One of the makers of the Anarchism in America video (about which I’ve previously blogged) has a piece up at HoughPough on Ron Paul, Libertarianism, and the Anarchist Connection. Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Ezra Heywood, Angela Heywood, Emma Goldman, Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Karl Hess, and Murray Bookchin all get name-checked.
Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Many commentators have noted in recent years that Americans have been leaving the labor force. Their departure has made interpretation of unemployment statistics more difficult, and because the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes six variants of the unemployment rate, considerable debate has occurred about the “real” rate of unemployment. Much of this confusion can be avoided by examining not data on unemployment, however measured, but data on employment, which are substantially less ambiguous.
When we examine the ratio of employment to population (reported by the BLS for the civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over), we find that indeed the overall employment ratio has fallen considerably since the onset of the current recession. In 2007, the ratio for both sexes combined was about 63 percent. In 2008, it fell steadily, and by December it had reached 61 percent. In 2009, it continued to fall steadily, and by December it had reached 58.2 percent. At that point, it more or less stabilized at its recession low point, and during the past two years it has remained in the range 58-59 percent. The most recently reported ratio, for January 2012, was 58.5 percent.
As the chart shows, however, this ratio had been even lower between the late 1940s and the late 1970s. Starting in the mid-1970s, the employment-population ratio trended upward, increasing from about 57 percent to more than 64 percent by 2000. Note, too, that the ratio is pro-cyclical, rising during macroeconomic expansions and falling during macroeconomic recessions. The cyclical drop during the present recession has been larger than preceding ones, however, and it has also stuck at the bottom, whereas preceding declines were followed by quick rebounds.
The tendency of the employment-population ratio to rise during the last quarter of the twentieth century was driven entirely by an increase in the ratio for females. As the chart below shows, the employment-population ratio for women increased steadily from the late 1940s to 2000, rising from about 31 percent in 1948 more than 57 percent in 2000. It remained at a high level until the onset of the current recession, and between December 2007 and January 2012, it declined only from 56.5 percent to 52.9 percent.
The historical path of the employment-population ratio for men looks quite different. As the chart below shows, this ratio has been trending downward since the early 1950s—for roughly sixty years—although the downward trend was hardly noticeable during the quarter-century before the onset of the current recession. During this macroeconomic bust, however, the ratio for men has dropped precipitously, declining from almost 70 percent in 2006 to a low of only 63.3 percent in December 2009. Since then it has rebounded only slightly; in January 2012, it was 64.5 percent.
Thus, we see that the current recession has brought about an exceptionally steep drop in the ratio of employment to population for the entire civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over, and that the decline has been roughly twice as great for men as for women. Both of these changes, however, should be viewed in a longer-term perspective, which shows that the employment ratio for men has moved downward for a long time, whereas the ratio for women has increased for a long time. Women have constituted a growing share of the total labor force for more than half a century, and during the present recession, that change has only surged further.
The changes described and depicted here have a variety of demographic, social, and economic causes, and labor economists and others have made great efforts to explain them. Such analysis lies outside the scope of this brief commentary. I hope, however, that the data alone contribute something toward the reader’s appreciation of recent and longer-term changes in U.S. employment.
Around 1830 the argument about American slavery profoundly changed. It went from one where those supporting it defended the institution by saying it was a necessary evil to one where those advocating it claimed it was a positive good. Events such as writings of William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, petitions to Congress calling for its end, the Virginia legislature’s very narrow decision to retain it, and Nat Turner’s rebellion made it impossible to continue sustaining the latter viewpoint. The necessary part was always unconvincing because the food and textiles produced by slaves were always going to be made but the real question was who would get the benefit from them. Articles in periodicals such as The Southern Planter, The Southern Agriculturist, and The Tennessee Farmer, compiled in a book by historian James O. Breeden Advice Among Masters: The Ideal in Slave Management In the Old South, clearly answer the inquiry, no matter what the topic communal eating, type of clothing, work off the plantation, recreation allowed, medical care, or any other one you could think of there were often disagreements on strategy but the advice was always the same, do whatever is best for the master and his or her bottom line. The notion that the system was good for the slaves because kept them in line and prevented them from harming themselves was rubbish and this is the very same idea that is being made of support of government today. This video clip of John Stossel posted on the Daily Paul does the very same service that Breeden’s book did. When you watch it carefully you quickly realize that all of the people here, and pretty much everywhere else. defending government are doing so out of their own self-interest. It is not being done to protect us or provide us with opportunity it is being done for them. When we think about government we need to remember that behind every rule, regulation, executive order, law, or tax lays the implied threat of violence. They need so much violence, just like the slave master needed force, because most of time they are either coercing an individual to do something he or she does not want to do because it is against their self-interest benefiting someone else or they are stopping a person from doing what he or she wants therefore committing the immoral act of denying them knowledge. We must also think about the fact that government turns every decision whether it is about economics, diet, health care, education, personal finance, safety, war, or any other matter into a political a political question and political answers are inherently flawed not about what is but rather about what is most popular. Ron Paul is the only candidate who understands these basic truths
Obama, like his predecessor, systematically lies to the American people about the war. But don’t expect the Republican nominee (unless it’s Ron Paul) to expose the deceit.
Four days ago was the 70th anniversary of President Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the internment in "War Relocation Camps" (aka concentration camps) of some 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast.
Two years later the U.S. Supreme Court, in Korematsu v. United States, upheld the order, 6-3. In the majority were the noted civil libertarians and FDR appointees Hugo Black, who wrote the opinion, William O. Douglas, and Felix Frankfurter. The other three were also appointed by Roosevelt. Dissenting were Owen J. Roberts (Hoover appointee), Robert Jackson (FDR appointee), and Frank Murphy (FDR appointee).
Any resemblance to the National Defense Authorization Act’s provision for indefinite detention without due process, signed recently by President Obama, is strictly ominous.
HT: Sandy Ikeda
Amy H. Sturgis
The Libertarian Futurist Society has chosen four finalists for this year's Hall of Fame Award. The Award will be presented at the 70th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in Chicago over Labor Day weekend. The nominees are as follows: Falling Free, a novel by Lois McMaster Bujold, first published in 1988. An exploration of the legal and ethical implications of human genetic engineering. "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," by Harlan Ellison, first published in 1965. A satirical dystopia set in an authoritarian society dedicated to punctuality, where a lone absurdist rebel attempts to disrupt everyone else's schedules. "The Machine Stops,” by E.M. Forster, first published in 1909. Described by the author as a reaction to H.G. Wells's fiction, it portrays a decaying future of human beings incapable of independent existence or first-hand contact. "As Easy as A.B.C.," a short story by Rudyard Kipling, first published in 1912. An ambiguously utopian future that has reacted against the mass society that was beginning to emerge when it was written, in favor of privacy and freedom of movement. The winner will be chosen by ranked choices voting by the members of the Libertarian Futurist Society. First awarded in 1983 to Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, the Hall of Fame Award honors classic works of science fiction and fantasy that celebrate freedom, show paths to its enhancement, or warn against abuses of political power. Since 2000, it has been open to short stories, films, television episodes or series, graphic novels, musical works, and other narrative and dramatic forms.
It will be little comfort to the advocates of state-mandated “free” contraception that Ayn Rand, who would have abhorred Obamacare and all its mandates, was as staunch an advocate of birth control and women’s right to abortion as one can imagine. Writing about the anti-contraception papal encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” Rand wrote in “Of Living Death” (1968):
Try to hold an image of horror spread across space and time—across the entire globe and through all the centuries—the image of parents chained, like beasts of burden, to the physical needs of a growing brood of children—young parents aging prematurely while fighting a losing battle against starvation—the skeletal hordes of unwanted children born without a chance to live—the unwed mothers slaughtered in the unsanitary dens of incompetent abortionists—the silent terror hanging, for every couple, over every moment of love. If one holds this image while hearing that this nightmare is not to be stopped, the first question one will ask is: Why? . . .
The passive obedience and helpless surrender to the physical functions of one’s body, the necessity to let procreation be the inevitable result of the sexual act, is the natural fate of animals, not of men. In spite of its concern with man’s higher aspirations, with his soul, and with the sanctity of married love—it is to the level of animals that the encyclical seeks to reduce man’s sex life, in fact, in reality, on earth.
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
“The Upside of Government Default,” where I discuss the state defaults of the 1840s.
That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness; and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind.
As I have noted previously, the Fed’s policy of acting to hold interest rates well below free-market rates in recent years has had the effect of greatly diminishing the earnings of people who rely on interest income. Such people include especially many retirees who do not wish to hold risky assets with substantial variability of earnings. In the past, many retired people have held the bulk of their wealth in the form of bank certificates of deposit, bonds, and bond-heavy mutual funds, hoping that their incomes would be secure and predictable when they were no longer working. The Fed’s actions in recent years have taken a heavy toll on such people’s earnings.
Rachel Maddow is using her nightly MSNBC show to agitate for a ticker-tape parade in New York City to honor the Iraq veterans and celebrate the end of the war in that country.
What could be more ridiculous? Has she forgotten that the invasion, war, and occupation – which laid waste to Iraq, killed over a million people, unleashed sectarian violence/cleansing, and created four million refugees – was against a country that had never threatened Americans and was based on bald-faced lies about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s connection to al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks?
What’s to celebrate? Victory? There is nothing that could be described as victory. The invasion and aggressive war guaranteed certain disgrace for the United States. But even in conventional terms, there was no victory. An authoritarian and corrupt government was left in charge -- a government that is close to Iran, which is demagogically portrayed as America’s (and Israel’s) mortal enemy. (I have no problem with the Iraq’s affinity for Iran, but America’s ruling elite can’t be thrilled about it.) The refugees have not returned to their homes. Half of them left the country. The place is a shambles.
Again, what’s to celebrate?
It will be said that, politics aside, the troops made sacrifices that should be honored. Nonsense. First, they made no sacrifices for “the country.” The country didn’t “call.” They might have thought that it did, but in fact their sacrifices were for opportunistic politicians and the military-industrial complex, who’ve all done quite well, thank you very much. The troops weren’t protecting “our freedom.” On the contrary, the U.S. government’s brutal treatment of Arabs and Muslims endangers Americans by provoking a desire for revenge. That’s why 9/11 happened in the first place.
So the vets weren’t serving the country. They were serving the imperial government, which seeks global hegemony for political and economic reasons. At best, the military personnel were fooled. At worst, they just enjoyed kicking Arab ass.
But shouldn’t they be honored anyway? it will be asked.
The last word was provided by Paddy Chayefsky in his great antiwar movie, The Americanization of Emily:
“We perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices.
Roderick T. Long
It’s been announced (timed to coincide with Rand’s birthday) that part 2 of the Atlas film trilogy is going ahead.
I wish I could be excited about this. But I found part 1 so lackluster that I haven’t even bought the dvd yet, despite having spent decades fantasising about an Atlas film. (I’ve probably missed my chance to get the now-recalled dvd box with the blurb praising “Ayn Rand’s timeless novel of courage and self-sacrifice.”) Rand is such an intensely cinematic writer, and the film over and over turns away from her cinematic choices (even in cases where constraints of time and budget would have permitted following them) in favour of something less interesting.
Still and all, I’m mildly pleased that the project will continue. I guess I prefer a completed mediocre Atlas adaptation to an uncompleted mediocre Atlas adaptation.
[The International Atomic Energy Agency has] inspectors in all the sites where Iran is producing enriched uranium. These inspectors, who make frequent surprise visits, keep cameras in place to watch every move, and they carefully measure Iran’s input of feed stock to the centrifuges and the output of low enriched uranium, which is then placed under seal.
Roderick T. Long
The politerati are all aflutter because GOP party hack Reince Priebus compared our President Incarnate to Francesco Schettino, the cruise ship captain who’s been charged with manslaughter in connection with the recent shipwreck off the coast of Italy.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Priebus’s counterhack on the Democratic side, called it an “unbelievable comparison,” opining that “for the RNC chairman to compare the president of the United States to someone who has been charged with manslaughter shows a dramatic level of insensitivity to the families of those victims.”
I agree. After all, Obama is guilty of actual mass murder against the civilian population of Pakistan. To compare him to someone charged with the lesser offense of manslaughter is dramatically insensitive to the families of Obama’s victims.
Glenn Greenwald has heroically exposed the latest trivialization of the charge of anti-Semitism. (His other posts are here and here.) These days one is likely to be hit with that ugly charge – or the perhaps uglier one of being a “self-hating Jew” – merely for doubting that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon or is an “existential threat” to Israel. (Guilty!)
Needless to say, if the epithet “anti-Semite” is going to be used in such a patently ridiculous way, it will have little force when applied to the real thing. Why are the “Israel-firsters” so short-sighted?
That term – “Israel-firster” – has drawn a good deal of attention from those who lightly throw around the anti-Semitism charge in order to silence criticism of Israel and the Israel lobby, but it’s not at the heart of the issue. (An Israel-firster is not someone who says, “Israel right or wrong” but rather one who says, “Israel can’t be wrong.”) Criticism itself of Israel and the lobby is the real target. The campaign to silence the critics would have been no less intense had that term never been used – and in fact writers who have never called anyone an Israel-firster are nonetheless accused of anti-Semitism (or of dangerously skirting it).
Yet it’s hard to see what’s objectionable about the label “Israel-firster” when, as Greenwald points out, some of the most prominent American backers of Israel essentially call themselves the same thing. Greenwald writes:
Let’s start with Haim Saban, the Hollywood mogul who, among other things, lavishly funds the Democratic Party, as well as the center at the Brookings Institution bearing his name where pro-Iraq-War and Iran-adversary Kenneth Pollack is a “senior fellow”; this is what Saban told The New York Times (which described him as “the most politically connected mogul in Hollywood, throwing his weight and money around Washington and, increasingly, the world, trying to influence all things Israeli”):
I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.
Then there’s Sheldon Adelson, Newt Gingrich’s financier. Amazingly, you can read and hear reports about Adelson and his Las Vegas casino megafortune that never mention Israel or that he publishes a pro-Likud newspaper there. Yet NBC quoted Adelson saying:
All we care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart.
Gingrich, by the way, took a more moderate line on the Palestinians (whom he now says were only recently “invented”) before he met Adelson. If there’s one thing worse than a demagogue, it’s a demagogue for sale.
If Saban and Adelson are willing to say such things openly – which is their perfect right to do – what is the problem with criticizing them or using the term “Israel-firster”?
Clearly, the point is to intimidate the critics of Israel and the Israel lobby, which – let us not forget – are working overtime to provoke a war against Iran.
Update: This is the first time I’ve used the term “Israel-firster.” My reason for not using it is the same as Corey Robin’s, namely, “not because it questions the patriotism of American Jews but because it partakes of the vocabulary of patriotism in the first place, a vocabulary I find suspect and noxious from beginning to end.”