Saturday, March 29, 2008

Prohibit Prohibition

Education Specialist for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P.), Officer Howard J. Wooldridge (retired), Washington, D.C., offers his take on the war on drugs in a letter to the editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times:

Police can’t stop people from doing stupid things in private

Carl Mumpower believes the government thru its police department can protect a citizen who is doing something stupid in their own home. His faith is misplaced. As a police officer, I learned we cannot stop personal stupidity in ones’ home. Only family and friends can help someone with a personal demon. All we can do is put them in jail. How is that helping?

Will North Carolina be able to afford to keep locking up its citizens in the recession? Will it lay college professors or prison guards? Will we ever be as wise as our grandparents and end this modern prohibition?

I appreciate the writer's argument from utility, stating his recognition that government-coerced prohibition does not work—indeed, it does not. The larger question is, though, should it?

Some people argue that the war on drugs is necessary because it helps prevent substance abuse. And that this is good for people and good for society. Which is essentially a moral claim.

First of all, it is not the role of government to do things that are good for me. That's my business. It is the proper role of government to protect individual rights. In prosecuting the war on drugs, the government becomes one of the chief violators of individual rights.

The question of personal vice is a moral issue and does not come within the purview of government.

Moral instruction regarding the pros and cons of substance use or abuse is the function of friends, family, teachers, clergy, literature, or a person's own rational introspection. It certainly is not the function of government.

Furthermore, the war on drugs proves that we do not live in a free society, but in one that considers its citizens to be property that must be protected from its own peaceable, voluntary decisions. It is this fundamental premise that is also responsible for the great many of other abuses of government that we live with every day.

Whether or not the war on drugs is actually successful in fact, it is both unconstitutional and immoral in principle.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bullshit War

So says a Pentagon report today: "When a roadside bomb killed four American soldiers in Baghdad Sunday night it brought the U.S. military death toll in Iraq to 4,000."

My, isn't that precious. The most gruesome and appalling statement made on this pitiable occasion comes from our own Commander-in-Chief:

"I have vowed in the past and I will vow so long as I'm president to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain, that in fact there is an outcome that will merit the sacrifice," he said.

When a proud and capable American citizen enlists in the United States Armed Forces, it is to preserve his nation and its values against foreign threats.

When, instead, he is sent to a foreign country to preserve and extend an expansive and perpetual empire of aggression and interventionism, his unsought death should be viewed not as some kind of bizarre sacrificial offering but as a grotesque and horrible purchase in a fool's bargain.

4,000 dead is nothing to a gargantuan, bloodthirsty nation bent on policing the world, crushing self-determination, and forcing its own myopic will down the throats of unwilling multitudes.

To die in an unjust war not only is not a sacrifice -- as our high commander so blithely claims, with his crocodile tears -- it is an eternal and unremitting shame that no shallow politician, present or future, will redeem with such a disgusting rhetorical flourish.

4,000. God Damn America.


"The Media Must Ask Specific Foreign Policy Questions" by Michael Scheuer.

"The Chicken Doves" by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, Feb 21, 2008.

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by Vincent Bugliosi.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

White Males Need Not Apply


Central banks mull buying mortgages
The U.S. Federal Reserve and some of its European counterparts are talking about the practicality of using public money to buy large quantities of mortgage-backed assets to clean up the credit mess jeopardizing global economic growth, the Financial Times reported Saturday...


"Central banks float rescue ideas" By Chris Giles and Krishna Guha, Financial Times, March 21 2008.

"Split Is Forming Over Regulation of Wall Street" By EDMUND L. ANDREWS and STEPHEN LABATON, New York Times, March 23, 2008.

"Fed nationalizes (some) banks!" by Michael S. Rozeff, Lew Rockwell blog, March 11, 2008.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Zacchaeus House

A private home in Asheville doubles as a place of worship and a sanctuary for the homeless. the home-church has been named Zacchaeus House and is operated by Rev. Amy Cantrell. But the home does not conform to the City of Asheville zoning laws for a public accommodation and the tenant has been issued a Notice of Zoning Violation for operating a "place of worship" in a neighborhood zoned for Single Family High Density.

The small “house-church” was cited by the city for having a church in a residence, and its two ministers, the Rev. Amy Cantrell and the Rev. Chrystal Cook, were told they would have to bring the house up to code as a public gathering place or close. - Asheville Citizen-Times.

...the property must satisfy a host of special building-safety requirements, such as multiple bathrooms, exit signs and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. - Mountain Xpress.

This type of “dumb” government action chokes the serendipity of spontaneous organization and occasions the stagnation of a compassionate human spirit.

Who is to say that Zacchaeus House will continue to be a refuge for the homeless? Today it might be Zacchaeus House, tomorrow it might be somewhere else.

Why should Zacchaeus House remodel at great expense to satisfy dumb government zoning rules when their mission may not persist beyond the morrow? Should another home take up the mission, they will also be required to renovate at great expense to comply with zoning regulations. And another, and another -- only later to revert to its former use. Nonsense!

This is how government intervention becomes a disincentive to charity; which is our right to exercise, as we see fit and in the style we see fit and to the extend we see fit.

It has been suggested that "the neighborhood doesn’t want 'those kind of people' in their midst." That is correct. When I spoke with Rev. Cantrell recently at Zacchaeus House, she called it gentrification.

My good friend Rev. Rightmyer supports the neighborhood. He thinks that requiring thousands of dollars to bring the home up to code for a public accommodation would help "clean up the neighborhood." This kind of expense is both unnecessary and prohibitive.

I suppose the neighbors would rather have the homeless wildly scrambling through the streets for food and shelter on their own than peaceably taking comfort in a friendly home setting with the solace of moral support.


RLUIPA: a federal statute that was passed in 2000 to provide stronger protection for religious freedom in the land-use and prison contexts.

Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act - DOJ.

Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act - Wikipedia.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Economic Pretention

In his commentary for World News Trust entitled Still Pretending, James Kunstler writes:
The maneuvers that the big banks are making nowadays, along with their enablers at the Federal Reserve and elsewhere in Washington, really amount to little more than the old Polish blanket joke -- in which (excuse my concision) the proverbial Polack wants to make his blanket longer, so he scissors twelve inches off the top and sews it onto the bottom. Only in this case, the banks are shearing x-billions of losses off the top of their blankets and re-attaching x-billions of new debt onto the bottom. This new debt, of course, goes to cover the old losses and only represents further losses-to-be-reported-later, since the banks are basically insolvent. Borrowing more money when you're broke doesn't make you less insolvent.

Congratulations Mr. Kunstler, you got it right.

But let’s put a little less blame on the “big banks” and a little more on the “enablers.” It is government interference in the economy, namely the central banking system, established by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, that set the current looming economic disaster on its present course.

With the total elimination of asset-based currency under Nixon, we now have a system of debt-based currency that allows the Fed to print fiat money at its discretion and pump that money supply into the economy in the form of easy credit. The “big banks” are only responding to the signals from the Fed and its enabler, the U.S. Government.

Currency that is based on debt only has value based on our future ability to repay (savings, assets, equity, incomes, population growth, earnings capability, currency strength). Therefore, all new additional money is debt and all debt is paid with weaker, devalued dollars -- or with new debt. Wealth is siphoned from the poor and middle-class through inflation and boom-bust business cycles. America is essentially insolvent as we speak because of our declining potential to back up this obligation to repay.

As Mr. Knustler says,
Sooner or later we’ll get back to money that stands for something and banks that function as credible repositories of wealth.

“Money that stands for something” means asset-based. “Banks that function as credible repositories of wealth” means banking and lending institutions that are not tools of the government.

We are all debt-slaves now and only 10% of Americans are voting for change this year. I have been supporting the only Presidential candidate who fully understands our economic situation, how we got where we are, what are the consequences, and what is the only remedy. This is the only authentic change: radical course correction — not simply branding the ’status quo.’

Americans have been offered their liberty and security on a silver platter and are content to let it pass in favor of “American Idol” politics. They deserve now whatever rot they get.

Thank you Mr. Kunstler for agreeing with me.


A Word From Ron Paul, Forbes Magazine, March 8, 2008.

Past the Point of No Return by Chris Mack, February 18, 2008.

What Has Government Done to Our Money? by Murray N. Rothbard. AUDIOBOOK

Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles by Jesús Huerta de Soto.

Most Economists in Survey Say Recession Is Here -- Phil Izzo and Sudeep Reddy, WSJ.

How a lender bailout hurts the economy -- Colin Barr, CNN Money.

Media Overlook Fed Bailout in Plain View -- Dean Baker.

Happy Talk on the Bailout -- Dean Baker.

"The Fed Didn't Bail Out Wall Street? It Just Ain't So!" By Robert Murphy, The Freeman, January 2008.

"The Fed's New Tricks Are Creating Disaster" By Frank Shostak, Mises Blog, 3/18/2008.