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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Monday, August 31, 2015

Anarchism 101

"The state is required in order to assure that people will behave well."
"What assures that state operatives will behave well?"
"No, that wouldn't solve the problem. I'm against all government."
"Hey, there's still a question on the table. You got an answer?"

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Libertarianism 101

If you agree with this statement:
If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. (Lincoln)
You have to agree with this statement:
If self-ownership is not right, nothing is right.
(Suggested reading: Michael Huemer, "Moral Knowledge," excerpted from Ethical Intuitionism. Also, Murray N. Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty.)

Let's Talk: Left-Libertarianism

Walter Block discussed left-libertarianism at Liberty.me. Here's the video.

Relatedly, I talked about libertarian class analysis with Scott Horton: here.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Self-Serving News Media

The gross TV over-coverage of the murders of the Virginia TV news people is patently self-centered, self-serving, and even self-flattering. People from all walks of life are brutally murdered every day, but they don't get wall-to-wall TV coverage.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trump Neither Smart nor Wise

Trump thinks the problem with government is bad managers. Open-and-shut case against him that is. Therein lies a confession that undermines his claim to being smarter than anyone else.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Here He Comes

Open tyranny will come to America in the form of a braggart with bad hair and a ridiculous baseball cap.
--Alexis de Tocqueville

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Unlimited Limited Government

One thing that bothers me about the idea of limited government is how unlimited it is. After all the acknowledged illegitimate departments are eliminated, what's left? Only the IRS (perhaps under another name), the police/courts/prison complex, and the military. Lovers of liberty are supposed to be comforted by that program? Those are the three most threatening parts of the state -- and they are left standing! (Minarchists may object that I assume the taxman won't face unemployment, but have no doubts about this. A monopoly state without the power to tax is as imaginable as a square circle.) I'd feel much better if all that remained were the department of motor vehicles and the bureau of weights and measures.

Minarchists may try to reassure us that the remaining departments will be strictly limited by a constitution. To evaluate that claim, consult the Public Choice literature and the work of Anthony de Jasay. Also American history.

Friday, August 21, 2015

TGIF: Trump's Trade Snake Oil

Donald Trump may think the media stenographers are out to get him, but if they were really doing their job, his head would be spinning. He doesn't know how good he has it. Or maybe he does.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Israel Wanted Iran Talks to Deal with Nukes Only

Opponents of the Iran deal -- the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- loudly complain that it deals only with the nuclear issue. Why, they ask, didn't the P5+1 talks also take up Iran's detention of Americans and its alleged machinations in the Middle East?

They should ask the Israelis.
It was, after all, Israel’s leaders who insisted that the nuclear file be addressed first and on its own, and who pushed back hard against any attempt to forge a more comprehensive understanding or grand bargain with Iran (an idea explored over a decade ago in back-channel talks during the term of President Mohammad Khatami). Last summer for instance, when Iran and the West found themselves on the same side against Islamic State (also called ISIS) in Iraq, senior Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz, who was head of the Iran file at the time, noted that Israel had pushed for and received commitments from “the Americans and the British and the French and the Germans—that a total separation will be enforced,” that is, the West would not negotiate with Iran on regional issues until the nuclear question was dealt with. Israel, in other words, demanded that the nuclear file be treated as a standalone issue—the very thing that it now criticizes about the deal. 
So writes David Levy at Foreign Affairs magazine. The point is that Israel did not want to risk a rapprochement between the United States and Iran, a prospect that could water down Israel's influence in the United States and in the region.

Iran had offered a comprehensive grand bargain to the United States in 2003, in which all outstanding issues would be discussed, including Iran's support for the Palestinians. Indeed, as part of the proffered grand bargain, Iran accepted Saudi Arabia's previous Arab Peace Initiative (2002, renewed 2007), which would have included recognition of Israel in a two-state context. President George W. Bush gave Iran's overture the back of his hand, having branded Iran in 2002 as a member of the Axis of Evil along with Iraq and North Korea. (This was a fine thank-you for Iran's cooperation after the 9/11 attacks.)

Friday, August 14, 2015

TGIF: The U.S.-Israel Conflict Is Finally Visible for All to See

Thanks to the Iran nuclear deal, something remarkable is happening in American politics: the irreconcilable conflict of interest between most Americans on one side and Israel and its American supporters on the other is on full display and impossible to ignore. In the past the conflict could be papered over with grand empty rhetoric about the two sides being in "lock-step" and the absence of "daylight" between them. But no more. The conflict is out in the open where everyone can see it. Iran should be thanked for this valuable service.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Regarding Amnesty

I'd be for amnesty 
were it not for the fact 
that improving your life 
while ignoring the state 
is the essence of 
(Click on image to order.)

Truman, A-bombs, and the Killing of Innocents

Seventy years ago today a president of the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a city full of innocent Japanese. It was the second time in three days that Harry Truman had done such a thing: He had bombed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The fatalities in the two cities totaled 150,000–246,000. The victims – mostly children, women, and old men – suffered horrible deaths in the blasts and firestorms. Only shadows remained of those who were vaporized. Many more were injured; others later died from radiation sickness.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

70th Anniversary of the A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, President Harry Truman's acts of mass murder against the Japanese in August 1945. Some 90,000-166,000 individuals were killed in Hiroshima on Aug. 6. The Nagasaki bombing  on Aug. 9 killed 39,000-80,000 human beings. (It has come to my attention that the U.S. military bombed Tokyo on Aug. 14--after destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki and after Emperor Hirohito expressed his readiness to surrender.)

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.