Monthly Archives: February 2006

Monopolies, Markets and Microsoft

Okay, we’ve had an ongoing discussion here at the Liberty Papers about monopolies, markets and Microsoft. The position presented on one side, a position taken by many libertarians and libertarian-conservatives, is that monopolies that are not directly created by government fiat are okay and we shouldn’t see them as bad. They are, in this line of thinking, natural and arise out of very good business practices and market forces. I’m going to argue that this is not the case and that all monopolies, of whatever origin, should be viewed with suspicion and distrust by those who describe themselves as libertarians, classic liberals, anarcho-capitalists, etc. There are, essentially, five types of monopolies.

  1. The government created, or legal monopoly. AT&T was a legal monopoly, as are the police and fire departments in most cities. When the government directly intervenes and legally creates a market where only one competitor is allowed, that is a legal monopoly.
  2. Natural monopolies are ones that arise because economies of scale, economic efficiencies and capital costs for competitors are such that one one competitor is able to satisfy the demands of the market. In a perfect free market this is impossible.
  3. Monopolistic competition occurs when a single competitor in the market is powerful enough to act as a de facto monopoly. For example, at its height, Standard Oil controlled 64% of the oil market although there were more than 100 competitors in the market. Microsoft, today, is a monopolistic competition with control of 90% of the PC operating system market and more than 90% of the desktop office suite market. Companies in this position are able to take actions to maintain their position that a non-monopolistic competitor could not.
  4. Coercive monopolies occur when competitors use activities that violate the principles of free market. Coercion is aimed at hiding information from the market or influencing consumers and competitors in order to maintain a dominant position in the market. It is often difficult to distinguish between good business practices and coercive practices.
  5. Local monopolies exist when only one resource for a specific product exists in a given area, but not within the market as a whole. For example (and I’ll discuss it further down), Starbucks is a local monopoly at the Sacramento International Airport.

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Why Aren't You an Anarchist?

Dr. Fred Foldvary advocates a variant of ananchism, “geoanarchism, in which people would live in contractual communities whose public goods are financed from land rent” […] “The members would share the belief that the land rent should be collected and distributed to all members equally or else used for public goods.”

Geoanarchism also solves the problem of the provision of public goods, which is problematic for atomistic anarchism. For example, with atomistic anarchism, each household would contract with a street provider, but the street company could charge a very high renewal fee to access the street, since the house owner has no alternative.

Atomistic anarchism (a.k.a. anarcho-capitalism) also envisions multiple defense agencies, which are constantly negotiating conflicts among members, while geoanarchism

envisions all communities in harmony under one federation and rule of law. With one federated system, geoanarchism

would be under a libertarian constitution, whereas atomistic anarchism has no constitution and could have communities with tyrannies of the majority, forcing dissidents to move out or comply. Nevertheless, individualist anarchism would be mostly libertarian, and buy cytotec could solve the defense and street problem by moving towards a more communitarian version.

So, given the option of geoanarchism which provides a uniform viagra soft tabs rule of law, and therefore harmony without tyranny, why aren’t you an anarchist?

Would anyone care to challenge the good doctor’s assertions?

hat tip: Old Whig

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Government Created Monopolies

Another point, in keeping with our ongoing discussion of economics and monopolies, that I have made is that government intrusion into, and distortion of, the market creates monopolies. I have argued that folks of a libertarian or classic liberal mindset should not accept these “private monopolies” as okay becuase they are not directly created by government fiat. In fact, anarcho-capitalist thinking would dictate that a monopoly, regardless of origin, is anti-liberty. A monopoly becomes, in effect, a quasi-government through their ability to dictate standards, prices, regulations and much more. they can do this because they control resource scarcity, rather than the market controlling. The beauty of a market is that no one is in control. Invisible market forces control resource scarcity, supply chains, prices, etc. This provides the individual with the maximum choice and the minimum intrusion on their liberty. The reason we oppose socialism is that it reverses the entire scenario. Small groups of people are in charge of the controlled market and individual choice and liberty is removed.

Since a business monopoly introduces exactly the same problems, I’m always challenged by the idea that libertarians and classic liberals would think a monopoly is okay when it is, in effect, a socialism. It is a scenario where a small elite is making decisions for the broader market, rather than the market dictating.

Alright, enough of that philosophy. » Read more

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More Abu-Ghraib?

Two years ago, for a brief period, I tried my hand at my first blog, which I called “Kayz In”. Hurricanes and other life experiences happened, and I gave it up – just had too many other stressors in my life at the time. But there was one post I made highlighting an interview documented by Ali at Iraq the Model that I felt never got the attention it deserved – and so, begging your indulgence, I’d like to invite you to read “below the fold” the article “Just Another thought on the Abu Ghraib Scandal”, originally written by me in May, 2004.
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Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

Does Microsoft Violate Your Rights ?

In the course of our exchanges yesterday about markets, monopoly, and morality, Eric made this comment on the impact that scarcity and monopoly power have on individual liberty:

Monopolies do impact Life, Liberty and Property. Specifically liberty and property. You argue that you can always choose not to buy from Microsoft. I argue that you no longer have that choice. And that PC’s are such an integral part of US culture and economy that it is impacting your Liberty. Monopolies never price things in response to market demand (i.e. scarcity) because the monopoly now controls scarcity. The monopoly artificially manipulates scarcity to increase their profit. Since money is a representation of wealth and property, it seems clear to me that artificial scarcity leads to an infringement on my property. If I have a choice, then you trying to maximize your profits doesn’t do that. If I don’t have a choice, it does.

This leads to what I think is an important question for those of us who believe in the free market; when talking about third party conduct as oppposed to state action, what exactly constitutes a violation of my rights ?

On the surface, this seems like a pretty simple question. If someone steals my property, they’ve violated my property rights. If they imprision me against my will and without authority, they have violated my right to my liberty. If they kill me, they’ve violated my right to live. Often, whether these actions constitute a crime, or determining what kind of crime they comprise may depend upon whether the act was intentional or accidental, but for the purpose of determining if a rights violation has occurred, it doesn’t matter if you intended to violate my rights or not.

So, does a monopoly or dominant market player violate my rights due to the fact that it has, allegedly, cut off competition and created scarcity that would not exist if competition had been allowed to play itself out ? I think the answer is clearly no.

If a corporation seeking to maximize its profits constitutes a violation of individual liberty, then doesn’t that mean that the entire capitalist system is one big violation of human rights? If Microsoft violates individual liberty by creating artificial scarcity in the market for PC operating systems, then can’t the same thing be said of Apple, which has retained exclusive control over the operating system for Macs ?

The existence of a company that sells something people want is the definition of capitalism. Unless you’re asserting that we all have a right to whatever products we want at the price we choose, then I think its stretching the definition of individual liberty to contend that my rights are violated because Microsoft charges “too much” for Windows or Office.

Corporations can violate individual liberty as easily as individuals can, but if all they are doing is selling a product that people want and trying to maximize their profits (which is, after all, what they are supposed to be doing), then the fact that they aren’t selling it on terms that we would prefer does not constitute a violation of anyone’s rights.

The Ever-Widening Smoking Ban

The concept of public smoking bans, in my opinion, really gives you an insight into the psyche of a person. This is one of those issues that really separates those who believe in smaller-government-enforcing-their-own-biases from those who truly believe in smaller government and private property rights. I see a true protector of private property rights in a guy like Doug, of Below the Beltway. Doug doesn’t like smoke, to the point where being around it even makes him ill. But he doesn’t accept the idea of government forcing businesses to change the terms of business on their own property. Despite what the Virginia Senate has to say about it:

Nonetheless, this is the closest Virginia has come to banning smoking in any form and it does not bode well for the future. One or two elections more, and the fate of a bill like this in the House of Delegates could be quite different. And the breadth and scope of the proposed ban is really quite extraordinary:

The Virginia ban would include banks, bars, educational facilities, health care facilities, hotel and motel lobbies, laundromats, public transportation, reception areas, retail food production and marketing establishments, retail services establishments, retail stores, shopping malls, sports arenas, theaters and waiting rooms. Hotels could also set aside no more than 25 percent of their rooms for smokers.

Outside of an ocassional cigar, I am not, and never have been, a smoker. Cigarette smoke in particular makes me ill and, in a restaurant, I generally prefer to sit in the non-smoking section. That doesn’t mean, though, that I believe that I or anyone else in the Commonwealth has the right to tell a restaurant or bar owner that they shouldn’t be permitted to make a choice to allow or ban smoking in their establishment. If there really is increasing support for smoking restrictions, then restaurants and bars that don’t allow it should do just fine. At the same time, though, a business owner who chooses to have a smoking section in their restaurant or allow smoking at their bar should be permitted to do so.

But not everyone takes this view. Oddly, many who oppose government restriction in other areas are just loving this. After all, for many non-smokers, it is a constant annoyance to be in a restaurant or bar filled with smoke. For me, actually, as an ex-smoker, I’m always surprised now when I enter a smoke-filled bar at just how much I hate it. But I contrast Doug’s reaction, and my own, with this thread at beeradvocate.com.

Beeradvocate.com is the first place where I heard about freethehops.org, the web site devoted to ending Alabama’s prohibition on beers above 6% ABV. And I’d say, to a person, that the members of beeradvocate.com would reject the notion that it is the government’s place to determine what percentage alcohol should be in the beer an individual buys. Of course, they don’t say they’d like to force liquor stores to carry high-alcohol beers. But they want them to have the option, if the purveyor of the establishment so chooses.

But a large portion of them don’t offer bar owners the same choice. They’re more than happy to decree what a bar owner must allow and not allow in his bar, because smoking offends their personal sensibilities. The government stepping in to do something they don’t like (restricting beer sales) is offensive. But the government stepping in, doing the same basic thing, to restrict a behavior they disapprove of is no problem.

There is a dividing line between conservatives and libertarians, and this is one of the markers between the two. Non-smoking conservatives are usually quick to denounce smokers, and love the idea of smoking bans, because it stops people from engaging in behavior they disagree with. Non-smoking libertarians, on the other hand, may hate walking into smoke-filled bars, but understand that it is the decision of the bar owner to make. We don’t always like the results of freedom, but to a libertarian, the alternative of oppression– even well-meaning oppression– is unacceptable.

Markets and Morality

Eric, Brad and I have been having quite a lively exchange (see here and here and here) over the issue of monopolies, the market economy, and morality.

While we’ve covered several topics, one that keeps recurring is the question of whether it is appropriate to think in terms of “right” and “wrong” when it comes to evaluating the outcome of the operating of a free market economy. As I’ve said in the comments to all three of these posts, I think the answer to that question is no.

As Mises and Hayek taught us, the free market is, in reality, nothing more than a reflection of the decisions made on a daily basis by untold numbers of consumers and business people reacting to factors ranging from price to taste to whatever happens to be in fashion or popular at a given point in time. As such, I think its entirely mistaken to speak of market outcomes in terms of whether they are “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”, they just *are*. They are not moral judgments, they don’t reflect artistic merit (the fact that Britney Spears outsells Diana Krall doesn’t mean she’s more talented), and they don’t necessarily mean that one product is objectively suprior to another (because sometimes an obviously inferior product ends up beating superior competitors in the marketplace). Assuming that they either can or do reflect any of these things leads inevitably to the idea that its possible for one person or group to know better than consumers and that something must be done to fix the “wrong” choices that consumers make.

Much of our discussion today has centered around Microsoft and its allegedly negative impact on the market for operating systems. But do we really know this to be true ? It would be impossible for any one of us to second guess the market bercause there isn’t any way we can know that things would be better if Microsoft had “played fair” (although I don’t concede the argument that they’ve done anything inherently unfair). A market economy is made up of hundreds of millions of players, each of whom acts based on the information available to them. To say that one person, or group of people, knows better than the people who make up the economy is to adopt the same premises as the central planners. The reason that the free market economy works, though, is because it recognizes that no single person or group can know enough to control the economy in any rational sense.

Personally, I have no idea if we’d all be better off if Microsoft wasn’t the dominant player in the OS market. While there might be more choices, a large number of choices could arguably have impeded the adoption of the PC as a mass market commodity. Furthermore, there are alot of reasons to believe that if Windows didn’t exist, someone would have to create it, or at least some kind of standard operating system that vendors, consumers, and software writers could work with. Imagine what the auto industry would be like if every manufacturer’s cars needed fundamentally different types of fuel. The likelihood that anyone of them would acheive “critical mass” is unlikely, unless one of them came to dominate the others for some reason or another and became the de facto standard. That’s precisely what happened in the OS market.

Scarcity

I’m reading The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford, as I mentioned over at Eric’s Grumbles yesterday. The interesting thing, and Harford makes a compelling case for it, is that scarcity is the driving factor in all markets. If the cost of a product is high, yet it seems like the cost to produce it is low, look for the scarcity in the market, whether natural or artificial. The more scarcity, the higher the price that the consumer will pay, regardless of the production cost.

For example, suppose there were some sort of boundary around a city that would prevent the city from growing. As the number of people seeking to rent/own property in the city increased, the scarcity of the land would also, because the city couldn’t acquire more land. The landlord may have bought the land for $1,000 and be able to sell it for $10,000, for example, because there are more people who want the land than there are pieces of land to sell. In the real world, London has a so-called Green Belt around the entire city that acts as a boundary to the city’s growth. It also has the highest commercial and residential rents in the world, higher than Tokyo, San Francisco, Hong Kong and Manhattan, even though all four of those cities have natural barriers causing scarcity.

Scarcity of a resource, whether that resource is buyers or sellers, drives the cost. But so does the marginal value. That is, if it costs more to acquire the resource than it would cost to create it yourself, then buying the resource is not worthwhile. The example used in the book is farmland. If there is a lot of undeveloped land and only a few farmers, the rent will be low. The resource is not scarce and the marginal value is very low. If there is a lot of farmers and no undeveloped land, the rent will be high. The resource scarcity is now reversed and the marginal value is high.

Why bring all of this up? Well, in the debate over whether Microsoft is a monopoly and whether that is good or bad, I mentioned scarcity and was asked what that had to do with anything since we clearly don’t have a scarcity of operating systems. Since there are a multitude of operating systems and, comparatively, not that many buyers, the buyers should be able to drive the price down. They are scarce, not the resource. However, Microsoft and the OEM’s (Dell, Compaq, etc.) created artificial scarcity, so that there were fewer operating system choices for the same number of customers. At this point I’m not arguing whether this is good or bad. Just pointing out why the operating system market is artificial.

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Complaint Department

“It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.”
— Edmund Burke (1729-1797) British statesman, parliamentary orator, and political thinker

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Taxation Is Theft

Once again, the great Walter E. Williams tells is like it is as he devastatingly destroys the assertions from the collectivists among us that we have a right to steal from our neighbors.

Do people have a right to medical treatment whether or not they can pay? What about a right to food or decent housing? Would a U.S. Supreme Court justice hold these are rights just like those enumerated in our Bill of Rights?

As Williams so eloquently states, the answer is, or at least should be, an emphatic no:

If it is said a person has rights to medical care, food and housing, and has no means of paying, how does he enjoy them? There’s no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy who provides them. You say, “The Congress provides for those rights.” Not quite. Congress does not have resources of its own. Congress can give one American something only by first, through intimidation, threats and coercion, taking it from another American. So-called rights to medical care, food and decent housing impose an obligation on some other American who, through the tax code, must be denied the right to his earnings. In other words, when Congress gives one American a right to something he didn’t earn, it takes away the right of another American to something he did earn.

If they were alive today, I’m sure that Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison would, despite their differences, all agree with Williams, and would find themselves distressed over the reality that faces America today:

Three-fifths to two-thirds of the federal budget consists of taking property from one American and giving it to another. If a private person did the same thing, we would call it theft. When government does it, we euphemistically call it income redistribution, but that’s exactly what thieves do — redistribute income. Income redistribution not only betrays the Founders’ vision, it’s a sin in the eyes of God. I’m guessing that when God gave Moses the Eighth Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” I’m sure he didn’t mean “thou shalt not steal unless there was a majority vote in Congress.”

And that’s where the truth of government intervention is made bare. Its theft, plain and simple. Why nobody is willing to acknowledge it is a question that itself raises even more questions about whether America really is committed to the ideals of its Founders.

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Big Brother Is Reading Your Test Results

Writing in today’s Washington Post, Philip Longman reports that New York City has begun requiring doctors and laboratories to reveal even more confidential medical information in the name of “public health.”

On Jan. 15, New York City began requiring local clinical laboratories to report to the city health department the results of blood sugar tests performed on citizens. The department plans to use the information to improve surveillance for diabetes, which afflicts an estimated one out of eight New Yorkers and to “target interventions.” Specifically, if you live in New York and have trouble resisting sweets, your doctor may soon receive a call from the health department suggesting that he or she needs to persuade you to change your lifestyle.

What makes this development so extraordinary in the annals of American public health is that diabetes is not a disease you can catch from, or give to, anyone else. U.S. governments have a long history of imposing quarantines and otherwise restricting the liberties of people suspected of carrying contagious disease. Early in the last century, for example, the very same New York City health department famously exiled Mary Mallon (aka “Typhoid Mary”), along with many other infectious patients, to a tiny island “colony” in the East River.

As Longman points out, however, diabetes is not the same as a communicable disease like typhoid or AIDS:

[D]iabetes, though now a fearsome epidemic, is not communicable; nor do the behaviors that lead to the disease (primarily lack of exercise and improper diet) put others at risk of illness. It cannot even be said of diabetics, as is often said of illegal drug users, that their habits foster a life of crime or fund crime syndicates and terrorist networks.

One would think that this would be the end of the debate. No real public health threat, no question that the government has no right to violate medical privacy. Right ? Not according to Longman.

Medical privacy is not free. Lack of free-flowing information in the health care system drives up the cost of health insurance and contributes to the problem of the uninsured. For the population as a whole, it impedes the safe and effective practice of medicine, retards development of medical protocols based on science, and in all these ways and more reduces productivity and life expectancy. Medical privacy is not simply a question of individual right, even for individuals whose medical problems might at first seem purely their own concern.

Nonsense. Pure and utter nonsense. Perhaps it is true that medical treatment would benefit from the free flow of information. This does not mean, however, that the government has the right to know what your blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure test results are. Allowing a law like this to stand would mean, effectively, an end to the entire principle of doctor-patient confidentiality and yet another nail in the coffin of individual liberty.

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Microsoft & the Market Monopoly

I got in a nice email debate today, and I’ll post below the email exchange between myself and a friend. Of all my friends, she is one of the two that I truly enjoy debating. She’s a lawyer, and did her undergrad as an in economics & poli sci (I think poli sci) dual major. She was also very close to libertarianism back in her younger days, so she understands where I’m arguing from. She’s left our fold to become a pretty strong liberal, but her knowledge of economics and general pragmatic attitude generally make our debates quite productive.

I sent out an email today to alert friends & acquantances of my email address change. I’m changing for no other reason than Microsoft’s deliberate efforts to annoy FireFox users, and as a former Hotmail user, I was feeling the brunt of those efforts. In past debates, we’ve often sparred about Microsoft’s monopoly power, and monopolies in general, so she used my email as a reason to start a sparring match. Not being one to back down, I took the bait, and I think the exchange was pretty strong on both sides. When I asked her approval to post the exchange, I offered her the ability to have the last word (and unlike Bill O’Reilly, I will stand by that offer). So I don’t plan to address her final points in my post, although if my commenters would like to have a go, I may play along.

Below is the exchange. I’ve tried to clean up some of the spelling errors and typos along the way, as this was intended as an email exchange and not proofread during the debate. If I missed anything, my apologies. My comments will be in italics, and prefaced with a “B:”. Her comments will be blockquoted, bolded, and prefaced with an “R:”. The exchange is placed below the fold, as it’s quite lengthy.
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Thoughts?

“The bigger the information media, the less courage and information they allow. Bigness means weakness.”
— Eric Sevareid (1912-1992) American newsman, journalist, author

This is right in line with the libertarian line of thought on small, competitive entities being better, all around, than larger, non-competitive ones. Your thoughts?

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Follow Up on Tax Migrations

Rogel, at It Looks Obvious (newly added to the blogroll as well), followed up on my previous article about tax reform in Rhode Island. He did some research on migration related to taxes at the state level and that resulted in this article on his blog. The interesting part is, of course, this:

From 2000 through 2004, a net 1.3 million people moved out of states with taxes on ordinary income and into those without such taxes, says Richard Vedder, an economics professor at Ohio University.

The migration includes folks leaving California, Ohio, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Massachussets. It’s important to note that Vedder was only looking at the trend from states with taxes on income to those without income tax. Based on the changes occurring in New England’s tax structures, I would guess the data would be even more interesting if you looked at states with progressive income tax structures, in general, and where their citizens are going. Would you find that Massachussets had a net loss to New Hampshire until they enacted a flat tax structure? That’s what the Mass Legislature found.

The real question is what impact this new “tax revolt” will have on Federal tax structures.

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Quote to Ponder

“If newsmen do not tell the truth as they see it because it might make waves, or if their bosses decide something should or should not be broadcast because of Washington or Main Street consequences, we have dishonored ourselves and we have lost the First Amendment by default.”
— Richard Salant (1914-1993) former President of CBS News

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Sarah Brady thinks Cheney is scary?

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ — James and Sarah Brady made comments today related to Vice President Cheney’s reportedly accidental shooting yesterday in Texas.

“Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him,” said Jim Brady. “I had a friend once who accidentally shot pellets into his dog – and I thought he was an idiot.”

“I’ve thought Cheney was scary for a long time,” Sarah Brady said. “Now I know I was right to be nervous.”

Wow. The Brady’s think VP Dick Cheney is “scary”. Forgive me if I wait to hear a statement from Harry Whittington himself.

But meantime, let’s take a look at the lady in question:

Sarah Brady, of course is the wife of former White House Press Secretary, Jim Brady who was shot by John Hinckley Jr. in the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan March 30, 1981.

While it’s easy enough to understand the frustration, hurt, and anger one would feel at having a spouse shot in the head, logically it seems to me it would be better to direct those feelings towards the individual who was behind the gun, rather than at the gun itself. Logic not being the Brady’s strong suit, however, they pressed for and achieved passage of the so-called “Brady Bill” which required a 5 day waiting period before a purchased gun could be taken home.

Incidentally, in March 2002, Mrs. Brady bought a gun for her son (outside her home state, and without waiting 5 days). An archived copy of the article from the NY Daily News can be found on the All Safe Defense Systems website here.

There are a number of cases easily found on the web where the lack of a handgun caused a person or persons to die, one of the most famous being the case of Bonnie Elmasri, and there are also a number of cases where access to a handgun saved the life or lives of a number of persons. Many of these are highlighted in an article by Erich Pratt Let’s Not Forget about the “Brady Victims”.

But I have another question not often heard and impossible to quantify – How many lives are indirectly saved by the use of a gun against a thug? In other words, everytime a murderer, robber, rapist, etc. is stopped cold by a gun, there is a possibility – dare I say, even a probability – that other lives have been saved.

Do accidents happen with guns? Yes. Do accidents happen with knives in the kitchen? Yes. Do accidents happen on the job at saw mills, in auto service garages, in skydiving accidents, etc. Yes. Is the answer to remove all knives, close saw mills, get rid of automobiles (oh, hey that’d save gas – but I think bicycle and horse riding accidents would probably increase) . . . okay, you get the picture. An accident, is an accident. And accidents don’t happen in a vacuum – there are usually extenuating circumstances. Let’s not castigate or call names ’til all the facts are in.

Cross Posted at Left Brain Female.

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

Where multiculturalism fails drastically…

New LLP member Lone Pony pointed me towards this article, Victor Davis Hanson on the War on Terror on National Review Online, which included the following:

…the bogus notion of multiculturalism has blinded us to a simple truth: we in the West can live according to our own values and should not allow those radicals who embrace or condone polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, political autocracy, homosexual persecution, honor killings, female circumcision, and a host of other unmentionables to threaten our citizens within our own countries.

There is a very simple truth here, and one that very few in America have the awareness or bravery to embrace: Any ideology and its adherents that do not respect the core values of life, liberty, and property deserve no respect and no sympathy from civilized people. No, this does not embrace tolerance and acceptance of all things. It embraces tolerance of what is tolerable and acceptance of what is acceptable with the realization that there are many things that are neither.

Radical Islam is not tolerable, since it seeks to oppress everyone on the face of the planet. All forms of socialism are not tolerable, since they do not respect the property, and often do not respect the lives and liberty, of those who live under them. When you look at the incredible harms brought to this world by the phenomena listed above, everything from 3,000 dead on September 11, 2001 to the rampant unemployment accross socialist Europe, the dictatorial regimes in Cuba and Venezuela, the honor killings murders committed by men in the Muslim world seeking to protect the family image, it is truly terrifying.

Multiculturalism insists that the values that led to these things are equal to the values of life, liberty, and property. This is the prime failing of that philosophy. Life, liberty, and property are not just mere values of the west, they are quite demonstrably the values that are key to human flourishing. History has proven, time and again, that when people have more freedom, they have more room to flourish. Likewise, history has proven, time and again, that when people have to fear for their lives and their property, they don’t have the foundation upon which to flourish.

When we look back at the Soviet Union, which, with all its natural resources, should have been much more prosperous than the US, we see instead a country that was destitute. People had to wait hours in line for bread, even though there was enough farmland in the USSR to create a surplus in grain. But, the people, fearing the state and having nothing of their own, had no reason to work the farmland efficiently. It was no different in factories and shops all over the Soviet Union. People did what they had to do to survive.

Sadly, when the USSR fell, Russia’s new government still did not embrace the institutions necessary to the defense of life, liberty, and property, most importantly the fair rule of law. Instead, the Russians went from a state ruled by communists to a state ruled by opportunists. Many continued to suffer. Now, they are slowly heading back down the road to communism.

When we look forward to the Cartoon Wars of today, we see many Muslims calling for an incredible double standard where they have the right to deprive people of life and non-Muslims may not even offend them. Anyone who believes in or is calling for this double standard is an evil person and deserves nothing from the civilized world. We must not be sensitive to their feelings, since that is bending to evil. We must denounce them publicly and often. We must realize that any people who would turn to violence over a set of cartoons are not civilized and should not be treated as such.

No, this is not a multiculturalist or politically correct viewpoint, but in this case those viewpoints are the wrong ones. They tolerate the intolerable. They, through a vacuum of criticism, tacitly condone the behavior of those rioting. While the vast majority of civilized people sees the evil of the Muslim reaction to a set of cartoons, radical Muslims looking at our news media see none of it, and are further emboldened. When they hear the mealy-mouthed reaction of the US government, which talks about sensitivity to Islam, they are emboldened. Multiculturalism has prevented the civilized world from speaking in a clear, united voice on the cartoon riots, and so they continue. It has been a drastic failure.

Cross-posted at News, the Universe, and Everything.

Interesting Perspective

Wulf, of Atlas Blogged, points out something interesting in The Cartoons are Symptom of a Problem, not the Cause. It is an interesting perspective, and one that should be developed further.

Jyllands-Posten’s publication of the cartoons [ed: the cartoons of Mohammed] is repeatedly called offensive. It should instead be seen as defensive. It would be appropriate to debate whether such defensiveness was warranted, but it must first be recognized as a defensive posture. Do so.

This is quite right, actually. There has been a campaign waged by Muslims in Europe and, to a lesser extent, North America to alter laws and cultural norms in order to remake Western culture to more closely resemble the culture these Muslims desire. Murder, terrorism and threats of murder and terrorism have been used to try and bring this about. Governments have been coerced into creating laws that protect religions from so-called hate speech (Great Britain, most notoriously). Editors of papers have been fired or sent on “sabbatical”. Plots of movies have been changed in response to pressure. News papers have refused to publish out of fear of reprisal.

These cartoons are not offensive, in the sense that they offend someone. The reality is, if these cartoons are offensive to you, then don’t read the paper that they are in, or browse the website displaying them. No, these cartoons are part of defending liberalism against totalitarians who use religion to motivate the masses.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball
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