LRC Blog

Churchill Had Short-Man Syndrome

Says Boris Johnson, in his new biography of little Winston, “Who else was 5 foot 6 or under? Some of the biggest tyrants and creeps in world history: Augustus (5 foot 6), Napoleon (ditto), Mussolini (ditto) Stalin (teensy at 5 foot 4). Hitler was only 5 foot 8. All these characters have been associated with the over-compensatory aggression that is sometimes referred to as ‘short man’ syndrome; and there is some evidence, at least on the face of it, that Churchill did, too.”

I wonder if Boris has read Ralph Raico great revisionist monograph on the real Winnie?

8:03 am on October 11, 2014

Walter Block on Uber!

By Luis Rivera III

Walter Block speaks on the company Uber and the threat it posses to the taxi cab industry. Why peak load pricing occurs in the free market. “Free market monopoly?” Listen in to this and much more on this fantastic interview with Austro-Libertarian: Walter Block!

Walter Block On Non-Aggression Podcast

11:23 pm on October 10, 2014

You Knew It Was Coming

The death of the Liberian immigrant from the Ebola he deliberately imported into this country, so he could get millions of dollars in free medical care, represents “racism,” says Jesse Jackson.

1:31 pm on October 10, 2014

Where’s the Commitment?

A recent news story informs me that the City of Lincoln, Nebraska has approved the spending of $475,000 of tax money to purchase an 80 acre tract of land as a habitat for the endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle. I suspect that backers of this project are throwing their shoulders out of joint patting themselves on the back for their “commitment” to nature. In such ways do men and women in our culture obtain undeserved recognition for their “social responsibility”: propose programs for which others will be forced to pay. Like the “climate change” zealots who fly around the world in their CO2-generating private jets to condemn us lesser beings for driving our cars; or the elitists who hire armed guards for protection as they demand that the rest of us forgo the ownership of guns for our defense; or the super-patriotic armchair warriors who self-righteously insist upon sending other people’s children to die in wars, this practice of socializing costs permeates all of politics.

I have no quarrel with those who would like to provide a home for this species of beetle, provided they are willing to commit their own resources to the project. At a conference I once attended, a speaker proposed spending some great amount of money on behalf of some end he sought. A friend of mine responded: “are you going to finance this yourself?,” to which the speaker answered “no.” “Oh,” my friend retorted, “I thought you were being serious.” The problem with the people-pushers of our world is not that they care so much for programs they want the government to finance: they don’t care enough. If the state was to give me one billion dollars to do what I wanted to improve society, I could do all kinds of wondrous things. But, would I be willing to commit any of my own money to such ends? This is the standard that is always ignored in political action, but is implicit in economic behavior: to what extent are you prepared to incur the costs for achieving your preferences?

As our social world continues to move from vertically-structured to horizontally-networked systems of cooperation, decentralized methods – facilitated by the Internet – for people accomplishing ends for which they are prepared to commit their own resources have appeared. is a site for helping people generate start-up money for projects is one example. So, too, have “flash mobs” been modified, by some, into “cash mobs,” with people showing up, unannounced, at a small business site where they purchase the wares of the proprietor. Another site, gofundme, provides the means for people to come to the assistance of another who might be experiencing unanticipated financial problems. One such site with which I am familiar is dedicated to raising money for a young man who was very badly injured – as a pedestrian – when a car smashed into him. When I last checked, over $68,000 had been raised, in just a few days, to help this man and his family with the medical and rehabilitation expenses he will incur.

Think of all the programs and projects that could be voluntarily funded by people committing their own resources to their achievement. When done without the looting of taxpayers, or the use of eminent domain, or any other practices that force the many to have to subsidize the preferences of the few, might the state-induced conflict between “individual liberty” and “social order” at last be put to rest? Might the fate of the Salt Creek tiger beetle be enhanced by the willingness of the many to ensure its survival through their willingness to contribute their resources to its survival?

12:57 pm on October 10, 2014

Army Vet Throws out the First Pitch

Like a grenade. “Retired Army sergeant Brian Keaton crawled on his belly up the side of the mound and then threw the baseball as if he was tossing a grenade.” This was before the San Francisco Giants played the Washington Nationals in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. The video has “racked up more than 1.1 million views so far.”

And you thought it was just football that had become so militarized.

What is even more tragic is what would happen if a large map of Japan were placed on the field and the Air Force reenacted the atomic bombing of Japan complete with mushroom clouds of smoke. The crowd would probably go wild in patriotic frenzy.

Thanks to R.W.

6:53 pm on October 9, 2014

The Politics of Secession, Regional Net Taxpayers, and Net Tax Receivers

The discussion over Scotland’s possible secession has often touched on the issue of regional net tax payments as a decisive issue in secession decisions. That is, if a region is a net tax-receiving region, then there is little incentive to secede, whereas, a net tax-payer region has significant incentive to secede. In the case of Venetian secession, for example, it has clearly been an issue for many decades as northern Italy (including Veneto) is well aware of its status as a the wealthier region of Italy that subsidizes the poorer south.

This also appears to be the case with Catalonia, where the region generally pays more in tax revenues than it receives.

Not all regions are aware of where they fit into the net tax-receiver puzzle however, and there’s a big blind spot on this in the United States. Many have assumed that those areas of the country most associated with supporting government welfare programs, such as the northeast, must be net tax receiver areas. The reality, however, is that the northeast is a net taxpayer region, as are other areas of the country most associated with being “pro-welfare” such as the west coast and Illinois.

On the other hand, the region of the country most associated with being for “free markets” is the American south (not including Texas) which is generally far more of a net tax receiver region than anywhere else in the country. This runs contrary to many political narratives which insist that the so-called blue states are living off the sweat of the red states. The fact remains though, that it’s the left-liberal regions of the country that are paying in the most in taxes, and much of that revenue moves south.

Many left-wing bloggers are quite fond of pointing this out, as in this graphic here:


The blogger is trying to make a political point by including the political party affiliation of each state’s US senators, although that’s of pretty dubious value. The tax numbers appear to check out pretty well, though, and this map is just one example of many that can be found online.

The breakdown here should not be surprising at all, however. The subsidized states on the map, such as Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and others, all tend to have lower income residents, which means lower income-tax rates. Thanks to a progressive income tax, rich people really do pay more income tax, even after taking advantage of all those rich-guy tax shelters. Also, states with older populations, such as Arizona and West Virginia, will certainly have more people on welfare, or as the recipients of such funds like to call it: “Social Security and Medicare.” But also having a proportionally-large number of low-income people in general will mean more Medicaid money coming in, plus regular old TANF-type payments.


6:09 pm on October 9, 2014

German Journalist On Manipulation of Press by CIA

Dr. Udo Ulfkotte speaks from personal experience on how the intelligence agencies plant stories in the media; how they alter reporter attitudes to be pro-West and anti-Russian by subtle bribes, pressures and emoluments; how the U.S. colonizes foreign intelligence agencies, the armed forces and the media of other countries; how journalists are turned into unofficial spies; and the sanctions faced by those who refuse to cooperate. Ulfkotte was a journalist for a major German newspaper. See also here for the original blog. (Thanks to David Krall.)

The U.S. does not have totalitarian control and censorship. No party or government has total control of all forms of communication. Such control is anti-American, being clearly inconsistent with free speech. This does not mean there is no social-political problem centering on the media and communications. There are some very large problems. The CIA has created methods of soft control that are every bit as anti-American as would be outright censorship. They may even be more devastating than harder control because the public is deceived into thinking it’s getting straight information when it is not.

4:07 pm on October 9, 2014

Joe Klein Is Worried

He discovers that Americans fear and loath the government. (Thanks to Joe Stephenson)

3:06 pm on October 9, 2014

“Don’t Delete This Without Reading”

That is what the subject line said in the e-mail I received from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. Knowing it was a fundraising e-mail from Heritage, I still took the bait and read it. I will delete it as soon as I reproduce the text below:

Dear Laurence,

It looks likely that Republicans will retake Congress on November 4.

That gives conservatives an opportunity to set the agenda for the country — on cutting taxes, reining in spending, halting illegal immigration, repealing Obamacare, and getting back to constitutional government.

This is a major opportunity you can’t let slip away. You and I must act now — before the election — so we can lay the groundwork for victories in December’s lame duck session and in 2015.

Find out more >>

Even if liberals lose on November 4, they won’t sit still. We set a deadline of Tuesday, October 14 to give us three weeks to prepare for the coming battles.

We need 2,000 patriots to get involved by Tuesday to stop the left and enable conservative victories. I know I can count on you. Get involved >>

Thank you.


Michael A. Needham
Chief Executive Officer
Heritage Action for America

Republicans will retake Congress? Wow, I can’t wait for them to destroy the country even more than they did when they controlled Congress under George W. Bush. Rein in spending? Conservatives in Congress doubled the national debt during the Bush years. None of the budgets they have put forth since then have been balanced. They are big spenders just like the Democrats. When you click the “Find out more” and “Get involved” links, you are taken to the same page with a picture of Ted Cruz on it that concludes with an appeal to “Donate now to both Heritage and Heritage Action.”

It is unfortunate that thousands of conservatives will probably be sucked by this sleazy fundraising appeal. See my critique of Heritage here and here and the president of Heritage here.

I just deleted the e-mail. But I won’t delete yours. I welcome your comments and news items.

2:39 pm on October 9, 2014

Ted Cruz the Nutso Neocon

Philip Giraldi has this article on the Israel-Firster dangerous neocon Ted Cruz, who wants to bomb the hell out of Iran for no good reason. With some of the information Giraldi provides about Cruz, one might think that Cruz could be described as “Ted Cruz (R–Israel).” That’s just my own interpretation.

But here are just 3 reasons why I don’t think Ted Cruz will get the Republican nomination for President in 2016 (unless it’s President of Israel):

1. He’s too shrill. No one wants to listen to that for 4 or 8 years. It’s like listening to someone letting the air out of a balloon. Yech.

2. Too many Democrats and Independents will go into states’ Republican primaries to vote against Ted Cruz, because they don’t want another George W. Bush-like “Christian Crusader” to do even worse things overseas than Bush did.

3. He’s too shrill. Can you imagine Cruz as a guest on with Mark Levin? That would be a whine-fest, a helium party we have never heard before on radio. The two of them might actually float away if they’re not careful.

By the way, Philip Giraldi has also written about a certain wing of evangelism in the U.S. military, with officers and soldiers handing out Bibles, holding prayer breakfasts, and their proselytizing, etc. And then he had a follow-up article on that.

Conclusion: “Remember in November” when you don’t vote!

12:05 pm on October 9, 2014

California Water Regulators: Do As We Say, Not As We Do


It’s difficult not to have some sympathy for California homeowners in the middle of a scorching drought. Mike Soubirous (above) has a full acre of beautiful flowers, bushes, and trees that require watering to remain healthy, as can be seen here:

Soubirous Home

“Conservation [of water] isn’t that simple…I don’t know how I can reduce my water rate,” he said.  I feel your pain Mike…or maybe not.  Soubirous sits on the Riverside City Council which unanimously voted this past summer to implement strict new water restrictions in reaction to the drought.

Around the state, politicians and regulators shamed and berated citizens for “selfishly” and “unnecessarily” bathing, showering, washing pets, filling up kiddie pools, and watering lawns instead of ripping them out in favor of “environmentally responsible” green-painted gravel and the like. Enforcers were ready to hand out $500 fines.

Best of all was the snitch campaign where politicians, regulators, and local TV and radio media encouraged neighbors to turn in neighbors. Photos and partial addresses of homes with lawn sprinklers running were tweeted or posted on Facebook or local TV and radio station Web sites.

When the smoke cleared, who were some of the heaviest water users?  Water authorities.  While single-family houses in California on average consume about 361 gallons of water per day (CA DWR 2011), ten homes owned by councilmen or utilities or water regulators used an average of about 1,250 gallons or more of water per day in 2013. The worst “water hog” hypocrite? Fresno councilman Oliver Baines (about 3,500 average gallons per day) with second place going to Soubirous (almost 3,000 gallons average per day and more than 1,000,000 per year).

Government hypocrites live in some nice houses. No green-painted gravel, artificial grass, or trees there. (Photos: Stuart Palley/CIR)

8:14 pm on October 8, 2014

Don’t Miss It! Book Now!

The National Review cruise in the Caribbean next month. You won’t want to miss hearing conservatives like Ralph Reed, Tim Pawlenty, former GOP Senator Jon Kyl, Johan Goldberg, John Fund of the War Street Journal, and Victor Davis Hanson. Previous speakers have included Karl Rove.

If you can’t afford the cruise, then try the Cruz. Ted Cruz that is. On the night before the cruise leaves from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, you can attend a National Review Evening with Ted Cruz, John Bolton, and Marco Rubio.

5:25 pm on October 8, 2014

Neoconservatives Stand for Anti-American Foreign Policies and Empire

Both the Democratic and Republican parties today house neoconservatives, and whatever their differences, they coalesce on foreign policies of war, empire, support for Israel, foreign interference, sanctions, an anti-Iran stance, and American exceptionalism. The Democratic Party has its left-neoconservatives like Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. The Republican Party has its right-neoconservatives, and they are allied with the Christian Right and such media as Rupert Murdoch’s Fox. There is one War Party that includes both the left and right neoconservatives. Washington is under their control. No matter which of the two major political parties anyone votes for, the result is the same: neoconservatism in foreign policy. The left-right distinction is of no significant importance in this respect.

The neoconservative ideas supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was also instigated by the distorted ultra-nationalism of Cheney and Rumsfeld that fits right in with neoconservatism. They support Empire, hegemony, and the U.S. being the sole great power. They support a unipolar world.

The neoconservative program claims to be tied to American values, to the Founding Fathers, and to America’s exceptional moral vision. These claims are totally false. One need only compare the vision of John Quincy Adams in his July 4, 1821 speech as Secretary of State to see that the neoconservative claims are a big lie.


4:32 pm on October 8, 2014

‘It’s All for the Troops’

That’s what Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show today regarding the childless chickenhawk author’s children’s book, Rush Revere and the First Patriots.  During his usual endless self promotion, Limbaugh mentioned that he has heard that quite a few children have feelings of abandonment when their father or mother disappears for years on end in Afghanistan.  To soothe the young ones, and to do something “for the troops,” Limbaugh explained how he tells the story in his book of a time traveler who visits with George Washington and other founding fathers, and then tells his audience of children that their moms and dads who are busy murdering strangers in Afghanistan are engaged in the exact same thing as George Washington was during the American Revolution.  Makes you wanna puke, doesn’t it?

3:45 pm on October 8, 2014

Will the CDC Save Us From Ebola?

Biosafety_level_4_hazmat_suitDisease pandemics are a dream come true for central planners. Hysterical over possible contagion, citizens clamor for government action, government quarantines, government coercion, and government planning. In these cases, large numbers of people want government to do what government does best: seize people and property, coerce, issue orders, and spend lots of money.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control presents itself as the answer to every pandemic. Nevermind the fact that the Federal government is an organization that mishandles live anthrax, has cross-contaminated benign bird flu with deadly bird flu, and then sends contaminated samples across the country. And of course, the Feds, who apparently can’t keep disease samples contained, spend enormous amounts of money on making deadly diseases more deadly so as to weaponize them.

This organization, the same one that did such a stellar job with FEMA and the Hurricane Katrina “relief,” is the organization that will apparently save us from Ebola.

So, good luck to us all in surviving the US government’s war on pandemics.

Moreover, a more long-term view of the history of disease prevention does not present much of an impeachable case for government intervention. Indeed, governments excel at creating the conditions that enhance the spread of disease, as they did with the Spanish flu in the aftermath of World War I.

We also know that government interventions in the marketplace for medications (including price controls for vaccines and other treatments) used by states tend to create shortages where they are needed most.


2:53 pm on October 8, 2014

Re: Ebola, Quarantine, and Property Rights

John: You make some good points. But, as with the ebola virus specifically, in a stateless society it is unlikely that anyone would have an incentive to invent and then patent such a threat to others. To paraphrase Hillary, “it takes a village coercive collective” to create tools for the mass destruction of human life!

1:45 pm on October 8, 2014

Ebola, Quarantine, and Property Rights

Dr. Block and Scott Lazarowitz make some excellent points about quarantine, however, their focus tends to be on the likelihood that a contagion is spread, the likelihood that it is deadly, the likelihood that a person actually has it, and the efficacy of vaccines. This rapidly devolves into Butterfly Effect land where the Carbon Dioxide I exhale _could_ cause a tsunami in the Philippines. We all carry multiple viruses that may or may not be contagious, that we may or may not be aware of. Therefore, I submit that this line of thinking, while useful, misses a larger point: the use of private property as a buffer to prevent the spread of disease.

Let us first consider the airlines. Why don’t they stop flying to countries with known, active Ebola outbreaks? Why don’t they do additional screening of passengers from such areas or require a quarantine waiting period and increase ticket prices on the far end? If I owned a bunch of 747′s and knew that one or more would be out of commission for weeks of expensive strip and scrub-down to disinfect it due to one passenger, my rates would go up considerably as would my pre-boarding screening. The comments by airline pilots in this telling post seem to indicate the crews are ready to take such an action. Likely, it is politically correct pressure to avoid looking like heartless bigots who have stopped flying to Africa that prevents such common sense measures.

Second, consider the airports and train terminals which are almost all state owned, run, or so heavily regulated as to practically be so. They (as any business or business complex) should be taking measures to screen incoming and outgoing passengers. Contractually they could extend a quarantine for every ticket sold going forward. Want to fly from there to here? When you get here, you’ll be subject to medical screening and quarantined for 3 days. This sounds over the top, but I assure you from first hand experience that Dengue Fever and Yellow Fever are screened by infra-red cameras for every person getting off a flight into Kuala Lumpur and many other Asian airports. You pass the cameras on the way to the passport line, and if you have a fever they pull you aside for medical screening before you enter the country.

Third, consider how a libertarian society with privately owned infrastructure and roads would be different. Quarantine would not aggress against your rights to your person, property, or ability to travel freely, but would be an extension of the property rights of others to exclude you if they suspect you have Ebola. Or for any reason whatsoever. Looks like an outbreak in Dallas? Transport, Inc is shutting down their highways in and out with medical screening areas and additional fees for those who simply must travel. They have a vested financial interest in not contributing to the death of 50% of their 300 Million current and potential clients. Airlines would likely do the same as offered above. All of this would be informed by insurance companies eager to share information about likely risk in order to keep their policy holders alive. Not everyone would get it right. Some people would die. Some businesses would over-react, some under. But the market tries many things and arrives at efficient solutions that maximize the number of people who would not get Ebola.

Some call it quarantine. I call it property rights.

1:01 pm on October 8, 2014

“The Quarantine Quandary”

Scott, I was sorry to hear that any “libertarians” would support the government’s quarantine of anyone, no matter what the reason, and then that some of LRC’s readers disagreed with your defense of freedom. Oh, the faith that even Leviathan’s skeptics put in the beast’s abilities! As if bureaucrats and politicians who thieve and murder suddenly turn righteous and wise when “protecting” us from those who are ill.

I explored the history and implications of government’s quarantining us serfs after the DHS initiated a worldwide manhunt for Andrew Speaker in 2007. You may remember that he had supposedly contracted TB, the boogeyman du jour then, and was allegedly infecting everyone within spitting distance. Sadly, Americans who cheered the DHS’s persecution of poor Mr. Speaker prompted me to compare them to ”tribesmen throwing virgins into volcanoes” because they “assume[d] that sacrificing one unlucky person’s rights will preserve their lives.” If you consider yourself a friend of freedom but endorse the State’s “rescuing” us from contagion, I hope you’ll read the piece and realize that in this area as in any other, government cannot and does not protect us. Rather, it will use this “crisis” to prey on us, as always.

11:51 am on October 8, 2014

The Thirteen-Year War

The war in Afghanistan is now 13 years old. This is not a birthday that anyone should be celebrating. There have been 2,345 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Everyone of them died a senseless death that was in vain and for a lie. How many more will die before it finally ends?

10:25 am on October 8, 2014

The Virus Creators

For those who reflexively chant “conspiracy theorist!, conspiracy theorist!” whenever their well-conditioned ignorance is exposed to questioning, go to google and type in “patent for ebola virus” and see what appears. If one can survive the shock of seeing behind the Wizard’s screen, the question should then be asked: “why would the federal government spend so much time and money creating, and then patenting, a gene for the ebola virus?” What productive ends would be served by such efforts? The answer might be found in the following multiple choice options: [1] to create another “threat” that could be used to “protect” people; [b] to create another excuse for sending the military to other parts of the world [e.g., Africa] where the virus – and oil? – might be found; [c] to provide a reason for the government providing billions of dollars to Big-Pharma for research; [d] to justify more restrictions on both domestic and foreign travel; [e] to justify the creation of regional “quarantine” centers where “suspected” infected persons might be isolated; [f] all of the above.

9:56 am on October 8, 2014

Reality Check on Employment Numbers

On Friday, the big news was that the unemployment rate had fallen below 6 percent for the first time in six years. That’s swell news, but the headline unemployment rate tells us virtually nothing at all about the real employment situation. Since the unemployment rate is a function of both the labor force size and the total number of people who self-report as employed, we need to get a sense of both labor force dynamics and total employment. Below, I’m going to use the government’s own numbers, so keep in mind this data is the rosiest picture that BLS could credibly paint. I will not be using the so-called “seasonally adjusted” (SA) numbers, because they’re more heavily manipulated than the not-seasonally adjusted (NSA) numbers. Also, seasonal adjustment is simply unnecessary and adds  totally unnecessary complexity to the data. Everything I look at below is not adjusted, and is from the BLS.

Here’s the unemployment rate graph:


The unemployment rate bottomed out near 4 percent during the last expansion (2002-2008), and it then shot up to over 10 percent. Ever since then, it’s been heading down steadily. The headline SA number for September 2014 was 5.9 percent, and in this case the NSA number was even lower, at 5.7 percent for September. That’s down from a year earlier, when the rate was 7.0 percent.


3:45 pm on October 7, 2014


I have not written about quarantines, but I have written on forced vaccinations:

Block, Walter E. 2013. “Forced Vaccinations.” February 4;

Extrapolating from the latter to the former, I come on the side of compulsory quarantines, at least in some cases, at least in principle, on the basis of libertarian theory as I understand it.

1:36 pm on October 7, 2014

Some Emailers Agree and Disagree With Me on Ebola Scare

Several emailers responded to my post on the Ebola panic, some people agreeing with my points and some others disagreeing. One accused me of being insensitive to the situation of a possible epidemic or pandemic, and I understand that so I apologize if I have seemed insensitive. I just happen to be against involuntary quarantine, confinements, imprisonment of any people who have not harmed anyone. Most people who know they have Ebola would probably self-quarantine, in my view. The situation is different now than it was in decades past, as far as advances made in medical treatments and in prevention. The Ebola outbreak in Africa is escalating continuously now because the conditions over there are extremely unfavorable to the health of the general population. Such conditions involve sanitation, water and sewage infrastructure, and malnutrition. Such general conditions are much more favorable in the U.S. than the conditions in Africa. So far, anyway, I am still more concerned about the hysteria and panic than I am about Ebola.

Another aspect that is different now than decades ago is the power and strength of governments here, federal, state and local, in which the bureaucrats and their enforcers now have phenomenally much more power than they did in years past, and such multiplying government jobs have attracted the lowest of the low, the power-grabbers, oath-breakers, usurpers and psychopaths. The attitude now for many of them is “Never let a crisis go to waste,” to fulfill their lust for control over the lives of others. You can say, “What a right-wing, paranoid conspiracy nut” if you want to, but to some of the emailers who wrote about their fear of losing their children to Ebola because of irresponsible infected people going out in public, I would point out the many, many “Melissa Harris-Perry” types who are out there to whom you really could lose your kids. We know that from all the CPS and DCF horror stories now, what’s going on in the public schools, and if there might be an Ebola crisis in the U.S. those family-hating fascists are ready to take advantage of it. I could be way off, of course, and that might not be the case. But we saw the zeal of the child-snatchers in the Justina Pelletier case and there have now been quite a few other similar cases, in addition to all the police- and “first-responder”–related horror stories.

And my other issue is, aside from those who may actually be diagnosed with Ebola after having tested positive for it, there may be many people who might be “suspected” of having it. Should we forcibly quarantine them, too? Should we demand their blood to have it tested? What if someone is suspected but doesn’t want to give his blood to the “officials”? Should we forcibly take his blood? We know now that the vampires of the police state are taking innocent people’s blood and putting it into government databases. It is something to be concerned about.

12:57 pm on October 7, 2014

No Criminal Charges for the Baby-Burning Stormtroopers of Habersham County


In Habersham County, Georgia, it is not a crime to mutilate children in midnight raids, assuming that the assailants are privileged purveyors of state-sanctioned violence.

Following a six-day investigation, a Habersham County Grand Jury has declined to indict the law enforcement officers who nearly murdered 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh by heaving a flash-bang grenade into his crib during a no-knock drug raid earlier this year. The raid followed a tip from an anonymous informant that there were drugs and weapons at the residence, which was supposedly patrolled by armed guards. The same informant claimed that there were no children present at the targeted home. While there was certainly a child on the premises, neither drugs nor guns were found during the raid.

The tiny victim, whose face was demolished and whose chest was blown open, was still in a medically induced coma when Sheriff Jerry Terrell officially exonerated the officers who had nearly murdered him: “I stand behind what our team did. There’s nothing to investigate, there’s nothing to look at.”

Public outrage eventually led to a Grand Jury inquest, which did little more than ratify the sheriff’s claims. Rather than preferring charges against the officials responsible for that crime, the grand jury offers a menu of suggested “reforms” and expresses satisfaction that the the Appalachian Drug Task Force has been subsumed into a state-wide counter-narcotics soviet supervised by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.


11:09 am on October 7, 2014

Re: Quarantines of Old

Lew: When I was a youngster, a yellow “quarantine” sign would be placed at the front door of any house where an occupant had been diagnosed with a communicable disease. The sign did not imprison any of us, but served as a warning to others. There were no government agencies surrounding the house to keep us in, but it was understood by each of us in our family that our remaining inside was an act of responsibility so as not to infect others. This was true even for homes in which a family member had come down with polio, a disease that did not pass by contact with others, but for which everyone had a rational [i.e., not hysterical] fear.

8:41 pm on October 6, 2014

response to letter on government’s right to tax

Here is the response to my letter on government’s right to tax:

Thanks. That makes sense. It’s not the nature of the “easement” – whether it’s taxes, using a path or polluting with noise, all involve trespass on someone else’s property – but rather that the government official can’t have homesteaded anything because he didn’t apply labor or capital to previously unowned land. And he can’t have generated the “easement” contractually because it likely wasn’t the result of a voluntary arrangement.

Here is my second reply to this query:


7:31 pm on October 6, 2014

Letter on libertarian theory

From time to time I get over the transom letters. Here is an interesting one, with my response.

1. Letter:

I have a question that I’ve been mulling over and figured you were the best
person to ask. If you don’t have time to provide an answer, no worries.

I’m trying to figure out how to respond to a statist who claims that, by
moving into a community, you thereby consent to the tax and regulatory
regime that exists, and how this sits with the libertarian homesteading
principle as it relates, for instance, to pre-existing easements or

To elaborate, I understand that if I homestead a path across some unowned
land, and later someone homesteads the entire block of land, since my
homesteaded easement preceded their homesteading, their land is subject to
my easement. Or, if I homestead or buy a block of land next to an existing
airport, since the airport homesteaded the right to create a certain level
of noise pollution, I cannot lawfully complain about this level of
pollution. So, applying this to the issue at hand, if I move into a
community with a tax and regulatory regime that impacts real property in
that community, why can’t those in the local government claim that they have
homesteaded the right to a financial/regulatory easement or
financial/regulatory pollution with respect to my real property? (For the
purposes of this issue, let’s assume neither the people in government nor
the level of taxes/regulation change, since if either of those change then I
don’t think the new politicians can claim the easement and nor can existing
politicians claim a more intrusive easement).

What’s the flaw in that way of thinking?


7:12 pm on October 6, 2014

The Forgotten Pandemic

The WWI-spawned influenza pandemic killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide, and 500,000-675,000 in the US. My grandparents, great-grandmother, and mother and aunts and uncles to be, were all quarantined. A little boy who would have been my uncle died of it. Many families had such stories, though as Burt Blumert used to point out, the horror has been largely erased from the public mind.

4:16 pm on October 6, 2014

Proud Air Force Sister

This is the newest military slogan I have seen on a t-shirt. But is there anything to be proud of if your brother is in the Air Force? He willingly will bomb any country on command, and may have even done so already. “Ashamed Air Force Sister” would be a better; that is, more accurate, t-shirt. Why not wear a shirt that says “Proud Plumber Sister” or “Proud Cook Sister”? Sad to say, you would be laughed at. But when people see the shirt that says “Proud Air Force Sister” they think, wow, how lucky. Americans sure are crazy military lovers.

3:54 pm on October 6, 2014

Is Obama a Dove?

According to a CNN poll, 65 percent of Americans consider Obama to be a dove when it comes to foreign policy. Compared to whom? LBJ? George W. Bush? Bomber “I would have destroyed Dresden again” Harris? Curtis “firebomb Japan” LeMay?

Obama has bombed seven countries, the article says. Some dove.

3:37 pm on October 6, 2014