In the "Shameless Self-Promotion" category, please allow me to suggest you listen to a brief interview of yours truly by Face The State, during which I primarily speak on the issue of blogging.
My part begins just before the 8 minute mark...
My good friend The Freak, who is a licensed attorney (because he felt like becoming one even though his job isn't actually in the field of law), responded to some questions by guest-blogger (or guest-questioner) Chris Jenkins. The response arrived as a comment but it's worthy of its own post.
Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.
I am not a libertarian, at least not nearly as much of a libertarian as Ross is. Consequently I cannot pretend to speak for libertarians and their view of Bush v. Gore. On the other hand, I am an attorney and a legal historian (although my academic focus is medieval common law). I also have an unswerving belief in the need for clarity, predictability, and consistency in the rule of law. That having been said, let me offer you my opinion.
I concur in part and dissent in part.
I concur with the court's (7-2) finding that Florida's proposed recount method violates equal protection. There is no question but that states are free, in accord with constitutional provisions, to determine the manner in which their electors for the presidency are chosen; in fact, I don't personally like the notion of popular vote where the federal presidency is concerned. Nevertheless, once they make that decision it is pretty clear that they must select a voting process which complies with federal constitutional notions of equal protection (again, we can debate whether equal protection is a good idea or not, but it does exist).
Federal law (constitutional and statutory) as well as the jurisprudence is very clear that equal protection implies consistent treatment of voting. The courts consistently rejected any voting scheme that treated votes differently and at different times within an election. This occurred under both "liberal" as well as "conservative" courts, as pointed out in the majority opinion (citing Gray v. Sanders and progeny).
The evidence, which was not contested, revealed widespread subjective treatment of votes in Florida. This quote from the decision summarizes well the mess that the recounts had become:
testimony at trial also revealed that at least one county changed its evaluative standards during the counting process. Palm Beach County, for example, began the process with a 1990 guideline which precluded counting completely attached chads, switched to a rule that considered a vote to be legal if any light could be seen through a chad, changed back to the 1990 rule, and then abandoned any pretense of a per se rule, only to have a court order that the county consider dimpled chads legal. This is not a process with sufficient guarantees of equal treatment.
I agree. Voting standards have to be objective and the very notion of a subjective "intent of the voter" standard is offensive to the rule of law and the dignity of citizenship. As a result, I concur withe the court's finding on this issue.
On the other hand, I disagree with the court's conclusion (5-4) that time had expired and the results had to be certified immediately. There was plenty of time to certify the results to meet federal requirements and it should have been left up to Florida and the Florida supreme court to determine whether the time had expired or not. I would have remanded the case to the Florida supreme court for further adjudication (possibly development of new recount rules) in accord with the equal protection findings above.
As far as the eminent domain cases you cite, I am familiar with neither.
I will give you my perspective: eminent domain is a vestigial act of violence against property that we inherited from the medieval feudal paradigm, and it has no place in modern society. It is an offense against natural law and I wish the framers had done away with it altogether. That having been said, it is tolerated in this country with the restriction that it must be for public use and compensation must be provided.
So what is public use?
It is interesting to note, and Thomas' dissent in Kelo points this out, that eminent domain law has always been distinguished from nuisance law. The former entails a taking and therefore is more tightly regulated, whereas some light recourse might be given from nuisance. The US Constitution is silent on the matter of nuisance, which is left up to the states to regulate in accord with established jurisprudence (which does not include the possibility of taking). Therefore, what you refer to as "blighted areas" owned by "slumlords" might be rightly classified (and adjudicated) under nuisance theories. This limits the remedy, but such limits are just in that they respect the fundamental right to property and they are inherent in the fifth amendment's narrow wording. Additional color is provided on the matter of eminent domain and public use by Justice Thomas, who's much smarter than I am and whom I feel comfortable quoting:
The most natural reading of the Clause is that it allows the government to take property only if the government owns, or the public has a legal right to use, the property, as opposed to taking it for any public purpose or necessity whatsoever. At the time of the founding, dictionaries primarily defined the noun “use” as “[t]he act of employing any thing to any purpose.” 2 S. Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language 2194 (4th ed. 1773) (hereinafter Johnson). The term “use,” moreover, “is from the Latin utor, which means ‘to use, make use of, avail one’s self of, employ, apply, enjoy, etc.” J. Lewis, Law of Eminent Domain §165, p. 224, n. 4 (1888) (hereinafter Lewis). When the government takes property and gives it to a private individual, and the public has no right to use the property, it strains language to say that the public is “employing” the property, regardless of the incidental benefits that might accrue to the public from the private use. The term “public use,” then, means that either the government or its citizens as a whole must actually “employ” the taken property. See id., at 223 (reviewing founding-era dictionaries).
Tellingly, the phrase “public use” contrasts with the very different phrase “general Welfare” used elsewhere in the Constitution. See ibid. [omissis] The Framers would have used some such broader term if they had meant the Public Use Clause to have a similarly sweeping scope. Other founding-era documents made the contrast between these two usages still more explicit. [omissis] The Constitution’s text, in short, suggests that the Takings Clause authorizes the taking of property only if the public has a right to employ it, not if the public realizes any conceivable benefit from the taking.
I will leave you with a few thoughts that, I hope, will suggest more dialog and, perhaps, even change your mind (for that, in the end, is the purpose of political dialog).
The Union was not established to become an all encompassing government. It was established, on the one hand, so that certain functions that are more easily regulated on a large scale could benefit from the larger size and, on the other hand, so that certain fundamental rights and obligations could be protected by an independent framework from the scourge of factionalism (see e.g. Federalist n. 10). The federalist (remember that this term, historically, refers to those who would give the federal government more, not less, power) founding fathers argued that the risk to the states' independence would be controlled. The power of the union was very narrowly defined. Madison writes:
The powers delegated by the proposed constitution to the Federal Government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negociation [sic] and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. (Federalist n. 45).
My, how far from the founders' vision we have come. How did this happen?
I believe there are three fundamental shifts that occurred in our nation's history that led to the current mess; one of them may be licit, the other two are illicit and, in my opinion, these last two must be reversed.
The first is the passage of the XIV amendment, in particular section 1 of the same amendment.
Leaving aside the legitimacy of the XIV amendment (it was ratified by several states following military occupation by other states) section 1 of the amendment has several components. The citizenship clause is reasonable and provides a uniform standard of citizenship that is a federal issue and fully within the normal remit of the union to regulate. The clause subjecting life, liberty, and property to the due process of law is fine. The problem comes with the sentence "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." This sentence led to the inclusion doctrine which means that any right the citizens may claim against the federal government may also be claimed against the individual states. We can go at length discussing why this was bad, but I will leave it for now, since this is most probably a fair, but unintended and bad, consequence of the amendment.
The next really bad moment in the history of our country was an offense perpetrated by that most villainous president, FDR. When his worthless "New Deal" legislation kept failing constitutional muster (as it should have), the congress and the president decided that they'd do away with proper judicial review and drafted the court-packing bill. A switch in time may have, indeed, saved nine. But the cost was a series of judicial decisions which undermined the federal balance of power. I'm troubled FDR is on my dimes.
The final nail in the coffin was the commerce clause interpretation (or, I should say, non interpretation) brought on to pass civil rights legislation. In the Heart of Atlanta Motel and Ollie's Barbeque cases the court decided not to decide. In other words, they said that if congress thought something had an impact on interstate commerce sufficient to regulate at the federal level, then they would not review that determination (this led to the phrase "dormant commerce clause"). In other words, congress was given carte blanche to enact any legislation it wanted under a claim of power flowing from their power to regulate interstate commerce -- the court would not (and has not) review whether the claim is legitimate or not.
This is absurd.
A fundamental tenet of any political system is that no judge (or group of judges) can stand in judgment in his own case(s). This is the threat to political balance that Madison warned about in Federalist n. 10. By giving congress a ruling that established the dormant commerce clause, the Supreme Court made congress a judge of its own cases; congress gets to decide the limit of its power. This, unsurprisingly, led to an unprecedented expansion of federal power in areas which are well outside the limits imposed by art. 3 of the constitution. When an independent judiciary abdicates its supervisory role, abuse is inevitable.
Is this the type of country, the type of rule of law, you support? Or is it time to replace the tired ideology of Bader Ginsburg and her ilk with law abiding judges and make congress fight for expansion of its power the old fashioned way -- through constitutional amendment at the tail end of vigorous political debate?
The Telegraph [London]
December 10, 2008
What capitalists need to understand
By Alex Epstein
Iain Martin’s observation - “A culture war has been launched against free markets and so far the hostilities have been astonishingly one-sided” - unfortunately applies just as much to America as to Britain. Our capitalists, from think-tank intellectuals to businessmen, are unforgivably timid in the face of an anti-capitalist onslaught of bailouts, handouts, deficit spending, and central planning. Why?
Because most accept the central argument behind the onslaught: that today’s crisis is the result of overly free markets, that laissez-faire philosophy and economics have been discredited, and that the mess they left can only be cleaned up by government intervention.
In fact, today’s crisis illustrates the evils of government intervention in the economy and vindicates supporters of laissez-faire capitalism. The traditional, laissez-faire view of government, held by thinkers such as philosopher Ayn Rand and economist Ludwig Von Mises, was that the sole purpose of government was to protect individuals rights against force and fraud.
This purpose necessitates, in Rand’s words, “the abolition of any and all forms of government intervention in production and trade.” Laissez-faire thinkers explained how any and all of the supposedly moderate, progressive government interventions in the economy, from the money-printing Federal Reserve to government insurance of failing banks, were morally unjust and economically disastrous.
But genuine capitalism was abandoned long ago in favor of a mixed economy - an unstable combination of economic freedom and economic coercion by government. Today’s crisis, like the 1970s stagflation before it and the Great Depression before it, took place under, and is growing under, a mixed economy - not a free market.
It is the result of the Government systematically manipulating the market to promote “stability” and “home ownership” - by a massive increase in the Government-controlled money supply, a massive decrease in government-controlled interest rates, an artificial increase in lending by multitrillion-dollar Government agencies, an enormous leveraging sanctioned by government reserve requirements, a “too big to fail” policy, the use of mortgage-bubble-backed securities in every area of the economy endorsed by government approved rating agencies, and years of top economic officials denying there was a housing bubble and promising to keep the good times rolling.
Today’s events are not unexpected consequences of laissez-faire that Rand, Mises, and others failed to anticipate-they are expected consequences of the mixed economy that they explained decades ago.
Not only were they against all the institutions that made the crisis possible, but their writings about such institutions predict the exact sort of disastrous results we are seeing today. Read Ludwig Von Mises’s Theory of Money and Credit, published nearly a century ago, and understand the essential mechanics of government-created asset bubbles like the housing bubble or the dot-com bubble.
Read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal, and understand the true nature of a mixed economy, chock-full of the public-private “collaboration” we are witnessing today:
A mixed economy is a mixture of freedom and controls-with no principles, rules, or theories to define either. Since the introduction of controls necessitates and leads to further controls, it is an unstable, explosive mixture...
A mixed economy has no principles to define its policies, its goals, its laws-no principles to limit the power of its government. The only principle of a mixed economy-which, necessarily, has to remain unnamed and unacknowledged - is that no one’s interests are safe, everyone’s interests are on a public auction block, and anything goes for anyone
who can get away with it. Such a system-or, more precisely, anti-system-breaks up a country into an ever-growing number of enemy camps, into economic groups fighting one another for self preservation in an indeterminate mixture of defense and offense. For anyone watching the ongoing man-eat-man competition for government money, the Big Three proceedings, the calls by homeowners for forced mortgage reductions, this should seem
To anyone who is unhappy with the direction the economy is going, take note: the free market philosophy has not failed-the unfree market philosophy has failed. Do your homework, speak up, and put the interventionists on the defensive.
To all my non-Jewish friends (or friends with non-Jewish spouses), I wish you a Merry Christmas. (I would like to point out that Jews and atheists are allowed to say "Merry Christmas.")
I'll be spending the day with Kristen's extended family in Brisbane, Australia...a white Christmas only insofar as the skin color of everyone in the room will be.
I can't complain...it's been record cold at my house while I've been away, including something like 20 below zero just two days after I left.
Picked a good time to be away.
Again, wishing you all a great holiday.
I'm traveling today, so please allow me to offer you this excellent article from the Las Vegas Journal Review discussing how "climate change" alarmists want to destroy our economy to fight a problem which only a kool-aid drinking cult member could claim exists:
As I sit here on Matangi Island in the northern region of Fiji, the island next to me is apparently being developed into the world's second "seven star resort" by the people who founded Red Bull energy drink. I'm told the following:
They bought the island from the Forbes family for something in the area of $12 million, and then took down every existing structure on the island.
They have so far built 24-26 rooms, each with its own swimming pool, and a 200-meter main swimming pool.
They're putting in an 18-hole golf course, but the sand flies are a problem so they don't know how people will be able to stay on the course after mid-afternoon.
They're putting in an air strip so they can fly their private plane(s) directly to the island.
They've spent close to $250 million so far...
Someone said they thought rooms will start at about $3,800 per night, and there is a hill-top large villa which will start at around $30,000 per night.
Anyway, it's yet another example of someone making huge profits from an idea that seems so simple it should have been thought of decades earlier. But it wasn't. People, including me, tend to think about what's possible based on a range of things we already know to exist. We think "inside the box" most of the time.
I think it's fantastic that someone can sell an outrageously overpriced (by my standards) can of caffeinated soda to so many people, so many times, that they can earn tens of millions of dollars (or more) in profits. Good for them. Unlike liberals who get angry (to cover their jealousy, most likely), my reaction is respect and motivation.
I didn't come to Fiji to think about business, but a capitalist who hears a story like that can't help but have the profit-seeking gears turn a little, even on a sunny island paradise.
A man is walking into the hospital where his wife had been admitted the day before. She was being treated for high blood pressure and a slightly irregular heart rhythm. As the man arrives, he sees the doctor who had been treating his wife being led out of the hospital by security, with the doctor muttering "it was just once...it was just once.."
The man gets to his wife's hospital room to find a team of doctors and nurses around her. She is unconscious and attached to a heart-lung machine...obviously in far worse shape than how she arrived.
The senior doctor in the room sees the man and takes him aside to explain what's happened:
Man: I saw Doctor Bosh leaving the hospital with security, and now this! What the hell is going on?
Doctor: Sir, there's no easy way to explain it, but Doctor Bosh somehow got it in his head that curing you're wife's high blood pressure was the ultimate goal, even surpassing his Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. So he gave your wife a combination of drugs which fixed her blood pressure and heart rhythm, at least temporarily, and which seemed to work perfectly for a brief time, but which then caused your wife to lapse into a coma.
Man: Oh my god! That son-of-a-bitch! What exactly is my wife's current situation and what's going to happen?
Doctor: The good news is that there does not seem to be permanent brain damage, though while in a coma it's always very hard to tell and the longer she's in a coma the more likely it is that something slightly or very significant of a permanent nature has happened. I'm only aware of one prior case like this, and it happened more than 50 years ago. That patient is still alive today, and has done quite well, though not without a few lasting ill effects. The difference is basically only in the combination of drugs that was used on the patient...so in that sense your wife's case is unique. We need to determine what combination of antidote drugs and rehabilitation therapy is most likely to bring your wife back, but I need you to realize that even the best possible recovery will likely leave her not quite the same person as before. And it is possible that she could come out of the coma and have the blood pressure and heart issues return, but at least she'll be conscious and we can deal with those by more rational means.
Man: This is unbelievable, ridiculous, outrageous...there really aren't words to properly describe it! What an utter betrayal by Dr. George Bosh! Even if my wife recovers fully, I'll never forgive him. He has betrayed everything a doctor is supposed to be, and all the trust we placed in him.
Doctor: I know...I know. I'm so sorry, sir. All I can tell you is that we'll do our best to save your wife.
Man: But many of your staff have worked with Dr. Bosh for years, and some even trained the same places he did. How do I know that they won't just make the problem worse?
Doctor: Sir, you'll just have to trust me on that....
There are two possible outcomes to this story:
Outcome 1: The man and his wife are in their home, speaking, and living a nearly normal life. The wife walks with a limp and is unable to compete in the marathons which she used to regularly win. But she's conscious and is nearly her normal self.
Outcome 2: The man is looking at his wife who remains in a coma in a hospital bed. A doctor who had been trained in a sub-par foreign medical school attempted to cure the wife's coma with a second round of the same drugs that had put her in the coma. That doctor has also been fired, but the damage is done. The medical director of the hospital is telling the man that they're still optimistic that the wife will come out of the coma but that she'll almost certainly have substantial damage that will take at least a decade to recover from, and that full recovery is most likely out of the question.
I presume that anyone reading these pages is smart enough to understand my rather obvious allegory: The comatose wife is the US free-market economic system after President George W. Bush decided to bail out automakers with money from the TARP, the financial bailout fund created by Congress some months ago, along with Bush's statement that he had "abandoned free-market principles in order to save the free market." The husband is any business or entrepreneur who relies on our capitalist system and who knows that that system is the only way he can survive, or at least the only way he can reach his lofty goals. The Doctor is the incoming administration, especially its economic team.
Bush's move is economic treason, and it could be argued political treason as well given Bush's oath (which he's violated before) to protect and defend the Constitution. One can not save the free market by temporarily abandoning it. All one can do is cripple it for an unknown time into the future.
What particularly concerns me is that the incoming administration is more likely to continue giving economic long-term poison to the patient and that Outcome 2 is more likely than Outcome 1.
In any case, I have said for a few years that Bush's chief failure was his signing of McCain-Feingold while acknowledging that it is unconstitutional. That is now Bush's second-biggest failure and it pales in comparison with his biggest: His direct attack on our entire economic system along with words that appear to give aid and comfort to enemies of capitalism both here and abroad. There are two major reason that capitalism is so unpopular right now: One is that Democrats and their media stooges have people believing that President Bush's administration was characterized by widespread deregulation, so that a lack of regulation and a surplus of economic liberty is the cause of recent troubles. But that is absolutely untrue, with federal regulation growing at least as fast under Bush as under other recent administrations. And the second reason capitalism is unpopular is that the average citizen, poorly educated about economics, sees President Bush as capitalism's representative. It's like having Benedict Arnold as the representative of the American military during the revolution...most people wouldn't recognize the treasonous nature of the man; some will only have learned it in history books much later, and some will never understand the truth.
I couldn't be more disgusted with President Bush. I couldn't be happier that he's leaving. After this sad turn of events, it's hard to imagine that even our incoming socialist president could be much worse. Well, it's not that hard to imagine, but the lesser of two evils is still evil, and I remain exceptionally proud that I never voted for George W. Bush. Like the doctor who abandons the Hippocratic Oath, Bush abandoned capitalism and the Constitution at the same time. It may not be a hanging offense, but it certainly has earned Bush my everlasting enmity.
I'm taking a couple much-needed and well-deserved days away from serious blogging, while I sit here on Matangi Island in northern Fiji, listening to the waves in the gentle breeze, drinking cold white wine, playing Scrabble with Kristen, and enjoying our first holiday without kids in three years. Yes, we both miss the kids, but not yet enough to wish we were anywhere else.
So, if you want to be a bit jealous, check this out:
We're in a treehouse bure.
Just as a mental health break, I'm going to take a few days off from serious blogging...in part just to see if I can.
I wish you all a great weekend. Please feel free to e-mail to express jealousy.
All the best,
p.s. for those who want to read a little political economy, here's Matt Welch's take on what I've recently said is Bush's ultimate failure. He actually came out and said "abandon free market principles to save the free market." It's like a doctor saying "I've killed the patient, but his high blood pressure is cured." I'm prouder than ever to know (and say) that I never voted for George W. Bush.
In yesterday's note, Chris Jenkins began to tackle individual political issues. Here's my response so far...
First, let's be very clear on the difference between capital-L "Libertarian" and small-l "libertarian", the former meaning a member of the Libertarian Party and the latter meaning an adherent to a libertarian political philosophy. I am the latter, and a registered Republican. As I said in a prior note, I really wanted to vote for a Republican for President this year, but couldn't vote for McCain, so I voted Libertarian for President for the 4th time in a row.
So, it's no surprise, given that I'm libertarian and not Libertarian, that I also have a "few things that cause me concern" with the Party's positions.
Iraq: While there's plenty of time for debate about what we should or shouldn't have done, the Libertarian view of getting out immediately without regard to the consequences is something I can't support. This is a part of a wider war that we simply can't afford to lose. That said, I do agree with the idea of getting away from being the world's policeman, and to stop spending so much money having troops all around the world. For example, we should make Europe spend more of their own money and allocate more of their own citizens to their own defense.
Education: I don't understand how anyone who's actually paying attention could be ambivalent about school choice and vouchers? The teachers' unions are strangling education. I saw a show on PBS the other day on which the principal of what was one of the worst primary schools in Denver say that after she was able to get her school free from control by the local district and the union, her school's performance massively improved. Yes, it's still behind the average school, but far far less than it was. What did she do? She took some of the money that the district and unions force to be wasted and allocated it to merit pay for teachers (as I understand it.)
Competition works. One can't argue, as I heard from the president of the CEA stunningly say, that competition is great, even for higher education, but just not for K-12 education.
There are good public schools, but you and I agree they tend to be in areas of rich white people. Theoretically, those people could just not pay the portion of their property tax that goes to public education and just send their kids to private schools instead and they'd be fine. The public schools are most failing the people who need good public schools, i.e. lower-income people. And look what they cost. Some of the worst schools in the country, like D.C. and Chicago, are some of the most expensive, spending over $10K per student per year, when a far better private education could probably be had for less than half that price.
One of the few things John McCain has right is that education is "the civil rights issue" of our day. It's so frustrating to hear white people in ivory towers or rich white suburbs say that public education is basically fine. Federal control of education, i.e. No Child Left Behind, is a huge step in the wrong direction. We need more local control and less government and union control. And we need to sever the incestuous connection between teachers' unions and the Democratic Party who strengthen each other with money and votes at the expense of our children. The Heartland Institute noted the length to which the teachers' unions will go to prevent competition:
"The National Education Association (NEA) spent at least one dollar from every teacher nationwide to defeat the Utah voucher effort. NEA used a coordinated misinformation campaign and every weapon in its arsenal to ensure its monopoly on public education is protected."
Ending foreign aid: There's a difference between being isolationist and just burning our money. A huge percentage of foreign aid is wasted or stolen, especially in Africa. We need to stop sending our money overseas, at least the vast majority of what we're sending now. I don't see where the US should be "doing something about" Zimbabwe directly. If there were ever a use for the UN, that is it. We should simply stop funding the UN until they start doing what they should be doing and stop spending all their time bashing Israel and the US.
You ask "Do we not have a duty to help other people on this earth who face oppression?" If by "we" you mean the government, the short answer is "no". The long answer is "Absolutely not at the level of our federal government, but I fully support individuals and private organizations doing whatever they can to help attack these problems." There is NO authority in the Constitution for doing what you suggest, and it's critically important that the federal government in particular do only what it's constitutionally authorized to do. If you want to help Zimbabwe, help fund a media campaign within the country, lobby the US or the UN or the African Union, or hire someone to put a bullet in Mugabe's head (or do it yourself.) But leave the US federal government out of it.
And as for the welfare system, I can give a short answer to that, too: I'm against it. The welfare system squeezes out charities which could and would do a better job than the government, and not give so many incentives to people to rely on government rather than on themselves and their families.
Before the welfare state, people took care of people quite well, even when the donors were not in a strong financial situation. Also, you'll note that "blue states" are far less charitable than "red states" on a percentage basis, even though blue states have richer people. It shows that conservatives are more generous, even if some of that giving is to churches, and that where people might have a problem receiving charity is ironically in the caring, liberal jurisdictions.
I do agree with you that government has a higher responsibility to take care of children than adults, but that doesn't mean it takes a village to raise a child.
The idea that it's "not worth the risk" to try to step back from our welfare system is a cop-out. Look at the predictions of catastrophe going into the welfare reform that Clinton reluctantly signed. None of the bad predictions came true and now Clinton claims it as his great achievement.
President Grover Cleveland led the way on this issue when there was a bad harvest due to drought in Texas. According to the WhiteHouse.gov biography of Cleveland, "Vetoing a bill to appropriate $10,000 to distribute seed grain among drought-stricken farmers in Texas, he wrote: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character..."
And what happened to the farmers in Texas? According to a paper by Burton Folsom, Jr., ". The Louisville Courier-Journal and other newspapers urged Americans to help the farmers of east Texas, and in response over $100,000 was raised and sent to the destitute farmers who experienced the drought—a much greater sum than Congress had allocated—and the farmers had the satisfaction of knowing that their relief came from Americans who cared about their health, not politicians who cared about their votes."
In other words, people who weren't even from the same state came to the rescue of Texas farmers. That is the nature of Americans when left to their own devices, and when a decent percentage of their disposable income is left in their own control.
There some more excellent language from Cleveland in this article about the Texas Seed Bill.
And a really excellent collection of Cleveland wisdom, things which all our federal politicians should be forced to read:
Finally, here's a short must-read article about the government and charity by the always-excellent Walter Williams:
see "Charity Is No Function of the Federal Government"
Ending the welfare system is a key part of a libertarian philosophy. I don't need to get there all at once, as the Libertarian Party platform suggests, but we need to start moving in that direction and to start reminding Americans of the successes of those reforms.
The next installment of Chris Jenkins' discussion with me. In this section, Chris begins addressing specific issues. We'll take a few of blog posts to cover them.
Okay, so let's talk about the Libertarian party for a bit. I have always been a sucker for the political affiliation quizzes on the internet and every time I've taken one I always end up in the Libertarian quadrant. I was a registered Independent for 16 years in Oklahoma and now I'm a registered Democrat in Colorado (I wanted to vote in the primaries). After investigating the Libertarian website and reading their issues stances, I have come to some conclusions. For the most part, yes, I am a Libertarian. I agree with many of the issue stances--ending drug prohibition, being the party of personal responsibility, etc. But I did find a few things that caused me concern. I will address them here:
Iraq: First, let me say--Wow, what an issue. It seems so much bigger than me, it's tough to get a hold on where I stand. I do believe that we went in for the wrong reasons. I do believe that the war is being mismanaged and Haliburton is screwing the American taxpayer. I do believe the war was really about securing Iraqi oil. But there is one part of me that is glad that Saddam Hussein is gone. I can't deny that. I will concede that we need to get out, but we need to get out properly. When asked about the surge a year ago, I said that I favored it and even favored something bigger than that. My gosh, if we are going to do something--let's do it right.
Education: The Libertarians have the proverbial "improve education" platform. Hell, who doesn't? Of course, they are for school choice/vouchers, and I am rather ambivalent about that issue. But as a former teacher and principal, I get a little pissed off with all the education bashing. First, let me ask--what is the proposal to "improve" education? All I ever hear is talk about "improvement" but never any specifics. And I would also like to ask--what is so bad? I had a great public school education and now I have a Ph.D. I'm going to have to call bullshit on all this anti-public education rhetoric. Let's face it, when people talk about public schools failing--they are talking about schools with populations on the lower end of the socio-economic scale. There are not very many unhappy parents in Douglas and Boulder county complaining about the public education in those systems.
Ending foreign aid: I'm cool with that...to an extent. As the leader of the free world, I don't think the United States can afford to be isolationist. We have to set an example that we care about human rights. I think the situation in Zimbabwe is intolerable and if the United Nations won't fix it, then I think we should. I know that is very interventionist, but somebody has to do something. And while I'm on the subject--what should we do about Myanmar, North Korea, and Somalia. Do we not have a duty to help other people on this earth who face oppression?
Ending the welfare system: This is without a doubt, the most troubling area of the Libertarian platform. The party states: "We should eliminate the entire social welfare system. This includes eliminating AFDC, food stamps, subsidized housing, and all the rest. Individuals who are unable to fully support themselves and their families through the job market must, once again, learn to rely on supporting family, church, community, or private charity to bridge the gap." I understand the basic premise of this statement, but I still have a BIG problem with it. I absolutely refuse to support any platform that makes children suffer. I will pay whatever taxes need to be paid to insure that no child has to "learn to rely on" another entity "to bridge the gap." The people who make these statements seem to be pretty confident that all these other entities will just step in and step up to make sure everybody is taken care of. My question is--how do you know? How are you so sure? It's not worth the risk. Innocent children must be cared for, and if anything, the government must help. When I talk about children, I'm also referring to pregnant women and single women with children. Yes, we shouldn't be paying welfare subsidies to able-bodied men and women, but I believe that the party really needs to soften its tone on this statement or include some language about children. I watched the Denver Christmas parade last night and was surrounded by a group of foster children. I wanted to adopt every one of them, but luckily the government was taking care of them and I will diligently pay taxes to support that effort.
Again, readers, please feel free to comment...I'll try to make sure Chris responds to you.