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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Monday, September 18, 2006

Let Us Now Try Liberty

[Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) was a French farmer, author, politician, and economist. He first entered the public arena to fight trade protectionism. His famous essay, The Law was published in the year of his untimely death.

Following are the final four paragraphs of The Law. Consider these thoughts in light of all that has transpired in the 156 years since Bastiat's death.

What Bastiat said in The Law about universal suffrage is also highly relevant today-- especially in terms of the so-called Voting Rights Act, the opposition to voter ID, the notions of letting convicted felons and illegal aliens vote, etc.]

My attitude toward all other persons is well illustrated by this story from a celebrated traveler: He arrived one day in the midst of a tribe of savages, where a child had just been born. A crowd of soothsayers, magicians, and quacks - - armed with rings, hooks, and cords -- surrounded it. One said: "This child will never smell the perfume of a peace- pipe unless I stretch his nostrils." Another said: "He will never be able to hear unless I draw his ear-lobes down to his shoulders." A third said: "He will never see the sunshine unless I slant his eyes." Another said: "He will never stand upright unless I bend his legs." A fifth said: "He will never learn to think unless I flatten his skull."

"Stop," cried the traveler. "What God does is well done. Do not claim to know more than He. God has given organs to this frail creature; let them develop and grow strong by exercise, use, experience, and liberty."

God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies. He has provided a social form as well as a human form. And these social organs of persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty. Away, then, with quacks and organizers! Away with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Free Goodies from the Bakery

If I arrive early enough in the morning at my local bakery, I can see vans pulling up out back marked with the signs for a local food bank. The drivers meet friendly employees who help load bags and bags of bread of all kinds, bagels, pies, and all sorts of pleasing goods that only yesterday sold for high prices. There are hundreds of dollars worth of baked items here.

Yet the baker charges nothing. He is pleased to see the food go to a good cause. It feeds the poor. Meanwhile, inside he is busy baking more for today's sales at market prices. This happens daily across America. Why? They don't advertise this. They just do it.

Even charity must make some degree of economic sense. Their profits from sales yesterday were high enough that they can afford to see the surplus move out the door. And perhaps the baker wants to sell only the freshest products. Sure, he could discount his day-old goods, but then the discounted day-old bread might compete with their higher-priced fresh bread.

Whatever the reason, you can be sure that the baker's charitable motive (which is real enough) is also mixed with good business sense. Is that wrong? No! His profits keep him in business so that he can continue to bake surpluses and see them go to a good cause.

The bakery's economic sense in no way conflicts with its owner's charitable sense. To give food away amounts to a mutually beneficial exchange that helps the food bank, the poor, the bakery, and even the customer who enjoys knowing that the bread he or she buys is always fresh.

It is a curious mental experiment to think back to the bread lines in Russia under communist rule. The system that set out to give bread to all ended up creating vast shortages; the system that has no national plan for bread production ends up having more bread than can be given away.

Which system is more compatible with liberty, justice, and prosperity for all? ... .

-- Rev. Robert A. Sirico
"President's Message," Acton Notes
September 2006, http://www.acton.org/

"Open Primaries" for Municipal Elections

This was written in response to Bill Minor's Clarion-Ledger column of August 18, 2006, "Late Jerris Leonard Pushed for Mississippi Open Primaries." The paper declined to run this letter, saying that it was too "specific" and too "detailed."

"Open primaries," the popular name for nonpartisan elections, make sense for municipal elections. The parties have few, if any, differences on local issues, and the big majority of U. S. municipalities already have "open primaries."

On five different occasions, the Mississippi legislature has passed the "open primary" for our state, county, and municipal elections. In 1966, Gov. Paul Johnson Jr. vetoed it, as did Gov. Bill Waller in 1975.

In 1976 and 1979, the "open primary" was rejected by the U. S. Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act.

Bill Minor notes that Judge Charles Clark headed the three-judge federal panel that blocked implementation of the "open primary" in 1971. Ironically, after he had retired, Judge Clark said in The Clarion-Ledger that he favored "open primaries."

Notably, only Louisiana uses "open primaries" to elect all of its state officials. And Louisiana, which alone has used this system for its congressional elections, is restoring separate party primaries for those elections, starting in 2008.

Wirt Yerger of Jackson, the Republican elder statesman, has strongly advocated "open primaries" for our municipal elections for 50-plus years. Hopefully, there will be a bill to accomplish this in the 2007 session of the legislature.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Elian Gonzalez: Get Well, 'Grandpa Fidel'

[Reprinted from NewsMax.com]

Elian Gonzalez sent a note on August 6 wishing a speedy recovery to "my dear grandpa Fidel," and Cuba's vice president said the world's longest-serving leader is recuperating well after surgery.

Former Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega arrived in Havana, telling Cuban state media, "I am sure that we will soon have Fidel resuming his functions and leading his people."

Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle with family members in Miami six years ago, published a letter in the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde signed with "little kisses" from him and his half-siblings and cousins.

"We send you this letter to let you know that we are worried about your health," Elian, now 12, wrote. "We hope for your speedy recovery and take the opportunity to wish you a happy birthday, may you have many more."

The ailing leader turned 80 on Aug. 13.

Vice President Carlos Lage said in Bolivia Saturday that media reports that Castro had abdominal cancer were false.

"He is coming along well. He does not have stomach cancer," Lage said. "He's been made well by the operation and is recuperating favorably." [Hooray for that socialized medicine!]

Lage's comments were the most detailed by a Cuban government official about Castro's medical condition since Monday, when it was announced that Castro had undergone surgery for intestinal bleeding and temporarily handed over power to his brother Raul, 75.

Havana has provided no details and released no pictures of Castro - fueling speculation around the world about his condition. Raul Castro, the defense minister, also has not been seen in public since the announcement.

Cubans were told Tuesday in a statement attributed to Castro that most details of his health would be kept "a state secret" to prevent the island's enemies from taking advantage of his condition.

Authorities have been calling on Cubans to reaffirm their commitment to Castro and the government, and have beefed up security by mobilizing citizen defense militias, increasing street patrols, and ordering decommissioned military officers to check in at posts daily.

The enemy in Cuba is perceived to be the U.S. government and hardline Cuban-American exiles. President Bush's call Thursday for democratic change on the island was seen as a provocation.

Washington insists it is pushing for peaceful change in Cuba and has no intentions of invading, with White House press secretary Tony Snow dismissing as "absurd" the suggestion that the United States would attack.

© 2006 Associated Press.