Liberty & Power: Group Blog
[W]hen [Robert] Kagan writes about anti-Americanism, he’s deliberately using an equivocal term in order to elicit unthinking, knee-jerk anti-anti-Americanism in his readers. He likes the imperial U.S. foreign policy, so when foreign people express their hated for it, Kagan and his ilk misdirect us to think the foreigners hate us as individuals. The apologists for empire count on you not to examine the matter too closely, because if you did, you might see the merit in what the foreigners are saying.Read the rest of my op-ed at The Future of Freedom Foundation website.
America once signified the ideals of individual freedom, peace, and nonintervention. But if, as Kagan believes, Americanism now means imperialism, then good Americans should be “anti-American” too.
Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.
In the summer of 2005, officials from some 12 US govt agencies began ‘investigations’ of these financial transactions -- illegal under the Patriot Act. The four men were arrested in October 2005. One, the most articulate, who had often translated in courts for free, was convicted by a jury who saw _only_ that the Patriot Act was violated. The prosecutor pointed out how such informal financial methods undermined the very stability of the US financial system. Two of the men then pleaded guilty, out of fright; the fourth is awaiting trial. US officials thoughtfully provided a Croatian translator for the three men whose English was less than perfect (well, it’s a peculiar non-American language, isn’t it? Aren’t they all the same?) Sentencing will be on the 26 June.
Prof J Barkley Rosser has done the most to publicise these unfortunate men’s situation, which neither the local paper, nor any national papers or journals wanted to know about. Only a local monthly journal,;eightyone was concerned (be sure to read the _June 2006_ issue.) The ; Washington Post has, however, finally roused itself.
These men are in danger of deportation, & their US citizenship applications are in jeopardy. I give below Prof Rosser’s conclusion, from his guest contribution to ; Juan Cole’s blog (scroll down to ‘Rosser Guest Op-Ed: Innocent Kurdish-Americans Victimized by Patriot Act’). Prof Rosser says:
“These cases arose out of a Joint Terrorism Task Force based in Roanoke involving many agencies. They searched and searched and found nothing, but needed to show somebody that they were doing good. So, they nailed these people who have done nothing wrong other than try to help their neighbors, ignorant of the law. Given the visits to the mosque by the FBI and the general situation, it is clear that this reflects a broader anti-Muslim character of these investigations and the associated lack of respect for human rights. One can appreciate that this statute might need to be used against actual terrorists if there is no other evidence that can be used against them in court (much as Al Capone was eventually convicted of income tax evasion). But no one says these men are terrorists.”
Power has no use save abuse. The officials involved have all done their bureaucratic duty, against undoubted terrorists: from Iraq, no less, with Muslim names, worshippers at a mosque, underminers of US banks. -- How could they _not_ be terrorists??
At worst, one or two junior officials might -- just might -- receive a leetle slap on the wrist. But otherwise we observe yet another successful battle in the War on Terror.
Amy H. Sturgis
The media release for the Open Letter
The Open Letter, followed by the complete list of signatories
First, the libertarian evaluation.
1. The case pro: ‘Technical improvements, new crop rotations, more effective organization. England’s growing population was fed more effectively; & subsequently a portion became wage labourers in incipient industries. Enclosure commissioners were fair & the process was incremental. True, marginal peasants were moved off the land over the course of several centuries. But the dislocation was not great.’
The case con: ‘True, food supply and strictly economic efficiency increased in the long-run. But the main body of English peasants were expropriated outright by those with political power. For those dispossessed, it was an unmitigated socio-economic disaster.’
2. For purposes of _libertarian_ discussion/evaluation, the structure of English agriculture, pre-“enclosure” :- (1) ‘open fields in which peasants owned narrow strips, randomly interspersed’ (2) ‘wastes, areas on the margin on which customary rights to pasture, collection of firewood etc, had developed over time’ (3) ‘large areas of land on which landlords or their large-scale tenant farmers pursued commercial agriculture and stock raising especially in south and central England. All overlain by many tenurial complexities.’
For the same purpose, England post-“enclosure”:- ‘a classic land of great, well-kept estates, a small marginal peasantry, a large class of rural wage labourers.’
3. The libertarian picture of the “enclosure” process: ‘Slow & complex. Such consolidations date from Tudor times to the late 18th/early 19th centuries (which rather stretches the concept to breaking point.)’
‘Typically initiated by several, or even a single, prominent landholder. In the great spurt of enclosures in the late 18th/early 19th centuries, by Parliamentary petition. A Parliament of large landowners set up Parliamentary commissions of large landowners, who worked out the details and engineered the appearance of consensus. Thus the great landholders awarded themselves the best land and the most land.’
‘Who fell by the wayside? Those with only customary claim to use the land, & marginal cottagers & squatters who depended on the wastes for bare survival as semi- independent peasants. In addition, the legal costs built into enclosure often did for those better situated. Thus district by district, squatters, cottagers and small farmers -- self-supporting husbandmen -- were driven out, to become a free-floating labour pool or emigrate to America.’
4. Libertarian evaluations: ‘Thus one class legislated about the property and opportunities of another class. It is fair to see “enclosure” as collectivisation of agriculture for the benefit of a narrow class. Was it the only way to increase agricultural efficiency? Did efficiency increase to the degree often supposed?’
Authorities: The Hammonds on ‘The Village Labourer’ (of course), 1st ed 1911; two works on the ‘industrial revolution’, one translated 1928 & revised 1961, the other from 1948; an article by W E Tate from 1942; two _general_ economic histories, 1949 & 1965; & a piece written before 1970 by two agricultural historians. -- For the purposes above, these are adequate.
Now to the historian’s question. The answer is drawn from recent _specialist_ research into enclosures, based, inter alia, on Commissioners’ working papers & the like.
5. The structure of English agriculture. _From late-medieval times onwards_: (1) Landlords, whose lands were _always_ let out. Increasingly, landlords supplied fixed capital (farm-houses, buildings, ditches, etc.); they took the long-term risk (e.g., of long-term changes in soil productivity) (2) Tenant-farmers, who might rent from more than one landlord. Tenants supplied working capital (implements, livestock, seeds, fertilisers, etc.); they maintained hedges etc., & took the short-term, harvest risks. (3) Owner-occupiers, who were always small farmers. Many tradesmen & craftsmen also owned small quantities of land; many were part-time farmers (4) Agricultural labourers. Many also had cows, pigs, &/or poultry.
6. The greater part of the agricultural land was owned by _landlords_; the lesser part, by _owner-occupiers_ and very small landowners. Thus during enclosures, landowners, both large & small, enclosed _their own land_.
The actual farming was done, overwhelmingly, by tenant-farmers & also, of course, by the owner-occupiers. Many small owners also _rented_ land as tenant-farmers, very often more than they owned.
7. The strips in ‘open fields’ were farmed individually by _tenants & owner-occupiers_, but major farming decisions had to be made & followed collectively. These related to crop rotations & as to which field was to be left fallow. There were also certain ‘common rights’ over open fields: e.g., after harvest everyone’s livestock was turned into the field. ‘Open fields’ had ‘common lands’ & ‘wastelands’ attached to them. Everyone’s livestock grazed on the common.
Certain _older_ cottages_ had ‘common rights’ attached to them. If such cottage-owners had or rented some meadow, & therefore could cut hay for the winter, they could pasture as many beasts on the common as they could ‘over-winter’. They could also use waste & common to cut turf, & collect fuel & berries. Many labourers _rented_ such cottages & therefore kept a cow or two, & so also a pig or two. Many kept geese, ducks, & other poultry. Many cottages, however, had _no_ common rights. Nevertheless, in many areas, their occupiers could use common & waste on payment of a ‘fine’ (fee). But in many parishes, even by the early 16th century, the commons were ‘stinted’ & regulated -- i.e., there were limits on the numbers & types of beasts permitted, & the times of grazing. Other commons were already overgrazed.
8. Open fields prevented _individual_ management of holdings, e.g., in selecting crop rotations. In particular, to change land from arable to pasture & vice versa, required collective agreement & so occurred very infrequently. If individual strips were temporarily laid to pasture (‘leys’), there were obvious problems since adjacent strips were in crop. Many open fields were also subject to tithes. Because of all these hindrances, landlords, owner-occupiers & even tenants, had consolidated & withdrawn land into enclosures by exchange & purchase, wherever possible, from the late medieval period onwards. Openfields had also been enclosed _by agreement_ of all the landowners concerned. By around 1550, some _45%_ of England’s surface area was already so enclosed.
The enclosures made over the 16th century, equalled some 2% of the surface area of England. Enclosures occurred as commons became insufficient for the added population & as opportunities increased for pasture farming in the areas best suited, i.e., as specialisation increased. As pastoral farming required less labour, employment fell in these areas. Also, landlords began combining farms (‘engrossing’.) There were great outcries & protests & much 16th century legislation _against_ enclosure. But by its end, even small landowners were enthusiastic enclosers.
During the 17th century, enclosures by agreement covered an additional _24%_ of England’s surface area. Thus by 1699, some _71%_ was _already enclosed_.
9. _Parliamentary_ enclosure was strictly _regional_: confined to a belt in the Midlands with large, regular open fields. That is, in just the area where enclosure by agreement was nearly impossible. But even here, such enclosures continued pari passu. -- Between 1700 & 1914, some _24.4%_ of England’s surface area was enclosed by _Parliamentary_ means, overwhelmingly in the Midlands. The easier enclosures came first, the more difficult, later.
10. The process of Parliamentary enclosure was lengthy & complex. Many Bills were insignificant, referring to small remaining pieces of open field or low value common. But for others:- Each parish had its own complex of interests: large, medium, small landowners; tithe owners; owners of common rights. Consensus & consent had to be secured _before_ a Bill could be presented, with the requisite ‘consent document’ attached. This listed all landowners, the value of their lands, whether they supported the enclosure, opposed it, or were ‘neutral’. -- Large, medium & small landowners are found in _all_ three categories. Witnesses then had to go to Westminster to confirm the signatures. Parliament required the proprietors of at least 75% of the land by _value_ to be in favour; 80% was more preferred. The Bill went to a committee, which was generally packed with supporters. Nevertheless, Bills could fail. Between 1730 & 1839, 4,041 enclosure Bills passed, 581 faced counter-petitions, & 872 others also failed.
The enclosure Act named Commissioners, generally three, selected by the proprietors. The lord of the manor (who owned woodland, quarries, & minerals), chose one; the tithe-owner or a large landlord chose the second; the third represented all the other proprietors. Over time, many Commissioners became noted specialists. Commissioners took over the running of the lands concerned until their work was accomplished. They appointed surveyors, who measured existing holdings & later marked out new holdings & roads. Commissioners also valued lands, consulted owners on their preferences, received claims for allotments.
From the total of open fields, commons & wastes, Commissioners allocated holdings to all landowners, large & small, _pro rata_ to their previous holdings in the open fields & the value of their common rights. The overwhelming bulk of landowners got more land than previously. But a _few_ small landowners got less. This, on account of two subtractions from the total, one occurring in the bulk of enclosures, the other in a minority.
(a). Tithes were a complication. Some proprietors already owned their tithes, & some lands were already free of tithes. Where the lands owed tithes, Commissioners allocated land to tithe-owners, to free the remaining land from tithes. In most enclosures, this was one reduction in the total to be reallocated.
(b). As part of the enclosure, new roads were laid out, built, & double fenced, with new bridges where needed. Ditches were dug for drainage, as needed. The tithe-owner’s land was fenced. In a _minority_ of enclosures, the Commissioners sold small parcels of land to meet these & other costs (see further). In these cases, this was a second subtraction from the pool. The land was purchased by landowners, large & small, & especially by craftsmen & tradesmen (see above.)
Besides landowners, others also had common rights. These others had to be inquired into. Cottages with common rights had old enclosures or meadow attached, to produce the hay needed for beasts to be ‘over-wintered’. Commissioners inquired of the oldest inhabitants, to establish who else had long used the commons & waste, & how they had used it. Some commons were extensive, others were smaller & stinted. Commissioners valued such common rights as existed (mainly pasture, & collection of turves & wood for fuel); they increased the land attached to common-right cottages in compensation. Many such cottages rose substantially in value afterwards. Some commons had substantial ‘encroachments’ -- farm buildings, piggeries, stables, etc. Commissioners then obtained compensation or land from the encroaching landowners, to be divided amongst the other owners of common rights.
When the Commissioners had worked out the new allotments, dissatisfied proprietors could & did object, and Commissioners made further adjustments. At this stage, proprietors also exchanged & purchased land amongst themselves.
Small landowners were usually allocated land _first_, near their houses. Some, however, wanted to be near roads or water. Larger landowners came later. They often asked for, or were _given_, land in two blocks, sometimes more, to include _both good & poor soils_ (this was a legal requirement.) But landowners also wanted to re-use existing buildings, where possible, have access to roads, etc. Commissioners also had to move tenant farmers to new farms & compensate them for remaining leases.
In addition to the capital works listed above, the costs of enclosure included:- Commissioners’ fees & expenses; surveyors’ fees; Parliamentary costs (an enclosure act was a private Act); solicitors’ fees (two were needed, one in the country & one in Westminster); travelling expenses -- to secure consents & bring witnesses to Parliament. In ¾ of the enclosures, landowners paid these costs by instalments. Often the large landowners were the most tardy in paying. Landowners also had to fence their new allotments, & large landowners had to erect new buildings, refurbish old ones, put in drainage, embankments, new roads, where needed. Substantial investments were required before wastelands could grow crops: Removal of stones & weeds, ploughing (additional weed control, breaking up the soil), dressings of lime, manuring, drainage, etc.
11. Landowners, large & small met enclosure costs by mortgaging their lands or borrowing; enclosed land was worth more. Small owners resorted to local credit networks of tradesmen, widows, professional men, & others.
12. Common rights were essential to many small landowners. After harvest, they had the entire field to graze their stock, besides the common. Also everyone’s animals passed over their land, fertilising it. After enclosure, many did not have enough land to keep the same number of stock. Those who could rent additional pasture stayed on. Others had to sell, mostly to other small owners. But many could now rent far more land as tenants.
13. No compensation could be given to _tenants_ of common-right cottages, & cottagers who used the commons by sufferance or payment of a fee (above). Many cottages were rented by craftsmen, including weavers, hosiery-knitters, wheelwrights, carpenters, bricklayers, etc. But many tenants were agricultural labourers. Many of these found the additional land (now attached to common-right cottages) inadequate for stock-raising. Many such tenants pooled their allotments, however. The bulk of those tenants who had simply used the commons & wastes, could no longer keep stock or poultry.
In both groups of tenants, many agricultural labourers were reduced to day-labour, to farm cowmen, or had to move to other districts. Where enclosure increased the arable, & especially the raising of new, labour-intensive root-crops & vegetables, there farm employment increased. _Total_ farm employment _increased_ from the late 18th to the mid-19th century. Otherwise, non-agricultural employment also rose in larger villages & in towns:- in agricultural processing (e.g., flour- & bone-mills, warehouses, tanneries, etc.), in bakeries, dairies, breweries, & shops, in transport (horse-drawn), in water- & gas-works, etc., etc.
14. Thus specialised research gives a very complex picture. It is for libertarians to convert this (if they so wish) into something for discussion/evaluation.
M. W. Beresford, ‘Habitation versus improvement: the debate on enclosure by agreement’, in F. J. Fisher, ed, Essays on the Economic and Social History of Tudor and Stuart England, Cambridge UP, 1961.
G. E. Mingay, Parliamentary Enclosure in England…1750-1850, Longman 1997.
Joan Thirsk, ‘Enclosing and engrossing’, ch. 4 in J. Thirsk, ed, Agrarian History of England and Wales, VolIV, 1500-1640, Cambridge UP 1967.
----, ‘Agricultural policy’, ch. 16 in J. Thirsk, ed, Agrarian History of England and Wales, Vol V.ii, 1640-1750, Cambridge UP 1985, pp. 317-21, 378-82.
J. R. Wordie, ‘The chronology of English enclosure, 1500-1914’, Econ. Hist. Rev., 36/4, Nov 1983.
J. A. Yelling, Common Field and Enclosure in England 1450-1850, Macmillan 1977.
-----, ‘Rationality in the common fields’, Econ. Hist. Rev., 35/3, Aug 1982.
Aeon J. Skoble
Among the other interesting articles are a report by Randal O’Toole on current trends in urban planning and their malign effects, a memoir by a Maine state legislator on his life as a libertarian in public office, and a review by Jo Ann Skousen of Lisa See’s book about the outward oppression and inward freedom of women in China.
David T. Beito
The conscience of America has spoken through its constitutional voice. This clarion announcement will also stun.
and silence America’s Communist traducers behind the Iron Curtain. It will effectively impress upon millions of colored people in Asia and Africa the fact that idealism and social morality can and do prevail in the United States,
regardless of race, creed or color.
Courier (Pittsburgh) “Will Stun Communists,” May 18, 1954
The conscience of America has spoken through its constitutional voice. This clarion announcement will also stun.
and silence America’s Communist traducers behind the Iron Curtain. It will effectively impress upon millions of colored people in Asia and Africa the fact that idealism and social morality can and do prevail in the United States, regardless of race, creed or color.
Well, the Supreme Court, with the help of its two new Bush appointees, has done it again and this time the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure has gone further by the board in the name of fighting drugs. The Orange County Register led off its editorial on the judgment this way; “In Hudson v. Michigan, handed down Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court carved out yet another ‘drug war exception’ to the Fourth Amendment, which was written to protect Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons and homes.” In Hudson v Michigan the court allowed evidence obtained by the police in violation of the knock and announce rule to be used to convict someone of cocaine possession.
In his majority opinion, Justice Scalia demonstrated just how out of touch with reality that he is by saying, “we now have increasing evidence that police forces across the United States take the constitutional rights of citizens seriously. There have been ‘wide ranging reforms in the education, training, and supervision’ of police officers.”
Radley Balko of the Cato Institute (and Liberty and Power) has posted a scathing reply to Scalia where, after pointing out that a lot of the recent training referred to has been largely in paramilitary tactics, he writes, “Police aren't better trained at respecting civil liberties, they're better trained at finding ways to get around them. The ratcheting up of the drug war in the early 1980s has made police abuse of civil liberties routine.”
Such abuse by the police has become so rampant that an entire reform organization, Flex Your Rights, has come into being devoted solely to this issue. They know a great deal about the day to day practical respect that police show for individual rights and their man Scott Morgan in his reply to the Justice says, “Scalia’s fantasies aside, this ruling is actually a lot worse than many well-meaning observers might realize. Civil remedies against police in this context are virtually non-existent. By refusing to exclude evidence obtained in violation of the ‘knock and announce’ rule, the Court invites police to raid homes with increasingly indiscriminant ineptitude.” Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog also see some very troubling implications in the decision including the eventual demise of the “exclusionary rule” itself.
Now, I do not know if George Bush’s ultimate plan is to turn America into a totalitarian police state, though it certainly seems that way sometimes, but if that is his aim he has indeed installed two new Supreme Court Justices who seem more than willing to assist the project.
Cross Posted on The Trebach Report
The internationalist anarchist may respond to the individualist anarchist by saying that we can trust governments to behave more or less constructively in an anarchist setting, but we can't trust individuals to do so. This argument is precisely upside down. There is far more reason to believe that individuals, deprived of the power of taxation and the mystique of the state, would get along than that governments would. After all, governments can socialize their costs thanks to taxation, while individuals can't. That creates perverse incentives for governments.
So isn't the debate merely about which level of anarchism is appropriate, rather than the validity of the anarchist principle itself? It reminds me of the old joke in which a woman tells a man that while she would sleep with him for a million dollars, she certainly would not sleep with him for fifty."What do you think I am?" she asks. To which he replies:"We've already established what you are, miss. Now we're only haggling over the price."
Cross-posted at Free Association.
Back when Americans were arguing over whether they should trade the Articles of Confederation for the newly drafted Constitution, the people called Antifederalists (the real Federalists, that is) warned that a complicated centralized political structure would obscure what the government does and expose the people's liberties to usurpation. Simplicity and transparency, they said, were bulwarks of freedom.See the rest of my TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Education website.
I was reminded of that when I read this Washington Post article last Tuesday by business columnist Allan Sloan. The upshot of his column is that among people who expect to inherit property, those he calls the"small rich" would be worse off if the estate tax were repealed permanently in 2010 than if the 2009 tax rules remained in effect. The tax rules are so opaque that only someone intimately familiar with the labyrinthine code could say if any given person would benefit or suffer from the repeal of a particular tax. Here, in what Mencken called the"land of the theoretically free," this is outrageous.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
David T. Beito
I am working my way through Isabel Paterson's column,"Turns With a Bookworm," in The New York Herald Tribune Weekly Books Review, and came across this nugget. Perhaps it has appeared elsewhere but I have never seen it:
"Oh, we might as well answer a perennial question about Ayn Rand-yes, she looks exactly like her photographs; smooth black hair, round eyes that look black and aren't, neat figure and just that turn of the head and direct gaze and natural simplicity of manner.....She likes cats, architecture, New York, movies and above all, ideas....She is afraid of traffic because she was hit by a taxi once; and the way she shows it is to stand a minute at the crossing, viewing the stream of vehicles with alarm, seize the hand of her escort with a gesture of feminine terror, and then march across the street, hauling her protector after her."
Isabel M. Paterson,"Turns With a Bookworm," New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review 22, September 23, 1945, 26.
Dr. Block has written more than 500 articles for various non-refereed journals, magazines and newspapers, and is a contributor to such
journals as The Review of Austrian Economics, Journal of Libertarian Studies, The Journal of Labor Economics, Cultural Dynamics, and the
Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He is currently a professor and chair of economics, college of business administration, at Loyola
His website is www.walterblock.com. Join us Friday at noon!
Saturday night's guest (9-11 pm EST) relates to Iraq, when we'll be talking to David Danelo, former Marine and author of the just out "Blood Stripes: A Grunt's View of the War in Iraq."
We avoid the gratuitous revelation of secrets. . . . [but] no single authority should be able to decide what information should reach the public. Some readers ask us why the president's decisions on how best to protect the nation shouldn't govern us, and specifically our choices of what to publish. The answer is that in the American system of checks and balances, the president cannot be allowed to decide what the voters need to know to hold him accountable.
Moreover, Kaiser notes that"labeling something 'classified' or important to 'national security' does not make it so. The government overclassifies with abandon.""Exhibit A" for Kaiser is the historic Pentagon Papers case, in which the Nixon administration, citing (you guessed it) the president's authority as Commander in Chief, attempted to enjoin publication of the Pentagon Papers, a classified Defense Department history of the Vietnam war leaked to the New York Times and the Washington Post.
In a June 14, 1971 oval office meeting with the president, White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman discussed whether to file suit (and whether to steal the papers from the Brookings Institution). Haldeman described what he feared the effect of publication would be:
But out of the gobbledygook, comes a very clear thing: [unclear] you can’t trust the government; you can’t believe what they say; and you can’t rely on their judgment; and the –- the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things the president wants to do even though it’s wrong, and the president can be wrong. [Emphasis added].
That the"implicit infallibility of presidents" is no longer"an accepted thing in America" -- that the very phrase now causes any thoughtful American to smirk -- is one reason to give thanks that reporters no longer automatically wilt before government claims of secrecy. (Cross-posted on Cato@Liberty".)
David T. Beito
Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Soviet Communism: A New Civilization (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936), quoted in New York Herald Tribune Books 12, March 8, 1936, 2.
David T. Beito
Isabel Paterson, New York Herald Tribune Books 11, December 9, 1934, 23.
Roderick T. Long
The more moderate opponents of immigration are often heard saying, fine, let people immigrate by all means, but they should do it the legal way.
A fair response to this bromide would be: What legal way? As this article shows, for most low-skilled Mexican workers there is no legal way to enter the United States. The U.S. has a quota of 5,000 green cards for low-skilled workers; thats just one percent of the number seeking to come in. For the rest, the alternative is a temporary work permit, but getting one of those often requires the worker to ... pay off someone in Mexico.
In short, there are Mexicans who want to work, and there are Americans who want to employ them, but the U.S. and (despite popular impressions) the Mexican governments have conspired to prevent, at gunpoint, these peaceful and mutually beneficial transactions.
In other news, Im off to a joint Liberty Fund / Social Philosophy and Policy Center conference (topic: ancient political thought) in San Diego / La Jolla; back next week. I lived in San Diego in the early 70s, but havent seen it since 1977; itll be nice to see it again.
Trebach's message to the Chinese about the American experience was really quite simple; "The drug prohibition laws in my country were enacted with the sincere hope and the promise that they would reduce crime and disease. The results have been just the opposite. The drug laws have produced more crime and more disease."
No, the ends don't always justify the means, but the end of defeating Nazism was the kind that truly justified any means, even the incineration of hundreds of thousands of German men, women, and children. Had we incinerated 10 times more than we did, the moral assessment would remain the same because to have run even the slightest risk of losing the war to a creature like Hitler out of moral squeamishness would have been to commit a vastly greater moral offense than perhaps any other in history.This horrifying quotation comes in the course condemning as the"worst book of the year" A. C. Grayling's Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan.
Thus, in the end, it doesn't ultimately matter whether the brutality of the area-bombing campaign can or cannot be retrospectively justified by its military utility. All that should signify is that British leaders believed it was at the time, and they were the ones making those difficult decisions under circumstances forced upon them.
How nauseating, and how typical of the blood-thirsty imperialist neocon, for outrage at the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives to be branded"moral squeamishness." This follows from Gitz's deep-seated faith that if the U.S. government, or one of its allies, commits an atrocity, it must really have been necessary and therefore morally unblemished. No need, in this view, to examine matters too closely. Gitz may fancy himself a historian, but he is surely no historian in the tradition of Lord Acton. Murray Rothbard reminded us,
As Lord Acton, the great libertarian historian, put it, the historian, in the last analysis, must be a moral judge. The muse of the historian, he wrote, is not Clio, but Rhadamanthus, the legendary avenger of innocent blood.Cross-posted at Free Association.
A bid to permanently repeal the federal estate, or inheritance, tax lost to a Senate filibuster Thursday. A compromise that would tax inheritances at a lower rate than previously is still possible, however. The tax has been in phase-out mode since 2001 and on its current course would disappear in 2010, only to reappear the following year. (Think of the incentives that creates.) The possibility of repeal had Big Government folks (the Bee Gees) beside themselves because it would" cost," that is, deny the social engineers, $600 billion over ten years starting in 2011. . . .That people actually own the money they make, and have the right to distribute it to their heirs, is conveniently ignored by tax defenders.See the rest of my column here at the Foundation for Economic Education website.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
I am a bit behind in my newspaper reading, so I was particularly surprised by an article published in Thursday's New York Daily News. Written by Rabbi Michael Lerner,"The Right Way to Fight for Gay Marriage" argues that all unions should be privatized. Lerner, who is chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, writes:
... marriage ought to be taken out of the state's hands entirely. Let people be wed in the private realm with no official legal sanction. Then, religious communities that oppose gay marriage will not sanction them, and those like mine that sanction the practice will conduct it. Rather than issuing marriage certificates or divorces, the state would simply enforce civil unions as contracts between consenting adults and enforce laws imposing obligations on people who bring children into the world.
This approach is far more likely to be a winning strategy for those who wish to beat back the assault on gay rights.
I suppose what is most surprising to me is that a genuinely libertarian argument for privatizing marriage made it to the Op Ed of one of the most highly circulated daily newspapers in America.
Cross-posted to Notablog.