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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Balloon Boy Fnords

I found this story offensive on many levels. It contains quite a few evil fnords.

A man conducted an experiment with a helium balloon. He claimed that his son was aboard the balloon. He lost control of the balloon and called the police. In addition to calling the police, he called the local news channel.

There was huge mainstream media coverage of the incident. The police attempted to track down the balloon and rescue the boy.

It turns out that the boy was not on the balloon. He was hiding in his home instead.

Now, the father is accused of fraud and will face criminal charges. There also is speculation that he will be declared an "unfit father", and his child will be forcibly taken from him.

According to Wikipedia, some sources say that the total cost of the police chase of the balloon was $2M.

Either the father intentionally lied to the police, or was incredibly incompetent. It's impossible to prove if he did it on purpose or was merely stupid.

It's possible that the father intended for his son to be on the balloon. The son hid because he didn't want to do it.

The father should have taken proper safety precautions. If you're conducting a helium balloon experiment, you have an obligation to make sure it doesn't get out of control.

The mainstream media overreacted to the incident. It isn't the father's fault that the mainstream media was fooled into giving him lots of free publicity.

When there is an emergency, there is no choice but to turn to the State police for help. The State police have a monopoly. When the mainstream media covers the police helping someone, that's an evil fnord saying "Hooray for the State! The State police are helping someone!" The police sometimes help people. The fact that police sometimes do good things does not justify their violence monopoly.

Then, it was exposed as a fraud. This unraveled the evil fnord "Hooray for the State!" Instead, it was obvious that a lot of time and money were wasted. Instead of saying "We're stupid for being fooled!", the father is then blamed. "The father is a criminal and should be sent to jail!" is an evil fnord that distracts from the other mainstream media propaganda.

Does it make sense to send the father to jail? No. He was incompetent. He didn't injure anyone. He isn't a risk for injuring someone in the future.

Does the father owe compensation to the police for time and money wasted? Yes. The figure of $2M sounds a bit high; State police have a lot of waste and inefficiency. The father should be fined for wasting money. Sending him to jail is extreme.

This is the fallacy of punishment-based justice instead of compensation-based justice. "The father must be jailed for making us seem to be idiots!" is the wrong answer. The correct answer is "The father owes compensation for wasted resources. Sending an otherwise productive person to jail is wasteful."

How would free market police handle this? If the father conducted something potentially dangerous, like a hot air balloon experiment, he would be required to notify his police/insurance protection agency first. Then, they would make sure he took proper safety precautions. If necessary, they would increase the fee charged for helping him. If the father did something dangerous without notifying the police in advance, then they have no obligation to help him if something bad happens. Their contract probably specifies that they would help him anyway, but then he owes compensation plus a fine.

The entire incident is a series of evil fnords.

  1. The mainstream media coverage of the police helping the father promotes the State police monopoly.
  2. Instead of saying "We were fooled! We're so gullible!", the mainstream media blames the father. The individual is blamed rather than a corrupt system.
  3. If the "balloon boy" story was a heavily-hyped lie, then maybe other things you see on TV are a lie. For this reason, the father must be punished.
  4. "The father must be punished for lying!" promotes punishment-based justice instead of compensation-based justice.
  5. "Send an otherwise productive person to jail!" reinforces the need to jail people for "victimless" crimes. Even if the father is ultimately acquitted, he will waste a lot of time and money and stress defending himself.
  6. People who perform science without a State license are evil. The problem is that the man was an idiot, and not that more government regulations are needed.
  7. People should try to exploit the mainstream media cartel for free publicity, rather than doing something useful.
  8. Sensational news stories like this detract from important events, like fake healthcare reform, the declining economy, or the declining US dollar.
Whenever you see a heavily-hyped new story, you should ask "How does this 'news' pro-State troll?"

1 comment:

CorkyAgain said...

"Whenever you see a heavily-hyped new story, you should ask "How does this 'news' pro-State troll?""

You should also ask, what OTHER story do they want us not to notice?

The State/MSM often uses stories like this one to perform a kind of sleight-of-hand: while we're all watching the balloon boy story, our Nobel Peace Prize winner sends in assassins to take out the Iranian leadership. Or was there something even more heinous that they don't want us to see?

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