is best for you. Of course, what is best for you may not be best for others, so having many options helps to ensure that most people can select a choice that best satisfies their particular needs and preferences. Comparative analysis leads to constructive competition.

However, when the federal government decides to set up a program such as Social Security, Medicare, or Obamacare, we have only one choice. This leaves us at a competitive disadvantage, since we will not be able to do a real-world comparative analysis of any other choice. This lack of competition not only restricts our freedom to choose, it allows to remain in place inefficient and even counterproductive programs, funded by the taxpayer whether the taxpayer likes it or not.

This is a major reason why the federal government’s activities should be restricted to essential national services, such as the military and foreign affairs. When the government gets involved in social services, the historical record indicates that the government’s approach, although it may seem compassionate and somewhat effective, is actually very inferior compared to free market alternatives, primarily because government is inherently inefficient (see “It’s Just A Systems Thing“).

In addition, the proponents of big government social programs never admit that their programs are deficient, no matter how poorly they perform; they always find something or someone to blame. (The Soviet Union routinely blamed “bad weather” for its abysmal economic performance during its almost 70 years of existence.) If Obamacare survives, this is why those who predict it will self-destruct are likely wrong: no matter how ridiculously bad it may be, the proponents of big government will find some excuse to keep the Frankensteinian monster alive. Without a competing program in place to prove the proponents wrong, the blame game will go on and on, just as occurred in the Soviet Union.

govtsmartphoneGovernment no-choice social programs are the equivalent of having a government smartphone plan, where your “choice” is limited to a single smartphone, designed and built by the government, available with only certain features, and at a fixed non-negotiable price. And you have to buy one whether you want it or not, or you will be fined or imprisoned.

For these reasons it is best to leave social services to the states, or even better to private charities, churches, and civic organizations (see “What Would Happen If The Government Didn’t Take Care Of Us?“). When alternatives exist, eventually those programs that perform better become known for their success, allowing them to flourish, while those that perform poorly by comparison become known for their failure, allowing them to die out, and be replaced by the more successful programs. More importantly, alternatives provide each individual citizen with the freedom and comparative knowledge to choose whatever is best for them.

-Ed Walker


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A Good Use For The Donald’s $5 Million: Finding Voter Fraud

If Donald Trump still has that $5 million (the offer he made for President Obama’s college and passport records) jangling loose in his pockets, perhaps he could help the country address its lingering doubts about the fairness of the presidential election: $5 million to whomever can document irrefutably that voter fraud was used to swing the election to Obama. If fraud did occur, that will likely be enough of an incentive to induce a whistleblower or two to step forward. And if no one steps forward, then we can set the conspiracy theories to rest.

Like the idea? Let The Donald know.


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ET EXTRA: Mind Reading: No Longer Science Fiction

Image from Total Recall, inspired by the
Philip K. Dick short story, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.”

“A new company, Veritas Scientific, is developing a technology that promises to peek into a person’s brain to reveal some of their secrets. ‘The last realm of privacy is your mind,’ says Veritas CEO Eric Elbot. ‘This will invade that.'”

…”‘Certainly it’s a potential tool for evil,’ says Elbot. ‘If only the government has this device, it would be extremely dangerous.’”

from “The Mind-Reading Machine” by Celia Gorman, July 2012 ieee Spectrum


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Global Government, Tradeoffs, and a Trip To The Moon

We humans are prone to becoming enamored of emotionally satisfying but intellectually vacuous slogans such as “global government,” “fair share,” and “universal healthcare,” to name just a few. But to protect our pocketbooks, as well as our freedom, we should apply some Engineering Thinking before we jump on board to support any of these causes.

To avoid the creation of inferior products, engineers do not base design decisions on a single highly-appealing feature. Instead, we consider a full array of goals, many of which compete with each other; i.e. the engineer is faced with making tradeoffs, favoring some features while downgrading others. In medical products, for example, engineers will emphasize reliability even if it means higher costs.

Let’s look at the example of Global Government, using a simple tradeoff analysis.

Global Government implies peace and prosperity and fairness for all. But think about it: when have you ever wanted to have only one choice? Would you prefer to be able to buy groceries only at Publix, or get cosmetics only at Neiman Marcus, or purchase tools only at Lowe’s, or have only one possible selection for a mate? Of course not, because having only one choice limits your opportunities. At a basic level everyone knows that competition — having multiple options — is a very good thing.

In the case of global government, the tradeoff is the assumption of peace, prosperity, and fairness, versus the fact that you will have no choice in your selection of government. It follows that if the global government does not perform as well as hoped, there will be no way to escape its reach. Today, for example, if you find the federal government oppressive, your can leave the U.S. But if we have a one-world government that you can’t stand, then where are you going to move? The Moon?

(Not that we haven’t considered it.
Ed and Barb checking out our escape
options while on vacation at Holiday
Inn Express, Mare Cerium, Moon,
a few years ago.)



Are Vitamins Useless?; Is US Health Care The Best?; Is The US Becoming A Police State?; Should Our Fellow Citizens Be Our Slaves?


Study Stating Vitamins Are Useless An Example Of Junk Science

Reports on the Iowa Women’s Health Study (e.g., “Multivitamins no fountain of youth for women,” 10 Oct 2011, Reuters) hit the major media outlets recently, trumpeting the study’s claim that vitamin supplements are useless, or even harmful. Based on the numerous problems with the study (e.g., “Findings from Flawed Study Used To Discredit Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements,” Life Extension), it should be ignored.

US Health Care The Best In The World? Hardly

As mentioned often in ET, proper economic evaluations require the use of ratios; i.e. what you get for each dollar you spend. To evaluate health care, for example, one metric would be: how long do you live for each dollar spent for health care services? In the US, the answer is not good. “The U.S. healthcare system is more effective at delivering high costs than quality care than other developed nations.” (Ref. “What’s killing America? U.S. ranks 28th in life expectancy (lower than Chile and Greece) while it pays the MOST for health care,” 24 Nov 2011, Daily Mail Online.)

Is The US Becoming A Totalitarian State? The Signs Are Ominous

See “Government Forces Private Citizens to Pour Bleach on Home-Grown Organic Food.”

Atlas Shrugs: The Consequence Of Trying To Make “The Rich” Our Slaves

Engineers spend a lot of effort in designing reliable control systems for autos, aircraft, telecommunication centers, etc. One of the hallmarks of a good design is that it can’t “leak”; i.e. there are no sneak paths which can prevent the control from achieving the desired system response.

When humans try to control the behavior of their fellow humans, however, they often forget that–unlike machines–humans object to being controlled, and will find a way to “leak” around the controllers.

For example, there’s a lot of talk these days about “the rich” paying their “fair share” of taxes to support government services (also see “More Thoughts On Forcing The Rich To Pay ‘Their Fair Share’“). Regardless of your personal beliefs in whether or not those sneaky rich folks are pulling a fast one on the rest of us, it would appear that our government can force them to pay up (by threats of fines or imprisonment), except for one thing: they can leave.

And they are, in droves. But they’re not just the bling-laden cigar-smoking jet setters and corporate titans that you or I typically think of as rich. No, this little-reported but major exodus is composed of a lot of middle-class folks like you and me, who are simply fed up. As stated by a reader in Sovereign Digest #44 (a newsletter of The Sovereign Society):

“My wife and I have already voted with our feet. We moved to South America in May. We do not like the way our country is headed at all by the politicians — Since I have it so good here in a beautiful country filled with kind loving people, and I live for 65% less than in the States — why would I want to go back? Also, as one over the age of 65 I am treated with great respect and dignity here … PLUS, they reimburse me for the 12% national tax every month since I am a senior citizen — Also, my medical care here is just as good, if not better, than in the States for up to 80% less – and I can be seen almost immediately.

“Why would I even consider going back? I’ve been screwed enough by my government, and I was smart enough to get out!!! I worked hard for my money, put my kids through college, played by all the rules, saved my money – and now they want to take that away and give it to people who just expect to live off me and others. No way!!”

The Big Gorilla is the fact, like it or not, that people want to decide for themselves how best to spend their own money. They may be compassionate and caring people, or they may be self-centered and selfish. It doesn’t matter. If we try to make them our slaves they can simply leave, taking their talent, money, investments, and jobs with them.


A Society That Forces Some Of Its Citizens To Support The Rest Of Its Citizens Will Eventually Result In Either (a) A Totalitarian Society, or (b) A Poor Society

-Ed Walker


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Shameful Behavior Award Presented to “Facilitated Communications”

Parents of autistic or similarly impaired children are sometimes led to believe that communications with their child are possible with the aid of a skilled intermediary. Typically the intermediary claims that they can communicate with the child through a process termed “facilitated communications,” wherein the intermediary “interprets” the child’s  communications efforts by supporting the child’s hand or arm over a keyboard while the child is supposedly typing.

There is zero scientific evidence to support such claims. Nonetheless, and outrageously, charges have been brought against parents based on the notion that “facilitated communications” is scientifically sound.

In 2008, Julian and Thal Wendrow were jailed for allegedly sexually abusing their mute, autistic daughter, based on testimony from a facilitated communications expert. Their children were subsequently placed in foster care for months.

We present our Shameful Behavior award to this “expert” (unfortunately we do not have the person’s name), as well as Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca and assistants Deborah Carley and Andrea Dean, for failing to take the time to scientifically evaluate the fraudulent claims.

Eventually, prosecutors admitted the child was not able to communicate via typing or otherwise, and the charges were dropped. (See details here and here.)

Such abuses of prosecutorial power would not occur if our public officials were trained in ET, or would at least consult with those of us who are trained to think rationally and skeptically. It is the height of arrogance and shameful behavior for public officials who have the power to take away our liberty to do any less.

-Ed Walker