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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.

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