Archive | August, 2011

The Thin Black Line


In Britain, street gangs queue up to loot shops.

The linked article is wittily titled “Anarchy in the U.K.” Of course the most anarchistic thing the gangs did was the queuing, not the looting. All the same, there is an anarchistic moral to be drawn from the story: it’s an example of how social mores continue to produce social order in the absence of government police.

Secessio Plebis

Have you noticed that whenever mention is made of secession, establishment types always say, “that issue was settled in 1865”?

Even leaving aside the absurdity of the suggestion that military victory could settle a legal issue (let alone a moral one) – isn’t it another establishment mantra that the Civil War was solely about slavery?

They seem to be trying to have it both ways. If the Civil War was solely about slavery, then the most that it could have settled is the illegitimacy of secession-to-protect-slavery, not the illegitimacy of secession per se. After all, present-day secession advocates are not exactly trying to protect slavery (unless Kirkpatrick Sale has a secret agenda we don’t know about).

Saying It Again

The following letter appeared in today’s Opelika-Auburn News. Regular readers of this blog will find no surprises here:

To the Editor:

D. W. St. John (“Regulations often needed in today’s world,” Thursday) blames both the BP oil spill and the financial crisis on a lack of government regulation.

On the contrary, both disasters were caused by pro-big-business regulations.

BP took unnecessary risks because they’d been given a liability cap of $75 million. Small wonder that they engaged in riskier behavior when they could count on regulations limiting their victims’ right to sue.

Alan Greenspan

As for the financial crisis, Fed chairman Alan Greenspan’s manipulation of interest rates distorted price signals and encouraged unsustainable investments, thereby making a collapse inevitable. Calling this longtime regulator a messiah of unregulated markets is ludicrous.

Most government regulations are pro-plutocracy in their effects, regardless of how they’re marketed. Both liberal and conservative politicians are reliable supporters of the big-government/big-business partnership that dominates our economy, though of course they’re careful to wrap that support in anti-big-business rhetoric and anti-big-government rhetoric, respectively.

It’s no coincidence that most of the supposedly anti-big-business legislation of the Progressive Era was lobbied for, often even drafted by, the corporate elite, who understood that big businesses thrive when small businesses are choked by regulations.

The grain of truth in the idea that crises are caused by deregulation is that when government grants special privileges to banks and corporations, and then removes restrictions on how these privileges are exercised, perverse incentives take over and catastrophic results predictably ensue.

But the problem is the initial regulations that create the privileges in the first place.

Unchaining a state-privileged entity is not a decrease in state intervention; rather the contrary.

To learn more about why government regulation systematically serves the interests of the wealthy at the expense of everybody else, check out the websites of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left and the Center for a Stateless Society.

Roderick T. Long

She Sighed For So Much Melody

Wallace Stevens’ “Peter Quince at the Clavier” and J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Tale of Tinúviel” always remind me of each other – and not just because they both rhyme “quavering” with “wavering.” (Whether Tolkien is likely to have read Stevens I don’t know; I’m not sure how well known he was outside the u.s.)

Tolkien is reading his own poem; I don’t know who’s reading the Stevens. Great voice, but he makes a couple of mistakes (as you’ll notice if you read along).

Why Lawrence O’Donnell Is Not a Real Journalist Either

Lawrence O'Donnell

Lawrence O’Donnell accuses a “right-wing website” (he means for refusing to criticise cops – even though not only frequently criticises cops, but regularly carries the columns of Radley Balko, one of the most prominent critics of police brutality in the country.

Nick Gillespie responds.

Kevin Carson responds.

Radley Balko responds and then responds some more.

I would hold my breath waiting for O’Donnell’s apology and retraction, only I’m not suicidal. As Kevin points out, O’Donnell himself has admitted that he regards only the great and powerful as deserving of courtesy.

John King Explains Why He Is Not a Real Journalist

John King

When a man jumped the White House fence on August 2nd and was taken down by the Secret Service, John King’s program was already broadcasting live from the location. King commented:

Now you see, if you are ever thinking about this, the inevitable result if you hop that fence. … One of the things we don’t like to do is give too much coverage to this – if it is a political stunt, it would encourage somebody else to do it. So we’re going to turn away from this for now and come back to our coverage. … You never know what happens if you come down here. But the Secret Service, as always, performing quickly and admirably to bring it to a close.

He later told Don Lemon:

We usually don’t give these things any coverage, Don, because political stunts can happen, people trying to make a political statement, who want to be on television, jump the fence. Because we were on live television, from the White House, what had happened – we did show it.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes