ARE ANARCHISTS PRO OR ANTI capitalism? Many anarchists dogmatically claim an anarchist cannot be pro capitalism simply because capitalism is oppressive—and anarchism is based on socialist ideals. The anarchist society necessarily needs to be “free from capitalist oppression.” Other anarchists claim an anarchist society, based solely on voluntary action of free people (individually or collectively) cannot be anything but capitalist. There seems to be an unbridgeable gap here.
As anarchists often and correctly note, barter trade is inoffensive and it is ethical. Someone believing in natural rights (or any other kind of rights too) would say barter trade does not violate rights and is thus ethical. Some simply state that since barter trade is in full voluntary and does not include any kind of coercive measures it is ethical and just. This is a fully anarchist point of view, all anarchists should be able to support this. Now, why is barter trade not the same as a market? Imagine two people, let’s say a baker and a fisherman, get together every now and then to voluntarily exchange things. The baker obviously values fish higher than the bread he needs to give up to get it, and the fisherman obviously values the bread higher than the fish he “pays” for it. It is very simple, if either one of them would believe it was not just—and that they were not better (or as good) off as before—they would not voluntarily agree to the exchange. This is how many libertarian or anarcho-capitalist anarchists define the market—voluntary exchanges for one’s own benefit, which means every exchange is for all partaking actors’ benefit. Imagine there are more people in this society, for instance a wagon maker. Now, this is going to get troublesome since one wagon takes a lot of time and skill to produce, and the wagon maker cannot produce more than a few wagons each year. And, since the baker and fisherman know they cannot make a wagon unless not baking or fishing for a long while, they will agree to exchange a large quantity of bread or fish for a wagon (if they need it). Of course, working for a couple of months making a wagon, and then getting perhaps one thousand loaves of bread or many hundreds of fish is not an attractive exchange. Bread gets bad after a while, and fish will rot. Also, the wagon maker needs something to eat while making the wagon he is about to sell. It is the same the other way around too: bread and fish will go bad as the baker or fisherman is trying to save enough bread or fish to buy a wagon. So the wagon-maker would have a wagon which he wishes to exchange for fish or bread, and the baker and fisherman would have their bread and fish while being interested in trading it for a wagon. But the exchange would never happen, since bread and fish easily goes bad when saved. So what would happen in this little society? It is obvious the three people would come to an agreement since it is in their mutual interest to make this exchange. Maybe they agree on paying the wagon maker a couple of loaves of bread or some fish every day for a couple of months, and will in return get the wagon when it is finished. This means they have avoided the problem with bread or fish getting bad, and they all benefit from this scheme since nobody needs to keep a lot of bread/fish while awaiting the right quantity. There is nothing wrong with this, right? They are still into barter trade, but have agreed on paying for the thing of greater value in smaller portions. With this solution, they have through voluntary action invented the contract, since they have an agreement for exchange even thought the exchange is not immediate. The agreement therefore causes an ongoing interdependence throughout the time of the contract, but it is still barter and it is still 100 % voluntary.
Shots without needlesByPosted 11.08.2005 at 3:00 am0 Comments
Needles hurt. Worse, they can spread disease. PowderMed’s new vaccine gun, the PMED, requires no sharps. The flashlight-shaped device relies on pressurized helium to shoot microscopic DNA vaccine particles just below the skin’s surface at 1,500 miles an hour. The shot is painless because it hits just above nerve endings, where immunity-producing cells gather in large numbers. As a result, the PMED requires one thousandth the dose of a needle injection; a major cost savings. And the powders don’t need a fridge, so they’re easier to store and transport. Vaccine powders for influenza and hepatitis are in the works.
Memory cards were nailed to a treeHoliday-makers capturing precious memories on digital cameras need not worry about losing their snaps.
The memory cards in most cameras are virtually indestructible, found Digital Camera Shopper magazine.
Five memory card formats survived being boiled, trampled, washed and dunked in coffee or cola.
Digital cameras are becoming commonplace, with 12.5 million sold in the US last year, compared with 12.1 million film cameras.
In the UK, 18% of the population have digital cameras.
Survival of the fittest
Five memory cards for digital cameras were subjected to a range of tests.
The formats were CompactFlash, Secure Digital, xD, Memory Stick and Smartmedia.
We knew modern memory cards were durable, but had no idea they would be quite so tough
Geoff Harris, Digital Camera ShopperEven some of the thinner cards that appear to be fragile fared well in the trial.
They were dipped into cola, put through a washing machine, dunked in coffee, trampled by a skateboard, run over by a child’s toy car and given to a six-year-old boy to destroy.
Perhaps surprisingly, all the cards survived these six tests.
Most of them did fail to get through two additional tests - being smashed by a sledgehammer and being nailed to a tree.
Even then, data experts Ontrack Data Recovery were able to retrieve photos from the xD and Smartmedia cards.
Tough little things
"We’ve tested the durability of the leading memory card forms and have found that even if your camera doesn’t remain intact, your precious memories should," said Geoff Harris, editor of Digital Camera Shopper.
"We knew modern memory cards were durable, but had no idea they would be quite so tough."
More and more people are buying digital camerasHowever he added that people should still make a back up copy of photos, to avoid accidentally deleting such prized memories.
The results of the test are bad news for photography processing services.
Photo printing retailers are seeing a drop off in traditional camera film processing.
Instead, they are pushing services that turn electronic images into prints. Around eight out of 10 digital pictures are thought to never make it into printed form at all.
In the US, tens of thousands of self-service kiosks have sprung up, where consumers can edit and make photos directly from a memory card.
"I do not mean to single out England as something strange and different in the world. We, too, have our marines in China. We, too, consider machine gun bullets good laxatives for heathens who get constipated with toxic ideals of a country of their own….We also wrote that song about keeping a whole hemisphere under your wing. Now the Nipponese are singing our song all over Asia. They are full of stuff and need a good working out. The only hold-back to the thing is that they have copied our medicine chest. They are stocked up with the same steel pills and cannon plasters that Doctor Occident prescribes."
Zora Neale Hurston (1942), Hurston, Folklore, Memoirs, and Other Writings (New York: The Library of America, 1995), 791-92.
Like the car at left? Too bad— it doesn’t exist. Ditto the diamonds, the mouse, and the other objects in the following pictures. They’re all 3-D models rendered with HyperShot, an application developed by Oscar-winning computer graphics guru Henrik Wann Jensen. It uses a proprietary photon-mapping technique to simulate complex lighting situations ranging from reflected sunlight to spots beamed through colored gels. What it creates is ultrarealistic images. You’d think moviemakers would be drooling over the tech. Nope. “Hollywood is pretty happy with what they have,” Jensen says. “They don’t really want to push the envelope as much anymore.” Product makers, on the other hand, need all the realism they can get. Thanks to HyperShot, instead of spending weeks building expensive mock-ups, designers at Apple, Ford, Microsoft, and Nokia can now impress their overlords with exactly what their concepts will look like in the hyperreal world — straight from the computer models. Which means that dream car may actually exist someday.
Mac OS X (like any unixish OS) always has a number of things going on in the background — processes that take care of business behind the scenes. Normally, you won’t even notice them, unless you use something like Activity Monitor (ProcessViewer under 10.2 or before) or the ps or top commands to look at the process list. If you do notice them, you may wonder what on earth they’re all there for. This list is here to answer that question.
Note: this list is far from complete. If you see processes on your Mac that aren’t on this list, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong or that you’ve been hacked; just that I’m not as dilligent as I could be in maintaining the list.
Verizon has applied to provide television service across New York City becoming the first company ever to step up to serving the neighborhoods of all five boroughs. If approved, Verizon will ultimately offer its FiOS TV service to more homes in New York Citythan any other provider. Two incumbent cable companies currently operate in separate and distinct parts of the City and do not compete with each other.
Verizon submitted its application and plan in response to a solicitation from the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, the agency that oversees cable franchises. Lawmakers and regulators now must approve the plan before we can begin providing FiOS TV in New York City. Subject to these approvals, Verizon would begin offering FiOS TV service to City residents later this year.
Out investment in New York City is historic – the largest municipal commitment ever made by a television service provider. We’ll deliver FiOS TV over the nation’s most advanced fiber-optic network bringing the power of fiber optics directly to apartment buildings, homes and businesses. Under our plan, by midyear 2014, FiOS TV will be available to approximately 3.1 million households in every part of the City. No other company will be able to make that claim.
Verizon already offers its super-fast FiOS Internet service in many parts of the five boroughs, with industry-leading download speeds of up to 50 megabits a second and upload speeds of up to 20 megabits a second. FiOS means faster Internet speeds, amazing TV pictures and innovative new services for our customers, and all FiOS services are backed by Verizon’s reputation and service quality that New Yorkers have trusted for decades. Verizon will put this new technology within reach of all New York City residents and open the market for the kind of competition it hasn’t enjoyed before.
In American culture, public schools are praised in public and criticized in private, which is roughly the opposite of how we tend to treat large-scale enterprises like Wal-Mart. In public, everyone says that Wal-Mart is awful, filled with shoddy foreign products and exploiting workers. But in private, we buy the well-priced, quality goods, and long lines of people hope to be hired.
Why is this? It has something to do with the fact that public schools are part of our civic religion, the primary evidence that people cite to show that local government serves us. And there is a psychological element. Most of us turn our kids over to them, so surely they must have our best interest at heart!
But do they? Murray N. Rothbard’s Education: Free and Compulsory explains that the true origin and purpose of public education is not so much education as we think of it, but indoctrination in the civic religion. This explains why the civic elite is so suspicious of homeschooling and private schooling: it’s not fear of low test scores that is driving this, but the worry that these kids aren’t learning the values that the state considers important.
But to blast public schools is not the purpose of this article. There are decent public schools and terrible ones, so there is no use generalizing. Nor is there a need to trot out data on test scores. Let me just deal with economics. All studies have shown that average cost per pupil for public schools is twice that of private schools (here is a sample study
This runs contrary to intuition, since people think of public schools as free and private schools as expensive. But once you consider the source of funding (tax dollars vs. market tuition or donation), the private alternative is much cheaper. In fact, the public schools cost as much as the most expensive and elite private schools in the country. The difference is that the cost of public schooling is spread out over the entire population, whereas the private school cost is borne only by the families with students who attend them.
In short, if we could abolish public schools and compulsory schooling laws, and replace it all with market-provided education, we would have better schools at half the price, and be freer too. We would also be a more just society, with only the customers of education bearing the costs.
What’s not to like? Well, there is the problem of the transition. There are obvious and grave political difficulties. We might say that public education enjoys a political advantage here due tonetwork effects. A significant number of “subscriptions,” etc. have been piled up in the status quo, and it is very difficult to change those.
But let’s pretend. Let’s say that a single town decided that the costs of public schooling are too vast relative to private schooling, and the city council decided to abolish public schools outright. The first thing to notice is that this would be illegal, since every state requires localities to provide education on a public basis. I don’t know what would happen to the city council. Would they be jailed? Who knows? Certainly they would be sued.
But let’s say we somehow get past that problem, thanks to, say, a special amendment in the state constitution, that exempts certain localities if the city council approves. Then there is the problem of federal legislation and regulation. I am purely speculating since I don’t know the relevant laws, but we can guess that the Department of Education would take notice, and a national hysteria of some sort would follow. But let’s say we miraculously get past that problem too, and the federal government lets this locality go its own way.
There will be two stages to the transition. In the first stage, many seemingly bad things will happen. How are the physical buildings handled in our example? They are sold to the highest bidder, whether that be to new school owners, businesses, or housing developers. And the teachers and administrators? All let go. You can imagine the outcry.
With tax-paid schools abolished, people with kids in public schools might move away. Property taxes that previously paid for schools would vanish, so there will be no premium for houses in school districts that are considered good. There will be anger about this. The collapse in prices might seem like robbery for people who have long assumed that high and rising house prices are a human right. For the parents that remain, there is a major problem of what to do with the kids during the day.
With property taxes gone, there is extra money to pay for schools, but their assets have just fallen in market value (even without the Fed), which is a serious problem when it comes to shelling out for school tuition. There will, of course, be widespread hysteria about the poor too, who will find themselves without any schooling choices other than homeschool.
Now, all that sounds pretty catastrophic, doesn’t it? Indeed. But it is only phase one. If we can somehow make it to phase two, something completely different will emerge. The existing private schools will be filled to capacity and there will be a crying need for new ones. Entrepreneurs will quickly flood into the area to provide schools on a competitive basis. Churches and other civic institutions will gather the money to provide education.
At first, the new schools will be modeled on the public school idea. Kids will be there from 8 to 4 or 5, and all classes will be covered. But in short order, new alternatives will appear. There will be schools for half-day classes. There will be large, medium, and small schools. Some will have 40 kids per class, and others 4 or 1. Private tutoring will boom. Sectarian schools of all kinds will appear. Micro-schools will open to serve niche interests: science, classics, music, theater, computers, agriculture, etc. There will be single sex schools. Whether sports would be part of school or something completely independent is for the market to decide.
And no longer will the “elementary, middle school, high school” model be the only one. Classes will not necessarily be grouped by age alone. Some will be based on ability and level of advancement too. Tuition would range from free to super expensive. The key thing is that the customer would be in charge.
Transportation services would spring up to replace the old school-bus system. People would be able to make money by buying vans and providing transportation. In all areas related to education, profit opportunities would abound.
In short, the market for education would operate the same as any other market. Groceries, for example. Where there is a demand, and obviously people demand education for their kids, there is supply. There are large grocery stores, small ones, discount ones, premium ones, and stores for groceries on the run. It is the same for other goods, and it would be the same for education. Again, the customer would rule. In the end, what would emerge is not entirely predictable — the market never is — but whatever happened would be in accord with the wishes of the public.
After this phase two, this town would emerge as one of the most desirable in the country. Educational alternatives would be unlimited. It would be the source of enormous progress, and a model for the nation. It could cause the entire country to rethink education. And then those who moved away would move back to enjoy the best schools in the country at half the price of the public schools, and those without children in the house wouldn’t have to pay a dime for education. Talk about attractive!
So which town will be the first to try it and show us all the way?
[NB: I wrote this piece for the Libertarian Perspective over a week ago. It hasn’t gone online yet, so I’m posting it here. Some updates at the bottom]
The Formula for a Police State by Anthony Gregory
On the night of March 15 in an Oceanside, California, parking lot, after a dispute over one car cutting off another, Frank White, an off-duty San Diego police officer, shot five bullets into Rachel Silva’s car, hitting her in the arm twice, shattering a bone, and striking her eight-year-old son in the leg. She was unarmed. She has trouble moving her arm and might have permanent nerve damage.
Oceanside Police Captain Tom Aguigui promises that the department is pursuing “a very fair and complete investigation” to determine “why this whole thing happened,” but many details are being concealed from the public.
What does seem apparent, however, is something of a double standard. First, after Silva was hospitalized, the authorities decided to drug test her. Officer White, the one who did the shooting, was not tested. San Diego Homicide Lieutenant Kevin Rooney explained that police, whether on- or off-duty, are not drug tested after involvement in a shooting, barring some sign of intoxication. It is yet unclear what Silva’s alleged signs of intoxication were or why shooting someone after a traffic dispute isn’t probable cause for testing the way that, say, reckless driving is.
Nor was Officer White arrested. The Oceanside police did question him—while he was accompanied by a supervisor from his department, an attorney, and a police “peer support” representative. He is currently on paid leave.
Silva and her attorney have filed a claim for damages, in which she says she and White were yelling at each other when White pulled up on the right side of her car and began shooting as she tried to drive away. This account might help explain the bullet holes in Silva’s windshield and passenger side window, as well as why White’s driver’s side window was broken.
Silva has two DUIs on her record and was driving on a suspended license, leading some to question her credibility, and yet it is hard to imagine things going the same way if White were not a police officer. If police arriving at the scene found an unarmed woman blacking out from massive blood loss, her young son bleeding, her car shot up, and an angry motorist having clearly done the shooting, would they have decided to drug test the shot woman and not the shooter? Considering the injured child, would they have let the shooter go so easily and kept such strict control over the investigation? Would they have characterized their probe as an attempt to discover why he did it—not just to find motive for what appears to be an open-shut case of criminal road rage, but seemingly to find an exculpatory explanation?
What if the tables were turned: if White had been an ordinary citizen and Silva a police officer—even an armed one? Does anyone truly believe the investigation would be undertaken in an identical manner?
Indeed, the very fact that this investigation is being approached secretively and as a special case shows there is something fundamentally flawed about the way police are viewed in our culture and by the police department itself. It should make no difference who did the shooting and who was shot. All that should matter are the facts of the case and whether the shooting was an act of aggression or self-defense. In a free, just society, police are not held to a different standard—unless, perhaps, a higher standard; after all, they are the ones paid by taxpayers to uphold the law.
Having a double standard that favors police is the formula for a police state. Whether in investigations, arrests, trials, or punishment, police should never get away with anything for which a member of the public would face severe consequences. A police state is at our doorstep when the public fears the government and law enforcers enjoy impunity for negligent or malicious behavior. Freedom and justice are empty promises without equality under the law, including for the lawmen.
Frank White should be regarded innocent until proven guilty. But does anyone think he’d be treated the same way if he were not an officer of the law? Or that if found guilty he’ll get the same punishment that Silva would have if she had shot him and his son? To ask the question is to answer it, which is a sad testament to the current state of the rule of law.
[I will be keeping up on this a bit. Not much in the last week has come out to add much clarity to the situation, though apparently Silva has a new attorney and there is some evidence she was in retreat when White shot her. Also, a new claim on the boy’s behalf accuses White of pointing the gun directly at him.]
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On a typical workday, Lovemore Vambe will make dozens of clandestine phone calls that lead to a handful of illegal transactions. He’ll conspire with colleagues, sidestep police or bribe them if necessary, and come home in the evening with a few dollars in his pocket.
That’s enough to make the rent and keep his eldest child in boarding school. In Zimbabwe’s free-falling economy, the slight, mustachioed 31-year-old holds a rare steady job: He’s a money dealer on Harare’s thriving black market, helping Zimbabweans trade foreign currency for their increasingly worthless local cash.
With inflation estimated at 200,000 percent - easily the highest in the world - Zimbabwe’s currency is barely worth the paper it’s printed on. (The largest Zimbabwean note, 10 million dollars, can’t buy more than a couple of sodas.) Foreign currency runs this economy now, mainly the U.S. dollar and the South African rand, nearly all of it traded on the black market.
The government of longtime President Robert Mugabe, who faces a critical re-election test on Saturday, has pegged the exchange rate at $1 to 30,000 Zimbabwean dollars. But the currency is losing value at such head-spinning speed that on the streets of Harare, one U.S. greenback will soon fetch about 2,000 times that.
Since no one can afford to do business at the official rate, Vambe says the thousands of informal dealers have become Zimbabwe’s lifeline.
"If you want Zim dollars, you have to buy it on the parallel market," said Vambe, seated on an overstuffed sofa in the comfortable suburban home he shares with his wife and three children.
"The banks don’t allow you to pull out more than 500 a day," he said, meaning 500 million Zimbabwean dollars, the six zeroes on the end being essentially meaningless in a figure that equates to less than $10. "And that is when they have cash. Me, I can always find cash for a customer."
But he has to hustle. Even though the police regularly crack down on the illegal trade, in a country where nine in 10 people don’t hold regular jobs, money-dealing is a rare chance to make a buck and is therefore highly competitive. In a good week, Vambe can make $100 in commissions, more than enough to cover the month’s rent.
Zimbabwe’s economy began failing a decade ago after Mugabe launched a politically motivated land reform scheme that bankrupted the farm sector, the country’s main source of income. Now, remittances from Zimbabweans living overseas drive the economy, pumping as much as $1 billion in foreign currency into the country each year, nearly all of it coming through the black market.
"There is absolutely no way that the economy could function without the inflows of money via the black market," said Tony Hawkins, a leading independent economist in Harare.
Finding money on the streets is easy, Hawkins said, because the government prints so much of it. With Mugabe facing a close election race, Hawkins believes that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has dumped more than 1.5 quadrillion dollars onto the market over the past month, “to buy votes for the ruling party in one way or another,” he said.
One summer day about 30 years ago, Janet Hicks was putting up tomato sauce in her kitchen when she heard a knock at the door. Outside stood a man wearing black shoes and an ID badge.
“He said, ‘Are you Janet Hicks?’ “she recalls. “I said, ‘Yes.’ He said he was from the IRS.
“And I said, ‘Oh, I’ve been expecting you for a few years. Come on in.’”
The agent had come to collect the taxes that Hicks, in an act of civil disobedience, had decided she would no longer pay. Since the visit from the IRS, Hicks has taken care of some of her state and local fiscal obligations. But as of last week, the Burlington cook still hadn’t paid a cent of the federal income tax she owes.
The daughter of a World War II veteran, Hicks will once again withhold a portion of her taxes this year to protest her country’s militaristic presence in the world.
War-tax resistance in the United States dates back at least to the 1940s, when a group of Chicago pacifists called the Peacemakers created a Tax Refusal Committee. Since then, war-tax resistance has taken different forms. Some resisters refuse to file federal returns altogether, or opt to pay only their state taxes. Others avoid incurring a tax bill by living cheaply. Some deduct specific percentages in protest over military appropriations, while others withhold negligible sums in symbolic protest.
However they practice it, tax resisters tend to operate outside of the traditional economic system. Hicks’ frugal lifestyle enables her to avoid paying income tax. Robert Riversong, of Warren, used to transfer his savings to a girlfriend’s account and buy money orders from a gas station whenever he needed to pay bills. And Bob Bady, who lives in Brattleboro, stopped practicing as a registered nurse in the late 1980s after the IRS threatened to seize his wages.
Still, the IRS had its way with Bady. In 1989, 19 years after he stopped filing tax returns, agents seized his Massachusetts home. “There have been consequences to being a war-tax resister,” Bady admits. “But then, supporting America’s military policy of exploitation also has consequences. I feel better for having decided to choose consequences that were in line with my belief.”
Beyond the truly committed, this particular activism hardly rises to the level of a political movement. For one thing, it has never had an effect on foreign policy, and because the federal government doesn’t recognize arbitrary deductions by individual taxpayers, it has no impact on the Pentagon’s budget. In any event, with a federal budget of more than $2 trillion, it would be difficult to link the absence of a few tanks or an aircraft carrier to war-tax resistance.
But for fiscal refuseniks such as Riversong, war-tax resistance holds philosophical, not just strategic, significance. Riversong was on his way to prison from an antinuclear protest in Connecticut in 1979 when he wrote an impromptu letter to the IRS. As he explained on a recent afternoon at the Warren Store, Riversong, a designer-builder and active participantin the Vermont secessionist movement, hasn’t paid his taxes since.
While it’s hard to know how many people have ideological reasons for not paying their taxes, it’s nearly impossible to know how many garden-variety tax evaders are engaged in a form of protest against government policy.
Brenda Vovakes, director of compliance at the Vermont Department of Taxes, says her agency began pursuing delinquent taxes more aggressively back in 2000. Since then, the state has recouped $20,000 or $30,000 annually in unpaid state taxes. As for war-tax resistors, “It’s really not a big movement here,” she says. “Or maybe I don’t know who they all are?”
Five years into an unpopular war, war-tax resistance isn’t entirely dead, of course. Since 1972, the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act has been on the table. If passed, it would allow conscientious objectors to earmark their taxes for non-military spending. Janet Hicks, who was 21 when the bill was first introduced, says she’d be “thrilled” if it ever passed. Not likely: Congress last held hearings on the act in 1995, and it currently has just 33 cosponsors — none of them from Vermont.
Meanwhile, the national antiwar group Code Pink has launched a nationwide tax boycott. By April 5, the organization hopes to get 100,000 people to pledge to withhold their taxes this year. As of Monday evening, fewer than 2100 people had signed up. That doesn’t surprise Robert Riversong.
Riversong, who burned his draft card during the Vietnam War, wonders what such symbolic efforts can really accomplish at this point.
“Millions of people protested the Iraq war before it began, and it had no impact,” he asserts. “Until we shift the paradigm of our culture, nothing is going to change.”
How does one resolve the painful conflicts that such a relationship produces?
Not long ago my mother met with Hilde Schramm, the daughter of Albert Speer, their meeting being featured in a radio programme. My mother thought her a good woman who had struggled to put right her father’s crimes in the best way she could.
But nevertheless, my mother decided not to confront her directly about Speer. Why? Because Mum felt it would not be fair. The issue was bound to be so difficult for Schramm. “After all, he was her Daddy”.
Gudrun Himmler: No conflict for the daughter of Heinrich Himmler. She remains, basically, a Nazi. Since 1951 she has been a member of Stille Hilfe, an organisation supporting arrested, condemned or fugitive former SS-members in states of distress. For decades she has been their prominent symbol.
Katrin Himmler: Himmler’s great niece, on the other hand, regards Uncle Heinrich as a mass murderer. She worries about what she is going to tell her child about the family. Why? Because she is married to a Jew who survived in the Warsaw ghetto and then went to live in Israel.
Hilde Schramm: The daughter of Hitler’s architect has become a bohemian figure, a Green politician, and a brave and outspoken leader of efforts to return works of art stolen by the Nazis. She simultaneously retains affection for her father with an abhorrence for Nazi crimes, including his. This dual stance is made possible to some extent by the lack of clarity still existing about Speer’s exact role and knowledge about the Final Solution. Obviously however, Speer knew much more than he admitted.
Max Rufus Mosley: The son of Oswald Mosley was his father’s supporter and aide in the 1960s when Oswald had made European federalism his cause. He later was involved in the Tory party, before becoming a Labour donor in the mid 1990s. He keeps talk of the Mosley political past to a minimum and has become successful instead in the world of motor racing.
Paddy Hitler: Adolf Hitler did not have a son, but he did have a nephew, Paddy. Paddy, the son of Hitler’s brother Alois, lived in Liverpool as a young boy. In 1933 he moved to Germany, trying to be a car salesman and cash in on his family name. Things didn’t work out and he moved to the US, denouncing his Uncle and serving in the US Navy in the war. Finally he settled in Long Island where he had three sons, including Brian Hitler. I am not making this up.
Nicholas Mosley: Oswald Mosley was married twice. Yet while Diana Mosley, Max’s mother was a fascist supporter, Nicholas’s mother Cynthia was not. She was alive during Oswald’s Labour years. Her son Nicholas is a successful novelist and an outspoken critic of his father and his politics.
Romano Mussolini: The third son of Benito was a successful jazz pianist. So successful in fact that he became one of the top players in Europe in the 1960s, his albums winning critical acclaim and prizes. He started under a pseudonym, Roman Full, but later played under his own name. He claimed that his father had been misunderstood - that he was not an anti-Semite or as ruthless as he was portrayed.
Martin Bormann Jr: Bormann’s son was an ardent Nazi as a child, but gradually came face to face with Nazi crimes, recording with horror an incident in which Himmler’s family showed him a lightshade made of human skin. He became a Priest and tours the world denouncing the crimes of the Nazis.
Alessandra Mussolini: Roman’s daughter is more fascist than jazz pianist. The Mussolini family has had its revenge on democracy with Alessandra’s election to the European Parliament. Or perhaps it’s the other way round. Benito’s grandaughter has grown up into a fully fledged neo-fascist leader. She has gone through a complex legal process to allow her children to attach the name Mussolini to their father’s surname. Bet they are all eternally grateful.
Albert Speer: Hilde turned to politics while her brother chose the alternative route, picking up his father’s architectural legacy. He has been fabulously successful in this alternative career, despite bearing such a controversial name.
As a parent helping two children navigate their teen years, and as a travel writer who has seen firsthand how Europe deals with its drug problem, I’ve thought a lot about U.S. drug policy — particularly our criminalization of marijuana.
Europe, like the U.S., is dealing with a persistent drug-abuse problem. But unlike us, Europe, which treats drug abuse primarily as a public health issue rather than a criminal issue, measures the success of its drug policy in terms of pragmatic harm reduction.
Europeans seek a cure that isn’t more costly than the problem. While the U.S. spends its tax dollars on police, courts and prisons, Europe fights drug abuse by funding doctors, counselors and clinics. European Union policymakers estimate that for each euro invested in drug education and counseling, they save 15 euros in police and health costs. Similar estimates have been made for U.S. health-based approaches by the Rand Corp. and others.
While Europeans are as firmly opposed to hard drugs as we are, the difference in how they approach marijuana is striking. Take the Netherlands, with its famously liberal marijuana laws. On my last trip to Amsterdam, I visited a “coffee shop” — a cafe that openly and legally sells marijuana to people over 18. I sat and observed the very local, almost quaint scene: Neighbors were chatting. An older couple (who apparently didn’t enjoy the trendy ambience) parked their bikes and dropped in for a baggie to go. An underage customer was shooed away. Then a police officer showed up — but only to post a warning about the latest danger from chemical drugs on the streets.
Some concerned U.S. parents are comforted by the illusion of control created by our complete prohibition of marijuana. But the policy seems to be backfiring: Their kids say it’s easier to buy marijuana than tobacco or alcohol. (You don’t get carded when you buy something illegally.) Meanwhile, Dutch parents say their approach not only protects their younger children, but also helps insulate teens over 18 from street pushers trying to get them hooked on more addictive (and profitable) hard drugs.
After a decade of regulating marijuana, Dutch anti-drug abuse professionals agree there has been no significant increase in pot smoking among young people, and that overall cannabis use has increased only slightly. European and U.S. government statistics show per-capita consumption of marijuana for most of Europe (including the Netherlands) is about half that of the U.S., despite the criminal consequences facing American pot smokers.
When it comes to marijuana, European leaders understand that a society must choose: Tolerate alternative lifestyles or build more prisons. They’ve made their choice. We’re still building more prisons.
According to Forbes magazine, 25 million Americans currently use marijuana (federal statistics indicate that one in three Americans has used marijuana at some point), which makes it a $113 billion untaxed industry in our country. The FBI reports that about 40 percent of the roughly 1.8 million annual drug arrests in the U.S. are for marijuana — the majority (89 percent) for simple possession.
Rather than act as a deterrent, criminalization of marijuana drains precious resources, clogs our legal system and distracts law enforcement attention from more pressing safety concerns.
But things are changing. For example, in Seattle, Initiative 75, which makes adult marijuana use the lowest law enforcement priority for local cops, was recently reviewed after four years in action. The results clearly show that during that period, marijuana use didn’t measurably increase, and street crime associated with drugs actually went down.
More and more U.S. parents, lawyers, police, judges and even travel writers feel it’s time for a change. Obviously, like Europeans, we don’t want anyone to harm themselves or others by misusing marijuana. We simply believe that regulating and taxing what many consider a harmless vice is smarter than outlawing it.
Like my European friends, I believe we can adopt a pragmatic policy toward marijuana, with a focus on harm reduction and public health, rather than tough-talking but counterproductive criminalization. The time has come to have an honest discussion about our marijuana laws and their effectiveness. We need to find a policy that is neither “hard on drugs” nor “soft on drugs” — but smart on drugs.
48 COMMENTS The stories are shocking in their simplicity and brutality: A female military recruit is pinned down at knifepoint and raped repeatedly in her own barracks. Her attackers hid their faces but she identified them by their uniforms; they were her fellow soldiers. During a routine gynecological exam, a female soldier is attacked and raped by her military physician. Yet another young soldier, still adapting to life in a war zone, is raped by her commanding officer. Afraid for her standing in her unit, she feels she has nowhere to turn.
These are true stories, and, sadly, not isolated incidents. Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.
The scope of the problem was brought into acute focus for me during a visit to the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center, where I met with female veterans and their doctors. My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41% of female veterans seen at the clinic say they were victims of sexual assault while in the military, and 29% report being raped during their military service. They spoke of their continued terror, feelings of helplessness and the downward spirals many of their lives have since taken.
Numbers reported by the Department of Defense show a sickening pattern. In 2006, 2,947 sexual assaults were reported — 73% more than in 2004. The DOD’s newest report, released this month, indicates that 2,688 reports were made in 2007, but a recent shift from calendar-year reporting to fiscal-year reporting makes comparisons with data from previous years much more difficult.
The Defense Department has made some efforts to manage this epidemic — most notably in 2005, after the media received anonymous e-mail messages about sexual assaults at the Air Force Academy. The media scrutiny and congressional attention that followed led the DOD to create the Sexual Assault and Response Office. Since its inception, the office has initiated education and training programs, which have improved the reporting of cases of rapes and other sexual assaults. But more must be done to prevent attacks and to increase accountability.
At the heart of this crisis is an apparent inability or unwillingness to prosecute rapists in the ranks. According to DOD statistics, only 181 out of 2,212 subjects investigated for sexual assault in 2007, including 1,259 reports of rape, were referred to courts-martial, the equivalent of a criminal prosecution in the military. Another 218 were handled via nonpunitive administrative action or discharge, and 201 subjects were disciplined through “nonjudicial punishment,” which means they may have been confined to quarters, assigned extra duty or received a similar slap on the wrist. In nearly half of the cases investigated, the chain of command took no action; more than a third of the time, that was because of “insufficient evidence.”
This is in stark contrast to the civilian trend of prosecuting sexual assault. In California, for example, 44% of reported rapes result in arrests, and 64% of those who are arrested are prosecuted, according to the California Department of Justice.
The DOD must close this gap and remove the obstacles to effective investigation and prosecution. Failure to do so produces two harmful consequences: It deters victims from reporting, and it fails to deter offenders. The absence of rigorous prosecution perpetuates a culture tolerant of sexual assault — an attitude that says “boys will be boys.”
I have raised the issue with Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Although I believe that he is concerned, thus far, the military’s response has been underwhelming — and the apparent lack of urgency is inexcusable.
Congress is not doing much better. Although these sexual assault statistics are readily available, our oversight has failed to come to grips with the magnitude of the crisis. The abhorrent and graphic nature of the reports may make people uncomfortable, but that is no excuse for inaction. Congressional hearings are urgently needed to highlight the failure of existing policies. Most of our servicewomen and men are patriotic, courageous and hardworking people who embody the best of what it means to be an American. The failure to address military sexual assault runs counter to those ideals and shames us all.