Economics Professor Steve Horwitz explains why this isn't necessarily true. A short video with some good information for a topic which seems to come up often.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
I'm sure some of you have seen this link before, but, like the comments section of yahoo or youtube do as well, this sort of ranting, and then commenting below, on the internet mildly terrifies me. These sorts of postings make me worry about the level of political discussion going on not only on the internet, but everywhere. Should libertarians be making a stronger effort to engage in general political conversation then? What is the appropriate response to massive amounts of belligerent misinformation. In the challenges I believe libertarians face more often than other parties, Prof. Lark gives a particularly good example. When a friend was listening to a visiting speaker give a speech, he calculated that the speaker gave about 2 factual or observational errors per minute, and each error would take about 15 minutes to explain. How does one then explain all the errors without taking 30 hours, or rather, so long that you lose someone's interest? Regardless, interesting post to look at, albeit possibly intellectually painful (too much caps lock and misspelling for my comfort level).
go Connecticut! Connecticut State Sen. Martin Looney (D-New Haven) has introduced a bill which acknowledges the right of citizens to record on-duty police officers and also provides for civil action against police officers who violate that right.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
In the context of the failed extension of certain Patriot Act provisions in the House, Glenn Greenwald argues that politicians only care about the government's violation of civil liberties when the opposing party is in power.
I know this issue is a little old hat, but I thought Reason.tv did a pretty funny job of covering the Four Loko/Joose issue. People already combine caffeine and alcohol - Irish Coffee, Mexican Coffee, Redbull and Vodka - so wouldn't having a beverage which is already regulated and made by a company - who probably has an interest in not getting terrible publicity or killing people - actually make the consumption of caffeine and alcohol safer? Regardless, watch the video, it's only a minute and a half long, and I enjoyed it.
Saturday, February 05, 2011
I was arguing with one of my more liberal professor's a bit after a class concerning Ayn Rand. I was trying to make the argument that force fraud and theft are the only true types of coercion that the government should be concerned with preventing. He, on the other hand was arguing that other types of coercion are just as bad (or at least that socialists have a strong case in saying so), such as the kind of "coercion" that occurs when someone is given the choice between some bad natural result, such as starvation, and employment under harsh conditions. I was on pretty solid ground for most of the conversation, but he stumped me rather well when he brought up the subject of black mail as a form of coercion. The practice is widely regarded as being equivalent to theft or assault, or any of the commonly held acts of aggression that libertarians et al. are typically set against, but it really has nothing to do with the use of force, fraud, or theft. It doesn't use any physical force against anyone, it doesn't use fraud (In fact, the whole point is that it typically threatens to declare the truth), and it doesn't steal anything from anyone. All it does is give people an opportunity, just like an employment opportunity does, that people can take up if they wish to avoid some negative situation such as not having enough to eat, or not being found out.
I have to admit, it was a pretty good argument (To be expected from the high-quality faculty we have here at UVA I suppose), and I am left to conclude that libertarians really can't consistently claim that black mail is coercive in the way that we declare should never be allowed. And if we don't declare black mail to be one of the few things that it would be OK for the government to ban, then are we doomed to be made to look ridiculous? Or does anyone have an explanation of just exactly why black mail is more coercive than employment opportunities?
A Wikileaks cable revealed that the U.S. offered Russia information about Britain's confidential nuclear stockpile in order to sign a treaty. This information will likely damage its relationship to one of its closest allies (thanks Dylan for the article).
Aides in the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee tried to argue that an internet kill switch was necessary because hackers could open the floodgates of the Hoover Dam and kill thousands. However, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which runs the dam, claims that such an attack would be impossible because the dam is not even connected to the internet.
The Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), of all departments, is shutting down domain names because of alleged copyright infringement. However, the affected parties are not offered any opportunity to defend themselves.