Liberty & Power: Group Blog
From the Washington Post:
The president's recently departed budget director is joining Citigroup.
The New York Federal Reserve Bank's derivatives expert is joining Goldman Sachs.
And numerous investigators from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are joining Wall Street's top law firms.
The vast overhaul of financial regulations and the renewed intensity of investigations into white-collar crime has been a boon for regulators, prosecutors and financial policymakers looking to cash in on their government experience and contacts.
In recent months, prominent officials from the White House, Justice Department, SEC, banking regulators and other agencies, both federal and state, have been walking through the proverbial revolving door to join Goldman, Citi, other financial companies and top law firms in Washington and New York.
The corporate state is alive and well.
David T. Beito
David T. Beito
This fascinating photo is on the website of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Here is the caption: "Students for a Libertarian Society march on State Street and burn their selective service registration cards in an anti-draft protest."
Although I was active in the UW-Madison SLS chapter at the time, and participated in one anti-draft march there, I don't remember the people in the photo.
I am not even sure that the picture is from 1981. It could have been a year or two earlier (when I was attending the University of Minnesota). Can anyone help me fill in the blanks?
By the way, anyone who has documents related to Students for Libertarian Society for any part of the country, I urge you to donate them to the Wisconsin Historical Society collection for that organization. Here is the inventory.
~ Fischer Ames (1805)
Remember the"Ground Zero Mosque" controversy? It took place last summer in New York City when some people – with no sense of how a democracy works – had the foolish notion to build on property they owned an Islamic cultural center to worship God as they pleased. In both Constitutional law and simple humanity they were well within their rights but their proposed location was, unfortunately, just two blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood. Crushed under a wave of populist indignation, the Islamic center has yet to be built.
Click here to read the rest.
David T. Beito
David T. Beito
The much anticipated call to arms for a left/right/libertarian antiwar coalition, ComeHomeAmerica.US, is now available. The book is edited by Paul Buhle, Bill Kauffman, George O'Neill Jr. and Kevin Zeese. It includes selections from the editors as well as yours truly (on the American Anti-Imperalist League), Jesse Walker, Doug Bandow, Bill Kauffman, Cindy Sheehan, Ralph Nader, and many others.
Here is the product description:
This book was prepared for a meeting of people from across the political spectrum who oppose war and militarism. The book presents views from the right, left and radical center, views that reflect those of many Americans which are not represented in the political dialogue in Congress or the White House, or the mainstream media. Throughout American history there have been times when movements developed that were outside the limited political dialogue of the two major parties, such as the abolitionists, the Anti-Imperialist League, the Non-Partisan League, and aspects of the Old Right and the New Left. Sometimes those movements have broken through and created paradigm shifting moments. Some of the materials in this book describe the Populist Movement of the late 1800s to provide an example of the type of movement that can influence politics, even though it starts outside of the"acceptable" political spectrum. Our hope is that this meeting will be the first step toward building effective advocacy against war and militarism which pulls in the majority of Americans who recognize that war should truly be a last resort limited to the real defense of our Nation. Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instrument for bringing the many under the domination of the few.-James Madison
Cuba banned Michael Moore's 2007 documentary, Sicko, because it painted such a"mythically" favourable picture of Cuba's healthcare system that the authorities feared it could lead to a"popular backlash", according to US diplomats in Havana.
The revelation, contained in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks , is surprising, given that the film attempted to discredit the US healthcare system by highlighting what it claimed was the excellence of the Cuban system.
But the memo reveals that when the film was shown to a group of Cuban doctors, some became so"disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba that they left the room".
Castro's government apparently went on to ban the film because, the leaked cable claims, it"knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them."
The rest of the Guardian's story is here.
UPDATE: Moore replies:
Sounds convincing, eh?! There's only one problem -- the entire nation of Cuba was shown the film on national television on April 25, 2008! The Cubans embraced the film so much so it became one of those rare American movies that received a theatrical distribution in Cuba. I personally ensured that a 35mm print got to the Film Institute in Havana. Screenings of 'Sicko' were set up in towns all across the country. In Havana, 'Sicko' screened at the famed Yara Theater.The lesson? Be skeptical of anything originating within the U.S. government.
The best thing I've read about the English student protests against reduced government subsidies for higher education is here. In"A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste," Kevin Carson writes:
Aren’t these just a bunch of spoiled brats, throwing a tantrum when they’re cut off from the taxpayer teat?
British students, like those in America, are hit from two directions under the state capitalist model: First, by government interventions that inflate the amount of the “education” commodity they’re forced to consume in order to make a decent living. And second, by government interventions that inflate the cost of procuring it.
So government has placed students in a double bind in which relying on government tuition subsidies is the only way out.
What does Carson propose?
The answer, first, is to eliminate all state-mandated licensing and credentialing, all college and technical school accreditation, and to dismantle higher education as a conveyor belt for processing human raw material for delivery to the appropriate HR department.
Educational offerings should be driven, on a demand-pull basis, by the desires of students, while all the state-created artificial scarcities that cause the wage labor market to be a buyer’s market should be eliminated.
Second, we should eliminate the high-overhead, cost-plus culture that predominates in the university (as in all other large institutions of state capitalist society).
There's more. So read the full article.
"It is usually considered good form to avoid sharp criticism of someone who has just died. But Richard Holbrooke himself set a striking example of the breach of such etiquette. On learning of the death in prison of Slobodan Milosevic, Holbrooke did not hesitate to describe him as a"monster" comparable to Hitler and Stalin."
Read her essay here.
David T. Beito
Why have so many people regarded communism as the most desirable form of social organization?
F. A. Hayek offers a hypothesis in his final book The Fatal Conceit. Hayek argues that human beings act in many ways according to genetic predispositions inherited from a long period of development – a million or more years – during which they lived in small bands similar to, and indeed sometimes nothing more than, extended families. The family, of course, is a sort of communist arrangement: its members, especially the younger ones, live not by producing wealth and exchanging the rights to it among themselves, but by sharing in accordance with at-least-partly altruistic allocations made by the older members. By this means, human beings survived and eventually prospered. Humans who arranged their affairs differently, one presumes, died out, leaving only those who had been molded by and sought to maintain the traditional family arrangement. Little bands and tribes amounted to nothing more than the family writ large and managed their economic affairs accordingly.
When human beings finally began to interact with one another extensively in what Hayek calls “the great society” — the wider world of various tribes and nations and of far-flung markets linking them through commercial exchanges — they retained, according to Hayek, a genetic predisposition to conduct their affairs in the communal fashion of families and small bands from time immemorial. However, Hayek argues further, the altruism and fully-shared information that had undergirded the conduct of the family and the band do not, indeed, cannot exist in the great society. Seeking to replicate those primeval arrangements on a vastly greater scale is a futile quest. It represents only “an atavistic longing after the life of the noble savage.” At its worst, it gives rise to tragic disasters such as those experienced in the twentieth century in Russia, China, and other, similarly collectivized societies.
Hayek’s hypothesis is plausible, but I have no idea whether it is the best interpretation of the persistent human longing for some form of communism. This hypothesis, like most such socio-biological explanations, seems to be a “just so story” – it seems to make sense, but we lack a clear means of testing and possibly refuting it.
Other interpretations of the intellectuals’ penchant for communism certainly have been advanced.
For example, Ludwig von Mises argues in The Anti-Capitalist Mentality that the intellectuals suffer from frustration, envy, and resentment and blame their relatively poor position in the economy and society on “the rich,” especially the capitalists who have gained the greatest wealth by serving consumers most successfully in the markets. The obverse of the intellectuals’ hatred of the free-market system is their yearning for communism or some other system similarly hostile to private property rights.
In an essay titled “Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?,”Robert Nozick argues similarly that the intellectuals are people who were good at school work but are not good at practical affairs and therefore fail to gain the great wealth and social position achieved by business people and investors who, however unremarkable they might have been as schoolchildren, have what it takes to succeed in the marketplace. The intellectuals, convinced that the smart people (that is, those who were good at school) should run the world and rise to the top of society, harbor intense resentment toward the people who navigate the market most successfully and hence toward the socioeconomic order that accommodates this success.
Many people have taken notice recently that John Lennon was killed thirty years ago, and a great deal of maudlin sentiment has been on display in this regard. Radio stations have hauled out Lennon’s recording of “Imagine” to adorn this weepy occasion. Although I consider Lennon to have been a gifted song writer, I do not recommend him as a political or social philosopher. Nevertheless, I do not condemn “Imagine” in every regard. The music itself is beautiful and beautifully performed, and I cherish the line, “Imagine there’s no countries / It isn’t hard to do.” After all, what is a nation-state but a sort of communism in its own right: a violent suppression of competing private protective agencies by a single, all-encompassing, exceedingly presumptive, and often worthless guardian — and a spectacularly obnoxious one, to boot.
Aeon J. Skoble