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October 2, 2007

Open Thread: Should There be a Statute of Limitations for Nazi War Criminals?

by Stephen Littau

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) Federal authorities have begun deportation proceedings against an 85-year-old suburban Atlanta man who they say served as a Nazi guard and trained and handled attack dogs at the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps.

The Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security allege Paul Henss, a German citizen who lives in Lawrenceville, about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta, entered the U.S. in 1955 after hiding his concentration camp service.

The Department of Justice announced the action against Henss on Monday; federal authorities filed an immigration document making the allegations Sept. 4.

On Monday, in his driveway in a tidy, middle-class neighborhood where the streets are named after tennis stars, Henss said he had been an SS soldier and had trained German shepherds and Rottweilers during World War II, but he angrily denied being a war criminal.
FULL STORY

The question: Should there be a statute of limitations on Nazi war criminals (or war criminals in general) or are the actions of this man so horrible that he should be deported or worse? If the man was only dog handler for the SS should he be considered a war criminal? Should the term “war criminal” apply to anyone who served in any capacity (no matter how minor) in support of the Nazi cause?

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61 Comments

  1. There should be no statute of limitations on murder. However, training attack dogs? Why not execute all the people who served soldiers’ food in the chow hall too? Unless he actually committed murders himself he’s apparently done nothing wrong (other than being a Nazi, of course, which in itself is not a crime). Unless they have actual proof beyond a reasonable doubt that this man killed people in the camps, he’s done nothing that merits this treatment. This is just victor’s vengeance for a war that ended over 60 years ago.

    http://www.george-orwell.org/Revenge_is_Sour/0.html

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 10:17 am
  2. The statute of limitations exists because it is especially difficult to gather sufficient evidence for ancient crimes. Yet we all agree that it should be set aside in particularly heinous cases such as murder. I think it appropriate to set aside the statute of limitations for participants in the Holocaust, because the Holocaust was an especially heinous crime. That said, this particular case will be difficult to prove, and will likely be the last such case ever brought. What’s especially tricky here is that they might be able to nail him for lying on his immigration paperwork — but the statute of limitations DOES apply (I believe) to that particular crime. So it becomes a legal question: does the special nature of the war crime extend to the immigration crime?

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 2, 2007 @ 10:20 am
  3. Chepe,

    And what crime, exactly, did this guy commit aside from lying on his immigration application 52 years ago?

    And no, the statute of limitations exists because over time the damage to society of some older crimes is less than the damage or cost to society of bringing those crimes to trial. It has nothing to do with the difficulty of finding trial evidence (which is why there is no statute of limitations on murder).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_limitations

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 10:41 am
  4. Good point UC. That’s one of the questions that should be considered: would trying this individual even be worth it at this point?

    Comment by Stephen Littau — October 2, 2007 @ 11:21 am
  5. OK, there are two issues here:

    1. Is this guy really guilty of war crimes? We can’t determine that without due process. Let’s have the hearing.

    2. UCrawford, we are in violent agreement here regarding the reasons for the statue of limitations. The cost of bringing a matter to trial is directly related to the difficulty of obtaining reliable evidence. At some point, the crime is so old that the witnesses are dead, memories unreliable, and so forth. At that point, the cost of litigation exceeds the benefit to society of punishing the crime.

    3. Drawing the line between crimes based on severity is a purely subjective matter. Right now, people put war crimes on the same side of the line as murder. We can’t prove whether that’s correct or incorrect. It’s a judgement call.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 2, 2007 @ 11:45 am
  6. 1. What crime was this guy even accused of in regards to the war? Let’s look at the accusations. He guarded prisoners at a concentration camp. Not a crime unless he murdered prisoners. He trained military dogs. Not a crime. He was a Nazi. Again, not a crime. Did he kill prisoners? Did he run gas chambers? Unless there’s more to the story, the only thing he’s guilty of is a 33-year old immigration fraud charge and being on the losing side in a war.

    2. Disagree all you want. You’re wrong, the link I gave shows that you’re wrong, you obviously didn’t do any research, and you’re talking out of your ass. What you’re referring to is not statute of limitations but the ability of the prosecution to get a conviction. Statutes of limitation are individual prohibitions on bringing specific crimes to trial after a set period of time. That’s not the case here because if this guy is going to be tried. So statute of limitations has nothing to do with anything. Perhaps you should do some homework before you offer an opinion (finding that Wikipedia entry took me all of 5 seconds).

    3. No, drawing lines between crimes based on severity is a statutory matter. That’s why we have laws, and lawyers, and judges, and courts, and a Constitution. “War crimes” is not an actual offense. It’s just a convenient non-specific grouping of criminal activities carried out in wartime and they’re broken down into specific acts like murder, rape, theft, assault the same as they are in any criminal justice system. If you’d bothered to do any research, at all, you’d probably have picked up on that too. Here’s a link to the Uniform Code of Military Justice if you don’t want to take my word for it:

    http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ucmj.htm

    And here’s the Wikipedia entry for the Geneva Conventions:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Conventions

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 12:21 pm
  7. Stephen,

    And unless this guy actually killed prisoners at that camp, then no, I don’t think trying him is worth it or of any value to society.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 12:24 pm
  8. I tend to agree U.C. Deport him, maybe. Trying him, not worth it.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — October 2, 2007 @ 12:54 pm
  9. OK, let’s go over the points:

    1. Whether his participation in the SS at the concentration camps constitutes a war crime is a decision to be made in court. You don’t have to actually pull the trigger to be guilty of murder; if your contribution to the crime was significant, then a court can find you guilty of the crime, or guilty of being an accessory to the crime, depending upon the degree of participation. Does this guy’s degree of participation make him guilty of a war crime? I don’t know; it turns on some fine points of law. I’m happy to let a court decide.

    2. Perhaps you’re unaware of the meaning of “common law”. The term describes ancient concepts that have been woven into our current law. Such is the case with the concept of the statute of limitations. I recall reading somewhere in an Athenian case (yes, over 2,000 years ago) where somebody lost their case because too much time had elapsed since the injury. (The Athenians were willing to go back several generations on property resolution, but this was a criminal case, as I recall.)

    So the concept behind the statute of limitations goes way, way back, and it was much more important in times of yore because almost all evidence was personal testimony — and everybody realized that memories fade with time. Thus, the original foundation for the concept in common law was as I wrote earlier.

    Let this be a lesson to you: a quick consultation with Wikipedia does not protect you from getting clobbered if you don’t understand the underlying concepts.

    3. You’re quite right that the proximate factor in determining degree of guilt is a statutory matter. But I was talking about the ultimate factor: the subjective assessment of the community.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 2, 2007 @ 1:04 pm
  10. I think deportation’s even a bit extreme given what accusations we’ve seen. Aside from lying on his application, the biggest thing against this guy appears to be his membership in the Waffen SS and his time at the concentration camp. Neither of those are in and of themselves crimes unless he was actually killing people unlawfully (which even his accusers haven’t apparently claimed). He was a productive member of society and he’s not causing problems for anyone now. From what was presented this appears to be little more than victor’s vengeance.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 1:07 pm
  11. Chepe,

    1. You actually have to pull the trigger to be guilty of murder (a specific crime). If you participate but aren’t the one who kills the victim, you’re an accessory to murder (which is a different crime). And Henss isn’t being accused of murder or accessory to murder. He’s being accused of employment at a camp where murders were committed, murders he’s not even accused of committing or taking part in. He’s being accused of guilt by association, which also isn’t a crime. So this shouldn’t even see a court until actual proof of his complicity surfaces.

    2. I’m well aware of common law. I’m also aware that the specifics vary from society to society, and that in our society we convict people (or at least we’re supposed to) for actual crimes based on evidence. Not on how we “feel” about them. Mealy-mouth all you want. You were factually wrong, your statute of limitation argument was irrelevant to this case, and I provided a link that demonstrated it. It’s not my fault you’re too lazy to think through your opinions or put a real argument together (as evidenced by your complete lack of citation on your rambling Athenian anecdote). That’s mainly why I didn’t consider your argument worthy of more than a quick Wikipedia link. Make an argument that has some substantiative basis to it, I’ll dedicate more than the 5 seconds you’re currently worth to debunk it.

    3. Pandering to the baying mob is not a basis for a system of justice. If that’s what you were trying to say we should do then your argument was even more ridiculous than I originally thought. The only crime Henss has apparently committed is immigration fraud, the harm of which was minimal to society. There’s no proof he committed any crime more serious than that.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 1:31 pm
  12. The question remains…”What actual crime did Henss commit apart from immigration fraud?”

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 1:49 pm
  13. U.C.

    After looking over the Wikipedia link and looking at the war crimes page http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/casecode/uscodes/18/parts/i/chapters/118/sections/section_2441.html I have a somewhat better idea of what a “war crime” actually is (but definitely not an expert by any stretch). If this definition is accurate, it’s hard to make the case that this man is a war criminal. There’s probably a reason why he isn’t going to be sent to The Hague for trial (lack of evidence?).

    You have a good point about “victor’s vengeance” as well. The web page points out that there is quite a lot of ambiguity when it comes to what constitutes a war crime and what doesn’t. It seems to me that the meaning is whatever the winning party wants it to mean. Had such laws been in place when Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan and had Japan somehow won the war, Truman could easily have been tried and convicted as a war criminal. But since the Allies won, there was no way such charges would have been brought (and there are several other examples besides this one).

    I’m not even sure these international laws are a good thing; these trials seem a little dishonest and the laws of warfare seem to sanitize war to the point of prolonging war (though I do think certain rules are necessary while others go too far). At least in the time before the laws of war when the victor decapitated the losing leader and put his head on a pike it was more honest. It was basically “to the victor go the spoils.”

    At the end of the day, I think the same rules basically apply. Even though the emperor of Japan and the remaining Nazis had a “trial,” there was no doubt about the end result (at least for those in leadership positions). There is no way that any of these people would have been found not guilty.

    In any case, my using the term “war criminal” in the title of my original post may have been overly simplistic.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — October 2, 2007 @ 1:49 pm
  14. 1. No criminal charges are being filed against Mr. Henss; he is being deported. As such, it’s a bit of a waste for us to argue about what might happen in a criminal case. However, you don’t have to be convicted of actually pulling the trigger to be found guilty. In US. vs. Hans Altfuldisch, et al, 61 Germans were found guilty of “participating in a common design” to violate the Geneva Convention. All were found guilty and most were executed. The prosecution made no attempt to convict any single defendent of any single murder.

    2. As for you comments: “Not on how we “feel” about them. Mealy-mouth all you want.” You’re engaging in a straw man argument. I said no such thing. If you’d like to address my actual comments, I’d be happy to discuss them.

    “You were factually wrong” No, the original reason for statutes of limitations are based on the limitations of human memory. Neither of us have offered anything in the way of evidence to support our claims (your Wikipedia article doesn’t explain the reasons for statutes of limitations, just its functions). I may look at my book on Justinian’s Institutes to see what they have to say.

    “Pandering to the baying mob is not a basis for a system of justice.” Good lord, more staw man argumentation. What you call “Pandering to the baying mob” I call “legislative action”. If you don’t like legislatures, do you have something better to propose?

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 2, 2007 @ 2:08 pm
  15. I have found a citation for my claims regarding the original justification for the statute of limitations: a pdf. Here’s the relevant quote:

    “For many types of private cases there existed a statute of limitations requiring that the accuser bring his charge before a certain date. Demosthenes interprets this measure as a means of forcing litigants to make their charges without a long delay to ensure that there will be witnesses to the relevant facts of the case.”

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 2, 2007 @ 2:19 pm
  16. Chepe

    1. All of the people in the link you cited were apparently planners or head staff in the concentration camp…the link didn’t go into details of each case, so I’m unable to tell for sure. As far as we know, Henss was just a guard who didn’t kill anyone, and no evidence has surfaced to say otherwise. You’re correct, he isn’t being tried directly for a crime relating to the camp. But it’s also the only reason he’s being tried for immigration fraud 33 years after he immigrated. And that’s just petty bullshit and victor’s vengeance with no benefit to society at large.

    2. Come up with a link and I’ll debate your position on the merits of the evidence presented. Otherwise you’ve got nothing to back what you’re saying and your argument has no inherent credibility.

    3. No, I’m saying that if someone commits an act that “society” disagrees with but that act is not already legislated against, then that person has committed no crime. Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with ex post facto laws? They’re illegal here in the States. Whether or not “society” hates the Nazis or people who train attack dogs or people who worked at concentration camps, neither being a Nazi nor training attack dogs (nor even working at a concentration camp) was a crime at the time Henss was accused of doing these things. And under our Constitution, “society” doesn’t get to go back and punish people for non-criminal activity (which is what Henss is being accused of). Do they have a right to deport him? Sure…there’s no statute of limitations on immigration fraud. But it’s petty and of no benefit to anyone save a few people who (make no mistake) want vengeance and not justice, so I’m opposed to it.

    Stephen,

    I agree with your position. I’ve got nothing against the sentences imposed on the higher-ups for their actions in planning the Holocaust. They were involved directly in the deaths of 6 million people and they got as close to a fair trial as was possible. But, as with anything else, it’s very easy to stray from justice into vengeance and I think that’s what happened the lower down the food chain the trials went. The tipping point, I’d argue comes at the point where no direct involvement in an actual crime is evident and the primary motivation for pursuing action is simply to make the victims feel better. That’s nothing more than revenge, and as Orwell pointed out it does little or nothing to benefit anyone.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 2:49 pm
  17. Chepe,

    Great, I’ll read your link later so I can either concede your point or offer an informed rebuttal later on.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 2:52 pm
  18. UCrawford, the issue at hand is not whether we’re writing an ex post facto law but whether the defendent’s behavior constituted a violation of the law. That determination will have to be made by a jurist who understands the fine points of the law; that’s why I have called it a tricky judgement call. I fear, however, that the issue may never be resolved, because the Feds aren’t charging him with any of those crimes. They’re charging him with making false statements on his immigration forms, which is sufficient for deportation.

    There is a larger philosophical issue here, which is the degree of culpability one accrues for participating in a crime. What makes the Nazi war crimes so difficult to handle is that this was arguably the greatest crime of modern times. If you’re only one-millionth of a percent responsible for the deaths of 10 million people, is that the same as being 10% responsible for the death of one person? By this calculus, even the machinists who made parts for the locomotives that hauled people to the concentration camps have significant culpability.

    You draw the line at committing the act that directly resulted in the death of a victim. I would set the bar lower. What about the chemist who was asked to invent the ideal gas for killing human beings? If he knowingly took part in the creation of the optimal killing gas for human beings, does he not have some culpability?

    What about a guard who never actually shoots anybody but insures that the victims never escape from the camp? Is he not also culpable to some degree? What about a guy who rounded up Jews for transport to the death camps? Or somebody who identified a neighbor as Jewish? I think all of these people share some of the culpability. Not enough, perhaps, to justify legal action 60 years later. But culpability nonetheless.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 2, 2007 @ 3:16 pm
  19. Chepe,

    If the activities were not criminal when the individual was engaging in them, then ex post facto is very much at the heart of the matter because the person committed no crime.

    As for liability for the Holocaust, why stop at the Nazis in the concentration camps? Why not blame every single soldier who enlisted in the German army and made the war possible? How about blaming every single German citizen who benefited from Hitler’s socialist kleptocracy? Hell, why even stop at the Germans? Why not blame the French and the British who turned Germany into an impoverished shithole with the Treat of Versailles and made Hitler’s rise possible? Or the Catholic Church, who’ve made anti-Semitism fashionable in several different centuries? Or the butterfly who flapped his wings in China and made it possible for Hitler’s dad to impregnate his mom?

    I restrict liability to those directly involved because when you go beyond that there’s no end to it. It becomes a morass of victimhood, retribution, and self-pity that keeps us mired firmly in the past. Had Henss been accused of killing or torturing prisoners at camps my position on this would be different. But he wasn’t…as far as we can tell he was just a guy who worked at a camp training dogs and guarding prisoners and didn’t break any laws that he was aware of (since nothing he did was apparently illegal under German or international law at the time). The only people who should be prosecuted were those who wrote the laws and those who participated directly in the murders. Beyond that this pursuit of Henss is apparently just retribution by a group of people who’ve over time become a lot more like the Nazis they’re hunting than they’d probably like to admit.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 4:02 pm
  20. Whoa! Your statement “nothing he did was apparently illegal under German or international law at the time” may be the source of our difficulties. The war crimes case I cited earlier established that merely “participating in the common design” to violate the Geneva treaty” was sufficient to get men executed. You would have released these prisoners because in many cases it was impossible to prove that SS man X killed victim Y. The (admittedly novel) approach in this trial established that merely participating in the overall effort was sufficient to establish guilt.

    You vehemently extend the philosophical point I was raising to its absurd limits. We both agree that at the far end of causality, the culpability vanishes to zero. And we both agree that at the proximate point (pulling the trigger or releasing the gas), there IS culpability. The interesting point concerns the middle ground. Exactly how close to the proximate point must one be in order to engender criminal culpability? That is the interesting problem that might be raised by this case.

    You speculate that the 61 SS men who were found guilty of war crimes must have been planners or head staff. We don’t know that; I believe that the general standard at the time hinged on two factors: you were SS and you were at the camp. I definitely recall that, at the end of the war, SS men were frantically burning their uniforms and any other insignia because of the rumor that the Allies were shooting any SS man on sight. (It wasn’t true, but let’s just say that the Allies did not look kindly upon SS men.)

    On the ex post facto point, my reference to US. vs. Hans Altfuldisch, et al was to demonstrate that such activities were considered illegal in 1946. There’s no ex post facto issue at all. Merely “participating in the common design” was enough to get you executed. And it appears that this guy did participate in the common design, albeit at a lower level of significance than most others.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 2, 2007 @ 4:37 pm
  21. And they weren’t illegal in 1946, making the prosecutions of anyone below the level of lawmakers and executioners ex post facto, hence illegal under international law at the time. Again, go surf information about the Nuremburg trials before you start using them as your template for justice…specifically the portion titled “Validity of the Court” (and its accompanying citations)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremburg_trials

    Like I said, I’ve got no problem with the trials and sentences for those who planned the Holocaust and those who directly and enthusiastically carried out the executions. But you’re deluded if you think that the prosecutions of anybody below that direct level of involvement (i.e. “you were S.S. and you were at the camp”) is anything more than a lynch mob mentality. The war’s over, none of these guys they’re chasing now are still running Nazi organizations, nothing we do to them will undo the Holocaust and as far as I can tell the Henss case is just a bunch of bitter-enders trying to get a form of revenge they’re not entitled to and which won’t ever give them the closure they claim to be seeking.

    As for your claims about the U.S. Army not executing German S.S. prisoners during and after the war, factually inaccurate:

    http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauTrials/MalmedyMassacre03.html

    Check out the book “Band of Brothers” sometime…it notes an incident where members of the celebrated Easy company hunted down a suspected German officer and executed him without trial.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 5:03 pm
  22. So the fears of the German soldiers who hid their S.S. backgrounds were not without reason or justification, even if they weren’t directly involved in any atrocities.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 5:05 pm
  23. Sorry, should have said “And they weren’t illegal prior to 1946″. Typo.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 5:25 pm
  24. OK, if you want to dispute the legality of the Nuremberg trials, that’s another matter entirely. I believe that the Nuremberg trials were an important step in the development of international law, and were surely legal. But if you maintain that they weren’t legal, then we have identified the rock-bottom basis of our disagreement.

    Sometimes I get the feeling that you just like to argue. What I actually wrote was:

    “rumor that the Allies were shooting any SS man on sight. (It wasn’t true,”

    which you transformed into something very different:

    “U.S. Army not executing German S.S. prisoners during and after the war”

    The difference is between the universal “any”, meaning “all” in this context, and your universal negative “not”, meaning “none” in this context. You see how easy it is to screw up the argument if you don’t pay close attention to exactly what’s written? I wrote that the Allies were not shooting all SS men on sight, and you interpreted this to mean that the Allies weren’t shooting ANY SS men on sight. Your bad.

    You write, “But you’re deluded if you think that the prosecutions of anybody below that direct level of involvement (i.e. “you were S.S. and you were at the camp”) is anything more than a lynch mob mentality.”

    Maybe so, but then there are a whole lot of legal experts who are also deluded. When you start calling large numbers of people deluded, you only succeed in discrediting yourself.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 2, 2007 @ 5:42 pm
  25. Yup, we’re fundamentally at loggerheads. I think international criminal laws are largely a joke (as exemplified by the ICC), I think the Nuremburg trials were a kangaroo court (although I don’t dispute the guilt of the Nazi leadership in the Holocaust or the people who carried out executions), and I think that the Nazi hunters obsessed with persecuting every last person in a uniform regardless of whether they committed any crimes are a bunch of irrational fanatics who prefer to wallow in their own self-absorbed victimhood and they need to be told that the war is over and they need to move on.

    The stories about executions of S.S. soldiers by Americans got around. Whether or not the Allies were killing every single Nazi they could find, they in fact committed their share of lynchings and rumor or not the Germans believed the stories were true so it wasn’t irrational for Germans to hide their past service. If you see an angry mob walking down the street looking for people who look like you, would you trust their rational judgment and their willingness to listen to your arguments of innocence, or would you decide to get the fuck out of their way and hide? Since people who took choice number one had a greater incidence of ending up dead, I tend to think that the Germans made the rational move. So not really “my bad” at all since only an idiot would trust in the mercy of “street justice” (which is kind of what you are advocating).

    You’re right, I should clarify what I mean when I call people deluded. I believe that a lot of legal experts are collectivists. I believe that they view the world only through the prism of race, and culture, and ethnicity and they have little or no respect for the freedoms and rights of individuals. And that, in my opinion, is deluded, because that approach inevitably leads to division, conflict, and ultimately disaster. That’s why an opinion reached by “a lot” of legal experts doesn’t mean anything to me as long as they’re collectivists, because the collectivist opinion is incompatible with individual rights and I think that legal “experts” who subscribe to collectivist interpretations of the law are either fundamentally stupid or bullshit artists who think that everyone else is stupid. To me (and pretty much any other libertarian) freedom stems from respect for individual rights, not from the drafting or existence of laws or the opinions of “a lot” of people. You obviously don’t believe that strongly in individual rights, being a socialist, so we’re probably always going to argue about any issue of law. And frankly, I’m okay with that…because I also don’t have any illusions about converting hard-core collectivists either.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 10:10 pm
  26. And I wasn’t calling you, Chepe, an idiot with that remark about street justice…just that trusting your life to street justice would be an idiotic thing to do and it’s irrational for anyone to expect other people to do it.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 2, 2007 @ 10:13 pm
  27. Chepe,

    You said, “I believe that the Nuremberg trials were an important step in the development of international law, and were surely legal.”

    Who told you that they were legal? Why do you believe that they are legal?

    Comment by Chris Kachouroff — October 2, 2007 @ 10:57 pm
  28. Chris,

    I suspect he does it because he seems to have a default position of thinking government should be trusted to do the right thing. The Nuremburg trials were set up with the cooperation of our government, the majority of the world seemed to want the trials, they had a least a pretense of being about the law, and everyone with any brains hates Nazis anyway so nobody wants to get into the fact that a lot of what went there was nothing more than a kangaroo court. I suppose technically it was legal…sort of. But that’s a long way from being “just”. Most of it was about victor’s vengeance too (although I do believe that most of the Nazi heads of state were likely guilty of directly planning and executing the Holocaust so I’m not really shedding any tears over what happened to them).

    As for considering it a legitimate basis for an international system of justice, I’d sooner base international law on an episode of Judge Judy than what went on at Nuremburg. It was a sham trial system based on retroactive law that ignored precedent or individual rights whenever the people running things felt it convenient. Which I guess should have been unsurprising considering that the main Soviet judge at Nuremburg also ran the show trials for Stalin during his purges in the 30s.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 1:59 am
  29. UC,

    Based on this thread and a couple of others, I would have to say that Chepe is an internationalist, meaning, he would fit the mold of a Republican who believes the U.N. and its prodigy are required entities in order to bring about a new world order of peace and supranational governance.

    Am I right Chepe?

    Comment by Chris Kachouroff — October 3, 2007 @ 5:57 am
  30. Internationalist, socialist, communist, neo-conservative…they’re all just variations on statism, and I disagree with all of them.

    You’d think that people would be a bit more skeptical of the U.N. considering its dubious track record of performance over the last 60 years, though.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 8:22 am
  31. What good has the U.N. accomplished anyway?

    Comment by Stephen Littau — October 3, 2007 @ 9:15 am
  32. It’s accomplished some good…just not enough to merit the cost. And it shouldn’t be entrusted with the authority to override our national sovereignties.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 9:39 am
  33. There’s a lot of material here to consider, and a lot of silly labels being slopped around. I suggest that, rather than waste time figuring out what labels to apply to whom, we discuss the underlying issues. And so I’m going to go way back to some fundamental issues regarding libertarianism.

    I suspect that most libertarians have not really thought through their notions of freedom. They agree to the principle that one person’s freedom does not give them license to harm other people, but they fail to apply this principle uniformly. (I suspect that this is attributable to the all-too-common use of black-and-white thinking as opposed to “shades of grey” thinking).

    The problems arise when we consider the case of one person inflicting a tiny amount of harm to many people. The correct way to analyze this is to add up all the injury to all the people and figure out just how serious that injury is. Most libertarians seem to want to ignore that injury because it’s so tiny at the individual level. Such libertarians (not all libertarians, mind you!) oppose environmental legislations because, after all, the injury done by that one coal plant to any given individual is pretty tiny.

    Libertarians often argue against laws that protect the many from the few by taking the principle to ridiculous extremes, such as “So why not banish all barbecues?” This is no different from arguing against laws against murder with the suggestion that we should just as well punish people for bumping into somebody else.

    Here’s the essence of the problem faced by libertarianism: with the progress of the human race, with more people slinging around more wealth and higher technology, the effects of any individual’s actions impact an increasing number of people. Indeed, if you think about economics, you’ll realize that the whole idea of an economic system is to harmonize the actions of all the people in the world as much as possible — which of course means that people affect each other more and more with each passing year. Like it or not, there are more of us and we’re getting more crowded and affecting each other more and more. This is not the Old West where a man could get his 160 acres in the middle of nowhere and ignore everybody else. If we reduce it all to the slogan “Your freedom ends where my nose begins”, then as we get more and more crowded together, we have to watch ourselves ever more carefully because other people’s noses are pressing in on us.

    This explains the atavistic aspect of many libertarians. I’m sorry, folks, but the world is changing and if you pine for the good old days when population densities were lower — well, you’re denying reality. Yep, it would be nice if we could somehow have it both ways — but we can’t.

    I’m not saying that libertarianism is intrinsically wrong-headed. There are lots of places where self-righteous bastards try to impose their notions of right and wrong upon others, and we need a strong libertarian opposition to these buttinskis. The distinction, in my mind, is whether the intrusion into personal freedom is based on a moralistic calculation or a calculation of costs and benefits to society. A perfect example here is the Christian right’s opposition to homosexuals.

    I’m sure this will provide lots of fuel for discussion. I request that we avoid labelling each other and just concentrate on the ideas.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 10:47 am
  34. Chepe,

    1) Actually, libertarians oppose environmental legislation because it’s usually ineffective or counterproductive, disrespects property and individual rights, and limits productivity. In fact, a great number of the problems we have with pollution stem from government’s disrespect for private property and their collectivist approach to managing it. That’s what libertarians have a problem with, not “minimal harm”. Pull up a few examples and I can probably point out to you where this comes into play each time.

    2) Population density determining policy is a Malthusian principle that has been repeatedly discredited by reality. I don’t accept it as a valid talking point.

    3) The “minimal harm” standard you cite has some validity when it comes to individuals, but criminal culpability stops at direct action. Did Henss order people to be killed? Did Henss kill people himself or directly assist in the killings? Unless he did either of those things he’s done nothing that constitutes a criminal offense apart from immigration fraud. He’s apparently no more responsible for the deaths of those prisoners than any of the other absurd examples I cited earlier.

    As for the labels, I didn’t mean it as a personal slur when I called you a socialist…just calling it like I see it so we all know where everyone’s coming from. I believe you to be a statist. That doesn’t mean I see you as an inherent evil person or that I hate you.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 11:30 am
  35. Let’s go through these assertions of yours one at a time:

    environmental legislation [is] usually ineffective

    Are you seriously suggesting that environmental legislation does not have beneficial effects for the environment? I’ll be happy to crush that claim into the dirt, but first I’d like to make certain that you really are making such a preposterous claim. I will concede that some environmental legislation has fallen short of our goals, and I even know of one obscure case where the Clean Air Act actually led to environmental degradation, but if you’re making a blanket statement here, I can easily demolish that.

    environmental legislation…disrespects property and individual rights

    This is a dogmatic and ultimately useless argument. ALL law disrepects property and individual rights because it in some way constrains the exercise of those rights. Would you have us dispense with the principle of the rule of law?

    environmental legislation…limits productivity

    I agree with this point. But productivity is not the sole measure of benefit to society; all environmental regulation should trade off the costs in lost productivity against the benefits of reduced environmental degradation.

    In fact, a great number of the problems we have with pollution stem from government’s disrespect for private property and their collectivist approach to managing it…Pull up a few examples and I can probably point out to you where this comes into play each time.

    OK, how about regulations limiting the emissions of sulfur dioxide by coal-burning power plants?

    Population density determining policy is a Malthusian principle that has been repeatedly discredited by reality. I don’t accept it as a valid talking point.

    Gee, if we can simply brush off a principle with a wave of the hand, then why can’t I declare that “the notion of individual rights is a libertarian principle that has repeatedly been discredited by reality. I don’t accept it as a valid talking point.” I am not making any such preposterous claim, but trying to show you how preposterous your assertion is. If you have a case to present, please present it. Summarily dismissing my argument with a wave of your hand is not a convincing argument. Present your reasoning, please.

    criminal culpability stops at direct action.

    OK, so releasing a pollutants into the air that indirectly lead to the deaths of thousands of people is not criminal? Driving while drunk is not criminal? Preventing a person who is fleeing from certain death from escaping is not criminal?

    just calling it like I see it so we all know where everyone’s coming from

    But you DON’T know where I’m coming from, do you? You don’t know anything about my education, my background, the broad range of my beliefs, my religion, are just about anything else about me. Besides, WHO CARES??? Is this a blog about Chepe Noyon? Are we discussing the personal worthiness of UCrawford? Do we care about whether Stephen Littau has a wart on his nose? We’re here to discuss libertarianism, not personalities. You use labels as a way to obscure the discussion, not clarify it. Again, I suggest that we talk about libertarianism, not Chepe Noyon.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 12:08 pm
  36. Chepe,

    1) Yes, I’m making that claim. Crush away.

    2) I think the existence of laws against trespassing, theft, vandalism, rape and murder disprove your assertion that ALL laws infringe on property and individual rights.

    3) Prove to me with the use of empirical evidence that the costs of “environmental degradation” outweigh the costs of lost productivity and we’ll have a debate. So far the debate consists of a bunch of socialists claiming that someday things “might” get bad while presenting flawed or circumstantial evidence. That’s not a position I’ll accept.

    4) Sulfur dioxide causes direct and demonstrable harm to land and people. Therefore those that emit are causing a measureable level of harm to adjoining property owners and it’s reasonable to hold them accountable. The effectiveness of regulation in limiting this is dependent upon how well the government competently carries out equal enforcement and compliance (never a given) and the same end result could be achieved simply through litigation (creating a financial incentive for polluters to stop engaging in their behavior). So I consider the environmental regulation unnecessary, as well as the costs of implementing and enforcing said regulation. I’d rather see the money we use to hire regulators plowed into expanding our courts instead.

    5) Malthus failed to include the ability of humans to individually adapt into his theories of mass starvation. He didn’t take into account improvements in agricultural technologies, improvements in individual liberty, the advent of space travel or the leveling off of population growth in developed countries. None of what he’s predicted has come true. Call me silly, but I don’t accept philosophies that overlook basic facets of human evolution and never come to fruition. So I don’t consider Malthus or any of his ideas about population density valid talking points.

    6) On your examples: a) No, b) no and c) only if that’s what he knew that his actions would result in their death and it can be proven to be the case.

    7) When Chepe Noyon starts making position points that indicate he believes freedom extends from individual rights and not government action, then I’ll have a discussion with Chepe Noyon about libertarianism. The positions you often take bear little resemblance to libertarianism, and my classification of you is merely a reflection of that. Like I said, I just call them as I see them.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 12:44 pm
  37. Wait…Littau has a wart on his nose?

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 1:24 pm
  38. Chepe:

    I’m a big fan of the “Your freedom ends where my nose begins” principle; I don’t see why it needs to be more complicated than that. If someone is polluting my air and demonstrably causing me health problems, then the offending party is quite literally infringing on “where my nose begins.” If this polluted air is harming me, there is a good possibility it is harming others.

    Also, I’m not quite sure I understand your point about population density and its effects on individual rights. I wish I could remember where I read this (John Stossel’s latest book, I think) regarding the overpopulation hysteria. If I remember correctly, Stossel found in his research that if the entire world’s population moved to Texas, the population density of Texas would be about the same as New York City (I’ll see if I can back this up when I get an opportunity). If this is true, then it seems to me that we are not having the population crisis that some would have us believe.

    Beyond that, let me offer one other observation. Have you flown recently or driven across the country? As large as our cities are, there is still a great deal of open space. If you had the money, you probably could buy the “160 acres in the middle of nowhere.”

    But even if we were having a population crisis, I still fail to understand why the “Your freedom ends where my nose begins” principle would no longer apply. The only thing that might change is that we would have to be more cognizant of each other’s noses.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — October 3, 2007 @ 1:29 pm
  39. U.C./Chepe:

    No warts on my nose…short, overweight, with plenty of other shortcomings :)

    Comment by Stephen Littau — October 3, 2007 @ 1:36 pm
  40. Stephen,

    It’s generally been my experience that people who buy into Malthus are really just buying into the pessimism bias…or they simply watched “Soylent Green” a few too many times. Malthus predicted that the human race would increase at a geometric rate and overwhelm our ability to produce sufficient food resources (which he claimed would only increase at an arithmetic rate) resulting in mass starvation, but he overlooked any number of factors that would negate his doomsaying (several of which I listed earlier) and based his analysis on incomplete data. His predictions have never come to pass, nor does it appear they ever will:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malthusian_catastrophe

    Frankly, if it ever got to the point where humans were too constrained on this planet (something that’s not going to happen in our lifetimes), I’ve no doubt that we’ll find a way to spread to others. We aren’t seriously considering doing so now simply because there’s no driving need.

    And I was kidding about the warts :)

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 2:15 pm
  41. Reason touched on the doomsayers a bit in their article about boneheaded voters:

    http://www.reason.com/news/show/122019.html

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 2:18 pm
  42. I can’t seem to make a post here; I have a long response but the site refuses to accept it; I’m now testing to see if the problem lies in the length or content of the post.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 2:25 pm
  43. OK, so since the previous post worked, the problem must have something to do with the length or content of my post. So let’s try it in pieces:

    OK, First, let’s take up your blanket assertion that environmental legislation is ineffective. Here’s a quote from a 1997 report on emissions trading schemes:

    The success of the RECLAIM program can be measured by a two-thirds reduction in total emissions, by a reduction in emissions beyond allocated levels, by a decrease in the market cost of emissions allowances below national averages, and by a reduction in job loss to 4 percent of levels anticipated under command and control.

    I suggest that you read the entire report; it clearly establishes the success of many emissions trading schemes. I cite another such report further down.

    I think the existence of laws against trespassing, theft, vandalism, rape and murder disprove your assertion that ALL laws infringe on property and individual rights.

    Wait a minute! Laws against trespassing limit my freedom to go whereever I wish; laws against theft prevent me from taking what I want; laws against rape deny me sexual freedom; laws against vandalism prohibit me from expressing myself in graffiti; and laws against murder constrain my freedom to deal with troublesome people. Every one of these laws constrains my freedoms. So your objection to a law because it constrains freedom is applicable to all these laws as well. Therefore, the objection that a law constrains individual freedoms is meaningless.

    Prove to me with the use of empirical evidence that the costs of “environmental degradation” outweigh the costs of lost productivity and we’ll have a debate

    Actually, if I prove it, it won’t be a debate. But I’ll prove it anyway. Here’s an easy nontechnical piece on the costs and benefits of a single environmental regulation program. They estimate $122 billion in benefits and $3 billion in costs. End of debate!

    the same end result could be achieved simply through litigation

    Simply?!?!? You think litigation is cleaner and simpler than legislation? If so, why not replace criminal law with tort law?

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 2:26 pm
  44. OK, so here’s a small chunk of what I submitted:

    OK, First, let’s take up your blanket assertion that environmental legislation is ineffective. Here’s a quote from a 1997 report on emissions trading schemes:

    The success of the RECLAIM program can be measured by a two-thirds reduction in total emissions, by a reduction in emissions beyond allocated levels, by a decrease in the market cost of emissions allowances below national averages, and by a reduction in job loss to 4 percent of levels anticipated under command and control.

    I suggest that you read the entire report; it clearly establishes the success of many emissions trading schemes. I cite another such report further down.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 2:27 pm
  45. Here’s the next chunk:

    I think the existence of laws against trespassing, theft, vandalism, rape and murder disprove your assertion that ALL laws infringe on property and individual rights.

    Wait a minute! Laws against trespassing limit my freedom to go whereever I wish; laws against theft prevent me from taking what I want; laws against rape deny me sexual freedom; laws against vandalism prohibit me from expressing myself in graffiti; and laws against murder constrain my freedom to deal with troublesome people. Every one of these laws constrains my freedoms. So your objection to a law because it constrains freedom is applicable to all these laws as well. Therefore, the objection that a law constrains individual freedoms is meaningless.

    Prove to me with the use of empirical evidence that the costs of “environmental degradation” outweigh the costs of lost productivity and we’ll have a debate

    Actually, if I prove it, it won’t be a debate. But I’ll prove it anyway. Here’s an easy nontechnical piece on the costs and benefits of a single environmental regulation program. They estimate $122 billion in benefits and $3 billion in costs. End of debate!

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 2:28 pm
  46. Here’s the next chunk:

    I think the existence of laws against trespassing, theft, vandalism, rape and murder disprove your assertion that ALL laws infringe on property and individual rights.

    Wait a minute! Laws against trespassing limit my freedom to go whereever I wish; laws against theft prevent me from taking what I want; laws against rape deny me sexual freedom; laws against vandalism prohibit me from expressing myself in graffiti; and laws against murder constrain my freedom to deal with troublesome people. Every one of these laws constrains my freedoms. So your objection to a law because it constrains freedom is applicable to all these laws as well. Therefore, the objection that a law constrains individual freedoms is meaningless.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 2:29 pm
  47. Here’s the next chunk:

    Prove to me with the use of empirical evidence that the costs of “environmental degradation” outweigh the costs of lost productivity and we’ll have a debate

    Actually, if I prove it, it won’t be a debate. But I’ll prove it anyway. Here’s an easy nontechnical piece on the costs and benefits of a single environmental regulation program. They estimate $122 billion in benefits and $3 billion in costs. End of debate!

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 2:29 pm
  48. Now I’m going to try to put all the rest in:

    the same end result could be achieved simply through litigation

    Simply?!?!? You think litigation is cleaner and simpler than legislation? If so, why not replace criminal law with tort law?

    Malthus: What does Malthus have to do with my argument? I didn’t write that people are going to starve to death (which was Malthus’ contention). I wrote that increasing population pressures inevitably reduce personal freedoms. Please address THAT point, not something entirely different.

    We may have some problems with double negatives here, but I gather that you regard the release of toxic gases and drunk driving as not criminal. I’ll concentrate on the drunk driving case, as it’s a good demonstration of the difference between black-and-white thinking and shades-of-grey thinking that I alluded to above. You maintain, I presume, that the drunk driver commits no crime because he hasn’t actually harmed anybody, and that he commits a crime only when he actually harms somebody. I argue that probability is an appropriate factor to include in determinations of criminal behavior. If I act in such a way as to create a high probability that somebody will be harmed, then that action is criminal, in my opinion. It is the probability, not the eventuality, that makes it criminal. For example, if I enter a shopping mall, close my eyes, and fire a gun in random directions, but fail to actually hit anybody, then you would classify my action as not criminal whereas I would classify it as criminal. The difference between us lies in the probability issue.

    As to your insistence upon using labels, what if we stipulate that I am worm snot, the scum of the earth, a baby-killer and orphan-raper, and a litterbug to boot? Then can we return to the business of discussing libertarianism?

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 2:32 pm
  49. I agree with what I’ve read out of that report. Mainly because it specifically notes that environmental problems are caused by a lack of clearly defined property rights…which is what I originally said:

    “In fact, a great number of the problems we have with pollution stem from government’s disrespect for private property and their collectivist approach to managing it.”

    So where’s your beef with my position?

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 2:35 pm
  50. Stephen, it is apparent that both you and UCrawford have completely missed my point about the role of population increase and technological advance; I must have not done a good job of explaining it. I’m not talking about a population crisis. I’m talking about the simple mathematical fact that, if there are more people, and more ways to interact with them, then we have a greater potential for some of those interactions to be intrusive. Here’s an example: 100 years ago you could burn whatever you wanted without having any appreciable impact on anybody else. But today, with more than 6 billion humans and people using cars and coal-burning power plants and natural gas, the net effect of all that activity is the release of so much CO2 that it’s starting to affect our climate, which in turn might have bad effects on me. Fifty years ago, I had no right to butt into your life and say, “Hold it, your CO2 emissions are getting into my nose.” But nowadays, I can make that claim reasonably. And when everybody in China and India starts driving cars as much as we Americans do, then the CO2 emissions will be huge and we’ll really have a big problem on our hands. It’s not just the increase in population — it’s also the increase in wealth.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 2:39 pm
  51. OK, UCrawford, so your objection to environmental laws is restricted to command-based regulation? You have no problem with emissions trading?

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 2:41 pm
  52. Nope…no problems with emissions trading. Like I said, if it respects individual and property rights I’m for it and I’m not against environmental legislation that meets that criteria. But that’s often not what environmentalism’s about these days…it’s about creeping socialism based on pseudo-science and a hatred of capitalism.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 3:04 pm
  53. Chepe,

    No, I think Stephen got your point and now that you’ve clarified I think you’re right. As Stephen said, there’s nothing wrong with the philosophy of your rights ending where my nose begins. With more people we simply have to be more mindful of other peoples’ noses. The increase in population numbers doesn’t change the validity of that underlying principle, it merely increases the importance of its observance and application.

    My apologies for confusing you with a Malthusian.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 3:08 pm
  54. As for your analogy about firing a gun in the mall, it’s only a legal act if the person firing the gun actually owns the mall in question. Otherwise the shooter is violating somebody else’s property rights.

    And actually, the actions you described would constitute attempted murder. Criminal law does take into account someone being a lousy shot. With drunk driving, however, they’re usually not acting out of an intent to cause harm, merely negligence. That said, I’m all for having stiffer penalties for people who drive into a family of six while drunk, as opposed to someone who does so accidentally while sober. One is an accident, the other is negligence. I’m just not for punishing people simply because they’re drunk. Especially considering how flawed the system for catching drunk drivers is and how often it’s abused.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 3:19 pm
  55. OK, UCrawford, I agree that the command-based approaches to environmental problems are at best weak and at worse useless. I am very much in favor of market-based approaches in which the government tacks on some additional cost factor to reflect the injury imposed by the environmental insult. Actually, I prefer “injury-based taxes” over cap-and-trade systems. Each and every pollutant would have its injurious effect measured and a value assigned to that injurious effect, after which anybody who emits that pollutant has to be the tax on a per-unit-emission basis. This would permit the market’s sorting out of priorities to operate a little better than a cap-and-trade system. Of course, the government would have to use the money so gained to compensate the victims.

    The two killer problems with this approach are that 1) the setting of tax rates will become a highly political process, complete with special exemptions for industries with good lobbyists; and 2) there’s no way to fairly compensate all the victims. Some will suffer more than others.

    But let me address the important point here: that libertarianism is getting squeezed by population, wealth, and technology. I agree that the basic principles of libertarianism provide the ideal towards which we should aspire, but I fear that we’ll be forced to compromise those principles with increasing frequency in the future.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 3:28 pm
  56. We’re not really that far apart on the issue then…in fact we’re pretty much in agreement. The two problems you listed are why I’m skeptical of any government run legislation regarding the environment. I don’t think they’re going to be capable of enforcing it fairly. But I am in favor of treating pollution as a property issue and yours is one of the better proposals I’ve heard.

    As for libertarianism getting squeezed, I think that the increasing population actually makes a libertarian philosophy more relevant and important, not less. The more people we have and the closer our proximity, the more glaring the flaws in the collectivist approach will ultimately become and the more impossible it will become to identify people as cohesive separate groups. And the greater the need will be for the recognition and enforcement of individual rights because the individual will be the only non-arbitrary body society can consistently use to determine equal rights. Some will, of course, say that the growing population will make libertarianism impossible because you don’t have the ability to do whatever you want without fear of repercussion. But then I’ve never paid that much mind because that’s never what libertarianism was actually about.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 3:40 pm
  57. Good point about the shopping mall being private property. So how about the same event in a public park? The problem remains. Let’s say it’s after dark and the defendent can honestly say that he didn’t realize that there were other people in the park when he began firing, and once he began firing, he didn’t hear the frightened shouts of the people. No problems with private property and no intent to harm — yet still a crime in my book.

    You raise a good point about negligence when you suggest that it should be a factor in sentencing, not a crime in and of itself. This would create a basic principle that guilt is established by the physical facts, and the degree of guilt is based upon the degree of volition (completely unintentional, negligent, or intentional) involved by the defendent. I acknowledge that such an approach would certainly be practicable. However, the current approach, which criminalizes negligence, does serve, in my opinion, to reduce the overall incidence of negligence by driving home the importance of the negligence.

    Consider, for example, drunk driving. You think that laws criminalizing this are unjust, because the defendent does no actual harm. But consider the diffference in the thought processes of the individual contemplating driving while drunk:

    (under current law): “If I get in that car right now and get caught, I’ll lose my license.”

    (under your proposal): “If I get in that car right now and kill somebody, I’ll spend twenty years in prison instead of ten.”

    There are two crucial differences between the two:

    1. Control. In the first case, the driver understands that losing his license is beyond his control. It depends entirely on the luck of getting caught. In the second case, the driver thnks himself in control of his fate. He understands that, if he doesn’t make a mistake, he’ll be just fine. Now, do you know ANYBODY who thinks that they’re a bad driver, even while sober? Have you ever met ANY drunk or tipsy person who didn’t think he was perfectly capable of driving? Psychological studies have shown over and over that, when people think that they’re in control of the situation, they are much safer. That’s why people worry more about flying than driving, even though flying is safer.

    2. Differential consequences. Psychological studies shown that people’s assessment of risk is at least logarithmic. The difference between 10 years in prison and 20 years in prison is inconsequential to most people when they’re doing the kind of calculation described above. Thus, the deterrent effect of making negligence a factor in sentencing is lessened.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 3, 2007 @ 3:46 pm
  58. And I’ll go so far as to say command-based environmental laws are at best weak and at worst extremely destructive.

    I’ll also start taking environmentalists a lot more seriously once they start considering more market-based approaches to issues of pollution, like de-regulating the nuclear industry (which produces far less pollution than coal or oil). Their oft-heard mantra of “We must do more with less” however (usually spouted in conjunction with rants against increasing energy usage), exposes them for the Luddites that they are. And I’m not buying into that crap.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 3:48 pm
  59. I’m okay with trying the park guy for attempted murder if he fires a gun in city limits just for the hell of it and almost hits someone. Same as I’m okay for creating a law to prosecute a drunk guy who drives down the wrong side of the street or on the sidewalk (even if they don’t kill anyone). I’m just not in favor of punishing them simply for possessing a gun or being drunk. I don’t have a problem with strict punitive laws. Merely naive preventative ones.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 3:54 pm
  60. Chepe,

    As to your comments about all laws being restrictive of individual freedom, I’d point out that the libertarian view of individual freedom excludes actions based in violence and/or the threat of violence (except in self-defense). Violence or the threat of violence are a factor in every example you cited.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 3, 2007 @ 4:17 pm
  61. Chepe,

    I had to work a slew of ours to help pay our back dues to the entity that was not constitutionally authorized to raise revenue from us. (Article 1, Sec 7., “All bills for raising revenue . . . .) It’s why I couldn’t post but after catching up here, you still need to be “spotlighted.”

    Ergo, I’m still waiting for you to answer the questions. I’ll repost below:

    You said, “I believe that the Nuremberg trials were an important step in the development of international law, and were surely legal.”

    Who told you that they were legal? Why do you believe that they are legal?

    Comment by Chris Kachouroff — October 3, 2007 @ 10:29 pm

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