Monday, March 28, 2011

A heartwarming report.

We are pleased to offer this Belgian report on Peter, Laurent and Samuel. We actively campaigned to encourage  people to protest to the Belgian embassy about their treatment of Samuel. That campaign was successful and the Belgian authorities allowed Samuel to go home, after 2 1/2 years of forcing him to live in an orphanage. There are some very sad moments as it becomes clear that Samuel's treatment in the orphanage was less than it should have been.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Family' Advocate Says Constitution Doesn't Protect Muslims

The First Amendment, which explicitly protects freedom of religion, according to one "pro-family" advocate, is only for Christians. Bryan Fischer, one of the most extreme theocrats in Religious Right, now says the First Amendment only exists to "protect the free exercise of Christianity." Fischer runs the American Family Association, which primarily unleashes its hatred toward gay people. But now Fischer seems to want to broaden his disrespect to everyone other than "Christians."

Consider, for a second, that Fischer is excluding all non-Christians, not just Islam. In Fischer's mind Jews have no rights to freedom of religion either. Neither would non-believers, Buddhists, or a large percentage of the American public. And, if this Constitutional right only belongs to Christians, then wouldn't government be required to define who is, or isn't a Christian.

Some of my Catholic friends were horrified to discover that fundamentalists like Fischer don't actually think Catholics are Christians. Most of them exclude Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christian Scientists as well. In fact, if truth be told, they don't believe that most people who say they are Christians are actually Christians.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Did the economic crash make us better off?

Over the last few years the country has been in an economic crash. Unemployment went up, defaults on mortgages skyrocketed, unemployment went up and numerous businesses went bankrupt. So why aren't people cheering?

Has anyone noticed poor people dancing in the streets because of the downturn? I don't think so. On the face of it we would assume the idea itself is absurd.

The Fed put out a report, Surveying the Aftermath of the Storm: Changes in Family Finances from 2007 to 2009, that reports: "All the measures of income change presented here suggest that income increased for families with income near or above the 2007 median and income fell for families with income near or above the 2007 median."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Hate-Filled World

Joytv-The Standard-Nate Phelps INVU from Jonathan Roth on Vimeo.

Nate Phelps, who left his father's church, The Westboro Baptist Church, talks about the hate-filled world of the ultra-fundamentalist Calvinist.

You may note that one of the members of the church said he had once been a libertarian. Now, these days, that term is used far too loosely. But, if he had really been somewhat libertarian, I would argue he is a prime example of the dangers of allowing conservative logic and arguments to enter libertarianism. It leads in very ugly directions.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Give me a call, and why you can afford to do it.

I witnessed the telephonics revolution and lived to tell about it. I can go back to the time that there was Bell Telephone, and in the other corner, Bell Telephone. I even remember the standard black, rotary dial phone. That was what they called choice back then.

Bell had a monopoly because the government said that competition would be bad for us. Bell of course agreed. In return the government said it had to control Bell's profits. Bell profited and consumers had no choice.

Then there was a dramatic development in the telephone industry. Bell decided that we could have a new kind of phone, the "sleek" Princess phone. They promised that it was little, lovely and it lights up! Better yet it came in some colors other than black. That was a revolution by the standards of the regulated Bell Telephone.

It took another four years before the next great innovation came along—touchtone dialing. And then it was another 15 years before they came up with the idea of phone jacks where the phones just plugged in and worked. To say the least, change came at a glacial pace, there was little innovation and costs remained high compared to the average income.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

How the Right & Left Misuse Jesus.

Jesus is one of those figures who is used to justify just about everything.  Hitler appealed to Jesus, as have multiple socialists. The Religious Right drops Jesus at the drop of the hat to justify anything they do.

So it was with interest that I read Phil Zuckerman’s take on how evangelicals “hate Jesus.” Zuckerman’s thesis is that evangelicals misinterpret Jesus in order to attach their political agenda to him. They do.

But then Zuckerman appears to do the same thing. After reading his essay I assumed he wanted to use Jesus to support his political agenda. The first clue was that he misstates what Jesus said, or didn’t say, as much as the people he opposes.

He claims evangelicals “are the group least likely to support politicians or policies that reflect the actual teachings of Jesus.” Of course, the “actual” teachings of Jesus are all left wing, if one accepts Zuckerman’s views.

Zuckerman wants a Jesus who is left wing. Most evangelicals want a Jesus who is right wing. But the reality is that Jesus had no real politics at all. He had an ethical system that simply wasn’t made for this world. Particularly he had no economic perspective at all. The ethics of Jesus implied an anti-capitalistic viewpoint. But that doesn’t allow us to jump to the opposite conclusion either. This is not to say that multiple Christians haven’t tried to use Jesus to push a socialist agenda. They have.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Flying pigs, socialism and alternative universes.

In 30 years of working within the classical liberal movement I’ve come across some daft statements by people; frequently from our opponents, but often from our allies.

I’ve heard opponents try to dismantle liberal ideas by asking hypothetical questions such as: “If socialism produced the goods would you be a socialist?” The assumption is that an affirmative answer would mean that market principles aren’t principles at all.

Some of our more cultic-like allies have dismissed other classical liberals as being unprincipled with silly comments like: “They’d support concentration camps if it increased economic efficiency.”

Both statements are fundamentally absurd. Both require that the universe in which we live be different from what it actually is.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Our newest Huffington Post article on line now.

The second column by our president, James Peron, appears today at Huffington Post. The article is entitled Police Use Licensing Laws to Do End-Run Around Constitution. The article looks at how local police use licensing laws, as well as health and safety regulations, to engage in warrantless searches. The reality is that police are looking for crime but don't want to have to get search warrants mainly because they are engaging in fishing expeditions. This article uses four examples to show how police selectively use these regulations against minorities who have historically been the object of police prejudice: the African-American and gay communities.

The first column was about the bureaucratic nightmare that enveloped Laurent Ghilain and Peter Meurrens as their son was confined to an orphanage because Belgian officials refused to issue a passport for the boy after his birth. The Storey Institute got involved in a successful internet campaign to pressure the Belgian government to change its policies and allow little Samuel to receive his passport so he could go home. Information on that campaign can be found at a Facebook page we established. The article for HP outlined the facts of the case and the ultimate victory as the Belgian government reluctantly issued a passport for Samuel. That article can be found here. According to HP the article was one of the "top posts" for that week and Huffington Post, is one of the most-read web sites in the world.

A column by James Peron should appear once a week depending on final approval by editors. At any time you can see all his articles there by going to this page at HP.