Liberty & Power: Group Blog
I guess it may surprise our American readers that drinking booze on buses and tube trains in London is legal. But if the thought disturbs you, cheer up because from Sunday, June 1, it is PROHIBITED. Just another nail in the coffin of individual liberties historically enjoyed by Londoners.
"You can tell a lot about a political leader by his attitude to alcohol. Historically, your position on the Booze Issue – including the freedom of people to buy it, to consume it, and even to vomit it up again in a hedge if necessary – defined where you stood on individual liberty itself, and on the trustworthiness of the mass of the population to make choices and to live with their consequences.
"Where illiberal, elitist, suspicious and quite often Christian outfits sought to restrict people's access to alcohol, great defenders of freedom and civil liberties groups emerged from the struggle against prohibition. John Stuart Mill's impassioned defence of freedom, On Liberty, was written 'in the midst of the growing power of Christian temperance groups'; the American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920, also the year in which the American government prohibited the manufacture, transportation and sale of all alcoholic beverages."
"Of course, many of us have had the painful experience of coming face-to-face with pissheads on a train – yet so long as they are only talking bollocks rather than committing a criminal offence (and I mean a real criminal offence rather than the new offence of drinking from a can of Stella Artois) then they should be left alone. As Mill argued, most of the 'harm' from drinkers' actions is really just an 'inconvenience...which society can afford to bear, for the sake of the greater good of human freedom'. That we have a new mayor who is willing to enforce kneejerk new bans, treat the citizens of London like children and depict the inconvenience of public drunkenness as some terrible threat to civilisation suggests Boris [Johnson]-led City Hall will be a profoundly un-Millian, intolerant and illiberal institution."
Amy H. Sturgis
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
The flier explains that the TSA’s invasion of my property was “to protect you and your fellow passengers” and is “required by law,” at which point it cited in a footnote Section 110(b) of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001. I was underwhelmed by this feeble effort to provide a legal basis for the government’s vandalism and its violation of what is laughingly known as my Constitutionally protected rights.
The flier notes that the TSA “appreciate[s] your understanding and cooperation,” as if I had willingly rendered either to this obnoxious state agency, and it adds that “if you have questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact the TSA Contact Center” at a phone number or an Internet address provided. It so happens that I do have questions, comments, or concerns for the agency, but I am not going to send them to the places indicated on the flier because I have complete confidence that my message would be given even less weight than the most elusive subatomic particle (which, by some cosmic coincidence, is known as the Higgs boson).
Still, I am willing to divulge my questions, comments, or concerns to this blog, to wit: How does the TSA, or the enabling legislation on which it rests its warrantless invasions of persons and property, square itself with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States? This part of the Bill of Rights states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be searched.” The Constitution also declares that it is “the supreme Law of the Land,” which I take to mean, among other things, that it overrides anything to the contrary stipulated by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001. Forgive me if I have failed to acquire mastery of Constitutional law, but on the face of the matter, the TSA’s actions and its enabling legislation would appear to be in transparent conflict with the Fourth Amendment and the Supremacy Clause.
Fine, you say, that’s all well and good, but it makes no difference to the TSA, which has been given a “job” to do, or to the travellers who wish to use the services of the airlines to go from A to B without having to overthrow the existing government of the United States to do so unmolested. As Dirty Harry Callahan put it, “a man’s got to know his limitations.” Judging by the travellers I see when I use the airlines, the people do know their limitations, and they behave themselves accordingly, like sheep.
As for the Constitution, well, it has demonstrated time and again that it can slink away without causing a ruckus. As the U.S. government’s Dear Leader himself has famously said of the Constitution, which he previously swore to preserve, protect, and defend, “it’s just a goddamned piece of paper.”
If you do a search for police harrassment, you'll find stories like this, this, and this, and ninety-one other stories.
"Here's how the figures add up, just for Americans. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have thus far produced 300,000 psychological casualties, 320,000 brain injury casualties, plus 35,000 (probably understated) officially reported"normal" casualties. This adds up to 655,000 US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, an average of just under 101,000 Americans killed or wounded every year since the wars began. If the idea of 101,000 casualties for every extra year in Iraq and Afghanistan gets out and infects the voting public, imagine the effect on the currently torpid national debate over leaving in five years versus fifteen years!"
One person who has been reached by the above presentation is Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY). In a speech given on the floor of the House of Representatives she observed that the Bush Administration is allowing “more people with criminal records, including drug convictions, to serve in the Armed Forces. As a matter of fact, conduct waivers granted for felonies and other crimes constitute the majority of all waivers, about 60 percent for the Army, and 75 percent for the Marine Corps.” Clarke then went on to argue that, “it is important to note that the vast majority of such convictions stem from juvenile offenses, but at the same time, a provision of the Higher Education Act, which Congress is currently in the process of reauthorizing, bars young people with drug convictions from receiving Federal financial aid to go to college. I find it absolutely alarming that the Bush administration seems to think that youth who are prone to youthful indiscretions and get into trouble with drug use are, on the one hand, not worthy of Federal support to obtain a college education, but on the other hand, are perfectly fit to go and to fight the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.” egregious
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
To view ten never-before-published photographs illustrating the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing that dramatically convey the human as well as material destruction unleashed by the atomic bomb, go here. Hat tip to Manuel Lora at LewRockwell.com.
For an important earlier book on the atomic bombing of Japan, read Gar Alperovitz's Atomic diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam: The Use of the Atomic Bomb and the American Confrontation with Soviet Power (1965/1985/1994). And if you want to follow the controversy, you may care to read Robert James Maddox’s essay here on History News Network. Regrettably, but not surprisingly, Maddox fails to raise, let alone discuss, the question of whether the U.S. decision to demand the unconditional surrender of Japan was either wise or moral.
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
David T. Beito
In a online roundtable for Reason Magazine on the coming recession, Higgs writes:: Hardly anyone was surprised that real military spending (measured in accordance with the government’s own narrow definition) increased by almost 60 percent between 2000 and 2007, compared to real GDP growth of 18 percent during that time. Note, however, that the government’s real nondefense outlays increased concurrently by more than 24 percent—an increase one-third greater than that of GDP. When people let down their guard in “supporting the troops,” they permit the government to make greater headway in its ceaseless quest to enlarge spending in a wide range of areas, many of them strictly civilian in nature.
Both markets and ecologies are complex processes relying on negative and positive feedback to coordinate otherwise independent actions into more productive and adaptive patterns of interaction than could ever be accomplished by deliberate planning. Both are resilient and fragile. In ecologies 'keystone species' can shape an entire ecosystem, whereas non keystone species can exist or not and make little difference. The same applies to markets. Nail a keystone and the whole thing degrades significantly. Nail a non keystone and not much happens besides its disappearance.
And yet, these similarities and others are largely ignored by both sides, though in my experience even more by economists than ecologists.
People who are exquisitely sensitive to distortions generated in markets by external political intervention enthusiastically endorse central control or overriding of ecological processes.
For their part, many environmentalists who are well versed in ecological understanding are insensitive to the deep distortions arising from political intervention in the market. Sometimes they blame markets for what is really the result of political intervention. Sometimes they seek political intervention without appreciating how it is likely to backfire.
The issue if of more than purely theoretical interest. While both are emergent processes, they march to different drummers, with no guarantee of mutual harmony. For example, markets are ultimately constrained and shaped by human time preferences as manifested through the rate of interest. Ecosystems are structured by rates of biological reproduction by many different species. In both markets and ecologies short term benefits can arise from essentially consuming capital. But in most cases this is a foolish strategy, and can be justified only in dire emergencies.
If long term harmony can be found - and I think it can - it can only come about by respecting and working within both of these systems.
To link this argument to organic agriculture, the underlying approach of organic agriculture is to work with natural systems rather than seeking to override or replace them with detailed control.
Nevertheless, the government has decided to ruin the lives of 75 students attending San Diego State University. The DEA, at great taxpayer expense, has arrested them primarily for supplying fellow classmates with marijuana, a practice that has been going on since the 1960s. While it is true that these young people went about their business in a particularly reckless and arrogant manner using cell phone text messages to fill orders, still the effects of using marijuana do not even come close to justifying the waste of their talents and destruction of their careers.
Hat tip Ian Goddard
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
A case in point, Ron Paul has published a book, The Revolution: A Manifesto, which shot to the top 10 of the bestsellers lists virtually upon release and that has the potential to be the most influential book with the general public, in the cause of liberty, since Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose: A Personal Statement and this libelous nonsense is how Reason responds to the event. Author David Weigel should be true to himself, quit his job, and go to work for The Weekly Standard where he belongs.
Hat tip to Justin Raimondo
David T. Beito
David T. Beito
Few individuals in history have received more negative treatment than Herbert Spencer. Some U.S. survey texts give the impression that this alleged “Social Darwinist” (a term Spencer never used) was an apologist for imperialism and violence by the strong against the weak.
Spencer’s own writings tell a different story of a flawed but sincere classical liberal advocate of peace, free exchange, and social cooperation. Spencer was second to none in his critique of imperialism and militarism. In his essay on patriotism, Spencer had this to say about the Afghan War of his time:
Some years ago I gave my expression to my own feeling – anti-patriotic feeling, it will doubtless be called – in a somewhat startling way. It was at the time of the second Afghan war, when, in pursuance of what were thought to be “our interests,” we were invading Afghanistan. News had come that some of our troops were in danger. At the Athenæum Club a well-known military man – then a captain but now a general – drew my attention to a telegram containing this news, and read it to me in a manner implying the belief that I should share his anxiety. I astounded him by replying – “When men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I don’t care if they are shot themselves.”
Some paraphrases and quotes:
Resource use. Research sponsored by officials at the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs “shows that….[a] litre of organic milk requires 80 per cent more land than conventional milk to produce, has 20 per cent greater global warming potential, releases 60 per cent more nutrients to water sources, and contributes 70 per cent more to acid rain….organically reared cows burp twice as much methane as conventionally reared cattle – and methane is 20 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2.”
(The University of Hohenheim (Germany) supports organic farming. But in 2000 its researchers came to similar conclusions.)
“A hectare of conventionally farmed land produces 2.5 times more potatoes than an organic one.” As compared with conventional methods, organically-grown tomato crops use double the energy; “25% more water per kilo” produced; release “almost three times the nutrient pollution” -- & then yield 25% less output. “Heated greenhouse tomatoes in Britain use up to 100 times more energy than those grown in fields in Africa.”
Organic farmers use organic pesticides. One is copper (in solution -- to remove/prevent fungus.) Copper is toxic -- & “stays…in the soil forever.” Rotenone, a plant extract, “is highly neurotoxic to humans -- [it] can cause Parkinson’s disease.” Conventional pesticides are “biodegradable” & “have to pass stringent…safety tests”. Also -- for what it’s worth -- “farmers….have among the lowest cancer rates of any group.”
Disease. According to “[l]arge studies in Holland, Denmark and Austria”:- “100 per cent of organic chicken flocks” were infected with “the food-poisoning bacterium Campylobacter….but only a third of conventional flocks”. “[M]any organic flocks [are] vaccinated against” salmonella, but infection rates equal those of conventional chickens. And “72 per cent of organic chickens [are] infected with parasites.”
Because organically-raised “animals are not routinely treated with antibiotics or (for example) worming medicines….[such] animals suffer more diseases. In 2006 an Austrian and Dutch study found that a quarter of organic pigs had pneumonia”, & their piglets’ mortality rate was double that of “conventionally raised pigs”. Only 4% of the latter suffered from pneumonia.
Because organic animals suffer so much from diseases, they “are only half the weight of conventionally reared animals”. [NB, So much for animal welfare.]
Is organic food healthier? Researchers at Hohenheim University surveyed the literature & the studies available at present & were unable to say ‘yes’. -- The Soil Association is the British organic farmers’ trade association & lobby group. It “points to a few small studies that demonstrate slightly higher concentrations of some nutrients in organic produce – flavonoids in organic tomatoes and omega-3 fatty acids in organic milk, for example.” But “the higher flavonoid levels in organic tomatoes [were] revealed….to be the result of stress [i.e.] lack of nitrogen.” “[T]he plants stopped making flesh and made defensive chemicals (such as flavonoids) instead.”
Taking the high moral ground, the “Soil Association invariably claims that anyone who questions the value of organic farming works for chemical manufacturers and agribusiness or is in league with some shady right-wing US free-market lobby group. Which is ironic, considering that a number of British fascists were involved in the founding of the Soil Association and its journal was edited by one of Oswald Mosley's blackshirts until the late 1960s.” [NB, and this last is at least, fact.]