Monthly Archives: November 2006

William F. Buckley Jr. On The Minimum Wage

Although William F. Buckley Jr. can hardly be described as a libertarian or classical liberal, he does remind one of the day when conservatives and libertarians were far more united on issues than they are today. Perhaps that’s why he sometimes seems out of place in a world where conservatives identify more with the Rick Santorum’s of the world than with those who kept the right alive intellectually. In his latest column, Buckley reminds us why the minimum wage is such a bad idea:

We learn that one individual American last year received compensation of $1.5 billion. This leads us indignantly to our blackboard, where we learn that the average chief executive officer earns 1,100 times what a minimum-wage worker earns. What some Americans are being paid every year is describable only as: disgusting. But that disgust is irrelevant in informing us what the minimum wage ought to be. The one has no bearing on the other.

We are bent on violating free-market allocations. Doing this is not theologically sinful, but it is wise to know what it is that we are doing, and to know that the consequence of taking such liberties is to undermine the price mechanism by which free societies prosper.

Milton Friedman taught that “the substitution of contract arrangements for status arrangements was the first step toward the freeing of the serfs in the Middle Ages.” He cautioned against set prices. “The high rate of unemployment among teenagers, and especially black teenagers, is both a scandal and a serious source of social unrest. Yet it is largely a result of minimum-wage laws.” Those laws are “one of the most, if not the most, anti-black laws on the statute books.”

Professor Friedman is no longer here to testify, but his work is available — even in San Francisco.

Well said.

Cato Institute Drug War Interactive Map

If you haven’t seen this, head over and take a look. They’ve compiled a google map where each “pin” is a botched paramilitary-style raid. Some are simply raids on innocents’ houses. Others are raids where either an innocent person, a non-violent offender, or a police officer was killed. Either way, it’s staggering how this “Epidemic of ‘Isolated Incidents'” fills up this map.

What does this map mean?

The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of “no-knock” or “quick-knock” raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt — it’s difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night.

But even more disturbing are the number of times such “wrong door” raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map below aims to refute that notion.

How to use this map

Click on each marker on the map for a description of the incident and sources. Markers are precise in cases where the address of an incident was reported. Where media reports indicate only a town or neighborhood, markers are located at the closest post office, city hall, or landmark. Incident descriptions and outcomes are kept as current as possible.

Other map features:

–Using the “plus” and “minus” buttons in the map’s upper left-hand corner, users can zoom in on the map to street-level, as well as switch between street map and satellite views. In some large metropolitan areas, there are so many incidents in such close proximity that they tend to overlap unless viewed on a small scale (try zooming in on New York City, for example).

–Users may isolate the incidents by type by clicking on the colored markers in the key (see only “death of an innocent” markers, for example).

–The search function just below the map produces printable descriptions of the raids plotted on the map, and is sortable by state, year, and type of incident.

Hat Tip: Boortz

Appeals Court Strikes Down Illinois Video Game Law

A Federal Appeals Court has upheld a lower court ruling declaring Illinois ban on the sale of certain video games to minors unconstitutional:

ILLINOIS — The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has affirmed the ruling of a judge who struck down a law that would have banned the sale of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly ruled that the Illinois ban violated free-speech protections. The appeals court agreed that the law, which would have gone into effect Jan. 1, was too broad.

“The state must recognize that the question of a statute’s compliance with the 1st Amendment does not end once it is determined that the free speech rights of adults are unaffected,” the court wrote.

The law was championed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who had promised to fight for its survival. A spokeswoman for him said the court decision was being reviewed by the governor’s office.

The law would have made sales of such games to minors illegal and punishable by as much as a year in prison.

This means, of course, that parents in Illinois will be forced to raise their children themselves rather than relying on the state to do it for them.

Your Home: The Next Front In The Anti-Smoking Wars

After being successful in efforts to ban smoking in virtually all public places, anti-smoking forces are training their sights on the final battlefield, your home:

Anti-tobacco forces are opening a new front in the war against smoking by banning it in private places such as homes and cars when children are present.

Starting Jan. 1, Texas will restrict smoking in foster parents’ homes at all times and in cars when children are present, says Darrell Azar of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Vermont, Washington and other states and counties already prohibit foster parents from smoking around children in their homes and cars.

Arkansas and Louisiana passed laws this year forbidding anyone from smoking in cars carrying young children. Courts are ordering smoke-free environments in custody and visitation disputes.

“We are very rapidly moving to protect children from secondhand smoke,” says John Banzhaf, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health. “Even from their own parents and grandparents.”

And even if it involves invading what used to be the last bastion of freedom from state intervention.

Your Rights End Where My Contract Begins

There’s been some buzz created today about the story of a Colorado subdivision that has fined a homeowner for hanging a Christmas wreath shaped like a peace sign:

DENVER — A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.

Some residents who have complained have children serving in Iraq, said Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He said some residents have also believed it was a symbol of Satan. Three or four residents complained, he said.

“Somebody could put up signs that say drop bombs on Iraq. If you let one go up you have to let them all go up,” he said in a telephone interview Sunday.

Lisa Jensen said she wasn’t thinking of the war when she hung the wreath. She said, “Peace is way bigger than not being at war. This is a spiritual thing.”

Except, Ms. Jensen you bought property in a community governed by a private contract that has a very specific rule:

The subdivision’s rules say no signs, billboards or advertising are permitted without the consent of the architectural control committee.

Apparently, no such permission was given. That would seem to be the beginning and end of this issue, wouldn’t it ?

Related Posts:

Public Rights vs. Private Contracts

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