May 142008

I had a dream last night (perhaps I should say today since I slept all day) about my first visit to New York City. I was only 16 years old and went back to New York to visit the family of a school friend. It was a wild and crazy time – seeing Times Square (before the renovation) heading to the top of the Empire State Building, seeing Cats on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theater, getting drunk with my buddy and his parents than wandering Manhattan and freaking out over all the lights. And I never did feel like I really saw a quarter of what the city has to offer. But then again, I was only there for a week and with two days in Myrtle Beach last week I felt the exact same way. Moral of the story: New York City has more than 3 times the amount of stuff to do than Myrtle Beach, SC.

Which is why if you’re planning a trip to New York you need to first visit this site: Things to do in New York City. That’s the New York page at Trusted Tours & Attractions I’ve written about them here before. Most recently in my post regarding things to do in Boston. They are the absolute kings of sightseeing tours with tickets to tours and attractions in 23 cities across America.

In fact, if you love to travel, you’re going to want to sign up for their newsletter as they’re always adding new tours and special offers. And if you sign up this month you’ll be entered into a drawingfor a $150 iTunes gift card!

Apr 212008

From Liberty Vol. 10, No. 2 – June 2, 1984-


[New York Sun.]

CHICAGO, April 21. – Emerson & Co., commission merchants, yesterday received a postal card order from Tuscola, Ill. for a supply of blackberries. They were surprised at the order until it was discovered that the postmark bore a date of Aug. 15, 1882, and that the card had been twelve years in transit from Tuscola. The sender of the car, J. C. Russell, removed Tuscola several years ago.

[The State may be slow, but it seems that it is sure. Perhaps if we give it time enough, it will accomplish everything it has undertaken. We complain because we are hasty and unreasonable. Give it twelve years, and it will deliver a postal card; give it twelve hundred years, and it will clean the streets, and so on. However, this is only hypothesis.]

Benjamin R. Tucker’s Liberty, was the most prominent periodical of individualist anarchism in the years 1881-1908, and probably of any period. You can find all 403 issues of Liberty and the 8 issues of the German-language Libertas in pdf form at Travelling In Liberty.

Apr 092008

From the New York Times

March 17, 2008, 3:10 pm

That Falling Crane . . . By the Numbers
By The Editorial Board

A crane fell at a construction site on the East Side of Manhattan on Saturday, leaving death and destruction in its wake. The accident gave urban dwellers, who often have a gallows humor about walking underneath large cranes and elaborate scaffolding, one more thing to be worried about.

A few data points:

Height of the crane: 22 stories
Weight of the crane “collar”: 12,000 lbs. (est.)
Number of people killed: 7
Number injured: 24
Number of buildings crushed into rubble: 1
Number of buildings evacuted: 17
Explanations for how this could happen: 0 (so far)

Of course, that was written just a few days after the crane collapsed. Since then we have had several explanations, though no definitive answer (if one is even possible). But my concern doesn’t lie in determining the cause or even the responsible party. I’ll gladly leave that to the victims and the investigators they choose to employ. Instead, I’d like to point out that this is exactly the type of incident that people use as an argument for government. These people claim that we need government bureaucracies to protect us from such incidents. Well, we had all kinds of governments checks in place and this disaster still occurred. Let’s take a look at the layers of government that failed to protect us from this incident-

From ABC News on March 20, 2008-

A New York City crane inspector has been arrested for allegedly falsifying paperwork to show that on the same day a caller complained of unsafe conditions at the Manhattan work site where a crane later collapsed and killed seven on East 51street, he investigated and found no evidence of unsafe conditions.

The inspector, instead of going to the site, allegedly faked the paperwork to indicate that he did investigate the complaint, city officials said.

After initially stating he had conducted an inspection, he later admitted to investigators that he had not, officials said.

Edward Marquette, 46, has been arrested and arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on felony charges of falsifying records and filing a false report. The $52,283-a-year city employee faces up to four years in prison.

In other words, we pay this guy more than $50k/year to keep us safe and he simply ignores that job and fills out paperwork claiming he has completed it. After all, there aren’t that many accidents anyway, so why bother actually going out and doing the inspections? The experts on the construction site are not only better qualified but more motivated to keep things safe as it’s their lives and dollars at risk. Sounds like a pretty good use of $50,000 in stolen tax money, doesn’t it? Not to mention all of the non-salary expenses involved in running his office.

But wait, there’s more! From NewsDay on April 3, 2008-

A state employee has been removed from his job after investigators found he helped about 200 unqualified crane operators get certified in New York State between 1985 and 2000, according to an inspector general report.

The crane operators all failed a required practical exam, but were certified anyway by a state Department of Labor employee, Frank Fazzio, who was also on the Crane Operating Examining Board. Fazzio, investigators said, even issued himself a bogus certificate.

Fazzio has been suspended from his $82,000-a-year job, and the state suspended the licenses of 197 crane operators in November. Since then, 75 of those operators have re-taken their certification test and 38 passed.


The inspector general’s office found that state labor officials were notified about 42 improperly issued crane certificates in 2004, but failed to act. Also, investigators found that the agency’s testing controls were poor, noting that board members grade exams and decide appeals of their own decisions.

So the taxpayers are spending $82k/year so that someone who isn’t qualified to operate a crane can certify that 200 other people can operate a crane, despite the fact that they can’t. Brilliant!  Thank God the government is their to protect us from such tragedies!

By now, you’re no doubt wondering what system could be more effective than government at protecting us from such disasters.  The answer is a fairly simple one: the free market.  In today’s world every construction company carries tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dollars worth of liability insurance to protect their businesses in case of just such an accident.  One of the requirements of receiving that insurance is that the construction company gets all of the proper government inspections and permits.

Remove government from the picture and those insurance companies are still going to want inspections.  However, instead of counting on the government monopoly inspectors they’ll use a private inspection company.  That company will be sure to actually do the inspections (as opposed to simply filling out a form claiming its been done) because should it come out that no inspection was done, they will be held liable both personally and as a business.  Unlike the government inspector who will not be paying a dime to those damaged by his laziness and ineptitude or the government (who will just steal more money from the citizenry as it has no funds of its own.).  With an open market in construction inspection companies would be forced to stand on their prior history of th ework rather than simply being used becuase they’re part of the government.

Dec 292007

The interconnectivity and searchability is both a blessing and a curse. Especially when it comes to maintaining a personal site such as Philaahzophy. Everyone’s Googled themselves at some point and they’ve likely used the Big g as a starting point for finding old friends, lovers and acquaintances as well. Much of my past I like to remain in my past, but this holiday season has brought surprise greetings from past friends and associates that were welcome as well. The most intriguing was from a pair of slam poets I used to do worj with back in my non-profit days. Their pieces were always fairly personal ones and many were about their day jobs, so I’m going to need to look up some of their more recent work and see what they have to say about being New York movers. I’m not talking ‘high society movers and shakers’, but good old fashioned furniture movers. I’ve always pictured movers (especially New York movers) as big grumpy guys easily schlepping heavy items up eight flights of stairs, pointlessly grumbling about it all the way while munching on two week old cigars. The funny part is this description couldn’t be much farther from the truth if I tried 8)

Dec 102007

The Federal reserve is expected to cut interest rates by 1/4% again tomorrow morning. This will be the third time The Fed has cut the interest rate this year causing more inflation in their attempts to further manipulate the supposedly free market in America. Last week the Bank of England also cut their interest rate. All these rate cuts are contributing to the weakening power of the dollar, but they could be good for you. That is, if you have been paying attention to the, admittedly meager, financial advice I’ve been sharing here and have been converting your savings to precious metals. This morning the New York Spot gold price spiked up around 18 dollars an ounce, and silver prices spiked as well, though not as dramatically.

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