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Free Citizen

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

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Friday, March 30, 2007

"The Light at the End of the Tunnel"

I suppose it was inevitable that I should eventually write something about the Iraq War.

Such luminaries as George H. W. Bush, Brent Scowcroft (the elder Bush's national security advisor), and William F. Buckley Jr. consider this war to be a bad idea. My own opposition was not so clear-cut at the outset, though I had strong doubts about it– as I also had about the 1991 Kuwait incursion.

Once the war started (”Mission Accomplished”?), I tended to switch channels when news of it came on– as though that might magically make it just go away. I have a good friend who is a Vietnam War veteran and who opposes all wars; he’s had an influence on me concerning Iraq. He even says the U. S. should have stayed out of the two world wars; I agree with him on WWI, but I’m still working on No. 2. (Richard M. Weaver [1910-1963], who opposed the nuking of Japan, wrote in Ideas Have Consequences of “the marvelous confusion of values attendant upon the second World War.” He noted the "lady marine and the female armaments worker," the latter reminding me of the movie character, Rosie the Riveter. It's easy to imagine what Weaver would say about sending our mothers, our daughters, and our sisters to participate in a war in the Middle Eastern desert.)

I’ve lately been reading Albert Jay Nock (1870-1945), the great libertarian essayist, so my opinion of war in general has sunk even lower.

If the U. S.'s ultimate goal is to leave Iraq, why is our military building 'permanent' bases there? Makes sense, doesn’t it? 60-plus years after the end of World War II, we’ve still got bases in Germany and Japan. (Have you seen anything in the media about these 'permanent' bases in Iraq? I haven't.)

Another president from Texas used to tell us about “the light at the end of the tunnel.” At least we’re not hearing that from this president-- yet.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

None Dare Call It Socialism

Last November 13, I placed this book near the computer, with the intention of posting the following excerpt. Then, on November 16, the sad news came of the passing of Milton Friedman. So here, finally...


Herewith the economic planks of the Socialist party platform of 1928, along with an indication in parentheses of how these planks have fared. The list that follows includes every economic plank, but not the full language of each.

1. "Nationalization of our natural resources, beginning with the coal mines and water sites, particularly at Boulder Dam and Muscle Shoals." (Boulder Dam, renamed Hoover Dam, and Muscle Shoals are now both federal government projects.)

2. "A publicly owned giant power system under which the federal government shall cooperate with the states and municipalities in the distribution of electrical energy
to the people at cost." (Tennessee Valley Authority) [Remember how Sen. Barry Goldwater was crucified for proposing the privatization of the TVA in his 1964 presidential campaign? Ronald Reagan also tripped up on the TVA in the 1976 Tennessee presidential primary.]

3. "National ownership and democratic management of railroads and other means of transportation and communication." (Railroad passenger service is completely nationalized through Amtrak. Some freight service is nationalized through Conrail. The FCC controls communications by telephone, telegraph, radio, and television.) [In the early 1980s, under the Reagan administration, telephone service was deregulated.]

4. "An adequate national program for flood control, flood relief, reforestation, irrigation, and reclamation." (Government expenditures for these purposes are currently in the many billions of dollars.)

5. "Immediate governmental relief of the unemployed by the extension of all public works and a program of long range planning of public works..." (In the 1930s, WPA and PWA were a direct counterpart; now, a wide variety of other programs are.) "All persons thus employed to be engaged at hours and wages fixed by bona-fide labor unions." (The Davis-Bacon and Walsh-Healey Acts require contractors with government contracts to pay "prevailing wages," generally interpreted as highest union wages.)

6. "Loans to states and municipalities without interest for the purpose of carrying on public works and the taking of such other measures as will lessen widespread misery." (Federal grants in aid to states and local municipalities currently total tens of billions of dollars a year.) [This amount, of course, is much greater in 2007 than it was when this was written in 1979.]

7. "A system of unemployment insurance." (Part of Social Security system.)

8. "The nation-wide extension of public employment agencies in cooperation with city federations of labor." (U. S. Employment Service and affiliated state employment services administer a network of about 2,500 local employment offices.)

9. "A system of health and accident insurance and of old age pensions as well as unemployment insurance." (Part of Social Security system.)

10. "Shortening the workday" and "Securing to every worker a rest period of no less than two days in each week." (Legislated by wages and hours laws that require overtime for more than forty hours of work per week.)

11. "Enacting of an adequate federal anti-child labor amendment." (Not achieved as [constitutional] amendment, but essence incorporated in various legislative acts.)

12. "Abolition of the brutal exploitation of convicts under the contract system and substitution of a cooperative organization of industries in penitentiaries and workshops for the benefit of convicts and their dependents." (Partly achieved, partly not.)

13. "Increase of taxation on high income levels, of corporation taxes and inheritance taxes, the proceeds to be used for old age pensions and other forms of social insurance." (In 1928, highest personal income tax rate, 25 percent; in 1978, 70 percent; in 1928, corporate tax rate, 12 percent; in 1978, 48 percent; in 1928, top federal estate tax rate, 20 percent; in 1978, 70 percent.) [Under the Reagan administration in the early 1980s, there were tax rate reductions. The top personal income tax rate, e.g., was cut from 70 percent to 28 percent. This rate, to be sure, has since gone back up.]

14. "Appropriation by taxation of the annual rental value of all land held for speculation." (Not achieved in this form, but property taxes have risen drastically.)

~~ Milton and Rose Friedman, Free To Choose: A Personal Statement (New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980, 1979), pp. 311-312.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Man Who Killed Joe Camel

This is a commentary on a recent CNN program on the settlement that was won from the tobacco industry. Mississippi's former (1988-2004) attorney general, Mike Moore, is featured. The transcript is here. (You'll need to scroll about halfway down the page.)

After reading this BS, I feel like a mosquito in a nudist camp: I hardly know where to start.

First, since when is it government's duty to teach kids not to smoke? Are the public schools doing such a fantastic job of teaching academics that they have plenty of time to also take care of parents' responsibilities?

And what about all that "tobacco money" that has been given to groups to spend on things that have absolutely nothing to do with tobacco?

"Some say it all boils down to politics between the Republican governor and his longtime Democratic rival."

Since when is Mike Moore the "rival" of Haley Barbour? The Clinton News Network must be confusing Barbour with Gov. Kirk Fordice, who called the then-attorney general "Flash Bulb" Moore.

Mike Moore did get a massive 21 percent of the vote in the 1989 special election for Congress, but Barbour wasn't involved in that race.

"The original dragon slayer of big tobacco..."

Actually, Moore is a camel slayer-- as in Joe Camel. Yes, thanks to Mikey, we no longer have to worry about old Joe jumping down off of those billboards and making our kids smoke.

And contrary to the cartoon in the March 24 Clarion-Ledger, it would be impossible for Gov. Barbour to put Joe Camel on the state Board of Health, since everyone knows that Mike Moore personally "busted a cap" on poor Joe.

Next there will be a lawsuit to squeeze billion$ out of "big fast food," so government can set up a new program to eliminate obesity.