Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Immigration and Liberal Hypocrisy
Let’s give credit where credit is due: When it comes to hypocrisy, liberals can be just as two-faced and duplicitous as conservatives.
We’re all familiar with conservative hypocrisy. The favorite mantra of conservatives is: “Private property, free enterprise, and limited government.”
Yet, the favorite programs of conservatives are: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, education grants, community grants, corporate bailouts, protectionism, empire, torture, the drug war, the war on terrorism, and all sorts of other things that violate the principles of “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.”
What about liberals? Their favorite mantra is: “We love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged.” In fact, their favorite invective that they love to hurl at libertarians (who favor the dismantling, not the reform, of all welfare-state programs) is: “You just hate the poor, needy, and disadvantaged.”
Well, according to this article in Sunday’s New York Times, the Obama administration has initiated a fierce crackdown on businesses that hire illegal aliens.
But get this: They’re going easy on the immigrants, just deporting them instead of charging them with any crimes. Instead, they’re going after the American businessmen who commit the dastardly crime of hiring these poor people.
The most recent example involves Chuy’s Mesquite Broiler chain in Arizona, which is popular among consumers for its Mexican food and margaritas. The feds busted the place and charged the restaurant’s two owners, Mark Evenson and his son Christopher, with crimes entailing a possible 80 years in jail.
Only one of the 42 illegal aliens caught in the raid was charged with a crime, one unrelated to the raid. The others were detained on civil charges, which usually involve deportation, detained as material witnesses against the Evensons, or permitted to remain in the United States to legalize their status.
Why the differentiation in treatment?
Isn’t the answer obvious? Unlike conservatives, liberals love “the poor, needy, and disadvantaged.” This way, they can say to themselves, “We’re helping the poor by sending them home rather than putting them in jail, like Bush and his conservative cohorts were doing. We’re punishing the evil, greedy, profit-seeking, bourgeois, swine of capitalist pigs who are exploiting the oppressed workers.”
Like I say, rank hypocrisy! Hurting people in the name of helping them. How do you get more two-faced than that?
Those illegal aliens had entered into a mutually beneficial arrangement with Chuy’s restaurant. Both sides had struck a negotiated deal in which the immigrants were performing labor services in exchange for an agreed-upon wage. Both sides were happy with the deal, given that they both voluntarily entered into it.
What better way to help the poor, needy, and disadvantaged than to let them have a paying job in the private sector, especially compared to forcing them to return home to a life of guaranteed poverty? When they’re free to accept gainful employment in the private sector, they make their own money, much of which they send back home to help the poor — e.g., spouses, children, parents, and grandparents.
And let’s not forget: The money that is being used to pay the immigrants’ salaries belongs to the owners, not the government and not to society. Since it’s their money, the owners have the moral right to do whatever they want with it, including giving it to anyone they want, including immigrants who are working for them.
Of course, given the liberal mindset that everything belongs to society and, therefore, subject to confiscation and redistribution, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the concept of private ownership of property is anathema to liberals.
What business is it of government to interfere with private work relationships that have been voluntarily agreed upon between employers and employees?
Answer: No business at all.
What have Obama and his liberal cohorts accomplished with their vicious raid on Chuy’s restaurant.
They’ve hurt the immigrants, who now no longer have a job and are being forced to return to Latin America to suffer dismal economics conditions.
They’ve hurt the owners, who must now spend tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and possibly spend years in a federal penitentiary for committing the dastardly crime of using their own money to hire some of the poorest people in the world.
They’ve hurt customers of Chuy’s restaurant, given the good chance that restaurant operations will be disrupted and possibly ended by the federal assault on its private property and economic enterprise.
Why can’t the feds simply leave people alone? Because despite their two-faced mantras, liberals, like conservatives, are consumed with destroying the lives and happiness of people who are simply trying to better their lives and the lives of their families through voluntary contracts and economic activity.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Immigration Statism vs. Economic Liberty
The Supreme Court has upheld an Arizona law that imposes harsh penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens. The penalty of violating the law entails the suspension of a firm’s business license. The law requires state companies to verify that employees are legal by using a federal database.
Oh, for the days of substantive due process! That was the period of Supreme Court history when the Court protected people’s fundamental rights from infringements by both the federal government and the state governments. Federal infringements were declared unconstitutional by virtue of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment and state infringements by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Or, perhaps I should backtrack a bit. It’s not that the Supreme Court won’t protect some fundamental rights from both federal and state assault. They certainly do. It’s just that ever since the Franklin Roosevelt statist revolution, the Court has refused to protect economic liberty from both state and federal infringements.
For example, if Arizona had enacted a law punishing employers who gave speeches and handed out pamphlets opposing Arizona’s immigration law, the Supreme Court would have easily declared the law to be an unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental right of freedom of speech. The Court would have relied on the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause to protect people’s right to free speech.
The same goes for religious liberty, another well-recognized fundamental right. If Arizona required people to attend church on Sunday, the Court would hold that the law is an unconstitutional infringement on freedom of religion.
The problem arises with respect to economic liberty, which Supreme Court justices, like good, little statists everywhere, look upon not as a fundamental right but rather as a privilege bestowed on people by government.
Look at that Arizona immigration law. How does it punish employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens? By revoking their licenses to do business in the state.
Did you catch that? A license to do business! What’s a license? It’s a government-granted permission — a permission that must be bought and paid for and issued before someone can go into business.
In other words, in order to sustain and improve their lives through labor and economic activity, people must ask for permission from the state. That’s as antithetical to the notion of fundamental rights as one can get.
Did I mention that businesses in Cuba and China must also secure licenses from the state as a prerequisite to engaging in economic activity? Statists everywhere think alike.
Do you see how different statists are from libertarians? Libertarians hold that a person has the fundamental, God-given right to not only speak his mind and decide whether to go to church but also the right to sustain his life through labor by engaging in economic activity, including the buying and selling of products and services, and deciding what to do with his own money.
Given that economic liberty is a fundamental, God-given right, people should no more have to secure a license from the government to exercise that right than they should to give a speech or operate a church.
After all, it’s your life, isn’t it? The government didn’t create you, God did or, if you prefer, nature did. Whatever talents and abilities a person has have come to him from nature and nature’s God, not from government. You have the inalienable right to use those talents and abilities by offering goods and services to other people, who have the right to choose to purchase them or not.
Moreover, the fruits of your earnings belong to you, not to the government, and you have the fundamental, God-given right to do whatever you want with your own money. If you choose to use your money to hire Mexicans, Guatemalans, Englishmen, Frenchmen, or Americans, that is your right, just as it is their right to accept or refuse your offer of employment.
That’s what economic liberty is all about. Unfortunately, we were all born and raised in an age of statism, one in which statists are everywhere, including on the Supreme Court. As such, we have to put up with such statist nonsense as occupational licensure and sanctions for associating with employees that statists don’t like or approve of.
As statism generally continues heading people into endless economic woes, we can only hope that there will be a rediscovery and renewed appreciation for the principles of fundamental rights and economic liberty. Wouldn’t it be great to see the following amendment added to the Constitution: “No law shall be passed by either the federal government or the states respecting the regulation of commerce or abridging the free exercise thereof”?
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Yesterday, I wrote about the president’s dictatorial power regarding the waging of war. I pointed out that when it comes to war, the president can now violate with impunity the constitutional provision requiring him to secure a declaration of war from Congress before waging war. This power to violate the Constitution effectively gives dictatorial power to the president, given that he is free to use his military to start wars whenever and wherever he wants.
There are two supplemental points I wish to make here. The first involves the Supreme Court and the second explains why this dictatorial power presents such a grave threat to the fundamental rights and liberties of the American people.
Given the clear unconstitutionality of the president’s violation of the declaration-of-war requirement, why hasn’t the Supreme Court declared it to be unconstitutional? Isn’t that job of the Court?
The Constitution does not expressly delegate to the judicial branch the power to declare congressional laws and presidential actions unconstitutional. In the famous 1803 case of Marbury vs. Madison, however, the Supreme Court held that the Framers intended the federal judiciary to be the final arbiter of constitutionality, given the nature of the judicial branch of government.
The natural question arose: Would the other two branches of government go along with the Court’s ruling? By and large, they have done so. Under our system of government, the Supreme Court became the final decider of what was constitutional and what wasn’t.
With the rise of the national-security state and the Cold War after World War II, however, things changed, at least insofar as the waging of war was concerned.
Keep in mind that prior to that time, it was commonly understood that the president was required by the Constitution to secure a declaration of war prior to waging war. That was why, for example, President Roosevelt went to Congress for a declaration of war against Japan in World War II, even though Japan had already initiated hostilities against the United States.
After World War II, however, presidents decided to simply violate this important constitutional constraint on power. The Korean War. The Vietnam War. The Persian Gulf War. The Afghan War. The Iraq War. And the military attacks on such countries as Grenada, Panama, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, and others.
No congressional declaration of war in any of them. A clear violation of law — the law that the Framers imposed on federal officials when the federal government was called into existence by the Constitution.
So, why didn’t the Supreme Court declare such wars to be unconstitutional? The answer is: Because the Court knew that the president would never comply with its ruling anyway, and the Court knew that it had no way to enforce its judgment against the president.
Of course, that’s not the reason given by the Court. Over the years, the Court has used fancy technical contortions to avoid ruling on the issue. It would hold, for example, that the person suing for a declaration of unconstitutionality lacked the necessary “standing” to bring the action, but it soon became clear that under the Court’s view no one could ever have the necessary standing, thereby ensuring that the Court wouldn’t have to rule on the issue. Or the Court would say that it was precluded from ruling on “political questions,” ignoring the fact that a “political question” didn’t relieve the Court of its constitutional responsibility to declare an action or law unconstitutional.
It has always been an elaborate cover, one designed to avoid showing the American people and the world that the president of the United States now wielded total power when it came to waging war and that when it comes to this particular part of the Constitution, the Supreme Court is impotent. Its self-declared role as the final arbiter of constitutionality, as declared in Marbury vs. Madison, is no longer operative when it comes to the president’s decision-making power to wage war.
By resorting to fancy legal contortions to avoid ruling on the constitutionality of presidential wars, the Court has been able to maintain the façade that America’s ruler is still operating under constitutional restraints, when in reality, by virtue of the fact that our ruler is now free to violate this critically important part of the Constitution, he now wields the same omnipotent power wielded by foreign dictators.
Why is the power to violate this particular provision of the Constitution so important? Libya provides a microcosm of how this dictatorial power relates to the rights and freedoms of the American people.
The president initiates a war against Libya, a country that has not attacked the United States, thereby once again making the United States the aggressor in a war. Libyan soldiers are killed and maimed. They have friends and relatives and people in the Middle East who sympathize with them. Some of the sympathizers make their way to the United States and retaliate, say, with strikes against the Pentagon and the Capitol.
Needless to say, U.S. officials would immediately label the strikers as terrorists rather than as soldiers fighting a war, one that the United States initiated against their country. In the eyes of U.S. officials, a terrorist is any person who opposes the president’s wars.
That would mean a renewal of the perpetual war on terrorism, a “war” that itself arose out of foreign retaliation for pre-9/11 U.S. aggression in the Middle East. The terror alerts would be elevated. And you know what that would mean: A new round of infringements on the rights and liberties of the American people — more fondling at the airports, more Patriot Acts with sharper teeth, more national-security letters, more illegal spying on Americans, more arbitrary arrests, more torture, more indefinite detentions, more dungeons, more kangaroo tribunals, more assassinations, more centralization of power, more regulation, more bureaucratization, more drug war, and higher spending, taxes, debts, and inflation.
And, of course, if the war expands to include other countries, there is always the ever-present threat of conscription, an unconstitutional power akin to slavery, hanging over America’s youth.
Madison was right: Of all the enemies to liberty, war is the biggest. Obviously dictatorship — that is, the power of a ruler to initiate war on his own initiative — is a close second.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
The Power to Violate the Constitution
Given President Obama’s refusal to comply with the Constitution’s declaration-of-war requirement in his war on Libya, perhaps this would be a good time for Americans to reflect upon the underlying philosophy of constitutionally limited government, especially as compared to dictatorship.
When the Framers proposed to call the federal government into existence with the Constitution, many Americans were not very excited about the idea. They were concerned that this new federal government would ultimately end up being like most other governments in history — dictatorial and tyrannical — and that the American people would end up losing their fundamental rights and liberties at the hands of their very own government.
Our ancestors in 1787 didn’t view their own government has their provider, their protector, their parent, their big brother, their friend, or their god. They instead considered their own government to be the biggest threat to their fundamental rights and liberties. That’s why they weren’t very excited about letting the federal government come into existence with the Constitution.
Proponents of the new government argued that the Constitution set forth the terms and conditions under which the government would be permitted to operate. It could never be a dictatorial government, they said, because it would be permitted to exercise only those limited powers that were enumerated in the Constitution itself.
Still, Americans weren’t convinced. Their rights and freedoms were of the utmost importance to them. When they finally went along with the deal, it was on the condition that immediately after the Constitution was ratified, a Bill of Rights would be enacted, one that would expressly prohibit federal officials from infringing upon people’s fundamental rights and liberties.
One of the most important restrictions in the Constitution dealt with the power to wage war. The Framers understood what happens with rulers. Their get filled with pride, arrogance, and hubris and especially don’t like being “pushed around” by tin-pot foreign dictators, especially ones that tease and taunt them or, at the very least, fail to show proper deference. The inevitably temptation, of course, is to go after such dictators through the use of the government’s military forces, much as President Bush did with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and President Obama has done with Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi.
But as Madison pointed out, of all the enemies to liberty war is the biggest. Why? Because war provides the crises, chaos, and fear that give government officials the opportunity to exercise all the powers by which people’s rights and freedoms are taken away — centralization, bureaucratization, regulation, taxation, debt, inflation, militarism, suppression of speech, arbitrary arrests, roundups, indefinite detention, and dungeons and prisons.
So, the Framers decided to make it difficult for the president to wage war. To accomplish that, they delegated the power to wage war to the president but delegated the power to declare war to the Congress. The idea was that under the Constitution, the president would lack the power to wage war without first securing a declaration of war from the Congress.
So, where does that leave us? It leaves us with a president who has chosen to deliberately ignore and violate the law that the Framers and our American ancestors imposed on him and all other federal officials. That law is the Constitution, the law that controls the actions of government.
By deliberately ignoring and violating the Constitution’s declaration-of-war requirement, what other conclusion can be drawn than that the president has crossed into the area we know as dictatorship? After all, what is dictatorship if not the power of the ruler to do whatever he wants whenever he wants with impunity, especially start wars that then provide the government with unlimited opportunities to infringe upon the rights and liberties of the people.
Ironically, that was precisely what our ancestors feared when the Constitution was proposed to them. That was why they were so skeptical about approving the deal.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Time for the United States to Confront Its Coups
Two Latin American countries — Chile and Guatemala — are confronting coups of long ago that ousted democratically elected presidents and installed U.S.-supported unelected dictators in their stead.
In 1973 Chilean Army Gen. Augusto Pinochet ousted democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende from office in a violent coup. Allende died during the coup, and it has always been commonly accepted that he committed suicide. This week, however, his body is being exhumed to determine whether he really took his own life or was killed by Pinochet’s goons.
After taking power, Pinochet pursued the same types of policies that the U.S. government has employed since the 9/11 attacks — arbitrary arrests, torture, indefinite detention, and murder of prisoners. Of course, Pinochet cited the communist threat as his rationale while U.S. officials have cited the terrorist threat as their rationale.
Ever since the Chilean coup, the U.S. government has maintained that it played no role in the coup, notwithstanding the fact that it has been well-established that the U.S. government did everything it could to prevent Allende from coming to power and then encouraged his ouster from office.
What is unclear, however, is how the U.S. government can reconcile its position claiming non-involvement in the coup with the fact that the CIA played an as-yet-undefined role in the killing of a young American journalist named Charles Horman during the coup.
For decades, U.S. officials had denied any participation in Horman’s murder but finally, in 1999, the U.S. State Department released a document stating that the CIA had, in fact, played a role in Horman’s murder. The document revealing the information had been released to the Horman family 20 years previously but with the critical information about the CIA’s participation in the murder blacked out for “national security” reasons, which means, of course, that U.S. officials were intentionally covering up the CIA’s participation in Horman’s murder.
What was the CIA’s role in the murder? Did they shoot the young American journalist at point blank range? Did they stick a knife in his heart? Did they torture him to death?
We don’t know. When the document was finally released to the Hormans in 1999, it still contained blacked-out areas — national security, again.
Has Congress investigated the murder? Have they subpoenaed CIA officials to testify about what happened? Has the Justice Department ever convened a federal grand jury to look into the murder?
Of course not. This is the CIA we are talking about. No one — and especially not U.S. government officials — is likely to jack with an agency that has the power to destroy and kill people with impunity.
An article in today’s New York Times reports that the Guatemalan government is now in the process of restoring the legacy of Jacobo Arbenz, who had been elected president of Guatemala in a landslide in 1950. However, he offended some U.S. corporations with a redistributive land-reform plan that was no different, in principle, from what President Franklin Roosevelt and his successors did with their redistributive welfare-state programs.
The corporations had a lot of pull in Washington. Thus, President Eisenhower authorized the CIA to oust Arbenz from power and install an unelected army general in his stead. The operation was a success, just like the CIA’s ouster of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, and his replacement with the brutal dictator the Shah of Iran, had been the year before.
Now, more than 50 years later the Guatemalan government has signed an agreement with Arbenz’s descendants to treat Arbenz as a historical hero, name a highway and a museum wing after him, publish his widow’s memoir, post an exhibit about him in the National History Museum, and issue a series of postage stamps in his honor.
So far, there is no statement of regret coming out of the CIA. But then again, the CIA also never showed any remorse for the hundreds of thousands of Guatemalan people killed in the 36-year civil war that erupted after Arbenz’s ouster.
Interventionists have long justified the ouster of Allende and Arbenz under the rationale that a country’s constitution is not a “suicide pact.” Since Allende and Arbenz were taking their countries down the road to destruction with their pro-communist, pro-socialist policies, the argument goes, there was nothing wrong with the Chilean military’s and the CIA’s saving the countries by ousting those rulers from office in a violent coup and replacing them with rulers who could save the country.
Ironically, that’s the same argument that researchers in President Kennedy’s assassination point to when asked about what motive the CIA, the U.S. military, and the Secret Service would have had to oust Kennedy from power in a violent coup. The researchers respond with the same argument that interventionists use to justify the Chilean and Guatemalan coups: that charged with protecting national security, U.S. military and intelligence officials considered it just as necessary to save the United States from Kennedy’s pro-communist, pro-socialist policies as the Chilean military and the CIA considered it necessary to save Chile and Guatemala from the pro-communist, pro-socialist policies of Allende and Arbenz.
Given that Chile and Guatemala are facing their past history of coups, why shouldn’t the United States do the same, especially given the roles that the CIA played in those coups? If Chile can exhume Allende and if Guatemala can honor Arbenz, why can’t the U.S. government divulge, fully and completely, the details of all the coups in which the CIA and other U.S. agencies have participated?
Monday, May 23, 2011
The Tyrannical Power to Kidnap and Torture
The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand an appellate court ruling that immunizes agents of the federal government who kidnap people and deliver them into the clutches of foreign dictators for the purpose of torture. The case is Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan Inc.
The appellate court’s rationale for summarily dismissing the suit brought by five kidnap victims who were brutally tortured? The state-secrecy doctrine, a doctrine that the Supreme Court, not Congress, created, one that permits the government to have lawsuits against its agents dismissed based on the simple claim that “national security” would be threatened by the release of secret information surrounding the kidnapping, rendition, and torture of the plaintiffs.
That’s where we are in America today. We now live under a government that wields the omnipotent power to arbitrarily seize people without a warrant, put them on a plane, and send him to some U.S.-supported dictator to be tortured. And the victims are precluded from suing for what was done to them because national security will supposedly be threatened if people find out what exactly was done to the victims.
One of the five plaintiffs in the case, Binyam Mohamed, was sent to Morocco, whose government torture goons cut his penis with a scalpel and then poured a hot stinging liquid into the wound. Nice! But Mohamed can’t sue because we’ve got to keep these things secret. Hey, national security is at stake! We’ve got to be kept safe! Just think: If the terrorists were to find out all the details on how Mohamed was tortured, that would enable them to come to America and invade and occupy our country.
What will U.S. officials say if one of those five plaintiffs, having been denied access to the courts, decides to exact revenge with a terrorist strike? They’ll say what they always say, “It’s not because we kidnapped and tortured him and it’s not because we closed the courthouse doors to him. It’s all because he hates America for its freedom and values.”
Given the immunity that the courts have now extended to the perpetrators of these crimes, their power to kidnap, rendition, and torture people is now as omnipotent as the powers being wielded by the Middle East tyrants who are ever-ready to torture people for their benefactor and partner, the U.S. government.
Why did the Supreme Court refuse to take up the matter? My hunch is that the Court knows that the president wouldn’t comply with an adverse ruling anyway. After all, since the president freely ignores the Constitution and congressional laws in foreign affairs with impunity (e.g., declaration of law requirement and the War Powers Act), the chance that the president would comply with a judicial ruling that would interfere with his power to kidnap and torture people as part of the much-vaunted “war on terrorism” is nil.
Friday, May 20, 2011
The Perpetual Terrorist-Producing Machine
The angry protests currently taking place in Afghanistan provide a microcosm of the U.S. government’s entire foreign policy and so-called war on terrorism. Afghan citizens are protesting NATO’s recent killing of four people, including two women. NATO officials are saying that the four were terrorists. The Afghan people aren’t buying it. They are angrily contending that the four people killed were innocent.
An angry crowd of some 2,000 Afghans protested the killings. Afghan forces then proceeded to kill 14 protestors. That protest was followed up with another one yesterday in which four people were injured.
What better example of how the U.S. government has instigated and perpetuated the war on terrorism with its very own foreign policy of empire and interventionism?
Here’s how the game is played. The U.S. Empire kills someone in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere in the Middle East. The Empire exclaims, “We’ve killed a terrorist! We’ve killed a terrorist!”
But one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The U.S. Empire is a military invader and occupier in that part of the world. Therefore, there are countless people who are trying to oust the occupier from that part of the world. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Few people like an occupier.
So, while the Empire looks upon people they’re killing as “bad people,” the locals oftentimes don’t see it that way. In fact, given the large number of people that the Empire has killed in Iraq and Afghanistan who had nothing to do with any insurgency, it is entirely possible that the four people they just killed weren’t doing anything to resist the occupation.
Regardless, the fact is that those 4 deaths have caused a lot of anger and rage, which produced the protests, which resulted in even more killing. That additional killing is certain to raise the anger and rage even more.
So, even if we assume that those 4 dead people were insurgents, the Empire is now faced with thousands of angry people, some of whom are likely to become insurgents or terrorists themselves.
Do you see why their war on terrorism is endless? They kill 4 people they say are terrorists and end up with 100 or so more terrorists to kill down the line. And when they kill those 100 terrorists, they’re faced with 1000 more from the people who become angry over those killings.
Do you see why they’ve been over there occupying those countries for more than 10 years?
Why, just last week NATO officials were apologizing for accidentally killing two children — a 14-year old boy and a 12-year-old girl — in separate incidents. They apologized because they said that they had no intention of killing the kids. They were accidentally killed as part of the Empire’s nighttime raids against terrorists.
Regardless of the reason for the deaths of those two kids, it is a virtual certainty that there are going to be people who are angry over their killing. Who wouldn’t be angry over the killing of two innocent children?
After all, consider all the anger and rage that boiled over when the U.S. Empire killed hundreds of thousands of children with its 11 years of brutal sanctions against Iraq. Consider the anger and rage that erupted when U.S. spokesman said that the deaths of those children were “worth it.”
That rage ultimately manifested itself in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, the USS Cole, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and on the WTC on 9/11.
Thus, in the attempt to kill terrorists, the Empire kills two innocent children, which then produces more terrorists from the people who are angry over the killing of those kids.
It’s a never-ending process. Let’s face it: The U.S. Empire has become the greatest terrorist-producing machine in history. For every terrorist they kill over there, they produce 100 more to kill down the line. What better formula for ever-increasing military budgets than that?
I’ve got an idea: Let’s bring all the troops home and see what happens. If terrorists attack the United States, then we deal with them here, not in someone else’s country where children, wedding parties, and others are killed in the process of killing terrorists. At least then, the Empire’s perpetual terrorist-producing machine will have been dismantled.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Should Schwarzenegger and Strauss-Kahn be Prosecuted for Adultery?
One of the silliest and not-thought-out arguments that drug-war proponents make against libertarians is the following: “Since you favor drug legalization, that means that you favor drug abuse.” The accusation is a perfect example of the mindset that public-schooling produces within people, one that examines matters in a purely superficial way, one in which there is no analytic or critical thinking involved.
The fact that someone does not wish to criminalize some particular conduct does not necessarily mean that he favors the commission of the conduct. He might, but not necessarily.
Libertarians favor drug legalization first and foremost as a matter of individual freedom. Under fundamental principles of freedom, people have the right to ingest harmful substances, even if everyone else disagrees with the choice. Second, libertarians point to the horrific consequences of the drug war — violence, gangs, cartels, corruption, robberies, muggings, etcetera — as a secondary reason for calling for drug legalization.
Within this context, I can’t help but wonder how many statists would like to see former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger criminally prosecuted for adultery.
Adultery? Yes, adultery.
You might respond, “Jacob, that would be ridiculous. Adultery is a breach of private marital obligations and a violation of the Ten Commandments. That’s no business of the state and it certainly shouldn’t be a criminal offense.”
Yet, the person with a drug-war mentality might well respond, “Oh, so you favor adultery? Anyone who favors the legalization of adultery must favor the commission of the act itself.”
I think it’s easy to see that that, again, is ridiculous, superficial thinking. People might well believe that adultery is no business of the state but, at the same time, not feel that it is morally right or appropriate behavior.
One reason that statists are not clamoring for prosecuting Schwarzenegger for adultery is that it isn’t a criminal offense in California. But it is in 19 other states, including New York. That’s the state in which former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn is being held on criminal charges of rape and sexual abuse of a hotel chambermaid.
Why might the New York adultery statute become relevant in Strauss-Kahn’s case? His lawyers are insinuating that he did in fact engage in sex with the chambermaid but that the relations were consensual. Such being the case, Strauss-Kahn might well be confessing to the crime of adultery while defending himself against the other charges. The reason he might be willing to take such a chance is that adultery in New York is a misdemeanor while the other charges are felonies.
This entire area provides a dividing line between libertarians and statists. Libertarians hold that a person should be free to engage in any conduct whatsoever without the interference of the state, so long as the conduct is peaceful. In fact, Christian libertarians believe that this is what God’s great gift of free will is all about — the freedom to choose between sin and righteous conduct, so long as there is no force initiated against another human being (e.g., murder, theft, rape, etc.).
Statists, on the other hand, while oftentimes giving lip service to freedom of choice and free will, in practice condemn such ideas. They feel that God was wrong to trust man with so much freedom and that when free to make such choices, most people will choose wrongly. Therefore, statists say, the coercive apparatus of the state should punish people when they make these types of immoral, harmful, or sinful choices.
Thus, it is not surprising that statists favor criminal laws that punish people for such peaceful and consensual acts as gambling, prostitution, adultery, drug possession, drinking, and smoking. It is also not surprising that there are horrible consequences when they do.
No, neither Schwarzenegger nor Strauss-Kahn should be prosecuted for adultery, any more than drug users, gamblers, prostitutes, drinkers, smokers should be prosecuted for their acts. Adultery is a matter for God and the people involved to resolve, not Caesar.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Should Public Schools Teach the Bible or the Koran?
A recent article about the First Amendment in the Christian Science Monitorreflects how differently libertarians think about religious and educational liberty compared to non-libertarians. The article is entitled “What If Public Schools Were Mandated to Teach Islamic Creation in Science Class?” by David Sessions, a 2008 graduate of Patrick Henry College and the editor of Patrol, a culture magazine in New York.
In his article, Sessions takes conservatives to task for trying to introduce Christian principles into public schools, including creationism and daily prayer. Since public schools are owned and operated by state or local governments, Sessions correctly points out that the First Amendment prohibits them from being used to promote religious principles to the students. As he observes, “Freedom of religion means keeping religion out of government.” Attempts to introduce religious principles into public schools are, he correctly states, “an attack on American ideals.”
He might have also pointed out that students are in public schools because the law forces them to be there. Thus, there is something unseemly about forcing children to attend a government institution, day after day for 12 years, where they receive some sort of religious indoctrination.
But which religion should be advanced in public schools?
As Sessions points out, that question will ultimately be resolved through majority vote. But suppose a school district fell within a heavily Islamic part of town and that the school board voted to approve the teaching of the Koran in school. Can’t you just see Christian people with children in that particular school district going ape?
So, how would libertarians address this type of problem?
Unlike Sessions and so many others, we libertarians don’t get involved in the debate over how statism should be run. You see, many people just accept the world as it is, statism and all, and then devote their lives to trying to figure out how to make statism work better or more efficiently.
Libertarians, in comparison, raise people’s vision to a higher level, to a different paradigm, one devoted to the principles of a free society. Rather than taking positions on whether religious principles should be taught in public schools, or whether there should be prayer in public schools, or whether students in public schools should be required to wear uniforms, or whether students’ lockers should be immune from arbitrary searches, we libertarians ask a much more fundamental question: Why should the state be involved in education at all?
Our answer, of course, is that it shouldn’t. The state has no more business providing educational services than it does providing religious services. We don’t have the state building churches, or training ministers, or forcing people to send their children to church. Why should it be any different with respect to education?
We libertarians ask: Why not separate school and state, in the same way our ancestors separated church and state? Then, the types of debates Sessions addresses in his article disappear. The free marketplace would bring into existence the educational services that met the wants and needs of the consumers. People who like Christian prayer in school would be free to send their children to that type of school. The same applies to people who subscribe to Jewish principles or Islamic principles. Atheists could select schools that have no religious principles taught in them.
In fact, all the fights over how public schools should be operated disappear with the end of government involvement in education. Differences of opinion on how children become educated become depoliticized, given that the matter of education is now in the private, free-market arena rather than the government arena.
Public schooling has been an absolute disaster, a fact reflected by President Obama’s decision to not subject his own children to this state-run enterprise. The time has come to stop trying to figure out how the state should run its schools. It’s time to raise our vision to a higher level, one that separates school and state, one in which we rely on the free market to provide educational services.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The federal government has now reached its $14.3 trillion debt limit, even though Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is buying the government a couple of more weeks through some clever financial finagling. That means that the federal government cannot legally add any more debt to that $14.3 trillion. That’s the maximum. That’s what they said would be the maximum the last time they raised the debt ceiling. By setting the limit at $14.3 trillion, they were implicitly telling the American people, “The federal debt has grown so large that it now threatens our government and our nation. Even though we are raising the limit this time, that’s it. No more.”
What do you think U.S. officials did the last time the debt ceiling was raised, to $14.3 trillion? Do you think that they said, “Whew! We’ve bought a little time but now we have to really slash federal spending because we’ve got a ceiling of $14.3 trillion staring us in the face”?
Not on your life. They didn’t do anything to rein in federal spending and borrowing. Instead, they continued on their merry little spending and borrowing spree as if there were no tomorrow.
And why did they continue spending and borrowing? Because they didn’t worry one bit about the new debt-ceiling reset. They knew that when the $14.3 trillion maximum was reached, all they would have to do is raise the ceiling again. They knew that they could continue playing this game indefinitely into the future.
Oh, that’s not to say that there isn’t going to be a bunch of political posturing and maneuvering with the aim of getting maximum political benefit out of the so-called debt-ceiling crisis. Of course, there will be. But as I have stated for a long time, everyone, including the Republicans, is going to cave when push comes to shove.
Sure, there might be some spending cuts and tax increases to make the deal look good. But at the end of the process, the national debt will be permitted to increase higher than $14.3 trillion, and a new debt ceiling will be set. And the same thing will happen when that new maximum is reached sometime down the road.
It’s all one great big political fraud, one that is designed to show federal officials wringing their hands over the out-of-control federal spending and debt, while, at the same time, permitting them to continue their ever-growing spending and borrowing spree.
What should they do about the ceiling? They should keep it intact. That was the implicit promise and representation made to the American people. When they set the ceiling at $14.3 trillion, they were promising that the federal debt would not rise above that. That’s what a ceiling is. If a ceiling is going to be continually lifted, then it’s no ceiling at all. In such a case, they might as well just abolish the ceiling and openly announce that federal officials are going to spend and borrow all they want, no matter how much it gets the government closer to bankruptcy.
Then, they just need to do whatever is necessary to pay their bills out of incoming revenue. That might mean having to exit from Afghanistan and Iraq immediately. It might mean having to close Guantanamo Bay. It might mean withdrawing all troops from North Korea, Europe, Latin America, and Africa and discharging them. It might mean repealing Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, foreign aid, or other welfare-state programs. It might mean ending the drug war.
So be it. When a family is deeply in debt and can’t afford to pay its bills, it must eliminate many of the things it spends its money on to get back on sound financial ground. By cutting out things to spend money on, income is freed up to pay for essentials and pay down the family’s debt. That’s sometimes the way life is. The operation of government is, in principle, no different.
Statists argue that there is nothing to worry about — that federal officials can continue spending and borrowing to their heart’s content. Oh, yeah? Well, how come they are so silent when confronted with Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and other countries that have gone broke because of out-of-control spending and borrowing on their welfare states? And what about the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and the Soviet Empire? What prevents the U.S. Empire ending up broke like they did?
What will be the outcome of the debt-ceiling debate? We all know what the outcome will be. A majority of congressman, consisting of both Democrats and Republicans, will cave. Amidst considerable hand-wringing and political posturing, they will vote to lift the debt ceiling once again, knowing that they can continue playing this game indefinitely into the future.
As of today, each citizen’s share of the debt is $46,189, with each taxpayer’s share coming to $129,124. Americans should bear in mind that the only way the federal government gets the money to pay off its debt is through taxation, either directly through the IRS or indirectly through the Federal Reserve’s inflationary debasement of the currency.
Monday, May 16, 2011
America’s Post-9/11 Turn toward Dictatorship
Among the most potent weapons employed by the Syrian dictatorship have been the arbitrary arrest, confinement, and torture of people without trial. Syrian police and military are simply arresting people without cause, jailing them indefinitely without trial, and torturing them.
No formal charges are necessary. No trial is necessary. The victim simply sits in jail and is tortured until the government decides to let him go, which could be never.
That was the type of thing that our American ancestors were concerned about when they were asked to call the federal government into existence through approval of the Constitution. That’s why the privilege of habeas corpus was included in the Constitution and why the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments were included in the Bill of Rights.
For more than 200 years, those particular constitutional provisions precluded federal officials from doing what the Syrian dictatorship is doing.
In order to arrest a person, the U.S. government needs evidence establishing “probable cause” that a person has committed a crime. No probable cause, no arrest.
Once a person is taken into custody, he is taken before a federal magistrate for the purpose of setting bail. The purpose of bail is to permit a person accused of a crime to remain free until the trial by posting cash or a surety bond that he will forfeit if he fails to appear.
The person has a right to a preliminary hearing before a federal magistrate, at which the government must establish probable cause that the person has, in fact, committed a crime. If sufficient evidence is not produced, the judge orders the person released from custody.
Even if probable cause is established at the preliminary hearing, to continue holding the person the government must secure a formal charge against him from a grand jury, a formal judicial body consisting of citizens appointed by a federal judge. That formal charge is known as an indictment; it cites the specific federal law that has been violated (e.g., terrorism). If the grand jury fails to issue an indictment, the government is required to release the person from custody.
If an indictment is issued, the person is entitled to a trial, either by jury, if he chooses a jury, or with the judge determining guilt or innocence.
At the trial, the person is presumed innocent. The burden is on the government to prove the person’s guilt with sufficient competent evidence that convinces the jury (or judge) beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is, in fact, guilty.
During the trial, the person has the right to cross-examine the government’s witnesses, which is usually done through his lawyer. Hearsay statements — that is, statements made outside the courtroom — are not permitted except under certain exceptional circumstances. The person cannot be forced to testify but is free to do so. He is also free to call witnesses on his behalf.
If the person is found not guilty, the government is required to release him immediately.
That was the American system of justice for more than 200 years. It came to an end on September 11, 2001, at least with respect to federal terrorism cases. During that so-called emergency, President Bush unilaterally made terrorism either a crime or an act of war, at the option of federal officials. That meant that people could now be arbitrarily picked up and treated as “enemy combatants” in the “war on terrorism” and thereby be denied the rights and guarantees provided criminal defendants in federal terrorism cases.
If the government opted for the criminal-defendant route, the accused would be accorded all the rights and guarantees of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. However, if the government opted for the enemy-combatant route, the accused would be accorded none of them. In the latter case, federal officials wield the same powers that are now being exercised by the Syrian dictatorship.
The protection of the accused from arbitrary arrest, confinement, and torture that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights is undoubtedly one of the greatest achievements in the history of freedom and civilization.
Unfortunately, that tremendous achievement came to an end on 9/11, when U.S. officials used the opportunity to seize the same emergency powers that the Syrian dictatorship is now exercising. Americans must now live with the hope that U.S. officials exercise their post-9/11 dictatorial powers more benevolently than the Syrian tyrants are.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Big Money Fast
The drug war will never be won no matter how fiercely it is waged. Why? Because there will always be people who will be attracted to making big money fast. The drug war provides people with the opportunity to do that. In fact, the harsher they crack down in the war on drugs, the more money there is to be quickly made.
In 2009, 23 American Airline employees were arrested for transporting $20 million worth of cocaine on flights into and out of Puerto Rico.
Assuming they were guilty, why would employees of a reputable airliner risk their freedom and their jobs by doing something illegal? To make money — big money — fast. The drug war gives people that opportunity. Those airline employees weren’t smuggling beer or wine, which are legal. They were smuggling cocaine, which is illegal. The fact that cocaine, unlike beer and wine, is illegal causes the black-market price to soar, along with profits.
Did the arrest of those American Airline employees dissuade others from engaging in the drug trade?
Nope. Whenever they bust some drug dealers, the price and profits associated with drug dealing might well go up, due to the decrease in supply. The big money and the opportunity to make it fast inevitably suck new people into the drug-war maelstrom.
For example, this month — two years after the American Airline bust — authorities in Detroit busted several employees of Delta Airlines for drug-war violations. The employees stand accused of smuggling some $4 million worth of drugs into the country in suitcases on planes heading into Detroit.
The likely reason? Big money fast.
Or consider the six students arrested at SUNY Potsdam last week on drug-war violations. They ranged in age from 19 to 21. They were charged with selling marijuana to undercover informants.
Again, assuming they’re guilty, why would they risk losing their education and possibly spending a few years in jail?
Big money fast.
Or consider the latest tunnel between Mexico and the United States that U.S. authorities discovered this month. It was 250 feet long and went through solid rock.
What would motivate people to go through so much time and trouble?
Big money fast.
That’s why the drug war is never-ending. The more they crack down, the higher the price and the profits, which then lures new people into taking the risk to make big money fast. Meanwhile, the drug war produces an endless stream of ruined lives, with no end in sight.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Endless Immigration Reform
The title of today’s Los Angeles Times editorial says it all: “Get moving on immigration reform.”
The operative word is “reform.” Here we go again. More calls for immigration reform after decades of immigration reform. I thought that Berlin Wall type of fence they were constructing down on the Southern border was supposed to be their final reform. I thought they said that the fence would solve America’s immigration woes once and for all.
But of course, we have heard this reform claptrap for decades. Every few years, the immigration “crisis” surfaces once again. The anti-immigration crowd, reinforced by the mainstream press, goes into one of its periodic paroxysms of outrage over the fact that the United States is being “invaded” by the illegals.
People get all upset and demand that something be done to protect our jobs and our nation’s borders.
Enter the calls for reform. The anti-immigration crowd demands reform. The editorial writers demand reform. The members of Congress demand reform. The president demands reform. Every statist in the country demands immigration reform.
But as soon as the reform is adopted, no one is happy. Almost immediately, the anti-immigration types start screaming about how the illegals are taking over America and not speaking English. The editorial writers pick up the theme and call for action to deal with the new immigration crisis. The statists go into emotional hyper-drive … and call for immigration reform.
How many decades of this ridiculous nonsense must be go on before people finally realize that no reform is going to work? Let me repeat that: No matter whose reform is adopted, it’s not going to make one bit of difference. The reform will immediately begin producing a new series of crises, which will then produce more calls for reform.
The reason that no immigration reform will ever succeed is because the basic immigration paradigm is fundamentally flawed. Immigration controls are nothing more than a system of socialistic central planning, one in which some government body plans, in a top-down command-and-control manner, the peaceful activities of people. Central planning was a core element in the socialist economic system of the Soviet Union, where people were beset by the same endless series of crises and reforms that Americans have been subjected to in the area of immigration.
Why is immigration central planning inherently flawed. As the Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek pointed out, government planners lack the requisite knowledge and understanding that is entailed in the constantly changing valuations that are taking place in the marketplace. The more people whose activities are being planned, the worse the problem.
In a free market, each individual is planning his own life and making his own decisions. In doing so, he is taking into consideration a multitude of factors that affect his own individual life, factors that are constantly changing. Since such factors are personal, subjective, and constantly changing for each individual person, there is no way that government planners can accumulate, process, update, and incorporate them into the central plan. In fact, as soon as the planners come up with a plan, it’s already seriously outdated because of constantly changing subjective valuations of the people whose activities are being planned.
Consider an immigration central plan. It sets forth a quota for its concept of the ideal number of immigrants from a particular country. It sets forth what the qualifications that the immigrants should have, including educational background, work skills, amount of wealth, and age. At the same time, the planners are examining the domestic scene and evaluating what types of workers are needed in the marketplace.
However, the plan always results in perversions and distortions because, again, there is no way that government planners can ever have the requisite knowledge to plan a complex human activity, especially a labor market involving millions of people from different parts of the world. The workers that American businesses need — numbers, types, background, etc. — are constantly changing.
Why should it surprise anyone that there are immigrants risking their lives to cross the borders to seek to better their lives through labor? All that reflects is that the central planner’s plan was all screwed up. It failed to allocate a sufficiently large number of workers to a particular country in accordance with the subjective valuations of American employers. That’s because the planner can’t do it, and when he tries to do it, he is afflicted by what Hayek called the “fatal conceit.”
Unfortunately, all too often it is the illegal immigrant — the person who has done nothing wrong in a moral sense — who pays the price for the planners’ fatal conceit, by becoming a fatality in the decades-long folly known as immigration controls.
What’s the solution to perpetual immigration crisis and endless reform? Abolishing immigration controls and restoring a free market to immigration, which means opening the borders to the free movements of people (and goods and services). It is the only way to bring peace, prosperity, harmony, and morality to the immigration arena.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Michael Gerson’s Attack on Ron Paul
Michael Gerson’s attack on Ron Paul in Tuesday’s Washington Post confirms, once again, that the real battle facing our nation is between statists and libertarians.
Gerson is your standard conservative. He worked at the Heritage Foundation and then as a speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
Not surprisingly, Gerson is a proponent of the 40-year-old war on drugs. It’s not surprising because most conservatives favor the war on drugs. Conservative icon Bill Buckley was a rare exception with his support of ending the drug war.
In his column Gerson took Ron Paul, and implicitly libertarians in general, to task for calling for an end to the drug war and other crimes that do not involve the initiation of violence. Gerson specifically pointed to Paul’s call to end the drug war during the recent presidential debate in South Carolina.
In the debate, Paul compared the freedom to use drugs with the freedom of people to practice their religion. That reasoning confounds Gerson, who is a devout Christian. He simply cannot understand why a society that tolerates religious liberty and diversity should also tolerate the right of people to buy, sell, possess, and use heroin and other illicit drugs.
What Gerson doesn’t understand or appreciate is that a free society does not turn on the right of people to engage only in the activities that are commonly accepted. The true test of a free society is whether people are free to do what is not popularly accepted, especially when most everyone considers the activity to be irresponsible, immoral, dangerous, or self-destructive, so long as the conduct is peaceful.
Thus, in the religious realm people are free to worship Satan, even though most people would not approve of that. The principle is the same with respect to freedom of speech. People are free to embrace and promote Nazism or communism, even though the majority of people would not approve.
The use of heroin, cocaine, or any other drug falls into the same category. As Paul points out, a consistent defense of the principles of freedom entails an ardent defense of the right to buy, sell, possess, or consume drugs, even though most people might not approve of the activity.
Thus, the true test of a free society is not whether people are free to do what is popularly accepted but rather whether they are free to do what is not popularly accepted, especially conduct that is considered by others to be irresponsible, immoral, dangerous, or self-destructive, but with one important condition: the conduct must be peaceful. That is, no murder, rape, theft, fraud, etc.
And that’s precisely where Gerson goes wrong in his analysis. He converts what is known as the libertarian non-aggression principle from a prohibition against the initiation of coercion or force into an injunction against harm. Thus, Gerson argues, since drugs cause harm in terms of addiction, libertarianism fails to meet its own standard.
But libertarians have never held that the free society — and the free choices that such a society necessarily entails — does not produce harmful results. On the contrary, of course it does. That’s part of what it means to be living in a free society. If there are no harmful consequences arising from people’s non-violent choices, then you can be certain that people are not living in a free society.
Consider alcohol and tobacco, two drugs that Gerson oddly does not mention in his column. When people are free to consume these two drugs, all sorts of harm results: alcoholism, family abuse, drunk driving, cirrhosis of the liver, lung cancer, and second-hand smoke.
Would libertarians advocate prohibition for booze and cigarettes simply because they cause harm to society? Absolutely not because, again, libertarians understand that with freedom comes peaceful choices, many of which produce harmful consequences, including such things as the worshiping of Satan, the embrace of Nazism or communism, or ingesting substances that cause bodily harm.
Gerson also took Paul to task for pointing out most people are not anxiously awaiting the drug war to be ended so that they can begin shooting heroin into their veins. Gerson construed that to mean that Paul was mocking people in those echelons of society where people are addicted to heroin and other drugs.
But that’s a ridiculous conclusion to be drawn from the point Paul was making. Paul was simply pointing out the obvious: people who don’t take drugs aren’t doing so because of drug laws.
The corollary point, of course, is that people who are taking drugs are doing so despite the drug laws.
And that’s the point that Gerson never addresses. Despite 40 years of drug warfare, drug use has still not been eradicated from society. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Drugs are plentiful for those who want them, notwithstanding the illegality that Gerson no doubt would like to see continued for another 40 years.
Gerson also fails to address (or take responsibility for) the horrific consequences of the war on drugs, including the 45,000 innocent people killed in Mexico during the past 5 years of fierce drug warfare, the robberies, muggings, and killings associated with the exorbitant black-market prices for drugs, the rise of the drug cartels, the gang wars, police and judicial corruption, infringements on civil liberties and privacy, and all the ruined lives of people serving long terms in the penitentiary for nothing.
“Judge us conservative drug warriors by our good intentions, not by the actual results of our policies,” Gerson would undoubtedly respond.
Like other conservatives, Gerson has undoubtedly used the old conservative mantra “free enterprise, private property, and limited government” countless times in his articles, columns, and speeches. Unfortunately, he failed to use his column attacking Ron Paul to reconcile that favorite conservative mantra with the drug war. For that matter, wouldn’t it have been nice if Gerson had explained how drug laws can be reconciled with God’s great gift of free will?
Statism, whether conservative-style or liberal-style, has proven to be a disastrous and deadly failure. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that God has created a consistent universe, one in which a bad tree will produce rotten fruit. It is only by restoring libertarianism to our land that we can restore freedom, harmony, and prosperity to our land. A good place to start would be by ending the drug war.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The Coming Fiscal Train Wreck
A New York Times editorial today provides a perfect example of the statist thinking that has produced the out-of-control federal spending and massive debt that now threaten the United States with bankruptcy.
The editorial points out that several state governors refused the U.S. government’s offer of billions of dollars to fund mass transit programs. Among them was Florida Governor Rick Scott, who rejected a $2.4 billion grant with the expectation that it would help alleviate the nation’s fiscal problems.
Now, wouldn’t you think that that would be an admirable thing to do, especially given the enormous fiscal problems facing the federal government?
Not according the Times. They consider Scott to be a dolt. The editorial said that he “thoughtlessly” rejected the money and that Scott’s belief that the rejection would help relieve the federal government’s fiscal problems was “nonsense,” especially since U.S. officials simply turned around and gave the money to officials in the Northeast to improve rail service there.
Imagine that: Due to its enormous spending and borrowing, the federal government is traveling down the road to national bankruptcy, just like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and other countries. So, here come offers by a few states to save the U.S. government billions of dollars.
Wouldn’t you think that U.S. officials would be happy about saving so much money? Nope. They just turned around and gave the money to officials in other states, who eagerly accepted them. And good for them, according to the editorial board at the New York Times.
The Times also brought up the standard canard that comes with federal projects: that they supposedly create jobs. You’ve no doubt seen the signs next to some federal public-works project in your locale: “Jobs for Your Community.”
So, according to the Times, not only did those state governors fail to save the federal government any money, they also cost their states jobs.
Oh, it gets worse. The Times also pointed out that the rejected monies “stimulate the economy.” Thus, the implication is that by trying to save the federal government some money, the governors have actually damaged the nation’s economy.
Do you see why this country is in a world of financial and economic hurt, thanks to the statists?
In pointing to “jobs” and “stimulus,” the Times falls for one of the oldest economic fallacies, one that was described in the 19th century by the French economist Frederic Bastiat and then again in the 20th century by the American economist Henry Hazlitt.
Bastiat and Hazlitt described the fallacy in terms of “what is seen and unseen” with government spending. When billions of dollars in federal grant money flow into a state, U.S. officials love to call people’s attention to the project itself, along with all the jobs and stimulus the project has brought into the community. That’s what is seen.
Needless to say, statists never focus on what is unseen: the jobs and stimulus that never were permitted to come into existence because people had their monies taxed from them and spent on the government’s public-works project.
Let’s say you have an income of $40,000 and that there is no income tax. You spend, invest, or donate all of your money, which obviously has a positive effect on the areas where you put your money. If you buy a car, that means more jobs and stimulus in the car industry. If you invest, that means more jobs and stimulus in the investment arena. If you donate to your church, that means more jobs and stimulus there.
Let’s assume, however, that the federal government seizes $10,000 of your income to fund its rail project. That’s now $10,000 less that you have to spend, invest, or donate the way you want. That obviously means less jobs and less stimulus in the car industry, the investment arena, or your church.
At the end of its editorial, the Times mocks those states that turned down the federal government’s free money. The governors “will have to defend them [their “shopworn principles”] to their voters when the public hears the passenger trains whistling from the next state over.”
Meanwhile, many statists continue to assure us that everything is fine notwithstanding the federal government’s out-of-control spending, borrowing, and inflation. They don’t want know that the light at the end of the tunnel is the oncoming locomotive whose whistle they’re hearing.
Monday, May 9, 2011
It’s All about Empire
Just as I suggested last Monday, the killing of Osama bin Laden isn’t going to change a thing. The war on terrorism will continue, along with the invasions, bombings, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, kangaroo tribunals, torture and abuse, assassinations, indefinite detention, foreign aid, support of dictatorships, and, of course, the out-of-control federal spending and ever-growing infringements on the freedom and privacy of the American people.
In fact, the killing of bin Laden itself, according to U.S. officials, has caused the terror alerts to go up again, given the large number of terrorists who might be seeking to retaliate for bin Laden’s killing.
And now we learn that last week, U.S. forces tried unsuccessfully to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, reminding us that U.S. presidents and their military forces now wield the power to assassinate Americans too.
As I wrote back in September 2001, immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the so-called war on terrorism is perpetual in nature. Like the Energizer Bunny, it just keeps going and going and going, no matter whom they kill and no matter how many people they kill.
Yesterday, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Peter Bergen, director of national security studies at the New America Foundation, entitled “5 Myths About Osama bin Laden,” in which he stated:
[Myth] 2. Bin Laden attacked us because of our freedoms.
This was a common trope of President George W. Bush. Nine days after Sept. 11, Bush addressed Congress. “They hate our freedoms,” he said, “our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” Yet, in all the tens of thousands of words uttered by bin Laden, he was strangely silent about American freedoms and values. He didn’t seem to care very much about the beliefs of the “crusaders.” His focus was invariably on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
In a review of 24statements made by bin Laden from 1994 to 2004, political scientist James L. Payne found that 72 percent of the content of the speeches referred to alleged Western or Jewish attacks against Muslims, while only 1 percent criticized American culture or way of life.
In a 2004 video, bin Laden directly rebutted Bush’s assertions about al-Qaeda’s motivations for attacking the United States: “Contrary to what Bush says and claims — that we hate your freedom. If that were true, then let him explain why did we not attack Sweden.”
For many Americans, U.S. history begins on 9/11. They think that what happened before 9/11 was irrelevant. “The terrorists came over here on 9/11 and killed Americans, and that’s all that matters,” they exclaim. The refusal to engage in any deeper, more critical thinking than that is obviously a testament to the government schools their parents were forced to send them to.
What those Americans are scared of confronting is that the terrorists came over on on 9/11 to retaliate for what the U.S. Empire had been doing to people in the Middle East prior to 9/11. The Empire had been killing people, abusing people, and humiliating people and supporting the brutal Middle East dictatorships that were doing the same.
Consider: Hundreds of thousands — some estimates go as high as a million — Iraqi children killed by the U.S. Empire through the cruel and brutal sanctionsthat the U.S. Empire enforced against Iraq during the 11 years prior to 9/11.
Consider: The U.S. Empire’s official spokesman to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright announced to the world that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.” That was in 1996, and the sanctions lasted another six years.
Question: If Americans were filled with anger, rage, and thirst for vengence over the killing of some 3,000 Americans, why wouldn’t people in the Middle East be filled with the same degree of anger, rage, and thirst for vengeance over the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children?
And that was just part of what the Empire was doing to provoke people in the Middle East prior to 9/11. There was also the massive killing during the Persian Gulf War, the destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage supplies with the intent of spreading infectuous illnesses, the illegal no-fly zones that killed even more Iraqis, the stationing of troops near Islamic holy lands, the support of Middle East dictatorships, and the unconditional foreign aid provided to the Israeli government.
Perpetual crisis and conflict are great for an Empire, given the ever-growing spending and power that come with a warfare state, but they are not good for the people of the nation, given the accompanying ever-growing rise in taxes and inflation along with the ever-growing infringements on the civil liberties of the people.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Will Mexicans Lead Us to Drug Legalization?
There is good news coming out of Mexico. CNN is reporting that hundreds of protestors have begun a 3-day march to Mexico City seeking an end to the drug war. It’s seems that the group might be calling for some kind of truce between the government and the drug gangs, rather than legalization, but it’s nonetheless a clear sign that people are sick and tired of the government’s drug war and its horrible effects on society.
Periodically during the past 40 years, drug-war proponents here in the United States have exclaimed, “The problem with the drug war is that the authorities aren’t really enforcing the laws. If we were to just crack down, maybe even call in the military, we could finally win the drug war.”
Of course, that was nothing but sheer nonsense. For one thing, they were cracking down, decade after decade. There were mandatory-minimum sentences, asset-forfeiture laws, long jail terms for drug users and drug dealers, no-knock raids, unreasonable searches and seizures, especially on the highways. Why, the drug war has been the driving force behind America’s conversion to a police state, especially along the southern border, where a combination of federal, state, and local law-enforcement agents have effectively militarized life along the border.
What was missing, of course, was the U.S. military, which has long champed at the possibility of engaging in the drug war here in the United States. Decade after decade, drug-war proponents would exclaim, “Bring in military. They’ll win the drug war.”
The obstacle was the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the military for domestic law-enforcement purposes. (Ironically, even though U.S. military participation in the drug war here in the United States is considered to be a bad thing, the U.S. military nonetheless sees nothing wrong with playing a dominant role in the drug war in foreign countries.)
Cracking down in the drug war in the hopes of winning it was all a pipe dream, and the Mexican government proved it. When he came into office in 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon decided that he was going to be the public official who finally won the drug war. He initiated a brutal crackdown, bringing in the Mexican military to do the job.
The entire episode has been an absolute disaster. Some 35,000 people have been killed in Calderon’s drug-war crackdown during the past 5 years. That’s more than ten times the number of people killed by the terrorists on 9/11. Moreover, not surprisingly Mexican soldiers have operated like soldiers rather than police. Barging into people’s homes without warrants, shooting suspects on sight, arbitrarily arresting people, treating the drug war as a real war rather than as a law-enforcement matter.
The military’s infringements on civil liberties, along with the ever-increasing death toll, have finally reached a point where many citizens are saying, “Enough is enough. No more. End the drug war.” Such citizens include former Mexican presidents Vicente Fox and Ernesto Zedillo.
The drug-war crackdown was doomed to fail from the get-go. As the state cracks down, the price of drugs goes up, which attracts more people into becoming drug dealers. Recently, drug agents here in the United States busted some airline employees for transporting illegal drugs from Latin America to the United States. Why would such employees risk their jobs in such an endeavor? Because they stood to gain an enormous sum of money owing to the huge black-market prices of the drugs.
When drug-war proponents say they want the drug war to stamp out the drug lords, drug gangs, and drug cartels, they’re engaging in wishful thinking but not dealing with reality. They might as well be wishing for thunder without lightning. It’s not going to happen. As long as there is a drug war, drug lords, drug gangs, and drug cartels will exist, along with all the violence that comes with them.
There is one — and only one — way to rid the world of the drug lords, drug gangs, and drug cartels: by ending the drug war through the legalization of drugs. No, not just marijuana, but also cocaine, heroin, and all other drugs. By legalizing the market, the distribution of drugs is restored to regular legal sellers in a free market, who immediately put out of business the unsavory characters who are only good at operating within an illegal market. Prices drop to a reasonable level, and the violence associated with the drug war disappears from society.
The Mexican people are halfway there with their wish to end the drug war. If only they figure out that legalization is the only solution, they might lead the United States and the world to finally, once and for all, ending the war on drugs, along with the death, destruction, and corruption it has spawned everywhere it is waged.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Libertarianism versus Statism
Sometimes it’s constructive to just sit back and reflect upon some of the major differences between libertarians and statists.
With respect to foreign policy, both conservatives and liberals are devoted to the continuation of America as a military empire. Sure, there are the standard debates over whether the empire should invade or bomb this country or that country but most statists agree on the fundamentals: The U.S. government should retain its status as a military empire with the capability of invading, bombing, and occupying any country it wants.
As part of the empire, both liberals and conservatives also favor the continuation of the 700-1,000 U.S. military bases in more than 125 different countries, claiming that such an extensive array of bases is necessary to maintain “peace and stability” around the world through the projection of military force. No matter which party controls the presidency or the Congress, neither of them wants to dismantle the Empire’s string of overseas military bases.
The statists also favor foreign aid to foreign governments, many of whom are run by brutal dictators. Again, regardless of which party is in control, the flow of foreign aid never ceases.
Both liberals and conservatives also believe in the war on terrorism, along with everything that comes with it, including Gitmo, the Patriot Act, indefinite detention, kangaroo tribunals, torture, the enemy-combatant doctrine, denial of due process, and assassination.
Libertarians favor an entirely different foreign-policy paradigm, one based on the concept of a limited-government, constitutional republic, as did our nation’s Founding Fathers.
Thus, we would bring all the troops home from every country, not just Iraq and Afghanistan, and immediately discharge them into the private sector.
We would also close all the foreign military bases and abandon all leasehold or ownership rights to the property to the host countries.
We would end America’s standing army and military-industrial complex, including closing thousands of military bases all over the United States. The Cold War ended long ago and there is no nation on earth that has the money, the military capability, or even the interest in invading and occupying the United States.
Would all this make Americans unsafe? On the contrary, it would make them safer than they’ve ever been. For one thing, bringing all the troops home and closing the foreign bases would end the anger and hatred that has led to anti-American terrorism. For another, it would strengthen the economic base of the country, thereby making the nation stronger.
Conservatives and liberals will not permit themselves to recognize that (1) it is the U.S. government — and specifically its foreign policy, including such things as sanctions, embargoes, support of brutal dictatorships, foreign aid, torture, invasions, occupations, kidnapping, indefinite detention, etc. — that is responsible for anti-American terrorism, and (2) it is military spending that is, in large part, responsible for the spending, debt, and inflation that is sending our nation into bankruptcy.
With respect to the welfare state, the statists are agreement here too with respect to the fundamentals. Or sure, conservatives might periodically object to funding NPR or food stamps, but they don’t have any problem with the basic idea of the state’s taking money from some people and giving it to others.
That’s what distinguishes libertarians from the statists. We libertarians believe that it’s immoral for one person to take what belongs to another person with force and without consent. We call that stealing, even when the government is doing it.
Thus, while the statists favor such socialistic programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, farm subsidies, corporate bailouts, and thousands of other welfare-state programs, we libertarians oppose them all. We believe not only that people should be free to keep their own money but also that a free people can be relied upon to use their own money to help people in need. We believe in private charity, not coercive welfare.
On the drug war, the statists, needless to say, remain firmly committed to this program, notwithstanding its manifest failure and destructiveness as well as its fundamental assault on individual freedom. Think about it: Why should the state have the power to punish you for putting whatever you want into your own mouth, be it sugar, salt, fatty foods, marijuana, beer, tobacco, cocaine, or whatever? Is the government your daddy? Are you a child?
The statists say yes. They say the state owns you and, therefore, can control you until the day you die.
We libertarians say no. We say that you own yourself. You decide how to live your life. You have the natural, God-given right to make your own choices, so long as your conduct is peaceful, even if your choices are irresponsible, unhealthy, or immoral. That’s what genuine freedom is all about.
Libertarians are different from statists. Unlike them, we believe in freedom, free markets, free enterprise, private property, private charity, freedom of choice, and a limited-government, constitutional republic. We place our faith in ourselves, in freedom and free markets, in others, and in God. The statists place their faith in militarism, empire, socialism, interventionism, and the coercive apparatus of the state.
Isn’t it obvious why our country is in such bad shape? Isn’t it obvious what the solution is?
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Bin Laden and Yousef: Dead and Alive
The operation in Pakistan that ended in bin Laden’s death brings to mind the case of Ramzi Yousef. He was one of the terrorists who committed the bombing of the World Trade Center some 8 years before the 9/11 attacks on the WTC.
Yousef’s 1993 attack on the WTC was handled differently from that of the 2001 attack. After Yousef escaped from the United States and went into hiding in Pakistan, the U.S. government did not attack or bomb Pakistan, Afghanistan, or any other country.
The decision not to bomb Pakistan or Afghanistan had monumental consequences. Most important, the lives of countless people who had nothing to do with the 1993 WTC attack were spared, which meant no boiling anger and rage leading to terrorist retaliation against the United States that would have arisen from such military operations.
Instead, U.S. officials decided to simply wait Yousef out, counting on intelligence and police work to ultimately apprehend him. It took time, but two years after the WTC bombing Yousef was arrested at a guest house in Islamabad, not far from the Pakistani city in which U.S. troops killed bin Laden.
Yousef’s capture, however, was not achieved by the military. It was done by Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence and the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service.
Notwithstanding the role of the U.S. military in the raid on bin Laden’s compound, the operation was no different, in principle, from the one that resulted in Yousef’s arrest. Both were police operations, even though the bin Laden operation involved the use of military troops rather than police. The fact that troops are engaged in what is essentially a police operation does not convert the operation into a military one.
Consider the fact that in many Third World countries, the military serves as the police or engages in police operations. That doesn’t convert the police operation into a military one.
For example, during the past several years the Mexican military has been heavily involved in the drug war. But simply because the military is arresting or killing drug lords doesn’t mean that such operations are military operations. It’s simply a case of the military serving in a police capacity and perhaps using more force than the police.
What if the U.S. military were summoned to patrol the southern border against the entry of undocumented workers? That would be a case of the military serving in a law-enforcement capacity, not a military operation.
The military mindset is totally different from the police mindset. The military man is trained to think in terms of killing while the policeman is trained to think in terms of arrest.
Thus, it is not surprising that military officials were unwilling to risk the lives of any of their Navy Seals in an attempt to arrest bin Laden and return him to the United States for trial. In their minds, such a risk wasn’t worth it. The soldier’s mindset is on killing, not arresting.
The policeman’s mindset is totally different. When a suspected criminal is holed up in a building, the cop’s mindset is focused on how he’s going to arrest the person, not kill him. While the cops sometimes do kill a person who resists arrest, nonetheless the primary focus is on apprehending, not killing.
Yousef was extradited to the United States, where he was indicted, prosecuted, and convicted in U.S. federal district court. Why federal court rather than a military tribunal? Because in 1993, just as in 2001 and today, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was a federal criminal offense under the U.S. Code. Yousef is now serving a life prison term in a federal penitentiary.
Of course, President Bush’s response to the 9/11 attack on the WTC was totally different from the response that U.S. officials took after the 1993 WTC attack. The invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, which killed, maimed, or exiled millions of people, most of whom had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Both countries were destroyed. The anger and rage produced by the invasions and occupations have ensured an endless stream of terrorist threats — threats that are cited as the reason why civil liberties cannot be restored to the American people despite the killing of bin Laden.
The killing of Osama bin Laden is expected to produce one significant change in direction for the U.S. government: According to the New York Times, federal prosecutors are expected to appear in U.S. District Court this week to seek a dismissal of the federal criminal indictment for terrorism that has been pending against bin Laden for several years. That’s not surprising. As I stated previously, terrorism is a federal crime under the U.S. Code and bin Laden’s death makes the criminal charges against him moot.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Mired in the Socialist Muck
A controversy over food stamps in New York City shows what happens when people plunge into the muck of socialism.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to prohibit food-stamp recipients from using their food stamps to purchase sugar-sweetened beverages.
The mayor’s rationale?
You guessed it! Paternalism, the ism that goes perfectly with socialism. The mayor says that sugar is bad for people and, therefore, as mayor of New York he wants to serve as the daddy for every food-stamp recipient in New York. He wants the local government to prevent people from ingesting sugar because, he says, sugar is bad for people.
Not surprisingly, lobbyists have arrived onto the scene. They represent the soft-drink industry. They say that the government shouldn’t be in the business of telling people what they should and shouldn’t buy. (No, the lobbyists didn’t issue a peep about the drug war.) The lobbyists say that they’re fighting for “preservation of choice” in the food-stamp program.
Why are the lobbyists and their clients really so concerned? You guessed it! There is lots of money involved here. According to an article in the New York Times about the controversy, an estimated $75 million to $135 million is spent on sugared beverages in New York City each year.
Needless to say, no one is challenging the existence of the food-stamp program itself. Most everyone (libertarians excepted) has come to simply accept this socialistic program as a given (just as they do with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, farm subsidies, corporate bailouts, and other socialistic programs).
How extensive is the food-stamp program? According to the Times, “More than 44 million people — one in seven Americans — receive aid through the program.”
Public-health groups and academics are also weighing into the controversy, taking the side of the mayor. Their argument? They say that government has a legitimate role in controlling people’s diet because obesity and diabetes cost taxpayers billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid expenses.
Are you getting a sense of how insidious socialism is? It’s like a cancer that continues to metastasize over the body politic.
Think about how many Americans have become dependent on Medicare and Medicaid (and Social Security), most of them unable to fathom life without these socialistic programs. It’s no different with those 44 million Americans on food stamps. Most of them (and their supporters) are convinced that they would die of starvation without the stamps.
The government then expands its paternalistic control over the food-stamp recipients, citing concern over their health, while statist supporters offer support for the paternalism by citing how obese or sick people place a burden on Medicare and Medicaid.
Meanwhile, the soft-drink industry sends its lobbyists into the fray, who purport to defend “freedom of choice” by fighting for the right of food-stamp recipients to spend their tax-collected loot on whatever they want. Of course, the last thing the lobbyists acknowledge is that their clients have become as dependent on the welfare-state largess as the food-stamp recipients themselves.
I’ve got a better idea: Let’s acknowledge that the welfare state has been one big miserable and immoral failure, one that has made millions of Americans dependent and frightened wards of the state and (in conjunction with the warfare state) sent our nation down the road to out-of-control spending, borrowing, debt, inflation, and bankruptcy.
Then, let’s just ditch this immoral way of life (along with the military empire) and embrace a way of life based on economic liberty, free markets, unlimited accumulation of wealth and capital, free enterprise, genuine freedom of choice, and a limited-government, constitutional republic.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Is This the Wrong Time to Question Foreign Policy? Part 2
My hunch is that once the jubilation over the killing of Osama bin Laden dissipates, everything will return to normal. The war on terrorism will continue indefinitely into the future. New official enemies will appear to take bin Laden’s place. The periodic terror alerts will remain. The president’s emergency powers that came into existence after 9/11 will stay. The infringements on civil liberties will continue growing.
More fundamentally, the U.S. Empire will remain in existence. The 700-1,000 military bases in foreign countries will continue to operate. The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan will continue. The bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya will continue. The killing and abuse of foreigners will go on. The invasions, occupations, support of dictatorships, foreign aid, sanctions, embargoes, bombings, assassinations, torture, indefinite detentions, kangaroo tribunals, and regime-change operations will continue.
And the anger and rage among foreigners will continue to simmer and periodically boil over into terrorist retaliation, motivating the Empire to strike back and kill more foreigners.
It’s as close to perpetual war that a nation could ever come.
In September 2001 — after the 9/11 attacks — I wrote an article entitled “Is This the Wrong Time to Question Foreign Policy?” in which I asked “If U.S. foreign policy is giving rise to terrorism against the American people, what good is it going to do to smash current terrorists if they’re simply going to be replaced by new ones?”
In that ten-year-old article, I compared the federal government’s new “war on terrorism” to its decades-long war on drugs.
Periodically the government focuses people’s attention on some new drug lord or drug cartel. Amidst tremendous fanfare, the government either kills or captures the malefactor.
Immediately, there is tremendous jubilation among the people. “We’ve killed the evil drug lord! We’ve captured members of the drug cartel! It’s another record drug bust! This will put a real dent in drug trafficking!”
Soon, however, everything returns to normal. The drug war goes on. New drug gangs and drug lords enter the market, and the entire process starts all over again.
Recall the killing of Nazario Moreno Gonzales, the lead of the notorious Mexican La Familia drug cartel. Or the killing of the top leader of the Mexican Gulf drug cartel, Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen. Or the killing of Arturo Beltran Leyva, head of the Mexican Beltran Levya cartel. Have you seen any diminution of the drug war in Mexico? Of course not. The drug war in that country is being waged more fiercely than ever, with a mind-blowing death toll of some 35,000 people in just the last 5 years alone
Meanwhile, the drug war has been going on for some 40 years, with no end in sight despite the periodic drug busts and paroxysms of jubilation over the killing of drug lords.
The reason for the longevity? The drug war itself is what produces the drug gangs and drug lords. No matter how many busts they make and no matter how much people might celebrate the busts, it won’t make any difference. As long as drugs are illegal, there will be drug lords and drug gangs. The drug war keeps itself going by its own existence. The only way to get rid of the drug lords and drug gangs is to legalize drugs, which public officials are not yet ready to do.
It’s no different with the terrorist threat against the United States and the American people. As I stated in my article ten years ago, anti-American terrorism is rooted in the bad things the U.S. Empire has been doing and is doing to foreigners, especially in the Middle East. As long as the U.S. Empire is intervening in the Middle East with such things as invasions, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, support of dictatorships, foreign aid, assassinations, bombing, torture, and humiliation, there is going to be anger and rage, some of which will inevitably result in terrorist retaliation.
Recall the killing of Saddam Hussein or the killing of tens of thousands of Iraqis in President Bush’s and the U.S. military’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. Consider the tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan who have been killed as part of the U.S. government’s invasion and occupation of that country. According to the U.S. government, most of the people it has killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been terrorists.
Or consider the recent wave of drone assassinations in Pakistan and Yemen. Supposedly, most of those assassinated people have been terrorists. And now U.S. drones are killing people in Libya, no doubt most of whom are considered terrorists.
Have any of those killings brought us closer to wrapping up and ending the war on terrorism after 10 years?
Nope. In fact, it’s the opposite. We’re told the same thing that people suffering under dictatorship in the Middle East are told by their rulers: that it’s more imperative than ever that the war on terrorism continue to be waged, that the “emergency” infringements on civil liberties, including the Patriot Act and the enemy-combatant powers, cannot be lifted, and that national security depends on even higher military spending.
As I wrote back in September 2001, to restore a peaceful, harmonious, prosperous, and free society to our land, it is necessary for Americans to confront the role of the U.S. government in the disharmony that afflicts our lives. Two places to start are U.S. foreign policy and the drug war.