Red October – Socialism, Sweden and Scandinavia

Scandinavian countries are not prosperous because of socialism but despite socialism. They tried socialism; it failed; they rejected it and reinstituted free market capitalism.
Red October – Socialism, Sweden and Scandinavia
By: George Noga – October 15, 2017
      Many Americans, especially millennials and progressives, believe Scandinavian countries, particularly Sweden, are veritable socialist Utopias. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton said so during the last election and were unchallenged by the equally clueless media. Whenever I discuss politics or economics with liberal interlocutors, they invariably cite Sweden as proof that socialism works. They are wrong on all counts; Sweden is neither socialist nor especially wealthy. Let’s look at some history.
        Sweden once was so dirt poor it sent waves of immigrants to America. Circa 1875 Swedes embraced free market capitalism and began to prosper. Around 1970, Sweden took a hard left turn; taxes soared, welfare expanded and private enterprise was discouraged. The predictable result was rampant crime and drug addiction, Kafkaesque bureaucracy, welfare dependency and emigration by successful Swedes. By the 1990s Swedes saw socialism as a colossal failure; they cut taxes, restored free markets and economic freedom; they replaced leftist governments with right-leaning ones.
     The stories of the other Scandinavian countries (Norway, Denmark, Finland) are similar. Today, all four enjoy dynamic market economies albeit with robust social insurance programs financed by high middle class taxes. They can afford such benefits only because of successful capitalist economies that produce sufficient wealth. No socialist economy has ever generated enough wealth to fund such benefits. Sweden is not prosperous because of socialism; it is prosperous because it survived socialism.
       Note: The Scandinavian model of social insurance can only work in small, homogeneous populations with deeply shared and ingrained values, social and cultural cohesion and a middle class (there never are enough rich) willing to accept extraordinarily high tax rates.
       Americans incorrectly believe Scandinavian countries are wealthy; however, they compare very unfavorably to the US. The GDP of Houston, Texas is larger than all of Sweden. If Sweden were a US state it would rank among the very poorest in per capita GDP. Moreover, Sweden is 30% more expensive. This means that when considering both purchasing power and GDP, Sweden would be the poorest US state – by far.
       With the lie of Scandinavian socialism outed, consider if communism, socialism or any collectivist economy ever has produced sustained prosperity. The short answer is never. Socialism may produce short-term gains by nationalizing property, debasing currency, seizing assets and borrowing. This is akin to mortgaging your home, selling your patrimony and stealing your neighbors’ property – all to finance a gigantic party. But the party always ends when the other people’s money runs out.  
       Examples of communism/socialism are Cuba, USSR, North Korea and Venezuela. Their horrors are obvious except to diehard progressives. These are the places to observe the reality of destructive collectivist schemes. Liberals and their media running dogs falsely cite Sweden and Scandinavia as socialist success stories when, in fact, they are socialist failures and capitalist successes. It is all a big lie as indeed all of collectivism is a big lie. Commies promise you Sweden but they give you Venezuela!

Red October continues next week with a healthy dose of commie humor.

Red October – A Tale of Six Islands

Communism promises Xanadu, Valhalla, Elysium and Zion; it delivers North Korea,
Venezuela, USSR and Cuba. It promises a Garden of Eden but delivers hell on earth.
Red October – A Tale of Six Islands
By: George Noga – October 8, 2017
      Our month-long series chronicling 100 years of communism continues; this week we compare island nations with command economies to ones with market economies. There is something about the self-contained nature of islands that invites comparisons. For good measure, we contrast liberal US cities and states with conservative ones.
       Communist Cuba, a brutal dictatorship, has a failed economy; its GDP ranks 137 and its freedom index 171. Most Cubans’ take home pay is $30/month. It is a nihilistic society where one-third of all pregnancies are terminated. Socialist Greece, constantly being bailed out by its neighbors, is a failed state. Uber-liberal Puerto Rico is bankrupt; it owes $75 billion in bonds and $40 billion in unfunded pension liabilities – equal to $100,000 per household. People are rapidly fleeing this crime-riddled wasteland.
       Singapore is rich; less than 20% of its economy is in the public sector and taxes are half that of the US. It ranks #2 in the world for economic freedom. The #1 place for economic freedom is affluent and capitalist Hong Kong. Taiwan, a vibrant free market democracy, ranks high in both wealth and freedom. A mere few generations ago all six of these places were desperately poor. Today, the ones (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan) that chose freedom and capitalism are all rich. The ones (Cuba, Greece, Puerto Rico) that chose collectivist, anti-market schemes are impoverished hellholes.
       Deep blue states (California, New York, Illinois) are hemorrhaging people with 1,000 each day abandoning them for deep red states (Texas, Florida, Utah). They move to escape blue states’ confiscatory taxation, job killing minimum wages, forced unionization, welfare fraud, choking regulations, green energy mandates and social pathologies. As humans always have done, they gravitate to places with economic freedom where household income is $10,000 higher and people are happier.
        Many cities have been governed by progressive politicians, often for more than a half century; Detroit, Newark, Cleveland, Chicago, and Washington come to mind. The legacy of such liberal stewardship is bankruptcy, shrinking population, failed schools, high taxes and crushing debt. They are dismal, dangerous and dirty places. If liberal policies worked, they should be thriving magnets showcasing progressive ideas and the failure of free market capitalism. Instead, contrast these failed cities with successful ones such as Dallas, Houston or Salt Lake City. Whether it be islands, states or cities, it is clear that more liberty and less government works and that socialism fails.
       As I oft have written, liberalism (and every one of its collectivist cousins) is a lie. They promise Utopia, Xanadu, Nirvana, Elysium, Valhalla and Zion but what they give you is death and desperation as in Venezuela, Cuba, the USSR and North Korea. Economist Ludwig von Mises nailed it nearly 75 years ago when he wrote:
    “The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent on abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want the government to be omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into one gigantic post office with every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau.”

Red October continues next Sunday with “Socialism, Sweden and Scandinavia”.

Red October – 100 Years of Communism

A brief history of communism (and its socialist cousins) as it turns 100 this month
Red October – 100 Years of Communism
By: George Noga – October 1, 2017
         This month marks the 100 year anniversary of the communist takeover of Russia. Throughout this centenary month MLLG chronicles the century of communism and its close cousins – socialism, utopianism and collectivism – in our series: Red October.
      From time immemorial, quixotic romantics have dreamt of paradise: Utopia, Elysium, Valhalla, Xanadu, Eden, Nirvana. In the end, all they had to show for their fantasies and delusions was a sea of blood and millions of broken lives. Despite its grisly record, collectivism still exerts a powerful emotional appeal on progressives, who remain slaves to Utopia. Our Red October series documents communism’s century of mental poison and human misery to bestir those beguiled by its siren song.
         America’s first settlements began with Utopian dreams. When colonists arrived in Jamestown everything went into a common store, severing all links between work and benefit. Within 6 months most died from starvation. When another 500 settlers arrived, 440 more died. When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth, the socialistic Mayflower Compact governed them; soon they were eating rats and most died. Like socialism everywhere (Venezuela today), there was starvation in the midst of plenty. Only when they rejected socialism and embraced property rights did the colonists prosper.
         A hundred years of communism has produced death and destruction on a massive scale. Soviet communism killed 50 million, not counting tens of millions in Gulags. Not to be outdone, Mao and the Chicoms killed 70 million. Pol Pot killed 6 million in tiny Cambodia. Then there is Laos, Cuba and North Korea. The toll in death, torture, misery, destruction and suffering is unparalleled in human history. It must be noted that even the reviled Nazis were socialists as Nazi is shorthand for the National Socialist Party. Fear not, the unreconstructed commies will get it right the next time.
         The evils of collectivism are on full display today in oil rich Venezuela – once the wealthiest country in South America. After 18 years of Chavez/Maduro style socialism people are starving. Medical care is unavailable; operating rooms are filthy; and people die for lack of antibiotics. Infant mortality is higher than in war-ravaged Syria as incubators are broken and there no longer is any baby formula. Shortages, including toilet paper, are endemic. Inflation is nearly 800% and the economy has contracted by one-third. People are dying daily in the streets while others are desperately fleeing.
      The gulf between the words and deeds of communism and all forms of collectivism is an unbridgeable abyss. They speak of comradeship, equality, brotherly love, peace, prosperity, progress and freedom. Their deeds result in brutal dictatorships, Gulags, world wars, police states, totalitarianism, economic stagnation, shortages and a general sense of torpor and malaise. They promise Utopia but deliver Venezuela. They want to be judged by their lofty intentions but they are damned by their actions.
        Communism and its collectivist cousins always fail because they are diametrically and fundamentally opposed to human nature – which is deeply ingrained and cannot be overrode. From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs abrogates human nature. Even people as altruistic, homogenous and devout as the Pilgrims chose to starve rather than to modify their humanity to conform to that deadly mantra.
       Collectivism sometimes may work for a family, clan or tribe where familial bonds (a key part of our human nature) override economic incentives. However, throughout human history, there is no example extant where socialism has worked for a group of more than 25 people. Judge collectivists by their actions – not by their words!

Our Red October series continues next Sunday with “A Tale of Six Islands”.

Trump or Cotton versus  **Wild Card** in 2020

Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, but if he falters it will be Tom Cotton. The Democrats have socialists, geriatrics, failed politicians and an intriguing wild card.

Trump or Cotton versus

**Wild Card** in 2020
By: George Noga – September 24, 2017
       Election cycles have become perpetual with one bleeding seamlessly into the next. The GOP is easy to handicap; if the economy is chugging along and if he doesn’t shoot himself in the foot (or even higher) Trump will be the 2020 nominee. If not, it will be Senator Tom Cotton (AR), Harvard Law and a decorated (Bronze Star) officer with two combat tours. He is articulate, a great debater and he unifies all elements of the GOP. Cotton is off and running judging by the time he is spending in Iowa.
       The Democrats’ situation is dismal; they must choose among socialists, geriatrics, and failed politicians; but they do have one wild card. The sclerotic retreads are Bernie Sanders (age 78 in 2020), Hillary Clinton (72) and Joe Biden (78). The failed politicos include Andrew Cuomo and Cory Booker, while the socialists are Pocahontas a/k/a Elizabeth Warren and Sanders. All are seriously considering running in 2020.
        The Democrat candidates fall into two camps. The socialist camp, consisting of Sanders and Pocahontas, at least has a coherent ideology advocating free stuff, single payer healthcare, class warfare and well, socialism. The Dems have moved so far to the left that a socialist could get the nomination. However, in that event they surely would lose in November as only a tiny portion of Americans support socialism.
        The other camp, containing the remaining candidates, has no discernible ideology; it targets a ragtag collection of interest and identity groups: unions, blacks, women, millennials, LGBTQ+, environmentalists and latinos. However, Democrat support is declining among rustbelt unionists and has maxed out in the other groups. Moreover, there are serious fissures and conflicts within this unstable coalition.
        Democrats lack a coherent, credible, unifying, positive message. They still haven’t come to grips with why they lost in 2016. They prefer symbolic to substantive issues. They obsess about transgender restrooms and confederate statues but have no plan for health care, taxation or education. They are all about obstructionism, negativity, name calling, symbolism, interest groups and identity politics. They are clueless about how to deal with existential threats such as North Korea, Russia, Iran and ISIS.
     The face of today’s Democratic Party is foul-mouthed politicians, screeching obscene rioting students, abortion-on-demand snowflakes, environmental protesters who leave behind toxic sludge, obstructionists and protesters against almost anything, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, bullying professors and clueless movie stars threatening to blow up the White House and assassinate Trump. They have lost over 1,000 elected offices and failed dismally after decades of governing blue states and cities. They have turned once prosperous cities and states into bankrupt hellholes.
        Democrat prospects for 2020 are grim. Barring a severe economic downturn, none of the above candidates stands a chance against Trump or Cotton. Every so often a captivating candidate (Obama) comes along, the Republicans self destruct or the electorate tires after several terms of one party rule. None of that will happen in 2020.
       The Democrats have one possible wild card candidate who conceivably could win and he has shown some interest in running. That person is  – – – drumroll please – – – Jamie Dimon! Remember, you read that scoop first here on the MLLG blog.

Our series “Red October” observing the 100th anniversary of communism is next.

All the News is Fake News

The mainstream media are purveyors of propaganda; all their news is fake news!
All the News is Fake News
By: George Noga – September 17, 2017
     The above headline is a slight exaggeration; only 90% of the news is fake. Although Fox, talk radio, Drudge and some print media disseminate real news, the mainstream media (“MSM”) have 10 times the consumers. But it’s far worse than that.
     It’s not just an occasional news story, reporter or organization that is fake or even many that are fake; the MSM all are fake. They knowingly with malice aforethought purvey pure propaganda, which is classically defined as: non objective information used to influence, manipulate and to further an agenda by presenting data selectively to produce a desired response. They no longer even aspire to verisimilitude.
      It begins in journalism schools which draw naif students from the bottom deciles and employ faculty from the farthest left. They are anti-business, pro-government and guzzle progressive kool-aid. Everyone in their bi-coastal world is in lock step. It continues on the job where media employees band together to form caucuses. There are caucuses for women, LGBTQ+, blacks, latinos and many others. These caucuses control how any story involving their group is covered and reported. Following are the principal methods the MSM uses to create fake news – along with examples.
1. They selectively decide which stories to cover and which to ignore. They go into a frenzy over any perceived alt-right scandal while ignoring those on the left. They will cover the fake Trump-Russia story while ignoring the real Clinton email scandal.
2. The caucuses assure all stories conform to predetermined dogma. The best example is the pedophilepriest scandal. It really was all about homosexual priests preying on teenage boys; pedophilia was involved in only 3% of the cases. This mortified the gay caucuses who then misdirected the story to blame virtually non-existent pedophiles.
3. The MSM slant stories to fit their narrative. They bash guns in the wake of mass shootings while ignoring stories where guns stopped crimes. The most egregious example is Appalachian State where 204 of 208 papers covering the story knew but failed to report that legal firearms were responsible for stopping the tragedy.
4.  Stories about right wing extremism (which are rare) are featured and repeated ad nauseum. Extremism on the left (which is plentiful) is ignored. The peaceful Tea Party is bashed while violent Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and Antifa get passes.
5. Whenever a story (even an isolated one) confirms a liberal prejudice, it is treated as being typical. A story that contradicts a liberal bias is treated as an isolated incident. A white cop shooting a black suspect is treated as an example of (very rare) police racism while a story about Muslim terrorism (very common) is regarded as Islamophobia.
6. If something untoward happens on the right, it is a scandal; if it happens on the left, they focus on extraneous factors. They used leaked information to enflame the (fake) Trump-Russia story while condemning leaks involving the (real) Obama unmaskings.
     It is madness to expect honest reporting from journalists who, even today, revere Walter Cronkite as an icon, hero and saint. Cronkite achieved his legendary status by an act of gross journalistic malpractice via his misreporting on the Tet offensive. In any field of human endeavor other than journalism Cronkite would be held in disrepute.
      Finally, recall the editor of Newsweek who defended his unconscionable reporting of the Duke lacrosse rape story by saying: “The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong.” The MSM purveys propaganda – not news; all their news is fake news!

The next post takes a fearless, but way too early, look at the 2020 election.

Montana Moments – Vestiges of the Wild West

Vestiges of the wild west – Packer’s Roost, Blue Moon and the Bulldog Saloon
Montana Moments – Vestiges of the Wild West
By: George Noga – September 13, 2017
       Vestiges of the frontier and the wild west persist in Montana. Hungry Horse (pop 826) 15 miles east of Whitefish is one. In the severe winter of 1900 two draft horses, Tex and Jerry, got lost. They were found a month later in chest high snow and survived; hence, the town’s name. John Steinbeck stayed there while writing his highly acclaimed book: Travels with Charley: In search of America. Steinbeck wrote, “For other states I have admiration and even some affection; but with Montana it is love.
       Packer’s Roost is an outre biker bar in Hungry Horse, rumored to be named after convicted cannibal Alfred Packer. It is notable mainly for its former patron Ted Kaczynski a/k/a/ the Unibomber. This was his haunt while evading the FBI. It is unchanged from Kaczynski’s days and remains intimidating given the swarm of bikers milling around. It is no place for snowflakes, cupcakes or mollycoddles.
       Just a few miles east of Whitefish is the Blue Moon Nite Club, a local fixture since 1940. We drove past it for years but were too apprehensive to venture inside. Finally, one Saturday night we took the plunge. I found a safe, well lit parking place and asked my wife to remain locked in the car while I made a foray inside. What I found was hard to imagine outside of Montana. We now are Blue Moon habitues and make it a point to take all our house guests there for an authentic Montana experience.
      Saturday night at the Blue Moon is well outside most peoples’ experiential grasp. It has a live country and western band and spacious dance floor. People of all ages and backgrounds dance and enjoy the music. Nearly everyone is local and most are decked out in full western regalia. There are many accomplished dancers; however, everyone is comfortable participating – even a few old folks visiting from Florida.
      Adjoining the dance floor is a long bar populated by working cowboys straight from the ranch quaffing Kokanee, the local brew. Although some appear wasted, they are unerringly polite. There is a casino with numerous jangling slot machines, the de rigueur live poker game and, of course, pool tables. The rest rooms contain avant-garde art, if you follow my drift. Prices are ridiculously low; beer is $1.50 and good scotch $7.00.  The gestalt of all this unfolding simultaneously is something to behold.
       On Central Avenue, Whitefish’s main street, sits the Bulldog Saloon. Bulldog’s is a bar cum restaurant cum poker room. It is packed with locals and also with visiting Canadians because it accepts Canadian dollars at par for alcohol. In the back is a poker area straight out of a western movie set – and a place I frequent. Montana has no-limit Texas hold’em poker, with the games usually in saloons. Families patronize Bulldog’s despite restrooms plastered with “art” that would make a porn star blush. Only last year did they post warnings for kids. Bulldog’s website is
     Something inenarrable unfolds on summer weekends precisely at 2:00 AM when bars and poker games close. Hundreds of well lubricated young people flood unto Central Avenue and the ensuing 15 minutes is a truly unforgettable Montana moment!

Drinking and Driving in America – Part II Toward a New and Better Paradigm Based on Actions

We present a much better better plan for dealing with drinking and driving. 
Drinking and Driving in America – Part II
Toward a New and Better Paradigm Based on Actions
By: George Noga – September 10, 2017
      Part I of our series highlighted serious flaws in America’s present blood alcohol (BAC) based drinking and driving laws. This post presents a superior paradigm, one that focuses on a driver’s actions much more than on his/her BAC. We should be far more concerned with what a driver does than with his/her blood alcohol level.
    Driving with elevated (.08%) BAC would remain illegal; however, it would be a misdemeanor; offenders would receive citations similar to traffic tickets. Speeding fines increase with the speed over the limit; so it would be for BAC above .08%. Ultra high BAC (above .2%) can be dangerous and should be a serious offence. Open containers would be legal; this behavior harms no one and is part of our liberty.
     Our new paradigm punishes actions more than conditions. There would be no added penalty for driving with elevated BAC if stopped for a non-moving violation such as an expired tag. Lesser moving violations (creeping through a stop sign) would carry added fines for elevated BAC. Speeding with elevated BAC would be a much more serious offense. In all cases, the higher the BAC, the more severe the penalty.
    Dangerous actions (careless/reckless driving, causing an accident) with elevated BAC are dealt with more harshly than at present. The worst drunken driving offenders permanently forfeit their right to drive. Special law enforcement units would monitor such offenders with surprise inspections and immediately jail offenders. Drivers under age 21 would have zero tolerance for BAC above zero. Drivers 16-18 would be subject to restrictions on number of passengers and a curfew. If they drive with BAC above zero, they lose the right to drive for a long time and are subject to the inspections.
     Focusing on actions more than on conditions (BAC) has five major benefits. 
1. It punishes truly dangerous actions of drivers with elevated BAC much more than the present system. It permanently removes the most dangerous drunk drivers from the roads. It deals much more harshly with high risk young drivers who drink.
2. Drivers are incentivized to minimize BAC, to drive safely and to obey all traffic laws. The present system makes little distinction between BAC levels and treats drivers above the limit the same whether they are driving safely or recklessly.
3. Penalties are fair, logical, proportional and progressive. Drivers always know where they stand. As long as they drive safely, their BAC is not a factor. They needn’t worry that a one-thousandth of one percent change in BAC will totally upend their lives.
4. It breeds respect for the law. Currently, hordes of responsible Americans flaunt open container and drinking and driving laws. Tens of millions drive each day after having a few drinks, knowing it is sheer caprice who gets ensnared in the BAC dragnet.
5. All Americans will have more liberty and less government intrusion into their lives. They can live their lives under a logical and rational legal framework for alcohol. A couple can enjoy a dinner together with a bottle of wine without being criminalized.
     Technology is alleviating the problem; Uber and ride sharing already have made a huge impact. Ultimately, self-driving cars will finish the job. Until that becomes a reality however, America needs to abandon the BAC paradigm and embrace a new paradigm based on driver actions rather than on driver conditions.
     I began the prequel to this series with a personal anecdote when I was 20 years old. I’ll end with another anecdote a half-century later. A while back, I got a speeding ticket while driving home from my club late at night. I got ticketed only because I had not consumed any alcohol that night and was driving normally. Had I consumed alcohol, I would have strictly observed the speed limit. There is a moral in there somewhere.

September 17th is the final Montana Moments posting for this summer.

Reliance on Blood Alcohol is Wrongheaded

The risk of dying from drunken driving is about the same as falling off a ladder.
Drinking and Driving in America – Part I
Reliance on Blood Alcohol is Wrongheaded
By: George Noga – September 7, 2017
       Drinking and driving laws are based on blood alcohol concentration or BAC; this is a deeply flawed paradigm. A BAC of .079% is legal; should it be one-thousandth of one percent higher at .080%, your life becomes a living hell. Penalties are not much harsher for BAC above .08%. If you are arrested driving recklessly at double that BAC, your penalty is not much more than for driving safely at .08% BAC.
      BAC is relative; it varies based on weight, gender, BMI, physical condition, time, genetics, food consumption, testing equipment and factors still unknown. Different studies reach conflicting conclusions about how much alcohol it takes to reach .08%. One widely accepted study shows consuming 8 ounces (1.6 glasses) of wine over 75 minutes put half the subjects over the limit. The NTSB now wants to lower BAC by nearly 40% to .05%, criminalizing driving after drinking of one glass of wine.
      The term “impairment” is grotesquely misused. The proper standard should be when alcohol first becomes a potential danger – not the onset of impairment. People are impaired for myriad reasons: age, health, combing hair, applying cosmetics, talking, texting, children in the car, music, medicines, eating, emotions, drowsiness, dogs, insects, day dreaming and drinking hot coffee. If an impairment standard is to be used, a great many people (perhaps most) would be disqualified from driving.
       I can’t find one study that objectively assesses the risks of drinking and driving. Most studies use an “alcohol was involved” standard. That term is meaningless because it is applied when: (1) only a passenger was drinking; (2) the driver’s BAC was legal; (3) the person drinking wasn’t at fault; and (4) a pedestrian was drinking. There are studies that tangentially shed some light. One state determined that fatalities were caused by speeding (37%), no seat belt (31%), other (19%) and alcohol (13%). In Florida, only 400 of 32,000 accidents studied (1.25%) “involved” BAC above .08%. Again, beware the term “involved” as alcohol was not necessarily the cause.
      Basic logic dictates drinking and driving is not the bogeyman most believe. The Orlando, FL SMA has 15,000 establishments serving alcohol, plus people drink at work, home and elsewhere. I estimated how many drink each day and then drive. In a year that number is 50 million which results in one death per million in Orlando. To place this in perspective, that risk is the same as dying falling from a ladder, drowning in a bathtub or being electrocuted. You are 10 times more likely to die in a fire.
      Laws based on BAC do little to deter those who are a real threat. Instead, they criminalize anodyne behavior and make responsible Americans even more cautious. They inject the heavy hand of government into everyday life and diminish our liberty. Today’s laws result from pressure groups brandishing ersatz statistics and are not based on objective reliable data. The pressure for ever more Draconian alcohol laws comes mainly from bi-coastal elites attempting to impose a nanny state on America.
      In a nation of 325 million there always will be horrific drunken driving accidents. They never can be totally eliminated even in places where drinking and driving is banned. In the final part of this series we present a plan that reduces drinking and driving accidents while resulting in more liberty and less government for America.

Next up is the final part of our series: Drinking and Driving in America.

Drinking and Driving – A Personal Anecdote

This personal anecdote is a prequel to our series about drinking and driving. 
Drinking and Driving – A Personal Anecdote
By: George Noga – September 3, 2017
     Proper public policy about drinking and driving can be summed up in one phrase: laws should focus on actions rather than on conditions. I present a persuasive case that America’s current approach to drinking and driving is wrongheaded. Please bear with me until you have read the entire two-part series of which this anecdote is a prequel.
       It was 2:30 AM on New Year’s Day 1964; I was 20 years old and driving home. I carelessly ran out of gas but luckily it was near an all night gas station. I walked to the station for a container of gas. Just as I began pouring gas into the car, two policemen arrived. It was obvious I was sloshed as I labored to hold the funnel and pour the gas. One officer, with a straight face, asked if I had been drinking. It was New Year’s, my car had college and fraternity decals and my motor skills were clearly impaired.
      My understated reply was that I had a few drinks earlier in the evening. The second officer asked if I was okay to drive. I blathered something to the effect that I could get home and would be exceedingly careful doing so. The police then suggested I stop at a nearby diner for coffee, whereupon they left with the parting admonition: “Be careful.
I returned the gas container, stopped for coffee and drove home uneventfully.
      There are several fecund facets of this story to speculate about. It could be argued I received privileged treatment as I was a white, well dressed, respectful college student. Legally, it could be argued the officers had not observed me driving; however, they could have held me for public intoxication or simply waited for me to drive and then cited me. Or, they could have held me for underage drinking. However, I knew from the outset the worst thing that would happen to me would be going to the station and drinking coffee with the officers until they deemed me okay to drive.
    The police evaluated the situation and correctly concluded I was not a threat to anyone. In that pre-Vietnam era, police would go out of their way to be helpful and their respect was reciprocated. Not only was there no animus between young people and police, there was a reservoir of good will. That is why I intuitively grasped I would not be charged with any violation. That is how things were in 1964 America.
    If the same incident occurred today, I would be jailed and charged with DUI. Lacking $10,000 for competent legal defense, I would be saddled with a permanent criminal record and forever barred from the military and many other jobs. I would be subject to a staggering array of risible sanctions including suspended/restricted driving, car boots, hackneyed counseling, alcohol/GPS monitors, curfews, fines, community service, asset forfeiture and even jail time. All of this would be followed by years of highly invasive probation. Is this truly better for America than the situation in 1964?
    I know many readers may diverge from me on this subject and I again ask that you suspend reaching a conclusion until you read the following parts of this series. If you agree with the present drinking and driving paradigm, the facts and logic will lead you in a different direction, i.e. to a policy that penalizes actions rather than conditions.

Next up in 3-4 days is Part I of our series: Drinking and Driving in America

Montana Moments – No Crying in Montana

The local PTA raised money by raffling an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle
and, but of course, the local community college offers courses in gunsmithing.
Montana Moments – No Crying in Montana
By: George Noga – August 27, 2017
     The first thing that hits you about Montana, other than the ubiquitous Rand Paul signs, is its size. When we first began summering in Whitefish, I mentioned to a friend, who had a ranch 100 miles east of Billings, that perhaps we could visit some weekend. He said, “George, that’s a 600 mile drive.” I made the same mistake visiting Europeans make, i.e. misunderstanding the scale. When looking at a map, Europeans believe they can drive from Whitefish to Chicago in one day; it really is 1,600 miles distant.
     A few years ago Montana’s population surpassed one million for the first time. Instead of  happiness and gratification, the news was greeted throughout the state with unalloyed dismay, bewilderment and consternation. Until recently, it was tough to find a national newspaper in Whitefish. We once stopped at a large general store to inquire if they carried USA Today. The perky 16 year old young lady who waited on us instantly replied, “We do not consider ourselves to be part of the USA.”
     Once I was beginning a round of golf along with three native Montana friends when the starter permitted a group of women to go ahead of us even though it was our turn. When questioned about his louche behavior by one of our group, the starter replied that one of the women had cried and he felt sorry for her. One of my Montana friends said, “There is no crying in golf“. The words were scarcely out of his mouth when the other two Montanans exclaimed in unison, “There is no crying in Montana“!
      In nearby Kalispell there are big box stores with alarms that go off when customers fail to remove anti-shoplifting tags. The alarms go off constantly and the explanation always is the same. The customers are packing heat and they forgot to leave their guns in the car. Despite the ubiquity of guns, the gun homicide rate in the Flathead Valley is less than one every four years. When police make a traffic stop, they expect to see a gun inside the car; it is no big deal. The local PTA recently raised money by raffling an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. You read that right; the school raised money auctioning an assault rifle. Of course, the local community college offers a course in gunsmithing.
    A local man whose daughter was murdered (by a former boyfriend) with a gun blames the killer, not the gun. He remarked, “Having a gun is pretty much just a normal thing.” He went on to say that his daughter had her own .270 hunting rifle and that she recently got two bucks and mounted them herself. This leads to something my son (who moved to Whitefish four years ago) often says, “The girls here all know how to skin a deer, but they don’t know which fork to use.” That may not be all bad.
    Eastern Montana is part of the great plains where large farms proliferate. People there vote Democrat due to a populist tradition and huge agricultural subsidies. The mountainous western part of the state is conservative except for a liberal enclave in Missoula – home to the University of Montana. Locals are fond of saying that the best part of living in Missoula is that it is only ten minutes away from Montana.