Liberty & Power: Group Blog
"Given that it is possible, though difficult, to put in place a series of checks on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, our leaders need to weigh very carefully the equivocal comfort that a so-called preventive strike may buy against the massive costs of mounting one. It is as certain as it can be that a strike against Iran would inflame Muslim hatred throughout the Middle East and beyond. It would interrupt oil supplies and disorganise the world economy. It would swell the insurgency in Iraq, multiply the numbers of 'terrorists' and strengthen their determination to exact a terrible vengeance, especially on Israel. It would be against every counsel of prudent statesmanship. The danger is that we will drift into war because we lack the will and imagination to create institutions to make peace safe."
Charles W. Nuckolls
Ouray is a small town in the mountains of southwestern Colorado. On May 2nd, Ouray voters have the chance to join the fight and protect their rights of private ownership before it’s too late. After lengthy debate, the Ouray City Council has bowed to public pressure and will permit the citizens to vote in two ballot measures that could decide if we remain a community of individuals with property rights or turn into socialist “people’s state” where central-planning bureaucrats call the shots. Unfortunately, the vote is non-binding – city officials aren’t giving up their power to make the final decision – but the people have a chance to send them an unambiguous message: We dare to defend our rights!
Of the two measures, “C” is the more straightforward of the two. It asks if people are in favor of mandatory regulations of exterior construction. I believe Ouray voters will reject this measure hands-down. They will recognize it for what it is – a power-grab that diminishes our rights to own and control our own property. Most folks still believe that they are better at managing our affairs that a room full of chattering bureaucrats.
Measure B is a bit more tricky. It asks people to approve “review” of exterior construction for conformity with historical preservation standards. Sounds innocuous, but don’t be fooled. This measure is a Trojan Horse. Once you agree to let government officials “review” your plans for “conformity,” you have handed them power over you – perhaps not directly, but indirectly by letting city officials decide on what constitutes “conformity.” There is a reason why the word “review” is so vague, and why the process itself is not described. The authors of the measure want it that way, so that if Measure C fails, Measure B can be used to accomplish the same ends through the backdoor. It is government control by stealth.
The people of Ouray take pride in their property rights, and have shown, again and again, that they are responsible citizens when it comes to management of their own property. They do not need, and do not want, the government to take this responsibility away from them. I hope they remember that when they vote against Measure B and C, they are voting for their freedom to make choices that in are in their own best interests, and (therefore) in the best interests of the community
I'll report on the results of the vote next week. Meanwhile, watch out and be prepared: the same issues are coming to a ballot box near you.
"What surprises, worries and depresses me is the apparent relative quietude on the part of the Conservative party on these issues. I repeat - it did not vote against the Regulatory Reform Bill on second reading. It has not remembered the great Edward Gibbon's comment on Augustus Caesar's Rome: 'The principles of a free constitution are irrecoverably lost when the legislative power is nominated by the executive.'"
Go here for all you ever wanted to know about her and more. Click on In pictures: The Queen—a public life and go to photos 7 (which reminds me of the David Hockney picture Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy) and 12. Elizabeth is the great, great, great, great—that's four greats if you're counting—granddaughter of King George III.
UPDATE. Perhaps Elizabeth II is Elizabeth the Last. Jonathan Freedland argues here that the monarchy is finished and Elizabeth could well be all that's keeping it alive. And scroll down for an evaluation of which royal does most for the republican cause.
David T. Beito
“Give me the order to do it and I can break up Russia’s five A-bomb nests in a week,” he said. “And when I went to Christ, I think I could explain to Him why I wanted to do it now before it’s too late. I think I could explain to Him that I had saved civilization. With it [the A-bomb] used in time, we can immobilize a foe [and prevent] his crime before it happened.”
--Major General Orville Anderson, commandant of the Air War College, telling a newspaper reporter in 1950 that, given the authority to do so, he would order a nuclear strike against fledgling Soviet atomic capabilities.
From Jeffrey Record's Cato Policy Analysis "Nuclear Deterrence, Preventive War, and Counterproliferation," [.pdf], which outlines several occasions during the Cold War when America considered and, thankfully, rejected preventive nuclear war in the name of peace.
You can listen live at http://rbnlive.com/listen.html. It's going to be great -- and we take calls, too, at 800-313-9443.
My archives are here http://mp3.rbnlive.com/Karen05.html and http://mp3.rbnlive.com/Karen06.html -- You're always invited!
I tell ya, a world policeman's work is never done. You have to change regimes, watch out for weapons of mass destruction (while developing one's own killer" conventional" weapons), and manage the rise of great powers (so that they don't actually compete with you where it matters). That's a full plate by any standard. No doubt the busy president feels harried by all the criticism. Everyone's a critic.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
The Washington Postreports that the likely next president of Peru, Ollanta Humala, has promised to end the U.S.-financed program to eradicate the coca crop in that country. That's not what makes me mad. It's the program that does that. I can hardly imagine anything more arrogant and presumptuous than for a government to destroy crops in another country because that government doesn't want"its" people to have access to them. Nor can I imagine a program better suited to create hatred for Americans. And we wonder why figures like Chavez get into power. Are the people in Washington crazy? No, of course not. Somehow this fits their agenda of"benevolent hegemony." But it makes farmers in the Andes hate us and creates sympathy for Marxist guerrillas and terrorists. This is how our government protects us. What a joke.
The Post says the U.S. government has spent $5 billion since 2000 on crop eradication. Where are the spending hawks (an endangered species) when it comes to such budget items? I love this paragraph from the article:
But if Humala wins the decisive second-round election, to be held in May or early June, the United States' main ally in its eradication efforts -- Colombia -- will stand as a virtual island in the Andes, surrounded by countries with governments critical of Washington's policies. If continued breakdowns in cooperation occur in Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia or Ecuador, some U.S. officials say they fear that progress made to fight coca cultivation in Colombia could be undermined as production migrates across its borders.Some production has already moved:"Despite record eradication hauls in Colombia, coca production has been on the rise in Bolivia for each of the past four years. In Peru, U.S. government analysts detected a 23 percent increase in the traditional cultivation zones between 2004 and 2005; when including data from new zones of cultivation, Peru's annual increase was 38 percent."
We can only hope cooperation will break down in Colombia too, but I guess that's too much to hope for. Obviously, this matter calls into question the entire war on drug makers, sellers, and consumers. People in Latin America can't understand why they are scapegoated for the American demand for drugs. It's a fair question. And contrary to the brainiacs in Washington, eradicating coca crops has not made cocaine more expensive. The market is amazingly resilient, and as a result, the price of cocaine is historically low. The U.S. government is undeterred. It makes the spraying of poisons possible, showing little regard for the resulting environmental damage and social disruption. How typical. It should be pointed out that coca has uses other than producing cocaine. The Post says that Humala promises"to strengthen the legal marketplace for coca by promoting such products as coca teas and herbal medicines."
Cross-posted at Free Association.
Compared with most other detainees at the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Abu Bakker Qassim and Adel Abdu al-Hakim have a strong argument for why they should be immediately released from the terrorism prison camp. According to the United States military, they are neither terrorists nor"enemy combatants."A federal judge says the men are being held illegaly, but he also says he can't do anything about it. So the Bush administration is imprisoning people it concedes are not terrorists, or combatants, or even criminals. In other words, we know who the real criminals are.
So why are they being held at the camp nearly a year after a military panel ruled that they pose no threat to the US? They have no place else to go. Their appeal for freedom suffered a setback Monday.
The US government says that if the two men are sent home to the semi-autonomous western region of China they might face human rights abuses, and even torture, at the hands of Chinese authorities. Both men are members of the Uighur minority religious and ethnic group which has been the target of a Chinese government crackdown in recent years. They were captured after being trained with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
No other country has been willing to take them. And the Bush administration refuses to allow them to enter the US, even temporarily, out of fear of establishing a legal precedent that might be used by lawyers for other Guantánamo detainees.
On Monday, the US Supreme Court declined to take up the case. Instead, the matter will be argued on May 8 before a federal appeals court panel in Washington, D.C. At issue is what power, if any, federal judges have in the matter.... [Emphasis added.]
Cross-posted at Free Association.
David T. Beito
"[O]ur current situation – with so many foreign troop deployments that even military buffs can't keep track of them all and with wars initiated essentially on presidential whim – would have horrified the Framers.
Click read more for the answer.
Answer: Glenn Reynolds. Hat tip to Matt Barganier, who has additional details about the antiwar past of Mr. Instapundit.
First, the voters are poorly informed, as so many have noted. But second—and here we part company with the consensus—citizens cannot perform sensible retrospective judgments at election time. They reward and punish for events no administration can control. Moreover, while they know how they feel at the moment, they lose all track of how they have felt over the course of the administration’s term in office. Like medical patients recalling colonoscopies, their assessments of past pain and pleasure are significantly biased by “duration neglect” (Kahneman 2000; Redelmeier, Katz, and Kahneman 2003).
To say the least, there is tension between the ideas that we live in a free society and that government may determine whom we may sell to, rent to, and hire. This is the real heart of the immigration debate. Who should decide such things, free individuals or the state?The rest of my op-ed,"What Do You Mean 'We'?," is here at The Future of Freedom Foundation website.
This question is obscured by the democratic myth. People often say, “We as a nation have the right to decide who comes here and who doesn’t. So we must get control of our borders.” The problem with this is that “we as a nation” don’t do anything. Individuals act, sometimes in concert with other individuals, but collectives do nothing. When we say “the nation does such and such,” we mean a group of politicians calling themselves “the government” and claiming to act for the nation do such and such. It’s true that in a society such as ours people vote for officeholders. But the connection between punching out a chad in a polling station and politicians’ making immigration policy is, shall we say, roundabout. It is so roundabout that it makes no sense at all to say that punching out a chad is the same as determining immigration policy. That’s a fairy tale. It’s time we became men and women and put away childish things.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
A new direction in economic policy is bringing about greater market liberalization."While health and education will remain free, subsidies on electricity and housing will be lowered, and food rationing will eventually be phased out." Gott informs us that Castro"is not moving towards a market economy but to a society that is made more aware of the value of what it consumes." Whatever. It sounds like an improvement to me.
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
I've been super busy putting the finishing touches on the forthcoming Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. But I've finally had the opportunity to publish, as a Notablog exclusive, an interview of me conducted by Jason Dixon.
Let us not forget that George Bush’s illegal war against Iraq had a precedent in Bill Clinton’s illegal attack on Serbia. Just as there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq there was no genocide in Kosovo. Ethnic cleansing of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies did occur in Kosovo but that was after Clinton’s bombing made it possible. Both military excursions were justified by lies. MoveOn is an organization dedicated to perpetuating the falsehood that there is some kind of meaningful difference between the behavior of Democratic and Republican politicians.
Roderick T. Long
Tomorrow I leave for the Prague Conference on Political Economy. This wont be the farthest east Ive gone in Europe, since Vietri sul Mare, on the west coast of Italy just south of Naples, is actually further east. (One of those things you dont believe until you look at a map like the fact that Reno, Nevada, is west of Los Angeles.) But itll be the farthest inland Ive been in Europe, as well as my first visit to a former communist country.
The topic of my presentation is Rule-following, Praxeology, and Anarchy. Heres an abstract:
The aim of Ludwig Wittgensteins rule-following paradox is to diagnose a seductive error that Wittgenstein sees as underlying a variety of different philosophical mistakes: the implicit assumption of the need for and/or possibility of a self-applying rule. A further implication of Wittgensteins diagnosis is that human action is not reducible either to purely mentalistic or to purely behavioural phenomena.Adios till next week!
If, as I shall argue, Wittgensteins analysis is correct, then, I shall further argue, the rule-following paradox has important implications for two aspects of Austrian theory.
First, Wittgensteins argument sheds light on the relation between economic theory and economic history i.e., between the aprioristic method of praxeology and the interpretive method of thymology, as Ludwig von Mises uses those terms in Theory and History. In particular, it shows that, just as thymological interpretation involves praxeological categories, so the possession of praxeological categories involves thymological experience thus enabling a reconciliation of the superficially opposed insights of Mises Kantian approach, Murray Rothbards Aristotelean approach, and Don Lavoies hermeneutical approach to Austrian methodology.
Second, Wittgensteins argument provides a way of defending the stateless legal order advocated by Rothbard, Lavoie, and others. Critics of free-market anarchism often charge that a stateless society lacks, yet needs, a final arbiter or ultimate authority to resolve conflicts; but what such critics mean by a final arbiter turns out to be yet another version of the self-applying rule that Wittgenstein has shown is neither needed nor possible.