Liberty & Power: Group Blog
In addition, the comedian failed to inquire as to why the President chose to follow the economic strategy of massive government interference employed by FDR when that course resulted in more than ten years of economic misery for the American people. Perhaps he did not want to embarrass Obama by pointing out that in 1938 five years after Roosevelt took over there were more people unemployed and more families on the dole then when he started us on the that ill conceived course in 1933. Maybe it would have been too painful for Obama to bring up the fact that twice in the last century, 1920 and 1980, the country was in just as bad economic distress as we are now and those in charge then, Harding and Reagan, did essentially the opposite of what Obama is doing now, which led in both cases to a quick recovery. Stewart also forgot to ask Obama how he planned to get the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor again.
In contrast to Jon Stewart we have people like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg, and Sibel Edmonds. Chris Floyd has written a remarkably moving poem, The Good Corporal, and dedicated it to them.
The Good Corporal
Good corporal, good corporal, now what have you done?
You've laid out the dead in the light of the sun.
You've opened the door where the dark deeds go on,
Where the fine words of freedom are broken like bones.
Good corporal, good corporal, you tell us of crime
Done in the name of your country and mine.
Of torture and murder, corruption and lies,
In a land where no echo will carry the cries.
Good corporal, good corporal, now who do we blame
For the horrors you bring us, for this undying shame?
Should we lay all the guilt on the grunts with no name,
Or the high and the mighty who rigged up this game?
Good corporal, good corporal, don't you know the fate
Of all those who speak the hard truth to the State
And all who trouble the people's sweet dreams?
They're mocked into scorn and torn apart at the seams.
Good corporal, good corporal, what have you done?
You've laid out the dead in the light of the sun.
Jon Stewart is not a good corporal and I would argue that his silence is helping to kill innocent people.
Hat tip to Kenny Rodgers.
Click here to read the rest.
“They do give us bags of money – yes, yes it is done”, says the man himself. While his American handlers reacted with shock, at least when the news cameras were pointed at them, since America is currently in the run up to our own mid-term elections the spectacle of corrupt politicians being given bags of cash as bribes is not likely to (and hasn’t) made more than a tiny ripple across the face of the American public.
Personally, I’d say that Mr. Karzai and friends are taking to democracy rather nicely.
For all the pious pronouncements from D.C. this has prompted, Mr. Karzai easily embarrassed them again at a news conference when he pointed the finger right back by his declared, “The United States is doing to same thing”. Good point, and one that no rational man can argue. We not only give him bags of money, but an entire field army for his “protection”.
Yet, judging by the oft-repeated American imperialists' habit of murdering any of their hired potentates who get too uppity, my advice to Mr. Karzai is that he’d better hire some new personal security guards, specifically non-American ones. May I recommend the Swiss?
There is no solution here, only the entertainment value from this little bit o’ trouble our imperialists are experiencing in one of their empire’s more far flung outposts. Life goes on, here and in Afghanistan, and no matter how many bags of money Karzai receives from Tehran and D.C., Afghanistan belongs to the Afghans.
Always has and always will.
You can read a thoughtful analysis here in an article by Alex Deane who explains exactly why"airport body scanners are an unacceptable intrusion." Alex Deane is a barrister, a former chief of staff to David Cameron, the British prime minister, and director of Big Brother Watch.
Click here to read more.
David T. Beito
In the picture shown above, yours truly is posing with Robert Higgs, and Alina Stefanescu Coryell (the heart and soul of the Liberty and Power Lectures) just after his talk,"Rise of the Warfare State." It was the second installment in the series at the University of Alabama.
Despite a lack of media coverage, we attracted a lively crowd of about fifty. As usual, Higgs delivered the goods in a hard-hitting historical analysis of the military-industrial complex. I'll be able to post an itune of the talk in the next couple of days.
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
Part 1, entitled "The Slump Goes On: Why?" and appearing in the September 30 issue, considers four possible explanations for the housing bubble: (1) Fed policy; (2) global savings glut; (3) financial innovation; (4) moral hazard. Predictably, Krugman and Wells downplay moral hazard, but they also dismiss the causal significance of financial innovation. And they offer some very cogent arguments about why the primary factor was the global savings glut rather than Fed policy.
Part 2, entitled "The Way Out of the Slump" and appearing in the October 14 issue, contains their usual enthusiasm for more vigorous fiscal policy, but it also criticizes Bernanke along the same lines of Scott Sumner, for pursuing a monetary policy that is too tight. As they put it:"Proponents of unconventional policy often quote from a 1999 critique of the Bank of Japan written by none other than Ben Bernanke, in his pre-Fed days. Like the Fed today, the Bank of Japan had pushed conventional monetary policy to the limit. But it had not run out of options, Bernanke argued: 'Far from being powerless, the Bank of Japan could achieve a great deal if it were willing to abandon its excessive caution and its defensive response to criticism.' As many people have noted, much the same could be said of the Fed today."
Worth checking out.
Roderick T. Long
A rundown of my adventures for this past week or so:
On Thursday the 9th my friend Matthew Quest, history professor at Lewis University, gave a talk to Auburns history department on C. L. R. James, the C. I. O., and American Civilization. Matthew argued that although James, although technically a Marxist, was the most libertarian revolutionary intellectual of both the Pan-African and international labor movements.
For James the proper goal of labour unions was to attain workers self-management, rather than to set up a union bureaucracy to negotiate with management on behalf of an essential passive labour force; and he opposed both the Soviet-model one-party state and the American-model welfare state as forces that treated workers as barnyard animals rather than as autonomous agents. James had little enthusiasm for the sacred cows of the statist left, dismissing the United Nations as the façade of an imperialist consensus, and social democrats as apologists for permanent slaughter. He also favoured decentralisation to the point of near-anarchism, and rejected the patronising efforts of left-wing intellectuals, insisting that the working class must lead itself.
On Monday the 13th my friend Fred Miller, philosophy professor at Bowling Green State and president of the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, gave a talk to the philosophy department here (unfortunately twice interrupted by fire alarms) on Aristotelian Statecraft and Modern Politics. Fred aim was to consider how Aristotles principles of political reform might be applied to libertarian political strategy.
Fred invoked the Aristotelian principle of approximism, namely that if imperfect reform X is chosen because it is the nearest available approximation to ideal reform Y, then the choice of X is actually authorised, rather than forbidden, by whatever principles establish Y as the ideal. This much I agreed with, more or less; but Fred went on to draw a gradualist, pro-compromise, anti-Rothbardian moral that I wasnt convinced followed. (I ended up addressing this point in my Rothbard Memorial Lecture.)
This past Thursday through Saturday I attended the Austrian Scholars Conference, where I presented the aforementioned Rothbard Memorial Lecture, titled Rothbards Left and Right: Forty Years Later. (Forty-One Years Later would actually be more accurate but less euphonious.) In my lecture I defended, at least in broad terms, the left-libertarian outlook set forth in Murray Rothbards 1965 articles Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty and Liberty and the New Left. Reactions ranged from enthusiastic agreement to dismayed perplexity. (Ill post a link to my talk as soon as its online.)
There were a number of noteworthy presentations. An incomplete list: Ben Powell discussed the continuing anarchy in Somalia, presenting evidence to show that by most measures Somali society is more peaceful and prosperous now than it was when Somalia had a state. Ed Stringham talked about a new anthology hes just edited, Anarchy, State, and Public Choice, defending anarchism against critiques by public-choice theorists like James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock; he also gave a paper discussing the 19th-century Christian anarchist David Lipscomb. (For my comments on the latter, see the Mises Blog.) Michael Rozeff argued that the state is a fundamentally unsound institution from the standpoint of finance economics. Stephen Carson argued that suppression of private property rights is the most reliable predictor of democide. Josef ima reported on the success of his Prague-based Liberální Institut (where Ill be next month for the Prague Conference on Political Economy). Fred Day explored proto-Austrian themes in the work of Ricardian socialist Thomas Hodgskin, while Jeff Tucker and Paul Cantor demonstrated Mark Twains commitment to classical liberalism.
A number of my homeys were also on the program: Geoff Plauché discussed Aristotelean foundations of praxeology; Kelli van Vier rebutted Ed Fesers attempt to argue from libertarian premises to conservative conclusions (e.g., the legitimacy of anti-drug, anti-pornography, and anti-gay legislation); Ben Kilpatrick critiqued Rawls on time-preference; and Dan DAmico participated in a
roast ofpanel on Walter Block.
I was pleased to see my friend Rich Hammer (albeit too briefly). I was told by one attendee that my Wittgenstein/praxeology manuscript is being discussed at the University of Istanbul, and I spotted another attendee wearing a Molinari Institute t-shirt. The quest for world domination continues ....
On Friday night I went with some of the Misesvolk to see V for Vendetta, which I highly recommend. Although it falls short of the original in some respects (for one thing, its much less explicitly anarchistic), its still a great libertarian ride and captures much of the eerie quality of the book especially that haunting mask with Hugo Weaving’s marvelous voice coming out of it. (This film also settles, at least for me, the question whether Natalie Portmans relatively poor acting in the Star Wars prequels was her fault or Lucass. Like Lauren Bacall compare To Have and Have Not with Key Largo, or compare the first and second versions of The Big Sleep Portman needs an actors director to bring out her talent, and an actor’s director Lucas is not.)
Theres been a lot of debate about whether V for Vendetta glorifies terrorism, and comparisons have been drawn between Vs actions and the 9/11 attacks. But the analogy is weak; V takes out bad guys, not innocent civilians. To be sure, a number of his actions would be worthy of moral condemnation if carried out in real life (I wont go into details, so as to avoid spoilers), but in the context of the story they work on a symbolic level.
Speaking of V for Vendetta theres been a lot of discussion of the film on LRC blog, including this piece where Stephen Carson draws a connection between my aforementioned Rothbard Memorial Lecture and some of Alan Moores comments about the film. But I have to take issue with the following judgment expressed by J. H. Huebert:
I found the films homosexual propaganda gratuitous (the idea that homosexual conduct is somehow threatened by the present political situation is preposterous indeed, one suspects sodomy will be one of the few rights left before the Supreme Court is done with us) ....Given todays high rate of violence against gays, and given that Roy Moore then an Alabama state judge, and still today one of the most popular political figures in Alabama wrote a judicial opinion urging the use of the power of the sword, up to and including confinement and even execution, against gays, the notion that gays face no threat in the current political climate strikes me as bizarre.
As long as Im grumping about posts on LRC Blog, I might as well say something on behalf of John Lennons Imagine against Gil Guillorys rather uncharitable interpretation. Gil wrote:
When I taught economics to homeschoolers, we analysed Imagine:Now the references to heaven and possessions are indeed a rejection of religion and private property; no debate there. But Lennons endorsement of living for today is not an endorsement of high time-preference; in context he clearly means embracing life in this world as opposed to waiting for an afterlife (which Lennon ex hypothesi regards as nonexistent; this is a corollary of no heaven). Its not high time-preference to prefer present satisfactions regarded as real over future satisfactions regarded as imaginary. Likewise, nothing to kill or die for has nothing to do with nihilism; what ot means is not nothing worth killing or dying for but rather nothing you have to kill or die for i.e., peace. Plus, Gil leaves out the most magnificent line of all: Imagine theres no countries.
Imagine theres no heaven = atheism
Imagine all the people living for today = high time preference
Nothing to kill or die for = nihilism
Imagine no possessions = no private property
"The on-site psychology team at the San Jose mine treated the trapped men with extraordinary mean-spiritedness. Driven by the conviction that they, as one headline put it, 'know best', and backed up by the dime-a-dozen profferings of every headline-hungry psychologist and therapist around the globe, the psychologists saw it as their duty to police the men's thoughts and even to censor letters from their families in case they triggered 'problematic emotions'."
Jane S. Shaw
Can you imagine any other Latin American country where this high-tech rescue could have occurred? Or, thinking back to February, can you imagine any other Latin American country that could absorb an earthquake of 8.8 magnitude as Chile did? According to Wikipedia, the death toll was 486. In contrast, the death toll in the 2010 Haitian earthquake was in the 200,000 range (admittedly, Haiti is not a Latin American country, but a Caribbean one).
The resilience of Chile was no surprise to me because our son, at age 20, traveled through South America three years ago. He wrote:
"I have heard several times that Argentina is the Europe of South America, while Chile is the United States. This argument was supported 5 minutes into the country. After 3 days driving through Bolivia without seeing anything resembling a road, let alone pavement, Chile offered us a perfectly manicured road with painted lines 5 minutes past the border. I couldn´t believe it. And in all of Chile that I have seen so far, the story is the same. Roads straight out of the USA, and buildings and stores that would be right at home in any American city. It really is the economic growth miracle of the continent."
Political scientist Aaron Wildavsky created or at least popularized the meme “wealthier is healthier.” Chile is healthier because it is wealthy and it is wealthy because its government has allowed markets to work.
Jonathan J. Bean
Political pressures inexorably push up small-business size definitions. That, at least, is the theory of Jonathan Bean, author of a history of the S.B.A. provocatively titled Big Government and Affirmative Action. As the name suggests, this is not exactly a work of scholarship; it’s a polemic offered by an ideologue staunchly opposed to any S.B.A.-style intervention in supposedly free markets. Nonetheless, the events of the last several weeks suggest Mr. Bean has a point. . . In other words, we are all small businesses now.
There is a pattern I’ve observed over the years: I’m right but . . . the inevitable “but” to persuade the reader not to take seriously the work of classical liberal scholars. They may be right here but they are not “scholars.” Note the phrasing: “As the name suggests” [Big Government and Affirmative Action] “this is not exactly a work of scholarship; it’s a polemic offered by an ideologue staunchly opposed to any S.B.A.-style intervention in supposedly free markets.”
Shades of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck! This guy is right but don’t take him seriously. That’s how the MSM marginalizes the scholarship of classical liberals.
In fact, as I wrote back:
Big Government and Affirmative Action received many scholarly reviews – not one negative. And it was based on research in numerous archives, including every presidential library for the time covered: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan. Plus interviews and agency records. Staying at youth hostels from Abilene and Austin to DC (and in between) was the price of scholarship. Even those who disagree don’t question the depth of research. . . . I could have saved all those road trips if I was truly an “ideologue”!
Serious scholarship is a drag in the research phase. Moreover, my conclusions were that markets were never free during this entire period (and earlier). Based on the evidence, I argued that the corporate welfare funneled through the SBA would never end because it involves attacking an agency wrapped in images of “Mom and Pop” and aid to “disadvantaged” minorities.
Of course, I don’t really assume that reporters read books. Mandelbaum spins his comments from the title. What a cheap shot: publishers insist on titles that will catch the eyes of potential readers.
The subtitle The Scandalous History of the Small Business Administration was confirmed more recently by the fraud associated with the Alaskan Native Corporations funneling set-aside contracts via the SBA to Halliburton and other huge corporations. This “fronting” is legal and it infuriates the Congressional Black Caucus who feel that this is “their pie.” However, my book (er, polemic) showed that other minorities (Asians, Hispanics) have been whittling away at minority set asides for years.
What makes this laughable is that Mandelbaum’s link to my book takes his readers to the publisher’s web site where there are snippets from leading scholarly journals:
“Bean is a master of administrative history, not just of the SBA but of the tremendous expansion of American government, especially beginning with and then flowing from the New Deal.”—American Historical Review
“His careful analysis, his all-encompassing bibliography, and his inclusive endnotes make this the definitive monograph.”—Journal of American History
“The first full-length academic assessment of the agency. At once a powerful argument for killing off the agency and a shrewd analysis for the political impulses that make its termination nearly impossible.”—Wall Street Journal
“[Bean] has a love/hate relationship with the SBA, and this tension is visible throughout his meticulously researched monograph.”—Business History
“Bean has done a model job in producing a smoothly written and often amusing policy history.”—The Independent Review
“This is a controversial interpretation of the history of the Small Business Administration and particularly of Affirmative Action. While some scholars may disagree with Jonathan Bean’s conclusions, none can ignore the deep research and forthright argument that he presents.”—Thomas K. McCraw
“With surgeon-like precision, Jonathan Bean peels away the layers of good-intentions, over-heated rhetoric, and racial politics of the Small Business Administration’s minority enterprise programs to reveal a history of corruption, fraud, and incompetence. . . . A courageous book.”—Donald T. Critchlow, Editor, Journal of Policy History
“Provides a critical analysis of the history of the SBA, which sheds light on the growth of government in the United States.”—Journal of Economic History
“Bean contends that this agency, scandal ridden and ineptly administered, was theoretically intended to open opportunities to all but has practically functioned as a leading wedge for racial preferences.”—Choice
“A well-written book about a troubled government agency. . . . Makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the postwar growth of the federal government.”—EH.net Reviews
“Provocative, meticulous, and engaging. . . . Reveals substantial common ground for political scientists and historians who share and interest in the political development of federal agencies.”—Political Science Quarterly
“Compact, yet extensively researched. . . . Bean’s work brings urgency to the central question: what can the U.S. government do to stimulate the development of black business”—Enterprise and Society
“A lucid account of how, having wrapped itself around ‘affirmative action,’ the Small Business Administration has managed to survive and prosper despite scandals and policy failures.”—Business Horizons
“A well-written, well-researched study.”—Wyatt Wells
But if the New York Times says these reviewers have it all wrong, well who is right?
"We were not looking to attack or degrade the image of Muslim fundamentalists – each to their own – but rather to question politicians who voted for this law that we consider clearly unconstitutional," they said."To dictate what we wear appears to have become the role of the state."
Oh, yes, Chief Justice John Roberts would seem to be the only Anglo-Saxon on the court–I’m not sure whether this designation correctly describes his ethnicity.
First Burnett made the argument that consumers of Mexican drugs were responsible for the violence instead of putting the blame where it certainly belongs on those who support drug prohibition. Unlike Mexican cocaine there is no economic violence associated with Mexican tequila, the difference being that one is illegal and the other is not. The users are not the ones who created the black market with its attendant mayhem.
It is the people who support the current policy, like Burnett, who have the blood on their hands because the bottom line is that if drugs were legal tens of thousand of people recently killed in Mexico would be alive today. Drug prohibition does not actually keep people from using drugs; in fact there is considerable evidence to suggest that it encourages greater consumption, therefore in reality the laws are merely a symbolic statement. Anyone who says drugs should remain illegal is in effect saying that my symbolic declaration of disapproval is more important than the lives of those people killed by the policy.
The NPR hack also says repealing alcohol prohibition in 1933 did not end organized crime. However he neglects to mention the ending the ban on spirits dramatically lowered the amount of violence associated with their use and criminals were able to shift their activities to narcotics only because those substances remained illegal. Burnett’s contention seems to be that the measure legalizing marijuana in California will make things much better but it will not make things perfect therefore it should not be passed.
Lastly, even though there is absolutely no evidence that using marijuana impairs cognitive ability Burnett still repeats that slander. Unfortunately in the coming weeks before Californians vote on whether or not to legalize Marijuana we can look forward to many more examples of shoddy journalism, ignorant prejudice and spurious claims. As Jacob Sullum points out some very intellectually bankrupt arguments to oppose the measure are already beginning to appear. These include among others the ludicrous idea that it will not produce any revenue, the false contention that it will change the present laws against impaired driving, and the absurd notion that employees will have the right to use marijuana on the job. Sullum concludes by reminding us that, “if the nightmare scenarios described by Proposition 19's opponents come to pass, the rest of the country will learn from California's example. And if they don't, that also will be instructive, which is why federal drug warriors are so determined to defeat the initiative.”
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
David T. Beito