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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Friday, February 28, 2014

The State Defined

The state is an organization of mere mortals who, by one dubious method or another, have been allowed to don the mantle of political legitimacy and to command obedience on pain of imprisonment even of those who never consented to the preposterous arrangement.

TGIF: We Can Fight Bigotry without the Politicians

Should the government coercively sanction business owners who, out of apparent religious conviction, refuse to serve particular customers?
While such behavior is repugnant, the refusal to serve someone because of his or her race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is nevertheless an exercise of self-ownership and freedom of nonassociation. It is both nonviolent and nonviolative of other people’s rights. If we are truly to embrace freedom of association, logically we must also embrace freedom of nonassociation.
The test of one’s commitment to freedom of association, like freedom of speech, is whether one sticks by it even when the content repulses.
But does this mean that private individuals may not peacefully sanction businesses that invidiously discriminate against would-be customers?
No! They may, and they should. Boycotts, publicity, ostracism, and other noncoercive measures are also constituents of freedom of association.
Read it here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Op-ed: Obama Should Steer Clear of Ukraine

President Obama insists he does not regard the conflict in Ukraine “as some Cold War chessboard in which we are in competition with Russia.”
He’d be more credible if he were not following his predecessors in acting as though the Cold War still exists. Although the Soviet empire, including its Warsaw Pact alliance, disbanded beginning in 1989, Republican and Democratic presidents have pursued aggressively anti-Russian policies up to the present.
Read it all here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An Answer for Hillary Clinton

When Hillary Clinton refers to her husband's presidency, she likes to ask: Which part didn't you like, the peace or the prosperity?

Well, I didn't like his murderous bombing in the Balkans and Iraq, and his child-killing sanctions on Iraq (which helped lead to 9/11). I didn't like his screwing over of the Palestinians and unswerving support for the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine. I also didn't like his housing-bubble-inflating HUD policies.

What say you, Mrs. Clinton? Do you support those policies?

Friday, February 14, 2014

TGIF: Don't Get Out the Vote

A mass democratic system encourages voter irresponsibility. Because the consequence of any single vote is negligible, individuals have an incentive to vote on some basis other than an understanding of current issues — which would require, among other things, the costly acquisition of a grasp of economics. Voters, then, are free to vote their biases. This voter mentality is known as rational ignorance. If there are no benefits, but only costs, associated with acquiring information, why acquire it? (This could not be more different than decision-making in the marketplace, where people expect to bear the costs and reap the rewards of their decisions. This does not mean that such market decision-making is flawless; but it does imply that people tend to learn from their errors.)
Read it here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Op-Ed: The Lethal Legacy of U.S. Foreign Intervention

Americans seem to believe that once the U.S. military exits a foreign country, its moral accountability ends. But the deadly consequences — and culpability — continue long after the last soldier leaves.
Read the details here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The US Prevents Peace in Palestine

But it is hard to imagine what kind of progress can ever be made toward a just and lasting settlement between Israel and Palestine until Washington quits arming one side to the teeth.
 Chase Madar says what needs saying.

Friday, February 07, 2014

TGIF: The Cruel Joke of Sacralizing Voting

By now we’re used to MSNBC’s adoration of government, expressed not only on its programs but also through in-house promotions.
These are often heavy-handed, such as Rachel Maddow’s spots asserting that only governments can accomplish “great things.” Sometimes, however, the promos are more subtle, such as one currently running. Voiced by prime-time All In host Chris Hayes, the spot shows a series of colorful shower curtains backed by a sappily whistled tune; the final curtain turns out to be not for a shower but for a voting booth — at which point Hayes says,
In America there are many ways to express yourself, but only one that counts. Speak out.
The message: vote or you have no voice.
Intended or not, no message could more effectively instill passivity toward the ruling elite and the status quo. As Emma Goldman said, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”
Read it all here.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Op-Ed: Give America a Raise?

The standard economic argument against legislating a minimum wage is that no worker who is unable to produce an equivalent amount of value will find a job at that wage. So any wage mandated above the market-set level would harm the very people that the mandate is supposed to help.
We can see the logic of this argument, while recognizing that markets, being composed of people (who in fact don’t only care about money), never respond infallibly and instantaneously. Moreover, it may be difficult to ascertain what a given worker’s contribution is, so it’s possible that he or she might be paid less than is economically justified. But none of that supports a government mandate.
The only way to maximize the market’s tendency to accurately reward people for their productivity is to remove all government barriers to competition and self-employment. This includes occupational licensing, land-use restrictions, permitting, intellectual property, and more.
Alternatives, not political machinations, are what maximize workers’ clout and ensure their just reward.
Read it all here. The op-ed was picked by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Op-Ed: Obama and Kerry Jeopardize Peace with Iran

Why are President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry rattling their sabers while they are negotiating with Iran? Could it be that they don't want peace?

Read it here.