Liberty & Power: Group Blog
These possible statutes are of such human rights concern that, “Two former vice presidential candidates, Republican Jack Kemp and Democrat John Edwards, had urged Bush to bring up the issue with Putin. ‘If this proposal comes into force, the government will clearly have in its hands the authority to close down public organizations simply because it finds their views and activities inconvenient,‘ Kemp and Edwards wrote Bush. They are co-chairmen of a Council on Foreign Relations task force on Russia.”
Bush heeded the senators’ words as, “National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said Bush raised the matter with Putin but would not describe what he said. ‘Sometimes there are issues that can be more productively discussed out of public view,’ he said.” Perhaps Mr. Hadley feels this way because Bush might have told Putin he thought the laws were a good idea and he wished he could get away with having them in America.
Benjamin Alpers (Guest Blogger)
Read more below about who I am and what I'm doing here...
David Beito has very generously asked me to guest blog here at Liberty & Power (you may have noticed my name mysteriously appear in the list of contributors above). He's asked me to do so largely in my capacity as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of Historians Against the War (HAW), a national organization founded in January 2003 by a large and diverse group of historians opposed to the then-impending war in Iraq.
Over the next few days I hope to tell you a little about what HAW is up to, including some initiatives we're taking on the academic freedom front. I also hope to have a few things to say about history, historians, and the current national debate over the war in Iraq.
HAW has always striven to include as wide a range of antiwar opinion as possible in its ranks, and to present a variety of antiwar voices in its publications and events. As I'm sure you know, there are many reasons to oppose this war; there are interesting historical criticisms to be made of it from the center and right as well as the left. But keeping HAW politically broad is a real challenge. Nearly everyone who's opposed to this war sees it as part of larger problems. But conservative, liberal, and leftist critics of the war can disagree greatly on what those larger problems are. At any rate, I hope that my presence here will lead regular readers of this blog to check HAW out. I would love to have a stronger libertarian / classical liberal presence in HAW.
I should add that while I have some left-libertarian leanings, I certainly don't consider myself a classical liberal, so I'll probably be something of a fish out of water at L&P.
Finally let me say what should be obvious: although I'm active in HAW, I am blogging purely as an individual. Unless I say otherwise, all opinions that I'll be expressing in my posts will be entirely my own.
Kenneth R. Gregg
Carl Watner's excellent collection of antipolitical essays by various authors, "I Must Speak Out: The Best of The Voluntaryist 1982-1999" (San Francisco: Fox & Wilkes, 1999. 499 pp.) is now available. This collection contains some of the finest essays from the nonpolitical (or social) libertarian standpoint available. For those who are only familiar with the political libertarian thinking will find many of these essays an eye-opener.
John A. Pugsley's The Alpha Strategy (Common Sense Press, 1980. 194 pp.) is also available at his Bio-Rational Institute (which I recommend). This was the work that brought John Pugsley on the NYT best-seller list for 9 weeks.
Richard D. Fuerle has two books online: The Pure Logic of Choice (Grand Island NY: Spooner Press, 1986) and Natural Rights: A New Theory (2003). The first work I read when it was published and was quite impressed with it. It still holds up quite well as an independent work on Austrian economic theory and freedom. The second work I've only cursorily read and find his theory of rights coherent and his elaborations worth reading more carefully.
Just a thought.
David T. Beito
"In resorting to war, the slave states committed the moral error of repudiating a contract after taking special advantage through it. The Federal government was clearly obligated to maintain itself against aggression or disruption; having received its authority by delegation, it had no right to abandon its deputed function unless legitimately dissolved by the same means through which it was instituted."
For the answer, click below on Read More.
Isabel Paterson, The God of the Machine (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1993, reprint of 1943 edition), 141.
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
In the meanwhile, the critics keep a comin' and most of them, indeed, were former champions of the war. Vietnam combat vet, and current Democratic Congressman John P. Murtha, who supported the war, now calls it"a flawed policy wrapped in an illusion..."
The flaws have been legion. And the illusion? Well, H. B. Acton once spoke of communism as"the illusion of the epoch." For me, the biggest illusion of this epoch is a neoconservative one: that it is possible to construct a liberal democracy on any cultural base whatsoever. Now, I'm not looking to re-open the tired debate over whether it was right or wrong to go to war in Iraq; but even the politicians realize that the time has come for a debate about the future of that war.
But that won't stop the administration from its tarring of critics, like Murtha, as a"Michael Moore ... liberal" because he is questioning the wisdom of the war. Except the charges won't stick this time, because even though the President doesn't read polls, apparently, the politicians in his own party are reading the handwriting on the walls of the Pew Research Center and the Gallop organization. The American people are becoming increasingly pissed off over this war and its conduct. And if current trends continue, the party in power, gerrymandering notwithstanding, is going to suffer in the 2006 midterm elections.
I'm tickled, of course, that the administration puts such a priority on" consistency" in its defense of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. As the ineffectual John Kerry said, effectively, during one of the 2004 Presidential debates: Consistency is great... but"you could be wrong!" Cheney is so busy reminding opponents of the war about how they've changed their positions that he doesn't even recognize how far he's come over the last decade or so.
Cross-posted to Notablog.
David T. Beito
Is that all? What about the third alternative of having the U.S. government stay out entirely? As more Americans than ever support withdrawal from the Iraq quagmire (thus implicitly rejecting both of Young's alternatives), this possibility seems, at least, worth mentioning. For more background, Young might want to have a chat with his colleague at Reason and Hit and Run, Jesse Walker.
P.S. Another problem with Young's two-sided approach is that it is unrealistic. American politicians and bureaucrats often trump all other considerations because of ever-shifting and unpredictable motivations such as poll ratings, partisanship, career advancement, and government contracts.
Aeon J. Skoble
There is a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the prospect that Congress might cut some $50 billion from its budget over the next five years. Where, O where, can we find that kind of money? Will the elderly, children, and minorities soon be starving in the streets? Will they soon have no access to medical care?
Get a grip, people. Anyone who claims there is nowhere to cut the Federal budget is either lying, ignorant, or both. A couple of economists have put this in perspective:
Despite the"sky is falling" rhetoric warning of the dismantling of government, the budget reconciliation savings are exceedingly modest. The House's $54 billion of reconciliation savings represents just half of 1 percent of the $7.8 trillion entitlement spending planned over the next five years. The challenge is no greater than that facing a family of four making $50,000 a year and suddenly faced with the need to pay off a $250 emergency room bill over a five-year period.
The Federal government's budget for 2005 is approximately $2.3 trillion; even assuming it did not grow over the next five years (though of course it will), that means $11.5 trillion dollars over five years. The $50 billion the politicians and the special interest groups are fretting over cutting is less than one-third of one percent of the budget. They can't cut that? Please. I'll bet that federal agencies lose that much money every year.
Kenneth R. Gregg
The CIA (tip from Melissa Marsh) has a link to the spies in the American Revolutionary War who aided George Washington as the Committees of Secret Correspondence and others: Knowlton's Rangers, the mechanics (also known as the Liberty Boys), Haym Solomon and the Culper Ring (which may or may not have included the mysterious female, "agent 355"). Washington recognized the importance of the use of spies and constantly relied on their information. On March 24, 1776 he said
"There is one evil I dread, and that is, their spies. I could wish, therefore, the most attentive watch be kept... I wish a dozen or more of honest, sensible and diligent men, were employed... in order to question, cross-question etc., all such persons as are unknown, and cannot give an account of themselves in a straight and satisfactory line.... I think it a matter of importance to prevent them from obtaining intelligence of our situation."An example of Washington's covert activities:
8 Miles East of Morris Town July 26: 1777.
By a Letter received this morning from Lord Stirling of the 22d Inst, I find he intends to pursue his Rout from Peeks Kill, thro Keckyate & Pyramus to the Great Falls -- From thence thro Watsessing -- Springfield & Brunswick or Bound Brook.
The reason of my being thus particular in describing Lord Stirling's Rout, is, Because I wish you to take every possible pains in your power, by sending trusty persons to Staten Island in whom you can confide, to obtain Intelligence of the Enemy's situation & numbers -- what kind of Troops they are, and what Guards they have -- their strength & where posted. -- My view in this, is, that his Lordship, when he arrives, may make an attempt upon the Enemy there with his division, If it should appear from a full consideration of all circumstances and the information you obtain, that it can be done with a strong prospect of Success. -- You will also make some enquiry How many Boats are & may be certainly [used?] to transport the Troops, in case the Enterprize [should?] appear adviseable. You will, after having assured yourself upon these [several?] matters, send a good & faithful Officer to meet Lord Stirling with a distinct and accurate Account of every thing -- As well respecting the numbers & strength of the Enemy -- their situation &c -- As about the Boats, that he may have a General view of the whole, and possessing all the circumstances, may know how to regulate his conduct in the Affair.
The necessity of procuring good Intelligence is apparent & need not be further urged -- All that remains for me to add is, that you keep the whole matter as secret as possible. For upon Secrecy, Success depends in Most Enterprizes of the kind, and for want of it, they are generally defeated, however well planned & promising a favourable issue.
I am Sir
Yr Most Obed Sert
Kenneth R. Gregg
I knew it was going to happen! The ramifications for privacy rights and family law will ricoche back and forth. As the Washington Post (11/13/05) reports:
Like many children whose mothers used an anonymous sperm donor, the 15-year-old boy longed for any shred of information about his biological father. But, uniquely, this resourceful teenager decided to try exploiting the latest in genetic technology and the sleuthing powers of the Internet in his quest.
By submitting a DNA sample to a commercial genetic database service designed to help people draw their family tree, the youth found a crucial clue that quickly enabled him to track down his long-sought parent.
"I was stunned," said Wendy Kramer, whose online registry for children trying to find anonymous donors of sperm or egg helped lead the teenager to his father."This had never been done before. No one knew you could get a DNA test and find your donor."
While welcomed by advocates of children trying to locate anonymous donors, the case -- apparently the first of its kind -- has raised alarm among sperm banks and some medical ethicists. They are concerned it might start a trend that could violate the privacy of thousands of sperm donors and discourage future ones.
The case has also underscored how the growing number of genetic databases being established by governments, law enforcement agencies, private companies and research organizations could be used in unintended ways, potentially invading personal privacy and raising a thicket of social, ethical and legal questions.
"When you create these databases, you're creating something that has a lot of power -- far beyond what they were originally designed for," said David M.J. Lazer, who studies the legal implications of genetic databases at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government."This seems like one of those scenarios."
The database involved in the sperm donor case was set up by Family Tree DNA of Houston, a private company that has accumulated more than 45,000 DNA samples. For a fee, clients hoping to learn more about their heritage can have their DNA tested to see if it matches anyone in the database.
"We provide services for genealogists. That's what we do," company spokesman Max Blankfeld said."We really didn't have anything like this in mind."
In this case, the teenager scraped some cells off the inside of his cheek last year and sent in the sample with $296 to see if his Y chromosome, which is passed down from father to son, matched anyone on file.
"At first he just wanted to get a little more information about his paternal side, like countries or origin. That kind of thing helps people who want to know: 'Where am I from culturally? Where are my people from?' Any bit of information is so welcomed," Kramer said.
The youth has declined to be identified, revealing just the outlines of his case through Kramer's registry to protect the identity of his newfound biological father. The case was first reported by the British magazine New Scientist.
About nine months after submitting his sample and agreeing to be contacted by other clients, the U.S. youth heard from two men with Y chromosomes that closely matched his, Kramer said. Neither man knew the other, but the analysis indicated there was about a 50 percent chance that all three had the same father, grandfather or great-grandfather, Kramer said. The men also had similar last names, spelled differently.
Because the youth's mother had obtained the donor's date of birth and birthplace from the sperm bank, he paid another online service, OmniTrace.com, to buy the name of every person born there on the same day, Kramer said. One man with the same last name appeared on the list, and within 10 days the youth contacted him, said Kramer, who declined to reveal details about the donor's reaction.
"I think this kid would love to come out with his story, but for the time being those are the wishes of the donor," Kramer said.
Since word of the case emerged, several other offspring registered on Kramer's site, http://www.donorsiblingregistry.com/ , have clicked the link to the Family Tree DNA site ( http://www.familytreedna.org/ ) in hopes of locating their biological father, she said.
"Given this case, more people will be putting their DNA in the pool so that potential connections can be made," Kramer said."Not everyone who puts their DNA in is going to find their biological father, but now we've seen this as a distinct possibility. The DNA databases are just going to grow and grow, and this is going to be more and more common."
That scenario is likely to concern thousands of men who have donated sperm anonymously -- often college students or other young men who saw it as an easy way to make money -- according to sperm bank officials and ethicists. There are no reliable estimates of the number of Americans who have been born using donated sperm, but it could number in the hundreds of thousands.
"A fair number will be quite perturbed," said R. Alta Charo, a University of Wisconsin bioethicist."They well may be wondering, 'Am I next?'"
Several experts said the relatively small number of people whose DNA is on file means the approach remains a long shot.
"The sperm bank involved in this case disclosed a lot more information than we do," said William Jaeger of the Genetics and IVF Institute of Fairfax, one of the nation's largest sperm banks."In cases where the donor does not want to be identified, we do everything we can to protect them."
Nevertheless, Jaeger and officials at several other of the nation's largest sperm banks said the development is disturbing.
"Protecting the identify of our donors is paramount for us," Jaeger said."It would become a problem if it became common. It would really reduce the number of donors available, and I think you would be doing a disservice to people who want to use sperm donors."
Many sperm banks offer donors the option to donate without anonymity and allow recipients to chose those donors. But those who opt to remain anonymous should be protected, officials said.
"I think it's unethical. It's an invasion of the donor's privacy and a breach of contract," said Cappy M. Rothman of the California Cryobank of Los Angeles, another large sperm bank."If we were to expose our donors to being known, we would have many fewer donors."
Some ethicists said the rights of offspring outweigh those of donors.
"I have no sympathy for someone who wants to have a child but doesn't want the child to find out who their father is," said George Annas of Boston University."If you're worried about it, you shouldn't be selling your sperm."
Other ethicists said the case illustrates the need to find ways to balance both interests.
"The overall issue is the importance of some offspring of donors to learn about their biologic parentage, which is a strong impulse in some children and needs to be taken seriously, with ways to accommodate that that are respectful of the privacy of the donors," said John A. Robertson of the University of Texas School of Law.
"At the very least, we may now need to inform donors that we may no longer have a foolproof way to protect them," Robertson said."If the system is as porous as this case indicates, then at least we need to inform them that someone may track them down."
Moreover, the case illustrates that when people put their DNA on a database, it provides information about more than themselves, several experts said.
"DNA is the ultimate identifier," said Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University."I don't know to what extent these databanks are taking their responsibility seriously to make sure people are aware of the possibility of these unintended disclosures."
As the editors of the American Journal of Bioethics say:"London Guardian reports that:
Ending anonymity for sperm donors has contributed to a huge drop in the number of applicants, according to a study published in the journal Human Reproduction yesterday. The study centred on Newcastle Fertility Centre, where applications fell from 175 in 1994 to around 25 in 2003, with the sharpest fall from 2000 when the possibility of ending anonymity was first debated. The change in the anonymity rules introduced this year gives children conceived as a result of using donor sperm or eggs the right to know the donor's identity when they are 18.
If this surprises you then you live under a rock. Donor are basically identifiable already - good luck keeping records secret when a"recipient" comes calling to find dad."
Now, let's add inheritance rights and child support law to this and what do we have? State control of your cojones and ovaries--and your future! Just a thought.
The emerging drug regulatory agency in Afghanistan reminds me of the "Anti-Counterfeiting" agency in Taiwan with whom I met some years while on a Fulbright studying economic development in Asia.
They did give out the nicest gifts, but it was apparent they weren't really trying to "stop" the pirating of books, films, recordings or other products, but rather to regulate them a bit as would any good cartel.
Perhaps Halliburton/KBR will be given a no-bid contract to regulate the opium distribution. They are ever so useful! Wonder if Medicare will give it away to seniors? Given the competition with Chavez in Latin America, perhaps Cocaine will also be declared a medicine! Free Opium/Coke Dens, now that would really narcotize the American public. No need to worry about hurricane damage, inflation, corruption, Iraq. Whee!
So now we can begin to see what a Bush looks like; coca leaves and poppy flowers.
Asia Times Nov 16, 2005
Afghan drug problem solved, praise the laudanum
By Ramtanu Maitra
Reports indicate the West is now working toward a "solution" to the opium explosion in Afghanistan, namely the licensing of legal opium production for medical purposes.
The formal proposal was floated in September by the Senlis Council, a French think tank on narcotics. The council's study was conducted in partnership with Kabul University as well as academic centers in Europe and North America, such as Ghent University, Lisbon University and the University of Toronto.
The proposal comes in the wake of a general admission by Washington, its adjunct in Kabul and the United Nations that eradication of drugs in Afghanistan cannot be accomplished by the warriors against terror.
Touching a sensitive chord, however, Afghanistan's Counter-Narcotics Minister Habibullah Qaderi questioned the timing of the Senlis report. "We don't want to confuse the Afghan people, because while the government on the one hand wants to control and stop cultivation, we are talking about licensing."
What Qaderi did not say was that the West, being unable to eradicate opium, is moving to repackage Afghanistan's uncontrollable scourge as a legalized and regulated industry, to be included along with elections among the "democratic successes" in that benighted land.
Scale of the problem:
The massive annual growth in opium production coincided with the "liberation" of Afghanistan from the Taliban by US occupation forces in the winter of 2001. Having registered unprecedented growth in 2002, 2003 and 2004, the 2005 harvest showed a slight reduction. But if the numbers made public are correct, the reduction will not affect the drug users of Europe significantly.
In its Afghanistan Opium Survey 2005, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that the area of opium cultivation in the country decreased by 21% from a record high of 131,000 hectares to 104,000 hectares. In other words, one out of five opium fields cultivated in 2004 was not replanted in 2005. This decline in cultivation was attributed to several factors: the farmers' choice to refrain from poppy cultivation, the government's eradication program, the ban on opium and law enforcement activities.
But according to UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa, despite the overall decline in cultivation, Afghanistan remains far and away the world's largest supplier of opium (87%). According to the UN survey, opium production in Afghanistan in 2005, by comparison with the production figures in 2004, dropped by only 2.4%. Favorable weather conditions resulted in a 22% higher yield. Cultivation also increased in some provinces. In 2005, the drug economy accounted for 52% of the country's gross domestic product.
If you can't beat it ...
At least a year before the Senlis Council stuck its neck out on behalf of the United States and NATO, hand-wringing in Washington over the West's inability to curb opium production in Afghanistan had begun in earnest.
After the record production of more than 4,200 tons of opium in 2004, not only officials serving the Bush administration - the Pentagon, in particular - but also behind-the-scenes policy directors lodged in various think tanks, began putting forward arguments against taking on the drug warlords.
For example, Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute (a non-profit public policy research foundation headquartered in Washington) and a former special assistant to Ronald Reagan, writing soon after the presidential elections in Afghanistan last fall, acknowledged that "controlling opium trafficking has not been the top US priority in Afghanistan".
Therefore, the opium explosion in Afghanistan during the US occupation should not be considered a US failure. Although the Defense Department is careful to appear to be cooperative, Bandow points out, US forces have largely ignored drug trafficking unrelated to enemy action. "Attempting to suppress the drug trade with more than rhetoric will make it even harder to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda," he said. "Yet Washington's most important goal today remains destroying transnational anti-US terrorist networks, led by al-Qaeda."
Soon after the Senlis Council came out with its study, a view similar to Bandow's was expressed by another Cato Institute academic and vice president for defense and foreign policy studies, Ted Galen Carpenter. In a recent article he argues that the US military must not become an enemy of Afghan farmers whose livelihood depends on growing opium poppy.
"If zealous American drug warriors alienate hundreds of thousands of Afghan farmers, the Karzai government's hold on power, which is none too secure now, could become even more precarious," he wrote. "Washington would then face the unpalatable choice of letting radical Islamists regain power or sending more US troops to suppress the insurgency."
Throwing an economic spin into his argument, Carpenter pointed out that for many Afghans involvement in the cultivation of opium poppy crops and other aspects of drug commerce is "the difference between modest prosperity and destitution. They will not look kindly on efforts to destroy their livelihood."
According to Carpenter, US efforts to eradicate Afghanistan's opium crop actually amount to beating plowshares into swords: such efforts drive Afghan farmers, who have so far helped in the "war against terror", straight into the arms and camps of anti-American terrorists.
Naivety or avoidance?
If Bandow and Carpenter could be considered apologists for burgeoning opium production in Afghanistan under the US and NATO's close watch, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's statements prior to her October 2005 visit to Kabul demonstrated that, indeed, Washington has nary a thought about the opium explosion in Afghanistan.
In her news conference en route to Kabul from Kyrgyzstan, Rice heaped praise on the US "success" in Afghanistan and congratulated the Karzai administration for bringing about "remarkable progress".
On the narcotics issue, however, all she could come up with was the following: "I'm going to have a meeting with the members of the cabinet who are responsible for the narcotics problem and to discuss with them how we might accelerate those efforts. We and the British - the British, of course, have the lead on this - [want] to help the Afghans to root out narcotics. If they can do that then I think they really have made a major step forward in stabilization - they will have made a major step forward in stabilization."
Several hard realities raise questions about Rice's words. To begin with, Rice was fully aware that the US Department of Defense had made it clear that they would not antagonize the warlords and thus forsake their friendly alliance by going after opium cultivation.
Secondly, Rice is fully aware of the lack of strength of the Hamid Karzai presidency. It has been observed again and again that the writ of the US-backed Karzai does not extend beyond Kabul. It is ridiculous to try to make others believe that a president, who has to depend for his personal security on a foreign country - the occupying forces, really - would be able to go on a campaign to eradicate opium, battling hundreds of powerful warlords and about 30% of all Afghan families.
Finally, opium is not domestic garbage. Unfortunately, it is valuable, indeed, almost as expensive as gold, if not more so in some countries of the West. Those who bring it into western Europe, and carry it further west, generate enough money to corrupt not only the security infrastructure but the entire political economy of Europe. To suggest that a weak president, without any real help from US and NATO forces, will be able to eradicate opium in Afghanistan is simply a cruel joke.
Moreover, while Carpenter concludes that terrorist and other anti-government forces are hand in glove with the opium growers and traffickers, and that the connection between drug trafficking and terrorism is a direct result of making drugs illegal and, therefore, extremely profitable, Rice chose to remain mum. During her talks with reporters, she did not bring up the close nexus between drugs and terrorism.
And along comes the Senlis Council:
As Washington and London came to the conclusion that opium eradication in Afghanistan is neither useful nor of immediate importance, the Senlis Council conveniently trotted out its proposal and supporting study.
Prior to the feasibility study, funded by a dozen European social policy foundations, the council held a series of seminars to hone its arguments. Because the Blair government in the UK has been the loudest voice heard on eradication of opium poppy in Afghanistan, the council held one seminar, "The Opium Policy Challenge in Afghanistan: Current Responses and New Strategies," at the British House of Commons on July 20.
The seminar brought together British policymakers and senior officials responsible for UK reconstruction policies in Afghanistan, with representatives from United Kingdom-based policy centers and organizations, and academics engaged in research work on Afghanistan, according to news reports. At the seminar, Senlis Council Executive Director Emmanuel Reinert presented the "Feasibility Study on Opium Licensing in Afghanistan for the Production of Morphine and other Essential Medicines", ostensibly a ground-breaking project to consider the licensing of opium production in Afghanistan for medical uses.
In his opening remarks, Chris Mullin, a British MP who is chairman of the council, made clear Afghanistan's reconstruction has been threatened by the failure of current counter-narcotics policies and that there exists no simple solution to the drugs problem. Mullins told the audience to take a good look at the study.
In response to questions raised, Reinert explained the benefits the Afghan farmers would gain within the proposed legal and controllable framework. He also explained the importance of non-governmental organization involvement in achieving a successful and viable intervention, especially with regard to economic development, farming and health treatment.
Though Western countries have begun pushing the Senlis Council's concept as a viable proposition, it was greeted with opposition by Afghanistan. Afghanistan's Counter-Narcotics Minister Habibullah Qaderi stated plainly that the country's security system was still too weak to police the legal production of opium.
"Without an effective control mechanism, a lot of opium will still be refined into heroin for illicit markets in the West and elsewhere. We could not accept this," Qaderi said in a statement.
UNODC, careful not to antagonize the Western countries, said the proposal would offer little attraction to opium farmers because they would earn less selling their crop on the legal market than on the black market.
To sell the concept, Reinert points out that the plan is modeled on programs in India and Turkey, which have helped reduce illegal opium production through a strictly supervised licensing scheme backed by the US Congress. In addition, legal opium production programs are already in place in several other countries, including Australia, France and Japan. With India and Turkey these nations provide the bulk of the world's legal opium for medicine, notably morphine and codeine.
The salesman in Reinert allowed him to suppress the obvious. Neither in India nor Turkey, nor any of the other countries that produce legal opium, does opium make up 52% of the gross domestic product. None of these countries has ever produced 87% of world's opium annually. The fact of the matter is that apart from Turkey, which did have a problem concerning illegal production of opium poppy, no other country mentioned has had any opium-related problems. And none were ever under the control of drug warlords.
The fact of the matter is that the political system that has evolved in Afghanistan following the US invasion is extremely fragile, and verges on being a joke. What really has been strengthened in Afghanistan since 2001 is opium production. Afghanistan now has "pro-democracy" drug warlords who raise illegal opium by the hundreds of tons every year. But pro-democracy sentiments notwithstanding, they have so far remained illegitimate in the eyes of the world.
Now, along comes the Senlis Council to give legitimacy to what is otherwise a political embarrassment. In their study, the council recommends the government fast-track the establishment of a national authority to license opium producers and research an amnesty that would "integrate illegal actors into the opium licensing system".
David T. Beito
Under the President's plan to revitalise the maligned suburbs and create more opportunities for young French people of migrant backgrounds, 50,000 civil service training jobs will be created.
Roderick T. Long
[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]
Tomorrow morning I’m off to the Northeastern Political Science Association meetings in Philadelphia to present a paper on “Three Conceptions of Nature in Hellenistic Political Thought.” Here’s the abstract:
Hellenistic thought makes use of three different conceptions of nature: 1. nature as the default condition that will obtain if no effort is made to avoid it; 2. nature as an original simplicity that must be recovered through removal of conventional accretions; and 3. nature as an ideal telos to be achieved through moral education. The relations among these three conceptions and their implications for Hellenistic political philosophy will be explored.
Mainly I talk about how the Epicureans combined all three conceptions while the Stoics moved from (2) to (3). I’m also serving as a discussant on Fred Miller’s “Aristotle on Law,” Charles Butterworth’s “Philosophy of Law in Medieval Judaism and Islam,” and Anthony Lisska’s “Thomas Aquinas and the Foundations for a Secular Theory of Natural Law.” (All of this grows out of our various contributions to Fred Miller’s forthcoming anthology A History of Philosophy of Law from the Ancient Greeks to the Scholastics.)
Back to blogging next week!
David T. Beito
According to today's Bakersfield Californian, the University of California paid over 2OOK each in annual salaries to over two thousand employees. Of course, a"spokesman" for the administrative elite has responded with the usual bureaucratic doubletalk about how these inflated salaries fit into a grand masterplan of"targeted strategic investments."
Officials defended the practice, saying UC needs to be able to compete for the best faculty with other national universities. Only 1 percent of UC's full-time employees earn more than $200,000 a year, university spokesman Paul Schwartz said. "We have had to make targeted strategic investments, even as we have taken a 15 percent cut in our state funding," Schwartz said."We still needed to ensure we attracted and retained the best people."
The number of employees making at least $300,000 annually climbed 54 percent to 496 last year, according to the newspaper....
The newspaper also reported that the UC system spends about $1 million a year to maintain large homes for its president and 10 campus chancellors.
The University of California paid 2,275 employees more than $200,000 last fiscal year, up 30 percent over two years, even as the system continued to cut student services and increase fees, a newspaper reported Monday.....
Officials defended the practice, saying UC needs to be able to compete for the best faculty with other national universities. Only 1 percent of UC's full-time employees earn more than $200,000 a year, university spokesman Paul Schwartz said.
"We have had to make targeted strategic investments, even as we have taken a 15 percent cut in our state funding," Schwartz said."We still needed to ensure we attracted and retained the best people."
The number of employees making at least $300,000 annually climbed 54 percent to 496 last year, according to the newspaper....
The newspaper also reported that the UC system spends about $1 million a year to maintain large homes for its president and 10 campus chancellors.
David T. Beito
A second article, The Secrets of the London Cage, provides a detailed account of how beatings, sleep deprivation and starvation were used on SS and Gestapo men. The torture center, the London office of the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre, known colloquially as the London Cage, occupied Nos. 6-8 Kensington Palace Gardens in the West End of London. It was run by MI19, the section of the War Office responsible for gleaning information from enemy prisoners of war. And boy, oh boy, did they do a thorough job! The Cage was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Paterson Scotland whose memoirs entitled The London Cage (London: Evans Bros., 1957; paperback reprint, London: Landsborough Publications, 1959) were eventually published after a seven-year delay, and only after all incriminating material had been deleted.
“As the work of the Cage was wound down, the interrogation of prisoners was switched to a number of internment camps in Germany. And there is evidence that the treatment meted out in these places was, if anything, far worse. While many of the papers relating to these interrogation centres remain sealed at the Foreign Office, it is clear that one camp in the British zone became particularly notorious. At least two German prisoners starved to death there, according to a court of inquiry, while others were shot for minor offences.
“In one complaint lodged at the National Archives, a 27-year-old German journalist being held at this camp said he had spent two years as a prisoner of the Gestapo. And not once, he said, did they treat him as badly as the British.”
I remember, when I was a young school teacher, thirty or so years ago, being told by a much older colleague who had fought in the Second World War, that the British had played as dirty as the Germans. Perhaps he had British interrogation centers and, in particular, the London Cage in mind.
Kenneth R. Gregg
Thrones shall crumble,
Kings shall perish,
Howsoe'er their legions strive;
But the liberties men cherish,
They shall triumph and survive.
On this Armistice Day, peace should be on all of our minds. It is the anniversary of the official end of World War I on November 11, 1918, less than ninety years ago. It is a commemoration of the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month." The very term, "armistice", means a cessation of hostilities as a prelude to peace negotiations.
What a glorious word, PEACE. No organized violence on the part of any group, any nation. Property boundaries are respected and honored. Individual responsibility reigns, not power politics. But this can only occur where diplomacy is not defined as lies3, as politics is defined as lies2. It may be that we can mediate an honorable way out. It is necessary.
I have opposed war my entire adult life, from the Viet Nam War to today's cruelty. I neither support war against some criminal in another country, nor would I ever support making war against our kids in this one.
I have seen too many who signed up with the State Guards with the expectation of a weekend per month in trade for college in the future to believe that they are killers who should be killed. The U.S. military has never been designed for seiges, nor long-term occupation. The continuation of our occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere is an aberrant abomination contrary to American tradition and will not last.
It is the classical liberal's responsibility to keep the flame of libertarian principles alive for all to see and to experience. It is our responsibility to constantly extend and expand those ideas into all areas of our lives--personal, social and political.
I've worked in mediation for too many years not to realize that there are viable, reasonable alternatives, such as VOM, VORP, mediation and alternative dispute resolution. There are many already long established organizations which provide effective tools for resolving international problems.
It is time to settle the American affairs in Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as possible. Peacefully. Our soldiers need to leave now and give the citizenry of those countries the opportunity to make their own decisions.
May you find peace.
May you be free.
Just a thought.
David T. Beito
Under the ethnically colour-blind “French model”, the immigrant workers who came in the 1950s and 1960s from the former colonies in North and black Africa were to be regarded as equal citizens. They and their descendants would take advantage of the education system and generous welfare state to assimilate with “white” France. To promote the idea of assimilation, neither the State nor any other body publishes statistics on ethnic or national origin.
In practice, France turned its back on the minorities....
Well after World War II and at the end of the Korean War, President Eisenhower signed a bill in 1954 that changed the name of the national holiday to Veterans’ Day. There were good intentions: America’s veterans of wars other than World War I deserved some recognition. Interestingly enough, however, the United States had not retracted its military reach after World War II as it now was in a perpetual state of war against Communism. Whereas after World War I, the United States brought its armed forces home, the Cold War guaranteed that the United States would henceforth have little interest in armistice, in truce, in peace.