Showing posts from 2010

Santa Claus: America’s Most Wanted Fugitive

WASHINGTON, DC—A joint federal-state task force intends to apprehend Santa Claus, whom it regards as a dangerous fugitive, Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Chet Waldron told reporters yesterday. Among the factors making Claus a “person of interest,” according to Waldron: Claus’s entry of private property makes him guilty of civil, and probably criminal, trespass. Claus’s immigration status is in question. He has repeatedly entered the United States without a passport. Claus appears to have purposefully avoided the inspection of the goods he has imported into the United States by customs authorities and the payment of relevant tariffs. Self-described “pro-family” groups have asked the administration to take action because Claus’s provision of toys to children interferes with their parents’ rights to oversee the upbringing of their offspring without adequate supervision, since many popular toys may encourage attitudes and behavior of which parents disapprove or legitimize val

Humanizing Air Travel

It is gratifying in the extreme to see consumers responding in increasingly vociferous fashion to the accelerating dehumanization of air travel: kudos, in particular, to the founders of We Won’t Fly . It would be truly exciting if ordinary people managed to persuade the USG to retreat by ending the pat-downs and pornoscanners. But it would be very unfortunate if, should they win this battle, passengers let up the pressure for more decent traveling conditions. Yes, the TSA has gone too far ; but it’s never not gone too far. While the latest indignities are atrocious, if we treat the air travel regime in place before they began as largely acceptable, we will provide incontrovertible evidence that, like the frog in the proverbial kettle, we’ve become far too tolerant of abuse. Even before 9/11, air travel was often unpleasant. There was too much screening; too much passenger time and energy were wasted on dealing with security theatre. But during the past nine years, we’ve moved from

Cranick Fire Fund

Tom Knapp has just alerted me to the existence of a PayPal account, CranickFireFund@Yahoo.Com, designed to help the victims of the Tennessee fire that’s received so much attention of late. I would encourage readers to consider supporting this fund.

The Fulton Fire Fiasco

The decision by a Tennessee fire agency to deny service to a family with a burning house because the family had failed to pay the agency’s subscription fee (the agency was operated by the city of Fulton but provided service to non-residents on a subscription basis) has prompted sustained discussion throughout the blogosphere, with repeated claims that the incident demonstrates inherent difficulties with the fee-based provision of fire services. Implicitly, then, statists are inclined to see the incident as supporting an argument for state provision of such services, and thus for statism more generally. The story is complicated, as such stories always are, by the facts. The incident happened, it appears, because the homeowners’ grandson started a fire too close to their home. The decision not to provide service was evidently a long-standing city-council voted policy, and the fire-fighters’ insurance apparently wouldn’t cover them if they provided service to a non-subscriber. On the o

Cultural Roots and Collective Identity in a Libertarian Society

In general, a libertarian society would be hospitable to people’s cultural roots and col­lec­tive identities. Placing one’s life story in the context of a larger, more inclusive narrative can help to give one a sense of meaning and direction. Some of the tales we tell for this purpose are religious, some metaphysical, some scientific, some ethnic, some cultural. Political libertarianism would not deprive anyone of the sense of identity conferred by any of these stories—unless, of course, it could only be preserved by force—and would doubtless contribute to the flourishing of a significant number. Cultural libertarianism might undermine some of these stories, but would certainly leave many undisturbed. Varieties of Libertarianism Political libertarianism opposes aggression—the initiation of force—by individuals, including those acting under the color of law. Cultural libertarianism seeks peacefully to undermine hierarchies in workplaces and other social institutions; to promot

Two Cheers for Conspiracy Theories

I don’t have much of a dog in this race. But I confess that I’m put off by blanket attempts to distance anti-authoritarian politics from “conspiracy theories.” In practical terms, whatever the literal meaning of the words, a conspiracy theory is an account of an event that differs significantly from the account of the event endorsed by the mainstream media and the political establishment—characteristically in a way that can be seen as injurious to the establishment’s interests, and often involving the attribution of responsibility for mischief to the establishment or its agents. If those C. Wright Mills called “the power elite” are essentially thugs and bandits— as a sensible class analysis suggests that they are —then there is surely good reason to expect them to engage in theft and violence. If political leaders are selected for their ambition—and so their willingness to put principle to one side—and their inclination to serve the interests of the power elite, there is surely

Class Struggle, Conservative Style

Codevilla, Anthony. The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do about It . New York: Beaufort 2010. Pp. xxvi, 150. Index. 978-0825305580. $12.99. Paper. I Class is a libertarian issue. When today’s believers in free markets hear someone mention “class struggle,” they may be tempted to think of Karl Marx. The rhetoric of class conflict has been largely Marxist during the past century. But students of libertarian history know that classical liberals Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer pioneered class analysis before Marx (he gave them credit for doing so). Class was a central feature of the work of such libertarian stalwarts as Franz Oppenheimer, Albert Jay Nock, and Frank Chodorov. Class theory formed the heart of libertarian and one-time SDS leader Carl Oglesby’s neglected classic, The Yankee and Cowboy War . An article on class theory was featured in the very first issue of the Journal of Libertarian Studies . And class analysis has continued to be an aspec