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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: November 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

John Locke, Fearless Philosopher

John Locke was born August 29, 1632 in Wrington, England. His father served as captain of horse in the parliamentary army during the English Civil War. Locke’s father’s stature allowed him educational opportunities many English children could only imagine. Locke began his education at Westminster school in 1646. As a junior (1652), Locke attended Christ Church, Oxford where he studied the philosophy of Aristotle but preferred Descartes’ theories.

In 1666 Locke’s interests turned to science. Two years later he was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society. Around this time Locke had a chance encounter with Lord Ashley. Lord Ashley was so impressed with Locke that he asked Locke to go with him to London and work as his personal physician. This job offer turned out to be much more than an opportunity to be the doctor for one of England’s wealthiest men; Locke was brought to the pinnacle of English society and politics. When Lord Ashley became the Earl of Shaftesbury in 1672, Locke’s stature was raised even more.

In 1674 Shaftesbury left the government and Locke Returned to Oxford to complete his Bachelor of medicine degree and medical license. Shortly thereafter Locke moved to France because of the warmer climate for health reasons. Locke used this opportunity to study the French culture in general and French Protestantism in particular. At this time, the Edict of Nantes, a policy of religious tolerance, was in force. Locke wrote his observations in a journal, many of which would later become part of his essay titled: An Essay concerning Human Understanding.

In 1679 Locke returned to England and briefly served Shaftesbury holding another public office rife with turmoil. Whether or not Locke was involved in any wrong-doing is not clear but in politics, perception becomes reality whether the perceptions are true or not. Fearing for his personal safety, Locke left England and settled in Holland in 1683. Though he was out of England, Locke was still within the reach of English authorities. Locke became a vagabond assuming aliases, meeting with his friends secretly, and generally keeping a low profile.

While in Holland, Locke met other English fugitives who were preparing for an English revolution. The liberal theologian and scholar Philip van Limroch, was among the revolutionaries and became a close friend of Locke’s. A short time later, a more liberal government took hold in England after King James II was deposed in what historians would later refer to as The Glorious Revolution of 1688. The balance of power shifted from the king to the Parliament. Locke was no longer an enemy of the state but welcomed back with open arms for his dedication to the cause of liberty.

Locke returned to England in February of 1689. The new government wanted him to serve as an ambassador to either Berlin or Vienna but this time Locke decided to serve at home as commissioner of appeals. Locke’s final public office he served as commissioner of trade and appeals from 1696 to 1700. Four years after retiring from public service, the man whose philosophy concerning life, liberty, property and religious tolerance which partially inspired a revolution in England, died October 28, 1704 at the age of 72. Locke’s influence did not stop in England however. Locke’s works inspired the American Revolution and the French Revolution nearly a century later and continues to inspire great thinkers today.

Locke’s Writings
Locke’s Writings are as relevant now as they where in the late 17th century. As I scanned over sections of his Two Treatises of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration, I found some valuable passages explaining the role of government, rights of the individual, and perhaps the most compelling case for church and state separation from a Christian point-of-view that should make sense to people of all beliefs. This is by no means an exhaustive review of Locke’s works but a mere sample. For the readers’ convenience, I have broken down these passages by topic from these two works. From Two Treatise of Government: Of the State of War, Of Property, Of Paternal Power, and Of the Extent of the Legislative Power. The remaining passages are from Toleration.

From Two Treatises of Government, Of the State of War (Chapter III) :

Sec. 16. THE state of war is a state of enmity and destruction: and therefore declaring by word or action, not a passionate and hasty, but a sedate settled design upon another man's life, puts him in a state of war with him against whom he has declared such an intention, and so has exposed his life to the other's power to be taken away by him, or any one that joins with him in his defence, and espouses his quarrel; it being reasonable and just, I should have a right to destroy that which threatens me with destruction: for, by the fundamental law of nature, man being to be preserved as much as possible, when all cannot be preserved, the safety of the innocent is to be preferred: and one may destroy a man who makes war upon him, or has discovered an enmity to his being, for the same reason that he may kill a wolf or a lion; because such men are not under the ties of the commonlaw of reason, have no other rule, but that of force and violence, and so may be treated as beasts of prey, those dangerous and noxious creatures, that will be sure to destroy him whenever he falls into their power.

This is the kind of reasoning we should embrace in this war on terror. The Islamofascists have clearly stated their intentions to make war against the United States and Israel time and time again. Iran politicians continue to chant “Death to Israel; Death to America.” These people want us dead; therefore we have the right to defend ourselves. Based on Locke’s war philosophy, attacking Iraq was absolutely the right action to take whether or not WMD was present at the time. Saddam used these weapons on his enemies and on his own people and repeatedly violated the terms of the end of the first Gulf War. This constituted a perceived threat to the life, liberty, and property of Americans, especially in wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11 (although Al Qaeda apparently had no operational ties with Iraq and likely had no role in the attacks).

Rather than focus on one state power warring against another, Locke defines the state of war on the individual basis. What is moral for the state is moral for the individual: a state of war occurs when one’s life, liberty, or property is threatened by another.

Sec. 17. And hence it is, that he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power, does thereby put himself into a state of war with him; it being to be understood as a declaration of a design upon his life: for I have reason to conclude, that he who would get me into his power without my consent, would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a fancy to it; for no body can desire to have me in his absolute power, unless it be to compel me by force to that which is against the right of my freedom, i.e. make me a slave. To be free from such force is the only security of my preservation; and reason bids me look on him, as an enemy to my preservation, who would take away that freedom which is the fence to it; so that he who makes an attempt to enslave me, thereby puts himself into a state of war with me. He that, in the state of nature, would take away the freedom that belongs to any one in that state, must necessarily be supposed to have a foundation of all the rest; as he that in the state of society, would take away the freedom belonging to those of that society or commonwealth, must be supposed to design to take away from them every thing else, and so be looked on as in a state of war.

Section 17 raises a couple of other issues. Locke continues on the theme that when someone takes or threatens to take liberty from another, the aggressor has brought about a state of war. In this case, Locke deals directly with slavery. Anyone who enslaves another should expect retaliation. Based on this logic, it is very clear to me that ‘selective’ service and conscriptions are in themselves acts of war because conscription is a form of slavery (according to the previous section). Individuals ought not be forced into service for his or her country. If a national security threat is perceived by enough individuals, they will volunteer to protect their country against the state of war brought against it (our military is and always should be a voluntary force).

Sec. 18. This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief, who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life, any farther than, by the use of force, so to get him in his power, as to take away his money, or what he pleases, from him; because using force, where he has no right, to get me into his power, let his pretence be what it will, I have no reason to suppose, that he, who would take away my liberty, would not, when he had me in his power, take away every thing else. And therefore it is lawful for me to treat him as one who has put himself into a state of war with me, i.e. kill him if I can; for to that hazard does he justly expose himself, whoever introduces a state of war, and is aggressor in it.
In other words, the aggressor must be prepared to die as the aggressor no longer has the right to his life while putting another in a state of war. This is why the individual has the right to bear arms – to defend himself when another brings a state of war against his life, liberty, or property.
From Two Treatises of Government, Of Property (Chapter V):

Sec. 27. Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men: for this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others.
This should be required reading for anyone appointed to the courts. Maybe this is not to the letter of the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment, but I think the spirit of the amendment can be summed up in this section of Locke’s Treatise. Then again, this concept might be too difficult for many politicians to understand. This means the government has no right to take my house, tell me what I can or cannot put in my body, or require me to extend my life longer than I choose. My property is not the government’s but mine alone. The only time the government or anyone else can deny my life, liberty, or property is when I bring about a state of war against another. Seems pretty logical to me.

From Two Treatises of Government, Of Paternal Power (Chapter VI):

Sec. 54. Though I have said above, Chap. II. That all men by nature are equal, I cannot be supposed to understand all sorts of equality: age or virtue may give men a just precedency: excellency of parts and merit may place others above the common level: birth may subject some, and alliance or benefits others, to pay an observance to those to whom nature, gratitude, or other respects, may have made it due: and yet all this consists with the equality, which all men are in, in respect of jurisdiction or dominion one over another; which was the equality I there spoke of, as proper to the business in hand, being that equal right, that every man hath, to his natural freedom, without being subjected to the will or authority of any other man.
In layman’s terms, Locke is saying that he recognizes that as a practical matter, men are not equal. We are born with unequal physical features, encounter unequal challenges, have unequal life experiences, in families of unequal wealth and status etc. As a matter of individual liberty, however, no man has the right to take the liberty of another (this would be an act of war). In the eyes of the civilized law, all men are equal.

Sec. 55. Children, I confess, are not born in this full state of equality, though they are born to it. Their parents have a sort of rule and jurisdiction over them, when they come into the world, and for some time after; but it is but a temporary one. The bonds of this subjection are like the swaddling clothes they art wrapt up in, and supported by, in the weakness of their infancy: age and reason as they grow up, loosen them, till at length they drop quite off, and leave a man at his own free disposal.

Sec. 61. Thus we are born free, as we are born rational; not that we have actually the exercise of either: age, that brings one, brings with it the other too. And thus we see how natural freedom and subjection to parents may consist together, and are both founded on the same principle. A child is free by his father's title, by his father's understanding, which is to govern him till he hath it of his own…
If only I had read this prior to writing my series on children’s rights! Much like the problems I ran into, Locke identifies the problems but also has difficulty defining exactly where the parent’s rights end and the child’s begins. Basically, he is saying that the more the child matures and reasons, the more rights the child has until the child is ready to face the world independently. But how many teenagers think they are ‘mature’ and ‘reasonable’ and therefore deserve ‘independence’ and ‘rights’? What does this mean for people who have mental disabilities?

From Two Treatises of Government, Of the Extent of the Legislative Power (Chapter XI):

Sec. 138. Thirdly, The supreme power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent: for the preservation of property being the end of government, and that for which men enter into society, it necessarily supposes and requires, that the people should have property, without which they must be supposed to lose that, by entering into society, which was the end for which they entered into it [...] Hence it is a mistake to think, that the supreme or legislative power of any commonwealth, can do what it will, and dispose of the estates of the subject arbitrarily, or take any part of them at pleasure. This is not much to be feared in governments where the legislative consists, wholly or in part, in assemblies which are variable, whose members, upon the dissolution of the assembly, are subjects under the common laws of their country, equally with the rest. But in governments, where the legislative is in one lasting assembly always in being, or in one man, as in absolute monarchies, there is danger still, that they will think themselves to have a distinct interest from the rest of the community; and so will be apt to increase their own riches and power, by taking what they think fit from the people: for a man's property is not at all secure, tho' there be good and equitable laws to set the bounds of it between him and his fellow subjects, if he who commands those subjects have power to take from any private man, what part he pleases of his property, and use and dispose of it as he thinks good.

According to Locke, the main purpose of government is “the preservation of property” therefore; it is absurd for people to form governments that desire taking property from its citizens. To prevent government from arbitrarily taking property, the government should be made up of individuals who are subject to the same laws, respect the laws, hold power temporarily (am I hearing an argument for term limits here?), and share the same interests as the rest of the community (I’m not quite sure how to determine that. Maybe this is where character comes in.).

Sec. 141. Fourthly, The legislative cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands: for it being but a delegated power from the people, they who have it cannot pass it over to others. The people alone can appoint the form of the common-wealth, which is by constituting the legislative, and appointing in whose hands that shall be. And when the people have said, We will submit to rules, and be governed by laws made by such men, and in such forms, no body else can say other men shall make laws for them; nor can the people be bound by any laws, but such as are enacted by those whom they have chosen, and authorized to make laws for them. The power of the legislative, being derived from the people by a positive voluntary grant and institution, can be no other than what that positive grant conveyed, which being only to make laws, and not to make legislators, the legislative can have no power to transfer their authority of making laws, and place it in other hands.
How many government agencies could we get rid of if we demanded the legislative branch follow section 141 of Treatises? The legislative branch pawns off the most controversial issues to the courts and other bodies (i.e. the FCC). This gives politicians plausible deniability when one of these unaccountable and unelected bodies makes an unpopular decision.

From A Letter Concerning Toleration:

…by the pretences of loyalty and obedience to the prince, or of tenderness and sincerity in the worship of God; I esteem it above all things necessary to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion and to settle the just bounds that lie between the one and the other. If this be not done, there can be no end put to the controversies that will be always arising between those that have, or at least pretend to have, on the one side, a concernment for the interest of men's souls, and, on the other side, a care of the commonwealth... (para 4)
Locke was certainly right about that one! We have failed to set the proper boundaries between religion and state and the court dockets are full of these ‘controversies’ with no end in site.

It is not committed unto him [the civil magistrate], I say, by God; because it appears not that God has ever given any such authority to one man over another as to compel anyone to his religion. Nor can any such power be vested in the magistrate by the consent of the people, because no man can so far abandon the care of his own salvation as blindly to leave to the choice of any other…(para 9)
Did you hear that Judge Moore, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson? You do not have the authority to compel others with the force of law to your religion. What if you are wrong and my convictions are right? I strongly encourage anyone who routinely agrees with any of these individuals on church and state issues to read Locke’s Toleration in its entirety.

These considerations, to omit many others that might have been urged to the same purpose, seem unto me sufficient to conclude that all the power of civil government relates only to men's civil interests, is confined to the care of the things of this world, and hath nothing to do with the world to come. (para 15)
There you go. If you are so concerned about my soul, use your powers of persuasion not the powers of government.

Lastly, those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all; besides also, those that by their atheism undermine and destroy all religion, can have no pretence of religion whereupon to challenge the privilege of a toleration. As for other practical opinions, though not absolutely free from all error, if they do not tend to establish domination over others, or civil impunity to the Church in which they are taught, there can be no reason why they should not be tolerated. (para 70)
In other words: non-Christians have rights too!

Thus if solemn assemblies, observations of festivals, public worship be permitted to any one sort of professors, all these things ought to be permitted to the Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, Arminians, Quakers, and others, with the same liberty. Nay, if we may openly speak the truth, and as becomes one man to another, neither Pagan nor Mahometan, nor Jew, ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion. The Gospel commands no such thing. The Church which "judgeth not those that are without"[9] wants it not. And the commonwealth, which embraces indifferently all men that are honest, peaceable, and industrious, requires it not. Shall we suffer a Pagan to deal and trade with us, and shall we not suffer him to pray unto and worship God? If we allow the Jews to have private houses and dwellings amongst us, why should we not allow them to have synagogues? Is their doctrine more false, their worship more abominable, or is the civil peace more endangered by their meeting in public than in their private houses? But if these things may be granted to Jews and Pagans, surely the condition of any Christians ought not to be worse than theirs in a Christian commonwealth.(para 76).

This passage should give us some idea of the level of religious intolerance of that era. While the idea of ‘allowing’ the individual to freely exercise his or her beliefs according to his or her conscious seems reasonable to most of Western Civilization today, this was a radically liberal statement in Locke’s time. For many centuries Europeans had to be prepared to switch religions every time a new government assumed power (or at least had to exercise their religion in secret) for fear of death.

Surely, John Locke would be impressed with the religious freedom we enjoy now. On the streets of nearly every American town or city, a variety of places of worship can be found. On the same street it is not uncommon to find a Catholic church, Mormon church, Jehovah’s Witness church, Jewish Synagogue, a Mosque, a Buddhist Temple, and Protestant churches of every denomination. Believers from each of these churches often socialize with each other at lunch after services are over. We even have ‘interfaith’ prayer services from time to time with representatives of each of these religions.

All these things are a result of the religious tolerance and church/state separation philosophy Locke wrote of. This is why religious tolerance and church/state separation is so important: we do not want to return to a time where individuals of a different belief from the majority are treated as second-class citizens or even worse, as criminals.

John Locke was a fearless philosopher because he dared to challenge the notion of Divine Right and advanced the rights of life, liberty, property, and religious tolerance for all individuals. Locke advanced his philosophy with great risk to his personal safety. By the end of his life, his philosophy began to take hold in the minds of many Europeans. The seeds of liberty were brought to the Americas and took root in the minds of colonists who would demand the same rights of the motherland. The free world owes a debt of gratitude to the memory of John Locke for the clarity he brought to the cause of freedom.

Complete Works of John Locke
An Essay concerning Human Understanding
A Letter Concerning Toleration
Two Treatises of Government
Some Thoughts Concerning Education

About the Fearless Philosophers Series
The purpose of the Fearless Philosophers Series is to introduce the reader to past and present individuals who advance freedom of thought, reason, and individuality despite the popular beliefs and fallacies of their time. Some of the fearless philosophers I plan to include are Thomas Paine, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Ayn Rand, Frédéric Bastiat among many others. As in this post, I will examine the writings of these individuals and apply them to issues we continue to debate today. As always, I encourage readers to respond with their observations about the individuals I write about, their philosophies, and my thoughts as well.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005

More Mandatory Minimums Madness

From The Denver Post:

Weldon Angelos was a part- time rap producer in Salt Lake City who had a gun when he sold small amounts of marijuana to an informant on two occasions.

When police took him down in 2002, they also found guns at his house. For this, the first-time offender got 55 years in prison, far more than he would have gotten if he had been convicted of hijacking a plane, kidnapping or second-degree murder.

On Tuesday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Denver, will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the lengthy prison term, the result of mandatory-minimum sentencing laws that are triggered when a dealer possesses a gun.

Okay, I have a couple of questions. First question: Is the motivation behind the mandatory-minimum sentencing law to take guns out of the hands of otherwise law-abiding citizens or is the motivation to put away drug offenders for a longer period of time or is it both? The reason I ask this is because I am curious as to what the police would have done if Angelos had the gun in his possession without the drugs. Would he still be treated as a criminal if he did not brandish the weapon? According to this article, Angelos merely had the gun in his possession but did not threaten anyone with it.

Second question: Why would someone selling illegal drugs feel the need to carry a gun? Could it be that because the drug trade is an illegal business full of people cannot be trusted; people who have no problem putting competitors out of business by literally killing the competition? I guess you could say it’s an occupational hazard. If drugs were legal, relatively inexpensive, and plentiful, how often would the competitors kill each other and therefore need to be armed for personal protection?

Beyond all of that, regardless of what other activities (legal or otherwise) Angelos was involved in, as someone with no criminal record, does he not have the right to defend his life, liberty, and property by any means necessary? Apparently, the current laws say no. I guess the message here is that if you are involved in an illegal activity, you no longer have the right to self-preservation. Alternatively, Angelos could have waived his Second Amendment rights and put himself at greater risk so that he could serve a much shorter sentence for selling small amounts of marijuana if he got busted.

Assuming Angelos serves the full 55 years and lives long enough to be released from prison, what kind of employment options will he have? Most likely, he will be unemployable and will have to depend on the state to meet his needs through welfare or he can return to a life of crime. However dangerous he was before going to prison, Angelos will most likely be an even more dangerous hardened criminal after 55 years of exposure to murderers, rapists, and other violent offenders.

We put people in prison for extended periods of time and then we wonder why the prisons are filled to capacity. We cannot seem to find enough space for pedophiles, rapists, or murderers but by god we better make sure that someone selling a dime bag of weed never sees the light of day! Can anyone say ‘cruel and unusual punishment’? Is this our idea of justice?

The Denver Post Article also made mention of several other cases where the mandatory-minimums laws has given ‘stiff punishment’ including the case of the Garrison brothers that I wrote about in my post titled: Priorities. How much longer are we going to sit idly by while the madness that is the war on (some) drugs continues to chip away at the rights of every American?
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Fearless Philosophy’s First Blogiversary

Amazing how time flies isn’t it? A whole year has passed since I wrote my first post for Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds. I had no idea at the time if anyone would ever read my blog amongst the hundreds of thousands of other blogs in the blogosphere. A mere 80 posts and roughly 7,800 hits later, the readership of Fearless Philosophy continues to grow. While my blog is still obscure among the others, I am very pleased with what Fearless Philosophy has accomplished so far.

This is not something I accomplished on my own however; I have so many people to thank. First, thanks to my wife Aimee for putting up with me and my new hobby. Without your support and encouragement, none of this would have been possible.

Next, I want to thank Gary Borque who was among the first to link my site and the first to challenge one of my posts. Gary, you have challenged me several times since then and I thank you for it. You have always been civil and focused on the issues rather than attacking me personally. The art of debate (or even honest discussion) seems to be a lost art (if our politicians and talking heads are any indication) but you are proof that there are people out there who can discuss honest disagreements. My writing has become more focused because I never know when Gary’s going to take me to task.

A special thanks to Eric Cowperthwaite, Brad Warbiany, and Robert Bell for raising the bar with your thoughtful commentary on your respective blogs. I make a point to read your posts every day. Also, thank you for linking my posts and bringing in the traffic and helping me with the technical aspects of blogging.

Thanks also to (in no particular order): Quincy, Matt Barr, Perry Eidelbus, Mover Mike, Doug of Below the Beltway, Mr. Ogre, R.G. Combs, Countertop, Stephen Macklin, Kevin Boyd, Gullyborg, T.F. and Lucy Stern, Robert Chandler, Left-Brain Female, Obi-Wan, Owlish, Dan Melson, Buzz Brockway, Bob Walters, Icarus Goodman, Everyone in the Life, Liberty, and Property Community, and Everyone in the Fair Tax Fans Community.

I am sure I’ve missed someone, please accept my apologies if I have. Thanks to all the other bloggers out there who have linked individual posts, linked the site, debated and discussed issues with me. Thanks to the readers who regularly read my blog (even those of you who have never left a comment, I know you are out there) and everyone who has one way or another helped me out along the way. It’s all of you who make this hobby enjoyable.

I would like to pose one question to my readers: What are your favorite Fearless Philosophy posts (for year one) and why?

Also, feel free to comment on any of my posts of the past year that you missed the opportunity to comment on here. Perhaps you would like me to clarify a point, ask me something that I haven’t covered already or would simply like to say hello; it’s up to you. Comment on whatever you like.
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Friday, November 04, 2005

Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month (October 2005)

In this month’s selections for Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month, all have a common theme: the consequences of liberty denied on a ‘moral’ basis. I put the word moral in quotations because what I find moral differs a great deal from what many of the do gooders in the Roy Moore mold considers moral. On to the winners.

Third Place goes to NOTR of ROFASix with his post Sex Toys & Freedom. NOTR is outraged (as I am) that far too many state and local governments wish to deny the individual the right to purchase or be in possesion of a ‘sex toy.’

The story that set off this rant is, “Verdict Reached In Trial Of Clerk Charged with Selling Sex Toys.” In this case, a store clerk accused of illegally selling adult toys was found not guilty. He was arrested during a raid at the Adult Video Megaplex in Houston. Houston police charged him with obscenity, alleging he was in possession of adult toys with the intent to promote and sell them. Prosecutors argued that it is illegal to sell an item designed to be used for a sexual act. The defense said it wasn’t fair, because “everyone sells them.” Prosecutors argued “the law is the law,” and anyone caught in possession of six or more adult toys is presumed to be promoting them and could be arrested. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to spend up to a year in prison and pay a $4,000 fine. (Now that’s obscene!).

That is obscene. Its unbelievable to me that so many people think it is okay to pass such laws; to actually put an individual in handcuffs and haul him or her to jail and for what? Possessing sexually explicit material that some (or even perhaps a majority) of people find offensive. If you believe in such laws, you do are not a believer in liberty.

Second Place goes to Lest Darkness Fall and his post: Libertarian Myth #1. LDF does his part to dispell the myths surrounding the Libertarian position on drug legalization. I’ve written a couple of posts on the subject with a focus on the legality of drug use but haven’t spent as much space on my views on drug users and drugs in general. LDF does a good job of explaining what he thinks so I’ll borrow his explaination.


The Libertarian position is that tax dollars should not be seized from citizens for the purposes of arresting, trying and imprisoning people who use drugs. This does not mean that we support, like and/or encourage recreational drug use…


I’ve never used illegal drugs and have no interest in trying mind-altering substances. This is not because they are illegal nor is it because they are scarce… If crack became legal tomorrow, I wouldn’t run to the nearest crack house to try some. Would you? Is the fact that
such things are illegal really all that keeps people from frying their brains? I sincerely doubt it.

I personally don't care if an adult, in the privacy of their own home, smokes, injects sniffs and drinks as much as they like, providing they don't endanger anyone else or become an unwelcome burden on others.”
And the winner is…

The Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month for the Month of October goes to Jim Waddell the Watchful Invester with his post titled: The Land of the Free. Jim’s post ties in perfectly with the number 2 and number 3 posts writing about how the United States incarcerates more people than any other country. Could it be that our government locks up adult individuals for such things as drugs, prostitution, gambling, sex toys, and other non-violent ‘offenses’? There are many other dumb laws which clog the criminal justice system while our priorities should be on the real criminals.

Congratualations of all of this monh’s winners! Now go, read, and learn.
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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Carnival of Liberty XVIII

Welcome to Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds, the home of Carnival of Liberty VI and this carnival, Carnival of Liberty XVIII. As always, the original Carnival of Liberty (not to be confused with another pretender carnival of liberty) has an excellent variety of opinions on a variety of topics concerning the state of Life, Liberty, and Property in our time.

We have lots of posts to cover so let me get straight to it. I’ll start with my two submissions to the carnival: So She is the President’s Friend and A New Beginning for Iraq. The first post is about Harriet Miers’ personal friendship with the president and how this relationship in my mind would have been a conflict of interests or at the very least, appear to be a conflict of interests. I know it’s a moot point now since Miers withdrew her nomination and the president has made a new selection but I think my point isn’t moot in the grand scheme of things as cronyism becomes increasingly common in politics.

My second post concerns the passage of the new Iraqi Constitution. This momentous historical event got very little play in the main stream media but deserves our attention.

My wife Aimee makes her Carnival of Liberty debut with her post: Sorry Kids, Halloween is Evil. Aimee is a little irritated about all the political correctness surrounding the various holidays for fear that someone might be offended.

Aimee writes: “Since when did parents become so uptight when it comes to celebrating holidays at school?”

Child Protective Services helps children who are abused or neglected, but what happens when an innocent person is accused of harming his or her own children? Soldier Angel- Holly Aho submits her very personal gut-wrenching post about her experiences with CPS in a post she calls: This Drives Me Nuts - "I Won't Let It Happen To Me..."

Ze'ev of Israel Perspectives has more questions than answers in a post titled: The True Crime of Collective Punishment. The underlying question: Why doesn’t the global community care about the plight of 20,000 Jews who are attacked on a daily basis in Israel for no other reason than the fact that they are Jewish? Why are all the human rights organizations MIA when in comes to the human suffering of the Israelis? These are very good questions. They seem to have enough time to investigate whether or not Saddam Hussein is treated with dignity and whether or not he receives a fair trail. Could it be that these organizations are anti-Semitic and anti-American? Surely not.

Speaking of Saddam Hussein and his trial, Shiloh of Shiloh Musings is also disgusted with all the hand wringing about the ‘fairness’ and ‘justness’ of the Baghdad Butcher’s trial lamenting that It isn't fair. I don't understand. I’m sure whatever treatment Saddam receives will be infinitely more fair, more just, and more humane than any of the horrors that he subjected his own people to. No punishment could be severe enough for the innumerable crimes he inflicted (allegedly, of course) against humanity.

Mr. Completely submits 2 posts this week. The first post, Brazilian Gun Owners Win BIG! Mr. Completely does a masterful job fisking an AP story published by the BBC which tries to explain why Brazilian voters would actually vote overwhelmingly against an outright ban on gun ownership (no hanging chads here). “Gee, now that Brazil has restored democracy in their country, you'd think they'd be running to the polls to vote away their civil rights!”

His next submission Patty Murray Threatens to do her job... Mr. Completely hopes the congresswoman makes good on her threat: "We on the Appropriations Committee will take a "long, hard look" at any projects in your state."

Mark A. Rayner of The Skwib ventured into the Smithsonian basement and found The Lost PowerPoint Slides (Statue of Liberty Edition). Yes, they had PowerPoint way back in 1867. A world without Microsoft PowerPoint is not a world I would like to live in! How else could French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi make an effective presentation of his proposed sculpture?

Barak of IRIS demonstrates how much subtle (or not so subtle) bias in a small article can color the reader’s perception of the news in his post AP Sets Record for Most Bias Crammed into Smallest Space.

Jim Waddell of The Watchful Investor submits The Land of the Free a very informative post about the growing prison population in the U.S. and proposes positive, common sense solutions:

Clearly, some criminals, especially violent criminals, need to be imprisoned in order to isolate them and prevent further harm to others.

But I wonder, does that make any sense for non-violent criminals? What if we had a justice system that focused on compensating the victims of the crime?


Of course, such a system would force us to figure out who the victims really were. I suspect, for some crimes as defined today, we would find none. We may even have to repeal some laws (just let me keep dreaming, OK?).
Doug Mataconis of Below the Beltway presents two posts to the carnival. The first post, A Victory For Liberty, Doug applauds the two federal court judges for applying the Fourth Amendment and restricting the FBI’s legal authority to use GPS and cellular technology to track individuals without a warrant or probable cause (as with all other searches).

Doug’s second post, A Libertarian Response To Pandemics, is a response to fellow LLP member Jacqueline Passey who posed the original question in her post on the topic of the Bird Flu.

Doug writes:

Other libertarians may disagree, but I consider government to be an essential actor in protecting citizens from communicable diseases just as it is an essential actor in protecting citizens from foreign enemies.
This is a very difficult question but I tend to agree with Doug on this one. Your right to travel freely ends when you are knowingly carrying a contagous disease that can kill my family or me. I base this on the philosophy that ‘your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.’

Dan Melson of Searchlight Crusade submits his analysis of the State of The Housing Market.

Dan reports:

If you keep your head about you, the bargains are much better now than they were only a few months ago…The market in general will likely continue to deflate until at least after Christmas, but if you find a good bargain it's hard to find a wrong time. San Diego seems to be a leading indicator for most of the country, and every commuting area is different, so consult someone in your area, but be prepared to dump them if they sound like a cheerleader...This person is dangerous enough in normal times. Right now they're a recipe for disaster.

I don’t know a great deal about the housing market but Dan’s advice seems pretty sound to me.

Perry Eidelbus of Eidelblog has identified Hilary Clinton as The Queen of the State Worshipers. Why? Because Hilary Clinton seems to believe the state does a better job than the private sector at developing new innovations that make our lives better. In this case, Clinton wants to punish ‘BIG OIL’ for making ‘obscene’ profits. Because profits are eeeeeeeeevil, especially profits made from dirty, smelly, slippery, oil, the state must do what is necessary to reduce these profits with tax hikes. A frustrated Perry explains why this government intervention is folly:

When will state-worshippers like Hillary and Paul Krugman, those who believe that businesses don't pay enough taxes, realize that businesses do not pay any taxes? Business' customers pay the taxes, because as anyone who has managed a business can tell you, a business passes its taxes on to its customers.

Hillary is again advocating the redistribution of wealth, just in a different form: taking from those who produce things of great value and giving to those who do not produce as much. If oil companies' "excessive profits" are taxed heavily, that in itself will likely not produce higher prices at the pump…but it will hurt consumers in two ways by preventing their energy costs from going down…[and] will subsidize scientists' inefficient programs and studies on wind, solar and hydroelectric energy…

Hilary Clinton might have some competition for the title of ‘Queen of the State Worshipers’. Her competition: Claudia Shaw, Florida resident who thinks it is the government’s job to make sure her gas tank is full. Tom Hanna of Tom’s Rants would like to ask Claudia: Whose job is it to plan to put gas in your car’s tank? Why stop there. Maybe the government should provide the car and the fuel for Claudia. She can’t be expected to provide these ‘needs’ for herself!

Obi-Wan of Forward Biased believes he has the solution to stop to this notion of a ‘living, breathing’ constitution in his post: Do Words Actually Have Meanings? His solution: supporting The Fair Construction Amendment. Obi-Wan explains:

We could devise a constitutional amendment, using the framers' very own words, that instructs the Supreme Court to treat its task as the framers themselves said it should and expected it would: as interpretation of an historical document, not husbandry of a "growing, evolving" one.
Eric Cowperthwaite at Eric’s Grumbles Before the Grave also likes the idea of The Fair Construction Amendment but believes that such a measure is unlikely to pass as he states in his post: Reforming the Imperial Judiciary. According to Eric, the way to reign in the judiciary is as follows:

Like the GOP scheme to "restore the judiciary", this is not going to work, sadly. What needs to happen is two-fold. A Constitutional Amendment is clearly needed to put in place appropriate checks and balances to reign in the power of the judiciary. Once that occurs, the American people will need to become educated on the true ideals and philosophies underlying our Constitution. I consider both of these things unlikely, but possible.
T.F. Stern of T.F. Stern’s Rantings also weighs in with his post: The Constitution as a Living Document? Stern wants his readers to consider a couple of questions:

Have we accepted it [The U.S. Constitution] as a foundation for government, one that is solid and worth keeping or have we altered our language to such an extent as to render it meaningless? What is meant when I hear that the Constitution is a living breathing document, something which serves only as a guide, not written in stone?
My answer to Stern’s first question is that the English language has naturally evolved a great deal over the 218 years that have passed since the convention of the states (Try reading literature from that era and you’ll see what I mean). Along with this natural evolution, certain special interests have twisted the accepted meanings of certain words to achieve certain pollitical goals. This is why we need judges who understand the original meaning of the language at the time the words were written. My answer to Stern’s second question: those who say the Constitution is ‘living and breathing’ either do not understand the scientific definitions for ‘living’ and ‘breathing’ or they simply do not like the answer the Constitution provides even after twisting the words and their meanings to their liguistic limits.

Like many of us in the Life, Liberty, and Property community, Richard G. Combs at Combs Spouts Off is very happy to say Bye bye, Harriet for a variety of reasons (qualifications, cronyism, and lack of knowledge of her judicial philosophy). Richard’s main reason for not wanting Harriet Miers to be seated on the Supreme Court has mostly to do with a transcript of a speech that was released to the press just before she announced her withdrawal. Miers delivered the speech in 1993 to the Executive Women of Dallas.

Combs spouts off his objections:

Miers spent much of the speech arguing that, in a variety of matters from school funding to low-income housing, the courts were "forced" to step in and legislate from the bench because elected officials didn't make "decisions that really need to be made" that were "hard and unpopular.
The importance of the makeup of the judiciary and the power the courts have amassed cannot be overstated. The disastrous results of the Kelo decision continue to threaten private property in America. ‘Mover’ Mike Landfair reports more eminent domain abuse in his post: Eminent Domain in Portland, Oregon.

Lest Darkness Fall explains the misconception many people have about the Libertarian opposition to the War on (Some) Drugs in a post titled: Libertarian Myth #1.

Kerwin Brown of Expressions of Liberty submits his thoughts on Rosa Parks in his post: Rosa Parks And A Just Act Of Defiance VS. The Unjust Rebellion Against Prohibition.

The MaryHunter of TMH’s Bacon Bits writes about the U.S./Mexican border and how ranchers are doing the job the federal government will not do in a post titled: Ranchers Defending Our Border.

Our friendly neighborhood Mr. Ogre of Ogre’s Politics and Views gives us a heads-up on how the U.N. is dealing with Syria in his post Syria Running Scared. It’s more of the same we’ve come to expect from the U.N.

And finally, last but certainly not least, one of my favorite bloggers Brad Warbainy The Unrepentant Individual submits his contribution to the Carnival of Liberty: Peggy Noonan Misses the Point.

On that note, I pass the torch back to Brad, host of the first Carnival of Liberty, for the next carnival: Carnival of Liberty XIX.

The Carnival of Liberty, along with other quality carnivals, can be found each week on NZ Bear’s UberCarnival Page.
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