Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, July 2006

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Monday, July 31, 2006

In a 230-180 vote, the House of Representatives voted to increase the minimum wage, a type of law that any reputable economist will tell you does nothing more than condemn people to unemployment.

After all, look at the logic. No employer is required to hire anyone. It’s his business. He’s going to hire someone who he believes will be worth more to him than it costs to hire the person. Thus, if the law requires someone to pay $6 an hour, no employer is going to hire anyone whose labor he values at less than $6.

So what happens to all the workers whose labor is valued in the marketplace at less than $6? They’re locked out of the labor market by a $6 minimum-wage law. So, how do they survive? Through burglaries, robberies, muggings, or taxpayer-provided welfare.

Yet, the congressmen who voted in favor of the minimum-wage increase would undoubtedly cry, “We did it to help the poor!”

With reasoning like that, why are people so willing to entrust their life, fortune, and well-being, as well as that of their children, to these people?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Do you remember when cable-news commentators, in a burst of patriotism, were railing against corruption in the infamous oil-for-food program, which was intended to alleviate the massive suffering and deaths from the brutal sanctions that the U.S. and the UN were imposing against the Iraqi people?

I wonder if the commentators will experience the same burst of patriotism about the corruption in the U.S. Homeland Security projects to keep America safe from the terrorists? I wouldn’t bet on it because the oil-for-food corruption involved the UN while the Homeland Security corruption involves the U.S. government and the privileged American contractors who feed at the federal trough.

According to the Washington Post, a bipartisan congressional report to be released states that 32 Homeland Security Department contracts worth a total of $34 billion have “experienced significant overcharges, wasteful spending, or mismanagement.”

One example involved $297 million in questionable costs for a program to hire airport screeners, including luxury hotel rooms. Hey, how can a bureaucrat make the right hiring decisions if he’s not staying in a luxury hotel room? Keep in mind also the bureaucratic mindset: If they don’t spend all the money allotted to them, they won’t get it the following year.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t Republicans always saying how important it is to get rid of the “waste, fraud, and abuse” in government programs? Question: Why didn’t Republicans ensure that there was no waste, fraud, and abuse in government programs whose expressed intent was to protect the American people from terrorism? Wouldn’t it have been better to prevent the waste, fraud, and abuse rather than publish a report on it after it occurred?

When will Americans finally come to the realization that the entire war on terrorism, along with U.S. foreign policy that engendered it, is a great big bonanza to maintain the entire federal big-government, pro-empire monstrosity and the entire military-industrial complex in high cotton?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Amidst ever-growing big government and abuse of political power in our land, not to mention all the empire junk going on overseas, there is a piece of good news to report. The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected the U.S. Supreme Court’s reasoning in the infamous Kelo decision.

You will recall that in Kelo, the city of New London, Connecticut, was claiming the power under eminent domain to take people’s homes and businesses from them, pay “just compensation,” and then transfer the property to private developers. It is the same type of takings, by the way, that that the Chinese communist regime is doing to its citizens, minus the just compensation.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the power of states and localities to do this as long as it was part of an economic development plan, (i.e, that it brought in more tax revenues to voracious politicians and bureaucrats).

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, there has been a tremendous backlash among the citizenry (just as there has been among the Chinese citizenry). Since the ruling, 28 states have enacted new legislation restricting the use of eminent domain.

Rejecting the reasoning in Kelo, the Ohio Supreme Court held that under the Ohio state constitution, eminent domain cannot be used to take a person’s property and give it to a private developer for a private development project.

The Kelo decision held that the Fifth Amendment takings clause does not prohibit states and localities from using eminent domain to condemn property for the purposes of economic development. But the holding did not prohibit the states from barring it.

Since the Ohio decision was based on the Ohio state constitution, it now becomes the final law of the land with respect to the use of eminent domain in Ohio. The losers cannot appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court because the holding is based on the Ohio state constitution, not the U.S. Constitution.

Since the Ohio Supreme Court has now held that under the state constitution, such actions are prohibited, that is obviously much more powerful than a legislative enactment. If voracious Ohio politicians and bureaucrats and their well-heeled fat-cat developers want to change the law, they have to get a constitutional amendment passed rather than simply line the pockets of state legislators in return for favorable legislation.

As Richard A. Epstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago put it, “The Ohio decision takes the loophole that was left by the U.S. Supreme Court decision and drives a Mack truck right through it.”

The holding by the Ohio Supreme Court is a victory for individual rights, private property, and free-market principles.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The U.S. Congress, which cowardly and unconstitutionally delegated its power to declare war on Iraq to President Bush, is agog and outraged over Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s opposition to Israel’s bombing campaign against Lebanon.

Hello?! Where have you people been? While you were slumbering, what did you think that the president’s invasion had installed — a U.S. puppet? Think again!

As I have been stating in this blog for ever so long, it is slowly going to dawn on the American people what President Bush’s invasion has wrought in Iraq. No, not the installation of a U.S. puppet regime. No, not U.S. government favorites Chalabi or Allawi as prime minister. Instead the invasion has installed a radical Islamic regime that has aligned itself with Iran, which President Bush and Congress consider is part of an axis of evil. A regime that loves to have U.S. forces continue killing its longtime enemies, the Sunnis. That’s what U.S. forces have been killing and dying for in Iraq during the occupation period — not for freedom but rather for the preservation of an Islamic Shiite regime.

As columnist Robert Scheer puts it:

“Never mind that the prime minister is a militant Shiite, long-sheltered in Syria and given political tutelage by the mullahs of Iran.”

Here’s what Maliki said, an opinion that is obviously opposite to the official Bush-Congress stand on the latest outbreak of violence in the Middle East:

“The Israeli attacks and airstrikes are completely destroying Lebanon’s infrastructure. I condemn these aggressions and call on the Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo to take quick action to stop these aggressions. We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression.”

Milaki is not alone in his sentiments. According to the New York Times:

“A growing number of Iraqi officials have stepped forward in recent days to condemn Israel. On Sunday, in a rare show of unity, the 275-member Parliament issued a statement calling the Israeli strikes an act of ‘criminal aggression.’ The militant Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, whose followers play a crucial role in the government, said last Friday that Iraqis would not ‘sit by with folded hands’ while the violence in Lebanon raged. Mr. Sadr commands a powerful militia, the Mahdi Army.”

In the minds of President Bush and the members of Congress, all this is a no-no because when a foreign regime is installed by the U.S. government, it is expected to toe the official U.S. Empire line. That’s what expanding the empire, with its coups, assassinations, sanctions, embargoes, aid, interventions, invasions, and occupations, is all about.

After all, we shouldn’t forget that Saddam Hussein was once a darling of the U.S. Empire, which even provided him with those infamous WMD that were used to scare the American people into supporting the president’s invasion. But once Saddam went independent with his invasion of Kuwait, the Empire deemed it necessary to oust him and replace him with a regime that would hopefully become a team player.

What will President Bush and the Congress do to straighten out Milaki and his Islamic cohorts? Since the U.S. Empire is currently occupying the country, it would seem that sanctions, embargoes, and invasions would be inapt. The most likely course would be to threaten to cut off U.S. taxpayer aid to the Iraqi regime or, more ominously, to simply threaten to deliver Milaki into the hands of the CIA.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The American Bar Association has now joined the chorus of voices condemning President Bush’s use of “signing statements” to ignore laws enacted by Congress.

Bush’s reasoning goes as follows: I am a commander in chief because I’m at war against the terrorists and will remain so until all the terrorists are killed or captured. As long as I am a commander in chief, the Congress cannot limit my powers.

For example, when Congress enacted the law prohibiting torture, President Bush approved the law but with a signing statement that said he didn’t really have to obey the law because he considered himself a commander in chief in an endless war against the terrorists.

It’s not difficult to appreciate the end result of the president’s reasoning: As commander in chief, he is the nation’s dictator. Why dictator? For the obvious reason: He is free to ignore any laws enacted by Congress that limit his powers. All he has to do is sign a statement indicating his intent to disregard such attempts by Congress.

What about constitutional restraints? So far, the president has not yet taken to signing statements indicating his intent to violate the Constitution or the rulings of the Supreme Court. But it is clear that his position is that the Constitution gives him omnipotent power to ignore constitutional restraints on his powers as commander in chief.

That’s in fact why Bush ordered the NSA to conduct warrantless wiretaps. While he knew that the Fourth Amendment requires warrants and while he knew that the FISA court was established for securing warrants for wiretaps in national security cases, Bush felt that his war on terrorism gave him omnipotent powers to ignore those restraints.

As a commander in chief, Bush also claims the power to have the military arrest, incarcerate, and punish Americans and deny them trial by jury and due process of law. It’s also why he claims the power to set up secret torture centers around the world, have people kidnapped and sent to foreign regimes for torture, and to invade independent countries for the purpose of regime change.

In Bush’s mind, there are no limits to a commander in chief. In his mind, he has the power to do whatever is necessary to protect Americans from the terrorists.

We should also never forget that the reason that President Bush located his detention center in Cuba was precisely to avoid the constraints of the Constitution and to avoid federal court interference with its operations.

As Michael S. Greco, president of the ABA put it, President Bush’s policy of signing statements presents a “threat to the Constitution and to the rule of law.” The ABA’s report also quoted the English Bill of Rights: “The pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of Parliament, is illegal.”

We can only hope that the ABA is further evidence that the American people are starting to appreciate the warnings of our English and American ancestors — that the greatest threat to our rights and freedoms come not from the terrorists but rather from our very own government. After all, keep in mind that our own Bill of Rights does not protect us from the terrorists; it protects us from President Bush, Congress, and other federal officials.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A zoning controversy in the county in which I live — Loudoun County, Virginia — provides a good insight into the type of mindset that unfortunately holds our nation in its grip.

Loudoun County is among the fastest growing counties in the country. Most of the population growth has been in the eastern part of the county but the population pressures have been slowly moving west, where a faction wants to keep the population growth as low as possible.

In order to accomplish their goal, the slow-growth people are asking the Loudoun County board of supervisors to increase the minimum lot size for homes in the western part of the county from 3 acres to 10 or 20 acres.

One woman, Joyce Legard, who wrote an article in opposition to the plan, explained that her family had recently spent $500,000 for development plans based on the current zoning law, which would be lost if the zoning law were changed.

An opposing article by another resident, Howard Lewis, explained how important the maintenance of rural values is to him and others in the area.

The mindset that guides Lewis and his bunch is unfortunately not limited to people who live near Washington, D.C. It is a malady that afflicts people all over the country.

Lewis values a rural-type setting. But not everyone shares that value. Some people place a higher value on the money that can be earned from developing their property with high-density housing.

So, is there a free-market solution at Lewis’s disposal? Of course but it would entail putting his money where his principles lie. He could round up investments and donations from people who share his same values and then go buy the Legard land and other surrounding properties. Then they could restrict building on the property to their heart’s content.

Instead, Lewis and his ilk decide that it’s easier to run to their government daddy and effectively cry, “Joyce Legard wants to use her property in a way we don’t approve. Make her use her property the way we want her to use her property. Stop her and punish her if she proves recalcitrant.”

Never mind that Legard has been deprived of the true value of her property. Her values must be subordinated to that of Lewis and the collective, which will be imposed on Legard through the force of government.

In 1926 in a 5-4 decision in the case of Euclid v. Ambler, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the zoning power of municipalities. Too bad that close decision didn’t go the other way.

Friday, July 21, 2006

For many Americans, both inside and outside the federal government, it is gospel that U.S. intervention and occupation in the Middle East is necessary to protect “our” oil.

Well, for one thing it is not “our” oil. The oil in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other parts of the Middle East as well as in Venezuela, Mexico, and other parts of the world does not belong to “us.” It is owned by others.

Even here in the United States, the oil is not “ours.” It belongs to private individuals and privately owned companies. That is, no one has a right to enter onto an oil-producing ranch in Texas, for example, and say, “I’m here to partake of ‘our’ oil because it belongs to us.”

When someone else owns a product, there are two primary ways to acquire it: buy it or steal it.

The trespass onto an oil-producing ranch to extract the property owner’s oil is stealing. So is an invasion of a foreign country for the purpose of extracting or “guaranteeing” the oil from that country.

Can the United States acquire its oil simply by letting the private sector purchase it? Of course it can. After all, communist China and most of the rest of the world is acquiring oil without invading, attacking, and occupying oil-producing countries. They’re simply buying it.

Here’s another example of the adverse consequences of unleashing federal power overseas for the purpose of protecting “our” supply of oil. A recent article in the Washington Post related on U.S. officials are playing their geo-political oil games against Russia by trying to persuade other countries to construct pipelines that would diminish Russia’s supplying of oil to Europe. The gambit is obviously designed to punish Russian president Putin for not following U.S. dictates in foreign affairs (i.e., Iran).

While stirring up trouble with Russia is in the interests of the U.S. government, given that it will stimulate more taxpayer money for the U.S. military-industrial complex, it is not in the interests of the American people. For that matter, the same principle applies to the Middle East, Korea, Vietnam, Venezuela, and other parts of the world.

There is only one solution to all this: Limited government, which means reining in the federal government in foreign affairs (as well as domestically). As our ancestors tried so hard to warn us, a powerful federal government guarantees a week, insecure, and unfree country while a weak federal government is the way to ensure a strong, safe, and free country.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Marriott International Inc. has implemented a no-smoking policy for its hotels. The policy is simply a business decision by the corporation. That is, the government hasn’t passed a law requiring such action. Some customers, including smokers, are happy with the decision but at least one smokers’ group has announced that it intends to boycott the hotel.

This is how things would work in an unhampered, free-market economy. Each business would be free to implement its own smoking policies, without being forced to do so by the government. By the same token, people would be free to decide for themselves whether to patronize the business.

In other words, contrary to popular opinion, people don’t need government to be their daddy and to protect them from businesses that permit smoking. If they wish to avoid establishments that allow smoking, all they have to do is make the grown-up decision not to enter that establishment. They don’t have to run to their government daddy and ask him to punish the establishment for permitting people to smoke their.

Consider for example the popular anti-smoking bans that are now being enacted by states and localities. The bans prohibit people from smoking in private bars and restaurants.

Such bans constitute a severe infringement on the principles of individual liberty and private property. Restaurant owners have the right to implement any policy they want in their restaurant. It’s their restaurant. That’s what private property is all about. And people have the right to go into that restaurant or not, depending on their choice.

This is not only what freedom is all about. It’s also what being a grown-up is all about.

Some restaurants and bars would permit smoking. Some would not. Some would have a smoking section and a non-smoking section. The market — that is, customers’ choices on which establishments to patronize — would dictate which establishments would be most profitable, which might well influence the decisions of the restaurant and bar owners as to which policy to implement.

Marriott’s decision to implement a non-smoking policy in the absence of being forced to do so by the government reminds us of the type of a society that America once was: a society based on the principles of individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government, as compared to the type of society which modern-day Americans have opted for: a society based on a paternalistic role for government whose mission is watch over and take care of its child-adults by its assaults on private property and its infringements on individual liberty.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Yesterday, I told about the recently elected mayor of my hometown of Laredo, Texas, who announced that he would be looking to the federal government to send free money to Laredo. It is a mindset that guides federal, state, and local politicians and bureaucrats all across the land. It is also a mindset that is leading to ever-increasing political and moral debauchery and economic destruction, given that the scam is based on using the power of government to plunder everyone in order to distribute the loot to the privileged elite.

The Washington Post yesterday carried an article that describes the exact same phenomenon albeit in a different arena. Federal officials desired to dole out more than a billion dollars in free U.S. taxpayer money to farmers as part of disaster relief. The problem was that in many parts of the U.S. there was no disaster, and so federal officials began pestering state and local officials into discovering a disaster in their area.

For example, one county in Texas had not suffered a drought, which was one of the commonly used disaster excuses. After receiving considerable pestering from federal officials and after much research, the local officials discovered that there had been a rainstorm in the area a while back. That did it. The free money flowed into the hands of local farmers.

Of course, the farmers didn’t have to accept the money. But given human nature being what it is, apparently very few, if any, refused the free money. After all, it was free. One farmer who received $40,000 because debris from the space shuttle Columbia had landed 10 or 20 miles from his cattle, which was one of the federal disasters, said that while he was embarrassed to take the money, “If there is money available, you might as well take it. You would be a fool not to.”

What is happening in the U.S. Empire today is not much different than what was taking place in the waning days of the Roman Empire. Recall how Roman Empire troops were spending untold amounts of tax money on expanding the empire, fighting the barbarians in faraway lands. And whenever there were signs of revolt among the citizenry, Roman officials would provide the citizenry with welfare to keep them pacified along with the never-ceasing crises and emergencies arising from the battles with the foreign barbarians.

Meanwhile, the American people continue supporting the expansion of the U.S. Empire, including troops all over the world, the occupation of Iraq, federal hopes of attacking more countries, all of which produce the terrorism that then is used to take away the freedom of the American people, not to mention that the federal out-of-control expenditures are threatening to bankrupt our nation. And to make certain that people don’t get too restless, the feds continue to plough them with the free money that the IRS has taken from them, their families, friends, and countrymen.

What a perfect federal scam for ever-growing political power over the lives and fortunes of the citizenry? After all, how often have politicians and bureaucrats in history been able to get people to participate in and support their own destruction?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The sentiment of the recently elected mayor of my hometown of Laredo, Texas, provides a perfect sense as to why our country is in such bad shape. Here’s what Raul Salinas, who is a retired FBI agent, said immediately after his June 17 runoff-election victory:

“I have contacts with people in Washington and in Congress, and I want to make sure they give us any money we are due, but I want to see about some extra money, too.”

“Money we are due”? “Extra money”? What is Salinas talking about?

He’s talking about the federal daddy, which uses the IRS to collects an enormous amount of tax money from the American people, which federal politicians and bureaucrats then disburse to state and local politicians across the land.

Amidst tremendous publicity and fanfare, especially during campaign season, a congressman or some other federal official will announce a grant of “free federal money for your community.” Receiving the free money, the local official will say, “It is because of my contacts that we are receiving this free money.”

And the average person, unable to see through the scam, praises both his local official and his federal official. He can’t believe how lucky he is to live in a country where his federal, state, and local politicians and bureaucrats are able to bring free money to his community. He never realizes that it is his money — or the money that has been taken from his friends and countrymen — that is at the core of the free-money scam. All that matters to him is that the money is “free.”

When Americans finally realize that it is their own money that at the core of the scam — or, just as bad, the money of their relatives, friends, and countrymen — that will spell the beginning of the end of both the federal income tax and the national scam it funds.

Monday, July 17, 2006

One thing we have learned about the latest outburst of violence in the Middle East is that President Bush’s invasion of Iraq has not brought peace to that part of the world, as the president said it would. What’s amazing is that anyone actually believed that an illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral invasion that has killed and maimed tens of thousands of innocent people could actually bring about good results. Washington, D.C., politicians and bureaucrats oftentimes forget that evil means are not likely to beget good ends.

But of course, empires thrive in the midst of chaos, emergency, and crisis. More self-importance for both military and diplomatic officials. Bigger budgets. Endless meetings. Overseas trips. Crisis management. Spying. Detentions. Torture. Power. It’s everything that Madison warned us about when he pointed out that of all the threats to our liberty, war is the biggest because it provides the federals with the maximum opportunity to suspend rights and freedoms, oftentimes with the ardent support of citizen-sheeplings.

Thus, why is it surprising that Washington officials are stirring up tensions with Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Syria? The more crises, the greater the opportunity for power, which means ever-growing government expenditures, especially on the military-industrial complex, as well as ever-growing assaults on civil liberties.

That’s why there is only one solution to the foreign-policy woes to afflict our nation: Reign in the federal government, bring home the troops and discharge them into the private sector, and dismantle the standing army and military-industrial complex. By restoring a limited-government republic to our land, we both strengthen our nation and once again make America the model for the world of freedom, prosperity, peace, and harmony.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Washington, D.C., Police Chief Charles H. Ramsay has declared a citywide “crime emergency,” in response to 96 killings this year.

The most recent crime is the murder of 27-year-old Alan Senitt, an assistant to potential presidential candidate Mark Warner. Returning from dinner and a movie in Georgetown, Senitt and his date were accosted by three men wielding a gun and a knife.

What?

Wait a minute! Isn’t that impossible? How could the suspects have been wielding a gun? After all, it’s illegal to have a gun in D.C. They have gun control in D.C. It’s against the law to have a gun. If it’s against the law to have a gun, then how is it possible that those who accosted Senitt and his date had a gun?

Yes, gun-control laws are both ludicrous and deadly, and the Senitt murder is just the most recent tragic example. The fact is that gun control has made D.C. one of the safest cities in the U.S. — safe for criminals, that is. Criminals don’t obey gun-control laws, as libertarians have long pointed out. It’s people like Senitt and his date who obey gun-control laws, thereby preventing them from defending themselves from the criminals.

Those who killed Alan Senitt are directly responsible for his death. But those who enact, maintain, and enforce gun-control laws in D.C. are indirectly responsible for his death as well.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I appeared on Alan Colmes (of Hannity and Colmes) radio show last night to debate a county commissioner of Dallas County, Texas. Dallas County is billing the Mexican government and other county governments for bills that remain unpaid by people receiving care at the county’s government-run Parkland Hospital.

I said: So, if a resident of Loudoun County, Virginia, where I live, travels to Dallas and receives medical care at Parkland and doesn’t pay for it, the commissioner is saying that I owe the bill. He responded: That’s right—you owe the bill.

This is where U.S. health-care socialism has brought us. Dallas County has chosen to own and operate a hospital, which not surprisingly is a big money loser (just like Amtrak, the postal service, and all the socialist enterprises in the Soviet Union). But rather than take responsibility for their choice, they look not only to their federal daddy to bail them out with huge subsidies and now to residents in other parts of the country and even from other countries.

Attention, Dallas County commissioners: There’s another solution: Get your government out of the hospital business. Sell Parkland Hospital or give it away. Embrace private property and the free market!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Well, the esteemed members of Congress are going out of their way to prove that they’re no longer slumbering and that they’re on the job protecting us.

No, unfortunately, they’re still not doing anything to protect Americans from the U.S. government’s military arrests and indefinite detentions of Americans, its warrantless monitoring of telephone calls, emails, and financial records, the Patriot Act, and who knows what else.

Congress is instead protecting people from those big, bad, dangerous gambling houses that lure unsuspecting adults into gambling on the Internet. Yesterday, the House of Representatives enacted a bill that bans Internet gambling.

Never mind that the gambling industry is based overseas — after all, don’t forget that the U.S. government serves as the world’s policeman.

The esteemed members of House of Representatives suggested that the reason that they hadn’t enacted the bill earlier was that too many esteemed members of Congress had succumbed to the seductive wiles of the noted lobbyist Jack Abramof, who had opposed the ban.

To ensure that the American people don’t rise up in opposition to the government’s increasing attempts to control the Internet (as the Chinese people are doing against their government), the esteemed members of the House brought up two words in conjunction with their Internet gambling ban: drug dealers and terrorists. What better two words to get the sheeplings’ knees a knockin’ and their voices crying in unison, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, daddy, for protecting me from the drug dealers, the terrorists, and the gambling houses. Please keep doing whatever is necessary to protect me from those bad people.”

Oh well, there’s at least one group that will be celebrating — the people who construct and run the federal prisons, given that the 23 million Americans who play poker on the Internet will soon be outlaws. And, hey, think about all the potential Internet bureaucrats and cops who will now have new jobs putting those dangerous, lawbreaking, gambling Americans away.

Oddly, there is no word yet on when the esteemed anti-gambling members of Congress intend to shut down state lotteries.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Have you ever noticed that at some intersections there are four different gasoline stations, one at each corner of the intersection? This is one of the virtues of a competitive market based on private ownership of resources.

Imagine what would happen if the government were to nationalize the oil and gas industry, as governments in other countries have done. The central planners would then argue that it would be a tremendous waste of resources to have more than one gas station at an intersection. In fact, the planners would undoubtedly devise a plan based on geographical sectors by which there would be one station allotted to each sector.

Don’t believe me? Well, look at two sectors that government central planners dominate here in the U.S. — public schooling and first-class mail delivery.

With public schooling, how many high schools are there competing for the business of each family? Don’t the planners instead divide the area into sectors and then require parents to send their children to the school in that sector?

How often do you see different first-class mail delivery services competing for people’s business? Answer: Never. Generally, the areas are divided into sectors, with one or two postal stations for each sector. If a person gets upset with the service that he receives from one postal station, he is “free” to take his business to another postal station in a different sector.

While it might appear that the private sector results in a waste of resources (i.e., four gas stations at one intersection), actually the opposite is true. Privately held firms have every incentive in the world to economize resources in order to maximize profits.

On the other hand, the public sector is the great waster of resources, especially given that it depends on politicians and bureaucrats, special privilege, and taxpayer money to finance its operations.

So, if you want to imagine how government ownership of the oil and gas industry would look, think of the postal service or public schooling. Or better yet, just travel down to Mexico and see how the government-owned oil company Pemex operates, including its one gasoline station at an intersection.

And if you want to imagine how a free market in education and first-class mail delivery would look in the United States, think about how gasoline stations serve consumers at intersections.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Included in today’s FFF Email Update is a gripping story from the Washington Post that describes the dangers that Central American immigrants face in getting to the United States, including at Mexico’s southern border. Crossing rushing rivers, confronting armed bandits, and jumping fast moving trains — and all that before crossing the deadly deserts of Arizona or Texas.

Here’s one account:

“Then one of the bandits grabbed the woman Pineda had been chatting with and ordered Pineda and Valencia to get lost as he began dragging her toward the forest. ‘She was crying, begging him, ‘Please, don’t do this. Take everything you want. But don’t do this,’” Pineda recounted in a miserable whisper. “The bandit punched her in the face and shouted, “Shut up, stupid dog!’ By the time a third gang of robbers accosted Pineda, Valencia, and another man on their path a few days later, Pineda recounted, they had nothing of value left. Enraged, the thieves began hacking at the third man with their machetes as Pineda and Valencia sprinted away.”

The story also described the plight of 22-year-old Alan Delgado, who lost his foot trying to leap from a moving train. His friend Julio Cesar Lambert lost his leg. Actually they were lucky compared to three immigrants who were killed, including one whose body was cut in half by the moving train. Delgado said, “I looked at this stump and said I’m a useless person now. What will I do in the world? My American Dream ended on that train.”

Meanwhile, immigrants fleeing communist tyranny in Cuba face their own dangers in trying to come to the United States. Trying to make it to the U.S. in a high-speed boat this past weekend, they were chased and attacked by the U.S. Coast Guard vessel. The chase caused the death of a woman on the boat from severe facial bruises and head injuries. Coast Guard officials said that they shot at the boat’s engines in order to “rescue the immigrants” who, of course, they planned to forcibly repatriate to Cuban communist tyranny in joint cooperation with Fidel Castro’s immigration gendarmes. If you’d like to see a video of the high-speed chase, it’s included in this CNN article about the episode.

Of course, I can already hear the anti-immigrant crowd wailing: “The only reason those people were risking their lives and limbs was to come to the U.S. to get on welfare.”

Friday, July 7, 2006

The U.S. government’s most recent intervention into Somalia provides a textbook example of the perverse consequences of U.S. foreign policy for the past several decades.

A Washington Post article describes the sordid tale. Two Somali families were engaged in one of their perennial fights. When gunfire broke out, U.S. antiterrorist officials, reflecting the terrorism paranoia that now afflicts many U.S. officials, immediately concluded that they were under attack by “the terrorists.”

So, the U.S. government began pumping in cash and support to help their faction defeat “the terrorists.”

But the locals became angry and outraged that over the fact that the U.S. government was intervening in Somali affairs. The result was that the anti-U.S. faction ended up winning the battle and taking control. The Washington Post article describes what happened:

“American analysts, though not knowledgeable about the incident at the airstrip, said that by giving cash to the warlords the United States triggered events that quickly moved beyond its control, producing a setback likely to hurt not only Somalis but also the U.S. war on terrorism. ‘U.S. support for the warlords hit Mogadishu like a stick in the hornet’s nest,’ said John Prendergast, an Africa analyst with the International Crisis Group, a research organization, speaking recently from Chad, where he was traveling. ‘It was totally the law of unintended consequences in the extreme.’”

It’s just one more example (after Iran, Iraq, Guatemala, Latin America, etc.) as to why the libertarian vision of non-interventionism, dismantling the empire, and restoring a republic to our land is the way to making America once again the model for freedom, peace, prosperity, and constitutionally limited government.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

U.S. officials have gone into crisis mode again, this time over North Korea’s test-firing of a few missiles. Of course, the implication is that the missile-firings are further confirmation of the need for a vast overseas empire and the continued existence of the massive military-industrial complex to protect us from all these “threats” around the world.

What many Americans still don’t get, unfortunately, is that it is the U.S. Empire and its military-industrial complex themselves that are the precipitating causes of the crises that then are used as the excuse for frightening the American people into supporting the empire and the military-industrial complex as well as the infringements on civil liberties that inevitably come in the wake of such crises and emergencies.

Why would it surprise anyone that North Korea is trying to figure out how best to defend itself against the most aggressive, most powerful empire in the world? As most everyone knows, the U.S. government attacks countries whose regime it doesn’t approve of, with the aim of decapitating the regime and installing a new, U.S. approved regime. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that when you call a regime part of an “axis of evil,” that regime is likely to be at the top of the list for new countries to attack.

So, given the existence of the U.S. Empire and its avowed policy of attacking countries that have not attacked the United States, foreign regimes that do not fall in line with U.S. dictates know that at some point they are likely to be at the receiving end of U.S. government aggression, just as the Iraqi people have discovered. And the North Koreans could easily be next. Or the Iranians. Or the Syrians. Or the Venezuelans. Or the Cubans. Or the Bolivians. Maybe even the Vietnamese.

One option is that all these foreign regimes could simply bend their knees and kiss the rings of empire officials. But that’s not likely to happen. So, the only other recourse they have is either to deter an attack, perhaps by acquiring nuclear weapons, or to begin preparing themselves to defend against an attack.

Hopefully, it will slowly dawn on the American people that crises and emergencies have always been the coin of the realm for empires because they keep people in a perpetual state of turmoil, consternation, and fear. That’s why the only real solution to America’s foreign-policy woes is to dismantle the empire, bring all troops home and discharge them into the private sector, dismantle the military industrial-complex and standing army, and restore a republic to our land.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman is in political hot water because of his loyal support of President Bush’s war on Iraq. The water is getting so hot that Lieberman is in danger of losing a primary race in August against an antiwar challenger. Lieberman is now hedging his bets by gathering petition signatures that would enable him to run as an Independent in the fall. His close friend Hillary Clinton, another Democratic war supporter, says though that she’ll support whomever wins the Democratic primary.

Of course, what Democrats don’t want to face is that Lieberman’s and Clinton’s support of the president’s war on Iraq is perfectly consistent with the welfare-state values that Democrats (and Republicans) embrace.

President Bush’s war on Iraq is simply democracy welfare. The idea was that the Iraqi people were too dumb and incompetent to establish democracy on their own. So, the intelligent, know-it-all, college-educated, pointy heads in Washington had to take charge and bring democracy to them.

Sure, the democracy-welfare in Iraq has proven to be a bit nasty, given the tens of thousands of dead and maimed people, the torture and sex abuse, the rapes and murders, the suicide bombs, and lots of collateral damage, but in the mind of the welfare-statist, to make an omelet it’s necessary to crack a few eggs.

The welfare-state mindset was exemplified by Hillary’s husband Bill when he was president. Desperately searching for a mission for the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex after the fall of the Soviet Union, Clinton sent U.S. troops into Somalia on a food-welfare mission.

The welfare-state mindset that guided the invasion of Iraq was no different in principle than Clinton’s invasion of Somalia and, for that matter, no different in principle than the welfare-state mindset that guides Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all other forms of welfare. People are considered too dumb or incompetent to handle retirement, health care, and charity on their own and so the intelligent, know-it-all, college-educated, pointy heads in Washington have to take charge and bring it to them.

The battle that libertarians face for the future of our country is against welfare-warfare statism, a philosophy that looks upon the federal government as a god that takes care of dumb and inept people with welfare, even if it kills or maims them in the process.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

As we celebrate the Fourth of July today, let us also celebrate the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the most remarkable society in history that those principles brought into existence.

Man’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come not from government but rather from nature and God. Therefore, no one has to be grateful to any politician or bureaucrat for permitting him to be “free,” for if freedom is based on such permission, it is not truly freedom. Public officials are nothing more than servants who serve us by protecting our fundamental rights from assault. When such servants become destructive of the end for which they exist—that is, the protection, not the destruction of people’s rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish their government and institute new government.

While calling into existence the federal government, the Constitution simultaneously prevented it from destroying people’s rights by expressing limiting its powers over the lives and fortunes of the citizenry. The result was the freest society in history: no income taxation, no Social Security, no Medicare, no Medicaid, no public schooling, no drug war, no welfare, no economic regulations, no occupational licensure, no foreign aid, no foreign wars, no torture, no border controls. The federal government was undoubtedly the weakest government in history and the result was the strongest, freest, most independent, most self-reliant, most charitable people in history.

So, today let us celebrate the principles of freedom in the Declaration of Independence and the remarkable free society that they brought into existence. And let us recommit ourselves to their restoration.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.