New England is in full-on "storm panic" this morning. Hurricane Noel is brushing by the outer cape today, and the news has branded it "as bad as the Perfect Storm", so there isn't a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread to be found in the six-state region. Somehow, I think we'll be OK, but we are expecting up to 3 inches of rain and wind over 50 mph for most of the day.
If you still subscribe to Time magazine, you may have seen a little essay in the October 18th issue called "Libertarians Rising". While I don't have a link, there was a little blurb in this weeks' Liberator Online...
No, that's not the title of a new libertarian outreach pamphlet.
It's an essay in the October 18 issue of TIME magazine -- written by no less than Michael Kinsley, one of America's most respected and astute political commentators.
Now Kinsley is no libertarian. He's a liberal. And that makes his essay all the more significant.
Kinsley argues that two strong impulses are emerging in American politics: libertarianism and communitarianism. Communitarians, Kinsley explains, "believe that group responsibilities (to family, community, nation, the globe) should trump individual rights."
He contrasts that to libertarianism, which stresses individual rights.
Which philosophy -- libertarianism or communitarianism -- will ultimately win America's political debate?
"My money's on the libertarians," says the liberal Kinsley.
"People were shocked a couple of weeks ago when Ron Paul ... raised $5 million from July through September, mostly on the Internet. Paul is a libertarian. In fact, he was the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1988. The computer revolution has bred a generation of smart loners, many of them rich and some of them complacently Darwinian, convinced that they don't need society -- nor should anyone else. They are going to be an increasingly powerful force in politics."
Kinsley's article rehashes some silly and tired old falsehoods about libertarians, like that one -- the notion that libertarians are "Darwinists" or "loners... convinced that they don't need society" and so on.
But never mind that. Libertarians have ready answers to these fallacies -- and no doubt Kinsley is already getting a fast education.
What's important is that this article, by one of America's leading political writers, in one of America's most widely read news magazines, is yet another striking example of how libertarian ideas are rapidly winning converts, being taken seriously, and becoming a MAJOR part of the American political debate. And that's great news indeed!
Oh, one more *delicious* irony.
You'll love this.
Kinsley crankily says libertarians are "earnest and impractical -- eager to corner you with their plan for ... solving the traffic mess by privatizing stoplights."
Well, in that very same issue of TIME, there's an excellent article entitled "Who Really Owns the Roads?" And it's about -- yes -- the growing trend towards privatizing highways.
And the article quotes "Bob Poole, director of transportation studies at the Reason Foundation, a think tank."
Reason might be more precisely described as a *libertarian* think tank. And Bob Poole has been a libertarian leader since the 1960s.
"Libertarians Rising" indeed!
Ah, the candidate we all hate to love, Ron Paul (R-TX), has introduced a new piece of legislation called "The America Freedom Agenda Act". While it sounds
pure right-wing, there are some interesting points that are being made...
Even as his presidential race gathers steam, libertarian U.S. Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has introduced an extraordinary new bill that some are saying may be the most important legislation of our time.
It is called "The American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007," and, as Ron Paul says, it is intended to "restore the American Constitution and to restore the liberties that have been sadly eroded over the past several years."
This straight-to-the-point three-page bill is brilliantly calculated to win support from freedom-minded liberals, conservatives, and libertarians alike -- from all who have been alarmed by the growing authoritarianism of the past few years.
The American Freedom Agenda Act will:
* Restore the right to habeas corpus (the right to face criminal accusations in a court of law) by repealing the Military Commissions Act;
* Halt warrantless eavesdropping and spying on American citizens by requiring federal intelligence gathering to be conducted in accordance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA);
* Give Congress the ability to challenge the President's monarchical use of "signing statements" to avoid executing the nation's laws;
* Bar the use of evidence obtained through torture;
* Prohibit torture and arbitrary kidnapping and secret imprisonment;
* Protect the First Amendment rights of journalists who expose wrongdoing by the Federal government "unless the publication would cause direct, immediate, and irreparable harm" to national security;
* Prohibit the use of secret evidence to label groups or individuals as terrorists for the purpose of criminal or civil sanctions.
In short, the Act would, in one grand stroke, restore many of our precious constitutional rights and liberties that have been gutted or curtailed in recent years.
The bill is generating excitement and endorsements from across the political spectrum.
Naomi Wolf, a bestselling liberal author and journalist, sums it up:
"There is no way to overstate how crucial this piece of legislation is. ... A groundswell of millions of Americans of all parties rising up to insist on passage of the AFA legislation means that we are awake -- we get it -- and that we assert that an alert citizenry, not a whipped-dog Congress or a violently abusive executive, decides what happens in this nation still. ... I will move heaven and earth to support the passage of this lifesaving agenda.
"This is the answer both to those who say 'What can we do?' and to those who claim (actually, sometimes whine) 'there is nothing we can do.'
"[T]his beautifully argued document feels historic and has the ring of great power to correct great injustice."
Prominent conservatives praising the legislation include former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein, legendary Republican strategist Richard Viguerie, and American Conservative Union chairman David Keene.
Our friends at DownsizeDC have a Web page where you can learn more about the American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007, and, if you wish, send an email to your congressional representatives urging them to support this legislation:
(Sources: Naomi Wolf:
American Freedom Agenda:
In our things that make you go "Huh?" department, did you have a Jack-o-Lantern on your front stoop this week? Did you pay taxes on it when you bought it? Of course not, it's a pumpkin! Well.....not quite.
The tax vampires at the Iowa Department of Revenue are playing a nasty Halloween trick this year. They've decided to tax Halloween pumpkins -- on the grounds they are used for decoration instead of food.
Reports the Des Moines Register:
"The Iowa Department of Revenue is taxing jack-o'-lanterns this Halloween. The new department policy was implemented after officials decided that pumpkins are used primarily for Halloween decorations, not food, and should be taxed, said Renee Mulvey, the department's spokeswoman.
"Previously, pumpkins had been considered an edible squash and exempted from the tax.
"The department ruled this year that pumpkins are taxable -- with some exceptions -- if they are advertised for use as jack-'o-lanterns or decorations."
Yes, there's a loophole:
"Iowans planning to eat pumpkins can still get a tax exemption if they fill out a form."
Filling out a form -- the perfect bureaucratic solution!
And we'll round out our day with the long-running feature, why aren't YOU a libertarian...featuring the wit and wisdom of Dr. Mary Ruwart.
Should we "buy American"?
QUESTION: I'm a college student in speech class, and I have to oppose a speech that states that we should only buy American-made goods. What is your opinion on this?
MY SHORT ANSWER: People should be free to spend their own money in any peaceful way they wish. However, paying more than you need to by 'buying American' means that you have less money to spend on other domestic products.
Thus, by subsidizing inefficient American producers, you are destroying American jobs in industries that are more internationally competitive. Clearly, this is detrimental to the economy and the country as a whole.
* * *
Private ownership of the airwaves?
QUESTION: How would a libertarian society handle radio channel management? Without some sort of government spectrum management, all I can see is chaos on our radio -- with every radio entity trying to trample each other, including commercial broadcast, defense bands, emergency/rescue bands, aviation and marine bands, etc.
MY SHORT ANSWER: In a libertarian society, a particular frequency would be "homesteaded" much like land in the American West once was. Each frequency would become the property of the first to establish regular use. Indeed, this is exactly what happened historically in the early days of broadcasting. However, governments later refused to recognize the first users as owners, claimed the frequencies for themselves, and rented (licensed) them out.
Had radio frequencies remained in private hands, owners could sell access to the frequency (and defend it) just as any property owner might. Any radio entity that tried to broadcast over an owned frequency would be subject to prosecution for trespass.
As long as the power is on and the internets are working, I'll be here all day.