Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Go Canada? Not so much.

Socialists will rejoice at the news that Canadians are, on average, healthier than Americans, according to a new study - on top of an earlier study that says that Britons are also healthier than Americans. Both Canada and the UK have national health care programs.

But don't jump to the conclusion they want you to reach just yet. The UK-US study found that insured Americans were as healthy or healthier as Britons, and it involved actual examinations of patients. The US-Canada study, on the other hand, was done simply by asking people over the telephone what they were diagnosed with. Since a less effective health care system will diagnose fewer illnesses, it means nothing that Canadians have been diagnosed with fewer illnesses.

And about the uninsured Americans being unhealthy? Well, if they weren't taxed so much and if regulations didn't make health care cost so much, imagine what they could do - insure themselves.

A true free market wins.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Who controls who you are?

Every day we are bombarded by messages to "be your own person", "be who you are", "don't follow the crowd", whatever - and those messages are more on the spot than 99% of those who propagate them realize.

Almost all Americans are not in charge of their own identity, and haven't been since the day they were born. When they were born, they received a birth certificate - only then did they have a name; only then were they a person - their identity was given to them by the government. Also issued at that time was a Social Security number.

Later they got a passport and a driver's license. And when they die, they are issued a death certificate - only the government can create a person, and only the government can destroy them.

It may sound like I'm about to don a tinfoil hat, but think about it - when have you used a form of identification not issued by the government, except to get a government form of identification? You never have. You are a creation of the government, and can be destroyed by the government. You haven't owned yourself since you were a few hours old.

You aren't your own person yet, but you can get a lot closer - by voting Libertarian.

Weekend review

I've been distracted from political stuff all weekend due to my sister's wedding, which was great fun and all. Of course, however, intrusive government added some negatives:
  • Silly security procedures at airports, which made air travel frustrating for those who needed it.
  • Complicated drug screenings, which prevent some medications from being available to various elderly relatives with major health problems and make those that they do get absurdly expensive.
  • The marriage license, though not a problem for my sister and her husband, added a little extra expense and annoyance.
I can only imagine how annoying things would have been if, like in many countries, both a normal and bureaucratic marriage had been necessary.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Once again, a rather unsavory character has won a victory for liberty: Tucker Max, professional womanizer, won the first victory against the use of the Violence Against Women Act to destroy online freedom of speech. The judge's decision, which is hilarious, is here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why do I care?

I get that question all the time: why do I care about the stuff I get all in a huff about? I'm too young to vote, I'm not a minority, a suspected terrorist, etc, etc, so why do I care about all these things? Shouldn't I be doing the stuff that teenagers are supposed to do, and leave the politics to the "grown-ups"?

Well, first of all, the "shut up you're just a kid" approach to the things I say has only redoubled my efforts. When I'm wrong about something, I'll freely admit it, so I don't feel it's out of line for me to be opinionated about things that I don't have a lot of experience in, because if something I wasn't previously aware of comes to light, I'm willing to revise my opinion - something almost nobody else, it seems, is.

Beyond that, though, all these things do affect me and do matter. War with Iran? In a year I could be drafted. Social Security? I have parents, and obviously at some point I will enter the work force, and I don't want anybody I know getting screwed. NSA wiretapping? Immigration? A law in a state I've never been to?

It's the principle of the thing here. I care because I know that these things, if they were to happen to me, would absolutely infuriate me, and since I'm capable of empathy, I will occasionally become infuriated for other people, because certain things are just wrong - they violate the inalienable rights of every human being, or the rights due to us as citizens of an ostensibly limited government.

So that's why I care. That's why I post here, that's why I occasionally send money to various libertarian organizations, that's why I devote so much time to it - because I don't want either me or other people hurt by things that shouldn't be happening.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Not our job.

With the escalating atrocities in Darfur causing flashbacks to Rwanda, many are calling for the US to intervene, to stop the overt crimes against humanity rampant there. Ignoring the fact that it's wrong for a government to impose its will upon a people who had no part in its formation, under any circumstances, being the world's playground monitors sets a dangerous precedent for pragmatic reasons.

Firstly, we can't afford to intervene in every conflict in the world, because conflicts happen constantly.

Secondly, it requires us to always take sids. In this case, it's pretty obvious who's in the right and who's in the wrong, but in a lot of conflicts, it's not so cut-and-dry - and picking the "wrong" one, which we're guaranteed to do from the point of view of the rabid America-haters, will lead to more terrorism and violence.

Thirdly, there's not a lot of evidence that peacekeeping forces make life much better - everyone's heard the allegations of rape, and some of us have seen (thankfully mosaicced) video, against UN peacekeeping forces.

Our forces have better things to be doing than solving the world's problems again, and nothing will ever change that.

Monday, May 22, 2006

More hypocrisy on the hill

Representative William Jefferson, a Democrat from Louisiana, whined that the FBI raid on his house which found a large bribe in the freezer was a "separation of powers". That prompted me to see what bills Jefferson had voted for that constituted a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers, both with regard to federalism and the branches of government.

A quick search revealed these bills which Jefferson co-sponsored or sponsored - I'm sure there are many more:
  • H.CON.RES.3, which requested that schools teach about the contributions of people from the insular territories of the United States - even though the states have control over education.
  • H.CON.RES.24, "Expressing the sense of Congress that the President should grant a posthumous pardon to John Arthur "Jack" Johnson for the 1913 racially motivated conviction of Johnson, which diminished his athletic, cultural, and historic significance, and tarnished his reputation." - I think this is obvious.

High school, I'm so done with you.

Today, after having given a short presentation in Economics, I have completed my last assignment for high school. The incompetent Texas legislature no longer has control over how, what, and when I learn (if at all), I no longer have to lose weeks of education to take tests I could have passed in sixth grade, and, even better, I never again have be in an environment where people are so discouraged with the education system that they make it entirely ineffective.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Coming

The current incarnation of is kind of embarrassing. Its layout does crazy things on 1440x900, and it's hard to get around within the site. The upcoming one, on the other hand, rocks. With the combination of logins on the blog and this redesign, I'm no longer embarrassed to have on my bookmarks.

UPDATE: It appears that the new will be up at 1 AM.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Oh no! Rats exist! Municipal government, save me harder!

The Dallas Morning News reports that a neighborhood in the distant suburb of Allen has suddenly been infested with rats. One resident who runs a daycare in her home is afraid to let her kids outdoors because of the "rat danger" - because you know those rodents love to attack blundering thingamajigs thirty times their size. She raises a somewhat plausible concern with regard to rabies, citing a rabid skunk in the area a few months ago. But since anybody bit by a rabid animal can be immediately vaccinated and thus will not develop the disease, that's a pretty silly concern as well.

Of course, residents, unable, apparently, to buy several $1.85 rat traps, they want the city to give them traps for free:
She and some of her neighbors said the city wants them to trap the rats, using a cage the city supplies for a fee.

"They are saying they're charging $40 for rental fees for a trap that should be given to homeowners if they're having infestation problems," Wallace said.
Apparently she fails to recognize that she's paying for the trap anyways, since she pays taxes.

And I'm sure all these people "hate big government" and vote straight Republican.

Public schools tank again

Apparently 11% of high school seniors in public schools in Texas failed at least one part of the exit-level TAKS test, meaning that they can't graduate. Considering that nobody at my school, not even the special-needs kids, failed the TAKS test, and that last year the only person to fail the test was a special-needs kid, it's obviously not a problem of intelligence. (There are about 480 kids in the senior class, so it's not a question of small sample size either.)

So why did other schools do so poorly, or, to make the question easier, why did mine do so well? Because the district is almost entirely composed of people who want a good education for their children - you can buy much better houses elsewhere in the city for a lot less money than the houses people can buy in this district. Some people live in tiny duplexes on the very edge of the district, because that's how much their children's education matters to them.

One other school in Dallas, Southlake Carroll, also reported no failing seniors. It's even bigger than Highland Park, and people also choose to live there because of their children's education.

Both these schools are known in the area as quasi-private (in fact, there's something of a movement within HPISD to flip the TEA the bird and privatize), because the taxes that people pay to live in the district amount to tuition. Naturally we'd do far better if the state didn't force us down, but the competition for students that schools like Highland Park and Southlake Carroll experience is what makes them good.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Because fish need more money.

Today the Navy sunk an old aircraft carrier, the USS Oriskany, to create an artifical reef. It cost $20 million to sink, and is expected to bring in $92 million a year in tourist revenues.

Now what I'd like to know is why, instead of taxpayer money being spent on sinking it, somebody with an interest in creating that artifical reef - and folks, $20 million isn't hard to raise - couldn't have bought to ship from the Navy and sunk it themselves - no bill for us, and the same benefit to Florida's tourist economy.

Remember, whenever government and corporations come together, we the consumers get screwed. If they're kept apart, everyone benefits.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Aftermath Still Haunts UsToday.

The aftermath, that is, of the New Deal. I had to do some research on it for an economics project; here's what's left of the New Deal and how it's hurting you.

The Tennessee Valley Authority: Its dams produce 20% less power than comparable private dams, and its electricity is more expensive than privately provided electricity.

The Securities and Exchange Commission: Every company traded on Wall Street must file hundreds of pages of crap for these bureaucrats every year, and the costs of that get passed on to us.

The Social Security Administration: Ponzi scheme which is now paying out more than it is paying in. Disaster in the making.

Federal control over labor: Price floor on labor (minimum wage) guarantees unemployment. Union-encouraging laws are helping, for example, the UAW unionize themselves out of jobs while destroying General Motors.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Militarize those borders!

I don't understand what people have against militarizing our borders. After all, our borders are enormous, and the easiest way to get nefarious characters into the country is through the miles and miles of nothing that line our borders - and Canada and Mexico aren't afraid of terrorists. Bringing our military home and stationing them all along our borders is a great idea, both because it will eliminate the source of propaganda for recruiting new terrorists and protect those already trained from coming across, at least to some extent.

Of course, this only works if an immigration policy which lets anyone who wants to come across to work come across is in place, and we dismantle the welfare state so that no freeriders will be interested. Otherwise things are just silly.

A small victory

Despite receiving no positive response from the administration, the flyers I posted were still up when I left today.

Victory, I think, is thus implied.

UPDATE:I now have received a response. I followed his requests before he even asked me:
Dear Nigel,
Thank you for this message, and yes, we are aware of Tinker v. Des
Moines -- we study this case in school law courses.
Our "approval" process at the high school rarely if ever deals with the
content of the flyer -- it really is a means by which we control the
number of flyers, the locations at which they are posted, and the number
of days the flyers can be posted -- a management process, not a
censorship process. I trust that your flyer meets the content test
of Tinker v. Des Moines, but I ask that you also keep the flyers at the
approved locations and that you post no more than 10 flyers -- our usual
requirements. Please see any administrator if you have questions about
this process. Thanks.
Patrick Cates

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Are antidiscrimination laws libertarian?

I live in the South, so discrimination is a constant worry of government and media in the area. I'm also a heterosexual white male, so if anybody is expected to be a bigot, it's me - I recognized this when I was called racist for not liking fried chicken. (I'm not making that up.)

Regardless, I despise discrimination, like everyone should, and thus my gut instinct is to support antidiscrimination laws. But before I launch into an analysis of those and their relation to libertarianism, a division needs to be made between two categories of civil rights laws:
  • Affirmative action laws, which I believe create more racism/sexism/whateverism by focusing on categorizing people into divisions which have and have not been discriminated against. Race/gender/etc. aren't supposed to matter, and focusing on them to supposedly "even the playing field" (but in reality tilting the playing field the other way) just creates more discrimination - an alternate definition of which is essentially synonymous with "categorizing".
  • Antidiscrimination laws, which try to prevent anybody from being discriminated against. That's what I'm lost on.
Firstly, I'm not even sure how much discrimination there would be if there weren't laws to enforce it. The stock purist-libertarian answer I hear is that in a free market, not all people would discriminate against certain customers, employees, etc., and those that did not discriminate would make more money, thus encouraging everbody to treat each other equally.

But, that's a long-term view. Humans live in the short term, and governments are unquestionably uniquely human enterprises (since divine right is gone except in Swaziland, and it's obvious how well that's turning out for them), and the free-market solution to discrimination by businesses might take too long.

Since the point of government is essentially the prevention of the initiation of force by people against others, and discrimination based on aspects of a person that cannot be changed is undoubtedly a form of force, antidiscrimination laws seem perfectly legitimate in a libertarian government.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Excellent PostSecret

If you haven't started visiting PostSecret weekly, you're missing out on some fascinating stuff. I found this excellent commentary on the corruption of Christianity for political purposes today:
If you're unaware what amendment he/she is talking about, it was Proposition 2, which was approved by a huge majority of Texas voters last fall.

Friday, May 12, 2006

It's time to defend our rights.

I was recently made aware that Tinker vs. Des Moines, a SCOTUS case which I initially thought was about symbolic speech, in fact protects a good deal of more traditional speech within public schools as well. Despite the fact that my high school allows a good deal more freedoms than many, it does have a rule requiring a seal of approval for all flyers posted. I'm fairly sure that's unconstitutional based on Tinker vs. Des Moines, and therefore I am sending the following email to my school's administrators:
Principal Cates and Assistant Principals:
I was recently made aware that the 1975 Supreme Court case Tinker vs. Des Moines (a link to the Court's opinions in the case is provided for your convenience here) applies not only to symbolic speech but to all speech within schools. Although I recognize and greatly appreciate that Highland Park High School gives its students many more freedoms than most public high schools, I believe that the requirement that all flyers to be posted be approved by the administration violates the First Amendment, as clarified by Tinker. Thus, I intend, on Monday, to post appropriate flyers in an appropriate fashion in the appropriate places, but to do so without seeking an administrator's seal. I trust that you will remove this rule and that my flyers will be undisturbed for a reasonable timeframe.

Thank you for considering my opinion.
Nigel Watt
We'll see what happens.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What happened to the Revolution?

Like anybody with a positive IQ and a knowledge of the Bill of Rights ought to be, I'm infuriated by the fact that the fourth Amendment has been being circumvented since 9/11 (and probably before.) But what infuriates me more is that millions of Americans have already decided that "this isn't so bad" and that "at least they didn't listen in on the conversations."

At the risk of sounding like a Communist, I have to ask - what happened to the Revolution?

Things "really weren't so bad" in 1776, either. Taxes, in perspective, weren't so bad - certainly no worse than "real" Britons were experiencing - and colonists had a considerable degree of autonomy. But that didn't matter - it was the principle of the injustices that mattered. Certainly there were some who decided that indeed it wasn't so bad as to necessitate rebellion. They were called Tories, and they became Canadians.

The Revolution, unlike most, established a government based on principle as well, which eventually became embodied in the Constitution. Now I've said before that not everything in the Constitution is good, but either way it's the law of the land, and it has been violated, albeit in a fairly circuitous fashion (mostly circuitous due to the antiquated wording of the Constitution, not due to its meaning).

And yet so many of you remain complacent. Some of you protested the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Some of you will say "Oh well, that's why I vote Democrat." Well, voting Democrat gets you nowhere.

Grow a pair and wake up.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Interesting. Wrong.

Some dude at the Cincinnati Enquireroutlined a fairly libertarian (small l) argument over "what needs to be done" with regard to gas prices, and agrees with whoever wrote the article that he's commenting on that a third party ought to come in and push the issue. He follows that up with this:
Unfortunately, our potential third parties, the Libertarian and Green parties, have let us down. They are strictly national parties. They simply have not developed the local and state political structures needed to support a national party.

Neither the Libertarian nor Green party has any candidates with the political track records or name recognition that comes from working your way up through local and state politics. They have a very long way to go.
Now, ignoring the glaring self-contradiction in this and moving onto what I think he meant, he's wrong. The OHLP has several officeholders in local positions and is launching a strong campaign for governor.

I couldn't find a way to contact either him or the Enquirer about the article, but if anyone can, please do so and inform him that he does have a viable choice when voting.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Web censorship: It doesn't work in China, it doesn't work at home.

Some hackers in Toronto have created a tool that would allow Chinese citizens looking for uncensored information to access it, free of Chommunist oversight.

Meanwhile, most American high schools have some form of filter so that students can't access "inappropriate" materials during school. That includes obviously inappropriate things like porn, but also "advocacy groups", pages deemed "tasteless", and other rather innocuous categories. Since anything a tech person working at a high school can do, one of the students there can do better, each new restriction is only effective for about a month. Apparently yesterday was a slow news day, so the DMN ran a front-page article about the futility of these efforts.

The debate over the constitutionality of restricting the rights of students in public schools can go on until kingdom come for all I care, because I don't think there ought to be public schools in the first place. But this does indicate something positive in the nature of humanity: Freedom always finds a way to win, no matter how hard its enemies try to destroy it. Our job, as those who recognize this, is to help convince other people that it's true. The Libertarian Party needs to focuse solely on elections and let other organizations focus on education.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Your tax money supports communism.

That's correct - every time you pay money to the government, you're indirectly supporting communist regimes. The United States, in order to maintain the privelege of having an unelected world government over it, pays the UN money out of your pocketbook. With this money, the UN then does brilliant things like give food to communist regimes so that they can continue exploiting their population.

There's more, in other words, that's evil about the UN than just its interventionist policy. It wastes our money even more than our own government already would by directly opposing our own government's policies, and, even worse, the welfare of humanity.

Leaving the UN should be a top priority for all Americans, not just the anti-interventionists.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Not everything in the Constitution is good.

Libertarians like to say that the government ought to return to its Constitutional limits - which, at a minimum, is true. But many powers granted the government in the Constitution are fundamentally opposed to libertarian values - a Libertarian government ought to not only remain inside the Constitution, but retreat further inside of it to maximize the freedom of the governed. Here are a few passages which cause concern:
The Senators and Representatives all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
That's immunity from the law, which shouldn't be granted to anybody.
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes
Free trade isn't prescribed by the Constitution. Naturally it's a good idea, but the Constitution should never be regarded, in a positive manner, as an absolute model for the government to meet.

DMN publishes another

On Thursday, the Dallas Morning News published a front-page story about how my school district was trying to raise a private endowment, complete with the opinions of unnamed critics. They published my response today:
Re: "HP will pass hat to fund schools," Thursday news story.

As a student at Highland Park High School, I may be in a better position to appreciate the absurdity of criticizing district residents for spending their money on what they choose – especially when it's for their children.

The state's theft of millions of dollars so other districts can build stadiums with Jumbotrons leaves little recourse other than to raise private money. It is fundamentally un-American to try to stop spending for a positive cause through the guns of government.

Or perhaps the unnamed critics would prefer to lower the bar for everybody to achieve their false version of equality. Worked well for North Korea, hasn't it?

Nigel Watt, president, Highland Park High School Libertarians, Dallas

Friday, May 05, 2006

Moussaoui got exactly what he deserved.

Naturally I'd prefer that the United States would get its bureaucratic fingers out of other countries so we'd stop ticking them off, but in some cases, like that of Zacharias Moussaoui, it's too late. Moussaoui was acting as noxious as he could in the trial, because he wanted to become a martyr. Instead, he gets to rot away in a concrete cube in Colorado, waiting for a death that will bring him no glory.

And no, France, you can't have him.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I'm astounded.

This just happened to me in an AIM conversation:
******: well, so it goes in government. can you name an agency that actually works well?
me: nope, that's why my views are what they are
******: i'd be a communist if people weren't so darn greedy
Did I just read that? I can't believe that intelligent people would actually think that that's a rational line of thought: Hmm, government doesn't work well! Let's add more!

We're using our own money? How unfair!

The Dallas Morning News had a front-page article today on how Highland Park ISD (where I attend high school) is trying to raise a private endowment of $100 million to ensure funding no matter what the state does. The state steals millions in tax revenues from the district every year, with the result that below-average per-student-spending leads to way above average results. Some, however, are claiming that this isn't fair, according to this gem of a quote from the Dallas Morning News:
Though district officials say they need the financial security an endowment of that magnitude would provide, some say it raises equity concerns because few communities can raise that kind of cash... While few would argue that raising private money is a bad business move for school districts, some say it could be seen as unfair.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Thanks for telling them what idiots they are, Mr. Jefferson.

The flyers will fly

Tomorrow I'll be going down to Austin, so I'll bring along some Bureaucrash fliers to distribute. Should be interesting.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Officer Colwell seems to have no response.

Yesterday I emailed a school resource officer who had arrested two kids for flipping coins. He hasn't emailed me back. Since Wednesday was a work day and he obviously doesn't have much to do, I guess he just didn't have anything to say for himself. Here's what I sent him:
As a student myself, I'm sickened by the fact that you arrested two boys for flipping coins. Surely there are more important things for you to be paying attention to then flexing your authoritative muscle at two kids, and if you felt it was truly necessary, less extreme ways of doing it. If there aren't, then the taxpayers of South Carolina shouldn't be paying your salary.

Corporate arms races are always good...

As everyone's aware, Google, Microsoft, and to a lesser extent, Yahoo! are stepping up their fight against each other to bring us more, better free stuff. Everybody wins. Except, of course, when they bring governments in on their side - like Google has done, filing a suit against Microsoft because Microsoft made MSN search the default in the new IE7. Consumers don't win when competition is regulated, because companies can't do certain things to benefit us and them for fear of suits.

A wider look makes it obvious that the only way corporations can screw over the people is in collusion with government. We need to get government out of the market so the market can benefit us all.

South American statists face off

Brazil is realizing that statism is all well and good until your neighbors try it. Bolivia's recent moves towards nationalizing its natural resources (Who is John Galt?) are angering Petrobras, Brazil's state-owned oil and gas company. Thus Brazilian, Argentinian, Venezuelan, and Bolivian representatives will enter into energy-focused negotiations.

All this craziness will obviously hurt the already tattered economies of Latin America, but considering our big stick policy, it's likely that somehow Bush will decide to get himself tangled in this as well, especially since it involves oil and Hugo Chavez. Maybe we should just send Pat Robertson down there to call the power of Jesus down upon them.

Bolivia's doom is sealed with this quote from its president:
Absolute control belongs to the Bolivian state.
Sure is working well for North Korea, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

We'll teach you to call the police on kids flipping coins.

Bureaucrash alerted me to the story of a middle school resource officer who called the police on two boys for flipping coins - they were "gambling."

I found the officer's email address: Tell him what you think.

NOTE: I originally gave the principal's address. The principal was not involved.

I will never live in California. I will never live in California. I will...

California is suing the federal government, saying that SUV mileage standards aren't high enough. Their excuse?
"With gas prices skyrocketing, we must substantially increase fuel efficiency in new vehicles, not only to protest the pocketbooks of working families, but also to reduce vehicle emissions that contribute to global warming," said California Attorney General Bill Lockyer in a prepared statement.
I don't want this guy protesting anybody's pocketbook (though I'm sure he would if it was made out of alligator skin), and I certainly don't see how making cars more expensive will help with rising gas prices.

Congratulations, California - you are suing the federal government because it isn't destroying the economy enough. Liberals rock!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Anarchy is dumb.

Many people take the concept of libertarianism to the extreme and advocate anarchy. I have a very simple reason for believing that anarchy has never worked and will never work except in tiny groups: early people would not have subjected themselves to tyrants (who were, at the time, the only technologically possible form of government) if they could progress better without any government to protect them from force. The opportunity cost of anarchy was greater than that of tyranny - and that's huge. Protection from force is all government should be around for, in my opinion - that and roads. I have never been provided a sufficient explanation, nor have I been able to think of one myself, as to how small roads would be able to function without a government.

Get out of the doorframe.

The United States still maintains a large number of territories that, while they receive largesse from the federal government (that means you), pay far fewer taxes and are protected by our military. For some reason, a top-level domain has also been set up for the uninhabited islands under US control. (Unsurprisingly, it is also uninhabited.)

Puerto Rico is by far the largest and most populous of our insular territories. Often in the last few years the territory has held referendums on whether it would apply for statehood, seek independence, or maintain the status quo. Even though the status quo doesn't do much for them - per capita income is half that of Mississippi, the poorest state - they pick it every time. It's time to stop this leeching. Populated American territories need to either apply for statehood or go out on their own, and the uninhabited ones can go get crapped on by birds.