Civil Liberties & Privacy

Custom-Made Abuses at Customs

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You know it is going to be a bad day when your Customs inspector starts putting on latex gloves. A rising floodtide of scandal is engulfing the Customs Service. Press reports across the nation are trumpeting cases of Customs agents taking bribes and abusing their power. A Treasury Department investigation is looking at the agency's ... [click for more]

Liberty and Virtue: Invaluable and Inseparable, Part 1

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Part 1 | Part 2 There is no quicker means of raising a skeptical eye among many conservatives and libertarians alike than to endorse both liberty and virtue. Many people who consider freedom the preeminent political objective perceive support for virtue to be an implicit call for restrictive new laws. ... [click for more]

Waco: Lies, Deaths, and Cover-Ups

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Afer the bombing of the Alfred J. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, President Clinton declared, "There's nothing patriotic about hating your government or pretending you can hate your government but love your country." I wonder whether the president still feels the same way in light of the ... [click for more]

The Art of Plunder

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Now that the controversy surrounding the art exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum has calmed down, it's a good time for some sober reflection. To recap, the museum, which is subsidized with taxpayer money, is hosting an exhibit that includes among other things, a painting purportedly of the Virgin Mary adorned ... [click for more]

Time to Curb SWAT Rampages

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SWAT teams are finally getting some overdue bad press. Usually the SWATers are starring in some TV pseudo-docudrama where they go smashing into someone's home and discover him with a dumb look and a bong. However, people are now beginning to ask questions about the wisdom of the routine use of massive police force. Prof. ... [click for more]

Book Review: Property and Freedom

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Property and Freedom by Richard Pipes (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999); 328pages; $30. In his 1848 treatise, The Principles of Political Economy, John Stuart Mill stated: "The laws and conditions of the production of wealth partake of the character of physical laws. There is nothing optional or arbitrary in them.... It is not so with the distribution of ... [click for more]

The Mirage of Administrative Justice

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The trademark of modern political thinking is faith in discretionary power wielded by benevolent politicians and administrators and in letting government employees treat private citizens as they think best. We have far more federal agencies than we used to have, and they are under less restraint than what they ... [click for more]

Sabotaging Privacy for Political Profit

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Federal regulators announced last December 7, Pearl Harbor Day, a brazen scheme to convert banks into conspirators against their depositors. The "Know Your Customer" rules were a landmark in the history of the attempted subversion of American privacy and property rights. But enough Americans rallied — at least temporarily — to block this power grab. The proposed rules vastly expanded ... [click for more]

Order by Agreements or by Iron Fists

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In his 1651 classic, Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes warned: "To obey the King who is God's lieutenant, is the same as to obey God. We shall have no peace till we have absolute obedience." Many contemporary statists share Hobbes's assumption that near-total control is the only way to avoid near-certain destruction ... [click for more]

Know Your Government

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The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has a new way to protect us and our banks. It proposes a mandatory program for insured nonmember banks called "Know Your Customer." (Member banks are presumably already under such an obligation.) This is not some friendly way for banks to serve us better. No, this is right out of Orwell. Here's what Big ... [click for more]

Robbery with an Environmental Badge

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As the federal government has devoted itself to rescuing Americans from more perils, fair treatment of individuals is a luxury that the government can no longer afford. Few programs better illustrate the modern contempt for due process than Superfund. Congress enacted Superfund in 1980 to deal with the problem of abandoned hazardous waste sites. Since 1980, the Environmental Protection Agency ... [click for more]

Financial Privacy: R.I.P.

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Okay, this is going too far. According to the Federal Register of December 7, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) wants a new way to snoop on us. It proposes a mandatory program for insured nonmember banks called "Know Your Customer." This is not some friendly way for banks to serve ... [click for more]
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