Good morning and welcome to Carnival Of Liberty XXII, hosted this week here at Below The Beltway. Its been quite an experience pulling together this carnival and I’d like to thank Eric Cowperthwaite of Eric’s Grumbles Before The Grave for giving me the opportunity to host this week.
And what a week its been.
Despite the Thanksgiving weekend, there’s been a lot of liberty-related blogging going on out there. All of it, as usual, well worth reading.
So, without further adieu, I give you this week’s edition of the Carnival of Liberty.
First, for those of who might be wondering just what the Carnival of Liberty is all about, this post by Eric Cowperthwaite sums it up nicely.
It’s simple really. It’s a forum to showcase writing on individual liberty. Whether your writing focuses on how it has been restricted, or how it is growing, or some other facet of individual liberty, it’s something we want to showcase and expose to a wider audience. On a weekly basis, the host of the Carnival gathers submissions from around the web and then formats the whole into a single entry on their blog. The host decides how to organize the entries, whether there is a theme or not, and makes sure that the contributors get credit for their work.
This wasn’t a submission for the Carnival this week, but it is the guide that I’ve used in selecting the posts that I’ve included and highlighted.
We start off with Kenneth Gregg at Classical Liberalism who ponders the question of whether the Harry Potter series contains a libertarian critique of the state.
Benjamin Barton has a wonderful essay, “Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Bureaucracy” (forthcoming in Harry Potter and the Law (Jeffrey E. Thomas, ed., Carolina Press, 2006) on J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books (tip of the hat to Volokh). The Rowling series certainly has captured the imagination of an entire generation, as few works have before. Rowling does not venture into fundamental principles as, for example, Ayn Rand had done in her fiction, but it is well worth considering the politics (or anti-politics) of the framework of Rowling’s novels
I will admit that I have not read any of the Harry Potter books, nor have I seen the movies, but both Ken’s post and the link that he cites are well worth considering.
With the holiday shopping season in full swing and Black Friday apparently a big success, Francois Tremblay takes on those who decry consumerism and points out, quite correctly, that anti-consumerism is, in reality, a war against the poor:
Anti-prosperity, anti-greed and anti-consumerist beliefs stand in direct opposition to the expression of individual values in Western society. They know very well they can’t persuade people to change their values, because they have nothing to offer, so they complain and try to pass laws. That’s how all these anti-social types operate. Wal-Mart is a good example of this.
Of course, one of the biggest targets of the anti-consumerists is Wal-Mart, but as I argue in my own contribution, Wal-Mart And The War Against The Poor, it is the critics of Wal-Mart who are in fact the greatest threat to America’s working poor.
Do a Google search for “anti Walmart” and you get your choice of about 6,880,000 links. The search term “walmart hurts america” returns 537,000 results. Clearly, there are plenty of folks out there who don’t like Wal-Mart. It hurts small business, they claim. It reduces wages, they assert. It contributes to suburban sprawl, claim others. As Sebastian Mallaby points out in today’s Washington Post, however, Wal-Mart has been a positive force in the economy and those who attempt to use the political arena to slow its expansion are, in reality, hurting the poor.
Writing at the newly formed and quickly growing group blog The Liberty Papers, Robert Bell of Libertopia explains why so-called progressives really don’t contribute very much to progress.
It would seem, then, that the goals of modern liberals (e.g. state run healthcare, individual transfer payments, increased government pensions, etc.) are actually regressive. For the motivation of America?s founders was to move away from tyranny and towards greater individual liberty and personal responsibility. Therefore, in light of numerous historical examples, true progress is exemplified by increased freedom for individuals, rather than its antithesis, which flows from collectivism.
Speaking of The Liberty Papers, Eric Cowperthwaite introduces this new blog to the blogosphere:
We are a group of people who hold some very specific beliefs. We believe that the theories of individual, inherent rights and government of what is now known as classic liberal theory are the correct political theory. We believe that failing to understand the reality of market economics, individual motivation, and politics leads to tragedy as the world has seen so many times over in Russia, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Yugoslavia, Cuba, France and many other places around the world. The Declaration of Independence is not just the document that told the British Crown that its American colonies were an independent nation. It is a Declaration that henceforth men would no longer be subject to oppressive government that traded their individual liberties and rights for the paternalism of government. It is the best single expression and declaration of the rights and responsibilities of the individual, including the source of the powers of government. We believe that the United States Constitution is the best attempt by man to take these ideas and turn them into practical, political reality.
In the midst of all of the contemporary discussions about the Kelo decision, the Patriot Act, and the continuing attacks on liberty that occur on a daily basis, it is easy to lose site of those who shaped the ideas that we fight for today. Stephen Littau of Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds reminds us of one of those men in a post entitled, appropriately enough, John Locke, Fearless Philosopher
John Locke was a fearless philosopher because he dared to challenge the notion of Divine Right and advanced the rights of life, liberty, property, and religious tolerance for all individuals. Locke advanced his philosophy with great risk to his personal safety. By the end of his life, his philosophy began to take hold in the minds of many Europeans. The seeds of liberty were brought to the Americas and took root in the minds of colonists who would demand the same rights of the motherland. The free world owes a debt of gratitude to the memory of John Locke for the clarity he brought to the cause of freedom.
It was John Locke who inspired men like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry and who provided the intellectual backbone for the American Revolution. There are very few men about whom it can be said that history would have been different had they not existed. Without question, John Locke is one of those men.
I?m sure most of the FDA?s employees are hard-working scientists, doctors, and bureaucrats who do the best they can with what they?ve got. But these are human beings we?re talking about. In addition to processing millions of pages of material for every new drug application, they have their own lives to live ? they have to get their oil changed, mow their lawn, drive their kids? carpools, take out the garbage, and do all sorts of other things that will not be the impacted in the least if some patient they never heard of dies because some piece of paper is sitting on their desks.
Of course, nobody pays attention to those unseen costs.
Writing from a location not too far from the home of Thomas Jefferson, fellow Virginian Rick Sincere comments on George Will’s recent column on Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and finds not only a libertarian but a dynamist in the spirit of one of my favorite writers, Virginia Postrel.
Using the categories of “stasist” and “dynamist” is not the same as assigning the values of “right” or “left” or “conservative” or “liberal.” In Postrel’s typology, someone like Pat Buchanan, an icon of the right, is a stasist, as is left-wing thinker Jeremy Rifkin. Wal-Mart bashers, like documentary film director Robert Greenwald, are stasists, as are city and county officials who were among the few who were pleased by the Supreme Court’s decision about eminent domain in Kelo v. City of New London, and just about anyone who subscribes to the NIMBY view of life.
From Wayne’s World 2005 comes a report from someone fighting for freedom on the front lines of Iraq.
Freedom. One word but yet countless words could never capture its true meaning or power. ?For those who have fought for it, freedom has a taste the protected will never know.? I read that once and it couldn?t be more true. It?s not the average American?s fault that he or she is ?blind and deaf? to the taste of freedom. Most Americans are born into their God given right so it is all they ever know. I was once one of them. I would even dare to say that it isn?t surprising that they take for granted what they have had all their life. My experiences in the military however opened my eyes to the truth
Message to Washington: My freedom and that of my family and loved ones is far too important. GOP: Take the Democrats to the mat if you have to, but stand by your president, stay in Iraq until the job is done, and preserve this country.
Tom Wright of The Wrightwing explains how the War on Drugs has led to a legal system where people are being held responsible for what they injest rather than what they do wrong.
Our laws are a mishmash of over specific micromanagement. The drug war only adds to this, in this case, because now they are concentrating on whether the presence of marijuana in the drivers blood contributed to it. Our complacency with motor vehicles adds to this, due in most part to our thinking of driving as second nature, which it isn?t.
Our laws should instead just say that anyone that mishandles anything, motor vehicle or gun, Boeing 747 or chainsaw, any ?thing?, which results in injury to another, has committed the same crime. Presence of a drug or not does not matter to the outcome, but may be an aggravating factor.
And that’s not all from Tom this week, he also takes on the enemies of capitalism who have become “Gourmet Garbage Grabbers.”
They claim the capitalist system is so inefficient that they can do this, yet they ignore the begged question of why the system is so efficient that it can grow, harvest, transport, package and prepare so much food, so cheaply, that it is more efficient to toss out perfectly good leftovers than it is to retain them? (Ignoring, for the moment, undoubted government regulation that likely prevent donation to food banks in some cases).
Remember the controversy in August and September when gas prices started to rise to record levels in the wake of Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita ? Well, for pretty much all of us, those prices have started to fall to levels unseen in months, thanks largely to the free market. That doesn’t mean that the old arguments about price gouging aren’t still being made, and Marty Speck takes them on in a post titled Liberty, Justice, and The Price Gouging Fallacy
There is no such thing as price gouging. If you think you?re the victim of price gouging, you?re not. Sure, it hurts when prices go up. It?s supposed to. What that pain is telling you is that the resource you want is in much greater demand relative to its supply and therefore you need to conserve. Since you have a finite supply of resources with which to meet your needs this forces a reshuffle of priorities. In some cases you?ll forgo some less important needs and in others you?ll forgo the need you sought to meet with the resource that rose in price or meet it less fully. The relation between prices, supply, and demand is a well established economic law but that?s not the direction I want to go in this post.
Rather I want to talk about the relation between Liberty and Justice as it relates to the Fallacy Of Price Gouging.
Perhaps we should send all of our elected readers to Marty’s blog to read this post, maybe then they’ll understand how wrong they are.
The elections may be over for now, but that doesn’t mean that the arguing isn’t, and Matt Barr at New World Man takes on those who believe the Federal Government should get more involved in policing state and local election practices in his post Election Hijinks.
Those who lament out of control election fraud, as well as imaginary out of control election fraud, such as we have here in Ohio, should be cheered that the Justice Department is taking such a keen interest in dead people voting in Missouri. Right? Well, not this blog. The idea the federal government has any business passing and enforcing laws requiring “reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters” from state election rolls and should spring into action when state election responsibilities are “wrongly delegated” is preposterous and the second greatest affront to democracy this century.
Well said. The election fraud canard is being used by those upset with the results of particular elections and the reforms they are asking for would have the unwise effect of increasing the power of the Federal Government over the states.
Next, Perry Edelbus takes us to New York City, where Mayor Bloomberg, fresh off an election victory, is proposing the ultimate in statist hypocrisy,