Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Roderick T. Long
Two more additions to the Molinari Online Library:
Stephen Pearl Andrews disciple of Josiah Warren, sometime speechwriter for Victoria Woodhull, and an important influence on Benjamin Tucker was an abolitionist, feminist, labour activist, individualist anarchist, and a leading proponent of free love a term which in Andrews day denoted not promiscuity but simply the banishment of all compulsion, governmental or otherwise, from sexual and/or marital relations. Hence Andrews opposed the legal subordination of wives to husbands, as well as legal restrictions on divorce, birth control, consensual sex, and sex-related publications the complete separation of sex and state.
In 1852-53 Andrews had a rather acerbic debate in the press with Horace Greeley (of go west, young man fame) and Henry James Sr. (father of the novelist) on the question of individual freedom generally and freedom of divorce specifically. This fascinating and quirky exchange was shortly reprinted as a separate book under the title Love, Marriage, and Divorce and the Sovereignty of the Individual.
- Edwin C. Walker, writing some fifty years later, was likewise an individualist anarchist, free love advocate, and sometime associate of Tuckers. (Today he is best known for his non-state-sanctioned marriage to fellow activist Lillian Harman, and consequent imprisonment.) Then as now, there were some in the anarchist movement who were convinced that morality was simply one more oppressive force to be discarded along with the state; it was against this view that Walker directed his 1904 pamphlet Communism and Conscience, Pentecost and Paradox; also, Crimes and Criminals, defending morality on broadly Spencerian grounds. (Although Walkers ostensible target is anarcho-communist Hugh Pentecost, one suspects he also has in his sights the Stirnerite views of his fellow individualist anarchist Tucker.)
Along the way Walker touches on a variety of topics, from property rights to punishment theory; while his thinking sometimes seems a bit muddled (for example, he cant seem to decide between hard and soft determinism, and his discussion of the ethics of boycotts evidently conflates injury in the sense of a rights-violation with injury in the sense of making someone worse off), he scores some sound hits against both moral nihilism and thin libertarianism. Murray Rothbard and Jerome Tuccille seem to have thought highly enough of the work to include it in their series The Right-Wing Individualist Tradition in America for Arno Press in 1972.
David T. Beito
Cross-posted at Free Association.
David T. Beito
Here is an addendum to my blog on Robert F. Williams. A documentary film on his life, "Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power," is now available.
One of them, Lawrence Summers, is the President of Harvard University. He is resigning, effective in June, rather than face a long period of nasty confrontation with a part of the faculty. He can, however, salve his wounds with the long-term financial remuneration of a tenured senior professorship, and on the lecture circuit, should he choose not to go into either the business world or return to a career in government.
The other is Bruce Bartlett, whose book, Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, is due out February 28th. Bartlett, of course, was fired last October from a conservative think-tank in Dallas, Texas, The National Center for Policy Analysis. The reason? His book hit too close to President Bush’s responsibility for the policies of his administration. The president, directors and some donors to NCPA, apparently believe policies can somehow be divorced from those who make them. What a novel view!
Both firings open up some interesting questions about the intellectual establishment in this country, ranging from universities to think-tanks. For now, let’s focus on the example of Bruce Bartlett’s.
There are three reasons for me to do so. First, Bruce has been my friend for some thirty years; second, despite all of his work in economics and taxation policy, he was trained as an historian, and third, his career choices may have some relevance for historians, especially younger ones, today.
I first met Bruce early in 1976 when, as a Liberty Fund Junior Fellow working on his MA in History at Georgetown, after an AB at Rutgers, he visited the Institute for Humane Studies (then in Menlo Park, CA, now at George Mason University) to do some research at the Hoover Institution. Since all of the Summer Fellows had returned home, he stayed with me in the Institute’s townhouse, where I resided as the Liberty Fund Senior Research Scholar. I was flattered he had read several of my writings, and the evenings together for a number of weeks, really gave us opportunity to discuss our historical worldviews.
His thesis was later published as Cover-up: The Politics of Pearl Harbor, 1941-1946 (Arlington House, 1978). That alone, would be enough to alienate him from the foreign policies of George W. Bush, because it is clear Bruce, was, and is, a non-interventionist, in both foreign and domestic policies. “Imperial George” hates that kind of ‘Isolationist” opposition to unilateral imperialism, blasting it no less than four times in his recent speech before the Congress.
What impressed me most, however, was that Bruce was one of among a handful of students I have known in my career who, was not only a generalist, but interested in the philosophy of history as well. To demonstrate how out of place that is in today’s university, once, when I offered to exchange positions with someone at Northern Arizona University, so she could be nearer her ill mother in Florida, a “colleague” at FAU wrote to warn them that I was, “a generalist, an entrepreneur (I headed a modest Const. Co. on the side) and a dilettante.” Fortunately, the Honors Program offered me an even better deal than did the “worried” History Department. Narrow specialization today is the game of the game!
I had corresponded with Carroll Quigley, the noted lecturer at the Foreign Service School at Georgetown, who had made some suggestions on my essay Egalitarianism and Empire. I envied Bruce for having had the opportunity to sit in on a number of Quigley’s lectures even though he was not enrolled in his large courses. Quigley had been Bill Clinton’s mentor at Georgetown, and the latter mentioned his writings in the speech accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1992.
Bruce hoped the Liberty Fund would support his work toward a doctorate in History, but the board of the Fund decided against such a general policy. Had it done so, Bruce might have stuck it out to obtain the terminal degree in History. Enrolled, for same, later at Georgetown, and contemplating in the late 1970s, as a white male trying to get a job in an American university, as he has recounted it, one day he left a doctoral History class in mid-lecture, took Incompletes in all his courses, and was able to secure a job in Washington. His career is nicely described here.
Given Bruce’s conservative worldview, and the specialization that has occurred in American universities during these years, he certainly made the correct career choice. His experience with NCPA indicates also the parameters of the freedom of expression in such obviously biased “think-tanks,” whether of the left or the right.
He is free now to do the interdisciplinary research that has always been his orientation. I would urge him to return to the broader parameters of the philosophy of History that interested him years ago, and that is not given much shrift in today’s universities.
Quigley died in 1977. As I was completing my stay with Liberty Fund, I suggested the Liberty Press reprint what I considered his most important work, The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis (1961), and was honored to contribute the “Selective Bibliography” short commentary when it was published in 1979.
I hope to be reviewing Bruce’s new book at length in several places. I would suggest to Bruce here, however, that the most important passage in the book has little, if anything, to do with Bush’s economic policies, or comparing them to Reagan’s, but rather to Quigley’s whole analysis of History.
On page 41, Bruce notes the journalist Ron Suskind, in an article that was much quoted, including by this writer, when it was published late in 2004, citing an unnamed Bush White House aide, “We’re an empire now, . . . and you, all of you, will be left to study what we do.”
Well, Bruce, now that you are, so to speak, unemployed, I suggest you take a member of the Bush administration at his word, and continue to study what the Empire is doing, of which domestic economic policies are only a part.
What better place to begin that than to return to Quigley, whose book was focused around the concept of Empire and Universal Empire, in my view a much sounder framework of analysis than anything that has been done by the many writers quoting Spengler or Toynbee in the last decade since the Neocons proclaimed the “new” American Empire that increasingly looks like the “old” Empire of a century ago.
Certainly, the specialists in the universities are not going to do so in any great numbers. Their protests against the New Empire are miniscule, or even pathetic, compared to those in 1898, or even against the Vietnam War. I warn you, though, your idol, Ronald Reagan, was advancing the Empire during his watch, and men like John Negroponte first earned their spurs developing a strategy of killing the peasants in Central America.
To get you back to the insights of Quigley as a starting point, let me mention him on two issues which even George W. Bush believes are paramount today, Energy and the Weaponry now available to Global Insurgents in the “Long War.”
Writing in 1961 Quigley noted that a fourth great Age of Expansion in Global Civilization might come about by our learning to efficiently harness the energy given us by the Sun, since all other sources on our planet were finite, or cause other problems in their development.
Apropos of what has been going on in Iraq and elsewhere, he observed, as quoted at the beginning of my own, "Weapons, Technology and Legitimacy" that we were in a new age of warfare, which a few military planners are now calling “Fourth Generation Warfare,” seemingly in ignorance that Quigley wrote another whole book on weapons in history.
As several historians have noted, History seeks to answer both the “How” and the “Why” of human action. The first great question is “Why, if we are a Democracy, have the American People, certainly including historians and other intellectuals, allowed their political leaders to change a nation created in the name of Liberty and Self-Determination, into becoming the world’s great bastion of Empire and Counter-Revolution?” Secondly, “How do we restore our nation toward a quest for those lost ideals?”
Bruce, you have shown you have the intellectual courage to take on a Republican administration of great power, in the certain knowledge it would cost you your rather comfortable position. Hopefully, yours in the first salvo that will open further a great Fissure or Schism in the Republican Party and in American History over the question of Empire.
I can think of no one better armed and equipped to take on the great issue of Empire, and I am proud to see you returning to your roots in History.
Last night on late TV our beloved President announced he is launching a Preemptive War Against Bird Flu (PWABF), because Karl Rove suggested that's where the WMDs might really be hidden!
To seal off any threat from the East, American bombers attacked the Canary Islands. Naval warships are moving to surround the Islands and shell them with depleted uranium. After that, Poodle Blair can send in some of the Brits leaving Iraq to round up the survivors to rendition to Guantanamo.
Deadeye Dick, our heroic VP, an expert on eliminating fowls, such as guinea hens, has a secret plan in the works to stop any threat from the West by peppering New Guinea with billions of rounds of buckshot. A multi-billion dollar no-bid contract, which DDC always carries around in his pocket, to do this, has already been signed with Halliburton-KBR. One of Dick's friends has opined this always leaves things, however, looking a bit too much like the mess at a Tyson's factory.
A planner in Rummy's Pentagon suggested bombing to the South since someone named Byrd had once explored around down there, possibly contaminating that Pole, but our wise President pointed out that "a Byrd is not the same as a bird," and besides he just saw a Disney flick demonstrating that hungry dog teams can neutralize any bird threat in that area, thus saving us thousands, perhaps millions of bombs, that might break off more melting glaciers.
What a guy, even in the midst of war, he's thinking about the environment!
Finally, our Mexican-American forces don't like that cold, despite the fact that some of them are Navy SEALS.
It's nice to know that America is in such good hands. With any luck, Osama may have been vacationing in the Canarys, thus "killing two birds with one bomb."
Don't mess with Texas, but Pigeon Forge, TN, better batten down. Hey, the winds from there blow over to Asheville! Maybe Dolly can stop that one.
It's going to be another "Long War," but "Heck of a Job, Dubya!"
David T. Beito
Few individuals in American history better exemplified organized armed self-defense for individual rights than Robert F. Williams. He had a remarkable life which took him from the American South, to Cuba, then China, and back to the United States.
Williams was born on this day in Monroe, North Carolina in 1925. He was very much a product of the twin traditions of Southern black gun culture and civil rights.
He entered the national limelight in 1958 when, as head of the local NAACP, he defended two black boys who had been jailed after they were accused of kissing a white girl. He followed this by organizing the Black Armed Guard which worked in cooperation with the National Rifle Association. The Guard encouraged blacks to purchase guns and mobilize to defend civil rights.
In 1959, Williams gained a national following when he debated Martin Luther King Jr. in the black press on the merits of relying on guns for self-defense. Williams argued that the prospect that blacks would be able and willing to shoot back was the best way to prevent violence and make civil-rights gains.
Despite his differences with King, Williams' armed followers protected the Freedom Riders when they came to Monroe. This led to a controversy that led to (apparently trumped up) kidnapping charges against Williams. These charges related to an incident involving a white couple who had wandered into the black area of Monroe by mistake.
Williams fled to Cuba where he made broadcasts to the U.S. on “Radio Free Dixie.” While there, he authored Negroes with Guns. The book emphasized the importance of armed self-defense throughout black history.
It did not take Williams long to have a falling out with Castro and he made his way to China. Throughout these years, he hoped to return to the United States. His prospects for a reconciliation improved when U.S./Chinese relations thawed in the Nixon administration. Eager for inside information on China, the same U.S. government that had once pursued Williams turned to him for advice. Williams returned to the United States where he was hired by the University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies. Meanwhile, the state of North Carolina dropped all pending charges against him. He died in 1996.
The best general source on Williams’ life is Timothy Tyson, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power.
"Violence raged throughout the afternoon as protesters opposed to the . . . rally fought running battles with . . . police. Cars were set alight and fireworks thrown at police. Shops . . . were looted as the riot squad combined with a mounted unit initially prevented demonstrators . . . from crossing the river."
Baghdad? Damascus? Beirut?
No, Dublin. Read the full story here.
"The first loyalist march in Dublin since Partition (1922) had to be rerouted after thousands of republican protesters rioted in the centre of the Irish capital yesterday, with several Irish police among 40 people injured."
"The chaotic scenes took place during a weekend when Dublin was meant to be showcasing itself as a world tourist destination. Thousands of tourists were in the city for today's Six Nations rugby international between Ireland and Wales, and for the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival."
"Ruairi O'Bradaigh, president of republican party Sinn Fein, which organised the protest against the Love Ulster rally, compared the scenes to riots outside the British Embassy in 1981 over the republican hunger strike at the Maze. 'I haven't seen anything like this for 25 years, in fact this is much worse. They (the authorities) underestimated the depth of resistance to this march,' said the veteran republican leader, as fireworks exploded and bottles smashed at garda lines beside the statue of protestant nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell.
"One of those protesting against the loyalist march, Sean Fallon, who described himself as an ordinary GAA-supporting non-political Dubliner, said: 'If the loyalists had just come down and laid a wreath somewhere and then met a government minister, I wouldn't have minded. But to try and walk down our main street waving the Union Jack, playing Orange tunes and generally rubbing our noses in it is going too far. That's why I'm here.'
"The Love Ulster rally was organised by the South Armagh-based Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR). One speaker, the Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson, said that the trip to Dublin had been worth it because people exercised their civil rights."
I have mixed feelings about the DPA, sometimes I see them in the same light as I see the people in pre-Civil War America who sought laws to soften the condition of slavery, thereby prolonging it. Also, they distain the word legalization yet they put out mountains of information supporting the conclusion that ending prohibition is the only logical course. They focus too much on incremental change and not enough on forcing those favoring and benefiting by drug prohibition to defend that indefensible position. Nevertheless, the DPA on the whole performs a considerable service by raising the issues and doing the research that it does. So, I hope Mr. Cronkite brings them in some money.
As anchorman of the CBS Evening News, I signed off my nightly broadcasts for nearly two decades with a simple statement:"And that’s the way it is." To me, that encapsulates the newsman’s highest ideal: to report the facts as he sees them, without regard for the consequences or controversy that may ensue. Sadly, that is not an ethic to which all politicians aspire - least of all in a time of war. I remember. I covered the Vietnam War. I remember the lies that were told, the lives that were lost - and the shock when, twenty years after the war ended, former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara admitted he knew it was a mistake all along. Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens.
I am speaking of the war on drugs. And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the war on drugs is a failure.
While the politicians stutter and stall - while they chase their losses by claiming we could win this war if only we committed more resources, jailed more people and knocked down more doors - the Drug Policy Alliance continues to tell the American people the truth -"the way it is."
I'm sure that's why you support DPA's mission to end the drug war. And why I strongly urge you to support their work by giving a generous donation today. Make a Donation
You see, I’ve learned first hand that the stakes just couldn’t be higher. When I wanted to understand the truth about the war on drugs, I took the same approach I did to the war in Vietnam: I hit the streets and reported the story myself. I sought out the people whose lives this war has affected.
Allow me to introduce you to some of them. Nicole Richardson was 18-years-old when her boyfriend, Jeff, sold nine grams of LSD to undercover federal agents. She had nothing to do with the sale. There was no reason to believe she was involved in drug dealing in any way.
But then an agent posing as another dealer called and asked to speak with Jeff. Nicole replied that he wasn’t home, but gave the man a number where she thought Jeff could be reached.
An innocent gesture? It sounds that way to me. But to federal prosecutors, simply giving out a phone number made Nicole Richardson part of a drug dealing conspiracy. Under draconian mandatory minimum sentences, she was sent to federal prison for ten years without possibility of parole.
To pile irony on top of injustice, her boyfriend - who actually knew something about dealing drugs - was able to trade information for a reduced sentence of five years. Precisely because she knew nothing, Nicole had nothing with which to barter.
Then there was Jan Warren, a single mother who lived in New Jersey with her teenage daughter. Pregnant, poor and desperate, Jan agreed to transport eight ounces of cocaine to a cousin in upstate New York. Police officers were waiting at the drop-off point, and Jan - five months pregnant and feeling ill - was cuffed and taken in.
Did she commit a crime? Sure. But what awaited Jan Warren defies common sense and compassion alike. Under New York’s infamous Rockefeller Drug Laws, Jan - who miscarried soon after the arrest - was sentenced to 15 years to life. Her teenage daughter was sent away, and Jan was sent to an eight-by-eight cell.
In Tulia, Texas, an investigator fabricated evidence that sent more than one out of every ten of the town’s African American residents to jail on trumped-up drug charges in one of the most despicable travesties of justice this reporter has ever seen.
The federal government has fought terminally ill patients whose doctors say medical marijuana could provide a modicum of relief from their suffering - as though a cancer patient who uses marijuana to relieve the wrenching nausea caused by chemotherapy is somehow a criminal who threatens the public.
People who do genuinely have a problem with drugs, meanwhile, are being imprisoned when what they really need is treatment. And what is the impact of this policy?
It surely hasn’t made our streets safer. Instead, we have locked up literally millions of people...disproportionately people of color...who have caused little or no harm to others - wasting resources that could be used for counter-terrorism, reducing violent crime, or catching white-collar criminals.
With police wielding unprecedented powers to invade privacy, tap phones and conduct searches seemingly at random, our civil liberties are in a very precarious condition. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on this effort - with no one held accountable for its failure.
Amid the clichés of the drug war, our country has lost sight of the scientific facts. Amid the frantic rhetoric of our leaders, we’ve become blind to reality: The war on drugs, as it is currently fought, is too expensive, and too inhumane.
But nothing will change until someone has the courage to stand up and say what so many politicians privately know: The war on drugs has failed. That’s where the Drug Policy Alliance comes in.
From Capitol Hill to statehouses to the media, DPA counters the hysteria of the drug war with thoughtful, accurate analysis about the true dangers of drugs, and by fighting for desperately needed on-the-ground reforms.
They are the ones who’ve played the lead role in making marijuana legally available for medical purposes in states across the country.
California’s Proposition 36, the single biggest piece of sentencing reform in the United States since the repeal of Prohibition, is the result of their good work. The initiative is now in its fifth year, having diverted more than 125,000 people from prison and into treatment since its inception.
They oppose mandatory-minimum laws that force judges to send people like Nicole Richardson and Jan Warren to prison for years, with no regard for their character or the circumstances of their lives. And their work gets results: thanks in large part to DPA, New York has taken the first steps towards reforming the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws under which Jan was sentenced.
In these and so many other ways, DPA is working to end the war on drugs and replace it with a new drug policy based on science, compassion, health and human rights. DPA is a leading, mainstream, respected and effective organization that gets real results. But they can’t do it alone.
That’s why I urge you to send as generous a contribution as you possibly can to the Drug Policy Alliance. Make a Donation
Americans are paying too high a price in lives and liberty for a failing war on drugs about which our leaders have lost all sense of proportion. The Drug Policy Alliance is the one organization telling the truth. They need you with them every step of the way. And that’s the way it is.
Sincerely, Walter Cronkite
P.S. Why does this reporter support the Drug Policy Alliance? Because they perform a service I value highly: When no one else will, they tell it the way it is, and they do so on one of the most important but least discussed issues in America today. Just as they did in Vietnam three decades ago, politicians know the War on Drugs is a failure that is ruining lives. Please help the Drug Policy Alliance tell the truth about the war on drugs - and get our nation on the path toward a sensible drug policy.
[Cross-listed at Proportional Belief.]
Roderick T. Long
The latest additions to the Molinari Online Library are two early classics of the Austrian School:
- First: the 1893 English translation of Friedrich von Wiesers 1889 treatise Natural Value. Wieser student of Menger, brother-in-law of Böhm-Bawerk, and teacher of Hayek was one of the founders of the Austrian tradition in economics. Hes admittedly somewhat heterodox from the standpoint of mainline Austrian theory; for example, he rejects Böhm-Bawerks theory of interest on the grounds that positive time-preference is irrational (a sign of a defective economy); and Joseph Salerno has argued that Wiesers whole concept of natural value veers too closely to a general equilibrium approach. But Wiesers treatise is nevertheless a useful and fascinating discussion of subjective value and marginal utility from a broadly Mengerian standpoint, and certainly deserves its place among the founding Austrian texts. And moreover, while he is certainly friendlier to government intervention than Mises or even Hayek, Wieser does offer a partial anticipation of Mises calculation argument against socialist central planning.
- Second: William Smarts 1891 primer An Introduction to the Theory of Value on the Lines of Menger, Wieser, and Böhm-Bawerk. Smart was the first English translator of Böhm-Bawerk (as well editor of the Wieser volume above), and his Introduction has been described by Salerno as a lucid and highly sympathetic introduction to Austrian value theory. In later years Smart moved away from a pure Austrian position in order to impale himself on the Marshallian scissors; in the interest of maximum usefulness to scholars, this online version includes both the fully Austrian first edition and the semi-Marshallian second edition.
Dr. Ari is a member of the Aymara indigenous people of Bolivia and the AHA letter writers are “deeply disturbed by the possibility that ethnicity might form the basis for excluding members of our profession from gainful employment.” The authors of the plea to Secretary Rice believe Waskar Ari’s to be a case of racial profiling. I think they are wrong about this, not about their assertion that the denial of entry has nothing to do with any terrorist threat, clearly it does not, but about the real reason behind it.
The letter itself tells us that the State Department had ordered our embassy in La Paz to cancel all existing visas. So it was not race being profiled but rather the country. Now why would the United States single out Bolivia last summer? Perhaps, the July 15, 2005 issue of The Drug War Chronicle can enlighten us. They reported that, “Peasant coca grower leader Evo Morales has announced that he is seeking the presidency, and as arguably the most popular politician in the country, he is well-positioned to win.” He did in fact win and Bolivia is no longer cooperating with our country’s suppression of coca use, a habit, by the way, practiced for hundreds if not thousands of years by the Aymara. Therefore the people of Bolivia must be punished, starting with Dr. Ari.
The war on people who use certain kinds of drugs is the reason the students at Nebraska will be deprived of the considerable specialized knowledge Professor Ari promises to bring to the table. The silence of the AHA on the role coca played in this miscarriage of justice is the one of the primary reasons this kind of injustice will continue.
A coalition of Democrats led by New York Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, joined by Republican Senate leader, Bill Frist, as well as Christian conservatives such as Cal Thomas, see Dubai's acquisition of P&O's port concessions as a threat to American security. Why, two of the 911 bombers came from that small nation!
Bush's "War on Terror" having cried "wolf" everywhere, including Saddam's Iraq, is now having the issue come back to, as it were, "bite the President in the ass."
Beneath all of this "security" clamor, it's really the Wal-mart question again, in a slightly different guise!
There have been protests around America over the last few years as Wal-mart has sought to open new stores in a various communities. The hue and cry has come basically from two groups pushing two separate issues.
The first is that Wal-mart's"low" wages and lack of other benefits is a threat to the American worker. Yet, thousands of people line up for the potential job openings as a new Wal-mart prepares to open its doors. The unions operating in a number of America's other supermarket chains have complained to politicians about that competition. The unions at General Motors and Ford have said the same thing about Japanese and other foreign auto makers building new plants in this country, especially in the South.
Well, are American ports any different? Only slightly.
American ports used to be controlled by a corruption prone alliance of politicians and unions. One can recall with nostalgia a half century ago, as Oscar week approaches, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger and Eva Marie Saint in"On the Waterfront," offering us a glimpse of this relationship. And, as we observe the posturing of Chuck and Hillary, we are reminded that all of our actors are not in Hollywood! As a former Floridian and co-author of A History of Florida (3rd ed., 1999) I can attest that the Port of Miami has been a case study in such shenanigans, and that explains why some of the pols there are so upset.
A piece by John Nichols, "Corporate Control of Ports is the Problem," lets the cat out of the bag.
Nichols concedes that, Dubai and security issues aside, no corporation should be operating an American port,"it would be a bad idea." Further,"Ports are essential pieces of the infrastructure of the United States, and they are best run by public authorities that are accountable to elected officials and the people those officials represent. While traditional port authorities still exist, they are increasing marginalized as privatization schemes have allowed corporations -- often with tough anti-union attitudes and even tougher bottom lines -- to take charge of more and more of the basic operations at the nation's ports."
So, the real issue is privatization. Mr. Nichols would prefer government ownership. In all of this talk of accountability, no where is there any mention of the historical reality that American ports were long bastions of the unholy alliance of corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and union officials. No wonder all of the unions, from teachers to longshoremen, are behind Chuck and Hillary on this issue.
In the course of criticizing the idea that corporations are in business to make money, he inadvertently concedes the phoniness of the"security" issue."First: Like most American firms, most Arab-owned firms are committed to making money, and the vast majority of them are not about to compromise their potential profits by throwing in with terrorists."
The other side of the Wal-mart equation, the threat to smaller business interests, is revealed in a piece by Robert Wright in today's Financial Times,"Backlash to Dubai deal sends danger signal to US ports sector," which is, unfortunately, available online only to subscribers. I shall, therefore, quote generously from it.
Wright reminds us this is not the first time such a controversy has arisen, citing the Chinese company, Costco's, effort in 1998 to take control of the Port of Long Beach. Costco simply switched to nearby Los Angeles and used the facilities there.
First, the"legislation proposed by US senators now could affect a number of companies that already operate container terminals in the US, possibly forcing them to sell."
Secondly:"The dispute could also put at risk the US's reputation in the maritime industry as a safe, predictable place to do business, observers believe."
Finally:"The ultimate effect may be to divorce practice in the US's relatively protected, inefficient container ports sector further from that elsewhere in the industrialized world, where large international companies have generally developed more efficient businesses."
Neil Davidson, a container ports analyst at London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants, indicates"the US container port industry would be unworkable without companies controlled by foreign governments. Proposed emergency legislation by senators Hillary Clinton and Robert Menendez would prevent foreign governments from controlling US container port assets."
"Among key companies that could be barred from operating US container terminals are China Shipping, the state-owned Chinese line, which has a terminal at the Port of Los Angeles, and APL, a line based in Oakland, California, and owned by Singapore's state-owned NOL," and"There are a number of major state-owned shipping lines that have terminals in the US," Davidson notes.
Further,"The law would prevent DP World, which is owned by the emirate of Dubai, from making any future investments but also lock out permanently Singapore's PSA, the world number three container port operator by capacity, owned by the Singaporean government. DP World will become the world number four through the P&O takeover but will be only just behind PSA and Denmark's APM Terminals."
Finally:"Without DP World and PSA, the US would be further cut off from the influence of the world's largest, most efficient container port operators. Hong Kong's Hutchison Ports, the world number one, already refuses to invest in the US because its executives are skeptical of how the container ports industry is organized."
Still,"that may suit the mainly small family-owned companies that lease container terminals at many US ports from the publicly owned port authorities controlling nearly all of them, Such small companies dominate the sector in the US, along with shipping lines, which lease dedicated terminals for their ships at many ports, especially on the west coast."
Thus,"Although the restrictive practices at union-dominated US ports mean profits are not as high as in other parts of the world, business for such family-controlled companies has generally been good, according to Mr Davidson. Few have chosen to sell out in the same way as the owners of ITO, the small terminal operator that sold P&O its north American assets in June 1999."
Finally,"US politicians well beyond Washington might also benefit if the deal were to fall apart. Many local port authorities are run by political appointees, who might benefit from attacking Arab interests if P&O North America's terminal leases were surrendered and could be relet."
Concludes Mr Davidson,"The US ports business is a pretty political animal."
So, in summary, privatization has been going on for some time in American ports with modest profits as the efficiency of our ports has fallen relative to the operations of larger companies in Asia and elsewhere. Like the small businesses opposing a local Wal-mart, these companies would like things to remain much as they are, and they are relying on Chuck, Hillary and Bill to keep it that way. If I might refer once again to a film analogy, I hope this time George will"veto one for the Gipper!"
Kenneth R. Gregg
"The illusion of democracy springs from that of constitutional Monarchy's example--claiming to organize Government by representative means. Neither the Revolution of July (1830), nor that of February (1848) has sufficed to illuminate this. What they always want is inequality of fortunes, delegation of sovereignty, and government by influential people. Instead of saying, as did M. Thiers, the King reigns and does not govern, democracy says, the People reigns and does not govern, which is to deny the Revolution..."
"Since, according to the ideology of the democrats, the People cannot govern itself and is forced to give itself to representatives who govern by delegation, while it retains the right of review, it is supposed that the People is quite capable of at least having itself represented, that it can be represented faithfully...This hypothesis is utterly false; there is not and never can be legitimate representation of the People. All electoral systems are mechanisms for deceit: to know one is sufficient to pronounce the condemnation of all."
"In order that the deputy represent his constituents, it is necessary that he represent all the ideas which have united to elect him...But, with the electoral system. the deputy, the would-be legislator sent by the citizens to reconcile all ideas and all interests in the name of the People, always represents just one idea, one interest. The rest is excluded without pity. For who makes law in the elections? Who decides the choice of deputies? The majority, half plus one of the votes. From this it follows that half less one of the electors is not represented or is so in spite of itself, that of all the opinions that divide the citizens, one only, insofar as the deputy has an opinion, arrives at the legislature, and finally that the law, which should be the expression of the will of the People, is only the expression of half of the People."
"The result is that in the theory of the democrats the problem consists of eliminating, by the mechanism of sham universal suffrage, all ideas save one which stir opinion, and to declare sovereign that which has the majority."
"...In every kind of government the deputy belongs to the powerful, not to the country...[It is required] that he be master of his vote, that is, to traffic in its sale, that the mandate have a specified term, of at least a year, during which the Government, in agreement with the deputies, does what it pleases and gives strength to the law through action by its own arbitrary will..."
"If monarchy is the hammer which crushes the People, democracy is the axe which divides it; the one and the other equally conclude in the death of liberty..."
"By virtue of democratic principle, all citizens must participate in the formation of the law...[and] all must pay their debt to their native land, as taxpayers, jurors, judges and soldiers."
"If things could happen in this way, the ideal of democracy would be attained. It would have a normal existence, developing directly in the sense of its principle, as do all things which have life and grow."
"It is completely otherwise in democracy, which according to the authors exists fully only at the moment of elections and for the formation of legislative power. This moment once past, democracy retreats; it withdraws into itself again, and begins its anti-democratic work."
"In fact it is not true, in any democracy, that all citizens participate in the formation of the law; that prerogative is reserved to the representatives."
"It is not true that they deliberate on all public affairs, domestic and foreign; this is the perquisite, not even of the representatives, but of the ministers. Citizens discuss affairs, ministers alone deliberate them."
"It is not true that citizens participate in the nomination of officials. It is power which names its subordinates, sometimes according to its own arbitrary will, sometimes according to certain conditions for appointment or promotion, the order and discipline of officials and centralization requiring that it be thus..."
"...According to democratic theory, the 'People' is incapable of governing itself; democracy, like monarchy, after having posed as its principle the sovereignty of the People, ends with a declaration of the incapacity of the People!"
"This is what is meant by the democrats, who once in the government, dream only of consolidating and strengthening the authority in their hands."
From Anarchism (New York: Atherton Press, 1970. pp. 40-69) edited by Robert Hoffman.
P-J Proudhon's understanding of democracy is a classic example of the concerns about the representative democratic process which many classical liberals expressed. This was written a few weeks after the February (1848) Revolution in Paris had replaced the constitutional monarchy of King Louise-Phillipe with that of a nominally democratic republic.
Kenneth R. Gregg
The only security any person can have lies within himself. Unless he is free to act as an individual, free to be productive in his own behalf, free to determine what part of that production he will consume now and what part he will save, and free to protect his savings, there is no chance that he can find security anywhere.--Paul L. Poirot. The Pension Idea
Dr. Paul L. Poirot (graduated, U. of Illinois, 1936, Ph.D., Agricultural Economics, Cornell University, 1940) wasrecruited by Dr. F.A. Harper, his former professor at Cornell University and W. M."Charlie" Curtiss to join the staff of FEE in 1949. He would write, serve as Secretary of FEE's Board and indefatigable managing editor of The Freeman from 1956 until his retirement in 1987. Poirot's work, quietly managing, crafting and expertly editing FEE's periodical was his gift to the libertarian movement and our treasure. Poirot served as Editor Emeritus of The Freeman until his recent death. Poirot was author/editor of The Farm Problem, The Freedom Philosophy, The Morality of Capitalism and many of the earliest FEE booklets: "Agrarian Reform", "Property Rights and Human Rights", "Bargaining", "Public Housing", "Social Security" and "The Pension Idea". A feschrift was published in 1987 by FEE: Ideas on Liberty: Essays in Honor of Paul L. Poirot (edited by Beth A. Hoffman).
As Poirot stated in 1996:
In more recent years, especially at the nudging of Dr. Sennholz, FEE has published a regular series of Freeman “classic” books. Each volume is devoted to a given subject and draws from the wealth of knowledge contained in some forty years of The Freeman. Having started with The Freedom Philosophy, the series contains books covering a wide range of ideas, including: the moral foundations of capitalism, political interventionism, individual spirit, free trade and world peace, the formation and function of market pricing, money, inflation, banking, private property rights, taxation, conservation of resources, education, medical care, agriculture, unionism, crime, and more.
The Freeman since 1950 consistently and continuously has stood against the fallacies and clichés of politics, not by bitter denunciation, but by reasoned and attractive explanations of the better way of limited government, private ownership, voluntary exchange, moral behavior, and self-improvement. The golden rule of the marketplace is that the person who gains most is one who best serves others.
Over the last fifteen years, editorial and opinion pages have played an increasingly important role in the discourse of the national political culture. Therefore, FEE has sought to influence public opinion through the placement of shortened Freeman articles as opinion pieces in newspapers in the United States and throughout the world. The articles are chosen to make a principled case for a free society.
Prior to joining Leonard Read at FEE (called"National Foundation for Economic Education" during its inception in 1946, but the"National" portion was dropped early on), Poirot learned the vagaries of government control first-hand. As he said in 1955:
From 1941 to 1945 I was an economist in the Agricultural Chemicals Section of the Office of Price Administration [and for the Grange League Federation in Ithaca, N.Y. from 1945 to 1949--Ken]. Among my duties was the task of determining what the newly developed insecticide, DDT, was worth in dollars and cents to the community at large. Price control presumes many things; but as I now see it, the most important presumption is that the market or subjective theory of value is unworkable—that there is a better method of determining price than through bargaining between willing buyers and willing sellers. Congress had, in effect, outlawed the market method of price determination. In the case of DDT pricing, we tried to substitute a “cost-plus” formula which is a variation of the labor theory of value. According to that theory, the value of a product depends upon how much time and effort the producer puts into it. What could be more reasonable—from a price fixer’s point of view?Poirot was one of the premier standard-bearers of FEE's vision of a free, laissez-faire society, protected by a constitutionally-limited government. During the lone years when FEE's future was less than certain, Leonard E. Read, Paul L. Poirot and Edmund Opitz kept their eyes clear and directed by the bright polestar of the freedom philosophy. There were times when FEE could have lost its direction, but with the quiet strength of Paul L. Poirot and the others, FEE continued further than any other libertarian organization of its generation. As his obituary states:
At the time, I didn’t see anything wrong with that pricing formula. Of course, there wasn’t enough DDT to begin to satisfy the demand at the official maximum price. But I then believed that it was the responsibility of the War Production Board, or some other agency, to allocate the available supply.
I have since learned that there is no substitute for the market method of finding the proper price for anything. The market price serves as an adjustor to bring supply and demand toward a balance, encouraging production or encouraging consumption, whichever is necessary. Occasionally, quite by accident, some other pricing formula such as the “cost-plus” device may result in a price which is the same as the free market price might have been, in which case there would be neither burdensome surplus nor shortage of the goods or services so priced. But what is the sense of a system which cannot work except by accident?
...I have a great deal of faith that the market method of price determination will bring forth the optimum supply of any commodity or service. No matter how it is determined, any price other than the free market price is bound to result either in an unmarketable surplus of the item or in an unsatisfied demand for it...
"The sharp wit and lucid prose which characterized his professional writings on the virtues of a free society were also treasured by the many dozens of personal friends with whom he maintained an ongoing letter correspondence."Just a thought (and hat tip to Lew Rockwell).
Roderick T. Long
Benjamin Tucker famously held that property in real estate depends on continued personal occupancy, so that when a landlord undertakes to rent out a plot of land or a building to a tenant, the landlord actually surrenders ownership to the tenant, who despite whatever contract she may have signed has no obligation, enforceable or otherwise, either to keep paying rent or to return the property at the expiration of the lease.
I think Tuckers view on this subject is mistaken, but debating its merits is not my present concern. (For a defense of Tuckers position, see Kevin Carsons critique of absentee landlordism; for the contrary view, see my forthcoming reply to Carson in the next issue, 20.1, of the JLS.) Rather, for purposes of this post I want to ask a historical question: what was Lysander Spooners position on this issue?
Its often assumed that it must have been similar to Tuckers; in Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature, for example, Rothbard treats the abolition of rent as part of the Spooner-Tucker doctrine. But while Spooner and Tucker were certainly aligned on many issues, they had some important disagreements as well most notably on intellectual property (Spooner was pro, Tucker con) and on the ethical foundations of libertarianism (Spooner favoured natural law while Tucker favoured Stirnerite egoism). So its by no means a foregone conclusion that Spooner and Tucker must have agreed about rent.
Perhaps its assumed that Spooner and Tucker were both anti-rent because they both supported the Irish movement to resist paying rent to landlords. But in Spooners 1880 Revolution: The Only Remedy for the Oppressed Classes of Ireland, the only reason Spooner gives for impugning the property title of landlords in Ireland is not that the landlords have failed to maintain personal occupancy, but rather that their holdings were originally taken by the sword from the native cultivators an argument perfectly consistent with Lockean/Rothbardian views on rent.
I cant claim to have scoured every inch of Spooners texts for remarks on this issue, but what I have found convinces me that Spooners position on rent was in fact the Lockean/Rothbardian one and not the Tuckerite one at all.
- The earliest mention Ive come across is in Spooners 1839 legal brief Spooner vs. MConnell, in which he asserts the Federal governments property right over wild lands within its territory, adding that the United States may lease those lands ... so long as they retain the title in themselves .... Here occupancy and title are clearly understood as separable. But this early passage is not a reliable guide to Spooners mature views, since it plainly conflicts with Spooners declaration in his 1886 Letter to Grover Cleveland that [t]he government has no more right to claim the ownership of wilderness lands, than it has to claim the ownership of the sunshine, the water, or the atmosphere.
- But we also find Spooner remarking, in his 1846 Poverty: Its Illegal Causes and Legal Cure, that there is no more extortion in loaning capital to the best bidder, than in selling a horse, or renting a house to the best bidder which hardly sounds as though Spooner sees anything inherently problematic about rent.
The clearest evidence of Spooners disagreement with Tucker on rent, however, comes from his 1855 Law of Intellectual Property. While that work is devoted specifically to the question of property in ideas, in order to address that specific question Spooner finds it necessary to develop a general theory of property rights as such, and in so doing he tells us:
There is no limit, fixed by the law of nature, to the amount of property one may acquire by simply taking possession of natural wealth, not already possessed .... [H]e holds the land in order to hold the labor which he has put into it, or upon it. And the land is his, so long as the labor he has expended upon it remains in a condition to be valuable for the uses for which it was expended; because it is not to be supposed that a man has abandoned the fruits of his labor so long as they remain in a state to be practically useful to him. ...I think this is as clear a statement as one could ask for that in Spooners eyes ownership, while initially acquired by labour and occupancy, does not depend for its continuation on the continuation of such labour and occupancy, but may legitimately be rented out with no loss of the original owners just title. Perhaps it was not solely for its defense of copyrights and patents, then, that Tucker described Spooners Law of Intellectual Property as the only positively silly work which ever came from Mr. Spooners pen.
The principle of property is, that the owner of a thing has absolute dominion over it, whether he have it in actual possession or not, and whether he himself wish to use it or not; that no one has a right to take possession of it, or use it, without his consent; and that he has a perfect right to withhold both the possession and use of it from others, from no other motive than to induce them, or make it necessary for them, to buy it, or rent it, and pay him an equivalent for it, or for its use. ... The right of property, therefore, is a right of absolute dominion over a commodity, whether the owner wish to retain it in his own actual possession and use, or not. It is a right to forbid others to use it, without his consent. If it were not so, men could never sell, rent, or give away those commodities, which they do not themselves wish to keep or use but would lose their right of property in them that is, their right of dominion over them the moment they suspended their personal possession and use of them.
It is because a man has this right of absolute dominion over the fruits of his labor, and can forbid other men to use them without his consent, whether he himself retain his actual possession and use of them or not, that nearly all men are engaged in the production of commodities, which they themselves have no use for, and cannot retain any actual possession of, and which they produce solely for purposes of sale, or rent. In fact, there is no article of corporeal property whatever, exterior to one's person, which owners are in the habit of keeping in such actual and constant possession or use, as would be necessary in order to secure it to themselves, if the right of property, originally derived from labor, did not remain in the absence of possession.
- Nor should we suppose that Spooners 1855 endorsement of rent was later retracted during his association with Tucker; for just three years before his death, in his 1884 Letter to Scientists and Inventors, Spooner restates in condensed form the standpoint of his Law of Intellectual Property, and notes in passing that the originator of an idea may either use it himself, or sell it, or lend it to others for use, the same as he might rightfully do with any material property. (Emphasis mine.) Once again theres no indication that title to any material property is lost when its owners withdraw from personally occupying it and lend it to others for use.
In any case, I agree with Tucker against Spooner about intellectual property, so its not as though I can consistently exalt one above the other. In his Law of Intellectual Property Spooner tries to show that if you agree with him about land youre thereby committed to agreeing with him about copyrights and patents also. Obviously I think his arguments on that point fail, for reasons I plan to address in a future post; my line of attack would be a development of the approach I sketch here and here. But as I said above, my concern in the present discussion is not to offer a theoretical defense of any particular view about property rights, but simply to make the historical, interpretive point that Spooners view on rent was not the same as Tuckers. (Well, to the extent that theres any polemical payoff I suppose its this: those anarcho-socialists who grant the title of anarchist to Tucker and Spooner but deny it to Rothbard and other so-called anarcho-capitalists on the grounds inter alia of the latters disagreement with Tucker about land will find their position at least somewhat harder to maintain to the extent that the distance between the saved Spooner and the damned anarcho-capitalists is narrowed.)
Well, its 3:00 a.m. Tuesday, and my sleepless Sunday night is starting to reassert itself against the temporary reinvigoration from my Monday-afternoon nap, so Im off to bed.
Maybe, now that Cheney says he wants no future elective office, Bush can nominate him as Head of the National Archives to remove just about everything there back into the secrecy of the agencies from whence the materials came. Remember Edward Shils' book, The Torment of Secrecy? God forbid some of those old century plus documents from the BIAs (both Indian and Insular) detailing the Army's massacres of both Indians and Filipinos be allowed in the Archives for future historians to see, part of our first"War on Terrorists." Wonder if the NSA is listening in on discussions between those"suspicious" archivists? Some with a beard may just be part of al Qaida.
Now"History" can be written the Empire's way, just as in 1984!