Monday, August 29, 2005

For the Closet Campus Conservatives

From the always humorous Mike S. Adams, it's National Conservative Coming Out Day.

Personally I tend to go both ways, if you know what I mean. But I suppose that would just put me in the conservative camp, wouldn't it?

Economics Lessons With Everyday Liberals

Trolling on Democratic Underground the lonely libertarian happened to notice a number of absolutely wonderful posts. "So," I thought to myself, "what could be better than putting some of these posts together into a little economics lesson for the benefit of all of us." So without wither ado, here are “Economic Lessons With Everyday Liberals.”

First, why not have price controls on gas? After all, price controls are an effective means of ensuring that people get all the gasoline they need. And they don't lead to shortages, or gas lines. It's not like prices play any sort of an important role in our economic system.

Next, there seems to be a problem with the concept of "affordable healthcare." After all, who would possibly want affordable healthcare? If the government pays all the healthcare expenses in the country, it wouldn’t just be affordable, it would be free. It wouldn’t cost us a dime.

Then we have the hurricane news. Apparently, price gouging has already been reported. I'm just shocked. When a disaster strikes, the cost of goods and services should remain exactly the same as they would be if there wasn't a disaster. It's just as easy to deliver SUPPLIES and there's no increase in DEMAND.

And finally, someone is upset about the treatment the poor have gotten with this hurricane. It's unfair that Mother Nature kills more poor people than rich people (see the Tsunami last winter.) It's unfair that rich people can just evacuate hurricane threatened areas on their own, with their own money while poor people are limited to government relief efforts.

Now to be fair, there are a number of reasonable and interesting posts later on in the healthcare posting. And someone actually does make the point that we don't have a real free market for healthcare in our current system. And someone in the price control post actually makes the point that we don't institute price controls for food or other "necessities." Just imagine if we treated every necessity the way we did food.

Before I go, let me just say thank you everyday liberals, for keeping my faith that 90% of all Americans and 95% of the left have absolutely no understanding of the most basic economics.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Iraqi Constitution and the lessons of history

Wouldn't you know it, creating a Constitution is a difficult, divisive, and time consuming process. (So reports the New York Times, registration required.)

Actually, the fact that there is any progress at all is amazing. In an America without ethnic differences and without civilian killing terrorists, it took over ten years to get a Constitution put together. And even then, there was disagreements, and even violence. (See Shay's Rebellion)

220 years or so in the past, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and the rest of the Anti-Federalists are smiling.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Putting new meaning to Slipknot's "Wait and Bleed"

Apparently, the band Slipknot (or perhaps the bands management) deemed it necessary to sue Burger King for copyright infringement over the fast food giant's new Chicken Fries campaign. (Thanks to Overlawyered for the link.)

If I remember my Slipknot correctly, the band's first single contained the memorable lyrics, "Inside my shell I wait and bleed." Meanwhile, Coq Roq (my, how clever) the Burger King band in the chicken suits, encourages us to celebrate, "One nation under Chicken Fries." Maybe Slipknot's biggest fear is that they'll mistakenly be associated with such a heinous proposition.

Ignoring the fact that the adds are absolutely terrible to begin with, the lonely libertarian still wonders what Slipknot was thinking. It's hard to see the connection between the grotesque masks actually worn by the band and the stupid chicken suits worn in the Burger King commercials. Hopefully this judge knows his heavy metal.

Hey kiddo, wanna Big Mac? ... All your friends are tryin' em out, and one ain't gonna hurt yah

This was the cover story I was bombarded with on CNN's Health Page this morning: Fast Food Clusters Near Schools! I noticed Randy Balco linking to local version of the story earlier in the week, but now apparently the story has gone national. How utterly disturbing. According to the article,

Nearly 80 percent of Chicago schools studied had at least one fast-food restaurant within a half mile. Statistical mapping techniques showed there were at least three times more fast-food restaurants located less than a mile from schools than would be expected if the restaurants had been more randomly distributed.

Unfortunately, somebody forgot to tell these researchers that large fast food corporations don't randomly distribute their restaurants. Or maybe not, as later in the piece lead author Brian Austin points out,

"We know that a great deal of thought and planning goes into fast-food restaurant site location," and that children "are very important to the market,"

One only needs to look through the article, and the real problem is articulated several times.

"It can be very hard for children and teens to eat in healthy ways when they're inundated with this," said lead author Bryn Austin, a researcher at Harvard and Children's Hospital Boston.

And later,

Children in Chicago are more than twice as likely to be overweight when they enter kindergarten than children elsewhere, so the study is especially troubling, said Dr. Matt Longjohn, executive director of the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children.

Complain all you want about fast food, but when children get fat, why should we look anywhere other than their parents. You know, the ones that have the responsibility for their health and nutrition on a daily basis. Four year olds aren't taking their piggy banks to McDonalds. And even with older children, parents that instill healthy nutritional values in their children are not going to have their children eating at McDonalds everyday. Or maybe they won't, but by the age when kids can make their own money they're almost adults anyhow. And if teenagers aren't going to listen to their parents about health, what's to make us think they're going to listen to anyone else.

This is yet another case of researchers going out of their way to blame a health issue on anything but personal responsibility. And is it just me, buclusteringsterring" bring to mind an image of drug dealers congregating around a school yard? Maybe that's the idea.

Vioxx, Juries, Science, and Law

Admittedly, the lonely libertarian has not followed the Vioxx story very closely. However, I do know that many in the legal and the scientific community are upset with the recent verdict against Merck, as Professor Bainbridge notes over on his blog.

The question of what to do about these terrible sorts of jury decisions is an interesting one. As any first year law student can tell you, in usual circumstances juries decide questions of fact and judges decide questions of law. Juries don’t decide questions of law because of a need for consistency, and more importantly because they don’t have the knowledge and expertise to answer legal questions.

It’s really an artificial creation, this separating of “law” from “facts.” It’s sort of silly that the legal profession recognizes that lay juries aren’t qualified to make decisions on law, while at the same time believing that lay juries are somehow qualified to make informed decisions on complicated scientific and medical issues.

This isn’t an all out call to scarp the jury system, because I’m not sure what the best solution is. And while Professor Bainbridge’s idea of having a panel to throw out junk science is perhaps a good start, it still leaves the problem of juries deciding questions they’re really not capable of adequately addressing. Seemingly, a jury would be far better equipped to sort out junk science than it would be to examine two competing scientific theories of similar intellectual weight.

Even with Professor Bainbridge’s solution, the essence of the problem remains. And that’s a problem that at this point I’m not sure anyone has a good solution for.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Walmart is A-OK with the poor

To all the Walmart bashers out there, please read this entry from Randy Balco's blog, the Agitator, on Walmart coming to Oakland.

There's really not too much else to say. Of course most Walmart bashing that goes on is often based on Marxist influenced critiques that tell us that the poor (or any of us for that matter) don't realize how we're oppressed, and that the freedom to work at Walmart isn't really freedom at all, but simple wage slavery. The point being of course, that poor people actually don't know what's best for poor people. As Randy Balco would say, if you want to believe that, I guess that's also your prerogative.

"Save us from ourselves," cries the New York Times

From today's New York Times editorial page,"The Lobbying Industrial Complex." (Registration required)

The lonely libertarian's only question is, why is it that concerns about the influence of corporate power on government is always met with calls for even more oversight by the federal bureaucracy? Just like campaign finance reform, it seems odd that the solution of the so-called problem involves unelected government bureaucrats watching over and regulating our elected representatives.

For the New York Times of course, more regulation is the only solution. You'd have to be some sort of extremist to make the point that it's the existing of complex rules and regulations that spur business and industry to try and influence government in the first place.

Lawyer Humor

Lawyer humor, over at the Volokh Conspiracy. And by that I mean jokes lawyers would find funny, not jokes about lawyers.

Of course, the lonely libertarian doesn't find that joke nearly as funny as his tee-shirt ideas from last year: Legal tee shirts with slogans like "Suck my fee simple" and "Legal chicks dig strict scrutiny." Although maybe that's just highly inappropriate 1L humor.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Can we say "gas lines" kiddies?

From USA Today, Hawaii to cap gas prices.

Mess with the market, and we'll see if anything good comes of it.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Mohamed Atta's "From Outer Space"

The lonely libertarian noticed this story a few days ago, over on and Fox News. Apparently a Lieutenant Colonel Jack Shaffer is reporting that documents from a top secret military intelligence unit called "Able Danger" have somehow disappeared. Apparently the documents identified lead 9-11 hijacker Mohamed Atta before the attacks.

All this top secret government intelligence work is a bit beyond me, but the name of Lieutenant Shaffer did seem to ring a bell. So the lonely libertarian did a bit of investigating, and apparently, a "Lieutenant Shaffer" was last seen piloting a top secret military aircraft while disguised as an alien in the X-Files epsiode, "Jose Chung's From Outer Space." (See script here.) Whether there is any connection, well, the truth is out there.

In all seriousness, one of the reasons for the success of the X-Files was the fact that the government does have top secret programs with names like "Able Danger." Of course, one of the reasons the X-Files was completely unbelievable was the fact that in real life, secret groups can't stay secret, and secret groups tend to lose their paperwork.

The Feds, the states, and education

Some local news with a national spin: State of Connecticut to sue federal government over "No Child Left Behind."

According to the piece, "The lawsuit asks a federal judge to declare that the federal government cannot require state and local money be used to meet federal testing goals." The misused term of the moment is "unfunded federal mandates," although that exact term isn't found in this brief piece.

The problem is, as far as the lonely libertarian understands it, the requirements of "No Child Left Behind" are merely attached to the acceptance of federal money for education. Remember, the Constitution gives the federal government no authority to regulate education. To get around this, the federal government merely makes the acceptance of federal rules a prerequisite to any federally provided funding. And this is the sort of issue that the Supreme Court is unlikely to find any problem with. The states rights justices should have no problem with the acceptance of federal money being based upon certain conditions, while the rest of the justices rarely look to rule against federal authority in the first place.

As far as the lonely libertarian is concerned, this is just plain awesome. Hey you "big government types!" It's not so great when the federal government is doing things you don't like, is it? Hopefully now everyone will be able to see the problems of having the federal government involved in education in the first place.

Well, it worked in '72, didn't it?

Ann Althouse, on bringing back the Vietnam protest ethos, hits the nail on the head.

All the noisy anti-war types got out in front of him [presidential candidate John Kerry], and he could never manage to find a way to talk to those of us who demand that the President win the war.

The lonely libertarian doesn't doubt it one bit. Kerry would have won the election if Michael Moore never released Fahrenheit 911.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Hey there gimpy, what's the hurry?

Following my ACL tear and the ensuing reconstructive knee surgery this summer, the lonely libertarian has an increased appreciation for the often maligned American healthcare system.

MRI? Scheduled the day after requested by the doctor.

Surgery? Scheduled for two weeks after doctor visit following the MRI- could have been scheduled one week later, but was scheduled two weeks later to accommodate my schedule.

The left always holds up Canada as some sort of shining example of a healthcare system superior to our own. So let's see how the wait times from Canada's system of universal healthcare compares with how long the lonely libertarian had to wait.

Just a few examples: In Ontario,the median wait time for an MRI is 22 weeks. In Alberta, the median wait time for an MRI is 7.1 weeks. And in Alberta, the median wait time for orthopedic surgery is 10.4 weeks.

If I lived in Alberta, I'd probably be getting ready for my MRI right. I'm much happier to be four weeks into recovery.

Does this mean we don't have to take the final exam?

On this final day before the start of my 2L year, the lonely libertarian has been sitting at home, doing his initial readings for tax law and watching C-SPAN's Washington Journal. This morning, Neal Boortz was on, promoting the Fair Tax.

Now, the lonely libertarian is fully behind the Fair Tax. Not only does it seem to be economically sound (criticism welcomed on this point), but it would eliminate taxes as a means of politically based class warfare.

But there are other reasons to support the Fair Tax, reasons that 2L's and 3L's taking tax law might find to be very persuasive. All you need to do is imagine the chaos your tax class could be thrown into should the current federal tax code be scrapped mid-semester in favor of the Fair Tax.

You want to sell me death sticks

Great piece by Jacob Sollum, questioning stupid smoking studies.

And to think, the lonely libertarian always thought that Star Wars Episode II was effective in encouraging children not to smoke "death sticks."

Everything I need to know I learned from South Park

More fun from Southpark Scriptorium. This from the season six episode, "My Future Self N' Me," when Stan's parents (Sharon and Randy) contract the services of Motivation Corp., a company that looks to help parents keep their children off drugs. Motivation Corp. provides actors who play the role of "future selves" of the children, telling the real children how drugs destroyed their lives in the future.

Sharon: It's just a little weird having people lying to our boy like this.

Director: Well, you know what us ultra-liberals say, when it comes to children and drugs, lies are OK. The ends justify the means. We'll take smoking, for instance. The truth is there's no hard evidence that second-hand smoke can kill but, we believe it's okay to lie about it as long as it gets people to stop smoking.

Sharon: Well that makes sense.

Director: So it is with everything here at Motivation Corp. It's okay for us to lie and tell kids that all marijuana supports terrorism. [a shot of a marijuana leaf superimposed over the burning World Trade Center] Or that... one pill of Ecstacy is gonna kill them. It's not necessarily true, but the ends justify the means.

Randy: Well I think when this is all over, our son is gonna thank us.

And from later in the episode, after Stan discovers that his parents are lying to him:

Stan: Aw, stop it, you guys! I know all about Motivation Corp.! All I've been trying to get you guys to do is admit that you lied to me!

Randy: Oh... Well... Son, we've just been trying to make sure you know how dangerous drugs like pot are.

Stan: I've been told a lot of things about pot, but I've come to find out a lot of those things aren't true! So I don't know what to believe!

Randy: Well, Stan, the truth is marijuana probably isn't gonna make you kill people, and most likely isn't gonna fund terrorism, but... Well son, pot makes you feel fine with being bored and... It's when you're bored that you should be learning some new skill or discovering some new science or... being creative. If you smoke pot you may grow up to find out that you aren't good at anything.

Stan: I really, really wish you just would have told me that from the beginning.

Sharon: He's right. If we use lies and exaggerations to keep kids off drugs, then they're never gonna believe anything we tell them

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The "Income Gap"

I just had to weigh in briefly on the notion of “income disparity.” I can recall a comment that income disparity today is greater than at any time since the 19th century. I hope such an argument isn’t implying that we’d be better off going back to the glory days of the Great Depression in the1930’s, when the gap between the rich and the poor certainly was much smaller than it is today. The entire notion that a small income gap between the rich and poor is preferable to a large income gap is one that tends to grate not just my libertarian sensibilities, but my sense of rational and logical thought as well. Very briefly, here are my thoughts on the subject:

The effect of income disparities on the economy as a whole is an issue far too complex for the lonely libertarian to weigh in on, and economists themselves are divided as to what these effects might be. Despite this, I’m amazed how often I hear that increased income disparities are not only bad for America, but bad as a general proposition.

The problem is, as a simple question of morality, there is nothing wrong with income disparity per se. Take two hypothetical countries, with all monetary values being equal. Let’s say in Country A the average income of the top 10% of the population is $10 and the average income of the bottom 10% is $1. Now in Country B, the average income of the top 10% is $100, and the average income of the bottom 10% is $5. In Country B, the richest make 20 times as much the poorest make, whereas in Country A, the richest make only 10 times what the poorest make. Both in absolute terms and as a ratio, there is greater income disparity in Country B as opposed to Country A. Yet where would you rather live?

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to the richer country, not the country with less income disparity. Of course, it could be argued that you might choose differently if the numbers were different, but that destroys any moral argument that large income disparities are somehow wrong. Obviously the example is extremely exaggerated, but the point is that wealth is not finite. Or as any economist will tell you, economics is not a zero sum game.

And there’s the whole issue of how to achieve differing distributions of income in the first place. Either you want the government to dictate specific results, or you don’t. Either you believe in letting the free market work, or you don’t. And if you want the government to take action to ensure certain results, why not go all out and make things as equal as possible?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Is "Unintelligent Design" too clichéd a heading?

Usually the lonely libertarian tends to stay out of the whole evolution debate. But lately I've seen an increasing number of references to intelligent design, such as this David Limbaugh piece arguing that the teaching of intelligent design in science classes should not be rejected.

Now I'm no scientist, but as I understand it, the theory of evolution is a scientific theory. As I also understand it, intelligent design, or any similar sort of theory, can't be considered a scientific theory because it assumes the existence of God or some sort of supernatural force that can in no way be proved or disproved.

Just because intelligent design attempts to fit a religiously based theory into the context of scientific knowledge does not make it in fact a scientific theory. I seem to recall a nonscientific theory that aliens somehow encouraged human evolution, yet we don't waste time in science classes showing 2001: A Space Odyssey as a follow up to lessons on evolution.

The conservative case for intelligent design always seems to be a bit of a publicity stunt. Maybe religious conservatives should focus on issues of religion in public life, like the posting of the Ten Commandments, that make liberals look ridiculous, rather than focusing on trying to incorporate religion into science.

A Personal Story for the Food Police

This Randy Balco post made the lonely libertarian think of the following personal story to tell the food police:

During my first year of law school I put on about 20 pounds. This was probably stemmed from a combination of a lack of exercise with an excessive consumption of fast food and other unhealthy snacks. A typical late afternoon lunch might consist of some sort of a large chicken sandwich, a large fries, and some sort of $0.99 or $1.00 cheeseburger. The point being, In order to relieve the stress of being a 1L, I’d order as much food as I could stuff into my mouth. I don’t know what constitutes a serving size, and I certainly didn’t care after a long day of work and law school.

Go ahead and have the government order serving sizes cut in half. Hungry people will just order 3, 4, or 5 cheeseburgers. People who order fast food regularly will know exactly how much food they want to eat and order accordingly, "serving sizes" be damned.

On another personal note, the lonely libertarian has taken off those 20 pounds in the month or so since knee surgery. How? Mainly by abstaining from fast food and other unhealthy snacks while changing my eating habits. The point of course, is personal responsibility.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

More Immigration Hysteria

The lonely libertarian usually loves economist Thomas Sowell. (His book The Vision Of The Anointed is the sort of book that should be required reading in high school and college.) Yet when it comes to immigration, he seems to ignore many of his own lessons in logic and problem solving. Check out as Sowell's Townhall column from August 16th.

Some choice passages ...

Bombings in London, Madrid and the 9/11 terrorist attacks here are all part of the high price being paid today for decades of importing human time bombs from the Arab world. That in turn has been the fruit of an unwillingness to filter out people according to the countries they come from.

followed by ...

There are thousands of Americans who might still be alive if we had banned immigration from Saudi Arabia -- and perhaps that might be more important than the rhetoric of the intelligentsia.

The offensiveness of such a suggestion is shocking. Banning an entire group from immigrating to the United States because of the actions of a select few is the sort of nonsense that should have disappeared with the Know-Nothing Party 150 years ago. Regardless of any real concerns about national security, such statements reflect a desire to keep people out of the United States.

If the only concern is national security, there are measures that can be taken besides outright immigration bans and quotas that exclude massive numbers of immigrants who end up immigrating illegally. For one thing, the government can do a better job of monitoring who they are letting into the country. Remember, all the 9-11 hijackers entered the country legally.

And beyond improved monitoring of legal immigrants, the number of illegal immigrants could be reduced by increasing the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country. To the lonely libertarian the solution is simple: Let more people into the country legally, and actually monitor the people you are letting into the country. Keep people out because they have terrorist connections, not because they're Saudi Arabia.

And, if like Sowell mentions, you're concerned about immigrants on welfare, maybe that should be a call to change welfare policy, not immigration policy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Just Say No! (To weighing in on Cindy Sheehan)

In yesterday's Opinion Journal, James Taranto exhibits the sort of classlessness that keeps the lonely libertarian from weighing in on the Cindy Sheehan situation in the first place. (Scroll down to the third headline.)

There's nothing much to say about this, except that our heart goes out to Mr. Sheehan, who has lost both a son and his wife of 28 years.

Mrs. Sheehan has also lost a spouse and a son, but specifically referring to Mr. Sheehan's loss makes a point that the lonely libertarian finds unpalatable. It's a shame that the anti-war crowd is willing to exploit Mrs. Sheehan's loss of her son, but it's even more of a shame for supporters of the war to respond to her in such a personal manner. Emotional exploitation by either side is transparent, and does nothing but serve to make the divide over the war even more personal.

The Constitutional Problem of Pot, Condoms, and Bacon Double Cheeseburgers

Why is it that the Constitution protects my rights to purchase condoms, but does not protect my rights to purchase marijuana or bacon double cheeseburgers? (This is a follow up to previous postings on both the right to privacy and the rights of drug use.)

Griswald v. Connecticut determined that laws criminalizing the sale of birth control were unconstitutional, under the auspices of a right to privacy. While not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, these rights could be found in “penumbras and emanations,” stemming from the other amendments. This right to privacy is a fundamental right, demanding strict judicial scrutiny. That means that any violation of that right must be narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest. In practice, no violation of a fundamental right will pass such a test. Griswald applied to the states, but its protections would apply to the federal government as well. It’s understood that the federal government could not ban the interstate sale of condoms under the authority granted to it by the Commerce Clause, because such a ban would be in violation of the aforementioned fundamental right.

There is no such problem however, with federal drug laws. Under the Commerce Clause, the federal government is well within it’s authority to ban drugs it classifies as dangerous. While condoms are protected by Griswald, drugs are not. Not being a fundamental right, drug use would apparently fall under a rational basis test, meaning that any law restricting the right to use drugs must be rationally related to a legitimate government interest. In practice, laws almost always pass judicial scrutiny under such a test. And anyhow, as health is a legitimate government objective, and a ban on substances that could be unhealthy is rationally related to public health, such drug laws would survive judicial scrutiny under a rational basis test.

Plenty of other substances could potentially survive judicial scrutiny under a rational basis test as well. Bacon double cheeseburgers are clearly not very good for you. Daily intakes of bacon double cheeseburgers could potentially be more hazardous to your health than daily intakes of marijuana. Under the Commerce Clause, Congress would be well within it’s authority to pass a ban on the sale of bacon double cheeseburgers.

This leaves us in the unusual situation where the purchase of condoms is a fundamental right, while the purchase of pot and cheeseburgers are not. This is especially confusing, given that from a historical prospective, the right to ones own body as far as food and drugs has been far more respected by law than any right to sexual privacy. State laws banning private sexual practices were far more common than state laws banning the consumption or sale of food or drugs for the first 100 some odd years of the history of the United States. It’s unclear why a Constitutionally unstated right to privacy includes a right to buy condoms, for use in the privacy of the bedroom, but does not include a right to buy pot, or bacon double cheeseburgers for use in the privacy of the home.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's a Small World

Much to the lonley libertarian's surprise, Stephen Bainbridge's Corporation Law and Economics is on the book list for this upcoming semester's Business Organizations class. The first thing that came to my mind was, "hey, I read his blog!" (

The lonely libertarian wonders how many other students are more familiar with law professors through blogs rather than law reviews. On the other side of the blogosphere, Tom Smith tells us how most law review articles go unread and uncited.

The lonely libertarian also wonders why it's going to be more prestigious to be joining either the Quinnipiac Law Review or Quinnipiac Health Law Journal as opposed to being the complete and utter master of this blog. At least a few people are reading this.

Die Hippie, Die

The following is courtesy of the Southpark Scriptorium, from the episode, "Die Hippie, Die."

Stan: So it seems like we have enough people now. When do we start taking down the corporations?

Man 1: [take a deep drag from his joint] Yeah man, the corporations. Right now they're raping the world for money!

Kyle: Yeah, so, where are they. Let's go get 'em.

Man 2: Right now we're proving we don't need corporations. We don't need money. This can become a commune where everyone just helps each other.

Man 1: Yeah, we'll have one guy who like, who like, makes bread. A-and one guy who like, l-looks out for other people's safety.

Stan: You mean like a baker and a cop?

Man 2: No no, can't you imagine a place where people live together and like, provide services for each other in exchange for their services?

Kyle: Yeah, it's called a town.

Driver: You kids just haven't been to college yet. But just you wait, this thing is about to get HUGE.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Idiot libertarians

Apparently, the lonely libertarian is an idiot. Or so says one of the threads on Democratic Underground.

Two things tend to bug the lonely libertarian, and neither of them is being called dumb. One is when the integrity of my political philosophy is being threatened. According to one poster, Libertarians are Republicans who want to smoke pot. Thank you very much, but I'm a libertarian who wants to smoke pot. The other thing that bugs me is being called a hippie. If I could hire Cartman as a hippie exterminator, I would.

Actually, what I really find insulting is the assumption that libertarians are all very selfish. I'm a student with no money. In my ideal world there would be no need for 3/4 of the lawyers there are today. But I believe in a libertarian philosophy because I believe it is what would be best for all individuals, for all of humanity.

The lonely libertarian must confess to a bit of a fascination with reading some of theses threads, mainly for the purposes of seeing the viewpoint of the "common man" of the other side. This thread actually contains a bit of an interesting debate, although I must admit I'm still a bit thrown by the idea of "leftist libertarians." (Or socialist libertarians, however they want to put it.) Libertarians certainly can have many different beliefs, but I don't see how they can ever be logically divided on the left-right political axis The whole concept of libertarianism is that it falls outside and defies the traditional left-right axis.

It's also hard to understand how someone could be a leftist libertarian to begin with. Regulation by it's very nature restricts individual freedom. And as a general matter you either favor regulation, or you don't. If you're just opposed to excess and unnecessary regulation, that would seem to make you more of a logical liberal, not a leftist libertarian.

There's no such thing as a right to privacy

This is a post directed at all the liberals, and the libertarians who believe in the concept of a right to privacy. Ignoring the Constitutional problems with such a claim, this is a philosophical and logical argument about the supposed right to privacy.

Follow my logic here: The right to privacy protects the right of individuals to engage in private consensual sexual relationships. The government has no business in the bedroom, as the saying goes.

Now, does “the right to privacy” also protect prostitution? (On a very random note, isn’t it odd how prostitution rhymes with Constitution.) Potentially, the only difference is the nature of the relationship in question. One involves the exchange of money for services, while the other involves a relationship of the so-called personal nature. The actions in question are the same.

So why is it that “the right to privacy” protects one sort of relationship, and not another? Why is privacy thrown out the window as soon as money is exchanged? Why is it that a romantic relationship should be free of government interference, but a personal business relationship demands the strictest of government scrutiny? Keep in mind that not only is prostitution illegal, but even if it was legal, it would be highly regulated and subject to federal tax laws.

Proponents of the right to privacy invoke the term in order to either protect specific behavior that is legal but controversial, or to strike down laws that restrict behavior that such proponents believe should be legal. A scant few ever mention privacy rights in order to protect all private behavior that doesn’t infringe upon anyone else’s rights. The “right to privacy” protects consensual sex, but not drug use or prostitution because the entire concept only exists to protect specific behavior.

Conservative hypocrisy is always very easy to point out, but liberal hypocrisy can be a bit trickier. Conservatives are often times quite rightly accused of wanting to impose their moral values upon the population through the law. And it’s quite easy to recognize when the religious right and the Christian coalition are up to such nonsense. The problem with liberals is that they do the exact same thing. They may not be using religion, but they are still looking to impose a value system upon the population through the law.

So whether you oppose gay marriage, drugs, or prostitution through the legal system, ask yourself why your values should be imposed upon everyone else.

More of the War On Common Sense

For more brain dead information from our government on drugs and alcohol, check outThe Cool Spot: The Young Teen's Place For Information On Alcohol And Resisting Peer Pressure

It's such a stupid site, and I can't begin to describe how many problems I have with it. For one thing the little quiz question, designed to make kids think that most teenagers don't drink, is completely rigged. Of course, most 12 and 13 year olds don't drink. Throwing them into the same category as 17 year olds is bound to give you skewed results. If less than 2 out 10 12-17 year olds drink, what would that number be for 16 and 17 year olds I wonder.

Even more ridiculous is the example of "spoken peer pressure" :

Girl 1: Hey, come drink with us!

Girl 2: Yeah, it'll be more fun than sitting in the library. Don't be a loser and sit here reading.

God help all the raging alcoholics created by this and similar situations.

The problem with the website is two-fold.

1) It's a government website. A private organization with a ridiculous website is one thing, but the government .. well .. it's not that I expect the government to have more sense, it's just that it's always disturbing to find the government taking positions on social issues. Why is it okay for the government to tell us that all 17 year old drinking is wrong, but not okay for the government to tell us that homosexuality is wrong? The point is, in both cases it's stupid, and the government should butt out.

2) For those concerned about drug and alcohol abuse, this is the exact wrong way to go about things. Misinformation and propaganda are not the way to teach children anything. Be honest, and be clear about the difference between responsible use and abuse. What's crazy is how this distinction is ignored.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Walken for prez?

The lonely libertarian is somewhat skeptical as to whether or not this is true, but apparently Christopher Walken is running for president. It was linked to via Instapundit, but Glenn Reynolds is on vacation.

If the Walken campaign is a matter of fact, than it should be a goldmine for humor. Blogger Impacted Wisdom Truth already has the ball rolling. I think I'd vote for more cowbell.

Conservatives, Liberals, Libertarians, everyone is wrong about searches of subway passengers

Conservatives, bending over backward to defend the NYPD's random seraches of people boarding New York subways.

This issue has come to forefront in the wake of the ACLU’s lawsuit against the NYPD’s policy of random searches for those attempting to make use of the public transportation in the city. While many so-called civil libertarians have jumped all over this policy as a violation of Constitutional rights, many conservatives and moderate liberals have jumped to the policies defense, using some form of a “wartime” justification.

Of course, saying we should permit such searches because of a war on terror that could go on indefinitely is just as preposterous as saying we shouldn't take precautions to protect our mass transit system. The fact of the matter is we don’t need the London bombings or 9-11 to make such searches Constitutional. It’s a simple matter of a 4th Amendment that protects us against illegal search and seizure. The lonely libertarian finds it hard as a practical matter to find an optional search as an illegal one. If you don't want to be searched, don't take the subway. If you don’t want to make use of such a public accommodation, then you don’t have to.

Just imagine visiting the White House. What makes the White House, a public building, owned by the government any different than a public subway, owned by the government? Everyone agrees that people can't just waltz into the White House without some sort of search, so what makes the subway any different?

The idea that we somehow have a right to public transportation may have been invented in the mind of some ACLU member, but it’s certainly not in the Constitution. When the government provides an optional service, it is well within its power to protect that service accordingly. Keep in mind, the roads and highways, all publicly owned, are a very different matter from public transportation. First, there's the practical matter of how to conduct optional searches along the highway- What do you do with the people who refuse? And beyond those practical concerns, there's the fact that refusal of any sort of an optional search along the highway would effectively restrict the right to travel.

But limiting access to the subway is not impractical, nor does it restrict the exercise of any fundamental rights.

Is the lonely libertarian wrong too? (More about the Drug War)

Interesting post from the Jawa Report: Why Everybody Is Wrong About the Drug War. I wonder if I'm included with that "everybody."

This post sort of stumbles around the most important issue, and that's the distinction between law and morality. That may sound like a somewhat shocking statement to make, but keep in mind- All law should be moral, but all morals need not be law.

The lonely libertarian is often asked the question of why drugs should be legalized. The problem is, it's the wrong question. It puts the onus on those of us demanding change to provide excess reasons why current laws should be changed, while keeping drug prohibitionists from having to answer the question, "Why should we criminalize drugs in the first place?" And that's always the sort of question we should be asking in a free society to begin with. We should be asking why government should restrict us before we ask why government shouldn't restrict us.

The lonely libertarian's persexperiencesences with the morality of drug use are a perfect example of why not to criminalize in the first place. I've waffled, flipped back and forth over the morality of using the drugs we consider to be "harder." Positions of morality relating to personal choices can change, and often do change over the course of people's lifetimes, but the law has to remain consistent.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Universal Health Care?

The lonely libertarian noticed this post on universal health care a while back on Democratic Underground.

It’s notable for the sheer number of posters who weighed in on the subject. And for all the postings, despite the supposed intellectual superiority of the left, not one person manages to weigh in with any sort of real constructive comment.

Any debate over universal health care should be about comparing a national system of universal healthcare with our current system. The issue is not, “Is it desirable to have all Americans have adequate healthcare?” because just about everyone wants adequate healthcare for everyone. The question should be, “What system is best geared toward delivering the most efficient healthcare to the most Americans?”

Of course, not one of the liberal posters brings that up, nor does anyone post about how mandatory national healthcare would be more efficient than a private system. Just think of universal health care in relation to food. Nobody wants people starving on the street, and everyone wants all Americans to have enough food to eat. But that doesn’t mean the government should be in charge of all food distribution. We recognize that the free market is the most efficient way to ensure food distribution, and therefore that’s the system we utilize to ensure people get enough to eat. What makes healthcare different than food and basic nutrition needs? Government food distribution brings to mind Soviet bread lines. But again, these sorts of issues are never discussed, never debated.

Return of the lonely libertarian

The lonely libertarian has been laid up over the past several weeks following reconstructive knee surgery and the ensuing recovery. While I haven't had time to blog, I have had time to lie around watching plenty of CSPAN2's Book TV One program in particular, basically an anti-war sort of panel with various liberal authors, caught my attention. And the good old saying, "You can't bring democracy with a barrel of a gun" reared it's ugly head as the authors lambasted the war effort in Iraq.

The problem with the "You can't bring freedom at the barrel of a gun" argument is that it's just plain wrong. All you have to do is think back to World War II to find two nations (Germany and Japan) with little history of democracy that essentially had democracy forced upon them.

That's not to say that you can always bring democracy to an oppressed people through military force. Quite the contrary, the point is that each situation, each culture is different. Sometimes democracy can be "imposed" through military force. Other times it can't. In Iraq, the point is to consider the factors in the long run, that will make the democratic experiment likely to be a success or a failure.

When the anti-war crowd throws out "You can't bring democracy at the barrel of a gun!" as some sort of rallying cry, their doing a disservice to their own point of view. They're avoiding debate, and falling back on a supposed moral absolute that's flawed. As the lonely libertarian has noted time and time again, the question of success or failure in Iraq is one open for debate, but it needs to be debated on the facts. Maybe it will be successful (which is what the lonely libertarian thinks), and maybe it won't be, but the issue is not one to be lightly tossed aside with a self-righteous, feel-good sort of phrase.