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 ‘Government Gaffes’ Category

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.

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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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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 »

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 »

Of Vouchers and Liberty

Posted by Devin J. Ekins on October 25, 2007

The School voucher issue raging in the reddest of states, Utah, has polarized many organizations and individuals into two camps, Pro-Voucher and Anti-Voucher, both giving praise and promising help to the Public Education System. Whether vouchers will actually aid the Public Education System is a function of both dollars allotted and freedoms allowed.

The voucher proposal is one where every student currently enrolled in the government schools has the opportunity to accept a partial refund for their involuntary purchase in the government schools if they enroll in a private school. This refund is dependent on your financial situation and ranges between $500 and $3,000. Note that the average cost for a student in the government schools is $7,000.

Voucher opponents claim this move would take money away from the government system that desperately needs it. Would it? That depends. The average cost is $7,000. Up to $3,000 is taken away from the schools along with one student that costs, on average, $7,000. In a basic scenario, the public school stands to gain between $4,000 and $6,500 per student that accepts the offer. This leaves smaller class sizes and more money for the school per student.

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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 »

John Stossel questions the “consensus” regarding climate change

Posted by Poorsummary on October 20, 2007

Stossel reports on the actual facts surrounding climate change:

“Gore says that if we allow the globe to warm, ‘sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet.’ Then he shows his audience terrifying maps of Florida and San Francisco submerged under rising sea levels. But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared last week’s Nobel Prize with Gore, said that would probably take thousands of years to happen. Over the next 100 years, sea levels are expected to rise seven to 24 inches, not 20 feet.”

Read the whole article here.

Posted in Government Gaffes, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Oklahoma Believes in Free Speech*

Posted by Poorsummary on October 18, 2007

*Not really. It turns out that if you circulate petitions in Oklahoma, but you are not an Oklahoma resident, you owe the state $1,000 and/or a year of your life in a county jail. Here’s the down and dirty in legalese:

“It shall be unlawful for any person other than a qualified elector of the state of Oklahoma [citizens of the United States, over the age of eighteen (18) years, who are bona fide Oklahoma residents] to circulate any initiative or referendum petition to amend, add to, delete, strike or otherwise change in any way the Constitution or laws of the State of Oklahoma, or of any subdivision of the State of Oklahoma . . . . Every person convicted of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not to exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not to exceed one (1) year, or by both said fine and imprisonment.”

You might think you could circumvent this seemingly unconstitutional law by simply moving into the state, declaring residency, and then moving out after you’ve circulated your petitions. In this case, however, you’d be committing fraud against the state, which will land you up to 10 years– TEN YEARS– in prison, plus a $25,000 fine.

Now this is more than one of those obnoxious, but oft ignored laws, such as not making clam chowder in Boston with a tomato. In fact, grassroots political activist Paul Jacob faces these very charges. And what was the subversive legislation he was trying to pass? State-sponsored Satanism? Federally mandated gay marriage? Nope: Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). That’s right, this guy could end up spending a decade in the slammer because he organized people from other states to help mobilize Oklahoma voters to limit the ability of bureaucrats to dole out taxpayers’ money to special interest groups without taxpayer consent. Remarkable.

Learn more about Paul Jacobs and how you can help end a politically motivated abuse of power here. Learn more about what makes a law a good law here.

Posted in Current Events, Government Gaffes, Politics, Rule of Law | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »