Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
There was a general prohibition on carrying weapons within the established borders of ancient Rome. Although the Ides of March has passed, it is ironic to think on how Julius Caesar, then, was stabbed to death by the Roman senate. I guess the Roman senators had a "do as I say, and not as I do" mentality towards knife control.
Maybe if Caesar had fired a few rounds from his pistol in self defense, he could have scared off his assailants...
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Yesterday, the New York Times published a letter from one AIG executive who resigned in disgust with AIG's handling of the situation. It's a doozy and if you haven't read it yet, I highly encourage you to check it out. Here are some fun excerpts:
After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.
It’s now apparent that you [one of the leaders at AIG] either misunderstood the agreements that you had made — tacit or otherwise — with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, various members of Congress and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York, or were not strong enough to withstand the shifting political winds.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The Atlas Economic Research Foundation (and Tom Palmer in particular, who you probably already know) is spearheading a Free Trade Petition that they plan to unveil at the upcoming G20 Summit on April 1st. With the current economic crisis and efforts by many governments to enact protectionist regulations. This "is a part of a much broader campaign that will be mobilized around the world to alert the public to the dangers of attempts to block trade and to revive positive efforts toward increasing freedom of trade." Atlas has called upon our help for this petition. While there have already been hundreds of signatories to the petition including many notable public figures, your role as a student leader has the potential to launch this this petition dramatically.
First, please forward this petition to your list-serve and encourage members to sign it. The petition only takes a philosophical opposition to government intervention in the free economic transitions between individuals of different countries, a position that should be readily acceptable.
Second, and more importantly, I am writing to ask that you organize members of your group to get economics professors at your school to sign the petition. Here is what this would involve: Have members of your group print out a copy of the petition and the web link to sign it online (http://atlasnetwork.org/
If you have any questions about this, please let me know. I would also appreciate it if you can let me know if you can do this or not. Even asking just a handful of econ professors who you think would be open to the petition would be helpful. I strongly encourage you to take part in this opportunity as students around the world will be joining in on this effort.
Note that once you get past the inaccuracies of the post where it says that SFL is affiliated with the Libertarian Party (we are a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization) and that we hosted Rush Limbaugh and so are right-wing (I think they confused us for the hosts of CPAC, which brought Rush Limbaugh in to speak), all the post really says about SFL is that:
Indeed, Conservative Future boast on their blog about how enjoyable the company of SFL were...I don't think it's such a bad thing that an international organization visiting the U.S. found SFL to be enjoyable company. In fact, I'm very happy to hear that the people we met from them liked meeting with us (I assume the post that Stuart is responding to is from here on Conservative Future's site). So it may not be a criticism of us so much as a misunderstanding of what SFL stands for and who we are, but it's international recognition nonetheless!
This post raises an interesting point of discussion, though. Stuart calls SFL "right-wing". Personally, I very much dislike the term "right-wing" as I disagree with many positions of the political right (e.g. social conservatism, interventionist foreign policy, etc.) and think that a philosophy of liberty does not fit comfortably in the bipolar political spectrum. While I think many who read this blog would agree with that assessment, and so asking what people think of that would probably not produce much, I'll bring up an important topic that I've had many conversations about, but have not raised online yet: what is the relationship of liberty advocates to the left and the right? If we do not want to be associated with the big government policies of the right, how do we make that difference known?
Note: I'm now in touch with Stuart via Facebook. He's a nice guy and hopefully we'll get a good-natured debate going out of this.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will push for unprecedented new regulatory powers on Tuesday to seize financial institutions whose failure would pose serious risks to the U.S. financial system, according to two senior administration officials...
Monday, March 23, 2009
My aim with this weekly column is to give you a flavour of the fight for liberty here in the UK. Britons lack a written document such as the US Constitution, and so our liberty is frequently at the whim and caprice of governments, a fact I seek to highlight in this inaugural post where I call for a global First Amendment. In the UN, EU, etc, we have bodies that could implement such an initiative, if there was but the will.
Yours in Liberty,
Sometimes it seems almost as if Liberty is being actively conspired against, the whole world round. These past few weeks have highlighted yet again that even in the allegedly liberal democracies of the West free speech is under unceasing assault.
Last month the democratically elected Dutch politician Geert Wilders was banned from entering the United Kingdom, where he was to address a small meeting in the House of Lords and screen his 15 minute film “Fitna”, by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on the grounds that his presence “would threaten community security and therefore public security'”. You can draw your own inferences as to what she means by that.
As a Briton and European citizen it’s frankly embarrassing that, if I wished to, I couldn’t hear from a legitimate European politician on my native soil; but I could if I were in America, where he has recently been on a speaking tour (which seems to have passed off without civil unrest.)
Then, just last week, the Canadians seemingly returned the favour in kind, by refusing to permit controversial British MP George Galloway, of the fringe Leftist ‘Respect’ party, into their country, where he was to address a public forum entitled ‘Resisting the War from Gaza to Kandahar’. Galloway is an ardent critic of the War on Terror and Israel; apparently the Canadians deemed his views on their presence in Afghanistan incompatible with his presence on their soil.
I’ve no time for Galloway, or his views, and so it pains me to agree with him, when, commenting on the ban, he said:
“This decision … is a very sad day for the Canada we have known and loved – a bastion of the freedoms that supporters of the occupation of Afghanistan claim to be defending.”
I wouldn’t adopt his language of ‘occupation’, but I do adopt his sentiment. Free speech is indivisible, even in the current geo-political climate. That someone may be offended by what you have to say is an irrelevant consideration; indeed, if the only permissible speech and opinions were those that no one disagreed with, then they wouldn’t be worth expressing at all.
At an event in London recently veteran Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe made that point that in post-World War II Britain one could legitimately advocate Fascism, even after all the blood and treasure so recently expended defeating that evil. Likewise, during the Cold War one was free to do the same for Communism, the 20th Century’s other great evil.
But the assaults on free speech do not simply begin and end with outright censure. It’s the unequal application of censure which leaves one increasingly exasperated, too.
Consider the case a little over a week ago in which a coterie of Muslims protested against British troops who were parading through the town of Luton, England, having just returned from service in Iraq. They shouted, and waved placards, which branded our troops “butchers”, “killers” and “extremists”. Such behaviour is abhorrent, and deeply offensive to tens of thousands, if not millions, of Britons, but should be tolerated as an expression of free speech – which it was.
By contradistinction, student Paul Saville was recently arrested and charged with causing criminal damage “under the value of £5,000” for the offence of writing, in chalk no less, on a pavement (or sidewalk, if you prefer) the phrase: “Liberty. The right to question it. The right to ask: ‘Are we free?’”, in protest at what he perceives to be the “loss of civil liberties” in Britain. It’s as if authority has no concept of irony. He is currently awaiting trial.
There must be one rule for all, and that rule should be unqualified, unfettered free speech; which is plainly distinct from incitement to, or trying to solicit, violence.
Now, more than ever – indeed, today is the anniversary of Patrick Henry’s great oration “Give me liberty, or give me death!” – we need a global First Amendment.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Omid Mir Sayafi, a 25 year old Iranian man, has been imprisoned since April 2008 for criticizing the Ayatollah on his personal blog. He died in jail yesterday under suspicious circumstances:
[An official] said another prisoner in Evin, a Dr Hessam Firouzi, "had warned officials in the jail of the state the young blogger was in.
"Dr Firouzi called me from the jail to say Omid had a slowed heartbeat and he had taken him to the infirmary, but that doctors there did not take this seriously and said he was faking it," Dadkhah said.
He added Firouzi reported that Sayafi had also been very depressed.
Prison officials "said that he committed suicide."
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
In layman's terms, this means that the risk that the federal government won't be able to pay back its bonds has dramatically increased. Basically, faith that the US government will repay its debts has taken a severe hit, certainly due to the massive deficit spending incurred in the year so far.
What are the long-term impacts? Econ majors, feel free to comment on my reasoning, but not only will we now have trillions in more debt to pay, the federal government will also have to pay a higher interest rate to get people to buy the bonds. Last year, the US paid 8% of its entire 2008 budget merely on paying off interest. Perhaps this number will rise in the years to come as debt piles on and on.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Rather surprisingly, Obama has totally changed his mind about taxing health benefits. The New York Times reports:
In television advertisements last fall, Mr. Obama criticized his Republican rival for the presidency, Senator John McCain of Arizona, for proposing to tax all employer-provided health benefits. The benefits have long been tax-free, regardless of how generous they are or how much an employee earns. The advertisements did not point out that Mr. McCain, in exchange, wanted to give all families a tax credit to subsidize the purchase of coverage.At the time, even some Obama supporters said privately that he might come to regret his position if he won the election; in effect, they said, he was potentially giving up an important option to help finance his ambitious health care agenda to reduce medical costs and to expand coverage to the 46 million uninsured Americans. Now that Mr. Obama has begun the health debate, several advisers say that while he will not propose changing the tax-free status of employee health benefits, neither will he oppose it if Congress does so.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Michael Gordon, a professor of management at Rutgers University, observes:
Faculty members have not fulfilled the responsibilities associated with their proclaimed right to be the final judges of student performance. In shirking that duty, they have also neglected their broader obligations to society: Teachers weaken rather than bolster the commonweal when they fail to award meaningful grades. Grading laxness at all levels of American education has contributed directly or indirectly to a variety of problems, including declining scores on the SAT, decreases in the ability of American undergraduate and graduate students to understand prose, and poor training in mathematics and science, which puts American students behind their peers in many European and Asian countries.
(HT: Mark Perry's blog)
To be fair, grade inflation is not always the teachers' fault. It might also be a conscious objective of the school itself (in that case, public high schools).
In the spirit of March Madness, here is GradeInflation.com's grade graph of college basketball divisions.
Friday, March 13, 2009
DC Reasonoids will be meeting tonight at Reason Headquarters (1747 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC) for a viewing of John Stossel's latest 20/20 special, "Bailouts, Big Spending, and Bull," featuring Reason.tv contributor Drew Carey (yes, the one from The Price is Right)!
The event starts at 8pm, with a pre-show conversation at 8:30pm. More details available here. RSVP requested. The event will be streamed from Reason's website for those unable to attend.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Campaign for Liberty is sponsoring an "Audit the Fed" t-shirt contest, seeking out the best idea for a t-shirt supporting Ron Paul's recently-introduced legislation. Note that a full graphic or anything of that sort is not necessary, just your good ideas! Submit your thoughts to Allison Gibbs at firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is Tuesday, March 17, and I am told there are "incentives offered!"
We have to be able to think freely...they cannot stop ideas by sending people to jail.
The academic community has come to the side of those pushing for greater civil liberties in the Southeast Asian state. As the Bloomberg article notes:
More than 50 international scholars, including some from Harvard, Yale and Columbia universities, wrote to [Prime Minister] Abhisit this month saying “recent legal actions” under the lese-majeste law “led to the deterioration of basic civil liberties.” They urged the dropping of all cases and said enforcement of the law had led to “heightened criticism of the monarchy and Thailand itself, both inside and outside the country."
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In other news, Citigroup has recorded a profit for the first two months of 2009. Maybe we should nationalize some more industries...
Radley Balko speaks out against the war on drugs:
Michael Moynihan discusses threats to free speech:
The Bush administration, I believed, simply chose to ignore my warnings, perhaps because of a brutal combination of ideology, fecklessness and complacency. Publicly, it was easy to ignore a carping Democrat, even as most of my insight came from apolitical people who ran many of the major trading desks and were simply worried about the sure-to-come tsunami spawned by subprime mortgages...A fairly accurate, albeit solipsistic, assessment, in my opinion.
President Obama's team, unlike Bush's team, demonstrates a thinness of skin that shocks me. When I somewhat obviously and empirically judged that the populist Obama administration is exacerbating the crisis with its budget and policies, as evidenced by the incredible decline in the averages since his inauguration, I was met immediately with condescension and ridicule rather than constructive debate or even just benign dismissal...
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
But most of all it’s a triumph for freedom in the Academy. Students are adults, they deserve to be treated as such. It isn’t for Unions to censor free speech, expression and opportunities on campus, just because they personally happen not to agree with them. Students have the absolute right to have the military on campus, and be involved with groups such as the OTC if they wish, just as the have the right to see and hear from anyone else. Freedom is indivisible, it doesn’t require permission or sanction, and it shall not be proscribed by Unions.
This victory at UCL has emboldened activists at other universities in the UK, as well. Late last week students at Kingston University moved to overturn a similar prohibition on their campus. Best of luck to our British allies in their fight for a free academy!
Reason.tv has a great new video up chronicling the development of the beer industry over the years since Prohibition, highlighting how that industry has acted as a microcosm of the broader economy. Especially since the 1980s, when microbrews came onto the scene en masse, consumer choice has increased exponentially. No more tough barstool choices between Coors, Miller, and Bud; instead, there are now literally thousands of brews for the discerning tongue to choose from, with more entering the marketplace every year. Assuming, that is, that we all don't go the way of Oregon.
In a brief aside, Don Boudreaux published an incredibly interesting article a while back on how the introduction of the income tax made Prohibition a real possibility. Boudreaux is an economist at George Mason University and co-author of the blog Cafe Hayek.
As we have covered before, yet another Obama Administration official has come forward to say that we should use the current crisis to advance further state control of the economy. Hillary Clinton, while addressing the EU on Friday, stated that we should "never waste a good crisis," while implementing a "New Green Deal."
Perhaps a more realistic view would be Robert Higg's "Ratchet Effect" theory, which states that for every crisis, the government ratchets up its own power, only to recede slightly before the next opportunity to seize power.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Yes, government is gaining more control of our lives at an alarming rate, but there are many factors working against that control. And as anti-government student groups rise and innovations continue to develop, government will have many forces to reckon with in its quest to limit our freedoms.
Thanks go out to Patrick for his great article!
The folks over at FiveThirtyEight.com, a great site that combines revealing political polls with valuable insight, have constructed an interesting projection of where Americans will place blame for the economic situation (political blame, that is -- don't get too excited, bankers).
Starting from an NBC/WSJ poll showing that only 8% of Americans blame Obama for the increasingly-perilous economic situation, they project that over 50% of voters will consider the current president responsible for it in September 2010. Importantly, this is only two short months prior to the mid-term elections, when Republicans will be fighting to claw back from their past two humiliating defeats and Democrats will be hoping to increase their majorities, especially in the Senate, where they will likely be just one vote away from a 60 vote, filibuster-proof majority.
But this might mean less than we think:
Perhaps not coincidentally, 18 months is also about the point at which a majority of voters expect the recession to have ended. By comparison, of the several dozen economists polled in the Wall Street Journal's monthly forecasting survey, 65 percent expect the recession to have ended by the third quarter of 2009, and 100 percent anticipate its conclusion by the end of 2010.
If the economists are right, it's good news for Obama. But could such a strong correlation between Obama-blaming and expectations about the recession's end mean that, if people push back their expectations of when they expect the recession to end (say, to 24 months?), their tolerance for Obama-style policies will persist longer, as well? It looks like we have a good bit of time before we find out.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
That evening, police called Wahlberg into the station and interrogated him on the whereabouts of the firearms he had registered in his name. Professor Anderson, concerned about the nature of Wahlberg's speech, had reported him to the police.
As the article continues:
Robert Shibley, vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), said Anderson's actions appeared to be out of line.
“If all he did was discuss reasons for allowing guns on campus, it seems a bit much to call the police and grill him about it,” Shibley said. “If you go after students for just discussing an idea, that goes against everything a university is supposed to stand for.”
This, of course, isn't the first incident of Administrative attempts to suppress 2nd Amendment rights leading to a suppression of 1st Amendment rights as well:
In 2007, Shibley noted, a student at Hamline University in Minnesota was suspended after writing a letter to an administrator arguing that carrying concealed weapons on campus may help prevent tragedies like the one at Virginia Tech. The student was allowed to return only after undergoing a psychological evaluation, he said.
Shibley also cited an incident at Colorado College last year in which campus administrators denounced a flyer as "threatening and demeaning content" because it mentioned guns. He said the students who produced the flyer were found guilty of violating the school’s violence policy, which was added to their school records.
For information on your state's concealed carry laws, visit Students for Concealed Carry's website, which also includes resources for campus leaders to promote 2nd Amendment rights at college. To report a violation of free speech at your university, visit FIRE's website.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Maoists are proposing a new constitution and in the fundamental rights they propose to ban organizations or political organizations that support imperialist (for them Capitalists and also free marketers), if this constitution is passed in Nepal, I think the country is plunging into severe crisis of freedom.Providing more information on the issue he explained:
I read it in the draft constitution proposed by Maoist, Its available in http://baburambhattarai.com/ - a website maintained by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai current finance minister and second in rank of Maoist Party. Its clause 3 (c) under article 10- Right to Freedom.
The constitution is not yet available in English, as soon as I get it I will circulate it. However, the media that has not delved into the details of the constitution and has reported that this constitution proposes for a liberal set of fundamental rights.
The companies surveyed in [the National Association for Colleges and Employers'] spring update are planning to hire 22% fewer grads from the Class of 2009 than they hired from the Class of 2008, a big letdown from the group's projections in October that hiring would hold steady. Some 44% of companies in the survey conducted last month said they plan to hire fewer new grads, and another 22% said they do not plan to hire at all this spring, more than double last year's figure.
Discouraging though this may be, the current recession provides a great opportunity to consider a career in the liberty movement. There are several great resources for liberty-minded individuals looking for a job, most notably the America's Future Foundation's Career Center and the LibertyGuide Job Bank. Both provide advice and tips for getting on a career track for liberty, as well as job postings from various organizations in the movement. Also, keep an eye out for an upcoming How-To Book from Students For Liberty on finding jobs or internships in the libertarian/conservative arena.
And to indulge in some brief shameless self-promotion, I'd also recommend you check out Students For Liberty's Jobs/Internship page, and consider applying for the position of Program Manager with SFL!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
As I posted last week, Students for Liberty participated in CPAC this past weekend, sharing a table with the Libertarian Party and finding a great number of libertarian student groups galvanized in their mission to promote liberty in the wake of the 2008 presidential campaign, in which both main parties offered candidates and platforms very discomfiting to proponents of freedom.
As the picture above shows, we had the opportunity to meet Ron Paul following a speech to a packed auditorium on Day 2 of the conference (Friday). As always, his speech was replete with common-sense economic wisdom and an unbendable adherence to the Constitution all too seldomly seen among politicians these days.
Only a few moments before Dr. Paul took the stage, Students for Liberty Executive Director Alexander McCobin participated in a panel entitled "Two-Minute Activist: Conservative Victories Across the Nation," in which he represented Students for Liberty and its mission to several hundred attendees at the conference.
Both Alexander McCobin and Dr. Paul can be seen on CSPAN's video coverage of CPAC here. The student panel begins at 1:34:50 (Alexander speaks first), and Ron Paul takes the stage at 3:11:15.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Last weekend, 200 of these college revolutionaries gathered in Washington, D.C. to talk first principles, solutions, how to effect social change and the Constitution. They did not speak of partisan politics. I spoke as a panelist there and, a life-long activist myself, was so impressed by their professionalism, energy, optimism and politeness that upon returning home I sent them a contribution. Oregon students interested in turning the tide should contact them to organize local chapters.
If you'd like to support Students for Liberty as well, you can do so here.