Go to links

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Perpetual War Is The Health Of The Perpetually Growing State

Jacob Hornberger blogs about the War On Terrorism today (May 31, 2006) at http://www.fff.org/blog/jghindex.asp:

The beauty of the “war on terrorism,” from the standpoint of the big-government crowd, is that it will never come to an end because there are always going to be terrorists somewhere to bring in, dead or alive. Voila! Perpetually growing, everlasting federal budgets!

And the other beautiful part of the “war on terrorism” is that many Americans believe that terrorism is a mysterious disease that suddenly and unexpectedly strikes a nation, sort of like inflation, and that it can’t possibly have anything to do with the U.S. government’s foreign policy of invasions, wars of aggression, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, assassinations, coups, foreign aid, and support of dictatorships, or the killing of innocent families, including women and children, such as the killings that recently took place in Haditha, Iraq.


Talk about self-inflicted wounds!

Nota Bene: The title of this post is a takeoff on Randolph Bourne's famous saying, "War Is The Health Of The State", discussed by Wendy McElroy at http://www.wendymcelroy.com/articles/warfreem.html.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Government Exists To Secure Our Rights?

Many if not most libertarians would say that the sole purpose of government is to secure individual liberty.

Jim Davies, writing at Strike The Root (http://www.strike-the-root.com/61/davies/davies6.html), sees a fundamental contradiction:

We know what "liberty" is: It's the ability for everybody to own and operate his or her own life without constraint. We also know what government is: an organization in the business of governing; that is, of imposing control over people, operating their lives for them in some degree large or small. The two are therefore absolutely and permanently opposed to one another; the more government, the less liberty, as surely as a see-saw. To set government to secure liberty is to set a fox to guard the henhouse.

Anarcho-capitalism, anyone?

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Rule Of Law?

Lew Rockwell writes today (http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/states-on-trial.html) about the trial of Saddam. In one section of his article, he points out that the laws that apply to you and me do not apply to states:

The essence of government is the right to obey a different set of laws from that which prevails in the rest of society. What we call the rule of law is really the rule of two laws: one for the state and one for everyone else.

Theft is illegal but taxation is not. Kidnapping is illegal but stop-loss orders are not. Counterfeiting is illegal but inflating the money supply is not. Lying about its budget is all in a day's work for the government, but the business that does that is shut down.

So this raises many questions. Under what law should the heads of governments be tried? If they are tried according to every-day moral law, they would all be in big trouble. Did you plot to steal the property of millions of people in the name of "taxing" them? Oh sure! Did you send people to kill and be killed in an aggressive war? Thousands! Did you mislead people about your spending? Every day! Did you water down the value of the money stock by electronically printing new money that you passed out to your friends? Hey, it's called central banking!

Judged by this standard, all states are guilty. And all heads of state are guilty of criminal wrongdoing if we are using a normal, every-day kind of moral standard to judge them. Thus are they all vulnerable.

To be clear, I'm not talking about states in our age, or just particular gangster states. I'm speaking of all states in all times, since by definition the state is permitted to engage in activities that if pursued privately would be considered egregious and intolerable.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

How To Turn The U. S. Into Just Another Banana Republic

There's a move afoot in some countries in Latin America to steal ("nationalize") the private property of companies that explore for, and produce, oil and natural gas. For example, Venezuela and Bolivia.

Jacob Hornberger comments on this situation today (May 25, 2006) at http://www.fff.org/blog/jghindex.asp.

Excerpt:

U.S. officials love to look down their noses at these Latin American attacks, especially under the standard conservative rubric of “free enterprise, private property, limited government, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

Yet, the fact is that the mindset of U.S. officials is no different in principle from their socialist counterparts in Latin America, including Venezuela’s Hugh Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.

After all, what are U.S. officials trying to do to American oil companies? Amidst cries of “price-gouging” and “excess profits,” they are trying to seize the oil companies’ money with some kind of tax to be sent to Washington.
.
.
.
Thus, what U.S. officials do to American oil companies is no different in principle from what their Latin American socialist counterparts do to foreign oil companies. The Latin Americans are simply more consistent — they steal all the oil companies’ property with nationalization. U.S. officials steal just a part of it with price controls and excess profits taxes.


If it is right for government to control the prices of oil, natural gas, gasoline, etc., why is it not right for government to control the prices of, say, houses? If it is right for government to apply an "excess profits tax" on the profits of oil companies, why is it not right for the government to apply an "excess profits tax" on the profits of home sellers?

A person's home belongs to that person, not the government. It is that person's natural right to sell his home at the price set in the market by supply and demand. It would be a violation of that person's property rights for the U. S. government to impose price controls and excess profits taxes.

The oil belongs to the oil companies. It is their natural right to sell it at the price set in the market by supply and demand. Just as it is a violation of the companies' property rights for Venezuela, Bolivia, etc. to "nationalize"--steal--the companies' oil and gas, it is a violation of the companies' property rights for the U. S. government to impose price controls and excess profits taxes.

What part of "free people, free markets, free trade, and peace" do governments not understand?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Do You Feel Like A Guinea Pig?

Chris Leithner has posted his latest Leithner Letter (Issue 77) at http://www.leithner.com.au/newsletter/ . The subject of the letter is "humanitarian" government interventionism, which Chris equates to inhumane meddling.

Excerpt:

Finally, realise that “humanitarian interventionism” fails just as abysmally at home as it does abroad. Acknowledge, therefore, that although you may not be interested in politics, politicians are intensely interested in you – and, more specifically, in controlling you and your family, property and life. So look through pollies’ warm and fuzzy rhetoric. Recognise that they do not know what they are doing, and that their policies are, in effect, vast experiments upon unsuspecting guinea pigs.

How often do you feel like a guinea pig?

One More Time: Democracy Is Evil!

Over at The Ambiguous Wink (http://awink.uni.cc/), the proprietor, aanimo, has kindly linked to my recent post, "It's The Power, Stupid!" (http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/05/its-power-stupid.html).

aanimo's comments and link are at http://awink.uni.cc/blog/uncategorized/power/, where I've posted a comment on the differences between a democracy and a constitutionally limited republic.

Anyone who believes strongly in democracy owes it to himself to listen to the other point of view. I have recommended Chris Leithner's "Down With Democracy" (http://www.leithner.com.au/newsletter/issue75.htm previously on this blog (see http://livefreeormove.blogspot.com/2006/03/
highly-recommended-leithner-letter.html
) and I am happy to recommend it again.

Excerpt:

As Hans-Hermann Hoppe demonstrates in "Democracy, the God That Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy and the Natural Order" (Transaction Books, 2002), democracy is incompatible with private property – and hence with liberty and civilisation. To ponder these two books is to realise that the proponents of democracy are either misguided or malevolent. Either way, investors beware: democracy is evil.

(Hans-Hermann Hoppe discusses his book, "Democracy, the God That Failed", at http://www.lewrockwell.com/hoppe/hoppe4.html. Links to even more Hoppe articles are at http://www.lewrockwell.com/hoppe/hoppe-arch.html.)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Separating School And State

Jacob Hornberger has another excellent argument for separating school and state at http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0601aa.asp.

Here's an excerpt:

Why has public schooling been riddled with so many problems? The answer is that public schooling is an absolutely perfect model of socialism and central planning. The entire system is based on the same top-down, command-and-control system on which the military is based, with political and bureaucratic committees planning the educational decisions of multitudes of children under their jurisdiction. Participation is mandated, with criminal penalties imposed on recalcitrant parents. Funding is also based on coercion, with taxes taking from everyone — even those who don’t have children — to fund the schooling of those who are sent into the system.

Nearly everyone knows that socialism produces shoddy products and services. So why should anyone be surprised that public schooling does so as well?


Calls to reform the government schools are perennial, as are the calls to reform the healthcare "system", the war on drugs, the war on poverty, Social Security, Medicare, and so forth. What do all of these things--all of which are in need of constant reform--have in common? You guessed it! They're all programs run by the government.

Let's separate school and state. And when we're finished with that, let's separate society and state.

###


We can best help children, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying serious attention to what they do, answering their questions -- if they have any -- and helping them explore the things they are most interested in.

— John Holt, Learning All the Time [1989]


(Quoted at http://www.fff.org/whatsNew/2006-05-19.htm.)

Power To The Politicians?

Ted Rall writes (http://www.uexpress.com/tedrall/?uc_full_date=20060516),

As USA Today reported on May 11, the NSA purchased the complete "call-detail histories" for every customer of the biggest three phone companies: AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon. "It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," USA Today quotes a source. Your government, paying your tax dollars to companies you already paid to place calls you presumed to be private, is trying "to create a database of every call ever made."

Rall asks why our government would want to do such a thing:

Then why--why really--are government spooks sorting through our phone records? Because information is power. Calling logs, coupled with analogous databases of e-mail, wire transfer and fax transmissions, could give the FBI the information it needs to pressure a reluctant witness to turn state's evidence in a crucial case. The SEC could scan for calling clusters between corporate officials and investors in its investigations of insider trading. Politicians could neutralize their rivals by threatening to reveal their personal indiscretions.

If the NSA were truly interested in monitoring and capturing Islamist terrorists, it wouldn't give a damn about your call ordering a large pizza, half pepperoni/half onions. It would buy records from outfits like the satellite telephone company Thuraya, the dominant telecommunications provider in the remote regions of Middle East, Central and South Asia where America's enemies live. Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban, uses a Thuraya.


Where does the Constitution give the federal government the power to do such a thing? Has anyone seen the Fourth Amendment recently? Has it gone AWOL? (On this point, see Laurence Tribe at http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/
articles/2006/05/16/bush_stomps_on_fourth_amendment/
.)

It's The Power, Stupid!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bill Bonner On Democracy

Bill Bonner posted this interesting insight at http://www.lewrockwell.com/bonner/bonner244.html yesterday:

Anyone who really believes in democracy should have to listen to talk radio; a few minutes of listening to callers bellyache would cure them. These were people who shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near a telephone, let alone a voting booth.

Just one more reason to limit the power of the government! :-) :-)

Friday, May 19, 2006

It's The Power, Stupid!

When Clinton was President, Republicans were convinced that things would improve markedly as soon as one of their own replaced him in the White House. Now that Bush has been in office for 5-plus years, Democrats are convinced that the solution to the nation's problems is to replace Bush.

But--to steal the phraseology of James ("the ragin' Cajun") Carville--it's the power, stupid! By this I mean that if the powers of the Presidency were limited in actuality to those enumerated in the Constitution, it would not matter much who's in the Oval Office.

Joseph Sobran makes the point eloquently at http://www.sobran.com/columns/2006/060504.shtml:

Last week Jean-François Revel, an eloquent champion of democracy, died in France at 82. In his book The Totalitarian Temptation he made the arresting observation that whereas other systems were judged by their records, Communism was judged by its promises — no matter how often they had been brutally broken. Revel aimed his barb at Europe’s leftist intelligentsia.

But doesn’t the aphorism really apply to government in general? No matter how much harm it does, men continue to believe in its promises. Individuals are blamed for its failures, as Bush is being blamed now, but most of us persist in thinking that this is a mere personnel problem, not a problem intrinsic to the very nature of government. The wrong men are in power. We can see that power is handed over to the “right” men in the next election!

Somehow, though, the “right” men never seem to turn up. After a short time, we find that those in whom we placed our hopes were just a new set of wrong men. Bill Clinton was the wrong man for the presidency. George W. Bush would restore morality, honor, resolve, and other fine things to the White House. Now look!

As long as there is government, the wrong men will rule. This is not a prediction. It’s an axiom.


Bush has done some horrible things, but so did Clinton. Clinton imposed sanctions on Iraq that led to the deaths of as many as 500,000 Iraqis. In what way is that better than Bush's War on Iraq? Where does the Constitution give the President the power to impose economic sanctions on another country? Where does the Constitution give the President the power to wage a war that has not been declared by Congress?

As the wags have it, the important question is "which rules", not "who rules".

And Hayek once said that it is the worst that rise to the top. ("How the Worst Get on Top," was the title of a chapter in Hayek’s classic, "The Road to Serfdom".)

It's the power, stupid.