Friday, August 27, 2010
The Market as a Redistributor of Wealth
One of the primary arguments employed by statists to justify the welfare state is the necessity to equalize incomes. The rich just get richer and richer, and the poor just get poorer and poorer, in a free-market economy, say the statists. To balance things out, they say, the state must take from the rich and give to the poor.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, a free market is a tremendous engine for the redistribution of wealth, one in which the poor become rich and rich become poor.
In other words, you don’t need the state to confiscate and redistribute wealth through income taxes, estate taxes, or any other taxes. The market does a fine job in redistributing wealth.
In fact, the market is the most just vehicle for redistributing wealth because it’s based on voluntary choices, not the coercive action employed by the state. In the marketplace, consumers are ultimately sovereign. Through their buying decisions, they decide which businesses are going to stay in business and which ones are not. If a business fails to satisfy consumers, it will lose market share and possibly go out of business. New, upstart businesses have the opportunity to become wealthy by providing goods and services that consumers want.
By the same token, a rich person must make decisions as to how to manage his money. Nothing is guaranteed. If he makes the right choices, he keeps his wealth and even expands it. But if he makes the wrong choices, he stands to lose part of it or even all of it.
Consider, for example, the Wyly brothers of Dallas, Texas, who were the subject of a recent New York Times article.
The Wylys are billionaires. So, they’re rich, right? Well, yes, but it’s really not that simple because they actually were poor before they were rich. According to the Times, “Depression-era babies, they were raised in rural Louisiana by a well-educated mother and father who fell on hard times by failing to hedge a cotton crop. For a time, the family moved into a shack without electricity or plumbing.”
So, here were two poor brothers. But the state didn’t take money from the rich and give it to the Wyly brothers. Instead, these poor people became rich entirely through their own efforts by buying and selling businesses in the marketplace.
And there were no guarantees. In the 1970s, they lost almost $100 million of their and their shareholders’ money in the purchase of a company that went bad. As Sam Wyly put it, “It’s a game. You win some, you lose some. Some are sort of a tie.”
Or consider the case of Larry Dean, who became a multi-millionaire through a software company he founded in the 1970s, who was also recently featured in the New York Times.
Dean used $25 million of his money to build a 32,000 square feet, “Xanadu-like” mansion in Atlanta that included $17,500 leaded glass and mahogany double front doors.
Dean, however, has fallen on hard times. Now on his third divorce, he recently sold the house for $7 million, after having it on the market for 17 years. TheTimes stated “The estate sale brought down the curtain on a particular kind of spectacle, a rags-to-riches tale that somewhere along the way slipped into reverse and played itself out in the unforgiving glare of the real estate market.”
You don’t need the welfare state to redistribute wealth. The free market does that. Moreover, since the market is based on voluntary choices rather than coercion, it’s a better and more just method of deciding the allocation of wealth in a free society.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Iraq Sanctions and the NYC Imam
The controversy over the mosque/cultural center in New York City is performing at least one valuable function, one that no one could have ever predicted: causing Americans to confront the wrongdoing of their own government and reflect on how such wrongdoing has contributed to the terrorist woes that now besiege our nation.
The issue involves the brutal sanctions that the U.S. government and the United Nations (where the U.S. government was the driving force) enforced against Iraq for more than 10 years.
U.S. interventionists are up in arms over the fact that the imam who is at the center of the mosque/cultural center controversy, Feisel Abdul Rauf, several years ago told an audience that Americans are reluctant to confront the fact that their government killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children with the sanctions and the role that such deaths played in anger and hatred toward the United States among Arabs and Muslims, especially leading up to the 9/11 attacks.
Why are American interventionists up in arms over what the imam stated?
Well, that’s an interesting question. For one thing, it does demonstrate the accuracy of Rauf’s statement — that many Americans are extremely reluctant to think about, read about, study, or contemplate the horror of the Iraq sanctions, their deadly consequences, and the significant role they have played in U.S. foreign policy.
Unfortunately, all too many Americans have come to view the federal government as a god, one that is incapable of grave wrongdoing. That’s not to say that such Americans don’t believe in God. Every Sunday they go to, say, a Protestant or Catholic church, where they kneel and worship God. But it is to say that they’ve come to view the federal government as a co-equal partner with God, which leads them to view any criticism of the government in the same way they view criticism of God — as akin to blasphemy.
Think about it. Purporting to work in partnership with God and enforcing His commandment to love others, the federal government takes care of the elderly, the sick, the poor, and others in need. Isn’t that what such government programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, farms subsidies, and corporate bailouts are all about? Aren’t we all considered to be doing God’s work and fulfilling His commandments by virtue of the fact that we live and vote in a welfare state?
Well, you see, that’s what the invasion of Iraq is supposed to be all about. Don’t we hear interventionists every day saying that Americans should be patting himself on the back for what the U.S. government has done for the Iraqi people? At great sacrifice of lives and treasure, America has brought democracy to the Iraqi people. The idea is that the federal government has engaged in a great moral and holy crusade out of love for Iraqis
But you see the problem? If the federal government killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, how does one reconcile those killings with the purported love that this federal god has for the Iraqi people?
So, one option is simply to deny that sanctions killed those Iraqi children. In fact, that’s what some American interventionists are now doing. They’re saying, “It just didn’t happen. Either the children didn’t die at all or if they did die, it was not because of the sanctions.”
Either way, we’re not supposed to talk about it. It’s always time to “move on.” That’s one reason for so much resentment against the imam. He’s raising an issue that American interventionists just don’t what to talk about and don’t want talked about. Why, accusing the federal god of callously killing hundreds of thousands of innocent children is downright heretical.
But the truth is that that is precisely what those brutal sanctions did. Sure, there are debates over the exact number of deaths. One would expect that. But the most reliable estimates are in the hundreds of thousands.
Here is a compilation of articles that address the sanctions and their horrible consequences. I’d recommend starting with the Harper’s Magazine article by Joy Gordon entitled Cool War: Economic Sanctions as a Weapon of Mass Destruction, which describes the utter ruthlessness, callousness, and banality of evil of U.S. federal bureaucrats who were enforcing the sanctions. Then, I would recommend purchasing and reading Gordon’s new book Invisible War: The United States and Iraq Sanctions, which is the most authoritative treatment of the Iraq sanctions.
I would be remiss if I failed to point out that two high UN officials — Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck — resigned their posts out of a crisis of conscience, declining to participate in what they described as genocide.
Let’s not forget Madeleine Albright’s infamous statement to “Sixty Minutes” in 1996, some 7 years before the sanctions were ultimately terminated as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. At the time she made her infamous statement, she was serving as the U.S. government’s ambassador to the United Nations. In other words, she was the federal government’s official spokesman at that world body.
What did she say?
“Sixty Minutes” asked, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
She responded, “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”
Now, notice two things about that answer. One, she doesn’t deny the number (half-a-million), and, two, she thinks that the deaths of all those children have been “worth it.”
Even more significant, neither her boss President Clinton nor any other high U.S. official, condemned or corrected her remark. In fact, Clinton went on to make her his secretary of state.
Now, if Iraqi children weren’t being killed by the sanctions, don’t you think that Albright, Clinton, Gore, or any other purported lover of the poor, would have said to “Sixty Minutes”: “Are you crazy? The sanctions aren’t killing anyone. That’s a total fabrication”?
But that’s not what they did. With Albright’s statement and other U.S. officials’ silent acquiescence, they were acknowledging that the deaths were occurring but justifying them as “worth it”?
An important question obviously arises. What did Albright mean by “it”? What could possibly justify the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent children?
“It” would be regime change — the ouster of Saddam Hussein from power and his replacement with a pro-U.S. regime, the mission that has long driven U.S. foreign policy. That’s what Albright meant by “it” when she said that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it.” Even though the sanctions were not successful in achieving the regime change, as the invasion later was, Albright and her colleagues in the U.S. government felt that the effort was worth the sacrifice of half-a-million innocent children.
In fact, isn’t that the rationale of U.S. interventionists who defend the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 — that the countless deaths of Iraqis have been “worth it” — that is, worth the ouster of Saddam Hussein from power and his replacement by a democratically elected (Islamic) regime?
How many Iraqis have been killed in the operation? We don’t know, just as we don’t know the precise number of Iraqi children that were killed by the sanctions. Early on, the Pentagon announced that it wouldn’t keep track of the Iraqi dead, only the American dead.
You see, it doesn’t matter. In the minds of U.S. officials, any number of Iraqi deaths, children or adult, would be worth regime change in Iraq. The deaths of all those people, whether thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions, would be “worth it,” even if they weren’t consulted about it before being sacrificed on the federal altar of regime change and democracy-spreading.
But there’s one big problem with that type of thinking: How does one reconcile such a mindset with a purported love and concern for the Iraqi people? Indeed, how does one reconcile the criminal prosecutions and civil suits that the federal government pursued against private Americans, including physicians, who chose to violate the sanctions by bringing humanitarian goods and services to the Iraqi people?
Essential to the interventionist mindset is that the U.S. government’s policies toward Iraq have been motivated by love and concern for the Iraqi people. We invaded, we sacrificed, we stayed, and we bankrupted ourselves because we love them and want to help them, not for some crass political objective like ousting a recalcitrant foreign ruler and replacing him with a pro-U.S. ruler.
Finally, let’s not forget that the WTC terrorist in 1993, Ramzi Yousef, angrily cited the sanctions as a motivating force behind his terrorist attack. So did Osama bin Laden prior to 9/11. How could it be otherwise? Americans became horribly angry over the loss of more than 2,000 innocent people on 9/11. Why would it be any different for Arabs and Muslims who saw hundreds of thousands of innocent people, especially children, lose their lives for a political goal?
It’s not comfortable to confront the truth about false gods, at least for those who have come to worship them. The U.S. government has done very bad things to the Iraqi people, with horrific consequences. It’s time for Americans to face that. If it takes a Muslim cleric in New York City to help bring that about, so be it.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Rotten Eggs and the Regulated Economy
How come there’s an egg recall due to salmonella poisoning? Don’t we have government regulations and regulators for this sort of thing? Don’t we have government inspectors? Don’t we have a regulated economy so that the government will keep us safe from rotten eggs entering the marketplace?
Well, what’s the point of a regulated economy if it’s not going to work? Doesn’t it just lull people into a false sense of security, even while vesting ever-growing power in the hands of government officials?
Indeed, the questions can be asked for other parts of our lives.
What about Bernie Madoff, for example? How come he was able to defraud so many people of so much money? Don’t we have the SEC for that? Don’t they regulate and inspect people in the investment world?
Well, again, what good is a regulated economy if it’s not going to protect people? Doesn’t it instead lull people into falsely thinking that the government is taking care of their money?
Why not simply separate the economy and state, in the way that our ancestors separated church and state? Just ditch all the regulations, fire all the regulators, and abolish all the regulatory departments.
Better yet, enact the following constitutional amendment: “No law shall be enacted by either the states or the federal government respecting the regulation of commerce or abridging the free exercise thereof.”
Sure, bad things will continue to happen, but at least people won’t operate under the delusion that the government is somehow protecting them from those bad things.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
The Bush-Obama Lies on Iraq
President Obama’s announcement that all combat troops have exited Iraq, while 50,000 combat troops remain in Iraq, is fitting. Since the war began with a lie, the “end” of the war might as well be based on a lie as well.
Interventionists continue to maintain the sweet delusion that Iraq is better off as a result of the U.S. invasion. However, when they make that claim, they’re always referring to the Iraqis who are alive. They never refer to the Iraqis who are dead as a result of the invasion.
Are dead Iraqis better off because of the invasion? Unfortunately, we can’t ask them because they are dead. I’ll bet that if they could answer, many, if not all, of them would say, “We would have preferred living under a totalitarian dictator than having our lives snuffed out prematurely by a violent U.S. military invasion.”
Nonetheless, U.S. interventionists steadfastly maintain that the loss of Iraqi life has been worth it.
How cavalier! How noble! Sure, it’s true that some Iraqis have been sacrificed, but they haven’t died in vain because Iraq is now a better place than it was under Saddam Hussein. The U.S. government did it for the Iraqi people, and at great cost too. More than 4,000 U.S. soldiers have died. The U.S. national debt has skyrocketed.
But it all shows how good “we” are. “We” are willing to make such great sacrifices for others. And “we” are willing to sacrifice others for the greater good of their nation. How caring “we” are. How compassionate.
A fascinating aspect of this welfare-warfare mindset is that there has never been an upward limit on the number of Iraqis who could be killed to achieve a successful operation. Any number of Iraqi dead, no matter how high, is considered worth it.
In fact, no one really knows how many Iraqis have been killed in the invasion and subsequent occupation because early on, the invaders made a conscious decision to not keep track of how many Iraqis were being killed.
The number of Iraqi dead didn’t really matter. Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions. Who cares? All that mattered was that the survivors, whatever number they happened to be, would be better off without Saddam Hussein in power. The sacrifice that the Iraqi dead would have made, no matter how many that would be, would be considered worth it.
Never mind that the Iraqi people, including the dead, were never consulted about the invasion. Never mind that many of them would have preferred to live under Saddam Hussein than die in a U.S. invasion of their country. Never mind that many of them never wanted the U.S. government to invade their country. All that is irrelevant. “We” know what is best for them, even if they don’t. Sometimes people have to make sacrifices for “freedom,” even when the sacrifice is involuntary.
Interventionists say that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, one that used weapons of mass destruction against Iranians and Iraqis.
Fair enough, but isn’t the world filled with brutal dictators, many of whom are supported by the U.S. government?
Need some examples?
Well, Saddam Hussein himself comes to mind. Who do you think gave him those WMDs that he used against Iranians and Iraqis? You guessed it — the United States and other Western powers. (See here.)
Why did they give him those WMDs? Because U.S. officials wanted him to use them to kill Iranians.
And why did they want to do that? Because U.S. officials were angry at the Iranian people for having had the audacity to oust the CIA-installed, unelected, anti-democratic dictator known as the Shah of Iran from power and replace him with an anti-U.S. regime, one who, unlike the Shah, refused to do the bidding of the U.S. Empire. In the interventionist mind, the Iranian people should have continued to permit their U.S.-installed dictator to torture and oppress them with his CIA-trained domestic intelligence force.
(For the full story of how the U.S. government damaged what had been a growing democratic tradition in Iraq, read Stephen Kinzer’s books All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror andReset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future.)
That brings us back to Saddam’s infamous WMDs, the excuse that interventionists initially emphasized to scare Americans into supporting the U.S. war of aggression against Iraq, one that lacked the constitutionally required declaration of war from Congress, making the war illegal under our form of government.
George W. Bush’s lie wasn’t in falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. He “knew” that Saddam Hussein had WMDs because he still had the receipts from when the United States delivered them to him during the 1980s. Bush just never figured that Saddam would really have destroyed them. Bush figured that he’d invade, find some left-over WMDs, claim to have saved the world, and install another U.S. puppet, like the CIA did with the Shah of Iran.
Thus, Bush’s lie wasn’t in falsely claiming that Iraq had WMDs, it was in using what he knew to be an exaggerated WMD threat to disguise the real reason for the invasion — regime change, one intended to replace Saddam Hussein with a U.S.-Empire-approved ruler.
That’s what U.S. foreign policy is all about. That’s what the U.S. Empire is all about. That’s what the lies are all about: regime change, pure and simple, designed to oust independent dictators from power and replace them with pro-U.S. Empire regimes. And no amount of death and destruction is ever considered too high to achieve it.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Economic Ignorance on Deficits
Last week, the New York Times displayed customary economic ignorance about two deficits — the trade deficit and the budget deficit. In a lead editorial entitled “Return of the Killer Trade Deficit,” the Times lamented the fact that the United States had a trade deficit through June of almost $50 billion. Concerned over the size of that number, which the Times called “staggering,” the paper called on governments in rich countries like Germany to join the U.S. government in expanding their budget deficits by spending more money.
It would be difficult to come up with bigger economic nonsense than that.
For one thing, contrary to the Times’ fear-mongering, the so-called trade deficit doesn’t really signify anything bad. In fact, if the government stopped keeping track of these trade statistics, nobody would care and nothing bad would happen. There would be no gigantic sucking sound. America wouldn’t be sucked dry of money or wealth. Americans would not suddenly find themselves living in a land of poverty.
Consider the trade deficit between your state and Virginia. Do you fret about it? Do you get up in the middle of the night and pace the floors over the size of that deficit? Do you know the size of that deficit? Do you even know who’s on the negative side of the deficit and who’s on the positive side? Do you care? Do you worry that one state is impoverishing the other state?
The answer to all those questions is: No. People don’t give a second thought to the trade deficits between their state and other states. The matter is totally irrelevant, just as irrelevant as the trade deficit that exists between you and other people. I’ll bet that there is a huge trade deficit between you and the grocery store where you shop. That is, I’ll bet that you buy much more from the grocery store than it buys from you.
Who cares? Nobody!
People trade with others because they see an opportunity to better their economic condition. Both sides benefit from a trade because they both give up something they value less for something they value more. When the trade involves money, the buyer values the items more than the money, and the seller values the money more than the item. Even though there is a trade “deficit” between them after the sale, they have both improved their respective economic condition with the trade.
So, trade is good, not only between individuals and states but also between nations. When a Chinese seller sells something to an American, both sides benefit. The Chinese values the dollars more than the item and the American values the item more than the dollars. The same holds true when the Chinese ultimately uses those dollars to purchase or invest in things.
Not so, however, with the ever-growing budget deficit. It is bad and a grave financial danger. This deficit reflects the extent to which federal spending exceeds the amount being collected by the U.S. government in taxes. This is the problem that threatens to lead the U.S. government into bankruptcy. That’s what has happened in Greece and other European nations.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that you just cannot keep spending more than what you’re bringing in without it finally bankrupting you. Let’s assume that you earn $50,000 a year. Every year, you go out and spend $100,000, building up loans and credit cards to cover your budget deficit.
At some point, the bank is going to say, “We can’t loan you any more money and we’re not willing to renew the notes. We want our money.” At the same time, the credit card companies are going to say, “We need you to make the minimum payment on your debt.”
At that point, the gig is up. You cannot cover all your living expenses. You cannot even pay the interest on the debts, much less the principal. You’re broke. Busted. Bankrupt.
That’s what happened to Greece. It simply lacked the tax base to cover expenditures and interest on the massive debt it had accumulated as a result of its big annual deficits. If it tried to raise taxes to cover the shortfall, it would drive marginal businesses over the cliff, thereby adding to the nation’s economic woes. Greece was in the same position as you would be in if you were earning $50,000 and spending $100,000 a year.
That’s the situation the U.S. government is heading toward. It’s spending a trillion dollars more a year than what it is bringing in, and it’s borrowing to cover the difference. That’s what the national debt is all about. It’s now more than $13 trillion. You can watch it grow here:
The New York Times gets it all wrong with respect to the solution to this problem. Erroneously claiming that the trade deficit is a dangerous threat to Americans, it calls on the federal government to spend even more money, thereby adding even more to the national debt.
That’s sheer nonsense. That’s a policy prescription made in hell.
What the U.S. government should actually do is:
1. Unilaterally abolish all restraints on trade, both domestic and international.
2. Abolish all entitlements and other socialistic programs, beginning with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, subsidies, bailouts, and stimulus plans.
3. Abolish all regulatory schemes, beginning with the drug war.
4. Bring all the troops home from Iraq, Afghanistan, and everywhere else and discharge them.
And that’s just for starters to get our nation back on a sound economic (and moral) foundation.
Friday, August 20, 2010
President Obama and the Pentagon make the following joint announcement:
Our fellow Americans, now that we have brought democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq with our military invasions and occupations, third on our list is Vatican City, a country that has never permitted full democracy to the citizens of that country. We are today implementing Operation Vatican Freedom, whose goal will be to bring full and complete democracy to Vatican City, where all the citizens of that country, rather than appointed bishops from around the world, will have the opportunity to vote on the Pope.
The invasion takes place, with the results being the same as those in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Many Vatican City citizens, along with many foreigners who come to help defend the country, are killed, maimed, incarcerated, and abused. Museums and antiquities, such as the Sistine Chapel, are damaged or destroyed. Several U.S. soldiers lose their lives in the operation.
Ultimately, however, the U.S. Empire prevails. The Pope surrenders and abdicates. Elections are called, and a new Pope is elected by the citizens of Vatican City. Advocates of democracy all over the world cheer.
Pentagon officials announce, “Mission accomplished!” They say to Americans:
This has been a tough war, but today your troops are coming home as heroes. They have fought bravely and accomplished a great feat. They have brought democracy to a country long known for its non-democratic values. Unfortunately, there has been much loss of life, especially on the Vatican side, which we deeply regret, but obviously Vatican officials bear responsibility for all the death and destruction for resisting our invasion of liberation. In any event, all those deaths have been worth it because the survivors get to experience the benefits of democracy.
We are counting on our fellow Americans to welcome home the troops for the heroes they are. By faithfully following the orders of the president, they have fulfilled their oaths to support and defend the Constitution. As in Afghanistan and Iraq, the troops have risked their lives to bring democracy to Vatican City. In the process they have defended the rights and freedoms of the American people. We are truly an exceptional nation, as reflected by the heroism and goodness of our troops.
However, a fierce resistance breaks out against U.S. occupation troops in Vatican City. Among the resisters are Catholic sympathizers from all over the world who are angry and outraged over what the U.S. Empire has done. Refusing to don Vatican City uniforms, these Catholic terrorists begin attacking U.S. occupation troops.
These terrorists (or “illegal enemy combatants”) — are taken into custody and whisked away to Guantanamo, along with some altar boys who were caught throwing grenades at the troops. These terrorists are to be held at Guantanamo for years, or at least until the war on terrorism is officially over. In the process, like terrorists from Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, they are denied any semblance of jury trials, due process of law, and speedy trials or the benefits of the Geneva Conventions.
One day, some radical Catholics from Ireland enter the United States legally as tourists. They blow up the Empire State Building and attack the Pentagon.
Immediately, interventionists condemn the Catholic crusade against America. “The Catholics are still angry over the Reformation!” the interventionists cry. “They’ve never gotten over what Luther did! This is what this is all about — a holy war by the Catholofascists against America.”
Libertarians respond, “That’s just crazy talk. The terrorists happen to be Catholic because when the president and Pentagon attacked Vatican City, most of the people they killed, maimed, and destroyed were Catholics. Therefore, it’s logical that Catholics worldwide would get angry and that some would seek to retaliate for U.S. foreign policy. But that doesn’t make the matter a religious issue.”
Interventionists respond, “Oh, you libertarians are so naive. This situation is no different than it is with the Islamofascists. They’re attacking America because the Koran requires them to. And it’s the same with the Catholofacists. Have you forgotten how much violence there is in the Bible? Have you never heard of the Crusades?”
Libertarians respond, “Well, that’s just more crazy talk. The president and the Pentagon targeted two countries — Afghanistan and Iraq — whose populations were predominantly Muslim. Therefore, it is not surprising that people of Muslim faith would be angry and outraged at all the death and destruction being wreaked on Muslims. But that doesn’t convert the matter into a religious motivation any more than it has with the Pentagon’s attack on Vatican City.”
One day, the Catholic bishop for the New York City diocese proposes a new Catholic church and community center near the Empire State Building site. Interventionists go ballistic. “Are you kidding? I am so offended! Our loved ones died in the Empire State building at the hands of the Catholofascist terrorists! How could we sleep at night knowing that a Catholic church and community center were located nearby? That’s outrageous! Don’t our feelings matter? They might have a right to do it but let’s pressure them into building elsewhere.”
Libertarians respond, “But not all Catholics are responsible for what the terrorists did in retaliation for the Empire’s attack on Vatican City. Again, this is not something that relates to Catholics or Catholicism per se. It relates to anger among Catholics based on what the U.S. Empire did to Vatican City.”
The debate goes on incessantly. Meanwhile, the president and the Pentagon announce the identity of Country No. 4 on their democracy-spreading list.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
We Are Not the Government
A common mistake by many Americans is when they use the pronoun “we” to conflate the U.S. government and the American people (i.e., the private sector). The error is most often manifested when it comes to foreign policy. “We stand for freedom and free markets around the world” or “We’ve done more to help the world than anyone else.”
Actually, however, the federal government and the private sector of American people are two separate and distinct entities. Our American ancestors understood this. That’s why the Bill of Rights expressly protects our country (i.e., private citizens) from the federal government, which our ancestors considered to be the biggest threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people.
In fact, this phenomenon — that government and the citizenry are separate and distinct entities — was manifested in 1776, when the British citizens who were living in the New World not only opposed wrongdoing by their own government, they actually took up arms against it.
Of course, there were those who considered the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and John Hancock to have been unpatriotic traitors for daring to oppose their own government. Others would say that they were the true patriots, for having the courage to stand up to their own government and oppose its violations of the principles of liberty.
Another example involved a group during World War II called the White Rose. It was composed mostly of college students. They opposed their own government in the midst of the war, even calling on their fellow citizens to not support the troops. The government arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and executed them for treason. Some people would consider them to have been the patriots for having the courage to oppose the wrongdoing of their own government, especially in time of war.
Several years ago, I was traveling in Cuba. I couldn’t believe how nice everyone was to me when they found out that I was an American. I asked a cab driver, “Why is everyone so nice to me after what my government has done to the Cuban people for decades with the embargo?” His answer: “What fault do you have for what your government has done?”
That, of course, is an interesting philosophical and moral question: Do citizens in the private sector have any moral responsibility for the wrongful acts of their own government — especially those citizens who support the commission of such wrongful acts.
But what fascinated me was the insight displayed by that Cuban cab driver. Unlike so many Americans, he was able to draw a distinction between the federal government and the American people.
We are not the government. The private sector and the government are two separate and distinct entities. When the government sector goes wrong, it is incumbent on the private sector to stand up and oppose the wrongdoing and do what is necessary to get the government back on the right track. As the Founding Fathers and the members of the White Rose showed, that is what genuine courage and patriotism are all about.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Cuba and American Sheeplings
Those Americans who love being sheeplings must be ecstatic over President Obama’s rumored plans to ease travel restrictions to Cuba by permitting more students, educators, and researchers to visit Cuba, but only with an official government-issued license, of course.
Let’s get straight some principles about rights and freedom.
Like all other human begins, Americans have been endowed by nature and God with certain fundamental and inherent rights. These fundamental rights pre-exist government. That truth is expressed in the Declaration of Independence, which Americans celebrate every Fourth of July.
Two of these fundamental rights are: the right to travel and the right to spend one’s money the way he wants. These are not privileges bestowed by government. No one has to be grateful to public officials for being free to travel or free to spend his own money in the way he chooses. These are fundamental God-given rights that adhere in all human beings.
Of course, American sheeplings take a different position. In their minds, they exist for one purpose only — to serve and obey President Obama and his army of federal officials. In there minds, there is no such thing as fundamental, God-given rights. Every action they take in life is considered a privilege that Obama and his federal minions bestow on the American people. That’s what makes them sheeplings.
In the mind of a sheepling, nobody has a fundamental right to do anything, including travelling or spending his own money. Instead, the sheepling thinks that people should be “free” only to do those things that his owner or controller gives him permission to do.
If the owner or shepherd says, “You can go there but not there, and you can you spend your money there but not there,” the sheepling doesn’t give the matter a second thought. Such decisions are not for the sheepling to question. Where he goes and doesn’t go and what he spends and doesn’t spend his money on are not his call to make. That’s President Obama’s decision. He’s the master. He’s the shepherd.
By the way, the sheepling also looks to President Obama to take care of him when he gets old or sick. The master or shepherd is also expected to protect his herd from wolves, terrorists, drug dealers, illegal aliens, and other dangerous creatures in the world.
To be fair, the sheepling doesn’t just think this way with President Obama. Whoever is president is considered the sheepling’s owner and caretaker. When President Bush was in charge of the herd, the sheeplings deferred to him as well.
Let’s get something else straight: Notwithstanding the mutual relationship of master and servant that exists between President Obama and his American sheeplings, the fact is that federal control over the exercise of such fundamental, God-given rights as freedom of travel and freedom to spend one’s own money is as illegitimate as federal control over the exercise of such fundamental, God-given rights as freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
In other words, even if American sheeplings acquiesced to federal control over what books they read or what churches they attended, such control would nonetheless be illegitimate. What a person reads and how (or whether) he worships are fundamental, God-given rights that pre-exist government. That’s not to say that governments don’t control such activities. It’s to say that when they do, such control is illegitimate.
Where I travel is none of President Obama’s business. The same holds true for how I spend my own money. He no more has the legitimate authority to control where I go and how I spend my money than he does controlling what I read and where and whether I go to church.
We should bear in mind that the exercise of these two fundamental rights is not considered by U.S. officials as bad per se, as are such crimes as murder, theft, and rape. Where a person travels and how he spends his money are considered bad only when they’re done without the permission of Obama’s subordinates in the Treasury Department, which is the agency responsible for issuing licenses to people that permit them to exercise fundamental, God-given rights.
The idea is this: “We might let you engage in these activities. You’ll first have to ask our permission. After reviewing your application we might say yes and we might say no. If we say no, then you just can’t do it.”
Just like little sheeplings. Baa! Baa!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Why the U.S. Empire Will Never Conquer Afghanistan
From the Sunday Washington Post:
“In squads of roaring dirt bikes and armed to the teeth, Taliban fighters are spreading like brush fire into remote and defenseless villages across northern Afghanistan. The fighters swarm into town, assemble the villagers and announce Taliban control, often at night and without any resistance.”
More important, however, is what they do to anyone who is suspected of cooperating with the U.S. Empire or the Karzai regime: they summarily execute them, without any due process of law or trial.
Consider what happened to a man named Sayid Arif, who was apparently working for the Afghan government. They yanked him from his car and just shot him, leaving him with a note on his chest that said, “This is punishment” for anyone working for the government.
Or consider what happened to Khairullah, a young man kidnapped by the Taliban. Khairullah’s father, Sifullah, went in search for him, knowing that he was risking his life in the process. When he finally found the Taliban unit that had taken his son, they said, “Why did you come here?” He replied, “I want my son.”
After four hours of arguments and the payment of $1,300, he got his son, but with a message: “You must promise that your son will never work for the foreigners again.”
According to the Post, “This is the message the Taliban regularly preaches in mosque speeches and in letters distributed to villagers. One such letter, passed out on Taliban stationery in Faryab, told villagers that ‘you are the nation that defeated the British again and again.’”
No matter how brutal the U.S. occupation of Aghanistan, there will always be a segment of Afghan men and women who will do anything to uphold their nation’s heritage of resistance to imperial interventions by the Great Foreign Powers, including Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States.
After all, imagine if the United States got into a war with China, one that China ended up winning. Imagine the Chinese military occupying the cities and towns of America, ruling from Washington, D.C., and aided by military units from Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea.
Sure, many Americans, including federal workers, would work for and cooperate with the occupation. But certainly there would be a segment of American men and women who would form a violent resistance, one that would target not only the occupiers but also the Quislings who cooperated with the occupiers.
Thus, the Taliban have a psychological advantage over the U.S. Empire. As brutal as the Taliban is, it can appeals to Afghans’ sense of pride, nationality, heritage, and patriotism in the quest to rid their nation of a foreign occupier.
That’s why the U.S. Empire will never conquer Afghanistan: The cause for which Afghans are willing to give their lives — the ouster of a foreign occupier from their land — is greater than the cause for which American soldiers are being ordered to risk their lives — to prop up a corrupt puppet regime in a faraway land that will do the bidding of the U.S. Empire.
Monday, August 16, 2010
The Military, Bankruptcy, and Tyranny
In order to get our nation back on track, it’s important to return to fundamental principles, the principles on which our nation was founded. Let’s review how the Founding Fathers viewed the military and foreign policy in the context of where the United States is today.
Today, Americans view a military empire as their friend and protector. The projection of U.S. military power all over the world is viewed as necessary to freedom and national security.
That’s not the way our American ancestors saw things. They viewed empire, standing armies, and militarism as the greatest threats to the freedom and security of the American people.
Consider the words of James Madison:
A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.
What Madison means by “revolt,” was opposition among the citizenry to ever-growing taxes and inflation to fund the Roman military machine and its perpetual foreign military escapades. Whenever such opposition grew, the Empire would simply provoke a new crisis or war in some faraway land. That would be enough for people to rally to the government until the crisis or war was over. If the opposition among the citizenry became fervent enough, the troops would be available to suppress it.
Madison also points out that the Roman Empire would justify an enormous military under the rubric of “defense,” when in actuality it was an excellent instrument of tyranny. That was why the Founding Fathers firmly opposed a standing army for America — they considered it to be an enormous threat to liberty.
Patrick Henry wrote, “A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny; and how are you to punish them?”
Henry is making the same point — that historically standing armies have become the instruments of tyranny at the hands of one’s own government. He’s asking: If they do become such instruments, how can even well-armed citizenry resist their overwhelming force?
In ratifying the Constitution, the Commonwealth of Virginia stated that “standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided.”
The Pennsylvania Convention stated: “As standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up.”
In their article “The Third Amendment and the Issue of the Maintenance of Standing Armies: A Legal History William S. Fields and David T. Hardy summed up the mindset of our English ancestors:
The experience of the early Middle Ages had instilled in the English people a deep aversion to the professional army, which they came to associate with oppressive taxes, and physical abuses of their persons and property (and corresponding fondness for their traditional institution the militia).
Madison pointed out why advocates of big government embrace war and especially perpetual war:
Of all the enemies to liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.
In a July 4, 1821, speech, John Adams summarized U.S. foreign policy:
But [America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty toforce…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.
Finally, we should remind ourselves of the ominous warning of President (and former Army General) Dwight Eisenhower:
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
As the U.S. military (and the CIA) continues to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, killing and maiming more people every day, as it continues ramping up the drug war in Mexico and other Latin American countries where tens of thousands have been killed, as it continues operating more than 700 bases in more than 100 countries, as it expands its killing program to Yemen, Somalia, and other places around the world, as it continues kidnapping, torturing, and abusing people, as it continues inciting anger and hatred for America around the globe, as it continues sending our nation into bankruptcy with ever-increasing military spending, as it continues operating secret prison camps and kangaroo military tribunals in foreign lands, as it continues holding America in a state of permanent crisis and war, as it is now targeting Americans for assassination, wouldn’t this be an appropriate time to reflect upon the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and the warning of President Eisenhower?
Friday, August 13, 2010
Interventionism and the Arizona Immigration Crisis
Amidst all the furor over the Arizona immigration crisis, let’s not forget the cause of it: interventionism.
Do you recall that big fence they built in California several years ago? It was part of what the feds called “Operation Gatekeeper.” It was designed to solve the immigration crisis in Southern California. The interventionists said that the fence would prevent illegal aliens from entering California.
Was that the end of the problem? Of course not. As Ludwig von Mises pointed out, one intervention inevitably creates a new crisis, which then produces new interventions, which produce new crises, and so forth. The end of the road is total government control over people’s lives, or omnipotent government.
What did the illegal aliens do after that California fence was built? They moved east. Duh! And guess where east was? You got it! Arizona! Illegal aliens seeking to better their lives through labor began risking their lives crossing the lonely and dangerous Arizona deserts, many of them dying in the process. They also began trespassing on privately owned ranches and farms. They began flooding into Arizona towns and cities.
In other words, a new immigration crisis. Everybody moving into emotional hyperdrive once again. Yawn. I’ve seen this phenomenon so many times ever since I was a kid growing up on my farm on the Rio Grande in Laredo, Texas. Every few years, the interventionists would begin screaming about the illegal-alien crisis and propose some new intervention. The intervention would be enacted, which would then produce a new crisis. A few years down the line, the interventionists would be back, once again in emotional hyperdrive about how the illegal aliens were invading America, and calling for new interventions.
By the way, wasn’t that big Berlin Fence along the border supposed to solve all the problems? Then why are the interventionists back so soon, once again in emotional hyperdrive?
The interventionists say that the problem is that the feds really haven’t enforced the immigration laws. (They say the same thing about the drug war, something that the Mexican people might disagree with, given the 23,000 deaths arising from the Mexican military’s waging the war on drugs.)
But it’s obvious that the interventionists have never been to the border. A visit to Laredo, for example, would quickly dispel any notion that immigration laws are not being enforced.
There are immigration checkpoints at the international bridges, where immigration officials are authorized to stop and search every single vehicle and pedestrian and demand to see people’s papers. Not only that, but there are also checkpoints north — yes, north — of Laredo and at the airport. In other words, Americans who travel to Laredo and never enter Mexico are nonetheless subject to the same search and seizure rules as people crossing at the international bridge. There are also roving Border Patrol stops and searches that take place on the highways.
Everywhere you go in Laredo, especially McDonald’s, you’ll see Border Patrol agents. You’ll also find them indiscriminately entering onto farms and ranches along the border and miles away from the border in their perpetual quest to find and arrest illegal aliens — without a search warrant.
According to the Washington Post, the number of border agents will soon top 18,000. That’s nine per mile. They’re spending $10 billion just on the Border Patrol. That’s billion, with a “b.”
Walk into federal court in Laredo. I’ll guarantee you that the docket is absolutely filled with cases involving illegal entry or transportation of illegal aliens. It’s been like that for decades.
So, if they’re enforcing the immigration laws, what’s the problem? The problem is that statists believe that the federal government is sufficiently powerful to repeal the law of supply and demand. It won’t happen, ever, just like they’ll never repeal the law of gravity. The law of supply and demand, like the law of gravity, is natural law and, therefore, not subject to being repealed by man.
As long as there is a demand for labor by which American employers are offering to pay relatively high wages, there will be a number of foreigners willing to take the chance to secure the job. The more they enforce the laws, the higher the wage will go in order to attract the worker. The higher the wage, the bigger the incentive to try. That’s why illegal aliens are dying of thirst on the desert.
There is only one solution to this deadly and inane interventionism: freedom and the free market. Leave foreigners free to cross borders like normal human beings, taking the bus or driving their car northward to accept jobs that American employers are offering. No more deaths on the deserts. No more illegal transporters. No more trespassing. No more violence. Just peaceful and harmonious economic interactions among people.
Freedom and free markets are the only things that work. Interventionism will just produce more crises, and more interventions, and more crises, and more interventions.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Unforeseen Power of Ideas on Liberty
In 1989 I founded The Future of Freedom Foundation from my apartment in Denver, Colorado.
The early days of FFF were extremely difficult, with little money and few donations. When subscriptions to Freedom Daily were in the hundreds, I would stuff the envelopes myself, label and stamp them, and mail them out.
However, when we went past 1000 subscribers, it became too burdensome to do all this myself.
In the meantime, I had the good fortune of becoming friends with a Catholic priest named Father Joe, who just happened to be one of the most hard-core, purist libertarians I had ever met. Why, Father Joe not only called for the legalization of all drugs, he even opposed drug laws for minors. “What children ingest and don’t ingest is purely a family matter,” he steadfastly maintained. “It’s none of the state’s business.”
Father Joe established a totally private and very successful drug rehab program, one that absolutely refused to accept any government grants.
He also was the founder of a small private school in Denver, one that accepted no government assistance.
One day I mentioned to Father Joe, who passed away a couple of years ago, my envelope-stuffing problem, and he suggested that I make an offer to his students to come into the school once a month to help me do the stuffing. So, I made an offer involving both money and free pizza. I had all the stuffers I needed!
Needless to say, we had plenty of time to discuss libertarianism during those stuffing sessions.
A couple of days ago, I received an interesting email that I think you will enjoy reading, one that reflects the unforeseen power of ideas on liberty. Here it is:
Dear Mr. Hornberger,
Up reading The Underground History of American Education, I thought I’d do a search about some of the ideas proposed. Your article enlightening about the socialistic nature of public education popped up, and I was pleased to see your name.
I was a young, young woman attending Father Joe’s school in Denver, Colorado when I met you, stuffing envelopes, with dollar signs in my eyes! An opportunity to earn a few dollars was rare for a seventh grader, and pizza included! Now I appreciate more than ever what Father Joe taught us about government back then. At the time we all thought, “This guy is so radical, even crazy. We read one paragraph from a textbook and then he goes off on a tangent for an hour about Rockefeller.” How completely wrong we were, so saturated with cultural upbringing! His words were gems; I wish they had been recorded. He knew what a real education was. Now a mother, homeschooling my children, I am so grateful for the seeds that were planted back then. My convictions are strong and growing stronger the more I understand the roots of the tides that are turning our country.
Do you have any words of wisdom for a public-school-trained teacher trying to undue the Socialist foundation my college education and teaching background has laid? I find myself fighting this, not only from outside pressure, but also as I try to conceptualize what educating a free person ought to entail.
I’m glad to see that you are still at the forefront of the hope for a return to freedom in our great nation. God bless, MD
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
A Gift to Your Grandchildren
The response among Virginia’s public officials to Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ call for closing the Joint Forces Command in Virginia reflects the depth of the financial problems our country is facing.
Most everyone knows that the road the federal government is on leads in but one direction: bankruptcy. It simply cannot continue spending more than what it’s bringing in without going broke. It can tax and tax and borrow and borrow, must as the Greece government did, but at some point the breaking point will be reached. Creditors will refuse to lend any more money and there won’t be enough money to pay for the expenditures and the debts.
The U.S. military empire — the warfare state — is a big part of the problem. Military expenditures are around 20 percent of federal spending.
So, to help with the problem, the Defense Secretary proposed to eliminate an unnecessary military program.
What happened? Virginia officials went ballistic. “National security!” they cried! “Don’t close our base!”
And don’t you know that that will be the response of every single state and locality that has become dependent on the warfare-state dole?
It really isn’t any different with respect to the welfare-state dole. Welfare-state redistributive programs amount to around 60 percent of federal spending. That encompasses such things as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, farms subsidies, corporate subsidies, and bank bailouts.
What is the response of every single class of welfare-state recipients? “Don’t stop our dole! We could never survive without it!”
So, what’s to be done?
I’ve got a proposal, one to the senior citizens of America: You lead the way. You lead us out of the socialist morass into which our nation is mired. You lead the way by calling for a full and immediate repeal of Social Security and Medicare.
Yes, I know: Seniors say, “I put it in and I have a right to get my money back.” But we all now know that that’s not how the system works. Social Security isn’t a savings account. It isn’t a retirement account. It never was those things, and there never was an actual fund where people’s money was being invested. It’s simply a welfare program, one in which the government taxes young people in order to transfer the money to senior citizens.
Medicare works the same way. Young people are taxed and the money is used to pay the medical expenses of the seniors.
The repeal of these two programs would result in an immediate reduction of 40 percent of federal spending, something that would go a long way toward placing our country on a sound financial (and moral) footing.
There are those who claim that American seniors would die in the streets without these two socialist programs. Nonsense! In fact, that’s one of the most insidious aspects to these programs — they have inculcated a mindset of hopeless dependency among the American people. They’re worse than heroin.
Would Americans survive without Social Security and Medicare? Absolutely! After all, don’t forget that our American ancestors lived and prospered without these two socialist programs for some 150 years.
Wealthier seniors don’t need the money anyway. They can survive with the wealth they’ve accumulated.
Middle-class and poorer seniors might have to continue working to supplement their savings. So what? Is that so bad? I see lots of senior citizens still working, and I don’t see them suffering for it. It keeps them in the mainstream of life.
Some seniors are incapable of working. That’s where family values and charitable foundations come into play. Bureaucrats are not the only good and caring people in society. Keep in mind that young people would no longer be burdened by Social Security taxes, which would free large sums of money to help out with parental expenses or to donate to help others.
In the absence of Medicare, insurance companies would inevitably enter the health-care arena, enabling people to continue private health-care insurance in their later years. The truly poor would depend on physicians and hospitals to voluntarily help them. That’s the way it used to be before Medicare, and it’s the way it should be now. Charity means nothing unless it’s voluntary.
What would it take for seniors to lead the way by calling for a repeal of Social Security and Medicare? It would take a resurgence of the values that once characterized the American people: self-confidence, self-reliance, a feeling of “can do,” family values, moral values, and voluntary charity. It would take a deep and abiding faith in one’s self, in others, and in freedom and the free market.
The repeal of Social Security and Medicare would inevitably lead toward the repeal of all welfare-state programs — along with the taxes and borrowing that pay for them. What better way to restore financial health and economic liberty to America?
Imagine the financial burden that would be lifted from the young people of America. No longer would any generation have the socialist albatross of Social Security and Medicare hanging over its neck. No longer would each generation look toward plundering and looting future generations in their senior years.
What greater gift could seniors give to their grandchildren than a repeal of Social Security and Medicare? Indeed, what greater gift could they give their children?
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
With the welfare state cracking apart and with rising concerns among the citizenry about federal spending and debt, count on federal officials to provoke more overseas crises as a way to frighten people into rallying toward the government. It is an old tried-and-true trick that government officials use to distract people’s attention away from the problems government is causing and toward supporting the government’s efforts to keep people “safe.”
U.S. officials are not the only ones who have used this trick effectively. James Madison pointed out that officials in the Roman Empire did it too: “Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”
In the war on terrorism, fear is the coin of the realm. “Be afraid, be very afraid” has become the standard catcall of the statists.
One option, of course, is for the citizenry to resist the fearmongering and steadfastly oppose all governmental efforts to infringe liberty and privacy in the name of keeping people safe. The problem with that approach, however, is that it can be endless since the government can use its forces to provoke new overseas threats whenever it wants. It can do things constantly to keep the people afraid.
Therefore, the only real long-term solution is to dismantle America’s disastrous experiment with empire, interventionism, and a warfare state. That would entail an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing all the troops home from everywhere around the world and discharging them, closing most of the military bases here in the United States, ending all foreign aid, and ridding our nation of a standing army.
That was the type of nation — a constitutional republic — our American ancestors intended for America to be. By embracing empire and foreign interventionism (and a welfare state), America has deviated from the vision that the Founding Fathers had for our nation, and the results have been disastrous.
Think of the advantages that would accrue from the U.S. government’s exiting Afghanistan, Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East and the world, and from dismantling the entire U.S. military empire:
1. The biggest benefit would be that the threat of terrorism against the United States would evaporate. That’s where motive is so important. From the get-go, U.S. officials wanted Americans to believe that the 9/11 terrorists attacked America because they hated our freedom and values. Nonsense. The attacks were “blowback” or retaliation for the bad things the U.S. government was doing in the Middle East.
The empire-intervention crowd claims that the Empire must remain occupying Afghanistan indefinitely to ensure that the Taliban doesn’t regain power. They say that the Taliban might make Afghanistan into a haven for more 9/11-type terrorists.
But that’s just nonsense. For one thing, the U.S. didn’t attack Afghanistan because the Taliban were complicit in the 9/11 attacks. It attacked because the Taliban refused to unconditionally comply with President Bush’s demand to deliver bin Laden to the CIA.
Thus, the fear that drives statists to call for a permanent occupation of Afghanistan is that the Taliban must now be so angry over what the U.S. Empire did to them that they might want to retaliate by offering a base from which terrorists can initiate strikes against the United States.
But that’s just speculation and empire talk. There is no reason to believe that the Taliban will engage in such actions after the U.S. Empire exits the country. After all, do we see any terrorist strikes against Russia despite the fact that the Soviet Union wreaked untold death and destruction during its occupation of Afghanistan? Do we see any terrorist strikes against the United States by North Vietnamese people who lost friends and relatives from U.S. bombs and bullets during the Vietnam War?
Moreover, since terrorism against the United States is rooted in what the U.S. government is doing over there, once the U.S. government is no longer over there, there won’t be any more terrorist threat against the United States. In other words, what difference would it make if the Taliban were to announce Afghanistan as a haven for terrorists if nobody cared anymore about planning terrorist strikes against the United States?
Anyway, as we’ve seen time and time again, people who are determined to do harm to the United States can plan terrorist strikes from a hotel or house anywhere in the world. They don’t need an entire country to serve as a safe haven for them.
2. With the anger and hatred that gives rise to terrorism having dissipated, the entire war-on-terrorism edifice could be dismantled, beginning with the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security. Life could return to normal, without all the perpetual crises and fear-mongering.
3. An enormous amount of taxpayer money could be saved, perhaps as much as 1/3 of the federal budget.
When a person is stricken by cancer, it’s important to attack the source of the cancer cells. The same principle applies to when the body politic is attacked by cancer. The source of America’s cancer is the U.S. Empire. It’s time to attack the cancer at its source by bringing all the troops and contractors home now, dismantling Americas’ military empire, and ending its foreign policy of meddling and interference. That would go a long way toward restoring health to our nation, along with peace, prosperity, harmony, and normality.
Monday, August 9, 2010
No Right to Counsel in the War on Terrorism
The feds have figured out another way to use the war on terrorism as a way to avoid the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights. This time, it’s the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of effective assistance of counsel that falls by the wayside.
Keep in mind that the president no longer complies with the Constitution’s requirement that Congress must declare war before the president can wage war. Ever since World War II (when FDR sought a declaration of war from Congress after the Pearl Harbor attack, as the Constitution required him to), presidents have simply ignored the Constitution in this regard. Hardly anyone — libertarians being the big exception — has cared. After all, it’s only one constitutional requirement that’s being ignored, right?
After 9/11, the president and Pentagon declared war on terrorism, which they said gave them the prerogative of avoiding constitutional restraints on their power. This was war, they said, and nothing can interfere with the president’s omnipotent military powers to wage the war.
What was interesting about this war was that it involved what had traditionally been a criminal offense — that is, terrorism (which still is a criminal offense in the U.S. Code), which they simply converted into an act of war, at their option.
Those suspected terrorists who are treated as criminal defendants receive the guarantees of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Those who are labeled enemy combatants get kangaroo military tribunals, indefinite incarceration, denial of speedy trials, torture, and sometimes even extra-judicial execution.
Then came the power to assassinate. The president, the CIA, and the Pentagon now claim the authority to assassinate anyone they want, including Americans, because, they say, in the war on terrorism the entire world, especially the United States, is the battlefield.
Thus, while they seem to acknowledge that they’ve got to go to a judge to get a warrant to search a person’s home, they can simply kill the person with a bullet or a drone missile attack without any judicial review whatsoever.
And now, they’ve come up with a clever little bureaucratic trick to ensure that the Americans (and others) who they target for assassination, torture, or incarceration cannot receive the benefit of counsel.
Without any constitutional amendment — indeed, without even a law enacted by Congress — the Treasury Department has issued regulations barring attorneys from representing specially designated terrorists without first securing a license from the Treasury Department. If an attorney represents such a terrorist without the special license, they’ll criminally prosecute him — and possibly even deny him the assistance of counsel.
As an aside, keep in mind that the Treasury Department is the agency responsible for issuing licenses to Americans who wish to travel to Cuba and spend money there. In other words, notwithstanding the fact that the rights to travel and spend one’s own money are fundamental rights, an American must ask for a license from his own government before he can exercise them. That’s what statists call freedom — the freedom to ask for permission to exercise fundamental rights.
And now they’ve done the same with the right of criminal suspects to have an attorney represent them before they’re murdered, tortured, incarcerated, or otherwise punished by the government.
Why do the feds hate criminal defense attorneys? Criminal defense attorneys are obstacles to illegal conduct on the part of the government. They ensure that the government is not only following the law but also that it’s not using perjured or manufactured evidence to convict people who the feds are convinced are guilty.
The government often wrongfully accuses people of crimes. It makes mistakes, and it sometimes even targets people who are innocent, manufacturing or planting evidence to establish guilt.
Moreover, keep in mind that everyone is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The government wants to avoid that important step and simply have its accusation be conclusive.
Criminal defense attorneys serve as obstacles to a government running roughshod over the citizenry. That’s why they are so hated and resented not only by U.S. officials but also officials in China, North Korea, and Cuba.
Our American ancestors knew that the federal government would attract the types of people who would run roughshod over people. That’s why they included the following provision in the Sixth Amendment: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall … have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”
Like so many other constitutional constraints, the feds are now avoiding that one. It’s just another sad and ominous legacy of the war on terrorism.
Friday, August 6, 2010
It Isn’t About Islam and Muslims
Statists who oppose the building of that mosque near the World Trade Center site are missing the point, and the reason they’re missing the point is that they simply cannot bring themselves to recognize that the problem is not with Islam or Muslims. The problem is with the U.S. government and specifically, its imperial, interventionist foreign policy that waged war against people in the Middle East for years prior to the 9/11 attacks.
In other words, the 9/11 terrorists did not attack New York and Washington because of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any other religion. They attacked because they were retaliating for the horrible things that the U.S. government had done to people in the Middle East, most of whom happen to have been Muslims.
What bad things, you ask?
Well, how about the intentional and deliberate killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. If you want to read the sordid details on how that took place, go to this page on The Future of Freedom Foundation’s website or, better yet, purchase and read a copy of Joy Gordon’s new book Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions.
The U.S. Empire killed those kids with one of the most brutal systems of economic sanctions in history. Since 99 percent of the population of Iraq is Muslim, the odds are that 99 percent of those dead Iraqi children were Muslim.
Now, that’s not to say that the U.S. government killed those children because they were Muslim. It’s simply to say that the kids they killed in Iraq were Muslims.
Why did they kill those children? Because they hoped that Saddam Hussein would leave office rather than continue to watch his own people die from the sanctions. They were using the Iraqi children as the means by which to pressure him into relinquishing power in favor of a U.S.-approved ruler.
The strategy didn’t work. Saddam let the children die, as did the U.S. government, year after year after year.
Did U.S. officials express any remorse for killing all those kids? Are you kidding? It was the exact opposite — they felt that the killing of those children was “worth it.” That was the precise phrase used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright when “Sixty Minutes” asked her if the deaths of half-a-million children from the sanctions had been worth it. Her response reflected the official position of the Empire: “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”
Not surprisingly, people throughout the Middle East were boiling over with anger over these deaths and the callous, indifferent attitude toward the deaths. It also shouldn’t surprise anyone that the people who were boiling over with anger and rage happened to have been Muslim, simply because the children who were dying were Muslim.
Adding fuel to the fire was the U.S. government’s unconditional flow of foreign-aid largess to the Israeli government; the stationing of U.S. troops, most of whom had to have been Christians and Jews, on the holiest lands in the Muslim religion — Mecca and Medina; and the illegal no-fly zones that were being used to kill even more Iraqis.
As Ron Paul put it in his famous presidential debate exchange with Rudy Giuliani, “They attack us because we’ve been over there, we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We’ve been in the Middle East. I think Reagan was right. We don’t understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics.”
When will Americans come to see that the never-ending terrorist crisis, along with the concomitant loss of our civil liberties, is rooted in U.S. statism, imperialism, and interventionism rather than in religion? When will they stop treating the U.S. government like a god?
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Military Suicides and Guilty Consciences
American statists and imperialists are coming up with all sorts of explanations to explain the epidemic of suicides among U.S. military personnel. The most popular explanations are war stress and stress at home.
I’ve got another possible cause: guilt, arising from the wrongful killing of other human beings.
Consider Iraq. Neither the Iraqi people nor their government ever attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. They had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. When U.S. soldiers invaded Iraq, they were the aggressors. At worst, every single Iraqi killed by U.S. forces was simply defending his country against an unlawful invasion by the military forces of a foreign power.
U.S. soldiers in the initial invasion force undoubtedly convinced themselves that they were killing Iraqis under the notion of self-defense, telling themselves that they were protecting the United States from an imminent WMD attack.
At some point, however, reality set in. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Yet, countless Iraqis had already been killed by U.S. soldiers.
At that point, did the U.S. government apologize for this grave mistake? Did President Bush order an immediate withdrawal from the country?
Once it was determined that Saddam Hussein had in fact destroyed his stocks of WMD, the U.S. government nonetheless decided to remain in Iraq, calling on the troops to enforce a brutal occupation, one that necessarily involved killing more Iraqis.
At that point, any semblance of the “self-defense” rationale disappeared for U.S. troops killing Iraqis. Any soldier who killed an Iraqi after that point knew, with 100 percent certainty, that the person he was killing was entirely innocent of any actual attack or threatened attack on the United States, including 9/11 and the WMDs.
Throughout the occupation, people have called on U.S. forces to be more careful about killing civilians. The implication has been that it’s okay for U.S. forces to target insurgents or combatants but needed to be careful about “collateral damage.”
Not so. The U.S. government had no right whatsoever, legal or moral, to be in Iraq, and especially not after it was conclusively determined that Bush had been wrong about the WMD threat. That means that U.S. soldiers had no right, legal or moral, to kill any Iraqi, not even Iraqis who were defending their country from an unlawful invasion.
Suppose a U.S. soldier says, “But if they’re shooting at me, I have a right to shoot back in self-defense.”
Not so. If a burglar enters a home and is shot at by the homeowner, the burglar cannot, legally or morally, shoot back at the homeowner and claim self-defense. Since the burglar has no right to be in the home, his only option, legally and morally, is to withdraw from the home without firing back at the homeowner.
The situation is no different with the U.S. government. It had no right to invade Iraq. It had no right to occupy Iraq. U.S. soldiers had no right to kill (or maim, incarcerate, torture, abuse, rape, or execute) one single Iraqi — not civilians, not insurgents, not even members of Iraq’s armed forces.
Statists and imperialists have come to defend the killing of Iraqis under a mathematical formula. They say that Iraqi deaths have been worth it because Iraq is now, they claim, a better place than it was under Saddam Hussein. That’s, of course, a proposition that might be disputed by many Iraqis, and most likely the dead would have preferred to be alive, even if Iraq was a worse place without the invasion and occupation.
But consider the moral issue involved here. The statists and imperialists are telling U.S. soldiers that it’s okay for them to kill other human beings in the attempt to bring a better life to the rest of the citizens in that society.
What moral or religious creed justifies killing another human being under that sort of welfare rationale? Certainly not Christianity.
Aggravating this entire situation is the fact that U.S. soldiers have killed people in a war that violates the U.S. Constitution, the document that soldiers took an oath to support and defend. It is undisputed that Congress never declared war on Iraq, as the Constitution requires.
Of course, no soldier will ever be criminally prosecuted for the killing of Iraqis. But immunity from criminal prosecution cannot protect a person from the persecution of his own conscience. While the worst sociopathic murderers can somehow bury their consciences and never seem to suffer guilt or remorse when they kill people, most soldiers are not sociopathic murderers. They are normal human beings who joined the armed forces under some idealistic notion that they were serving their country. When they kill people wrongfully, it’s not so easy to escape the psychological and emotional consequences arising from a troubled conscience.
Since soldiers are not permitted or encouraged to confront the reality of what they have actually done in Iraq — kill people as part of a wrongful invasion or occupation — and because they have to continue pretending that that they have killed Iraqis in service of America or for the good of Iraq, suicide becomes an easy way out to escape the ongoing pain of a guilty conscience.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Patriotism and Treason
At the recent sentencing of Walter Kendall Myers and his wife Gwendolyn, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton announced that he was “perplexed” by the Myers’ claim that they had no intent to harm the United States by turning over classified documents to Cuba. He told the couple that they deserved heavy punishment for betraying the United States.
As I wrote in an article last November, Myers, who worked for the State Department, and his wife pled guilty to spying for Cuba for some 30 years. Pursuant to a plea bargain, Walton sentenced the husband to life in prison without possibility of parole and sentenced the wife to 7 years in jail.
The good judge no doubt has the same mindset that unfortunately afflicts many Americans — one that conflates the U.S. government and our country. For these people, it’s all just one big amorphous whole. In their minds, if you disclose secret information from the files of the U.S. government, that must mean, automatically, that you’re betraying your country.
You see this conflation mindset playing out right now in the Wikileaks disclosure of those secret Pentagon documents. People like Walton are saying that by disclosing secret documents belonging to the U.S. government, Wikileaks has hurt the United States.
Another example was when Daniel Ellsberg, the former Pentagon worker, disclosed the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. President Richard Nixon took the position that Ellsberg had betrayed his country by disclosing classified documents that embarrassed the Pentagon. I wonder if Walton, who was appointed to the federal bench by Republican President George W. Bush, ranks with those who think that Ellsberg betrayed his country by disclosing the lies and fabrications of the Pentagon to the American people.
Actually, the U.S. government and our country are two separate and distinct entities. This phenomenon is, in fact, confirmed by the Bill of Rights, which expressly protects the country from the U.S. government.
What Walton apparently failed to address at the sentencing, and what the government obviously wanted to suppress by avoiding trial, was the nature of the information that the Myers’ delivered to Cuba. Obviously, in Walton’s mind and in the minds of U.S. officials, the nature of the information was irrelevant. All that mattered was that it was information that the U.S. government wanted to keep secret. That was enough to convert the Myers’ into bad people — into criminals — into people who had betrayed their country.
Myers himself made a revealing statement in his 10-minute explanation to the judge, a statement that must have left the judge even more perplexed. Myers stated, “The Cuban people feel threatened” and that they had “good reason to feel threatened” by the U.S. government.
There is no possibility that the information that the Myers’ disclosed to the Cubans dealt with Cuban plans to attack, invade, conquer, or occupy the United States, for the simple reason that Cuba has never had any such plans.
No, it’s actually the other way around. It’s the U.S. government that has engaged in a 50-year obsessive campaign against the Cuban government and the Cuban people, including a brutal economic embargo that has squeezed the lifeblood out of the Cuban people, assassination attempts, invasion attempts, coup attempts, and who knows what else?
In other words, it’s been the U.S. government that has waged an immoral, aggressive war against an independent, sovereign regime, for the sole purpose of ousting Castro’s regime from power and replacing it with a pro-U.S. regime, just as it has done in Iran, Iraq, Guatemala, Afghanistan, and many other countries.
Why the animosity toward Fidel Castro? No, it’s not because he’s a socialist. After all, your standard U.S. official — perhaps even Judge Walton himself — believes in the same socialist programs that Castro favors, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, welfare for the poor, income taxation, and the like.
No, the reason they’ve hated Castro since he took power in 1959 — the reason for their decades-long obsession with Cuba — is that Castro refused to kowtow to the U.S. Empire. He refused to make Cuba a vassal state of the U.S. Empire, as his predecessor Batista had done. That’s what earned Castro, Cuba, and the Cuban people the ever-lasting enmity of the U.S. Empire.
Thus, while the Myers’ share Castro’s socialist philosophy, that wasn’t the gravamen of their offense, especially since most other U.S. officials do too. Their crime was following their conscience by disclosing what had to be information regarding the U.S. government’s never-ending, obsessive quest for regime change in Cuba.
In the minds of U.S. officials, all that’s obviously irrelevant. Everything the U.S. Empire does is automatically supposed to be considered good, and anybody who discloses information regarding the U.S. government’s wars of aggression, torture, secret prisons, human rights abuses, rapes, embargoes, sanctions, invasions, assassinations, and occupations is to be automatically considered bad.
The Myers’ would have been better off if they had simply disclosed their information to the New York Times rather than to Cuba. At least the American people, not just the Cuban officials who received the information, would be able to see what their government’s been up to.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Reduce Federal Spending: End the Drug War
I have a proposal for reducing federal spending: End the drug war by legalizing drugs.
Let’s face reality: Unless something drastic happens, like bankruptcy or hyperinflation, Americans are not likely going to let go of their welfare-warfare state in the near term.
When it comes to welfare, Americans are as addicted as your most hard-core heroin addict. How many times have we heard, “If we didn’t have Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, people would die in the streets from starvation and illness”?
Then there’s the warfare dole for the military and military-industrial complex. Don’t think for a moment that the Pentagon and its contractors are ever going to be willing to give up their warfare dole. They have as big entitlement mentality as welfare recipients. Moreover, they will always be able and willing to conjure up or provoke all sorts of foreign enemies, bogeymen, crises, fears, and threats that will guarantee them a continual stream of warfare money.
Then there’s the interest on the national debt. And then there is all the so-called “discretionary spending,” such as the bailouts, education grants, stimulus funds, farm subsidies, regulatory enforcement, and all the rest. You can count on every single recipient of such largess to fight just as viciously for his share of the dole as the other welfare and warfare recipients.
Given the enormous and growing gap between federal tax revenues and federal expenditures, the future doesn’t look good. Common sense will tell you that such a situation is not going to end well.
The liberals want to resolve the problem by raising taxes. But what they’re ignoring is that the welfare-warfare state might have finally have reached a breaking point — where higher taxes drive more firms into shutting down, thereby reducing tax revenues even more and increasing the number of people on the dole. Think Greece.
So, what to do? The answer is obvious: Immediately abolish — as in repeal — all welfare-state programs, beginning with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, restoring retirement and health care to the free market.
At the same time, dismantle the entire warfare state, immediately ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing all the troops home and discharging them, closing all the foreign bases and most of the bases here at home, and drying up the military-industrial complex.
Alas, however, Americans aren’t ready to go there yet. The addiction to welfare-warfare spending is too deeply engrained in the American psyche.
So, how about reducing federal spending by ending the drug war?
How much is spent on the drug war? Around $15 billion. Okay, admittedly that’s a drop in the bucket in a $3.5 trillion budget. But we’ve got to start somewhere, and what better place to knock off billions of dollars in one fell swoop?
After all, what’s the point of the drug war? Everyone, including the head of the DEA, would concede that the drug war has not been victorious despite decades of warfare. In fact, it’s become the never-ending war, one that has no other point than to punish people without accomplishing anything. As everyone knows, the drug war certainly hasn’t stemmed the flow of drugs.
So, I ask again: What’s the point of it? It has no point whatsoever. We could immediately save $15 billion by ending it.
And think of the collateral benefits that would flow from an immediate legalization of drugs:
1. The drug cartels and drug lords would be out of business immediately. Who could object to that? Isn’t that what the DEA and U.S. and Mexican militaries are trying to do with their law-enforcement operations? Yet, as soon as they kill or jail some drug lord, he’s quickly replaced by new ones.
Thus, their method will never permanently rid society of drug lords and drug cartels. It can only fill the graveyards or prisons with them, endlessly.
Drug legalization, on the other hand, puts them all of business. Why wouldn’t that be a better way to rid society of drug cartels and drug lords? Indeed, it’s the only way to do so.
2. Virtually all the robberies, muggings, thefts, burglaries, and murders that addicts engage in to pay for the exorbitant, black-market prices for drugs would disappear. We’d have a safer society. When was the last time you heard of a wino or alcoholic committing acts of violence to get the money to buy a bottle of wine or a case of beer? That’s because the cost of buying these products is low, compared to the potential cost of engaging in violent crime to get the money. Drug legalization would do the same thing to the prices of illicit drugs.
3. Drug addicts would be encouraged to be more open about their addiction, enabling them to openly seek therapy for the issues that are driving them to use drugs. The drug war drives people underground, fearful that someone will turn them in. Drug legalization brings the process to the surface, where it is easier to deal with.
4. The drug-war violations of privacy and civil liberties would disappear, along with one of the police’s favorite excuses for harassing citizens. No more asset-forfeiture, no more cash reporting requirements, no more planting drugs on innocent people. Indeed, no more drug-war bribes to government officials.
5. Most important, drug legalization will restore a core aspect of human freedom to our land — the right of human beings to ingest whatever substance they want without being punished by the state for it.
Would legalization of drugs resolve the federal budgetary problem? Of course not! But it would put a dent into it, while bringing about a more peaceful and free society.
Monday, August 2, 2010
The Never-Ending Drug War
The Mexican government has just killed a man named Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, who was purported to be the leader of a powerful Mexican drug cartel. According to the New York Times, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency congratulated the Mexican government on a “victory in their sustained efforts to dismantle the drug cartels by targeting the highest levels of cartel leadership.”
It would be difficult to imagine a bigger inanity than that particular statement from the DEA.
After all, during the past several decades how many times have we heard similar announcements from the DEA? Lots of times! Too many to count, in fact.
Recall all the hype about the Medellin Cartel. That was the drug-war cartel de jour during the 1990s. Amidst much fanfare, publicity, and hype, the DEA and the Colombian government targeted that particular cartel, along with its leaders Pablo Escobar and Carlos Lehder.
Well, guess what happened. The DEA and the Colombians destroyed the Medellin Cartel, either by imprisoning or killing its leaders. Escobar, who was called the “world’s greatest outlaw,” was killed and Lehder is now jailed in a U.S. penitentiary.
So, what do you think happened then? Was the drug war over? Of course not. The Medellin Cartel was simply replaced by new cartels, new suppliers, new drug lords, new drug dealers.
It was no different with the Cali Cartel, which the DEA was targeting in the 1990s. Go back and read the statements issued by the DEA when six out of the seven cartel leaders were arrested in 1995, and you’ll see that they were as inane as the one they just issued on current Mexico cartel leader Coronel.
The drug war is a never-ending war. That’s what everyone needs to realize. It will never have a final victory to it. As long as it is waged, it will be waged forever. It’s all just an endless process of arresting, killing, and congratulating.
The whole process is a big bonanza not just for the drug dealers but also for the DEA bureaucracy and the Mexican drug-war bureaucracy. It keeps these people permanently employed. Never mind that nothing ever changes. Drug lords are jailed or killed. DEA agents spend their lives issuing inane statements of congratulations and then retire on their fat federal pensions. Like the Energizer Bunny, the drug war just keeps going and going and going.
Let’s face it: there are three primary groups benefiting from the drug war: the DEA and other drug-war law enforcement officials, the drug lords, and the countless public officials who are on the drug-war take. All three groups know that if drugs were legalized, all three groups would be out of business immediately.
There really isn’t any other argument in favor of the drug war, other than that it protects jobs and bribes. For years, drug-war proponents have cried, “The problem is that they’re just not cracking down fiercely enough!” Those laments have also been inane because the fact was that they were cracking down, with such things as mandatory minimum sentences, asset forfeiture, illegal searches and seizures, planting of drugs on suspects, violations of financial privacy, military invasions, and more.
No one can honestly claim that the Mexican government hasn’t cracked down. It has done so big time, even to the point of using its military forces.
And what has been the result of the Mexican crackdown? Death, destruction, violation of civil liberties, and increased governmental corruption! Imagine: 23,000 deaths in just the past few years! And there’s no end in sight.
The drug war has converted Mexico into an absolute disaster. American tourists are staying away from the border towns, which used to be tourist Meccas. And it’s all because of the Mexican government’s drug-war crackdown, the crackdown that the DEA thinks is great.
There is only one way to get rid of the drug cartels. Let me repeat that: One way only. It lies not in drug-war crackdowns or in the jailing or killing of drug lords. The reason is simple: drug lords who are jailed or killed are immediately replaced with new drug lords. It’s called the law of supply and demand.
The way to get rid of drug lords is simply to legalize drugs. If the drug war were ended today with drug legalization, the drug lords would be out of business tomorrow, if not sooner. Of course, when that day comes, don’t expect any congratulatory statements coming from the DEA because it will be out of business too.