Liberty & Power: Group Blog
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It seems to me that the worst mistake a fighter for our ideals can make is to ascribe to our opponents dishonest or immoral aims. I know it is sometimes difficult not to be irritated into a feeling that most of them are irresponsible demagogues who ought to know better. But though many of the followers of what we regard as the wrong prophets are either just plain silly, or merely mischievous troublemakers, we ought to realize that their conceptions derive from serious thinkers whose ultimate ideals are not so very different from own and with whom we differ not so much on ultimate values, but on the effective means of achieving them.Amen, brother Hayek, amen.
I am indeed profoundly convinced that there is much less difference between us and our opponents on the ultimate values to be achieved than is commonly believed, and that the differences between us are chiefly intellectual differences. We at least believe we have attained an understanding of the forces which have shaped civilization which our opponents lack. Yet if we have not yet convinced them, the reason must be that our arguments are not yet quite good enough, that we have not yet made explicit some of the foundations on which our conclusions rest. Our chief task therefore must be still to improve the argument on which our case for a free society rests.
For anyone who doubts the Corporatist nature of the American Imperial System, check out this Mar. 4th report from The Center for Responsive Politics. The big donors give to both Bush and Kerry -- some partisan politics!
David T. Beito
On another matter, Mark Brady called my attention to his new article. It discusses an interesting omission in the advertised biography of Vladimir Putin who will open a conference for the Cato Institute in Moscow.
Second is that although no one was victimized by Stewart's sale of the stock shares, there may be plenty of victims from her indictment, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment. Stewart sold her 4,000 shares on a day when nearly eight million other shares in that company were sold. (The previous day only about a million shares were bought and sold.) Whoever bought Stewart's shares was already in the market looking for ImClone stock and must have known that an FDA ruling was imminent. (Some investors like to gamble.) Many people seem to think that Stewart buttonholed some schnook on the street and hyped the stock in order to pressure him into buying her shares. That's not how it works.
While no one was harmed by what Stewart did, many people stand to be harmed by what the government and jury did. The jurors think that their verdict will be good for the"little people." But it is"little people" who will be hurt by the fall in the value of shares in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO). It is"little people" who work for MSLO and whose jobs are now in jeopardy. It is"little people" who work for KMart, the struggling retailer closely associated with Stewart. Their jobs are also in jeopardy.
According to the government, Martha Stewart lied to cover up—what? Noncriminal behavior. (It never charged her with insider trading.) Under proper law, the authorities would not have asked her why she sold her stock—she had no fiduciary responsibility to ImClone or its shareholders. The case is a travesty, for which many innocent people will suffer—not least of whom will be Martha Stewart. More here and here..
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
The Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, is a bit of a comedian. Since he took office, signs have been springing up all over my hometown. When you come off a city bridge, say, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge linking Brooklyn to Staten Island, you are greeted with"Welcome to Brooklyn" signs that feature classic"Brooklyn" expressions, like"How Sweet It Is" (for the uncultured, that slogan was coined by the Great One: Jackie Gleason).
But if you happen to have the misfortune of leaving Brooklyn, you see other signs:"Leaving Brooklyn: Fuhgeddaboudit." (And for an education on the meaning of the phrase, consult the film"Donnie Brasco.") It seems, however, that some Italian Americans are pissed off, since they consider the phrase an Italian slur. A similar sign saying"Oy Vey" was apparently, uh, Passed Over ... because some thought it might offend some Jewish residents. (Markowitz, who is Jewish, thought the"Oy Vey" sign would have been a terrific idea. Bravo!)
Sometimes the PC-minded police tap dance on my last nerve. So, for the hearing of the world: I am Half-Sicilian and Half-Greek, and a life-long Brooklyn resident, and I like the signs that say"Fuhgeddaboudit." I must use that expression 300 times a day.
You got a problem wit dat?
Concerning the notion of left and right with respect to libertarianism, such cooperations go way back at least to Murray Rothbard and William Appleman Williams co-editing a book of essays during the Vietnam protest years.
Cato has for years dealt with developing dialogues with government so that a conference in Putin’s Moscow should surprise no one. More surprising was the supposedly hard-core Mises Institute’s conference of two years ago. About six months before the events of 9/11, it sponsored a meeting around the theme of the Israeli military historian/policy advisor Martin van Creveld’s The Rise and Decline of the State. When in a commentary on the book I suggested MvC had given short shrift to the cycles of the Chinese and Roman Empires, and that I saw no real decline in the concept or power of the State, he launched an immediate ad hominum attack from the floor depriving many in the audience from their chance at questions, for which he later apologized. In the light of 9/11, the Patriot Act, the war on Iraq, and the praise of Empire by the Neocons, I find it difficult to find many that would see much virtue in the MvC/LvMI thesis that there has been a decline of the State.
In a conversation with him later, in the company of Profs. Ralph Raico and Hans Hoppe, MvC amazed at least me, by professing an admiration for Josef Stalin! When I last heard about him, he was featured as the architect of the use of Israeli bulldozers as the weapon of choice against the Intifada, and urging the Americans to do the same in Iraq. I doubt he will ever be among those Israeli members of the IDF who question Sharon’s policies, and it is certainly to the credit of the US forces that they have not adopted such wholesale destruction of property and life. I have never quite understood what some found in the appeal of such a militarist.
Sheldon Richman and others have offered some interesting insights into the Martha Stewart case. The WSJ has been especially good on this during the last many months, especially of late discussing the poor legal advice she received. The whole case is perhaps best summarized by a letter today, and, like the writer, I would emphasize his Point 4:
”To the Editor, WSJ:
You indicate that there is one lesson to take away from this case,"Keep quiet when the feds call." In light of the jury's unanimous verdict, let me offer some others:
1. When the feds call, don't concoct a story about a fictitious $60 limit order.
2. When the feds call, don't alter incriminating phone messages.
3. When the feds call, don't tell your"friend" of 20 years,"Isn't it great to have brokers who tell you these things?" in reference to the"tip" on ImClone.
4. And, most importantly, when the feds offer you a deal to plead guilty to one count of obstruction, pay a $250,000 fine and avoid trial and jail time -- take the deal. Because in the end, what is really going to hurt the honest and hard-working employees at MSLO is not the government's decision to prosecute this case, but their former CEO's duplicitousness, stubbornness and arrogance.
Zachary R. Hafer Attorney Brooklyn, N.Y. “
Anyone who has studied the rise of Positive Law (what the Chinese called Legalism) which has accompanied the rise of all Empires and their bureaucracies, certainly that of Rome, where the rights “given” women were then taken away, ought to understand that the individual cannot “win” in the circumstances in which Martha Stewart found herself. Welcome to the “New” Rome, Martha.
P.S.: With respect to Martha, I ought to confess a slight bias, although I have never met her. Many years ago, my sister-in-law, Yvette, hired Martha to cater her daughter’s wedding in Westport, Conn. Stewart’s behavior became so-high handed, that Yvette fired her!
These gems come from Tom Blaskovics, via Jim Giltmier:
Time to be thinking about getting out bumper stickers for the Bush/Cheney"re-election" ---
Bush/Cheney '04 -- Compassionate Colonialism
Bush/Cheney '04 -- Deja-voodoo All Over Again!
Bush/Cheney '04 -- Four More Wars
Bush/Cheney '04 -- Leave no Billionaire Behind
Bush/Cheney '04 -- Making the World a Bitter Place, One Country at a Time
Bush/Cheney '04 -- Over a Billion Whoppers Served
Bush/Cheney '04 -- Because the Truth just isn't Good Enough
Bush/Cheney '04 -- Putting the"Con" in Conservatism
Bush/Cheney '04 -- Thanks for not Paying Attention
Bush/Cheney '04 -- The Last Vote You'll Ever Have to Cast
Bush/Cheney '04 -- This Time, Elect Us!
The Bush campaign's website offers users a handy function that allows you to make your own, quasi-official campaign sign. They've put in some filtering software to weed out troublemakers, but that just means you'll need to get creative in your tomfoolery.
The ever-loveable, ever-readable Wonkette has more slogan possibilities, as well as suggestions on how to get around the filter. Just scroll down to the relevant posts.
David T. Beito
From a liberty perspective the message from this is quite clear. You can't rely on government to"improve" the economy just by fiscal or monetary policy. If there's one thing the Austrian school of economics has taught us, it's that the hubris it takes to believe you can"plan" economic growth is forever doomed to failure. If Mr. Bush were more of an Austrian and less of an neo-Keynesian he might not be in the mess he's in today politically, and the nation might have a few more jobs and a lot less government.
Roderick T. Long
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
In the midst of all this, I've come upon an interesting article that I wanted to highlight here at L&P. The piece is available only to subscribers of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Written by Daniel Del Castillo,"The Arab World's Scientific Desert" tells the story of how the region was once a leader in research, but that now it"struggles to keep up." Del Castillo writes:
Eleven centuries ago an Islamic renaissance occurred in Baghdad, attracting the best scholars throughout the Muslim world. For the next five hundred years, Arabic was the lingua franca of science. Cutting-edge research was conducted in cities such as Cairo, Damascus, and Tunis. In the ninth century, algebra (al-jabr) was invented by a Muslim mathematician in Baghdad under the auspices of an imperial Arab court dedicated to scientific enrichment and discovery. Ibn Sina's monumental Canon of Medicine was translated into Latin in the 12th century and dominated the teaching of the subject in Europe for four centuries.
Today, no one looks to the Arab world for breakthroughs in scientific research, and for good reason. According to a number of highly self-critical reports that have come out in the past few years, the 21 countries that make up the region are struggling to teach even basic science at the university level. For poor countries, such as Yemen and Sudan, the problem is a lack of money and resources. For wealthier ones, such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, complacency and a relatively new and underdeveloped university system have hampered progress.
One wonders how much more advanced the Saudi system would be, for example, if the Saudis spent as much money on science education as they do on Wahhabi indoctrination.
In any event, Del Castillo argues that many Arab universities are deeply"burdened with a bureaucracy that stifles innovation and bases promotion on cronyism, not research ... The lack of significant private industry throughout the region also means that universities are essentially dependent on governments to pay for research and provide jobs for their graduates." Moreover, the pedagogy is"outdated and archaic," and teacher morale is low.
Unfortunately, the appearance of specialized private universities has been met with suspicion by Arab scholars,"who question the quality and motives of for-profit institutions of higher education." What has resulted is a virtual brain drain, as"the most promising and successful Arab scientists and researchers end up in the West."
Del Castillo notes the presence of a vicious circle:"Without top-notch scientists, [the Arab region] cannot produce the research necessary to develop a strong private sector. But without a dynamic private sector, there is little money to invest in scientific research."
I have been saying for well over a year now that the Wilsonian"nation-building" project of the Bush administration is doomed to fail in the absence of a deeper movement from within the Arab world that would transform its intellectual and cultural milieu. (On related points, see today's New York Times' worthwhile editorial,"The Axis of Reconstruction.") New political institutions require new intellectual and cultural ones. These cannot simply be imposed."Democratic nation-building" is not feasible in a tribalist atmosphere that is stifling to human knowledge and freedom. We ignore these realities at our peril.
David T. Beito