LRC Blog

Parents May Not Murder Their Children by Starvation

There are now 4 blogs on this subject by me and David Gordon, alternating. In order, they are here, here, here and here.

Gordon’s comments have been useful. To address his first blog, I elaborated the theory. In that reply, I suggested that parents control their children, and I referred to that as a “form of ownership”. I did not say that they own them or homestead them, a claim that Gordon rejects. I thought that the words “form of” allowed latitude for describing the reality, but that phrase is not essential or critical to the argument. I was thinking along the financial lines of ownership conferring control, so that if there is control, there is some sort of ownership going on. I still think this, but surely that control is not total. A child has a degree of freedom, but it co-exists with parental control over many aspects of a child’s behavior. The critical fact is the existence of this control, not the term “own” or “ownership”. In the specific case being discussed, it’s control over food. A child too young to fend for itself or find alternative food supplies depends on its parents. The parental control is there because the child belongs to the parents in the food department. This is surely true of infants. The child belongs to itself in the crying and smiling departments.

Gordon doesn’t argue against my arguments, not that he says he accepts them either. He’s non-committal. Instead, he raises a question that I in no way addressed or intended to address. His question is this: “But what are the legal obligations of parents?” It is a good question; but my not addressing it with a theory covering all possible instances of parental obligation and their sources doesn’t undermine my argument, because I only set out to show that parents had the legal obligation (under libertarian law) not to murder their children by means of starvation.

Does Gordon think that parents do not violate the non-aggression principle by letting a baby die of starvation, as Rothbard thought? Rothbard’s position is that the parents have no right to aggress against their children, but simultaneously are not legally obligated to feed them. This leads him to an untenable conclusion, that allowing a baby to die is not an aggression: “This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g., by not feeding it)? The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die.”

Rothbard’s saying that it is not violating non-aggression to allow a baby to die because parents are not obligated to feed the baby. I am saying that, sure as shooting, an aggression has occurred, as this intentional murder is. A death by not feeding is no accident, and someone must be responsible. It’s the parents. The parents are obligated by the condition of dependency that they have themselves generated as parents. They have created the situation in which if they allow the baby to die, they’ve committed murder.

No person under libertarian law has a right to aggress, which means all persons, parents included, have an obligation not to murder anyone, and this includes babies under their care.

Gordon agrees in part, writing “Certainly, if you have voluntarily taken up a position that carries with it obligations, you have those obligations.”

He then raises something of a straw man “against Rozeff” by raising a general question. “But what are the legal obligations of parents?” He notes “That question isn’t answered just by saying that people have voluntarily become parents.” Agreed, but I did not “just” say that. I did provide arguments. Gordon doesn’t address them because he’s interested in something else, which is how to determine legal obligations of parents generally. I’m pointing the way in the case of murder. Questions of parental obligation under libertarian law are indeed not answered by simply referring to the status of people as parents or not. One must connect the parental status, the relations of parents to their children, to acts of aggression. Rothbard starts out doing this. He tells us “Even from birth, the parental ownership is not absolute but of a ‘trustee’ or guardianship kind.” He deduces “It must therefore be illegal and a violation of the child’s rights for a parent to aggress against his person by mutilating, torturing, murdering him, etc.” Likewise, it’s aggression to let a child die. There can be no right of parents to allow a child to die by not feeding it or by placing it in a trash can or by letting it freeze to death. This means that doing any of these things violates the child’s rights.

David Gordon is a philosopher. One does not expect to win an argument with a philosopher. They can unsettle any question that one might consider reasonably or sensibly settled by all sorts of means. Consider these two sentences of his: “Can you hold that they [parents] do have positive obligations and also hold that all positive obligations to others are voluntarily undertaken? My claim was that Rozeff has not shown this.”

Fine, I didn’t show it, but I didn’t need to show it, and I didn’t set out to show it. If I find that parents in this particular case have a positive obligation not to murder their children (which hardly seems controversial except to Rothbard and perhaps Gordon), because of their voluntary position that establishes them as the child’s parents, am I for some reason obligated to show that all positive obligations are likewise the result of voluntary activities? It may be true or not true, but one does not have to show the truth or falsity of a general case in order to show the truth or falsity of a specific case. I do not need to show that every U.S. Army fort is surrounded by barriers in order to show that Fort Bragg is surrounded by 25 miles of 8-foot high barbed wire fencing.

4:45 pm on January 15, 2019

Glenn Greenwald on the Trashing of Tulsi Gabbard

D.C. loves fake mavericks (McCain, Flake) but loathes truer ones like Gabbard.  “Hmmm.  A woman who really thinks for herself.  Smash her.”

UPDATE (8:30 PM ET): Earlier today the despicable left-militarist Daily Beast linked Gabbard to David Duke.  Duke apparently agreed with her on some of her foreign-policy positions, therefore, (non-sequitur as smear) she’s a supporter of Duke’s!!

4:41 pm on January 15, 2019

Response to Rozeff

I am grateful to Michael Rozeff for taking note of my comment on his article, but the point on which I criticized him is narrower than he thinks. I did not defend the view that parents should have no legal obligations to take care of their children. If they do, they have positive obligations toward their children. Can you hold that they do have positive obligations and also hold that all positive obligations to others are voluntarily undertaken? My claim was that Rozeff has not shown this. That is a very limited claim. Maybe it is mistaken to hold that all positive obligations are voluntarily undertaken. That is a question I did not discuss.

Rozeff says: “One may raise the objection: But where do these obligations come from? They come from extending the non-aggression principle to instances where a person has voluntarily taken up a position wherein he has the capacity to initiate violence against others by not doing acts that are under his purview, acts that are obligatory given the positions and roles assumed by the person.”

Certainly, if you have voluntarily taken up a position that carries with it obligations, you have those obligations. But what are the legal obligations of parents? That question isn’t answered just by saying that people have voluntarily become parents. That was my point against Rozeff and my only point.

To reiterate, I did not address in my comment the difficult issue of parental obligations. I do reject entirely any claim that parents own or homestead their children, even on a temporary basis.

12:50 pm on January 15, 2019

The Obama/New York Times Plot To Overthrow Trump

12:36 pm on January 15, 2019

Origin of Legal Obligation of Parents to Feed Their Child

David Gordon challenges my argument that parents have an obligation to feed their children. The two blogs on this are here and here.

I will argue that children belong to parents, but that this gives parents no right to starve their children to death. That is equivalent to saying that parents have a duty to care for their children by feeding them, as long as they are in control and possession of their children.

Gordon agrees with me on responsibility of the parents, writing, “Rozeff is right that the parents made the child. They caused it to come into existence: they bear causal responsibility for it.” It’s the legal attribution of subsequent care that he suggests has not been shown. Can it be shown that parents have a legal obligation to feed their babies, or must we conclude, along with Rothbard, that parents have no such legal obligation? The “legal” here is under libertarian law.

Gordon asserts “Rozeff has not shown that, by bringing the child into existence, parents have the legal obligations he ascribes to them. He has merely asserted this, and in that way begged the question at issue.” He doesn’t show that I “merely asserted this”, and, in fact, I did not merely assert it. I mounted an argument rooted in libertarian law as enunciated by the non-aggression principle:

“One may raise the objection: But where do these obligations come from? They come from extending the non-aggression principle to instances where a person has voluntarily taken up a position wherein he has the capacity to initiate violence against others by not doing acts that are under his purview, acts that are obligatory given the positions and roles assumed by the person. If he stops piloting the plane, lets the car wander into other lanes, stops feeding a baby, or stops cleaning the food he’s selling, then he’s aggressing against others, without direct physical violence to be sure. But if a baby starves, who else is responsible but the parents?”

In other words, parents, I argue, aggress upon their children by not feeding them. If they die, the parents have murdered them by their inaction. Why is it murder? This is murder and aggression because they have assumed responsibility for their children by bringing them into existence.

This argument can be elaborated. After birth, parents and not others have control over the children and their feeding. They have a form of ownership that in this case demands care; and they have brought this on themselves. They placed themselves into the position of having to care for their children. Others did not do this. If the children die through starvation that owes to parental neglect, who is responsible, if not the parents? Someone is, and it isn’t other people or the child. Others didn’t starve the child, and the child did not starve itself. Cause and effect are at work. The parents are the cause; they withheld food. It’s murder if I lock you in a room and starve you to death. The legal obligation of the parents to feed their children arises because to do otherwise leads to murdering the children whose care is their obligation.

To put the matter in another way, the parents did not gain a right to murder their children once their children were born; they didn’t gain a right to neglect them by not feeding them. If it is said that they have this legal right, which is what Rothbard said, that is the same as saying that there is no crime, no murder. But if it’s not murder when the parents starve their child to death, then what is it?

Now, one may I suppose object that parents are not obliged to care for a child of theirs; but that is equivalent to saying that it is no aggression to starve human beings that are yours. Yes, I am assuming that children do belong to parents. I doubt that Gordon wants to deny that premise. But because children happen to be alive, that does not give parents a right to kill them. What sort of law would allow that? Libertarian law based upon non-aggression and self-ownership certainly do not allow such a thing, although Rothbard and maybe Gordon think it does until shown that it does not. Lacking that parental right means that as long as children are with parents, the parents cannot legally starve them.

10:16 am on January 15, 2019

Helping Out the Poor, Impoverished Federal Bureaucrats

In the midst of never-ending news reporting of the awful, awful, fate of the poor, impoverished, self-sacrificing federal bureaucrats who are on an extended, post-holiday paid vacation because of the “government shutdown” the mayor of Baltimore has asked the city’s water company to forgive any late penalties on monthly $50-60 water bills for federal bureaucrats.  No one else who is having trouble with their bills, just federal bureaucrats who, of course, will be fully paid once the charade of a “shutdown” is over.  (By the way, if government was really “shut down” then members of Congress would not be getting paid either.  That would end the “shutdown” immediately).

7:34 am on January 15, 2019

Rozeff on Parents’ Legal Obligations

In a recent and characteristically thoughtful post, Michael  Rozeff suggests that Murray Rothbard was incorrect when he argued that “parents have no legal obligation to feed their children that can be derived from the theory of rights of self-ownership.” Rozeff’s argument against Rothbard seems to me to beg the question.

Rozeff points outs that, in some circumstances, one can voluntarily assume positive legal obligations toward others. Are parents examples of people who have done so? Rozeff says they are: ”The key condition is that they are the parents. This means that they made the child. We may roughly say ‘You make it, you own it.’ Making a child brings the obligation or responsibility to feed it. No rights of the parents are lost due to people around them enforcing this obligation by law. That’s not an aggression of others against the parents. The parents limited their own rights when they made the child and brought it into this world.”

Rozeff is right that the parents made the child. They caused it to come into existence: they bear causal responsibility for it. But whether you bear legal responsibility for what you caused, and the extent of that legal responsibility, are further questions. Rozeff has not shown that, by bringing the child into existence, parents have the legal obligations he ascribes to them. He has merely asserted this, and in that way begged the question at issue.

 

7:16 pm on January 14, 2019

O, King Shutdown, Live Forever!

For once, the New York Slimes delivers some good news:

All we know is that the shutdown continues without a break in sight. Government employees will continue to triage their bills. Food stamp recipients will remain in doubt over whether they will be able to eat in March. Government contractors will go wringing their hands.

What joy! Americans might actually have to function independently, autonomously. and without recourse to rulers. And if it continues long enough, we’ll have a bloodless revolution!

6:02 pm on January 14, 2019

Pompeo At It Again: Calls For Venezuela Coup

12:25 pm on January 14, 2019

Must Production Always Precede Consumption? Yes

Dear R:

You say this: “In any credit transaction we consume before we produce which is a reversal of causality.”

This is false. A correct statement would be, “When we borrow, we consume before we produce which is NOT a reversal of causality, since someone else had to first produce.” In a credit transaction, there are TWO sides. The borrower and the lender. Before the borrower can consume, the lender had to produce. So, production always comes before consumption. No exceptions.

Further, if an economy without credit were more productive, credit would be a negative on net balance. This is false. Credit allows for specialization and the division of labor. It transfers wealth, temporarily, from those who can use it less effectivley to those who can use it more effectively (if not, the lender will lose his money, and be less able to lend in the future.)

MORE

From: R
Sent: Monday, March 07, 2016 1:44 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re: Austrian Economics

Hi,

I have a doubt in economics which I got after reading the Atlas shrugged by Ayn Rand.

I would be highly obliged if you could help me with this query:-

Causality is an irreversible absolute. One cannot eat a cake before he bakes it. Therefore production is the cause and consumption is the effect. In any Credit transaction we consume before we produce which is a reversal of causality. Therefore any form of credit should not exist.

Where am I going wrong in my thinking?

Thanks and Regards

R

From: R
Sent: Monday, March 07, 2016 2:32 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re: Austrian Economics

Ok.

Borrowing lets the borrower consume what the lender has produced without himself producing first.

If the borrower was not given a loan he would have to produce first and then exchange to consume. So in case of no credit the borrower would be forced to be more productive if he wanted to consume.

So basically the point that I am trying to make is that an economy without credit will be more productive because whoever wants to consume will first have to produce on his own first.

But the loan is “earned.” The lender agreed! Merely because he did not produce this wealth does not mean he didn’t earn it, or isn’t the rightful (temporary) owner of it. You didn’t produce the shoes or wrist watch you’re now wearing. You didn’t “earn” them in the sense of producing them. Instead, you traded for them with the wealth you did earn (or were given by your parents, which is also a legitimate way of earning, or owning). And the borrower traded something with the lender. The lender lent the borrower, say, $100 for one year. What did the borrower trade with him in order to obtain this $100 for one year? Why, a promisory note, obligating the borrower to pay the lender $110 in a year’s time, for example.

Basically I am trying to say one should not be allowed to consume the unearned. In case of a loan the borrower consumes the unearned first then earns and then repays.

Thanks and Regards

R

12:15 pm on January 14, 2019

Suing for Fractional Reserve Banking and Embezzlement.

From: S
Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2016 3:56 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Against Fiduciary Media

Walter:

I read your, Hans’ and Guido’s excellent 1998 paper entitled “Against Fiduciary Media”.  I appreciate that the issuance of fiduciary media constitutes a fraud, in that two people cannot both own the same property at the same time.  However, my question to you, which I don’t think is addressed in this paper, is this: Who could legitimately bring an action for fraud?  If the depositor knows that the bank will lend out his demand deposit and that the bank is keeping less than 100% reserves against this deposit, if the borrower from the bank also knows that the bank is doing this, if people to whom the depositor writes a check know that the bank is doing this, and if investors in the bank know that the bank is doing this, who can legitimately complain about or sue for fraud?

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1:51 am on January 14, 2019

The Trump-Russia Scam – How Obama Enabled The FBI To Spy On Trump

That’s the title of an excellent article from Moon of Alabama that puts a lot of pieces together.

Scott Lazarowitz also has a piece on this affair, and it’s also excellent.

This whole affair is at least as big as the Dreyfus Affair. In some ways it’s bigger. It’s way bigger than Watergate. It’s still unfolding because the anti-Trump forces are still coming up with (imagining, constructing) new (fake) angles all the time. People like Carl Bernstein are making fools of themselves. He’s now saying that Trump “has helped Putin destabilize the United States and interfere in the election.” This is so patently ridiculous that it defies belief. There was no destabilization of our government, and because there was none, there is also no evidence of it. It is not at all clear that this term means anything real in this case. There is no evidence either that Trump “helped Putin” in the latter’s efforts (do they even exist?) to destabilize the U.S. government. What’s Bernstein talking about? He’s weaving a fabric from Wikileaks to a silly Trump Tower meeting to a joke made by Trump. The whole cloth is woven from threads that melt away at the first touch. If we took Bernstein seriously, we’d have to hunt far and wide for political news that did NOT destabilize the government.

7:03 pm on January 13, 2019

Flaws in Democratic Socialist Thought

Mike Holmes via e-mail points out the opposition of political correctness in universities to diversity: “…today’s SJW PC environment…promotes a unitary Stalinist form of thought control and behavior punishment. ‘Diversity’ doesn’t apply to that.” Diversity in the sense of diverse ideas within universities, i.e., a panarchic character of universities, is being destroyed by the SJW PC push.

More generally, the democratic socialism of the party of the same name promotes the opposite of panarchy, namely, uniform social structures, while they claim to want individuality. Some of their platform is examined briefly in an earlier blog. Here’s a bit of further criticism.

The Democratic Socialists aim at nurturing individuality:

“A democratic community committed to the equal moral worth of each citizen will socially provide the cultural and economic necessities—food, housing, quality education, healthcare, childcare—for the development of human individuality.”

However, they plan to accomplish this aim by a structure that eliminates individuality by submerging (eliminating) individual decision rights and freedom of choice within collectively-made decisions, called “democratic”:

“Achieving this diversity and opportunity necessitates a fundamental restructuring of our socioeconomic order. While the freedoms that exist under democratic capitalism are gains of popular struggle to be cherished, democratic socialists argue that the values of liberal democracy can only be fulfilled when the economy as well as the government is democratically controlled.”

Individuality can’t be achieved by means that destroy individual decision rights. The Democratic Socialists do not understand that their vision is self-contradictory, destroying what it sets out to create.

This flaw is joined by a second. They have no vision of freedom of choice in governance or competition in governance. They picture “the economy”, “the government”, “a democratic community” and “our socioeconomic order” being replaced by another one. They imagine only single units that are large-scale aggregates. They fail to imagine diversity at these high levels of aggregation. They fail to envision competition, and freedom of individuals cannot be enhanced without such competition.

The latter flaw is joined by a third. The word “democratic” is their magic wand by which all is made right. Democratic control of economy and government is their aim, and whatever this is, it’s supposedly productive of individuality. Democratic control of economy is inconsistent with both individual decision rights and an economy with decision-making that satisfies people’s wants, the latter two being indissolubly linked.

6:08 pm on January 13, 2019

Schumer and Pelosi Support U.S. Taxpayer Funding of a Border Wall

In the country of Jordan.

11:53 am on January 13, 2019

Politicized Universities: A Step Back from Panarchic Character

The conclusion indicated by the title, that politicized universities are anti-panarchic and what this means, can’t be grasped without first explaining panarchy, it not being a widely-known concept.

Panarchy refers to a form of governance in which every person has the freedom to choose his own form of government without changing their locale. A government is not necessarily non-territorial in this concept; it is territorial only if its adherents or members make it territorial by accumulating properties that join one another to create borders.

It is impossible to know in advance the results in institutions and laws of being free to sign on to a government of one’s choice. Panarchy means that governments and possible borders are shaped by competition; but because there is this competition, which involves a person’s freedom of exit and entry, the prediction is that governance will be of higher and improving quality. We may not know the outcomes, but the theory posits that governance produced by free markets in governance will satisfy people’s wants to a higher degree than governments that impose themselves on captive citizens.

It could be possible for one government to be theocratic and legitimate for its willing members, while having a law for its members only that forbade images of its prophet or its God; and it could have a place of worship next to another non-theocratic government in which producing cartoons of a prophet or a God was legal. A libertarian might say that the theocratic law is illegal under libertarian law; a panarchist would not say this. One can imagine many situations by which frictions would arise, however, and this side-by-side solution might give way to putting physical distance between the two churches and governments. However, the members of each government might still be governed by two conflicting laws.

At present, we have a degree of panarchy, worldwide and local. One may choose a state to live under. There are 193 states in the world to choose from, although free entry and exit are restricted. Within some of these countries, one may choose individual states. The U.S. has 50 of these. Within each state, one may choose numerous subdivisions of local government. Viewing the world as one large territory, it contains numerous governments that, to an extent, are subject to competitive forces. The current solution to panarchy involves borders that demarcate countries, but freedom to enter and exit these countries, or to choose one’s government, is highly restricted. Within a given country, the national government is fixed over that territory, its laws reaching everyone in any locality. Panarchy would mean, for example, that you might live under a minimal low-tax government while your neighbor lived under a maximal high-tax government.

The outcomes of freedom to choose governments, not necessarily territorial, are unknown; and their dynamic aspects are unknown. We expect quality to improve. We expect people to gravitate to governments that better satisfy their wants. Competition produces such results in free markets, and we expect the same in producing government as in producing pizzas.

It has been possible in America to choose the religion one wants without the places of worship being territorial. A religion, call it Q, didn’t have to locate all its churches in Rhode Island, while another, call it P, located only in Massachusetts. Non-believers, call them A, didn’t have to go to New York City. The solution to different religions living side by side has been panarchic in character.

Universities have been similar in panarchic character, in that a wide range of different kinds, located in different places, have emerged. A given city might accommodate many kinds of schools. By panarchic character, we mean a situation of free choice of an institution regardless of one’s locale. Even public state universities have allowed this, although often charging differential prices for non-residents of the state. Panarchic character extends the concept of panarchy in government to free choice of institutions in other respects, like religion and education.

Within universities, there has always been a certain degree of curriculum, educational character, religion and politics that’s peculiar to that institution. Within many universities, however, many different points of view have historically been typical; and academic freedom reinforced that outcome. This wide range within a given space or locale had panarchic character.

American universities are now undergoing more politicization. A majority of Americans think this is wrong. Politicization means that the university becomes dominated by a single political agenda and education is compromised. The panarchic character, which was consistent with freedom to speak and teach, thereby providing internal competition of courses, curricula and ideas, is reduced in favor of a monopolistic menu of indoctrination of ideas. Politicized universities are a step back from what was a reasonably panarchic system within a given university’s space. Furthermore, as more and more universities are politicized, prospective students have fewer to choose from that are not politicized. The inter-university market is undermined, just as the infra-university market for ideas is undermined.

9:38 am on January 13, 2019

Dealing With The Government

From: T
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 6:14 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Taking money from the Government

I enjoyed your discussion with Tom Woods. The questions I’m left with relate to once the money has been taken from the government. You made a distinction between the Marxist and Libertarian professor drawing a government pay check. Would it be okay to steal the stolen money from the Marxist but not the Libertarian, or both or neither? Perhaps embezzling from Goldman Sachs would be okay? Or do we say that once the ill-gotten gains are got back from the government, they are now legitimate? The Goldman Sachs could always say, “Yes, we made evil arguments to get the money, but we didn’t believe this stuff, and we’re really working for the demise of the system.” (Just as the person stealing from the Nazi motor-pool may have told the guard that he needed the truck to round up Jews.) What counts, the motivation, or the results of activism aimed at getting into the government purse?

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8:22 pm on January 12, 2019

Not Even Testimony from One of Their Own Deters Leviathan’s Busybodies

In Restaurants, But Never Taxes, Are Dropping Like Flies, I quoted a restaurateur whom the State put out of business with its taxation and regulation; this victim wished that “our career lawmakers and politicians, local and national alike, [should] take a mandatory ‘Undercover Boss’ “ challenge and live in the shoes of a small business owner for a week. Maybe then they will better understand the economically stifling environment they have created…”

One of LRC’s readers recalled that Senator George McGovern (Socialist-SD) endured something even more educational than “Undercover Boss”: after leaving government, he “acquir[ed] the leasehold” on a hotel. And lo and behold, the dictator who micro-managed other people’s businesses from the Senate, adding exponentially to their “hazards and difficulties,” soon filed for bankruptcy. “I … wish,” he sighed in an op-ed, “that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day…” Hmmm. Maybe that’s why the Constitution never authorizes the Feds to interfere in markets, let alone appoint pin-headed bureaucrats to do so.

Sadly, McGovern’s fellow predators paid no more attention to his “epiphany” than they do to common sense, decency, or justice. Nothing deters these leeches from pursuing ever more power over their betters.

5:50 pm on January 12, 2019

The Mask is Off the Watermelons

They now proudly and openly call themselves “Eco-socialists.”  No more green on the outside, red on the inside; it’s now all red, all the time, all over.

3:32 pm on January 12, 2019

The 2012 U.S. Intervention in Syria

Daniel Lazare unearths and criticizes the Hillary Clinton memo that urged on the U.S. intervention in Syria in 2012. He dates it as the end of April, 2012.

To support his analysis, which points a finger of guilt at the U.S., what did we learn of on LRC in real time as 2012 unfolded? The following blog entries are only a sample of those across the internet that will depict the whole story when collected and collated.

1. “Elsewhere, Hillary Clinton says that in Syria ‘the situation is spiraling toward civil war.’ This is true, because it’s the U.S. that’s making the situation spiral into civil war.” [Emphasis in the original.] See here. DATE: June 13, 2012.

2. “The CIA is involved in Syria. We knew this already.” See here. DATE: June 22, 2012.

3. “An analyst with sources in Syria calls it ‘war under the table.’ He squarely says the U.S. has brought about the war.” See here. DATE: July 30, 2012.

4. “The U.S. government has now let it leak out that Obama earlier this year or last year gave the green light to further U.S. intervention in Syria. We already know that the U.S. has been engaged in overthrowing the government in Syria.” See here. DATE: August 4, 2012.

Even earlier, we read

5. “Always count on the CIA for fake horrors that they blame on regimes they wish to topple. Gaddafi’s soldiers juiced on Viagra…the Iraqis killing babies in incubators in Kuwait?…Syria is bound to be in the news with such stories now that Obama and Clinton are intent on removing Assad.” See here. DATE: April 3, 2012.

6. “The wicked witch of the east [Hillary Clinton] has signaled the policy shift of the U.S. to bring down the current Syrian government by saying ‘We believe Assad must go…'” See here. DATE: April 2, 2012.

7. From Eric Margolis on March 26, 2012: “The US, Britain, France, and some conservative Arab allies have funded and armed the Syrian rebellion from its start a year ago. In fact, the US has been funding anti-Assad groups since the mid 1990’s. Arms and munitions are said to be flowing to Syria’s rebels through Jordan and Lebanon. Extreme rightwing groups in Lebanon, funded by western and Arab powers and Israel, are playing a key role in infiltrating gunmen and arms into northern Syria.” On the same date, support for this reporting appeared here.

8. The Brits partner with the U.S. and often provide reliable signals for coordinated action. Prime Minister David Cameron on March 7, 2012 attacked Assad, labeling him a criminal. See here. “In these remarks before Parliament with respect to threatening Assad, he speaks of ‘international justice’ having a ‘long reach.'” Cameron was almost surely influencing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on intervening in Syria and/or vice versa.

8:32 am on January 12, 2019

Tucker Carlson’s Sad Shift Toward Socialism

While he has never been that solid on markets, very unfortunately Tucker has opened 2019 taking all sorts of cheap shots at libertarians and markets.  Last week he referred to both as “disgusting” and “devastating to American families.” Progressive Vox has registered approval:

[W]hether or not he likes it, Carlson is an important voice in conservative politics. His show is among the most-watched television programs in America. And his raising questions about market capitalism and the free market matters.  “What does [free market capitalism] get us?” [Carlson] said in our call. “What kind of country do you want to live in? If you put these policies into effect, what will you have in 10 years?”

Tucker refuses to specify what interventions he thinks will “save the working class and the family.”  He just vaguely alludes to Teddy Roosevelt:

Using Theodore Roosevelt as an example of a president who recognized that labor needs economic power, he told me, “Unless you want something really extreme to happen, you need to take this seriously and figure out how to protect average people from these remarkably powerful forces that have been unleashed.”

Tucker likes Amy Peikoff as his “libertarian” straw opponent (video below). She’s abstract, boring, and an objectivist (not a libertarian). He hisses at her (2:55) that he was once a libertarian, so he knows “the nature of the fantasy.”  And being her usual inept self, it took her almost 5 minutes (long after the audience’s attention had wandered) to get to the most important point: the U.S. isn’t a free market and Tucker’s complaints were really against corporatism.  Unfortunately he ignored her and resumed his attacks on markets and libertarianism the rest of this week.  Sad.

6:56 pm on January 11, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) Is Wrong About Sweden

Sweden’s more pure socialist era was a disaster. Today’s Sweden has problems but is more market oriented than AOC lets on. Even the progressive Dem on the panel slams AOC pretty hard.

5:20 pm on January 11, 2019

Restaurants, But Never Taxes, Are Dropping Like Flies

Two years ago, I reported that a Chinese eatery in Manhattan had closed because, in the owner’s words, “The state and municipal governments, with their punishing rules and regulations, seem to believe that we should be their cash machine to pay for all that ails us in society…” Our hero not only diagnosed the disease but suggested a remedy: “…our career lawmakers and politicians, local and national alike, [should] take a mandatory ‘Undercover Boss’ challenge and live in the shoes of a small business owner for a week. Maybe then they will better understand the economically stifling environment they have created…”

But politicians wouldn’t be politicians if they could learn such lessons. And the most doctrinaire of the breed curse New York. Indeed, earlier this week, the City’s Chief Thief bragged about further impoverishing his subjects: “New York City will spend at least $100 million to ensure that undocumented immigrants and others who cannot qualify for insurance can receive medical treatment, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday … ‘Everyone is guaranteed the right to health care, everyone,’ Mr. de Blasio said … ‘We are saying the word guarantee because we can make it happen.’”

What he can’t guarantee is that restaurants and other businesses will continue to operate, providing Comrade de Blitherbag with the loot for his virtue-signalling. Voila, from Felix Bronstein comes a link to this story about another casualty in New York’s Wars for Socialism. The victim isn’t as clear and direct as our Asian gentleman; still, anyone with ears to hear can understand:

For a lot of restaurant businesses in New York, incredibly high rent”—much of which pays extortionate real-estate taxes—”and additional pressures of high payroll taxes and raising the minimum wage for people on the floor all combined made it possible for a restaurant that is busy every night, with every chair filled, to barely get by,” [one co-owner] said. “I think that’s true of a lot of places, and we’re no exception. I think there’s a larger problem in New York…”

But don’t look for Comrade de Blitherbag to repent this time, either. He’ll continue milking the golden geese until he exterminates the entire flock, if you’ll pardon so mixed a metaphor.

10:47 am on January 11, 2019

Parental Obligation: Revising Rothbard

In the Ethics of Liberty, Murray Rothbard argued that parents have no legal obligation to feed their children that can be derived from the theory of rights of self-ownership. Self-ownership rights mean non-aggression of others against one’s person and property; they do not entail positive obligations other than non-aggression against others.

Rothbard thought that if law is restricted to having its source in self-ownership (or non-aggression), then it cannot place an obligation upon parents to feed their children. He thought that the parents may not, under this law, invade a child’s body; but they have no obligation to feed the child, although this may cause its death.

This inference is, I believe, faulty. The rest of this blog suggests a theory that justifies parental obligation while still maintaining the core concept that rights do not entail positive obligations. The way out is through the idea of self-limiting one’s rights by willingly choosing positions of responsibility, such that abdicating that responsibility causes aggression.

Certainly, under the self-ownership theory of law, it’s not a legal obligation of non-parents to feed the children of others. They in no way have brought them into this world. They have not done anything to bring about such a responsibility. Certainly, under the nature-given conditions of being a child or baby, the child doesn’t have the burden of feeding itself if it cannot do so. To prevent starvation of children, it must therefore fall upon the parents to feed their children. Furthermore, this obligation must be enforceable by law; it’s not only a moral obligation.

If the failure of parents to perform the positive act of feeding their child causes its death, is this not aggression? If we can identify why it is aggression in this particular case, in such a way as to distinguish this case from others that one may think are analogous or the same, then this exception or special case will not mean that this singular case in general destroys the idea that rights cannot confer obligations. All we have to do is identify the conditions that burden parents with feeding their children.

The key condition is that they are the parents. This means that they made the child. We may roughly say “You make it, you own it.” Making a child brings the obligation or responsibility to feed it. No rights of the parents are lost due to people around them enforcing this obligation by law. That’s not an aggression of others against the parents. The parents limited their own rights when they made the child and brought it into this world.

This idea of limiting one’s own rights or incurring legal obligations by one’s own actions is compatible with Rothbard’s self-ownership (or non-aggression) theory. The obligation may be understood by custom, common sense or by formal legal code. It is well-known that an airline pilot who bails out of the plane, leaving the plane to crash and kill the passengers, is committing a crime. His act of being a pilot, which he chose, limits his rights or modifies them. He now has an obligation. Anyone driving a car has an obligation to obey certain rules of the road. Any vendor of food has an obligation not to sell poison food. All of these kinds of positions and acts that a person voluntarily selects modify or limit the person’s scope of action. All entail obligations or responsibilities. This is what occurs when people decide to become parents. The duties come with the position that’s willingly chosen. This procedure of willing limitation of rights in no way undermines the notion that rights of self-ownership do not confer positive obligations.

One may raise the objection: But where do these obligations come from? They come from extending the non-aggression principle to instances where a person has voluntarily taken up a position wherein he has the capacity to initiate violence against others by not doing acts that are under his purview, acts that are obligatory given the positions and roles assumed by the person. If he stops piloting the plane, lets the car wander into other lanes, stops feeding a baby, or stops cleaning the food he’s selling, then he’s aggressing against others, without direct physical violence to be sure. But if a baby starves, who else is responsible but the parents?

If you should see someone on a bridge who is about to jump off or does jump off, you have assumed no such special position. You have no obligation deriving from self-ownership to talk the person down or jump in after them. If you see someone being accosted, you have no such special position that obligates you to intercede. They distinction between this sort of case and the case of a parent is clear. You do not make it [the suicide attempt], so you do not own it.

10:20 am on January 11, 2019

Conservatives for Perpetual War

Conservative warmongers at the Heritage Foundation don’t want U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan, ever.

8:22 pm on January 10, 2019

Great News for the U.S. Army

The U.S. Army fell short of its 76,500 recruitment goal by 6,500 people last fiscal year. It is failing to reach Generation Z.

8:11 pm on January 10, 2019

$7.9 Trillion

In the eight years the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, they increased the federal debt by $7.9 trillion. But the Republicans are good and Democrats are bad, right?

8:04 pm on January 10, 2019

Man Who Thinks He’s a Woman

Gets assaulted in women’s bathroom—by two real women.

8:01 pm on January 10, 2019

Reparations

From: T
Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2016 2:14 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Question on Reparations

Dear Mr. Block,

Greetings. My name is T, and I have recently familiarized myself with some of your work on reparations for American slavery.

I see that you mention reparations for Japanese-American internees in various places, but I have not yet been able to determine whether you think it was moral for the American government to offer these reparations at the American taxpayers’ expense in the late 1980s. Generally speaking, do you think that the government owes reparations to people whose rights it once violated? Or do you think that only individuals can owe reparations?

Thank you for taking the time to read my message.

Best, T

Dear T:

Good question. In my view, the individuals in government who did this owe reparations to the children of the Japanese.

They don’t call me Walter Moderate Bloc for nothing. I take a moderate view on reparations, rejecting both extreme perspectives: the conservative one, where no one owes any reparations to anyone for anything and the liberal perspective, all whites owe reparations to all blacks, both groups, whites and blacks, owe the entire country to the Indians, who were here first. My moderate view is that the burden of proof rests with those who seek reparations, and that sometimes, rarely, they are justified.

See, below, my publications on reparations.

(more…)

4:32 pm on January 10, 2019

Joseph Stiglitz Endorses Green New Deal

Joseph Stiglitz got a Nobel in economics. His award doesn’t make his ideas any less incorrect. He endorses Green Socialism via the Green New Deal. His stories and interpretations of economic and political reality are worthless junk, like this one on inequality. For one rebuttal of the latter article, see here. That author is Mark Hendrickson, whose background includes “economics under Hans F. Sennholz, who earned his doctorate under Ludwig von Mises.” He makes statements about that Stiglitz article like these:

“…as has happened before, Mr. Stiglitz provides a faulty explanation.”
“Joseph Stiglitz’s diagnosis is flat-out wrong when he argues that the middle class is declining because the rich are getting richer.”
“…for him to blame the rich instead of government for today’s problems reflects a partisan and ideological bias rather than objective economic analysis.”
“Because Stiglitz’s diagnosis is wrong, his prescription also is wrong.”

The same kinds of statements apply to Stiglitz’s latest foray into socialism via a prescription of massive government enlargement in all things energy, all things climate change, all things carbon, all things electric, in labor markets, in taxation, in home retrofitting, in the financial structure and in financial markets. This is the largest, grandest, boldest, over-the-toppest tilting at imaginary windmills, ranging from racism to inequality to temperature fluctuations, that the socialists have yet thought up.

Now Cory Booker and Al Gore, naturally, have joined the Green New Deal bandwagon. Booker is one of those in a broad field of Democratic candidates for the 2020 nomination, consisting of mostly nobodies you’ve never heard of who have nothing the least bit libertarian to say. The main thing to observe in all of this is the party swing to a slogan, like New Deal, Fair Deal, New Frontier, Great Society and Medicare for All, a slogan that means a quantum jump in good old-fashioned Socialism (or Progressivism). Mr. Stiglitz keeps company with the the left.

For a thorough dissection of Stiglitz’s grounding theory of government’s potential for good deeds, see here.

2:25 pm on January 10, 2019

Four Armed Central American Migrants Arrested in Hoover, AL While Poaching Deer

The bizarre story of four foreign nationals who migrated to a suburb of Birmingham and shot deer on a strip of wooded land between a mall and busy interstate highway. Three couldn’t speak a word of English and one had previously been deported.  All have now been scooped up by ICE.

The migration problem does not exist because of a lack of a government wall. There was no wall before this problem began, so how could it be the missing solution?

They are over here because the U.S. military, CIA, drug war, and corporate interests are over there, plus some are also drawn by various and sundry “free” goodies courtesy of U.S. local, state, and federal governments (education, health care, welfare, etc.) which see them as a much-desired new clientele.

But this, a first for Jefferson county, is a new level of crazy and gall. If I just walked into Mexico and started shooting deer in a suburban area of Mexico City near a busy highway and mall, I’m betting I’d spend some significant time in a government room with bars. Especially for possession of a gun.  At worst these guys will be sent back to their home countries and probably be back roaming around Birmingham again in a few weeks, much more careful about getting caught next time.

10:33 pm on January 9, 2019