Hey Leftists, Free Enterprise Saves Lives

New findings suggest that the city of Austin, Texas, is experiencing a surge in drunk driving after Uber and Lyft pulled out in May 2016. Per Austin Police Department findings, drunk driving rose  7.5 percent after Uber and Lyft suspended operations in the city:

DWI arrests have spiked since Uber and Lyft left Austin. The Austin Police Department released new numbers to KEYE TV that show there were 359 DWI arrests from May 9, the day Uber and Lyft shut down, to May 31st of this year. Last year during the same time period, there were 334 arrests. That’s a 7.5 percent increase in the weeks following their departure.

Both companies suspended ride-sharing services after Austin residents voted against Proposition 1 last spring. Had it passed, Proposition 1 would have overturned city-wide regulations like fingerprint-based background checks for drivers and a prohibition on picking up / dropping customers while parked in traffic lanes. The measure was defeated by a 56-44 margin, with only 17 percent of registered voters in Travis County participating in the election. All Austin ride-sharing drivers now must have their fingerprints scanned by February 1, 2017.

Here’s the impact Uber and Lyft had on drunk driving when they were operating in Austin, TX:

Before Uber came to town in 2014, Austin Police Department’s data showed that the city had an average of 525 drunk driving arrests per month. When these numbers were revisited a year after ridesharing came to Austin, drunk driving arrests had dropped by five percent. This trend continued the following year when the number of drunk driving arrests dropped by an additional 12 percent, bringing the average number of arrests to about 438 per month.

Not only did drunk driving spike in Austin after the companies pulled out, 10,000 people lost their jobs as a result of this vote last spring. Talk about a dangerous move for people and their livelihoods…

Those elected officials opposed to emerging technologies must be held accountable for putting public safety at risk. Why stifle ingenuity? Is it because these individuals hate being forced to compete in the free market? Or is it because the taxi lobby sends them a big, fat check to maintain the status quo? Creating artificial cushions to protect yourself in an industry is not only foolish, it’s antithetical to American free enterprise. Given these findings, banning Uber and Lyft is going to cost many people their jobs and their lives. The people of Austin must work tirelessly to reverse course.

Let’s hope emerging technologies like Uber and Lyft can continue be embraced in larger cities across the country without facing any more roadblocks to operation.

 

Fidel Castro’s Bloody Legacy Cannot Be Whitewashed

Earlier today, it was announced that former Cuban dictator and avowed communist Fidel Castro died at the age of 90.

Celebrations broke out in Miami, Florida, and elsewhere as Cuban exiles rejoiced in the news. The man who wrought pain and suffering on them and their homeland is finally dead. Survivors of communism, their descendants, and other pro-freedom advocates took it to social media to remind people how brutal and inhuman Castro’s policies were:

As expected, leftist figures from across the globe offered sappy condolences to the Castro family. These included remarks from President Obama, Russian Prime Minister Medvedev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Canadian PM  Justin Trudeau, among many:

Why the praise for Castro if history demonstrates otherwise? Here’s a breakdown of Castro’s bloody past and his dealings:

Castro originally had the support of Americans, wrote Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby. Here’s more on it:

The United States welcomed Castro’s ouster of Batista and was one of the first nations to recognize the new government in 1959. It was not until 1961 that President Eisenhower — reacting to “a long series of harassments, baseless accusations, and vilification” — broke diplomatic ties with Havana. By that point Castro had nationalized all US businesses in Cuba and confiscated American properties worth nearly $2 billion.

Castro’s policies led to the deaths of an estimated 35,000 to 141,000 Cubans from 1959-1987, per the late University of Hawaii professor RJ Rummel (who specialized in democide, or state-sanctioned murder). 73,000 Cuban deaths is the consensus number reached by the majority of experts.

Castro turned Cuba into a police state. The Guardian wrote, “While Castro became a figurehead for revolutionary armed struggle throughout and beyond Latin America, the former guerrilla was far from universally popular in his home country once he turned his hand to government. Property appropriations, restrictions on religion and crackdowns on suspected enemies left many, particularly in the old middle class, hating him – a sentiment that has spanned the generations.”

Castro was a racist, sexist, homophobe, and all-around xenophobe. Here’s more about racism in Castro’s Cuba from the NYT:

Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn’t talked about. The government hasn’t allowed racial prejudice to be debated or confronted politically or culturally, often pretending instead as though it didn’t exist. Before 1990, black Cubans suffered a paralysis of economic mobility while, paradoxically, the government decreed the end of racism in speeches and publications. To question the extent of racial progress was tantamount to a counterrevolutionary act. This made it almost impossible to point out the obvious: racism is alive and well.
….

An important first step would be to finally get an accurate official count of Afro-Cubans. The black population in Cuba is far larger than the spurious numbers of the most recent censuses. The number of blacks on the street undermines, in the most obvious way, the numerical fraud that puts at less than one-fifth of the population. Many people forget that in Cuba, a drop of white blood can — if only on paper — make a mestizo, or white person, out of someone who in social reality falls into neither of those categories. Here, the nuances governing skin color are a tragicomedy that hides longstanding racial conflicts.

Before gloating over Castro’s supposed “golden” legacy, learn the actual facts about this tyrant. He is not worthy of celebrating. His legacy is tainted with blood, hatred, and disdain for freedom.

Although freedom may not come to Cubans in the immediate future, Castro’s death can serve as an impetus for them to reclaim their homeland from dictatorship. Viva Cuba Libre!

Happy Constitution Day!

On September 17, 1787, the U. S. Constitution was signed into law by our Founding Fathers. Although Constitution Day falls on a Saturday this year, today–Friday, September 16th– is the perfect day to commemorate this historic event.

Why celebrate Constitution Day?  Here’s context behind Constitution Day, which has also been referred to as Citizenship Day:

Citizenship Day is a day for many to honor both native-born and naturalized foreign-born citizens. Research shows the history of this day goes back to 1939, after a number of citizens began asking of a means of giving special recognition to new naturalized American citizens. William Randolph Hearst assisted these citizens by using his nationwide chain of newspapers to express their ideas. In 1940, Congress designed the third Sunday in May as “I am an American Day.”

However, it was President Harry. S. Truman who signed a bill on Feb. 29, 2952, establishing Sept. 17 as Citizenship Day, replacing the May observance date. Truman moved the date to the day on which the U.S. Constitution was signed to recognize people who had become American citizens during the preceding year. …

The Constitution comprises the “holy trinity” of founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. Schools receiving public funding must acknowledge the holiday each calendar year.

Not surprisingly, the Constitution has been disparaged as “your little book” or “a charter of negative liberties.” Why? Grievance mongers far removed from hardship see dollar signs and media buzz if they question this document. It’s quite shameful.

Is the Constitution perfect? No–nothing is perfect. But compared to the rest of the world, no other document is sacred nor representative of freedom than this founding document is.

However imperfect the Constitution may be, it guarantees Americans innumerable rights unseen throughout the world. What other countries prize and tout free speech as much as the U.S. does? How about gun rights? No other country out there boasts a document ensuring the right to keep and bear arms. And so on. The ratification of various amendments to the U.S. Constitution has corrected many ills — further challenging us to aspire for more freedom.

The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution reads, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I’ll take an imperfect freedom-oriented U.S. Constitution over a tyrannical Soviet Constitution, any day.

Happy Constitution Day, everyone!

Chick-fil-A Stores Deliver Food, Drinks Free of Charge to Those Donating Blood in Orlando

I want to begin this piece by offering condolences and prayers to those affected by the tragic Orlando, FL terrorist attack that befell the Pulse nightclub. Let us hope the victims and their families find comfort during this grave time.

This was a blatant attack on Americans–on all freedom-loving people–in the name of radical Islam. The perpetrator pledged his loyalty to ISIS right before he committed this heinous, unspeakable act. 49 people died during Sunday’s deadly terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida. 53 people and counting were injured.

So how have people responded? The majority of Americans–regardless of their views, backgrounds, and religions–have offered moral support to those who died at the gay night club . Others have unsurprisingly rushed to push disarmament in wake of this terrorist attack–a push that should be wholly condemned. Many have responded with kindness. Hundreds of people have lined up to donate blood. Others have privately donated to groups or efforts supporting victims and their families. It’s nice to see an overwhelmingly amount of Americans put aside differences to help and support fellow Americans.

Chick-fil-A should especially be commended for something unthinkable they did.  Fox 5 Atlanta said several local Orlando-area Chick-fil-A stores opened their doors on Sunday to serve those waiting to donate blood to the terror attack victims. They issued their signature “hate”chicken sandwiches and drinks free of charge. (Such a nice gesture!) Below are two Facebook posts from local Chick-fil-A’s who participated in the generous acts:

 

Here’s more about the gesture:

In a shocking move, the Orlando location at University and Rouse Road quietly fired up its grills on Sunday. The chain is notorious for not being open, ever, on a Sunday. Employees cooked up hundreds of their famous chicken sandwiches. They brewed dozens of gallons of sweet tea.

Then, instead of making a single dime, and without pomp and circumstance they crated the product of their labor to the One Blood donation center. The food and drinks were handed out, free of charge, to all the people who had lined up to donate blood.

So far, the only mentions of the incident have been from individuals on Facebook. They have posted photos thanking the restaurant for their thoughtfulness and generosity.

But, wait, those people were waiting to give blood to victims that were mostly gay people. Doesn’t Chick Fil A hate gays? That’s what we keep being told.

Turns out, that while the founders definitely don’t approve of that choice of lifestyle, they believe in compassion. Who knew? A bunch of people claiming to be Christians care about others even when they don’t agree with them. This group took time out of their schedules to volunteer to help those who were also trying to do their part.

To those of you surprised by this act of kindness, don’t be. Chick-fil-A is a generous, moral, and truly compassionate company–a company grounded in principles. They welcome and even hire patrons of all backgrounds, demographics, ages, or lifestyles. They never turn away customers, even if they disagree with their lifestyles.

Imagine that–a conservative company showing compassion and kindness to those in need, let alone those who may differ from them!? Charitable, selfless acts are the American way.

With respect to the victims of the Orlando terror attack, you’ll find that many in conservative and Second Amendment circles wishing someone like us–someone who possesses a concealed handgun permit (CHP)–would have been there to protect those who were defenseless. It doesn’t matter their political beliefs or if they identify as LGBT. No American should be defenseless. Even if our political opponents choose not to reciprocate the kindness, we want to take the moral high road–like Chick-fil-A has.

Bravo, Chick-fil-A. Thank you for exuding kindness.

 

Former Soviet Republic Wants Military Volunteers to Privately Own Firearms

The Baltic Republic of Lithuania, which was the first country to declare independence from the Soviet Union, is considering a move to allow paramilitary volunteers to privately keep firearms at home. The Seimas–Lithuania’s parliament–wants members of the Lithuania Rifleman’s Union and National Defense Volunteer Forces to acquire and keep semi-automatic firearms at home.

A spokesperson for the Rifleman’s Union said this: “We could expand the deterrence potential. The potential enemy will be discouraged, because they would not know how many citizens are armed and able to resist. This will take off some burden from the state and strengthen national defence potential.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In October 2014, more private citizens in the Baltic nation were purchasing firearms for self-defense in wake of threats from Putin’s Russia:

People in the country currently own over 100,000 various pistols, revolvers and different shotguns. Some of them are highly spectacular guns that can be used for more than just self-defence, sports or hunting, but also for a guerrilla war.

Here are the conditions for obtaining firearms in Lithuania, per the 2002 Law on Control of Weapons and Ammunition Act: 

1. Permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania and legal persons registered in the Republic of Lithuania may acquire and keep weapons, ammunition for the following purposes:

1) hunting;
2) sports;
3) self-defence;
4) professional activities;
5) collection;
6) training;
7) scientific research;
8) other purposes, if they are in conformity with laws and international agreements and treaties.

2. Permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania and legal persons registered in the Republic of Lithuania shall have the right to acquire ammunition for weapons which they are entitled to possess.

Since Lithuania, like other European Union member states, is at the behest of Brussels, this move to allow private ownership of firearms for military volunteers may get shot down. The E.U. currently boasts some of the world’s most restrictive, Draconian guns laws–making it virtually impossible for individuals to keep and bear arms without going through hurdles to legally obtain them.

The European Union had mulled over more gun control restrictions despite recent terrorist attacks that have befallen the region. Here were their recent proposed gun control amendments:

1. More categories of semi-automatic weapons will be subject to an outright ban. The new ban will apply to “B7” weapons, or “semi-automatic firearms for civilian use which resemble weapons with automatic mechanisms.” EU countries will still be able to issue licenses for some semi-automatic rifles for hunting, collecting and museums.

2. Deactivated weapons are currently treated as pieces of metal that can be traded freely across European borders. That will no longer be possible. “Under no circumstances will civilians be authorized to own any of the most dangerous firearms (e.g. a Kalashnikov), which is currently possible if they have been deactivated,” the proposal states.

3. Gun brokers and dealers will have to be licensed to deal in weapons. Collectors will have to get a license and face background checks even if they only own deactivated weapons. There will also be new limits on the ability to buy gun parts and ammunition online.

4. Tracing guns should become easier thanks to enhanced rules on how guns must be marked and registered. And blank firing weapons will be regulated for the first time because they can be converted to fire live ammunition.

If Lithuania’s parliament votes this in and the E.U. doesn’t interfere, Lithuania will become a safer place thanks to the presence of private firearms.

As demonstrated here in the U.S., the presence of more firearms in the hands of good people leads to fewer bad people committing crime with guns. If it works in the U.S., it can certainly work in Europe. Let’s hope the E.U. realizes it shouldn’t deprive individuals of their gun rights.

Alexandria and Austin: A Tale of Two Cities

Two well-known cities run by leftists that ironically invite innovation have made the news recently. One (Alexandria, Virginia) is being applauded for enacting actual progress, the other (Austin, Texas) is being rightfully shamed for perpetuating regression.

Let’s compare Alexandria and Austin, shall we? They are both major cities dominated by Democrats on the city council level. (One-party rule, especially that which tilts left, is quite dangerous.) Oddly enough, both have fairly pro-gun and pro-carry laws. Both cities are historically and culturally important. The former has a population of roughly 150,000, while the latter has a population close to 900,000. Alexandria is just 15 minutes from D.C. proper, while Austin is Texas’ state capital. However, one city decided it cannot suppress innovation any longer–for now, at least.

The city of Alexandria, VA finally welcomed food trucks after much resistance. The city of Austin recently saw ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft pull out after residents voted 56 to 44 percent last Saturday to keep Draconian regulations in place. They lobbied $9 million and ultimately failed.

Alexandria has approved three of five proposed food truck sites. Here’s more about the ordinance:

The new ordinance will allow food truck vending from 7:00 am until 8:00 pm and a food truck may vend no longer than four continuous hours at one location. The locations are expected to have 4 parking spaces designated for food truck parking and that would accommodate up to three food trucks.

Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin citing the city’s ridiculous rules for fingerprint checks, data reporting, and vehicle identification, for example. Here is the reasoning for Uber and Lyft pulling out of Austin:

Officials with both companies have said fingerprinting requirements are burdensome and unnecessary, given their own name-based background checks. City officials say fingerprinting adds another layer of security and balked at the multimillion-dollar corporations seemingly writing their rules here.

How could a city in conservative Texas reject the innovations of the ride-sharing economy, yet a city in purple Virginia embrace it? It’s quite confounding.

Bureaucrats and cronies enjoy saturated markets because they control them and can easily root out innovation. Why? These innovations breed opportunity, prosperity, and competition–concepts central planners and crony capitalists greatly fear. In contrast, the standard options only offer a top-down structure, terrible service, and no potential to grow. Quashing the American thirst for innovation still has serious consequences. As a result, Austin will soon feel the wrath of free market forces.

For individuals who pride themselves as “progressives,” leftists and their crony enabler friends dominating city councils exhibit cowardice for discouraging innovation. Until more freedom-minded people are elected to city councils across the country, innovation will be threatened by big government and crony capitalism.

The Baltics Boldly Defied the Kremlin to Achieve Their Independence

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has suggested the Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are “ungrateful” to the Kremlin for allowing them to peacefully break away in the early 1990’s.

Lavrov told  the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter his thoughts on the subject, but specifically called out Lithuania- my ancestral homeland-as the most “most aggressive, Russo-phobic country” by accusing it pushing NATO in an “anti-Russian direction”, the AP reports.

“They joined NATO but there was no calm, especially not with our Lithuanian neighbor,” Lavrov was quoted.

 Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius responded to Lavrov’s comments and suggested they were “pure propaganda.”

The Kremlin ALLOWED the Baltics to break away? Unless my parents and relatives lied to me about our ancestral homeland achieving independence–which they haven’t–there’s no proof or indication that the Kremlin under Soviet control permitted this. Their grip on Lithuania and 14 other countries was anything but sweet.

For decades, Soviet-controlled Russia demeaned Lithuanians as “fascists” for not going along with Soviet policies, as they did with other people they oppressed. The USSR was doomed to collapse given its evil ideology, various human rights abuses, and unsustainable anti-growth policies. The Baltics valiantly broke away from the USSR in 1990-1991, with Lithuania first taking the plunge on March 11, 1990. Several million people across all three Baltic nations held a peaceful yet effective protest called the Baltic Way prior to the Berlin Wall falling to signal their desire for freedom. Countless people died fighting to achieve independence in the process–independence the Kremlin was reluctant to cede them.

Lavrov’s comments shouldn’t comes as a surprise. Russian president Vladimir Putin–a former KGB officer–has been on record as lamenting the physical demise of the Soviet Union. Additionally, he has been trying to reconstitute former occupied republics through a “Eurasian Union” to counter the European Union (another flawed entity to be discussed in a future article). Additionally, Russia has tried to reassert itself in Eastern Europe with its efforts to recapture Georgia in 2008 and most recently its illegal annexation of Crimea from eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Who will stand up to Russia in the coming year? Certainly not Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump. Clinton orchestrated the Russian “reset” in 2012, and Trump has deeply questionable ties to the Putin oligarchy.

Mitt Romney was a deeply flawed and ineffective presidential nominee but was right on one thing: Russia is our biggest geo-political threat. Plus, the rise of Neo-Sovietism there is quite disquieting.

Russia is bound to flex its muscles in Eastern Europe again with its continual threats–particularly recent ones directed at the Baltics. Does this mean going to war with Russia? No–not in the slightly. This problem can be addressed if a level-headed, pro-freedom presidential candidate emerges as the victor this fall. We shall see…

Son of Cuban Dissident Ted Cruz Schools Prankster With ‘Communist Manifesto’

At a campaign event in Indiana yesterday, U.S. Senator and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) was met by an attendee who asked him to sign a copy of The Communist Manifesto as a joke.

Initially taken aback by the unusual request, Cruz was a good sport and decided to oblige. Here’s what came about from that exchange:

 

The message reads: “Millions have suffered because of this.”

Red-baiting? More like masterful trolling!

Cruz is proud to tout his anti-communist roots since he’s a son of a Cuban dissident. He knows firsthand how evil and devastating the ideology of communism was in the 20th century. (Contrary to historical revisionists, it’s still a threat in the present day–just look at college campuses and pop culture.) He understands the dangers of big government, fascism, and totalitarianism today thanks to his upbringing. His main very orange-hued challenger, however, previously denigrated victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre as rioters and has expressed admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Too many people fail to think big picture with respect to freedom versus tyranny. Socialism is sadly making a comeback among members of my generation, but it must be countered. Tyranny of all shapes and stripes should be wholly rejected in this country.

Those of us who grew up with parents who fled communism–my parents and Senator’s Cruz’ father included–see the threat of tyranny today. I recommend supporting groups like the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation to help educate our peers about the dangers of global communism. It needs to be wholly condemned like National Socialism has.