9/16/2005

Moving

I'm moving the blog to BigHeadPress.Com, as part of an over-all revamp of my publisher's website. The URL for that is http://www.bigheadpress.com/TheTimeSink/ .

I'll leave this blog in place for a while longer, until I work out a way to import the posts here into the new place.

9/13/2005

NRA joins the chorus

Also on Monday, the NRA saw which way the gun-rights crowd was running and got out in front.

In their press release, chief lobbyist Chris Cox declared, "The NRA will not stand idly by while guns are confiscated from law-abiding people who’re trying to defend themselves," he said. He added, "We’re exploring every legal option available to protect the rights of lawful people in New Orleans..."

Hmmm. The confiscation policy was announced on Thursday, the television images of people being disarmed came flowing in on Friday, and on Monday we hear that NRA is exploring legal options. Talk about rapid response.

OTOH, NRA does have the resources to make a difference if they choose to apply them, and while I can react more quickly, all I can do is draw cartoons. At least I have to give them credit for coming out on the right side of this issue, however belatedly.

I'm an NRA member, partly because most of the better gun clubs require NRA membership to be in their clubs, partly because NRA does more than anyone else I know to promote shooting sports and responsible gun handling skills among younger people, and partly to give me bitching rights. I'll be watching them to see what "legal options" they come up with.

GOA likes me

Yesterday I received a note from Larry Pratt seeking permission to use my "Boston in 1774, New Orleans in 2005" cartoon on the Gun Owners of America website's "Op-Ed" section. I said, you bet!

It's not on their site when I checked just now, but their last update was early last week, so I guess they don't have instant geek service. Or something. I'll check again in a few days.

The cartoon got mentioned within about 12 hours of my posting it, on LewRockwell.Com's blog site. Poster Anthony Gregory called me "the great Scott Bieser." Gowrsh!

Of course, with all this interest in that cartoon, wouldn't you know that my online art gallery, ScottBieser.com, went down for about 10 hours on Monday. My service provider said it was due to a power outage in a 12-block section of Los Angeles that included the location of their data servers.

You'd think a commercial Web service provider would have backup generators for a server site located in an earthquake zone, but apparently not. At any rate, this confirms my decision to host this blog site on Blogger.Com rather than my own site. Best not to keep all one's eggs in one basket, as it were.

9/11/2005

Doin' something else that needed doin'

Some of you might have heard about the heckler who told The Brain (Dick Cheney) to "go fuck yourself" at a staged CNN photo-op in Gulfport, Miss.

Here's the man's story:

http://opednews.com/articles/opedne_jackson__050909_physician_who_told_o.htm

Doin' what needs doin'

Here's a story that will make your eyes tear up if you have any heart at all:

http://lonestar-mvpa.org/events/2005/05_Katrina.htm

The only down side is the site recommends donations to Red Cross. Red Cross does not have a salutary track record of getting donations to where the donors want them to go. I would recommend finding other relief organizations to give to, if you feel so inclined.

And I will drink a toast to "Sarge," may his joys be many and his troubles few.

9/10/2005

TSHTF


News of the systematic gun confiscations in New Orleans hit me like a 2x4 in the face. I knew this day was coming sooner or later but I had hoped it would be later. But it's here now.

This cartoon will appear in the next Libertarian Enterprise, but I wanted to get it out asap and spread as far and wide as possible. Click here to view a 600-pixel-wide version. Feel free to copy and distribute, or post or link to your own blog.

If you are an editor for a print publication, I can provide an 1800-pixel-square version that's suitable for printing. Just e-mail me and ask for it.

9/08/2005

Another quarter heard from

Almost in answer to my plea for coherency amid the confusion, I find this article from Justin Raimondo at Anti-War.Com. Justin writes with passion but he also does his homework. Great job, man!

It's starting to look like the lesson to draw from this is that there are rogues and fools aplenty (both in government and outside but, it seems, mostly inside), and it's not all that important which particular rogue or fool screwed up the most. The smartest thing to do in a crisis is work directly with the people you know and trust -- your neighbors -- and don't look to government to save your cookies.
Speaking of news from "trusted" sources, I received the following list of what I'm starting to call "stupid FEMA tricks," complete with web links, and those links are all to establishment media sites, except for the one from FEMA's own site!

Just thought I'd pass these along without comment, and let readers draw their own conclusions.

FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/84aa35cc-1da8-11da-b40b-00000e..

FEMA turns away experienced firefighters
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/5/105538/7048

FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/05/national/nationalspec..

FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/05/national/nationalspec..

FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05246/565143.stm

FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15147862&BRD=...

FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/3/171718/0826

FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0509..

FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-050902dale..

FEMA turns away generators
http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/WWLBLOG.ac3fcea.html

FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"
http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=18470

That last one is real -- not satire but straight from FEMA's website.

Whutdefuckgwineonhere?

In recent days I've been getting an awful lot of instant commentary coming over the transom, concerning who is to blame for the deadly calamity that used to be "The Big Easy." Most of it comes from sources with obvious ideological axes to grind, much of it lays out "facts" that contradict other "facts" reported by members of opposing ideological tribes.

Democrat and "left" sources focus blame on the Bush administration for a woefully inadequate disaster response, and for diverting funding away from Army Corps of Engineers projects that purportedly would have strengthened the levees enough to prevent the breaks which flooded the city.

Republicans blame the Democrat Mayor of New Orleans and Democrat Governor of Louisiana for not ordering evacuations or following pre-prepared emergency plans, such as can be found here. Those plans included mobilizing the city's and school districts' bus fleets to evacuate people without cars.

Libertarians as well as some Democrats focus on the actions of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was brought under control of the Heimatsicherheits Amt in 2003. Apparently it was FEMA that decided to use the Super Dome as a refugee shelter, and then failed to adequately provide for food and sanitation for the people crammed in there.

(Libertarians also noted that when people were being moved in, they were searched for "guns, dugs and alcohol" -- that is, treated like either prisoners or commercial airline passengers -- which force people to wait in line for several hours in the sweltering heat which became a horrendous storm as Katrina approached.)

Details of what FEMA has been doing have been coming in at an accelerating pace. FEMA allegedly cut the local sheriff's communication lines; FEMA has refused access to the afllicted area by the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other volunteers (although Sean Penn got in somehow). Libertarian sources have said that New Orleans is "one of six 'Federalized' cities that fall under direct U.S.Gov. control during emergencies. This might explain why we saw all those buses nearly submerged under the floodwaters when they should have been ferrying people out of town, but why hasn't the Mayor pointed that out?

We've had reports of widespread looting, and other reports that say the looting has been isolated and most of it is people foraging for necessities. We've had reports of "thugs" roaming the French Quarter armed with iron pipes and knives; and other reports talking about how people holed up in the FQ have armed themselves for self-defense -- so which are the thugs and which are the self-defenders? We've had reports of rape of a child in the Super Dome and other reports claiming that was an untrue rumor.

We've heard denunciations of "listless welfare parasites" waiting around for the government to help them; we've heard reports of homeowners bravely (or stubbornly) refusing to abandon their homes and neighborhoods. Most recent word is the Mayor has announced a "mandatory" evacuation of the city -- this should get interesting.

Some libertarians have talked about government-subsidized levee-building, and government-subsidized flood insurance, and how this encourages reckless building in flood-prone areas. But another libertarian source points out the economic necessity of having a major city at that spot, because of the importance of the Mississippi River to American commerce, both outbound and inbound.

Frankly, I've been feeling rather whip-sawed by this deluge. There have been a few more measured observations such as this one from Jesse Walker at Reason Magazine. And there have been others that generally make sense, but somehow smell vaguely racist, such as this one from Robert Tracinski at The Intellectual Activist (an Objectivist site).

And then, there is this overtly racist screed from ex-cop Fred Reed, who is popular among many conservative-leaning libertarians and libertarian-leaning conservatives.

It's going to take a while to sort this stuff out. Frankly I don't have time to research every claim, and it's all giving me a headache anyway. I'm just going to have to wait for generally trusted sources who get paid for this sort of thing to wade through this deluge of reportage, sort out the truth from the sewage, and assemble it into a coherent report.

9/07/2005

Remember, remember the 30th of September

Sept. 30th is, of course, the scheduled release date for the Serenity movie. For those unaware, this is the big-screen version of Firefly, the short-lived sci-fi television series originally aired on FOX network, and more recently repeated on the Sci-Fi Channel.

The story is set about 500 years in the future after an interplanetary war through which the centralized Alliance Worlds established their dominance over the would-be "Independent" worlds. The central character is Malcolm Reynolds, who had fought on the losing side of that war, along with a an ensemble of very interesting characters who comprise his crew and passengers.

The series, or at least what we've seen of it so far, has very strong libertarian themes, especially concerning personal freedom and self-responsibility, has a lot of cool gun-play, depicts Alliance functionaries as the bullying bureaucrats we know and love from our century, and features something called The Blue Sun Corporation, apparently some sort of state-capitalist/mercantilist cabal, as a both ubiquitous and shadowy villain-behind-the-scenes.

Oh, and it is written and produced by Joss Wheedon, creator/writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So the writing, especially wrt the dialogue and characterization, is first-rate.

In many ways it is the Anti-Star Trek, and it's about time we got something like this.

The Browncoat Cartoonist says, check it out.

9/05/2005

Tom Paine Maru flies again

After what has seemed like an interminable process, my good friend L. Neil Smith's book Tom Paine Maru has been revived, revised, and re-published as an electronic book.

The manuscript for the original story, which was published by Del Rey back in 1984, was stored on 8.5-inch floppy disks in CP/M format. Fellow-traveller and self-made computer geek Bill Stone took the disks and extracted the data into a currently-useable format. Then Neil put some editing polish on the manuscript and handed it over to the inestimable Ken "Moose" Holder, who formatted the material into an e-book using the popular .pdf (Adobe Acrobat) format.

My own contribution was to paint an all-new cover, which everyone thinks is far superior to the artwork that Del Rey used.

Another way in which the e-book is superior to the printed book, is that Neil has restored several sections which had been excised by the Del Rey version, mostly for "icky sex stuff." Consider this the "director's cut."

To order this book, click here.

9/04/2005

The ethics of looting, part deux

Judging by some of the reponses I've received, I apparently sounded pretty cold-blooded when I argued against the notion that if someone leaves his property in flight from a hurricane, it can be considered "abandoned" and taking it is not theft, but rather salvage.

I maintain that position, but there is another level of complexity I did not go into in the last post which I will try to explain now.

If in fact Hurricane Allen had hit the middle Texas coast and caused damage comparable to what Katrina has caused, and someone desperate for food had raided my pantry, or grabbed some other necessity of life, I would take a different attitude.

I would still consider the action a theft, not a "salvage," but would gladly forgive the thief provided that my property was restored in some manner (replaced, paid for) as soon as the thief could reasonably do so.

If I were to find myself in such a desperate situation, I would take what I needed to survive or provide for my dependents, provided I didn't injure someone in the process. And I would acknowledge a moral debt to the person whose property I had taken, and once the crisis had passed I would go and offer reasonable restitution to the person I had wronged.

We have rules against aggression, and against taking others' property in particular, because these rules function to preserve and enhance our lives. In certain extreme circumstances, strictly observing those rules may instead serve to injure or destroy lives. In those cases it is not unreasonable to violate the rules in pursuit of saving lives -- but the rules are still important can cannot be cast aside completely, for once this is done those rules will never regain their former protective power when normalcy returns.

After all, we all have "crises" in our lives, and it is a slippery slope from "I have to steal this food because the town is flooded out and my children must eat" to "I have to steal this booze because I'm an alcoholic and I've run out of cash until next payday."

So, while we may forgive breaking the rules in extremis, we must still recognize that someone has been wronged, and the rule breaker is obligated to make his victim whole as soon as he is able to do so.

Take for example, the young man who commandeered an empty school bus, loaded 100 fellow flood victims on board, and drove to safety in Houston.

Some have argued that what he did with the bus was not theft, but salvage. I disagree, because if we regard that action as salvage, then we must agree that the bus is now that guy's property to dispose of as he wishes. But I dont' think those making this argument would take things that far.

I think most would agree that the bus still in fact rightfully belongs to the school district, and the young man is obligated to return the bus to its rightful owner, and make further restitution for fuel use, wear and tear on the vehicle, and whatever real cost resulting from loss of access to that bus by the school could be demonstrated. Perhaps those 100 people he rescued could pass the hat and help him out with these expenses -- and perhaps they would even be obligated to do so.

But the young man is not a "looter" in my sight, and should not face criminal punishment so long as he returns the stolen property and makes his victim whole. In fact, I congratulate him for taking responsibility for his own safety, and helping his neighbors, and not waiting around for some government functionary to save him.

(There is another layer of complexity involved in this case -- assuming the bus is owned by a government school district and not a private school, it could be argued that the young man and his passengers were simply recovering property which had been stolen from them in the form of taxes. But I'm seeking to explain a general principle here and this is a special case which does not apply if the bus had been private property.)

I hope I've made my position more clear now. Those who wish a more thorough discussion of such matters are invited to get a copy of L. Nei Smith's novel, Forge of the Elders, which has a chapter explaining lifeboat ethics in a pure libertarian context.

9/03/2005

Coke vs Pepsi

Over on the Fantagraphics Forum, there's been some discussion of the upcoming "V" For Vendetta movie, which is based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore. Moore's story had strong political themes, one might say anarchistic themes, and so naturally I involved myself in the chattering.

At one point I opined that "when the happy day comes when government is small enough to strangle in the bathtub," it will mean the end of corporations as we know them, as corporations are creatures of state power. I described this as an "anarchist" position.

I was challenged on this point, one of those left-anarchists who insist that you're only a real anarchist if you want to do away with capitalism as well as the state. I want to respond, but have been reluctant to do so, because this forum is not really a political forum, but one devoted to comic-books and graphic novels, and I can't think of a suitable tie-in.

So I'm going to respond here, and just leave a link in the forum so that people who are interested in following this may do so.

To wit:

Gavin's remarks touch on an on-going debate over whether one can be an "anarchist" while also supporting free-market economics theory. Such people tend to call themselves "anarcho-capitalists" or (my preferred term) "market anarchists."

Since we market anarchists want to do away with government, I'm not sure what else we should call ourselves. "Anarchy" simply means "no rulers," it doesn't have to specify one economic arrangement or another.

If one defines "capitalism" the way Marx did, as a political system dominated by the owners of capital, or simply as the system which has developed in the West over the last couple of hundred years, then I would agree with Gavin that one can't get rid of corporations without getting rid of "capitalism" thus defined. Going back at least to the Hanseatic League, we can see collusions of private owners of capital with government forces to establish trade monopolies.

But the system that evolved out of this arrangement, going into the 18th Century, was properly called "mercantilism." In fact, what we have today might better be described as a "neo-mercantilism" in which mercantilist corporations use Western governments to subsidize themselves at taxpayer expense and ram sweatheart deals down the throats of foreign firms and less poweful governments.

I think it's fair to say that in the past, many market anarchists have failed to sufficiently acknowledge the fact of merchantilist power and how it distorts natural market systems in its favor, although this is beginning to change. But in our defense I'd like to quote Steve Gilliard, who said,

"The reason that some of us are more concerned about government power than about corporate power is that Coca Cola very rarely strafes the villages of Pepsi drinkers."

The ethics of looting

Reports of widespread looting in flooded New Orleans, both by cops and the citizenry, has prompted a discussion of whether it's "moral" or at least ethical, in extreme circumstances, to take what don't belong to you.

One correspondent argues that if a big hurricane is coming, and a property owner runs away to escape the storm, it's perfectly okay for those who remain in the area to grab whatever they can get their hands on. This is because he has "abandoned" his property, and expects it to be destroyed anyway. Sort of like when you leave your garbage on the curb.

This is especially true for those remaining in the area are in dire straits, and _need_ that loot to survive, or care for dependents.

The discussion brought back a 25-year-old memory of mine, when I was fresh out of college and working as a reporter for The Alvin Sun, a small daily newspaper in Brazoria County, Texas. Brazoria County lies just south of Houston, and on the west side of Galveston bay, and has a shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico.

The year I was there, in early August of 1980, we had a "hurricane scare," which means that a monster hurricane was marching across the Gulf of Mexico towards Texas. This was Hurricane Allen, which at some points reached "Force 5" levels, meaning it was nearly as big and ugly as Katrina.

Doing my reporterly duty, I drove over to the nearest National Weather Service office, which was receiving satellite photos of the storm. As I looked at the sequence of photos, it appeared to me (and everyone else there) that the storm's course would take it straight into Texas, landing about halfway between Galveston Bay and Corpus Christi.

The weather guys wouldn't let me borrow those photos, so I took my Pentax camera and managed to take some pretty decent photos of the photos, and went back to report on what I learned. Then I joined several thousand other people in getting the hell out of there -- I stayed the weekend with friends in Austin.

As it happened, while the storm was still about 150 miles from the coast it took a sharp left turn and landed way down in Brownsville, on the Mexican border. Fortunately, it also lost much of its steam by then and so the damage and loss of life was relatively low. Ironically, my "safe haven" in Austin suffered several tornadoes spawned by this storm, although there was no loss of life.

Anyway, somewhat embarrassed at having helped prompt what turned out to be an unnecessary evacuation of Brazoria County, I returned to my rented house the following Monday, and things quickly returned to normal.

So now back in 2005, I'm dealing with a simpleton who thinks that since I "abandoned" my property and could not reasonably expect to recover it, I shouldn't have minded if someone had looted the place in my absence. Well, she didn't really put it that way. I related my story and she just ignored it, just repeating her insistence that if a hurricane is coming and you flee the area, you relinquish any rightful claim to your stuff left behind.

Well, bullshit.

When I fled Hurricane Allen, I had no more way of knowing what would happen to my home than New Orleans shop owners could know what would happen to the shops they left behind. And as it turned out, it wasn't the hurricane itself that has ruined that city, it was the government's poorly-maintained levies' breaking up that flooded the place and created the real disaster.

Sure, if you leave town under such circumstances, you do take a risk that someone might break in and steal your property. You take such a risk any time you leave your property. That doesn't mean you're abandoning your rightful claim to it, and it is arrogant presumption to think so.

If I'd found people looting my house upon my return to Alvin, I would have run the bastards over with my car, since I didn't own a gun in those days. This might not have been exactly legal, but it would have been moral.

9/02/2005

Debating Anti-Immigrant Man

I promised I'd post any response from the previous entry, and wound up getting into an extended e-mail discussion with Mr. Kinsella. Since we both seem to sit in front of our computers all day, the responses were fairly rapid, so things wound down after just over a day.

Thinking that the results might be both entertaining and enlightening, I've assembled the thread into a more-or-less coherent narrative, and present it herewith (since comments were interspersed through quotes in the original, I've added comments in brackets for the sake of clarity):

Kinsella:

see my followup here: addresses some of your points.
http://blog.lewrockwell.com/lewrw/archives/008794.html

the state owns property that it should not. it should give it back, or
privatizie it. but so long as it does not, what should it do with the
property? you tell me, if you know what they should do with it? have no
rules? some rules? If so, which ones?

I say some rules are better than others. a rule w/ a peaceful use fo the
property, --is better than an aggressive, criminal use. so no, bombing
others wold not be a good use of it. do you think it would be a libertarian
use of the property to use it to hamr others? How is my proposal suggesting
the property be used to *harm* anyone? Who is it harming? whose rights is my
proposed policy violating?

as for airports, is it reasonable for an airport owner to want to establish
safety standards? Geez, I wonder.


Bieser:

[what to be done with state property]
One answer you seem not to have considered, is that there _is_ no ethical way to determine rules on state-owned property. The rules are, and of necessity must be, determined by the dynamics of political power (whether autocratic rule-making or majority vote). To say that some rule or another is "libertarian" or not, is nonsensical.

[who is being harmed?]
Your policy would harm both immigrants seeking to avoid starvation, or at least a grim life of grinding poverty (or in some cases getting murdered by their local oligarchs), and those natives who wish to hire their labor.

[airport safety standards?]
So I take it you do not object to turning airports and subways into Bill of Rights nullification zones?



Kinsella:

[no ethical way to determine rules on state-owned property]
Okay. So you think it's equally libertarian (or equally unlibertarian?) for
the state to use its illegally acquired property to make a library, and to
make an IRS complex? Interesting.

[harm to immigrants and would-be employers]
does it violate the immigrant's RIGHTS?

No.

Does it violate the wold-be employer's rights? Well, you mean, he does not
get to set the rules of the road the way he wants? But this is unavoidable
when millions of people are co-owners of a resource.

[Bill of Rights nullification zones]
I don't think an airport searching you violates the bill of rights, on.



Bieser:

[equally libertarian or equally unlibertarian?]
I would say that _any_ theft of private property is unlibertarian. To allow that, well, the state has the property now, and we just have to accept that, and then ask the state to do with that stolen property what the majority wants done with it, is to condone the theft, all your protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

Now, given such a choice of course I would prefer a library to an IRS complex, because another library would be much less likely to cause me harm than a new IRS complex -- but I wouldn't say it would be more "libertarian" to advocate building a library. It might be "less unlibertarian" to advocate that, in the sense that it would be less "unChristian" to advocate Satanism in the public square than it would be to perform a human sacrifice in Satan's name. We already have enough people advocating the building of libraries, why should libertarians add their voices to the chorus?


[whose *rights* are being violated?]
I was answering the first of your two questions, "How is my proposal suggesting the property be used to *harm* anyone?" I think it's unarguable that restricting immigration harms immigrants and those who would trade with them.

As to _violating rights,_ well, the argument gets a bit more complex.

In the first place, in many cases it is not true that foreigners do not pay to support roads in the United States. Those who come in on tourist visas quite clearly pay sales taxes and gasoline taxes, the principal funding source of roads (well, supposedly). They become "illegal immigrants" when they overstay their visas, but they are nonetheless just as much victims of taxation as are citizens.

In the case of illegal humans crossing the border illegally, many of _them_ have paid United States taxes, indirectly. Mexicans, for example, purchase billions of dollars worth of goods from American companies. American exporting companies pay gasoline, income, and other excise taxes, and where does the money come from to pay those taxes? From their customers in Mexico.

So in many cases, immigrants are also victims of American government taxation, and are also deserving of "restitution" for the taxes they have been forced to pay albeit indirectly.

But this doesn't seem to matter to your argument, which also holds that, since "99 percent" of tax-victims support a particular rule for the roads, and one percent objects, then to hell with the one percent. I wonder how you would feel if the numbers were a bit different, as in fact they are? While it's true that a large majority of Americans favor restricting immigration, I've never seen a poll saying 99 percent feel that way. I'll bet the number is closer to 85 percent. But what if it were only 55 percent?

And ultimately, since when is violating someone's rights acceptable, in the realm of libertarian ethics, just because a majority of one's neighbors thinks it's a good idea? Ultimately, we're back to the fact that it is impossible to set rules on public property according to libertarian ethics, because libertarian ethics holds that true rights do not conflict under normal circumstances, and rights are inviolable. We are left, in theory, with the principle of use optimization, and in practice, with political dymanics.


[airport searches not a rights violation]
You don't? How about having random stops for searches of people walking along a public street? And if you hold that this is different, how is it different? We're dealing with public property in both cases.



Kinsella:


[Any theft of property unlibertarian]
Not talking about the theft. Talking about remedial action afterwards.

[accepting the theft]
I have no ide what you are jabbering about. Who said we "have to" "just
accept it"?

[condoning the theft]
Condone it? are you nuts? wher do you get this?


[choice between library and IRS complex]
WOO, WATCH OUT, you are "condoning" governemtn theft. What bullshit.

" because another library would be much less likely to cause me
harm than a new IRS complex -- but I wouldn't say it would be more
"libertarian" to advocate building a library. It might be "less
unlibertarian" to advocate that, in the sense that it would be less


Oh for christ' sake, let's get all semantical now. Jesus.

[libertarian advocating public library]
Are you saying you have no preference as to what the state does with properyt it owns--or that you have a preference but think you should keep quiet about it?

[what if only 55 percent supported immigrant restrictions]
then it would be less clear, wouldn't it. hey, tragedy is possible--alert the media.

[when is violating rights of minority acceptable]
that's question-begging. whose rights, exaclty, are being violated?


Bieser:

[where do you get "condoning the theft?"]
You wrote previously:

the state owns property that it should not. it should give it back, or privatizie it. but so long as it does not, what should it do with the property?


"As long as it does not, what should we do with the property?" At this point you are accepting the theft, and now arguing about how the stolen property should be controlled by the thieves. To even have such a discussion is to tacitly accept that there is some ethical way to deal with stolen property in any way other than returning it to its rightful owners.


[let's get all semantical now]
It's not just semantics. There is a difference between "causing harm" and "violating rights." There is also a difference between expressing a personal preference between two kinds of harm, or between two kinds of rights violations, and _advocating_ one form of harm or one form of rights violation, as you have done.


[no preference as to what state does with property?]
Again, there is a difference between indicating a preference between two "bads" and claiming that one of the "bads" isn't really "bad" at all, but may be a good idea..


[whose rights are being violated?]
I addressed that question later on in my last post. Did you get a truncated version?

And anyway, you as much as admitted that those wishing to hire or trade with illegal humans _are_ having their rights violated, but you dismissed it as unimportant, because they are (allegedly) only one percent of the native population.


Kinsella:

[accepting the theft]
I have no idea what you mean by "accepting the theft." How does one "accept"
"a theft"? What EXACTLY do you mean? If you try to express yourself
carefully and precisely, you may see you are making some errors.


[no ethical way to use stolen property]
So you think it's equally libertarian (or equally unlibertarian?) for the
state to use its illegally acquired property to make a library, and to make
an IRS complex or nuclear or chemical weapons facility? Interesting.
Whatever.


[difference between choosing between two "bads" and advocating a "bad"]
Whatever man.

[did you get a truncated version?]
dunno. Perhaps.



Bieser:

[what do you mean by "accept?"]
I am using the term "accept" according to its definition of "to accommodate or reconcile oneself to" (Webster's College Dictionary, Random House).

In the vernacular, to build an argument for the moral propriety of taking advantage of an immoral situation, is to "make a deal with the Devil."


[library and IRS complex equally libertarian]
I thought I had explained already that something can be more desirable, or less, from a personal standpoint, without regard to its "libertarian-ness."


[Whatever man]
"Whatever" is how my teen-aged son responds to a question or challenge that he doesn't really have an intelligent answer for. Is that how I should interpret this from you?


[truncated e-mail?]
>
Well, here is the section that you have not yet responded to, again:

>> as for airports, is it reasonable for an airport owner to want to establish safety standards? Geez, I wonder.
>
> So I take it you do not object to turning airports and subways into Bill of Rights nullification zones?< >
> I don't think an airport searching you violates the bill of rights, on.
>

You don't? How about having random stops for searches of people walking along a public street? And if you hold that this is different, how is it different? We're dealing with public property in both cases.



Kinsella:

[dealing with the Devil]
Yeah, I still don't know what you mean bye "accepting" a theft. As a
libertairan, I believe all theft is unjustified. I "accept" that some theft
nonetheless occurs, however. Do you deny that theft occurs?


[difference between "desirability" and libertarian-ness explained]
Sur,e then you waffled again. You are over the map, podnah--implicitly
adopting stances you accuse me of holding.

[whatever?]
Idon't really know how you "should" interpret it, but what I mean by it is I
don't think you are being serious or coherent here; you are facetiously flip
flopping and delving into irrelevant semantics and minutae that I don't see
it worthwhile picking apart.

[random searches on public streets?]
Never thought about it. Depends on the context and purpose I guess. Of
course,I oppose all public streets in the first place. Do you? ARe you an
anarchist, as I am? Or, rather, do you endorse the existence of public
property, and therefore the necessary abuses that come with it?


Bieser:

[what exactly to you mean by "accepting" a theft?]
I thought I had just clarified this matter, but I'll try again. The term "accept" has several meanings and shades of meaning. The meaning I am using here is, "to accommodate or reconcile oneself to a situation." The meaning you seem to be using above is, "to acknowledge the fact of a situation."

I acknowledge that theft occurs, but I do not accommodate or reconcile myself to the fact that it has occurred. I do not take advantage of the fact that the theft has occurred as a springboard to advance an agenda against some group of people I don't happen to like.


[flip flopping and irrelevant semantics]
So you don't accept that there's a significant difference between finding something more or less desirable, versus more or less libertarian? If that's the case, how does libertarian theory determine which form of artwork, or music, or literature, is more or less desirable?


[are you an anarchist like me?]
I've been an anarchist for more than a quarter-century, "podnuh." I do not endorse the existence of public property, although I should point out that this is what you are implicitly doing in your original article, your pro-forma declarations to the contrary notwithstanding. ("As long as the roads are owned by government (accommodating and reconciling oneself to the situation), we might as well take advantage of the situation by using majority rule to ban (arbitrarily-designated) illegal humans from using them.")

If we did live in a culture in which individual liberty was highly valued, and therefore roads and streets were privately owned, I would not expect to see random stops for searches, or "portal" emplacements through which people must pass. The reasons for this are that, 1) such activity is fairly expensive, and 2) people in such a society simply would not tolerate that sort of thing.



Kinsella:

[acknowledging versus reconciling]
I have no idea what that latter sentence means. No idea at all. Glad I'm an
engineer, not a liberal arts major, and use rigorous terms, not loosey
goosey poetic stuff. :)


[taking advantage of a theft to promote an agenda]
Okay. Whatever that means.

Look. The state IS RUNNING THE ROADS (and other private property). you and I
both KNOW THIS IS A FACT. That does not mean we ENDORSE IT. We both have a
libertarian preference that the best thing they could do is WALK AWY FROM
THE ROADS (abandon them, or perform some other act of privatization). But
they are not doing this and will not do it. So meanwhjile this means they do
run the roads; they set rules and enforce them. Now, it is obvious to any
sane libertarian that some rules are not only better, but more libertarian,
than others; and to recognzie this is not to endorse the continuing
trespass!


["libertarian" preferences in art]
let's just stick to libertarian stuff, k? It seems to me that it is
*libertarian* to respect the property rights of people. If a group of people
have a claim on a resource held by the state, then they have a collective
ownership claim in it; and their subjective prefernes to matter for
libertarian purposes. It is libertarian to want to maximize restitution made
to victims; and therefore, it is relevant to ask what their subjective
preferences ARE (which are a-libertarain) so as to maximize their
restitution (which IS libertarian).

[anarchist for a quarter-century-plus]
Hmm. I think you beat me by a little. I started around 20-22 years ago.

Good man. So you are an anarchist, like me? Whew, I was worried you were
just another minarchist hypocrite. :)


[implicitly endorsing public property]
Oh, I disagree completely. It is not endorsing the existence of the state to
have a preference for what the criminal does with it. If some criminal
steals my gun, I can 'prefer" that he not use it to murder someone; I can
prefer he use it to hunt instead of to murder. AsI am the rightful owner, my
preference matters--and is therefore relevant for libertarian
considerations. no? And does my having this preference mean I am "endorsing
the existence of the theft"? No.


[individualist, property respecting society would not have random searches]
Maybe. Who knows. But I am not a results-libertarian; I am more of a process
libertarian. Most old-fashioned libertarians are hippies and really care
only about having the ability to smoke pot. They would oppose a private
societyr where their local community privately bans marijuana; I would not,
at least, not on *libertarian* grounds. You're not a hippie, are you? :)

But I could see cases where more searches were done in private places like
this, depending on the prevalence of terroristsor crime. Who knows. I could
see nuclear weapons being *de facto* banned simply by the operation of
insurance companies refusing to insure you if you don't agree to not have
them, etc. I guess the results-oriented libertarian gun nuts would think
that's a violation of their right to carry nukes.

But if we did live in the society you mention, the private roads would ALSO
not be used as a means of forced integration due to anti-discrimination and
similar laws; nor would they be free and open to everyone. At the least, the
road would want people to get on, pay a toll, and have a (private)
destination arranged, where the person is invited. Otehrwise the person
would never e able to get off the road. So this means extreme undesirables
and the utterly poor and unable to work would find it practially impossible
to get on the roads anyway. In this case the immigrants would not be a
poltiical danger as they are now, and we would not be opposing it. Nor would
there be a state imposed immigration criteria that ends up artifically
changing the cultural makeup of the country. BUt as it is now, we have all
these things. Given the existence of these sad facts, open borders would be
cultural suicide and costly in many other ways as well. You might prefer
that, but I don't. Imagine what would happen to Switerland tomorrow if they
opened their borders. It would cease to exist. You might not care, but I do.
The Swiss do.



Bieser:

Well, I think this argument is about done. Time to stick a fork in it.

As I indicated previously, I'm going to put these e-mails together into a coherent "point-counterpoint" discussion and upload it to my blog. I think it should prove both entertaining and enlightening. I just set this site up a couple of days ago, and once I get this discussion up I'll be announcing the blog site to my various friends and associates.

[Kinsella consents to have discussion posted, after removing some digressions not germaine to the discussion.]

9/01/2005

"Not un-libertarian per se"

I visit the webzine LewRockwell.com quite frequently, as its articles do a great job of de-bunking mainstream authoritarianism in general and the neo-cons' arguments in favor of the War on Everything in particular.

But on certain topics, such as evolution vs. creationism or illegal immigration, these guys really drive me crazy. Case in point is a recent article from lawyer Stephan Kinsella in which he advances a supposedly libertarian argument in favor of immigration control. You can read the article yourself, or if you'd rather not, I'll summarize it: Since government owns the roadways whether we like it or not, then it is not "un-libertarian" to advocate that rules of the road reflect the desires of the majority of taxpayers. And since the majority of taxpayers want immigration controlled, it is not un-libertarian for the rules of the road to prohibit or limit access to foreigners.

Herewith is the rebuttal I have sent to Mr. Kinsella, cc'ing Lew Rockwell:

Interesting column of yours, defending the libertarian-ness of immigration restrictions. The idea that "public property" land should be used in the way the majority of taxpayer-victims desire, of course, can be applied in other areas.

All "commercial" airports in the United States are government-"owned." And the majority of Americans seem to like the post-911 security regimen, because it makes them feel safer. After all, if they were afraid to fly, the public airports would be less useful to them. Therefore, having one's right to privacy nullified in order to fly a commercial aircraft is not un-libertarian per-se, right?

Similarly, the subway system in New York City is owned by the city government. The new bag-searching procedures they've instituted since the London subway bombing is favored by the majority of New Yorkers, because it makes them feel safer, thereby maintaining the usefulness of the government-owned resource. So the bag-searches for subway passengers isn't un-libertarian per-se, right?

But let's look at the big picture. We have this enormous "national defense" apparatus which was financed by taxation. Naturally, as you argue, the default libertarian position is that the apparatus should be dismantled. But since that happy event is not likely to occur anytime soon, we have to deal with reality as it is, right? Now, having this national defense apparatus just sitting around doing nothing provides no utility to the taxpayers, does it? If the overwhelming majority of taxpayers want to use that apparatus to bomb the stuffing out of some hapless third-world country which has offended them, there's nothing un-libertarian per-se about that either, right?

If I get a response, I will post it here.