Before you vote, be sure to read up on the candidates below. A couple of caveats: Since this is the first year of what I’m sure will (unfortunately) be an annual award with many deserving candidates, some of the transgressions committed by this year’snominees extend back to before 2007. I’m also taking two candidates out of consideration. The first is Alberto Gonzalez, mostly because he’d be the overwhelming winner if I included him. The other is Mike Nifong, who while certainly deserving, has at least been held accountable for his transgressions. The prosecutors below have not.
Your title Who was the worst prosecutor of 2007? Mary Beth Buchanan Forrest Allgood David McDade Robert Horan and Paul Ebert Scott Andringas
The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines taxation as “that part of the revenues of a state which is obtained by the compulsory dues and charges upon its subjects.” That is about as concise and accurate as a definition can be; it leaves no room for argument as to what taxation is.In that statement of fact the word “compulsory” looms large, simply because of its ethical content. The quick reaction is to question the “right” of the state to this use of power. What sanction, in morals, does the state adduce for the taking of property? Is its exercise of sovereignty sufficient unto itself?On this question of morality there are two positions, and never the twain will meet. Those who hold that political institutions stem from “the nature of man,” thus enjoying vicarious divinity, or those who pronounce the state the keystone of social integrations, can find no quarrel with taxation per se; the state’s taking of property is justified by its being or its beneficial office. On the other hand, those who hold to the primacy of the individual, whose very existence is his claim to inalienable rights, lean to the position that in the compulsory collection of dues and charges the state is merely exercising power, without regard to morals.The present inquiry into taxation begins with the second of these positions. It is as biased as would be an inquiry starting with the similarly unprovable proposition that the state is either a natural or a socially necessary institution. Complete objectivity is precluded when an ethical postulate is the major premise of an argument and a discussion of the nature of taxation cannot exclude values.If we assume that the individual has an indisputable right to life, we must concede that he has a similar right to the enjoyment of the products of his labor. This we call a property right. The absolute right to property follows from the original right to life because one without the other is meaningless; the means to life must be identified with life itself.If the state has a prior right to the products of one’s labor, his right to existence is qualified. Aside from the fact that no such prior right can be established, except by declaring the state the author of all rights, our inclination (as shown in the effort to avoid paying taxes) is to reject this concept of priority. Our instinct is against it. We object to the taking of our property by organized society just as we do when a single unit of society commits the act. In the latter case we unhesitatingly call the act robbery, a malum in se. It is not the law which in the first instance defines robbery, it is an ethical principle, and this the law may violate but not supersede.If by the necessity of living we acquiesce to the force of law, if by long custom we lose sight of the immorality, has the principle been obliterated? Robbery is robbery, and no amount of words can make it anything else.…
Slavery is not only immoral, it’s also grossly inefficient. As the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises explains:
The price paid for the purchase of a slave is determined by the net yield expected from his employment…just as the price paid for a cow is determined by the net yield expected from its utilization. The owner of a slave does not pocket a specific revenue. For him there is no “exploitation” boon derived from the fact that the slave’s work is not remunerated…. If one treats men like cattle, one cannot squeeze out of them more than cattle-like performances. But it then becomes significant that man is physically weaker than oxen and horses, and that feeding and guarding a slave is, in proportion to the performance to be reaped, more expensive than feeding and guarding cattle…. If one asks from an unfree laborer human performances, one must provide him with specifically human inducements. If the employer aims at obtaining products which in quality and quantity excel those whose production can be extorted by the whip, he must interest the toiler in the yield of his contribution. Instead of punishing laziness and sloth, he must reward diligence, skill, and eagerness.… It is this fact that has made all systems of compulsory labor disappear. (Human Action3rd edition, pp. 630–631)
DARE Generation Diary provides a forum for members of the DARE Generation - those of us who grew up during the escalation of the War on Drugs - to expose how these punitive policies hurt us and to formulate effective strategies for fighting back. We won’t allow this war to be waged in our names any longer!
December 20, 2007Meeting Ricardo in the StablesMises.org Updates
There’s a sort of built-in progressivism to the division of labor that, although it benefits all and almost always will benefit specialists by an absolutely greater amount, provides a greater proportional benefit to those who are relatively unskilled or weak. This notion, writes Susan Hogarth, is so profoundly the opposite of the accepted economic tales of “robber barons” and Dickensian factory owners that it is startling.
The idea of the division of labor isn’t so much about the skilled and the wealthy exploiting the labor of the unskilled and the poor as it is about the benefits of cooperation to everyone. That those who bring better skills or more experience to the cooperation do absolutely better is no surprise, but the fact that those who bring relatively less in the way of skills and experience to the market gain a proportionately greater amount is big and exciting news to a world steeped in the weak tea of socialist labor theory. FULL ARTICLE
George OrwellThe Freedom of the PressOrwell’s Proposed Preface to ‘Animal Farm’
his book was first thought of, so far as the central idea goes, in 1937, but was not written down until about the end of 1943. By the time when it came to be written it was obvious that there would be great difficulty in getting it published (in spite of the present book shortage which ensures that anything describable as a book will ‘sell’), and in the event it was refused by four publishers. Only one of these had any ideological motive. Two had been publishing anti-Russian books for years, and the other had no noticeable political colour. One publisher actually started by accepting the book, but after making the preliminary arrangements he decided to consult the Ministry of Information, who appear to have warned him, or at any rate strongly advised him, against publishing it. Here is an extract from his letter:…
Despite the individual rights to life, liberty, and property upon which the United States was founded, significant violations of these rights have not been uncommon throughout our history. The U.S. Constitution originally condoned slavery and counted the black slave as a mere three- fifths of a person for purposes of determining representation. Japanese-Americans were interned by the thousands in concentration camps during World War II because many citizens and politi cians of European descent considered them something less than American and therefore potential subversives. For decades, state laws limited the property rights and freedom to contract of women in marriage as well as their right to vote. Until the Civil Rights movement, areas in the South practiced a limited form of apartheid, segregating whites and blacks in schools and other public places.
Yet no group of people has suffered, and continues to suffer, from an illiberal and dis criminatory government policy as have the 1.4 million people collectively referred to as Native Americans. As the nation commemorates the 200th anniversary of the United States Constitution, it behooves us to examine the Indian policy of our government.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is the principal ‘agent in carrying out the government-to- government relationship between the United States and Federally-recognized Indian tribes, and is therefore the focus of this paper. This agency isunique in that it is the only Federal agency whose expressed function is to manage the affairs of a particular ethnic group.…
Today is a historic day and our forefathers speak through us. Our Forefathers made the treaties in good faith with the sacred Canupa and with the knowledge of the Great Spirit, They never honored the treaties, that is the reason we are here today…Garry Rowland, Wounded Knee
UPDATES: December 25, 2007
Lakota delivers introductory Portfolio Packet to State Department and foreign embassies READ THE PACKET…
Gemma Malley’s top10 dystopian novels for teenagers Gemma Malley is the author of The Declaration, a futuristic, dystopian novel set in a world in which there are drugs which stop the onset of ageing and there’s no room left in the world for youth. With death no longer inevitable, children become an abomination and those that are accidentally born must live locked away in a borstal-like Surplus Hall. It is published by Bloomsbury. Buy The Declaration at the Guardian bookshop
1. 1984 by George Orwell The original and best - who can forget Winston in his fight against the machine of authoritarian government? This book stayed with me for years after I read it and probably informed many of my political views today. Big Brother, Room 101, the Mind Police - all brilliantly realised and wonderfully narrated, right up to the chilling end. Buy it at the Guardian bookshop
2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Dystopia or utopia? A brilliant riposte for those who consider pleasure-seeking to be their only aim in life, and a terrifying glimpse into a perfectly ordered future. Buy it at the Guardian bookshop
3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood I love this book. It is compelling in its detail and its too-real depiction of a post-nuclear world where fertile women are used as breeding machines. Dystopian books work best when there is a logic to the horror. Margaret Atwood paints a world that is utterly imaginable and that’s why it’s so powerful. Buy it at the Guardian bookshop
4. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff A new classic, with one of the most original voices I’ve read in a long time. This book tells of love and loss and of finding peace in a war-torn world. Buy it at the Guardian bookshop
5. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess Not for the faint hearted, A Clockwork Orange has become infamous because of Stanley Kubric’s film version. But the book is definitely worth a read and has huge resonance today. Once you get to grips with the Nadsat slang, it’s a thrilling - if abhorrent - tale of gang violence and rehabilitation that explores free will and what it means to be an individual. Buy it at the Guardian bookshop
6. The Children of Men by PD James Again, most people will know of the film version, but this book is wonderful in its description of a world that’s dying, as well as depicting brilliantly the corrupting influence of power. Buy it at the Guardian bookshop
7. The Chrysalids by John Wyndam Another post-nuclear world; this time the chemical fallout means that humans are being born with increasing deformities which must be hidden from the state because just one extra toe can mean a death sentence… John Wyndam is an amazing storyteller and this page-turning thriller will have teenagers reading under the bedcovers until the small hours. Buy it at the Guardian bookshop
8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding A must read for all teenagers (and their parents) - Lord of the Flies is as relevant now as it was when it was written in the 1950s. A plane crash leaves a group of schoolboys stranded on a desert island - and what starts as a survival tale soon turns into a gripping thriller and a compelling commentary on civilisation, competition, and the animal instincts that live within us all. Buy it at the Guardian bookshop
9. The Children’s Story by James Clavell I’m ashamed to say that I borrowed this book from my school library when I was nine and never returned it. In my defence, it’s one of the most chilling books I’ve ever read. Set in a classroom, it shows how susceptible young minds are, how vulnerable, how easy to control. In a few short pages (and just 25 minutes), a silky voiced teacher succeeds in brainwashing a classroom of children, turning them against their country, against their parents, against basic freedoms. As the book’s blurb says, The Children’s Story is not just for children…
10. The Diary of Anne Frank It’s easy, when reading dystopian novels, to close the cover and thank our lucky stars that it isn’t true, that it’s just fiction, that nothing like that would ever really happen. That’s why Anne Frank’s diary is such an important book. Because things like that do happen. Did happen. And we should never forget it. Buy it at the Guardian bookshop
Not long ago I found myself in a debate with colleagues about the economic status of black Americans vis-à-vis whites. Naturally, their presumption was against the free market. The logic, such as it was, ran as follows: (1) we live under a market system (more or less); (2) in a variety of areas blacks have not performed as well as whites; and therefore, (3) the free market is the source of black underachievement.
Let us consider, first, the corollary assumptions that only political action could have made black economic advancement possible, and that such political action has constituted the unambiguous source of black prosperity.…
Six years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, airport security remains a theater of the absurd. The changes put in place following the September 11th catastrophe have been drastic, and largely of two kinds: those practical and effective, and those irrational, wasteful and pointless.
The first variety have taken place almost entirely behind the scenes. Explosives scanning for checked luggage, for instance, was long overdue and is perhaps the most welcome addition. Unfortunately, at concourse checkpoints all across America, the madness of passenger screening continues in plain view. It began with pat-downs and the senseless confiscation of pointy objects. Then came the mandatory shoe removal, followed in the summer of 2006 by the prohibition of liquids and gels. We can only imagine what is next.
"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir." "Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge. "Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again. "And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?" "They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not." "The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge. "Both very busy, sir." "Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I’m very glad to hear it." "Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?" "Nothing!" replied Scrooge. "You wish to be anonymous?" "I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. "Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there." "Many can’t go there; and many would rather die." "If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. … It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!" — Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.
To many critics of libertarianism, the foregoing portrait of Scrooge perfectly captures the libertarian attitude to the poor: “I mind my own business; they should mind theirs. If they can’t support themselves, let them starve.”
We libertarians know better, of course. Yet even we tend, all too often, to let ourselves be cast in the role of stingy Scrooges, and to concede that being a libertarian involves some sort of deemphasis on or devaluing of compassion. This is a mistake, and it hurts us not only in our attempts to gain converts to libertarianism, but also in our attempts, even among ourselves, to visualize and formulate the institutions of a free society.…
There are really only 3 ways of earning a large amount of money:
1. Finance (i.e., money lending, in all its various forms);
2. Speculation (i.e., buying things that you predict will either appreciate on their own, or will appreciate with a minimum of effort on your part); and
3. Selling a product or service (usually a product, but not always) that you can commodify, unitize and promote with a brand. This can lead to great wealth because doubling your sales of commodified, unitized products requires less than double the amount of work. Efficiencies, I think economists call that.
People think that there is a fourth way, but it’s really just an illusion. It’s the highly-skilled service-provider option. Lawyers. Doctors. Architects. Commercial artists. Anyone doing highly skilled piece-work.
You might make an upper-middle class income doing these things, if you bust your ass and work twice as hard as everyone else and do nothing else all the time. But the truly successful (in monetary terms) members of these vocations are the ones who figure out a way to commodify and unitize what they do. Like the artist who does more than work on commissions, but creates something that he can replicate (i.e., unitize). Or the lawyer who spends his time schmoozing clients while other (younger) lawyers are back at the office doing all the actual work like a factory. He commodifies his legal services, establishing himself or his firm as the brand.
Who makes all the money — the fashion designer who sells goods with his name on them in hundreds of stores, or the custom tailor who makes fantastic suits one at a time? The tailor on Saville Row who studied as an apprentice for decades may be a genius and a virtuoso, but his product isn’t commodified and unitized, which means that in order to earn twice as much, he has to work twice as much. He has no leverage.
The person who is going to have the greatest impact on promoting libertarian ideals is going to be the one who writes the popular books (or produces movies, or TV shows, or or songs, etc.) that express libertarian ideals. In order to create a broad, social movement, you have to have broad appeal. It’s going to be someone who is able to commodify and unitize his message, and then build a brand that sells that message to people far and wide.
Murray Rothbard’s Philosophy of FreedomBy David Gordon
David Gordon is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, which published his book, The Essential Rothbard (2007).
Murray Rothbard (1926–1995) based his political philosophy on a simple insight: slavery is wrong. Few, if any, would dare to challenge this obvious truth; but its implications are far reaching. It is Rothbard’s singular merit to show that rejecting slavery leads inexorably to laissez-faire capitalism, unrestricted by the slightest government interference.…
As any cynic will confirm, money and law have a lot in common. But their ties run even deeper than most suspect. Money and law had similar origins: both arose spontaneously out of the undirected actions of individuals seeking common standards for mutual coordination. Money and law developed in parallel fashion, too: medieval Europeans enjoyed competition in currencies and legal systems until monarchies took over both fields. And state monopolies in money and law now present common hazards: they are imposed by fiat, inefficiently operated, and (as the cynics point out) jointly corrupting. However, a new generation of scholars has come to question the need for state monopolies in money and law. In the place of central banks they advocate a free banking system. In the place of state legal systems they advocate overlapping private jurisdictions in free and open competition — a polycentric legal system.
This article offers an introduction to polycentric law. It begins by reviewing research on customary legal systems, using Anglo-Saxon law as an exemplar. Then the article traces how state law rose to domination in the competition among medieval European legal systems. This account reveals that privately produced law survived the state’s onslaught and has recently enjoyed a resurgence. After surveying current theories of polycentric legal systems, I will suggest another parallel between money and law: just as research in free banking has recently enjoyed a surge of interest, so too the study of polycentric law stands on the verge of new and rapid growth. (In this article I employ ” polycentric law,” ” privately produced law,” and ” purely private law” interchangeably. Others use ” non- monopolistic law.” See Randy Barnett, ” Four Senses of the Private-Public Law Distinction,” in Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 9 [Spring 1986, pp. 267-276].)
Law Prior to the State Friedrich A. Hayek finds the origins of law in the process through which complex social orders naturally evolve by a manner akin to natural selection. Not all types of behavior support social life, he explains.…
Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano is among the fiercest defenders of individual rights. Both in his daily appearances on the country’s most-watched cable news network and in a series of books (most recently, A Nation of Sheep), Napolitano consistently and defiantly argues that the only legitimate government is that which respects its citizens rights in all cases.
In late October, Napolitano gave the keynote address at the conference Reason in DC, where he delivered a spellbinding speech that blended a masterful understanding of American history with a blazing outrage at the excesses of the new security state. ”Who [is] the greatest violator of the Constitution?” asks Napolitano. “George W. Bush has shown less fidelity to the Constitution than any president since Abraham Lincoln.”
Click above to view the Judge’s speech (approx. 40 minutes).
“‘Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands,’ he wrote. In all respects the prisoners were to be treated no worse than American soldiers; and in some respects, better. Through this approach, Washington sought to shame his British adversaries, and to demonstrate the moral superiority of the American cause.”
"There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, the allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest — why, then it was the national honor that had been insulted. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, it was manifestly Rome’s duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs"—Joseph Shumpeteter, 1919
"To me, this is the best Christmas present I could ever receive" — Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), CBS News, December 20, 2007 Thursday, December 20, 2007Gun Owners of America and its supporters took a knife in the back yesterday, as Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) out-smarted his congressional opposition into agreeing on a so-called “compromise” on HR 2640 — a bill which now goes to the President’s desk.The bill — known as the Veterans Disarmament Act to its opponents — is being praised by the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign.The Brady Bunch crowed “Victory! U.S. Congress Strengthens Brady Background Check System.” The NRA stated that last minute changes to the McCarthy bill made a “good bill even better [and that] the end product is a win for American gun owners.”But Gun Owners of America has issued public statements decrying this legislation.
"Ron Paul … is best known for his vehemently isolationist foreign policy views. But his core supporters also thrill to his self-taught monetary views, which amount to a rejection of everything taught by modern economists from Alfred Marshall to Milton Friedman.
"… Paul (has) not the faintest idea of what (he) is talking about. The problem is not that (his) answers are wrong – that can happen to anyone. The problem is that (he does not) understand the questions, and (is) too lazy or too arrogant to learn."
There is more wrong here than you can shake a stick at. Let us list the errors.…
From the early days of Marxism until its collapse, the Left pretended that socialist central planning would lead to greater productivity and advanced technological progress. No one seriously entertains that illusion any more. So how is it that so many Marxist ideas still hold such influence? Certainly the modern “Green” movement is filled with Marxists of one stripe or another.
While Marx was pro-science and pro-technology, his Green stepchildren deride such ideas. Instead they have announced that technology and science are, in fact, evil. They cling to the egalitarianism of Marx, but abandon any support for science and technology. Dismayed because socialism couldn’t produce the goods, these socialists suddenly discovered that producing goods was an evil that needed to be avoided. This was a psychological coup. In one fell swoop the failure of socialism became its most endearing feature. Strip socialism of its pro-science, pro-technology viewpoint and you are left with today’s Green movement.…
"The citizen of the United States is taught from his earliest infancy to rely upon his own exertions in order to resist the evils and the difficulties of life; he looks upon social authority with an eye of mistrust and anxiety, and he only claims its assistance when he is quite unable to shift without it….
"When a private individual meditates an undertaking, how ever directly connected it may be with the welfare of society, he never thinks of soliciting the co operation of the government, but he publishes his plan, offers to execute it himself, courts the as sistance of other individuals, and struggles manfully against all obstacles. Undoubtedly he is often less successful than the state might have been in his position; but in the end the sum of these private undertakings far exceeds all that the government could have done." Thus wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America, published in 1835.
At that time the young Repub lic of the United States repre sented the most complete flower ing of the ideal of unlimited pri vate initiative and opportunity. Monarchy had been swept away; there were no relics of feudal privileges; there was so much open land and so many industries to be developed that no one was com pelled to labor under oppressive conditions or to accept unsatisfac tory wages. There was no para sitic “big government”; there were no theories of the desir ability of “deficit spending”; at one time the modestly run federal government hardly knew what to do with the surplus that had accumulated in the national Treas ury.