Politics & Law

Dr. Hendricks on Obamacare (1957)

“I quit when medicine was placed under State control some years ago,” said Dr. Hendricks. “Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I could not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward. I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything—except the desires of the doctors. Men considered only the ‘welfare’ of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it. That a doctor should have any right, desire or choice in the matter, was regarded as irrelevant selfishness; his is not to choose, they said, but ‘to serve.’ That a man who’s willing to work under compulsion is too dangerous a brute to entrust with a job in the stockyards—never occurred to those who proposed to help the sick by making life impossible for the healthy. I have often wondered at the smugness at which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind—yet what is it they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands? Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn. Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in the operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it—and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn’t.”
— Dr. Hendricks, a fictional character in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957

Larry Downes Interviews Steve Simpson on Free Speech in America

Here’s a great interview with Steve Simpson in which he argues that Americans need to recognize freedom of speech not as a permission to be granted when it suits social purposes, but as a right to be protected at all times. (The interview is in the first hour of the July 17 podcast.) For more on this subject, see Simpson’s article in The Objective Standard “Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America.”

Here is are the opening paragraphs:

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC is one of the most important First Amendment decisions in a generation and one of the most controversial. In it, the Supreme Court struck down a law that banned corporations from spending their own money on speech that advocated the election or defeat of candidates. In the process, the Court overturned portions of McConnell v. FEC, a case in which the Supreme Court, a mere six years ago, upheld McCain-Feingold, one of the most sweeping restrictions on campaign speech in history.

In many ways, Citizens United is a ringing endorsement of First Amendment rights, and it is certainly cause for optimism about the future of free speech. But the divisions on the Supreme Court over the case and the reactions from Democrats in Congress, the media, and the left in general indicate that Citizens United will not be the last word on the matter.

In this respect, the controversy is not surprising: Citizens United dealt a serious blow to the further growth of campaign finance laws, supporters of which are determined and outspoken. But the controversy is shocking from the standpoint of the law at issue: It prevented a nonprofit group from distributing a film that criticized a candidate, Hillary Clinton, during her run for the presidency in 2008. During oral arguments in the case, the government admitted campaign finance laws could be applied to prevent corporations from publishing and distributing not only films but also books that said the wrong things during election cycles.

Banning films and books?

The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Those simple and elegant words would seem to leave no room for a law, passed by Congress, that prevents corporations from spending money to distribute films and books. So, how did we get here?

Read Simpson’s article in The Objective Standard “Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America,” which is also available in audio.  [Hat tip – TOS]

Founding Principles

In reply to a comment at http://www.chicagomaroon.com/2010/2/19/founding-principles:

BECKETT STERNER is wrong on both counts.

One cannot integrate freedom and slavery. Freedom is good; slavery — whether the of the socialist liberal or the conservative theocratic variety — is evil. That is the fundamental issue in politics.

The only principle that allows one to distinguish between freedom and slavery is the principle of individual rights — a principle Sterner has clearly failed to grasp.  What a shame.

See Ayn Rand’s *Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal* and www.capmag.com for details.

Kagan: It’s Fine If The Law Bans Books Because Government Won’t Really Enforce It

As one friend wrote on Obama’s Star Supreme Court Nominee Kagan: “Wow! She really does not understand the principal involved. It’s like they are talking to a not-very-bright child.”

For more on Kagan see No Friend of Freedom: Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee, Elena Kagan.

Hazlitt on the U.S. Housing Crisis

WHAT AN ECONOMIST SAID ABOUT THE U.S. HOUSING CRISIS – DECADES AGO

 “The case against government-guaranteed loans and mortgages to private businesses and persons is almost as strong as, though less obvious than, the case against direct government loans and mortgages [for homes]. … Government-guaranteed home mortgages, especially when a negligible down payment or no down payment whatever is required, inevitably mean more bad loans than otherwise. They force the general taxpayer to subsidize the bad risks and to defray the losses. They encourage people to ‘buy’ houses that they cannot really afford. They tend to eventually to bring about an oversupply of houses as compared with other things. They temporarily overstimulate building, raise the cost of building for everybody (including the buyers of the homes with the guaranteed mortgages), and may mislead the building industry into an eventually costly overexpansion. In brief, in the long run they do not increase overall national production but encourage malinvestment.” — Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson (1979)

Sam Harris: Causal Connection Between Islam and Islamist Violence is Undisputable

Liberal atheist Sam Harris writing in the Huffington Post has penned an important piece on the connection between Islam and Islamist violence called Losing Our Spines to Save Our Necks. Here are some quotes

What about all the civil, freedom-loving, moderate Muslims who are just as appalled by Muslim intolerance as I am? No doubt millions of men and women fit this description, but vocal moderates are very difficult to find. Wherever “moderate Islam” does announce itself, one often discovers frank Islamism lurking just a euphemism or two beneath the surface. The subterfuge is rendered all but invisible to the general public by political correctness, wishful thinking, and “white guilt.” This is where we find sinister people successfully posing as “moderates”—people like Tariq Ramadan who, while lionized by liberal Europeans as the epitome of cosmopolitan Islam, cannot bring himself to actually condemn honor killing in round terms (he recommends that the practice be suspended, pending further study). Moderation is also attributed to groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an Islamist public relations firm posing as a civil-rights lobby.

Even when one finds a true voice of Muslim moderation, it often seems distinguished by a lack of candor above all things. Take someone like Reza Aslan, author of No God But God: I debated Aslan for Book TV on the general subject of religion and modernity. During the course of our debate, I had a few unkind words to say about the Muslim Brotherhood. While admitting that there is a difference between the Brotherhood and a full-blown jihadist organization like al Qaeda, I said that their ideology was “close enough” to be of concern. Aslan responded with a grandiose, ad hominem attack saying, “that indicates the profound unsophistication that you have about this region. You could not be more wrong.” He then claimed that I’d taken my view of Islam from “Fox News.” Such maneuvers, coming from a polished, Iranian-born scholar of Islam carry the weight of authority, especially in front of an audience of people who are desperate to believe the threat of Islam has been grossly exaggerated. The problem, however, is that the credo of the Muslim Brotherhood actually happens to be “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

The connection between the doctrine of Islam and Islamist violence is simply not open to dispute. It’s not that critics of religion like myself speculate that such a connection might exist: the point is that Islamists themselves acknowledge and demonstrate this connection at every opportunity and to deny it is to retreat within a fantasy world of political correctness and religious apology. Many western scholars, like the much admired Karen Armstrong, appear to live in just such a place. All of their talk about how benign Islam “really” is, and about how the problem of fundamentalism exists in all religions, only obfuscates what may be the most pressing issue of our time: Islam, as it is currently understood and practiced by vast numbers of the world’s Muslims, is antithetical to civil society. A recent poll showed that thirty-six percent of British Muslims (ages 16-24) believe that a person should be killed for leaving the faith. Sixty-eight percent of British Muslims feel that their neighbors who insult Islam should be arrested and prosecuted, and seventy-eight percent think that the Danish cartoonists should have been brought to justice. And these are British Muslims.

Link: Losing Our Spines to Save Our Necks

Immigration and Individual Rights

Craig Biddle has a great article on Immigration and Individual Rights. Here is a sample:

Open immigration does not mean that anyone may enter the country at any location or in any manner he chooses; it is not unchecked or unmonitored immigration. Nor does it mean that anyone who immigrates to America should be eligible for U.S. citizenship–the proper requirements of which are a separate matter. Open immigration means that anyone is free to enter and reside in America–providing that he enters at a designated checkpoint and passes an objective screening process, the purpose of which is to keep out criminals, enemies of America, and people with certain kinds of contagious diseases. Such a policy is not only politically right; it is morally right.

Definitely worth a read.

Sam Harris: Causal Connection Between Islam and Islamist Violence is Undisputable

Liberal athiest Sam Harris writing in the Huffington Post has penned an excellent op-ed defending Geert Wilders criticizing Islam called Losing Our Spines to Save Our Necks:

He even goes out to point out the duplicity of “civil, freedom-loving, moderate Muslims”:

What about all the civil, freedom-loving, moderate Muslims who are just as appalled by Muslim intolerance as I am? No doubt millions of men and women fit this description, but vocal moderates are very difficult to find. Wherever “moderate Islam” does announce itself, one often discovers frank Islamism lurking just a euphemism or two beneath the surface. The subterfuge is rendered all but invisible to the general public by political correctness, wishful thinking, and “white guilt.” This is where we find sinister people successfully posing as “moderates”—people like Tariq Ramadan who, while lionized by liberal Europeans as the epitome of cosmopolitan Islam, cannot bring himself to actually condemn honor killing in round terms (he recommends that the practice be suspended, pending further study). Moderation is also attributed to groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an Islamist public relations firm posing as a civil-rights lobby.

Even when one finds a true voice of Muslim moderation, it often seems distinguished by a lack of candor above all things. Take someone like Reza Aslan, author of No God But God: I debated Aslan for Book TV on the general subject of religion and modernity. During the course of our debate, I had a few unkind words to say about the Muslim Brotherhood. While admitting that there is a difference between the Brotherhood and a full-blown jihadist organization like al Qaeda, I said that their ideology was “close enough” to be of concern. Aslan responded with a grandiose, ad hominem attack saying, “that indicates the profound unsophistication that you have about this region. You could not be more wrong.” He then claimed that I’d taken my view of Islam from “Fox News.” Such maneuvers, coming from a polished, Iranian-born scholar of Islam carry the weight of authority, especially in front of an audience of people who are desperate to believe the threat of Islam has been grossly exaggerated. The problem, however, is that the credo of the Muslim Brotherhood actually happens to be “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

The connection between the doctrine of Islam and Islamist violence is simply not open to dispute. It’s not that critics of religion like myself speculate that such a connection might exist: the point is that Islamists themselves acknowledge and demonstrate this connection at every opportunity and to deny it is to retreat within a fantasy world of political correctness and religious apology. Many western scholars, like the much admired Karen Armstrong, appear to live in just such a place. All of their talk about how benign Islam “really” is, and about how the problem of fundamentalism exists in all religions, only obfuscates what may be the most pressing issue of our time: Islam, as it is currently understood and practiced by vast numbers of the world’s Muslims, is antithetical to civil society. A recent poll showed that thirty-six percent of British Muslims (ages 16-24) believe that a person should be killed for leaving the faith. Sixty-eight percent of British Muslims feel that their neighbors who insult Islam should be arrested and prosecuted, and seventy-eight percent think that the Danish cartoonists should have been brought to justice. And these are British Muslims.

Link: Losing Our Spines to Save Our Necks