At the Democratic convention two months ago, Ron Reagan gave a speech in support of stem cell research. Joseph Sobran alleges that in the course of doing so, Reagan “inadvertently made a case against abortion.”
He noted that stem cells don’t have fingers, heartbeats, and other attributes of developing human beings. It was a strange argument to make to people who don’t mind destroying fetuses that do have all these attributes! Not noticing the logic of this line of thought, they cheered him anyway.There is indeed a lapse of logic involved here, but it is Sobran’s, not Reagan’s. Sobran appears to have confused necessary conditions with sufficient ones.
Posted September 30th, 2004
Gift of the Magi
Techno-magi, that is.
Crusade, the continuation of Babylon 5, is now at last available for pre-order on DVD.
The series, which was sadly and frustratingly cancelled halfway through its first season (I’ve read three of the unfilmed scripts – man, the spoo was just about to hit the fan ….), involves a mostly new cast seeking to find a solution to the little problem that arose at the end of A Call to Arms, the last B5 tv-movie (not counting the Legend of the Rangers pilot, the only piece of B5 tv-dom not yet released on DVD).
Hopefully some of the series’ loose ends will be resolved in the upcoming B5 film project The Memory of Shadows, concerning which series creator J. Michael Straczynski keeps dropping hints over on jmsnews.net.
Posted September 27th, 2004
Subjugating the Masses
My August 14th letter to the Opelika-Auburn News (not published):
To the Editor:My August 15th letter to the Opelika-Auburn News (not published):
B. L. Gravatt argues that Auburn should imitate the city-planning policies of Chapel Hill, N.C.
I lived in Chapel Hill for eight years. Yes, it’s a pretty town – but I have no fond memories of its arrogant, oppressive, micromanaging city government.
Gravatt maintains that property owners should be forced by law to make their property prettier. But this differs only in degree, not in principle, from demanding that ugly people should be forced by law to have plastic surgery in order to please other people’s aesthetic sensibilities.
The basic principle of civilized society is that other people are not our property. From this it follows that other people’s property – the fruit of their labor – is not our property either. Our right to impose our standards of beauty ends where their property begins.
Roderick T. Long
To the Editor:
I usually enjoy Jason Nix’s columns. But today he’s got three different groups mixed up.
Nix seems to think that neoconservatives, the religious right, and free-market advocates are all the same group. In fact they are not. Most of the leading neoconservatives are not particularly religious; after all, the neoconservative movement was started by ex-Trotskyites, and so unsurprisingly is dominated by atheists and agnostics. The current political alliance between neocons and religious conservatives in Washington is a marriage of convenience, not a love match.
And, more importantly, neither the neoconservatives nor the religious right are big fans of the free market – despite their occasional pro-market rhetoric.
Neoconservatives like Irving Kristol call the free-market vision of peaceful commerce “uninspiring” by contrast with their grandiose vision of an expansionary military-industrial empire. Their enthusiasm for corporate welfare and micromanaged international trade (not “free trade” – how could a free trade agreement be thousands of pages long?) is antithetical to genuine free-market principles. The last thing the corporate elite want is to be subjected to the discipline of the market.
As for the religious right, they have always been suspicious of genuine free markets. A commitment to imposing moral and religious values by force of law is obviously incompatible with the freedom of choice that markets embody.
That's why it’s no coincidence that under George W. Bush, the poster boy for the neocon/religious right coalition, the size and power of the Federal government have expanded enormously.
Finally, the labor legislation that Nix favors is unfortunately one of the chief causes of unemployment in this country. That’s because, obviously, when you increase the cost of doing something (like providing jobs), less of it will be done. Extending such legislation to the Third World can only perpetuate starvation and misery there.
Roderick T. Long
Posted September 27th, 2004
Shelter from the Storm
[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]
Well, Ivan has passed over Auburn, with less damage than predicted. My power was out for only 19 hours – compared with two days for my last hurricane (Fran, Chapel Hill NC, in ’96). Auburn’s email server is back up. I can begin to recover from my IWS (Internet Withdrawal Symptoms). Oh, and, like, cook food and stuff.
I haven’t been in to the office yet but I assume things are all right on campus. Tomorrow’s Auburn-LSU football game is still scheduled to go ahead (classes may be cancelled, but not the really important things ….).
Alabama’s gulf coast is in much worse shape – I hope my friends at Mobile’s University of South Alabama are OK. (More selfishly, I hope Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are back in shape in time for our end-of-October philosophy conference there.)
Yesterday the automated phone message at Alabama Power was saying that power would be restored “at 5:00 p.m., October 1st.” Happily, they seem to have gotten to things a bit sooner.
Thanks, Aeon, for sending me to that great photo!
Posted September 17th, 2004
[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]
Auburn University is directly in the path of Hurricane Ivan, so I will probably be incommunicado for a few days. Auburn’s email server is shutting down tonight as a precaution (so any email to me will presumably bounce for a while); also, power is likely to go out all over the area tomorrow, and might not be restored for several days. So farewell, civilisation!
Posted September 15th, 2004
Arms and the Net I Sing
It’s appropriate that the expiration of the misnamed “Assault Weapons Ban” is coming swift on the heels of the 9/11 anniversary. One of the chief lessons of 9/11 is that the State’s claim to protect its citizens is a fraud. There seems to be a growing realisation on the part of the public that if they don’t take responsibility for their own protection, the sluggish bureaucratic Leviathan cannot be relied upon to do so; I suspect that’s why the anti-gun reactionaries have been unable to get the ban extended. The future lies with decentralised civilian security, not centralised governmental security.
The current flap over the probably-forged Bush memos offers a similar lesson: the future lies with decentralised civilian media, not centralised establishment media. (For the reasons why even those who wish the memos were genuine should take cheer from their exposure by the blogosphere as forgeries, see Steve Horwitz’s excellent post here.)
Of course the ruling class and its apologists are just as convinced that civilians cannot be trusted with their own security as they are that no information can be trusted unless it comes through the Big Media. Whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
Posted September 13th, 2004
Today is the third anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On that subject I have little to add beyond what I said last year or the year before. The American Empire continues to exploit those attacks as a pretext for ongoing expansion of its powers at home and abroad, and continues to pursue the very policies that make future attacks more likely. The post-9/11 patriotic blindness to evidence and sanity that led the American people into the Iraq morass has thankfully lessened somewhat, but November will still see the election of a pro-imperialist, pro-big-government, anti-civil-liberties war criminal, be his name Bush or Kerry. (If it’s Kerry, the “Impeach Bush” banner at the top of this page will come down – to be replaced by an “Impeach Kerry” banner as soon as President Kerry commits his first unconstitutional act, which will probably be on the day of his inauguration.)
Today is the second anniversary of this blog. As of this writing, the blog’s main page has been visited 37,035 times (that’s 26,817 for the praxeology.net version and 10,218 times for the www.praxeology.net version). Add to that the figures for the archives, and the total for the blog comes to 53,392 over two years. The blog’s main page now receives an average of 80 visitors a day.
Today is the second anniversary of the Molinari Institute. Over the past two years our main page has been visited 4,449 times; our news page, 1,290 times; and our online library (to which new material is continually being added), 6,199 times. Last month we added a new Research Fellow, Daniel D’Amico; and our daughter organization, the Molinari Society, has its first symposium planned for December.
Thanks to everyone who’s been helping to make my blog and our Institute a success! (And to those who’ve been helping to make the American Empire a success: REPENT, and sin no more.)
Posted September 11th, 2004
Greener Than Thou
[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]
I just finished watching the Badnarik/Cobb debate. I thought Badnarik did an adequate job, but economics is not his strong point, and he did not seem able to give the kinds of convincing economic responses to Cobb’s economic dirigisme that a Harry Browne, for example, might have.
The remark of Cobb’s that most called for response, and didn’t get much of one, was this: “It seems self-evident to me that if health care is privatised, only the rich will be able to afford health care.” The fact that Cobb finds this “self-evident” is the most important failing on his part, as it demonstrates his complete lack of understanding of the market. The less affluent outnumber the more affluent. Why on earth would anyone market services just to a minority of their customer base? Why would anyone provide health care just to the wealthy few when they could make far more money by catering to the poorer many? Health care costs are driven upward by government-granted monopolies and subsidies; they would be driven down by genuine market competition.
Badnarik should have talked about the history of cheap health care for the poor before government got into the health care business, and should have explained more clearly how government favours the wealthy while markets favour the poor.
Badnarik did say that markets can achieve Green goals better than governments can. But he didn’t explain how. I look forward to the day when Libertarian candidates present their positions in the Green-friendly manner of Mary Ruwart’s Healing Our World.
On a different point: I would also like to have seen Badnarik call Cobb on Cobb’s claim to stand for nonviolence. What I wrote about Kucinich a year ago on this point applies equally to Cobb today: Cobb’s economic policies amount to an expansion of violence, not a diminution of it.
Posted September 6th, 2004