Freedom Updates: November 14, 2001

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Freedom Updates: November 14, 2001

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Airline Security

It is simply a lie to suggest airline security is currently handled by "private" companies. Sure, the companies are nominally private, but they are controlled and regulated by the federal government. The proper term for state control of nominally private companies is fascism.

There should not even be any debate today about government involvement in airline security. Both airports and airlines should operate wholly independently of government control. Airports and airlines should contract freely to determine who is providing which security measures.

When the federal government mandates "safety" requirements, usually those become both the minimum and the maximum standards met. When something bad happens, the socialized companies cry, "It's not our fault! We met all the government safety requirements!"

Politicians should have absolutely no say in whether pilots are armed, whether airlines hire sky marshals or off-duty police officers, or whether they hand out weapons to passengers to counter terrorist threats. Airlines should be left alone to innovate and to compete on the basis of security.

If airports and airlines were entirely freed of political interference, there would be no intractable problems of Constitutional matters at airports. People would be free to patronize those airports and those airlines that met their needs. Just as you are free to set safety standards in your own home, so private air companies should be free to set safety standards and compete accordingly.

As Mark Thornton pointed out, when security is federalized, the standards and practices are exactly the same everywhere. That means terrorists have an easy time figuring out how to bypass security and infiltrate many planes simultaneously.

Barry Hess wrote an article in which he describes what would happen to terrorists if an airline allowed passengers to carry weapons. The passengers might face a minor delay to drop off the dead bodies of the terrorists.

Mike Krause wrote an article for the Independence Institute (http://www.i2i.org/Publications/Op-Eds/PersonalFreedom/armedamericans.htm) that argues against new intrusive laws.


El Dildo Bandito

What a soap opera! Some "artist" hung a string ceramic penises in the Boulder Public Library. Then a man who lives north of Boulder stole the "art" and replaced it with an American flag!

A November 8 story in the Rocky Mountain News reports, "Not surprisingly, [Karen] Ripley [director of cultural programs for the Boulder Public Library] said, the artwork by domestic violence victims features themes about men, women, sexuality and violence. 'The whole point of the exhibit is to make people think about domestic violence,' Ripley said."

I suppose Ripley's exhibit was successful, then. The Boulder display did make me think about domestic violence: against men. (Can you imagine the outcry if a men's group had displayed a string of female genitalia?)

Apparently, the theft was prompted in part by initial reluctance of the library to display the U.S. flag.

A November 12 story from the News reports, "In full view of a few silent onlookers, [the thief] plucked the 21 penises from the line, put them in a trash bag, and left a small American flag and a calling card: 'El Dildo Bandito was here.'"

The thief said he was offended that he had to pay taxes to support the exhibit. My understanding is that the art itself was funded by a private group. However, because the Boulder Public Library is funded by taxpayers, the incident does point to the very sticky problems inherent in any politically-operated venture. Jefferson pointed to the immorality of forcing people to pay for things they find offensive. If the library were private, there would be no question who's property rights are at stake. First Amendment guarantees of free speech don't imply some people have to right to force others to pay for art they find offensive.

The thief said of the exhibit, "It's not art, it's garbage." I would agree the exhibit is tasteless at best and an open display of hostility toward men at worst. However, I do think the exhibit may properly be characterized as "art." It's even representational, something the Objectivists regard as necessary for an object to be considered art.


Economic Stimulus

A November 12 editorial from the News is titled, "Stimulus needed, but not pork." The writers did a good job of lambasting politicians who would use the attacks on America as a pretext to increase spending on special interest groups.

However, the title of the editorial implies the government should spend more money in order to "stimulate" the economy. That's Keynesian hogwash.

Here is the simple truth. Every dollar the government spends is a dollar taken out of the free economy. If the government takes that dollar through direct taxes, then the people have less money to spend on goods and services. If the government takes that dollar by tapping investment funds, then businesses have less money to borrow to build up their businesses (and they face higher interest rates). If the government takes the dollar by inflating the money supply, then again the people have less wealth.

Any way you look at it, the government is simply not able to "stimulate" the economy. The only thing the government is capable of doing is diverting wealth from more productive uses to less productive uses. Therefore, the only way the government can stimulate the economy is to reduce its spending and return those dollars to the people.


Trade Restrictions are Anti-American

I got the following message in my e-mail box.

Joe Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock (MADE IN JAPAN) for 6 a.m. While his coffeepot (MADE IN CHINA) was perking, he shaved with his electric razor (MADE IN HONG KONG). He put on a dress shirt (MADE IN SRI LANKA), designer jeans (MADE IN SINGAPORE) and tennis shoes (MADE IN KOREA). After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet (MADE IN INDIA) he sat down with his calculator (MADE IN MEXICO) to see how much he could spend today. After setting his watch (MADE IN TAIWAN) to the radio (MADE IN INDIA) he got in his car (MADE IN GERMANY) and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN JOB. At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day, Joe decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals (MADE IN BRAZIL) poured himself a glass of wine (MADE IN FRANCE) and turned on his TV (MADE IN INDONESIA), and then wondered why he can't find a good paying job in.....AMERICA.....

The reason Joe is having a hard time finding a good paying job in America is that the Fed inflated the money supply over last several years. Inflation inevitably brings an economic downturn. To exacerbate this problem, government in America spends close to half the nation's GDP. Rather than go to productive uses, much of America's wealth goes to fund worthless, non-productive bureaucrats.

Unfortunately, the e-mail I received seems to imply that Joe is having trouble finding a job because consumers are able to purchase goods from around the world. The e-mail has the case exactly backwards. It is through free trade with other nations that America becomes more wealthy.

Joe needs to learn some simple economic principles. The principle of "comparative advantage" demonstrates that, because people are relatively better at making certain goods, it makes sense for people to trade with each other. Comparative advantage can arise from differences in local natural resources, labor skills, or capital structures. By trading with producers in other nations, American consumers increase their own wealth and strengthen the economy. (Similarly, when Texans and Coloradans trade both regions become wealthier.)

Any forced intervention in free trade only reduces the wealth of both sides. Of course, some people argue that we should boycott, say, China, in order to protest China's human rights abuses. However, those who advocate such boycotts should realize the act will make Americans poorer. The counter-argument is that free trade breaks down statist barriers in other nations and paves the way to freedom there. I'm not sure which argument is correct, though the argument for free trade strikes me as a powerful one.

As I type these notes, I am surrounded by goods from other countries. Trading freely with producers in other nations is not a sign of anti-Americanism: it is a badge of American pride.


Uprising

Uprising is perhaps the best work I've ever seen on television. Having read Mila 18 by Leon Uris, I was struck by the accuracy and spirit of the film. (I wasn't sure I'd appreciate David Schwimmer's performance, but I thought he and the rest of the cast did a fine job.) I anticipate the arrival of the video so I can watch the second half (you can order your own copy at 1.800.PEACOCK). I find it especially ironic that Denver's ADL blasted Bob Glass, a Jew, for daring to defend the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights in part by pointing to the horrors of the Holocaust. The Nazis murdered many members of Glass' family. The Jews of the Warsaw ghetto smuggled illegal guns to defend against the Nazis, even though most of them also were killed. I weep in remembrance of those killed by the Nazis, but I am heartened by the struggles of the Jews and their supporters to fight oppression.


Criminals Bypass Brady

A November 5 Associated Press article by Christopher Newton states:

More gun-carrying criminals are turning to friends and family for their weapons rather than buying them at stores, gun shows or flea markets, the Justice Department reported yesterday. Nearly 40 percent of state prison inmates in 1997 who used or possessed a firearm during their crime got the weapon from a friend or relative, compared with 34 percent in 1991. Over the same period, the percentage of inmates who bought or traded for their gun at a pawn shop, flea market, or retail outlet fell from 21 percent to 14 percent. That shift is due in part to the passage of tougher gun control laws during the 1990s, including the 1993 Brady Bill that imposed nationwide background checks on buyers, the report said. The Bureau of Justice Statistics survey also showed the number of state prisoners who used guns to commit their crimes rose from 16 percent to 18 percent from 1991 to 1997. Federal prisoners followed the same trend, increasing their gun possession from 12 percent to 15 percent over the same period.

Any rational person would conclude that the Brady law is a failure and should be repealed. Law enforcement resources should target violent persons, not register peaceable American gun owners with the federal government.

Of course, the cry from the anti-gun lobby is to impose even more laws on the law-abiding. The gun laws have failed, so we need more of them, the disarmament activists say.

The Brady law is directly responsible for disarming Americans who needed a gun for self-defense. It is linked to an increase in rapes. It is a counter-productive and fascist law that violates the Bill of Rights and diverts scarce resources away from legitimate law enforcement.


The Value of Asbestos

A member of the WeTheLiving list sent the following note to that list: "The WTC towers were designed to withstand the crash of a commercial jumbo jet, but the design called for asbestos insulation to keep the steel columns from melting. The asbestos was never installed above the 64th floor because the city banned its use."

An article at Fox News argues the buildings would have still fallen, but the asbestos would have delayed the fall, allowing additional people to escape.

To read more, see the following three links.
http://www.accesstoenergy.com/view/ate/s41p1043.htm
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,34342,00.html
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,34856,00.html


Million Mom Critique

I appreciated the following link:
http://www.BradyCenterCampaign.org/mmmfarce.html


John Lott Defends Civil Arms

In an article for the Wall Street Journal Europe titled "Switzerland Needs Less Gun Control, Not More," John Lott addressed the issue of a mass shooting in that country.

Lott suggests the appropriate response is "rescinding new gun-control laws that make mass murders of the sort seen last week more, not less, likely." He continues,

What's not being discussed is abolishing Switzerland's recently instituted gun-control laws. On Jan. 1, 1999, the country adopted a national policy strictly limiting citizens' ability to carry concealed handguns. Prior to that date, half of Switzerland's cantons had no regulations on concealed handguns and people could carry their guns anywhere. Why the law was even adopted is not very clear. In 1998, guns were used in only 66 cases of attempted or successful homicides, in a country of seven million people.

The law now severely limits permits to those who can demonstrate in advance that they need a weapon to protect themselves or others against a precise danger. But we should ask how last Thursday's attack might have turned out differently if even one of the people in the Zug parliament had been armed and able to defend himself and his colleagues.

While the desire for so-called "safe zones" is understandable, such policies frequently lead to perverse outcomes. Guns surely make it easier to kill people, but they also make it much easier for people to defend themselves. When restrictions are passed, it is law-abiding citizens, not would-be criminals, who obey them. Unfortunately, the police cannot be everywhere, so these laws risk creating situations in which the good guys stand defenseless before the bad ones.

A September 28 article by Lott is titled, "Only Guns Can Stop Terrorists: It's harder to victimize armed citizens." He writes, "The only adequate response [to terrorist threats] is to encourage more ordinary, responsible citizens to carry guns, as Israel has done."


Collateral Damage

Yes, sometimes it's necessary to fight a war. But we should never forget the innocent victims of any war. We must remain ever-vigilant that any war is fought for defensive, rather than political, reasons.

Consider the following account (http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/0927/p1s1-wogi.html).

Bassem never heard the explosion. Instead, he watched in astonishment as the window frame suddenly flew into the room, and the roof collapsed on top of him and his daughter. Kinda was screaming in the darkness near him. Bassem tried to move, but was pinned by the rubble. He groped in the blackness for Kinda. "Don't worry," he said, squeezing his daughter's hand. "Daddy's here, don't cry, it will be okay." The blast had knocked Saniya unconscious. She woke to hear Bassem calling from the next room and Kinda screaming. She stumbled in the darkness, barefoot across the rubble and glass shards, choking on the fumes from the missile blast, as she called her daughter's name "Raafat! Raafat!" for several minutes. But there was no response, and Saniya knew with a terrible certainty that her daughter was dead.

An Armed America

Historian Michael A. Bellesiles created quite a stir with his book claiming early America wasn't as well armed as many believe. He has been harshly criticized for failing to meet academic standards.

An article at http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/254/nation/New_doubts_about_gun_historian+.shtml states:

But even as publication of "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture" won Bellesiles plaudits... some of his academic doubters were poring over evidence Bellesiles cited and finding multiple instances in which he seems to have misused historical records....

[A]t Harvard Law School, Bellesiles's most adamant critic, Northwestern University law professor James Lindgren, plans to detail evidence that Bellesiles may have stretched or distorted the historical record in trying to prove his claim.

The Boston Globe has reviewed substantial portions of records Lindgren will cite: 18th-century probate records in Vermont and Rhode Island. The Globe has also checked into Bellesiles's claim to have studied certain records in San Francisco, records county officials say were destroyed by fire in 1906. In each case, the records appear to support Lindgren's accusation and suggest a disturbing pattern of misuse of data by Bellesiles in his book and in an article defending his thesis which he published on his Web site.

Government Indoctrination Camps

Calling government schools "indoctrination camps" has always struck me as a little harsh. Sometimes the label is accurate, though. KABA reports students are "taught" the following lies and bigoted statements.

  • "The law forbids people of any age from carrying a concealed weapon."
  • "Carrying a weapon, particularly a gun, increases the risk of suicide."
  • "Stay away from people who own weapons."
  • "Avoid being around people who buy, carry, conceal, or use weapons."

To read the full report, see http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com/information/XcIBViewItem.asp?ID=2443.


Guns Stop Rape

After the rash of rapes in Fort Collins, a CSU student decided to buy a gun for personal protection. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners helped out. The local sheriff waived the usual waiting period, and a local gun store provided free training. A release from RMGO states:

RMGO was contacted by a CSU student in hopes that she might obtain a concealed weapons permit. RMGO aided her in this application process, and a The Gun Room in Fort Collins donated a Taurus .38 special (quite generous, as the weapon retails for $385).

In light of the Fort Collins rapist activities, "Annie" (she is using a pseudonym to protect her identity), a CSU Senior economics student, was granted an emergency CCW permit by Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden.

In towns across America, when women started arming themselves, rapes declined dramatically.


ACLU Defends Gun Owners

"A Denver appeals court further eroded the Fourth Amendment by allowing police to ask stopped motorists whether they have a loaded gun, a civil liberties lawyer said..."

That "civil liberties lawyer" is Micheal Salem, who works with the ACLU. He asked the court, "How many of these things have to happen before we realize we're living in a police state and not a place governed by the Constitution?" The entire article may be found at http://www.newsok.com/cgi-bin/show_article?ID=749039&pic=none&TP=getarticle.

This case demonstrates the possibilities for new alliances between civil libertarians of different stripes.


Stratton Issues CCWs

The October 17 Rocky Mountain News reports the town of Stratton will continue to issue concealed carry permits to all Coloradans.

The town issued the statement, "The town council appreciates the concerns of larger municipalities whose residents are issued permits, but the council believes that those concerns are outweighed by the need to provide safety and security to law enforcement personnel and law-abiding citizens, and the need to preserve our right to bear arms under the U.S. and Colorado Constitution."

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