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Attack Tyranny at Its Weakest Link: Enforcement PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Kevin Carson   
Friday, 07 January 2011 09:23

(Editor’s note: For Jeff Ignatius’ response to this guest commentary, click here.)

Liberal goo-goos and “good citizens” of all stripes are fond of saying that “we must continue to obey the law while we work to change it.” Every day I become more convinced that this approach gets things precisely backwards. Each day’s news demonstrates the futility of attempts at legislative reform, compared to direct action to make the laws unenforceable.

The principle was stated most effectively by Charles Johnson, one of the more prominent writers on the libertarian Left: “If you put all your hope for social change in legal reform ... then ... you will find yourself outmaneuvered at every turn by those who have the deepest pockets and the best media access and the tightest connections. There is no hope for turning this system against them; because, after all, the system was made for them and the system was made by them. Reformist political campaigns inevitably turn out to suck a lot of time and money into the politics – with just about none of the reform coming out on the other end.”

Far greater success can be achieved, at a tiny fraction of the cost, by “bypassing those laws and making them irrelevant to your life.”

Convenient, Cowardly Civil Disobedience PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 07 January 2011 09:22

(Editor’s note: This is a response to the guest commentary “Attack Tyranny at Its Weakest Link: Enforcement.”)

In his 1849 essay “Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau seemed disinterested in the systemic mechanisms available to battle injustice. “They take too much time, and a man’s life will be gone,” he wrote. “I have other affairs to attend to. I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.”

Thoreau’s hatred of government was no secret. In the opening paragraph of that essay, he made this blanket statement: “That government is best which governs not at all.”

Those sentiments are clearly the roots of “Attack Tyranny at Its Weakest Link – Enforcement,” by Kevin Carson of the Center for a Stateless Society. The piece can be summarized by its conclusion: “Don’t waste time trying to change the law. Just disobey it.”

Within that guest commentary, there are trenchant observations, especially the argument that the current United States political system makes grassroots legislative reform difficult if not impossible. (This frustration with democratic niceties is hardly new; as Thoreau wrote: “Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail.”)

Carson argues that in that context, it is far more efficient to simply disobey the law than to try to reform it: “Public agitation against a law may be very fruitful indeed – but not so much by creating pressure to change the law as by creating a climate of public opinion such that it becomes a dead letter.”

The article obviously comes from an anarchist perspective, and it’s true to the anti-state nature of that philosophy. But the commentary’s arguments are problematic for those who believe in the necessity of the state – even those who distrust or hate government but see a role for it, no matter how limited. And Carson ignores the moral elements of Thoreau’s essay, which specifically advocates disobedience of laws that would compel one to act unjustly toward others. Carson’s piece is either woefully incomplete or shockingly immature.

Red Light Cameras: Safety Devices or One More Step Toward a Surveillance State? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 22 December 2010 05:21

Before Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, unleashed full-body-imaging scanners and “enhanced” pat-downs on American airline passengers, she subjected Arizona drivers to red-light cameras. In August 2008, Napolitano, then the governor of Arizona, instituted a statewide system of 200 fixed and mobile speed and red-light cameras, which were projected to bring in more than $120 million in annual revenue for the state. She was aided in this endeavor by the Australian corporation Redflex Traffic Systems.

Two years later, after widespread complaints that the cameras intrude on privacy and are primarily a money-making enterprise for the state (income actually fell short of the projections because people refused to pay their fines), Arizona put the brakes on the program. And while other states – including Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Wisconsin – have since followed suit, many more municipalities, suffering from budget crises, have succumbed to the promise of easy revenue and installed the cameras. (Davenport began using red-light cameras in 2004.) As the Washington Post notes: “A handful of cities used them a decade ago. Now they’re in more than 400, spread across two dozen states. Montgomery County started out with 18 cameras in 2007. Now it has 119. Maryland just took the program statewide last month, and Prince George’s is putting up 50. The District started out with a few red light cameras in 1999; now they send out as many automated tickets each year as they have residents, about 580,000.”

WikiLeaks’ Marketing Strategy: A Stroke of Genius PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Gary North   
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 05:55

To understand what WikiLeaks has done, we must understand economic cause and effect. Let us begin with a comparable market: the market for gambling.

Governments have laws against gambling. Why? The justification is moral principles. This reason is less persuasive once the government sets up state lotteries and also licenses taxable gambling, such as horse racing. The real reason is the governments want to monopolize the vice. They expect greater tax revenues.

Governments arrest bookies. But bookies are merely providers of the service. The source of demand is the individual gambler, the guy who is placing the bets. The infrastructure that delivers the service is surely basic to the process, but it is the individual citizen who is the prime mover. Why? He is paying for it.

Want to understand the process? Follow the money. It ends with the customer.

Dead Man Walking: Dealing with Deflation PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Mark W. Hendrickson   
Thursday, 25 November 2010 05:52

To Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, deflation is regarded as Public Enemy Number One.

In the words of New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, the “real [economic] threat is deflation.” Krugman advocates additional and even more aggressive government deficit spending.

The normally on-target Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, international business editor of The London Telegraph, favors more “quantitative easing” (i.e., a policy whereby the Fed would create trillions of new dollars with which to buy government bonds and other financial junk) to prevent deflation.

Why is deflation – by which Bernanke et al. mean “widespread declining prices” – so feared?

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