Links for January 24, 2011: Planet Money Compares Socialism and Libertarianism; When Is a Mural not a Mural?; SCOTUS Revisits “Knock and Announce”; others….

January 23, 2011

Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

  • Tom Woods | People Who Deserve to Be Better Known

    I knew one only one of the five on this list. I’m sure you will be reading more from them all here in no time. Thanks to Tom Woods for sharing, and I’m glad to pass it along!

  • http://public.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/blog/2010/09/20100917_blog_pmoney.mp3?_kip_ipx=1874937601-1295886944

    Nice talk with socialist economic professor Richard Wolff. If anyone out there could possibly convince me that socialism is the way to go, it would be a professor of economics who believes it. I don’t believe he makes his case here in this segment, but I’m sure it would be impossible to do so in such a small window time.

    Wolff seems to think that part of the problem with capitalism is that there is a conflict of interest between business leaders and laborers. Of course there is such a conflict, but in a world of scarce resources, there will always be conflicts of interest between producers and consumers. Everybody has an interest in producing less and consuming more, and that interest conflicts with everyone else’s interest to do the same. Abolishing capitalism will not alter this reality.

    Wolff advocates a more democratic workplace. He evidently wants rules of some kind that would limit the types of businesses that people are allowed to create. Only those businesses that allow workers the prescribed amount of say in the goings on of the business are to be permitted. Wolff does not say here whether he expects everyone to adhere to these rules voluntarily or if he has in mind some sort of enforcement apparatus. But here in our capitalist society, people are perfectly free to create democratic workplaces. The usually do not, because they want a certain amount of control over their own creations and they want to ensure adequate returns for themselves. If all these other rules are placed upon the act of starting a business, I’m sure you will see far fewer people willing to take the risk.

    Not that I’m entitled to the increased productivity the a capitalist societies, but why not freedom? Nobody forces one particular person to work for another particular person, and nobody should force business models that they find appealing on the entrepreneurs who are producing, innovating, and making things happen.

  • http://public.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/blog/2010/09/20100921_blog_pmpod.mp3?_kip_ipx=1614643902-1295887909

    Adam Davidson: I’m just trying to think how my life would be different [in a libertarian society].

    David Boaz: You would be much richer, you would be happier, you would be better looking, you would be taller.

    Adam Davidson: Would I be stronger?

    DB: Absolutely.

    AD: Could I eat fattening foods but somehow maintain a slim physique?

    DB: Yes, probably. … With faster economic growth, we’d have better technology. And we probably would have all these miracle fats that don’t put any weight on you.

    This is the promised Libertarian follow-up to the above discussion with a socialist. The exchange above, I’m sure, is a tongue-in-cheek jab at those who describe libertarians as utopian. Do not take it all literally, but we surely would at least have faster economic growth. It’s a shame that I feel like I have to explain this.  Read the rest of this entry »


  • Links for February 21, 2010: Colorado Residents Must Register With Local Government Before Spending over $200 on Political Speech, Nick Gillespie and Lawrence Lessig on Citizens United, Ron Paul Wins CPAC, others….

    February 25, 2010
    1. Institute for Justice: Litigating for Liberty | Karen Sampson & Free Speech

      Campaign finance laws like this one ensure that ONLY the rich have a voice in political campaigns. Read the rest of this entry »


    Links for 2010-02-19: ACLJ on Free Speech and Teachers’ Mailboxes, a Poor Critique of Austrian Economics, others….

    February 20, 2010
    1. ACLJ | Content based discrimination Vodpod videos no longer available.

      A careless misstatement of First Amendment law from the ACLJ. Perry Educ. Ass’n v. Perry Educators’ Ass’n, 460 U.S. 37 (1983), ruled specifically that teachers mailboxes are not public fora for speech. The school may allow certain people to use the mailboxes for limited speech purposes and exclude others. The question is whether the caller’s religious message falls within the limited purpose intended by the school. Jay won in Lamb’s Chapel only because the Court held the Church’s message in that case fell within the school’s limited purpose for opening the forum.  A similar case out of the 9th Circuit: Edward Diloreto v. Downey Unified School District Board of Education, 196 F.3d 958 (9th Cir. 1999), in which the fence around a school’s baseball field was held not to be a public forum open to all advertisers, The school did not violate the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights by rejecting an ad displaying the 10 Commandments. This is settled law.

      Update: Time to correct my own misstatement. It is true that the school may not discriminate against the church simply because it is a church. It may, however, discriminate against the church’s message if that message is not within the limited purpose for which the forum was opened. The church is not entitled to put whatever it wants in the mailboxes merely because the school allows other groups to use the mailboxes.

    2. YouTube | A Critique of the Austrian School of Economics


      The critic misstates why Austrians do not rely on facts and experimentation. Read the rest of this entry »


    links for 2010-02-16

    February 17, 2010
    1. World Socialist Party (US) | Labor Theory of Value

      Looking for a simple, concise explanation of the theory, I find instead this litany of apologetics. Written almost entirely on the defensive, the article explains nothing about the Labor Theory of Value except why Marx scoffed at requests to explain it: — “if one wanted to ‘explain’ from the outset all phenomena that apparently contradict the law, one would have to provide the science before the science” (Collected Works vol. 43, p. 68). I don’t know if that explanation satisfies you, but I find it wanting. I think, ultimately, Marx uses the word “VALUE” as a term of art that means simply that part of an item’s existence attributable to the labor required to produce it. So, if I spent 50 man-hours making 50,000 turd sandwiches, Marx would “VALUE” those turd sandwiches at the going rate for 50 man-hours of labor. Sure, the labor theory of value makes sense in THAT context, but what about real life, in which we don’t always have the luxury of defining words as we please?

      Update: It has come to my attention after listening to a lecture on the opening chapter of Marx’s Capital that Marx believed that useless items had no value. He actually employed three terms of art, and what he saw as the relationships between them, to describe what a layman would call “value”. The terms are: use value, exchange value, and value. An explanation of this in the linked article would have been helpful.

    2. reason.tv | Don’t Get Hurt

      Fear of addiction and other harms resulting from prescription pain-killers is overblown, argues Ted Balaker at Reason. Read the rest of this entry »


    links for 2010-02-15

    February 16, 2010
    1. ACLJ | The Parade of Horribles

      Imagine if everyone exercised their religious liberty. What a horrible world that would be, right? Sekulow asserts that the Satanists and the Wiccans already have a right to meet for religious purposes. This is the same Jay Sekulow who neglected to mention that the Mojave Desert Cross case began when the federal government denied a Buddhist's request to erect a shrine on federally owned land in the vicinity of the cross. Instead, Sekulow carried on as if the horrible, godless people of America attacked the Christian Cross without provocation. Again with the borderline dishonesty.

    2. ACLJ | Context of the Ten Commandments

      I find Sekulow's assessment of the proper context within which to display the Ten Commandments very interesting. I thought he was going to say that if you were teaching theology and you have up quotes and laws from other religious texts, then it should be no trouble to post the Ten. Instead he believes there should be no trouble with the law if the Ten are posted alongside the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. This is an example of the belief that the Ten Commandments is among America's foundational documents. Despite its influence among our nation's founders, I would not categorize it that way.

    3. NYDailyNews.com | Queens girl Alexa Gonzalez hauled out of school in handcuffs after getting caught doodling on desk

      Queens police have nothing better to do, I guess. Read the rest of this entry »


    links for 2010-02-04

    February 5, 2010
    1. Huffington Post | Mark Green: Why Citizen’s United Is a Fraud: A Guide for Non-Lawyers

      I commented earlier that the parties must have wanted to talk about the First Amendment because it played such a prominent role in the oral arguments. Here it is clarified that this was not an issue in lower courts and it was not an issue during an earlier trip to the Supreme Court. So it looks like I need to go back a little further to research the origins.

    2. PBS | Bill Moyers Journal: Monica Youn and Zephyr Teachout

      The errors of thought: 1) Corporations all speak with the same voice. 2) They speak in opposition to “the people”. It just might be the case that some corporations may agree with some of “the people” on some of the issues. If you save money at Wal-mart, or if you buy a Ford automobile that enriches your life, then, in at least one sense, your interests are in line with those of the corporations. You will cheer for those corporations when they spend gobs of money to speak in your interest in opposition to other corporations who disagree. As to the judicial over-reaching, Youn and Teachout claim that the parties stipulated that this case would not be about a narrow issue and not the First Amendment. For what it’s worth, the oral argument available at SCOTUSWiki speaks of nothing but the First Amendment for at least the first ten pages of its transcript (all I’ve listened to so far: http://is.gd/7F0Kw). Somebody other than the justices was interested in discussing the issue.

      Update: I’m interested in reviewing the “activism” question. See the above link for more info. I need to review the case thoroughly and come to my own conclusion. Read the rest of this entry »


    Legal Thought of the Day, No. 11

    June 22, 2009

    In the case of “our” hypothetical pharmacist, he may now presumably advertise not only the prices of prescription drugs, but may attempt to energetically promote their sale so long as he does so truthfully. Quite consistently with Virginia law requiring prescription drugs to be available only through a physician, “our” pharmacist might run any of the following representative advertisements in a local newspaper:

    Pain getting you down? Insist that your physician prescribe Demerol. You pay a little more than for aspirin, but you get a lot more relief.

    Can’t shake the flu? Get a prescription for Tetracycline from your doctor today.

    Don’t spend another sleepless night. Ask your doctor to prescribe Seconal without delay.

    Unless the State can show that these advertisements are either actually untruthful or misleading, it presumably is not free to restrict in any way commercial efforts on the part of those who profit from the sale of prescription drugs to put them in the widest possible circulation. But such a line simply makes no allowance whatever for what appears to have been a considered legislative judgment in most States that, while prescription drugs are a necessary and vital part of medical care and treatment, there are sufficient dangers attending their widespread use that they simply may not be promoted in the same manner as hair creams, deodorants, and toothpaste. The very real dangers that general advertising for such drug might create in terms of encouraging, even though not sanctioning, illicit use of them by individuals for whom they have not been prescribed, or by generating patient pressure upon physicians to prescribe them, are simply not dealt with in the Court’s opinion. If prescription drugs may be advertised, they may be advertised on television during family viewing time. Nothing we know about the acquisitive instincts of those who inhabit every business and profession to a greater or lesser extent gives any reason to think that such persons will not do everything they can to generate demand for these products in much the same manner and to much the same degree as demand for other commodities has been generated.

    ~U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, dissenting.
    Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc.
    425 U.S. 748, 789 (1976)