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Gil Riviere - Candidate for State Rep District 46

Gil Riviere (R) is running for Hawaii state representative, District 46, which covers Kaena Point, Schofield, Mokuleia, Waialua, Haleiwa, Waimea, Pupukea, Sunset, Kahuku, Kunia Camp, Poamoho, Wheeler and Laie.

This is his latest campaign video.

A Movie That Gets a Capitalist Hero Right

by Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Recently by Jeffrey A. Tucker: All Laws Have Teeth
 
October 28, 2010

Who are the capitalist folk heroes of our time? The Social Network is a film that celebrates one of the greats, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. It might seem at first like an impossibly boring story that resists movie making: how Facebook came to be founded and grew, meeting trials along the way and becoming the giant that it is today.

In fact, it is not only a super exciting and wonderful movie on its own terms; it is probably the finest movie about free enterprise made in our times. It gets entrepreneurship in the real world exactly right. It deals brilliantly with all the important issues from the motivational drive behind web startups (it is not necessarily money) and the impossibility of slicing and dicing ideas into ownership units. It reportedly mixes fact and fiction, but that does not matter in the slightest for the many lessons and the overall theme.

The movie comes just in time. Facebook has been the victim of an increasingly vituperative campaign by the intelligentsia. It supposedly violates privacy, feeds crazed egoism, destroys lives by tempting people to cough up too much information about themselves, wrecks marriages, leads teens to commit suicide, wastes vast time that people should otherwise be using to enjoy the great outdoors, ruins the culture by digitizing communication at the expense of real face-to-face interaction, and wrecks the language by dumbing down the term "friend."

Such are the alleged crimes of Facebook, and if you think that the website is guilty, there is an easy answer. Don't use it. Facebook is all voluntary. It is also free for everyone. People – the latest report has 500 million people signed up, but this will grow to 1 billion and beyond – also happen to love it and depend on it. In fact, it is the most popular website ever. It has connected people as never before, allowing one person to keep up with the goings-on of thousands of others in record time. It is a major contributor to the humanization and personalization of the Internet and has made it possible for a vast plethora of causes and ideas to find expression and an audience.

There is philosophical significance to the phrase "social network." It echoes a distinction between the economic and political means, as made by Franz Oppenheimer, refined by Albert Jay Nock in his distinction between society and state, and further by Frank Chodorov, who pointed out that the social means is always voluntary and the statist means is always coerced. The Social Network is shorthand for the vast matrix of communication and exchange that springs from human volition alone; it is to "society" in that Chodorovian sense that Facebook owes its energy and orderliness.

As always with free enterprise, it all started with a small idea: people like to know about others and like others to know about themselves. The Internet can make this happen. The film shows how the idea germinated within the microculture of Harvard University as Zuckerberg experimented with software solutions, and gathered ideas from every possible source. He rendered dreams into code that became a phenom. The movie nicely illustrates how his entrepreneurship was driven by ideas, tested on a daily and hourly basis in response to consumer interest and demand, with constant refinements along the way.

The ideas alone, however, were not enough. They were given life by technological genius. They were implemented through deep devotion and even a praiseworthy fanaticism. The film further shows that, while making money and the profit-and-loss test are the crucial signs and seals of commercial success, in the long run, the drive for money was not the fundamental motivation for the creation of Facebook. Zuckerberg is shown as not caring about money. He cares about doing something creative, great, and pathbreaking. He cares about making a dent in the universe.

When Facebook begins to take flight and really catch on, Zuckerberg is quoted as keenly realizing that its popularity, its coolness, is its main asset. He wisely sees that nothing should be done to risk that fundamental asset. The goal is not making as much money as soon as possible but entrenching the love that people have for the thing that Facebook was making available. This attitude among entrepreneurs is far more common than conventional lore would suggest. The archetype is of an achievement-obsessed dreamer, not a greed-obsessed calculator.
Another point that is bang on in this movie concerns the most difficult life lesson that anyone of singular talent, any dreamer who achieves something wonderful, must learn in life. We are born into this world believing that success in anything will be met with praise and acclaim. We are not often told the truth that we see in this film: success is more likely to be met by envy, hate, disparagement, put downs, and loathing, sometimes from the most unexpected sources.

The successful person in any field – and this is probably true in all times and all places – will find himself or herself quickly surrounded by wolves (many of them former sheep) seeking to ruin, wreck, and destroy. Even the grandest achievements are put down as pure luck or credited to others or disparaged as being not so great. If there are laws that give the wolves the opportunity to work out their envy, they will be employed. Every entrepreneur must prepare for this, expect it, and deal with it.

So it was that Facebook was met with early challenges and hate campaigns, and it is no surprise in the digital age that the initial attack occurred on the issue of "intellectual property," and here the film makes yet another great contribution. It shows how irrelevant IP is for business success, and how it has become the preferred slogan of losers, and the great excuse for whole classes of people with a bad business sense. "He stole my idea" is the great lie of our time, because ideas cannot actually be stolen and there is no existing idea that is not in debt to some other idea.

The film shows how fellow Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss had asked Zuckerberg to write the code for their proposed site, Harvard Connection, which eventually became ConnectU. Zuckerberg had other and more elaborate ideas brewing in his brain. Once Facebook took off, the Winklevoss twins cried foul and, after having failed to crush Facebook through every other means, eventually sued Zuckerberg for violating their intellectual property, even though the projects shared none of the same code.

There are a few choice lines in the movie. Zuckerberg is outraged at the idea that he had stolen anything. The Winklevoss twins still had their idea; it's just that they didn't do anything with it. And what if Zuckerberg had indeed relied in part on someone else's notion? As Zuckerberg is quoted as saying, does "a guy who makes a really good chair owe money to anyone who ever made a chair?" Silly Zuckerberg: using common sense in the face of the arcane and mixed-up world of IP.

Another way to put it is a line Zuckerberg uses in the depositions after the lawsuit. He tells one of the twins, "if you had invented Facebook, you would have invented Facebook." This sounds simple, but it is really all you need to know about the absurdity of such claims. Who wins and who loses in the marketplace is not arbitrary; the marketplace tends to separate the talkers from the doers, the dreamers from the risk takers, the actors from the mere thinkers. If you can't create and can't compete, you can always claim a violation of intellectual property. Hey, under American law, there is nothing you can't use as the basis of a legal extortion scheme.

An essential part of entrepreneurship is choosing which idea, among the millions that hit a person from every direction every day, one is going to use to influence a business venture. At one point in the film, a student comes up to Zuckerberg and asks him whether he knows if some particular girl has a boyfriend and, if so, how serious they are. This gives Mark the idea of permitting users of Facebook to announce their relationship status on their individual pages. The addition of that one feature convinced him that it was time to go live. The new website was launched soon after. By the standards of IP, the fellow student who asked him this question has some stake in the profits of Facebook, because that exchange gave rise to a crucial feature of the website. For that matter, every single user of Facebook has a stake.

By carefully presenting many of the outside influences on Zuckerberg, in a series of brilliant scenes that hit a huge variety of sectors and opinions, the film presents the reality of how ideas come to be, and shows how IP litigation has become a path for losers, a racketeering legal route for the resentful to loot the successful. After all, had Facebook not taken off and been a success, the Winklevoss twins would have never imagined themselves to have been victimized at all. That fact alone shows that there is no real theft involved here.

If someone steals your car, you are a victim whether the robber abandons the car or uses it to win a NASCAR race. IP only ends up being an issue when the defendant makes a go of it. Once any idea becomes a success, you can count on hordes of people to line up and claim that they had it first. Sure enough, the twins use the law to extort millions; and who is right and who is wrong – essential matters of justice – don't even figure into the decision to settle. Yet again: this is all too realistic.

Especially telling is how the twins imagine how they will destroy Facebook out of resentment for Zuckerberg's success. They make no bones about it: they want to wreck it. Here we see how IP ends up creating a moral hazard for the envious to set up barriers to social and economic progress.

I have no idea about the real-life details of the case, but it is possible that the film underplays the extent to which Zuckerberg actually did gain valuable influence from the competitive effort to create the Harvard Connection. And yet, as the film also shows, this is how great ideas come about. No great idea in this world is created out of nothing – contrary to the myth. Great ideas result from the interplay of a huge range of influences in all directions. The winner is the one who makes the commercial reality happen. Until then, it is all talk.

A second legal issue portrayed in the film concerns Zuckerberg's squabbles with his best friend, who was named the CFO of Facebook before being squeezed out of the company when the top players, among whom is another legend, Sean Parker of Napster, concluded that he wasn't really up to the job. This case strikes me as a matter of manners and contract but not intellectual property. The case was settled out of court.

As EconomicPolicyJournal pointed out, this film could end up driving millions of young, code-savvy students to become entrepreneurs, and further entice students into the world of digital enterprise. More than likely, this is not something people will learn in class. They will learn it from their extracurricular exposure to the fast-moving world of commerce and from developing an intuition about what really makes people tick and how to tap into that in the marketplace.

You may not like Facebook, but it has evidently improved life for millions of people. In any case, for decades I've heard the intelligentsia disparage the latest thing, only to find those same people using that very technology a few years later. Today's technology bashers are tomorrow's late adopters.

Just the other day, I visited an elderly gentlemen, a prominent fiction writer, in a retirement home. He treats his desktop computer as his lifeline to the world outside, permitting him to keep up with all his extended family and communicate with friends all over the country. My mind raced back to a conversation I had with him 17 years ago. I had asked him what he thought of the Internet and email (there was no web back then). He said that he regarded these innovations as "the end of the world." He said it with an ominous tone in his voice. Well, perhaps he was right about that, but it was also the beginning of a new world that this very person has since learned to love.

So it is with Facebook. Zuckerberg ended one world and began a new and better one for many millions of people. The Social Network shows how the commercial marketplace gave a code geek a chance to do that and how he did it. It is a film that celebrates the good guys, ridicules the bad guys, shows the reality of what any successful person will face, makes the legal system look like the pathetic enemy of enterprise that it truly is, and provides a tribute to entrepreneurship that is long overdue.

This film is a glorious success – which means of course that it is under attack: A Washington Post reviewer thinks that it doesn't show how private innovation is really just luck of the draw, and it fails to highlight the wonderful essentials of public infrastructure as provided by government.

Yeah, sure, and this reviewer might back a similar movie called The Government Network, starring bureaucrats and their defenders at the Post, and see how it does at the box office.

This appeared on Mises.org.

Jeffrey Tucker [send him mail] is editorial vice president of www.Mises.org

Are U.S. Elections Honest?

Widespread reports of election "irregularities" and skulduggery. Jack Cafferty asks, "How much faith do you have that our elections are honest?"

Poll: Most Americans Worried about Ability to Pay Mortgage or Rent

Americans anxious about their ability to keep up with their mortgage or rental payments are now a majority, according to a new poll.

. . . concerns about housing payments have spiked since 2008 despite some improvements in the overall economy. In all, 53 percent said they are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about having the money to make their monthly payment. Worries are the most intense among those with lower incomes and among African Americans.

Read the story [The Washington Post]

Links:

Foreclosure Fraud: 6 Things You Need To Know About The Crisis That Could Potentially Rip The U.S. Economy To Shreds [The Economic Collapse Blog]

Foreclosure Lawyers Go to Gardner's Farm for Edge on Lenders [Bloomberg]

Rand Paul Campaign Killer?

Rand Paul (R), son of Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), had been doing very well in his U.S. Senate race in Kentcky against his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway (D), the state attorney general. Jack Conway has been running a dirty campaign, and it appears to have been effective. Rand has lost quite a bit of ground recently and the two are reportedly running at a dead heat.

This latest episode of violence by a Rand Paul supporter against a MoveOn provacateur may do serious damage to Rand's campaign, especially this close to the election. MoveOn is an activist far left organization.

Conway and the Dems are expected to run nonstop the following video recording violent behavior by male Rand Paul supporters against the female MoveOn activist until the election. An Info Wars article on the incident says, "It is interesting to note that the man who stomped the woman was a volunteer. In other words, there is a good chance he was a provocateur. In fact, there is a 50-50 chance the entire event was staged to sabotage Paul."

Rand Paul committed no violence, but the heavily pro-Democratic MSNBC has jumped on this and blames him heavily.


Keith Olbermann (MSNBC) Condemns Rand Paul (video)

'Call Me Senator!'

Remember Senator Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) admonition to Brigadier General Michael Walsh at a Senate hearing to call her "Senator" instead of "ma'am"? She appeared completely clueless as eyes rolled, and the encounter went viral on YouTube.

A year later the episode has turned into a spoof directed by David Zucker, who did such films as Airplane and An American Carol.


Apparently quickly realizing her faux pas soon after the original "ma'am, general" exchange last year, Boxer called the general and the two reportedly "expressed their respect for each other."

Big Brother's Voyeurs and Sexual Molesters

The invasion of the traveling public's privacy with full-body scanners at airports continues to escalate.

Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead writes that Congress "actually assisted the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in its ongoing efforts to install these scanners in every airport in the country."

Whitehead says that people have shared their feelings of violation with him, such as one mother who said that her 17-year-old daughter was subjected to a full pat-down when flying from Boston Logan due to the new scanner malfunctioning. "Even when she began to cry, the TSA agent continued the pat down," said the mother, adding that she felt helpless to do anything to stop it.

This writer remembers an elderly English couple in Waikiki a few years ago who told of their ordeal of a body search at an American airport on their way here. They couldn't bring themselves to give the details, but were obviously shocked and revolted at the hands-on procedure. A dignified, white-haired, typically English-looking couple, they looked as likely to be terrorists as the man in the moon, but common sense in this country has been replaced by political correctness years ago. Their Hawaiian vacation irrevocably spoiled by an experience that weighed deeply on them, the violated couple vowed never to come to Amerika again.
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LewRockwell.com

by John W. Whitehead

"I don’t know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747. That’s why we haven’t put them in our airport."
~ Rafi Sela, leading Israeli airport security expert, referring to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, which has some of the toughest security in the world

Michael Roberts, a 35-year-old airline pilot from Memphis, Tennessee, is putting everything on the line for freedom. Concerned about the world his children will grow up in, this father of six young children ranging in age from 10-months to 8-years-old has pitted himself against the American surveillance state as it encroaches upon personal privacy and our constitutional freedoms.

Read more . . .

Link:

Oppose the Porno-Scanners. Write a Letter (But Not to Washington). [LewRockwell.com]

Empowering the Blank Votes

Here's a well-known joke. Two people are sitting in a bar. One says, "Do you think there's too much ignorance and apathy?" The other replies, "I don't know and I don't care."

Now consider the citizen who takes the time to register and then to vote, but who leaves the ballot blank on some contests. That blank vote in any particular contest indicates either that the voter has not taken the time to learn about the candidates, or else the voter knows about the candidates but is disgusted with all of them. That voter, who invested time and effort to register and vote, is neither ignorant nor apathetic about the issues and candidates overall. But by voting blank the voter is admitting both ignorance and apathy regarding a particular contest, or else is proclaiming a rejection of all the candidates and perhaps also anger at having no candidate worthy of support. Some jurisdictions, like Nevada, offer "none of the above" as a choice to show knowledgeable rejection of all candidates; but in Hawaii we have only the blank.

I believe that if "blank" is the actual winner of a contest, then the voters have spoken and all of those candidates have been rejected by the people. In such a case the Governor should appoint someone to fill the office, but the Governor should be prohibited from appointing anyone whose name appeared on the ballot.
In both the primary and general elections of 2008, there were contests for the Board of Education where the number of blank votes was larger than the number of votes received by any of the candidates. OHA contests appear only on the general election ballot. In 2008 three of the four OHA contests had more blank votes than any of the candidates received, while the winner in the fourth contest had fewer than two percent more votes than there were blanks.

For each Board of Education and OHA contest in 2008 where "blank" was the winner; and also for those in 2010, I would like to (have) see(n) the office declared vacant and have the Governor fill it with someone whose name was not on the ballot. Of course it would take a Constitutional amendment to make the change I am recommending. Since no such amendment is on the ballot this year, I suggest that people should vote "yes" on the Constitutional amendment which is actually on the ballot, which proposes that the Governor should appoint the members of the Board of Education.

In Hawaii we've all been told that "blank votes count as 'no' votes on state Constitutional amendments." That's a half-truth. The Constitution is so important that we have a rule that we will not amend it unless the amendment passes by an absolute majority of "all votes cast upon the question." The state Supreme Court has interpreted that to mean that the number of "yes" votes must be larger than 50% of all the votes, where all the votes include yes, no, and blank. However contrary to common sense it may be, a blank is treated as a vote which was cast upon the issue. Therefore there must be more yeses than the combined total of noes and blanks. The practical effect is that a blank counts as though it is a no.

Blank votes are counted as votes, and already have great power when it comes to Constitutional amendments. My proposal merely extends that power to the election of candidates to office.

Blank means no. Silence is not consent. If "blank" is the winner of a contest, that means the voters were either ignorant and apathetic about the candidates or else the voters were knowledgeably and vigorously rejecting them all. Either way, the voters have said they don't want any of those blankety-blank candidates in office. The office should be declared vacant and should be filled by the Governor appointing someone who was not on the ballot.

Perhaps the legislators "in their wisdom" will put my proposal on the ballot in 2012. Meantime, let's pass the Constitutional amendment on this year's ballot to let the Governor appoint the Board of Education.

By the way, to see my recommendations for U.S. House Districts #1 and #2, U.S. Senate, Governor, and 5 OHA trustees, please go to
http://tinyurl.com/2bfgdyf
You'll notice that I recommend casting a blank vote in the OHA election for the Maui seat, because Boyd Mossman is the only candidate and I strongly disapprove of him. I'll bet "blank" beats Mossman, confirming majority support for my attitude toward him. I didn't get around to the Board of Education because my recommendations are focused on opposing the Akaka bill. It's not because I don't know and don't care about the Board of Education. Really. You believe me, don't you?

My friend Danny De Gracia II made an eloquent plea to vote against the Constitutional amendment to make the Board of education appointed by the Governor; because, he said, the right to vote is precious and we should hold on to it tenaciously. But I say the fact that "blank" has won many BOE contests in recent years is evidence that the Governor should appoint them. In the interest of being "fair and balanced" I recommend reading De Gracia's essay in Hawaii Reporter of October 22 at
http://tinyurl.com/386azvd

About Ken Conklin
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Link:

Past Years Election Results [State of Hawaii Office of Elections]

Unemployment Benefits: The 99ers

Even after an extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks, many of those about to go off the program are in a quandary. Scott Pelley talks to some of them in Silicon Valley.


Transcript

Government and Job Creation

by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)

As the current economic downturn shows no signs of lifting, we hear quite a lot of rhetoric from current and potential office-holders about what government can and will do to create more jobs. This is especially disconcerting to those who understand that the best thing government can do for job creation is to simply get out of the way.

Jobs are properly created by businesses. Government-created jobs are either fueled by fiat money and manipulated market conditions or directly funded by taxes paid by businesses and individuals who then have less to hire people for real wealth creation. Government-created jobs destroy wealth and sap potential from the economy. The several stimulus bills passed by Congress have done much to expand government but not much to keep money in the hands of real job creators — the entrepreneurs.

Keynesian economists don’t see things this way. They see government spending as a stop gap measure that tides us over through rough economic patches. But is this really the case?

Far from it. The reality is instead of sustaining us until the economy can catch up, government spending perpetuates the problems the bureaucrats and the politicians created. Maintaining a high level of employment is one of the main objectives of the Federal Reserve, which is just one reason it is ill-conceived at its very core: it legitimizes economic intervention which is always destructive. When unemployment rises after the bust of a Fed-created bubble, you can be sure Congress will attempt to rescue the economy through various policies that will always prolong the agony and expand the downturn.

In the late 90’s, it was thought that encouraging home ownership would have a stimulative effect that would ripple throughout the rest of the economy and create jobs. Various government policies favorable to home ownership were enacted and the Fed kept interest rates artificially low so everyone would be able to buy a home, whether or not they could really afford it. For awhile, it worked. The housing boom increased demand for realtors, mortgage lenders, and construction workers. However, as reality sank in, not only are we back to where we were when the bubble began, but we are actually worse off. For example, not only have we lost all of the one million extra construction jobs the bubble created, but we lost another one million on top of that! So not only did the artificial wealth evaporate, but real wealth has been destroyed as well.

Even more sinister are jobs created by war. Recent reports highlight the increasing dependence on contractors to support our war efforts in Afghanistan. Massive corruption is endemic to these highly lucrative positions. Almost half of the contracting companies we use are Afghan owned and include such business models as recruiting away the very same Afghan police force we are training at great expense to the American taxpayer. Meanwhile we have pledged not to leave until the police force reaches a certain level. We also bribe many Afghans to simply not attack us. We are in a proverbial hole in Afghanistan. Our leaders need to just stop digging.

Neither a Keynesian big spending program, nor the military-industrial complex can create long-lasting employment or economic prosperity for our country. The only way to restore both peace and prosperity is to draw down our overseas commitments, along with unconstitutional spending at home and return to the founders’ vision of a limited republic that neither straddles the globe, nor micromanages the domestic economy.

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