The Old-School Liberal

“Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom” — Friedrich Hayek

Archive for the ‘Constitution’ Category

Cato on the Gold Standard

Posted by Poorsummary on February 20, 2008


50267026.jpgLawrence H. White, Professor of Economic History at the University of Missouri-St. Louis debunks several myths about the gold standard and concludes the following:

“A gold standard does not guarantee perfect steadiness in the growth of the money supply, but historical comparison shows that it has provided more moderate and steadier money growth in practice than the present-day alternative, politically empowering a central banking committee to determine growth in the stock of fiat money. From the perspective of limiting money growth appropriately, the gold standard is far from a crazy idea.”

Read more about the seemingly antiquated monetary regime that our constitution prescribes and politicians ignore here.

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Posted in 2008 Presidential Race, Constitution, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why not ask the Iraqis?

Posted by Poorsummary on February 12, 2008

LennieWhile politicians debate about how many decades we should leave troops in Iraq, more evidence surfaces to indicate that the US is less like the penitent shopper who broke an item, and more like Lennie Small from Of Mice and Men who just can’t leave well enough alone:

THE US occupying army in Iraq (euphemistically called the Multi-National Force-Iraq) carries out extensive studies of popular attitudes. Its December 2007 report of a study of focus groups was uncharacteristically upbeat.

The report concluded that the survey “provides very strong evidence” to refute the common view that “national reconciliation is neither anticipated nor possible”. On the contrary, the survey found that a sense of “optimistic possibility permeated all focus groups … and far more commonalities than differences are found among these seemingly diverse groups of Iraqis.”

This discovery of “shared beliefs” among Iraqis throughout the country is “good news, according to a military analysis of the results”, Karen deYoung reports in The Washington Post.

The “shared beliefs” were identified in the report. To quote deYoung, “Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of ‘occupying forces’ as the key to national reconciliation.”

So, according to Iraqis, there is hope of national reconciliation if the invaders, responsible for the internal violence, withdraw and leave Iraq to Iraqis.” (link)

The Iraq situation is a complicated one. Those who respect the constitution (though few they may be) say we had no right to go in, but there may be something to be said for fixing what we’ve broken. Perhaps the issue would be a bit clearer if we included the voice of the Iraqis in our decision making. After all, it’s their lives on the line.

Posted in Constitution, Government Gaffes, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Does the Constitution Also Scare Elizabeth Edwards?

Posted by Poorsummary on December 24, 2007

Gun ControlThe Economist quotes Elizabeth Edwards expressing her fear of Mike Huckabee and Republicans in general:

“[Mike Huckabee] doesn’t believe in evolution and has some nutty views about what it is we should do about ending violence in our inner city—we should make sure all of our young people are armed. Republicans scare me.”

While there are legitimate reasons to fear, or at least disagree with, Mike Huckabee (e.g. his tax reform legislation that doesn’t actually eliminate any existing taxes) and Republicans (e.g. their determination to make criminals of people who use or prescribe medical marijuana in accordance with state laws), the right to bear arms is not one of them. Reading Edwards’ quote above does make gun ownership seem like a silly answer to ending violence, but if one looks at the empirical evidence, there is little reason to believe that making it a crime to own a gun does anything but ensure that the only people who own guns are criminals. Consider the following examples of gun ownership deterring crime:

  1. In 1966 the police in Orlando, Florida, responded to a rape epidemic by embarking on a highly publicized program to train 2,500 women in firearm use. The next year rape fell by 88 percent in Orlando (the only major city to experience a decrease that year); burglary fell by 25 percent. Not one of the 2,500 women actually ended up firing her weapon; the deterrent effect of the publicity sufficed. Five years later Orlando’s rape rate was still 13 percent below the pre-program level, whereas the surrounding standard metropolitan area had suffered a 308 percent increase.
  2. During a 1974 police strike in Albuquerque armed citizens patrolled their neighborhoods and shop owners publicly armed themselves; felonies dropped significantly.
  3. In March 1982 Kennesaw, Georgia, enacted a law requiring householders to keep a gun at home; house burglaries fell from 65 per year to 26, and to 11 the following year.
  4. Similar publicized training programs for gun-toting merchants sharply reduced robberies in stores in Highland Park, Michigan, and in New Orleans; a grocers organization’s gun clinics produced the same result in Detroit.

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Posted in Constitution, Current Events, Government Gaffes, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What is the state’s role in regard to abortion?

Posted by dagnygalt on December 1, 2007

3D Image of a fetusThe issue of abortion has blown up in recent elections and passionately divided the electorate between the two different “pros”—pro-life and pro-choice. The main conflict on the abortion issue is that few people fall in the middle and thus fewer are willing to compromise. Given the divisiveness of this issue, policy makers have almost always addressed the sanctity of two groups of rights: women’s rights, and human rights (supposing fetuses to be right-bearing humans). The classical liberal case for individual liberty mandates that individuals be free from the coercion of the state to pursue their own aims, insofar as these aims do not infringe upon the rights of others. Clearly, the issue of abortion comes down to whether fetuses ought to be considered to be right-bearing humans. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 2008 Presidential Race, Constitution, Government Gaffes, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Stossel Shares the Lost Lesson of Thanksgiving: Property Rights

Posted by Poorsummary on November 21, 2007

TurkeyStossel reports:

“When the Pilgrims first settled the Plymouth Colony, they organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share everything equally, work and produce. They nearly all starved. Why? When people can get the same return with a small amount of effort as with a large amount, most people will make little effort.”

Sharing is good, but only when it is voluntary, motivated by the goodness of one’s own heart, rather than from a fear of punishment at the hand of the government. “Public charity” is a bit of an oxymoron, since charity means “benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity” and the presence of actual charity in the heart of the giver would obviate the need for any threats from the government. In fact, public charity reduces the actual amount of true charity, as it spawns a sense of resentment on the part of the giver and a sense of entitlement and dependence on the part of the receiver, and since there’s no sense of urgency to help one’s fellow man if the government is already taxing you under the auspices of performing this sacred task.

This Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful to live in such a prosperous land where wealth has flourished due to adherence to the oft forgotten advice of its founders:

“To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, ‘the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.'” –Thomas Jefferson

Thanks to Greg Mankiw for the Stossel link.

Posted in Constitution, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

No child left…un-protected?

Posted by Poorsummary on October 30, 2007


Bob Barrto provide students as young as 11 years old with the most invasive types of birth control, including pills, patches and even implants.” Unfortunately, Mr. Barr calls for more federal involvement in education as a solution to this egregious violation of the responsibilities of Portland parents:

“Not a single [presidential] candidate — in either of the two major parties, that is — seems to consider the fundamental questions of what is being taught in our public schools, and how well it is being taught, as sufficiently important to discuss publicly during this campaign.”

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Posted in Constitution, Current Events, Government Gaffes, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Eminent Domain: The Rise of the Command and Control Economy

Posted by Poorsummary on October 24, 2007

The eminent domain clause of the U.S. and most (if not all) states’ constitutions allows for the government to seize property (with compensation at what the court deems to be the “market” value) for public use. The economic rationale behind such an argument is that bargaining difficulties may prevent the construction of things like courts, post offices (can anyone remind me why the government runs the mail service?), water treatment plants, roads, and the like.

While an unfortunate violation of property rights, the use of eminent domain for such projects can perhaps be justified on utilitarian grounds; however, a recent trend has emerged in which state bureaucrats have begun seizing private property from one group of private individuals (often including the poor) and transferring it to another group of private individuals (often including big businesses). Alarmingly, the rationale for making such a seizure often is based on the grounds of increased tax revenue: e.g. “If I can give this block of low income housing to a private developer, if he can turn it into a high tax-revenue strip mall, and if the government can then use the revenues for the “public good,” then we are properly using eminent domain for projects intended for public use.”

Carlos Barragan

This argument is really no different than other socialist arguments for government control of property. A respect for personal property rights simply does not allow this type of justification for government coercion.

Carlos Barragan, the next victim of America’s socialism

A recent case involving government abuse of eminent domain can be found in The Community Youth Athletic Center (CYAC), founded by Carlos Barragan and his son, Carlos Jr. Currently, the city of National City, CA intends to seize the gym through eminent domain so that Jim Beauchamp can build high-end condos on that property. Jeff Rowes of The Institute for Justice reports:

“To make this happen, and to enable the city to transfer other private property to big business, National City is preparing to once again declare ‘blighted’ hundreds of commercial properties within a decades-old blight zone that covers two-thirds of the entire city. [This] enables National City to take low-tax-yielding small businesses and give that land to developers who promise to build high-tax-yielding properties, such as condos and big-box stores…As any visitor can attest, National City’s sprawling blight zone is remarkable for its lack of blight: the streets are lined with lovingly tended homes and thriving, though often humble, small businesses. Rather than embrace its grassroots entrepreneurs, however, National City plans to demolish them—and their dreams—in favor of retail mega-stores and upscale condos.”

For those of you hoping the Supreme Court will get involved to stop this blatant abuse of government power, I refer you to the infuriating Kelo decision. The full text can be found here (read the dissenting opinions, if nothing else). A NY Times article on the decision can be found here.

Posted in Constitution, Current Events, Government Gaffes, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »