Help buy a billboard for Ron Paul in Las Vegas!

12/4/11: Success!! We have reached our goal! Thank you all who have donated!!

12/13/11: Updated information on this project can be found here: http://robertfellner.blogspot.com/2011/12/ron-paul-billboard-is-up.html

This billboard:

Is going here:

Get ready to see this billboard on Main Street Las Vegas for 2 months!

I live in downtown Las Vegas and this is the Charleston Blvd and Main Street intersection here in Las Vegas. I drive past it very often and can personally attest that it receives a tremendous amount of traffic. Moreover this particular billboard is illuminated at night and is by far the most visible in the area. You can clearly see it from multiple angles of the intersection.

The billboard reads "The only candidate who predicted the economic crisis is the only one who can fix it." It can be seen more clearly here: http://www.revolutionpac.com/actions/. I am working with The Revolution Pac to tweak it so that it reflects the appropriate information for the Nevada Caucus date of Feb 4th.

I think this is a good idea for a few reasons. Obviously more exposure and advertising for Ron Paul is always a great thing. I particularly think focusing on his successful prediction of the housing crisis, his deep understanding of it, and consequently his ability to fix it, is very important in Las Vegas. As everyone knows, Las Vegas was hit harder than any other city in the country by the housing collapse. Our economy is in terrible shape. Voters here are naturally going to care about these issues significantly more-so than normal and as such it seems a perfect fit to highlight Ron Paul's unique skills and advantages to them in this area.

Ok so now down to brass tax. Ideally I would like to have this billboard up starting Dec. 12th until Feb. 6 (caucus is on Feb 4). The cost to rent the billboard is $1440 per 4 week period. Thus this would cost $2880. However there is also a $600 production cost plus tax ($48.60) which results in a total cost of $3530. I will donate $1030 myself and am seeking the additional $2500 from my fellow Ron Paul supporters to make this happen. Obviously more money would be great and could mean more billboard locations. In the unfortunate event I fail to raise the additional $2500, I will hopefully be able to at least raise $1k so that I can get the billboard for the 4 weeks right before the caucus.

In the event I raise more money than needed to cover the costs, but less than required to buy additional billboards, (so say we raise $2600, surplus would be $100) all those proceeds would be donated to the Revolution Pac. More info on them can be found at www.revolutionpac.com.

I am working with members of The Revolution Pac on this project, but I am not directly related or affiliated with them. Any questions, please don't hesitate to email me at robfellner@gmail.com. Please spread the word and/or donate today! Obviously there is only a small window of time to complete this in, so time is of the essence! Thank you.

WE did it!!

Update (12/4/11) - We have moved the target date up to Monday 12/5/11! We currently need to raise $2100 $1230 more. Please share this and donate as much as you can so we don't lose out on this amazing opportunity! Again, if we don't raise the money soon enough, we will lose out on this amazing location for the Ron Paul billboard.

If you do not want your name displayed, please indicate that in the comments section of the donation form!

Jon-Paul Francini - Ramsey, NJ
MME Holdings Ltd. - Henderson, NV
Black and Blue LLC - Glenville, NY (3X!)
Elaine Smith - Prairie City, OR
Vincent Palmeri - Las Vegas, NV
Linda Vulovic - Belle Mead, NJ
Veloflyte Inc - San Jose, CA
Hak Soo Kim - San Jose, CA
Jim Lodwick - Austin, TX
The VegasPatriot - Las Vegas, NV
Charles Crenshaw - Evansville, IN
Alice Hewey - Hannawa Falls, NY
Karl Mascak - Seville, OH
William Arluck - Bayside, NY
Harris Kirk - Richmond, VA
Valdez Heli-Camps - Valdez, AK
Ryan Treat -  Grovetown, GA
Michael Bober - Leominster, MA
Mike Descarfino - Brooklyn, NY
Justin Kerenyi - Atlanta, GA
Jeffrey Wyatt - Las Vegas, NV
Sylvain Anichini - Andover, NJ
Matthew Ciofani - Charleston, SC
Nick McKeldin - Las Vegas, NV
Ashley Pouryamini - Fullerton, CA
And several more donors who wished to remain anonymous! If you would like me to remove your name from the above list now that we have reached our goal, please email me at robfellner@gmail.com!


Focusing merely on the symptom as opposed to the underlying cause.

I tend to get sucked into debates on specific examples of government failure that have false assumptions about the larger issues at play. That’s a problem I need to work on. If the framework through which we are viewing an event is fundamentally misguided, it follows whatever we discover will necessarily be deficient. One example of this concept is when discussing any of the various manifestations of the government "keeping us safe". This could be the Drug War, War on Terror, TSA, DHS, FDA, and so forth. It is very easy to get drawn into a debate on the specifics of whatever anecdote that prompted the conversation to begin with, when the problem is of a much more broad and fundamental nature.

One of the really giant flaws of the government provision of safety, is that there is no ability to accurately measure tradeoffs, and thus make efficient or rational decisions. As I’ve tried to stress earlier, there is no such thing as being safe. There are obviously varying degrees of relative safety, but the ultimate goal of being perfectly safe is, by the very nature of human action, impossible to achieve. Allocating resources in an efficient matter may be one of the most critical elements necessary in order to achieve prosperity. However when you provide the government with a task that is literally impossible to achieve and thus will never be reached, the failure to allocate resources efficiently which is endemic to the nature of bureaucracy, is magnified exponentially.

Anyway, this example is about a 88 year old business man being shut down by the feds because he sells a product that can be used in the process of manufacturing an illegal drug. The rationale behind the Drug War is quite simple: Drugs are bad, let’s eliminate them and keep people safe. Well in addition to utterly failing at the goal of eliminating them, all the government provision of “safety” in this area does is make people less safe via criminalization, while also imposing enormous costs on society that are mostly unintended. There is no ability to calculate whether or not this trade off is worth it, as the government funds this (and all of its) operation through coercive means.

And that is of much greater significance than whatever most recent example of government failure it is we are discussing at the moment. There are those who believe these failures are an exception to the rule, and if the system could be tweaked a bit, different people voted in and so forth, these aberrations of an otherwise noble effort to rid the world of drugs would vanish and the system can finally get on working as intended. When in reality, the imposition of costs on innocents, the waste of resources, and the logically unavoidable failure to achieve the objective assigned to the bureaucracy are endemic features of a bureaucratic operation - not outliers.

The Drug War is perhaps the most effective example one can use to demonstrate these concepts. This is something where even when 75% of the population feels it is a failure, as does several top members of the FBI, DEA, and even former “Drug Czars”, still the nature of the bureaucratic agency is such that it only grows larger in conjunction with each successive degree of failure. Forced to face these realities while simultaneously trying to remain blind to the plight of millions of fellow citizens rotting in prisons for a victimless crime, the illusion of political representation or the idea that voting can in anyway effect, impede, or reform what perceive to be undesirable government agencies, is shattered with stunning clarity.

By no means is this limited to the Drug War. Virtually the identical analysis can be applied in all instances of government efforts to keep us safe. Here is an example of the FDA debating mandatory salt reductions in food, where the unintended negative costs extend beyond the obvious loss of property rights to the parties involved. The TSA, Department of Homeland Security, and War on Terror more broadly, is a textbook example of the failure for bureaucracies to conduct cost-benefit analysis and obviously the costs here are astronomical, both in the immediate sense and the long term.  The costs from circumventing the rule of law itself are incalculable, but further demonstrate the atrocity created when government is tasked with providing safety to its people. In fact, John Mueller, the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies and Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University just co-authored a book on this very topic titled, "Terror,Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs ofHomeland Security". Reason wrote up a brief blog post on this work titled, "Why We Should Fear Bathtubs More than Terrorists" that includes a must watch video-interview with the authors.


Ron Paul Supervoter Bomb!

In what I feel is one of the most effective efforts to support Ron Paul out there right now, The Revolution Pac has launced their Supervoter Bomb! This is an effort in which they are directly targeting "supervoters" - Registered Republicans who have voted in both the 2008 and 2010 elections - in the key primary states of NH and Iowa, by mailing them information on Ron Paul, a DVD copy of the Ron Paul "For Liberty" movie, and a handcrafted letter by the great Dr. Thomas E. Woods. The election in these states will be decided by a matter of 10 or 20k votes, possibly much less, this could be what makes the difference.

Recent polls have indicated Ron Paul is in a statistical tie for 1st place, those same polls indicate more than 10% of voters are still undecided, and 60% of voters are open to changing their mind. This is how we win! Donate today!


A shocking example of government run amok, is it time to re-think the role of government?

There is a story making the rounds of the Nevada news this past week, with the Las Vegas Weekly asking, "Did the Health District go too far to regulate a farm-to-table event?" The author seems to reach the conclusion by the end of the article that, yes, they did. The I-Team on 8newsnow.com did an investigation on this story as well that can be found here. There is a 4 minute video that accompanies the article that I highly recommend watching as well. Quoting from the Las Vegas Weekly piece here is a brief summary of what transpired:

Quail Hollow Farm in Overton had—or tried to have, anyway—a “farm-to-table” dinner last month. This is when a chef takes vegetables and freshly butchered meats and serves them up right there at the farm to fancy food types—“locavores”—who like their food really fresh. Sounds pretty great, right?
Well, someone at the Southern Nevada Health District saw an ad for the event and decided to get on the case.

The health department called farm owners Laura and Monte Bledsoe and said they’d need a special-use permit because it was a “public” event. They complied, or tried to at least.
The night of the event, the guests arrived at the farm, and so did the food inspector. Here were the issues, according to Laura Bledsoe: Some prepared food packages had no labels; some of the meat was not USDA certified; some food was prepared in advance off-site and not up to proper temperature; vegetables were declared unfit; and there were no receipts for food.


In the end, the health inspector demanded that bleach be poured on the food, including vegetables, to ensure it was not consumed.
The aforementioned articles do a great job of summarizing the events as they transpired. The I-Team investigation even gets the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) supervisor to confess that she does not agree with all the laws, but must enforce them anyway. What none of these articles seem to address, however, is the underlying premise that allows for these types of incidents to occur. That premise is the idea that it is the government's job to keep us safe.

There is quite a bit wrong with such an idea. The very first thing one must point out is that the idea of total safety is an impossible goal. We can do things to increase our relative safety but for something to be perfectly safe, is impossible. The very nature of human action and the fact that the future is uncertain precludes such a state of affairs from being reached. Now I am sure that most people are aware of this concept. The reason I wanted to reiterate it, is that if we task the government to achieve a goal which can never be reached, there are no limits to the actions it can take, as long as it justifies them as being made in the interest of attempting to achieve this unachievable goal - in this case, public safety.

This is a problem. America has a very proud heritage of the principles of individual liberty and freedom. Another concept that goes hand and hand with these principles is the idea of personal responsibility. It is worth pointing out, this is very much the tradeoff one makes when adulthood is reached. In exchange for the freedom acquired of being an adult, the immunity from taking responsibility for your actions as a child fades away. You are now free to do as you please, but with that freedom comes ownership and responsibility for oneself and the choices you make.

These are desirable traits of being an adult, as well as the hallmarks of a free society. Historically in America, the role of government has been to protect the rights of individuals so that a free society could flourish. Over the past few generations that simple yet crucial role has been diminished in importance, however, and replaced with another objective instead - safety. One needs only attempt to step on an airplane, turn on the tap water, or in this case, grow your own food, to see the effects of a government more concerned with "keeping you safe" than it is with protecting your property rights.

But the ambiguous nature of such a task - "to protect and promote the public health and safety", is incompatible with a free society and the protection and enforcement of private property rights. This is what must be realized. You can have a government that watches over you and is tasked with perpetually trying to maintain your safety and well-being, but such a government precludes the possibility of a truly free society. Every expansion towards the elusive goal of safety, by necessity, is a restriction and diminution on the sphere of liberty.

If the government has any legitimate role in this area, and that is very much in question, it should be in an accommodating nature, as opposed to an imposing one. If we resign to the notion that we need the government to remind us to wash our hands or cook our food properly,  it should be done voluntarily as opposed to mandated. This specific instance at Quail Hollow Farm illustrates my point quite nicely. Which group of people do you feel more confident in to oversee the production of your food: The Bledsoes (owners of the farm) or the SNHD, which declared that all the food must be bleached and destroyed, not because they found it to be unsafe, but simply because it was not government certified. I venture to guess I can not possibly be alone in preferring the judgement of organic farmers who have created a thriving business for themselves, as opposed to the government agency that looks at a pile of freshly prepared food in a State with tens of thousands of starving and homeless people, and orders it to be destroyed, because it is possible someone could get sick!

Yet not only is it this grossly incompetent and counterproductive bureaucratic agency that is given the role of ensuring food safety over demonstrably more qualified parties, such as farmers themselves, all other options are literally outlawed! All citizens must both fund this agency and follow its edicts. You are not free to opt out.

This brings us to a very important point. Are agencies that operate under the guise of acting in the public interest or promoting public safety, actually designed to do that which they purport to? Or are they more about the illusion of safety? Perhaps their primary function is simply the continued collection of revenue via taxes, permits, and licensing fees, to sustain the bureaucracy tasked with overseeing the health of the public. One rather revealing piece of information that suggests this to be the case, and that this is a systemic feature of the agency, rather than an outlier, comes from the Nevada Statute Law which gives the SNHD its authority. It reads:

NRS 446.870  Prohibited acts: Operation of food establishment without valid permit issued by health authority; sale, offer or display for consideration of food prepared in private home without valid permit issued by health authority; exemptions.
1.  Except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful for any person to operate a food establishment unless the person possesses a valid permit issued to him or her by the health authority.
 3.  Food that is prepared in a private home and given away free of charge or consideration of any kind is exempt from the provisions of this chapter
 NRS 446.020  “Food establishment” defined.
      1.  Except as otherwise limited by subsection 2, “food establishment” means any place, structure, premises, vehicle or vessel, or any part thereof, in which any food intended for ultimate human consumption is manufactured or prepared by any manner or means whatever, or in which any food is sold, offered or displayed for sale or served.
      2.  The term does not include:
      (a) Private homes, unless the food prepared or manufactured in the home is sold, or offered or displayed for sale or for compensation or contractual consideration of any kind;

The above demonstrates two things quite clearly. The first is the egregiously intrusive and overbearing scope of the SNHD. This is critically important to understand. The above example is not merely one of an inspector gone awry. Rather, it is the SNHD simply doing the job it was tasked to due by law. As horrific as the Quail Hollow Farms incident was, surely the law that is both responsible for and encourages such "inspections" is a much greater outrage. In a very real sense, the inspector can be excused from blame as she was simply doing her job. And isn't that the real problem? The nature of this job and the laws that provide a justification for it? What sort of substantive change can be accomplished if the above statutes, and the role of government they represent, are left as is?

The second takeaway from the governing law that gives the SNHD its authority, is the juxtaposition of an intensely detailed and expansive definition of a food establishment and all those whom fall under the SNHD's authority, while simultaneously excusing those whom engage in the very same activities as long as they do not sell their product. How does one reconcile the claim that food establishments are, on the one hand, absolutely necessary to be regulated by the SNHD in order to "keep the public safe", yet those very same establishments are free to be left to their own devices and not inspected by the SNHD, simply if they decide to give their product away for free? How does the determination of the asking price (or lack thereof) impact, in any way, that food's safety and methods of preparation? Either these measures are as vitally important as they claim to be, and must be applied broadly to all, or they are superfluous and specifically target revenue generating food establishments for obvious reasons. Is it possible this law is geared more towards generating revenue to fund the very regulatory agency it created, as opposed to the "promotion of public safety"?

I have said nothing so far in regards to the free market solutions to this problem of food quality and inspection. The reader is sure to ask, "What would happen without the SNHD or USDA inspecting our food to ensure it is safe?" This is a very important question and one that deserves a comprehensive answer. I would direct the reader to two excellent pieces by the Ludwig Von Mises Institute here and here. For the sake of brevity, all I will add is that there is a tremendous incentive for food producers to ensure that their food is safe. It is also worth mentioning that free market alternatives already exist, and the market for such alternatives would only grow with the elimination of existing government regulatory bodies.

All photos by Leila Navidi of the Las Vegas Weekly.