Liberty & Power: Group Blog
David T. Beito
David T. Beito
What is happening to property owners in Montgomery? Jimmy McCall would like to know. Last year, the city government went back on an agreement and used a “blight” law and demolished his house, then under construction. “It was my dream house,” he laments, “and the city tore it down. . . . It reminds me of how they used to mistreat black people in the Old South.”
McCall, like thousands of other Americans, is on the receiving end of eminent domain through the back door. In contrast to the standard eminent-domain process, property owners do not have any right to compensation. Minorities are typically the first victims. Ironically, the hometown of Rosa Parks appears to be one of the areas targeted for this form of blatant property-rights abuse. For more on the Montgomery situation, see here.
Alabama has gained national notoriety for eminent-domain abuses in the past, most notably in the Alabaster case heavily publicized by nationally syndicated radio talk-show host Neal Boortz.
On April 29, Alabamans who have similar stories of property-rights abuse are urged to come to a community forum of the State Advisory Committee (which I chair) of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, “Civil Rights Implications of Eminent Domain Policies and Practices in Alabama.” The forum (see agenda here) will be from 9AM to 5PM on April 29 at the Montgomery Campus of Troy University in the Gold Room of the Whitley Conference Hall. The street address is 231 Montgomery Street, Montgomery, AL 36104.
Roderick T. Long
[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]
That idea of hardships being good for character and of talent always being able to break through is an old fallacy. Talent alone is helpless today. Any success requires both talent and luck. And the luck has to be helped along and provided by someone. ... Talent does not survive all obstacles. In fact, in the face of hardships, talent is the first one to perish; the rarest plants are usually the most fragile. Our present-day struggle for existence is the coarsest and ugliest phenomenon that has ever appeared on earth. It takes a tough skin to face it, a very tough one. Are talented people born with tough skins? Hardly. In fact, the more talent one possesses the more sensitive one is, as a rule. And if there is a more tragic figure than a sensitive, worthwhile person facing life without money I dont know where it can be found. ...
[H]elp for young talent .... not only provides human, decent living conditions which a poor beginner could not afford anywhere else, but it provides that other great necessity of life: understanding. It makes a beginner feel that he is not, after all, an intruder with all the world laughing at him and rejecting him at very step, but that there are people who consider it worthwhile to dedicate their work to helping and encouraging him. Isn’t such an organization worthy of everyones support? ... So many gamble on roulette, and slot machines, and horses. Why not gamble for a change on human beings and human futures?
Roderick T. Long
David T. Beito
What is happening in the cradle of the modern civil rights movement? Jimmy McCall would like to know. 'It was more my dream house,' he laments, 'and the city tore it down ... It reminds me of how they used to mistreat black people in the Old South.' In 1955, Rosa Parks took on the whole system of Jim Crow by refusing to give up her seat on a segregated Montgomery bus. Today, McCall is waging a lonely battle against the same city government for another civil right: the freedom to build a home on his own land.
Though McCall's ambitions are modest, he is exceptionally determined. For years, he has scraped together a living by salvaging rare materials from historic homes and then selling them to private builders. Sometimes months went by before he had a client. Finally, he had put aside enough to purchase two acres in Montgomery and started to build. He did the work himself using materials accumulated in his business including a supply of sturdy and extremely rare longleaf pine.
McCall only earns enough money to build in incremental stages, but eventually his dream home took shape. According to a news story by Benjamin Solomon, the structure had 'the high slanted ceilings, the exposed beams of dark, antique wood. It looks like a charming, spacious home in the making.'
But from the outset, the city showed unremitting hostility. He has almost lost count of the roadblocks it threw up including a citation for keeping the necessary building materials on his own land during the construction process.
Although Caldwell believes that piracy both as a form of larceny and as a form of war will always endure,"piracy as a form of governance ... is something that exists only in brief moments of government indifference, and soon ends in Davy Jones's locker." In other words, he's claiming that the historical record doesn't support the sort of conclusions that Leeson and others seek to draw.
Would anyone who has read The Invisible Hook wish to comment on Caldwell's review? Indeed, would Pete himself care to respond?
Readers should pay particular attention to his concluding paragraph that read as follows:
"Recent massive injections of bank reserves by the Fed are probably intended to reverse expectations of price declines. Under current conditions, slightly higher inflation and inflationary expectations could be the very balm essential for pulling the economy out of recession. Of course, it remains true that the Fed must later ensure that demand-driven inflation does not spin out of control. But that's a balancing act for the future, the need for which would not arise unless the economy recovers. Currently, price increase expectations appear to be a precondition rather than a hindrance to achieving an economic recovery."
I guess some of the folks over at the Mises Institute were apoplectic when they read this letter. Indeed, for my part I'm more than a little perturbed by this policy recommendation. And although it's not as awful as the prescriptions of a Paul Krugman or a Brad DeLong, it's a disturbing reminder of how so many self-identified free market economists have long advocated managed money.
As one scientist observed,"It (Gliese 581 e) is the first serious 'water-world' candidate." Galt is really excited about the oceans there, since Piracy is now back in vogue again, and this means his buddy, Ragnar Danneskjöld, will be free to roam the seas of the new Planet in search of prey.
Another scientist stated that the planet “was in the prime habitable zone for potential life.” In an interview Galt said, he didn’t like the undistinguished name, “Gliese 581 e,” and had thought about changing its name to “Rand,” after his creator, whom some Objectivist followers think of as something of a Goddess. When reminded that astronomers like to add numbers, etc., to these discoveries, Galt settled on the name “Rand Jan16,” after her play, “Night of January 16th.”
*Author’s disclosure – William Marina was born January 16th, but his Mother was not the forenamed, Goddess.
Jane S. Shaw
The torture issue, much now in the news with respect to the CIA, overlaps with that of the punishment and killing of civilians as is evident almost daily in the drone missile killings of whole families in Afghanistan.
One might begin with our treatment of Native Americans as they were dragged westward in the 1820s. In an article on that in the 2nd Ed. of News of the Nation: A Newspaper History of the US (1976), I described the shame of American soldiers, many of them veterans going back to our Revolution, of the way in which the Indian peoples were treated, the number who died, as a result of carrying out these orders of the American government.
The counter-insurgency tactics in vogue today (so-called 4th generation warfare) of punishing the civilian population harboring the insurgents as in Vietnam and Afghanistan today, much beloved by people like Gen. Patraeus, and used all over Central America and the Caribbean for decades, were already evident in war against the Seminoles in the 1830s, as detailed in Tebeau & Marina, A History of Florida (3rd Ed., 1999). One officer who learned his tactics there was later Gen., William T. Sherman, who used these on the South with a vengeance in our Civil War.
The Indians, however, did not escape retribution then either. In 1864, the Western Command ordered that the Indians “must be punished." One result of this was the Sand Creek Massacre, sometimes mentioned by the name of the commander, Chivington. The Senate investigation mentioned the cutting open of the bellies of pregnant women and the cutting off of men’s testicles in order to make tobacco pouches of the sacks. This is sometimes called, “the Winning of the West,” as we brought them Christian Civilization.
But with the development of the Overseas Empire in 1898, we really got down to formally developing tactics of counter-insurgency, what Big Bill Taft and others called “civilizing ‘em with a Krag!” The favorite was the Water “Treatment,” or “Cure,” or, with refreshing candor at least, “Torture.” This is detailed in a pamphlet compiled by the Anti-Imperialist League Marked Severities (1902). A Senate Investigation was stymied by Republican politicians such as the imperialist Henry Cabot Lodge, and the so-called Anti-Imperialist, Andrew Carnegie, withdrew $5,000 he had promised to aid such an investigation. We should not be surprised that these same politics have prevailed with respect to investigating our tortures and atrocities since 2003. One difference, in the water torture then, we used a pressure hose, so that whether you talked or not, you would die from the infection as a result of the lesions caused to the wall of your stomach. There would not be the hundreds of"boardings" on a single person, now attributed to the CIA.
There is some hope that not only are a number of nations concerned about our disregard for international law, but some in the Congress, and perhaps even the Attorney General, do not wholly agree with President Obama and his Chief of Staff, that these hundreds of incidents of water boarding cannot simply be brushed aside. And, of course, the use of drones continues with a vengeance!
I often wonder if our veterans in the 1820s, or 1898, or our other numerous interventions, have suffered from the same mental symptoms that increasingly since Vietnam, and now in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have come to call PTSD, ”Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” The VA has only haltingly begun to deal with this problem.
Joseph Welch once asked of Sen. Joesph McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, Sir,” but that has sometimes been rendered as “shame,” rather than “decency.” I believe that it is long past time for the people of a nation that some claim to be Christian, to look in the mirror and ask of themselves, since most of their politicians will not do so, “have we no sense of shame, no sense of law, for what we have asked our soldiers to do in our name?”
Perhaps, it is not the growing number of our veterans who are ill, but rather, the great mass of our people, in a rather “sick” nation that have accepted this kind of torture and killing policies for well over a century now, ordered by those in the highest echelons of our Government, who are the real problem. Empire does, indeed, have a high price!
In actuality, the mainstream conservatives and mainstream liberals tend to have a very similar view of American history: The history of progress, largely carried out by the central state. Lincoln and FDR, the New Deal and the World Wars, the Civil Rights era and even Cold War and proudly championed by both the center left and center right.
In his inaugural address, for example, Obama talked up the soldiers who"fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn." While it is true that he says"that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions," he seems to believe those missiles and tanks are important, which would explain why he's increasing"defense" spending and expanding the war.
Obama is proud of the statist version of American history, as are most conservatives and mainstream liberals. The antidote is in thoughtful revisionism. A good introduction to looking at American history differently is Ivan Eland's new book, Recarving Rushmore.
The Schneider’s federal prosecutors tried to impose a gag order on Reynolds’s group but the judge denied the motion. Now the Drug War Chroniclereports that she “has been targeted for a grand jury investigation of obstruction of justice for her role in supporting a Kansas physician and his wife in their legal battle against federal prosecutors.” In her subpoena Assistant US Attorney Tanya Treadway “demands that Reynolds turn over all correspondence with attorneys, patients, Schneider family members, doctors, and others related to the Schneider case. She also demands that Reynolds turn over bank and credit card statements showing payments to or from clinic employees, patients, potential witnesses and others.” Reynolds has stated that she has no intention of complying with the order and has filed a motion seeking to have the subpoena thrown out.
Gore Vidal has said that, “America is a quarter of a billion people totally misinformed and disinformed by their government. This is tragic but our media is -- I wouldn't even say corrupt -- it's just beyond telling us anything that the government doesn't want us to know.” Given the large amount of truth in that statement, this pernicious governmental attempt to silence an advocacy group should be all the more frightening to us.
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
Last week at Forbes.com, he compared U.S. taxes to those in foreign countries and found that ours are relatively low. The anti-tax crowd universally denounced this analysis on the grounds that why should we care if foreigners are even more overtaxed than we are.
This week he looked at the effective tax rate on the median family income. He showed that taxes are at a historically low level. Furthermore, polls show a historically low level of dissatisfaction with taxes. He concluded that the tax protestors lack the credibility to be taken seriously.
Those libertarians who live in the real world, and don’t imagine we can simply dispense with all taxes, might find this data useful. We need to strive toward an equitable (fair) tax system at the same time attempting to prevent the Empire from further bankrupting itself with the foreign/military policies espoused by the Bush and Obama regimes, along with their domestic welfare policies as well.
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
As reported by Bloomberg, Obama’s income of over $2.7 million came mostly from sales of his two books, on which he paid a tax of over $850K. His new tax plan would cost him another $102K.
The Republicans and their"tea bags," have managed in the long run to find another stale issue. The real issue is equity within the tax system, along with regulation of Wall St., as well as what Mark Twain once called"the Lawyer Tribe," now about to feast vampire-like on the carcass of Lehman Brothers. American"Legalism" has made historical Chinese Legalism look like a modest-Mandarin effort!