Thursday, December 30, 2004

Column on Sontag's Anti-Americanism

Death of an Anti-American

Tibor R. Machan

Susan Sontag died a few days ago, at age 71, succumbing to cancer, which
she has been battling for a long time. She was a very prominent New York
intellectual, a novelist and essayist and a leading member of the American
Left. Despite her frequent brillianceÂ?for example, when she remarked, to
the consternation of many of her pals on the Left that Â?Communism is
successful fascismÂ?Â?Sontag was also pretty confused when it came to an
understanding of human affairs.

In particular, shortly after the devastating terrorist attack on the
World Trade Center, Sontag penned these lines for The New Yorker magazine:

Â?Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a Â?cowardlyÂ? attack on
Â?civilizationÂ? or Â?libertyÂ? or Â?humanityÂ? or the Â?free worldÂ? but an
attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a
consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens
are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word
Â?cowardlyÂ? is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill
from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those
willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of
courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the
perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.

There is great deal thatÂ?s off in these remarks, not the least involving
the history of the bombing of Iraq. Sontag contends, by implication, that
this was some kind of arbitrary American indulgence in aggression against
an innocent country, whereas a consideration of the context would
demonstrate that this is far from how the matter ought to be understood.
But that is only one, and not the most important, problem with SontagÂ?s

While it is generally bad form to criticize the recently deceased, in
this case I think it is worth noting that even to someone like me, who
considers AmericaÂ?s Middle East foreign policy flawed, the kind of
tribalism SontagÂ?s remark illustrates is a very serious problem. Sontag is
among those, after all, who would complain bitterly about such policies as
ethnic profiling in the wake of terrorism, and rightly so. But why is such
profiling wrong?

Because it lumps people together on the basis of what are, after all is
said and done, superficial attributes. Being an Arab or a Middle Eastern
or American should not be held against someone. It is not color or ethnic
background or even nationality that should qualify someone for moral or
legal scrutinyÂ?it must be their actual conduct. And thatÂ?s true also about
how people need to respond to injustices done to them.

Even assuming the United States government has acted wrongly toward people
in Iraq or Saudi Arabia or some other place around the globe, so that
something may be done in response, there is absolutely no justification in
sacrificing innocent Americans, including many children, while doing so.
Â?An attack on the worldÂ?s self-proclaimed superpowerÂ? may under no
circumstances involve lashing out at just any American, especially not
against civilians and children.

Those working at the New York World Trade Center were not some
Â?self-proclaimed superpowerÂ? but a great number of specific individuals
whose complicity in any wrong-doing of the American government needed to
be established before any harm might have been justly inflicted on them.
The terrorists were indeed cowardly for going after essentially
defenseless civilians and children simply because nearly all of them were
Americans. Furthermore, given that in their belief system they would be
rewarded with many blessings in the wake of their terrorists deeds, any
talk of great courage is arguably off base.

But SontagÂ?s ill-chosen remarks illustrate very well to what extent many
on the American Left embrace a collectivist view of human social life.
They view America as some kind of entity, of which the citizens are bits
and pieces, so if one is aggrieved by some of those bits, any others can
be made to suffer in response. For those who think this way, America is
like a person, so if the person hits you with arms, your hitting back at
the head or back is just fineÂ?they are all of one piece. It doesnÂ?t matter
that American citizens do not all agree with the American governmentÂ?s
policies in the Middle East. It doesnÂ?t matter that many of the victims of
the terrorists where kids who couldnÂ?t by any stretch of the imagination
be held responsible for what the government does and has done.

No, for collectivists a society is one great bodyÂ?as Marx said, Â?an
organic whole.Â? America is a large organism and those abroad are another
organism. It is then the former body that mistreats the latter, so the
latter may strike back at any part of the former.

Susan Sontag may have been a decent novelists and essayist, a good
wordsmith. But her thinking, as illustrated by her response to 9/11, shows
that she really was a quintessential anti-American, given her complete
rejection of one of the central tenets of American civilization, namely,
individualism. Only individuals who have been shown to have committed a
wrong against others may be punished for that wrong, not their neighbors,
relatives or children. Her failure to see this makes the late Susan Sontag
a perfect example of the LeftÂ?s fundamental anti-Americanism, even if one
were to admit that American foreign policy leaves a lot to be desired.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Column on Bill Cosby vs. Kenny

Kenny vs. Bill Cosby

Tibor R. Machan

You may recall that Bill Cosby produced some aftershocks last May when he
admonished poor blacks to advance themselves instead of wasting their time
and money on trivial pursuits. This admonition was followed by a lot of
discussion and the repercussions still havenÂ?t died down.

In a recent event where CosbyÂ?s remarks were discussed with a group who
at first sight seemed to be among those he was addressing, some of them
came back at Cosby with pointed rebuttals. Reportedly one young man,
Kenny, 17, Â?a onetime stick-up man,Â? advanced the following Â?argumentÂ?:
"Cosby is ... talking about me holding up my end of the bargain. Listen
.... I robbed 'cause I was hungry. If he's going to put food on my table,
if he's going to give me time to pursue education vigorously, then fine.
But if he's not, then I'm going to hold up my end of the bargain and make
sure I get something to eat."

For a 17 year old this response may seem quite cogent only, actually, it
smacks too much of an excuse and I hope Cosby and his sympathizers
consider that before they cave in. I am not black but when I was about 17
I was out on the street myself, homeless, a high school flunkout. I
actually had a small place in a black neighborhood in Cleveland, what they
used to call a ghetto, and it would have been very simple for me to yield
to the temptation to enter a career of crime. One of my friends, also a
Hungarian refugee, did exactly thatÂ?I remember bailing him out of jail
with a tiny sum of cash I amassed from my job as a busboy. (I couldnÂ?t
keep this job because I was under age but I went on to become a short
order cook, with the glamorous task of preparing house salads in some
diner in Cleveland.)

Now I cannot be sure about this, since to be one would need to have
pretty intimate knowledgeÂ?rarely available to sociologists and social
commentators, not excluding Bill CosbyÂ?but I suspect that Kenny had a few
options besides becoming a stick-up man. I recall that even when I was
younger, living in Munich, I had jobs such as welding, brick laying,
cleaning on pigeon shit from a church steeple and baby sitting. At no time
did it seem to me necessary to turn to robbery, burglary, or sticking up
people. It was part of my general framework of thought, back then, that
with some perseverance and a little luck one can find something with which
to earn a buck or so.

The point, I think, of CosbyÂ?s remarks wasnÂ?t that every single solitary
young person will necessarily be able to make it on his or her own when
faced with poverty and deprivation. One usually needs a little help from
friends and neighbors or even total strangers when faced with such
emergencies. But the first requisite to get out of such a situation
without worsening matters is to have as oneÂ?s frame of reference the basic
principle that turning on other people is simply not an option. That, I
think, is a must. Once it sinks in, there will open up a world of more or
less promising opportunities one can attempt to exploit.

Kenny, I think, is probably reaching for some kind of rationalization
here, although, as I noted, this is not possible to established from just
a brief news report. But why is the report given in the first place, given
how it is impossible to judge from it whether there is any justification
for what Kenny is telling us all?

The reason is that KennyÂ?s story is exactly the sort that many experts in
social science tell and against which Bill Cosby and others with a richer
imagination about how people, even those who are quite unfortunate in
life, can advance themselves. Yes, there are those in dire straits who
need a decisive leg up, but then what they probably need is to learn to
ask for this in the right places. And there are thousands of such places
in America, so KennyÂ?s story just doesnÂ?t cut it even in the worst
circumstances. (Notice how he so smoothly wants Cosby to put food on his
table!) Instead, I suspect, Kenny and his ilk are brought up encouraged to
think that stick-ups are a valid option for people when they are facing
difficulties in making ends meet.

That, I think, is the central message Bill Cosby was trying to
communicate. Stop it with such ideas already!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Column on Taking Stock at Year's End

Taking Stock of America

Tibor R. Machan

It is a tradition to take stock at yearÂ?s end, so I am going to follow,
seeing it is useful to do this now and then. After a hectic year, with a
very nasty election campaign behind us, with a war that is utterly futile
and yet keeps raging along thousands of miles away, it may serve a purpose
to remind ourselves of what is really so great about AmericaÂ?or at least
its promise.

How can I do this without thinking of my own history which involved
coming to these shores from communist Hungary, after a brief stay in
Germany, way back in the 50s? The contrast back then was stark, at least
when one considers the ideas that defined the two societies.

Communists believed that government needed forcibly to prepare the
population for a revolutionary change, one that would remake human nature
from its individualist phase to a fully mature collectivist emancipation.
They thought the idea of individual liberty is a shallow bit of
self-delusion, one that can serve a mere temporary purpose of boosting the
economic power of a society. After that socialism would take over, with
government managing everything for some vague notion of the general good.
In time communism would arrive, in which everyone automatically work for a
common goal, the supposed public interest.

Such a one-size-fits-all vision is what the few genuine commies cooked
up, while opportunists, who made up the bulk, simply used this phony idea
to get control of society and oppress everyone for their own purposes,
ones that amounted to nothing more noble than those of the Mafia. In
contrast, what was associated with America, even if the reality fell far
short of it, had to do with the truly revolutionary idea that individual
human beings matter mostÂ?not society, not the tribe, not the ethnic group.

This notion, that you, I, they, everyone in fact, matters most, not
collectively but individually, was the main message of the American
Founders when they so enthusiastically affirmed the discovery that every
individual person has unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit
of happiness. Those rights, and what followed from them, would become, in
a just society, legally protected obstacles to all who would attempt to
rule other peopleÂ?s lives. They would, if properly heeded and firmly
secured, serve as the inviolable borders around every human beingÂ?s life
so that it is he or she who governs that life, not others with the sorry
excuse that they are being helpful and mean to do good for those they
undertake to boss about.

There is no other contrast that is more stark in the history of political
thought than that between those who want to rule others, with a myriad of
excuses that at times sound tempting, and those who would unwaveringly
acknowledge everyoneÂ?s fundamental sovereignty. Even when we find some
folks who lack the full capacity to be sovereign, they would gain support
from volunteers, not from political bosses who would invariably abuse the
power over the helpless so as to impose their idea of how everyone ought
to live.

In this American vision of societyÂ?the one most folks identify with this
country as being unique to it (for America also involves lots of bad
habits from the Old World)Â?the legal authorities have one primary job,
namely, to secure our rights. Like referees at a game, they are to stick
only to that job and whatÂ?s needed to do it right, but not venture out on
various missions of power venting.

This idea is the special contribution of America to the history of world
politics, and some of it could even be experienced here and there, used to
actually set people free. Even African Americans, who at first didnÂ?t
benefit much from these notions, eventually found their liberty affirmed
specifically because of what the FounderÂ?s made clear in the Declaration
of Independence: No one is to rule another, not for good or for ill,
without that otherÂ?s consent.

This idea has always been true but for too long tragically suppressed by
the monsters and petty tyrants who loved running roughshod over the rest
of us. And today the idea is once again becoming neglected.

In our recent presidential campaign the idea that people ought to be free
to run their own lives, for better or for worse, however fortunate or
unfortunate they may be, gained hardly any airing. Even President George
W. BushÂ?s invocation of the concept of the Â?ownership societyÂ? amounted to
little more than empty rhetoric.

Such is the sad state of affairs at the end of 2004 and beginning of
2005. Perhaps with a few more thousand outspoken citizens making it
abundantly clear that it is indeed American individualism that requires
vigilant defense, the revolutionary vision of the American founders could
be rekindled. It certainly deserves to be.

Machan teaches business ethics at Chapman University, Orange, CA. He is
research fellow at the Hoover Institution and advises Freedom
Communications, Inc., on libertarian issues. His most recent book is
Objectivity (Ashgate, 2004).

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Column on FDA Myths

Mythmaking about the FDA

Tibor R. Machan

Merrill Goozner is the director of the Integrity in Science project at
the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Ralph Nader inspired
organization guided by, among others, the legendary Michael Jacobson who
has been the driving force of this group from its inception. Along with
other organizations, such as the Public CitizenÂ?s Health Research Group
and its main man, Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe, CSPI is in the business of
encouraging our government to live up to this wonderful insight by H. L.
Mencken: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace
alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an
endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary" (Minority Report,
[Johns Hopkins Univ Press, 1997]).

In his recent Op Ed essay for The New York Times (December 21, 2004),
Goozner advances some of the classic myths about government. First, he
tells us, Â?To make rational choices, doctors and consumers need the F.D.A.
and other agencies to be independent arbiters of not just the safety and
efficacy of new drugs and devices, but of their relative medical
usefulness and economic viability.Â? He continues his myth-perpetuation by
announcing that Â?the medical oversight system needs a new ethicÂ?one that
scrupulously adheres to a standard that says its studies and decisions
have been made entirely free of commercial bias and conflicts of interest.Â?

No sooner does our true believer in the power of government to solve all
our pharmacological problems, he does give a hint as to why it is all the
dream: Â?Sadly, that is very far from the situation today. Drug and device
companies sponsor most clinical trials; F.D.A. advisory panels are larded
with scientists tied to private companies; corporate user fees help
finance the F.D.A. that is conducting reviews; doctors get most of their
medical information either from sales representatives of drug companies or
corporate-sponsored continuing medical education; and the companies are
given primary responsibility for post-marketing safety surveillance of
their own products.Â?

Goozner mentions these obstacles to the possibility of impartiality and
objectivity of government policy making as if they were something only in
place �today.� And thus he charges ahead enthusiastically with the naïve
notion that Â?To break these ties, there needs to be an independent arm of
F.D.A. that contracts with independent clinicians and scientists for the
final testing of all new drugs and medical devices.Â? He proposes that
Â?After a company submits its drug application based on safety and early
efficacy trials, this arm would design the protocols to learn not just if
the new drug is effective versus a placebo, but how it compares to other
therapies and how it can be most effectively used. At the same time, the
F.D.A. agency would need an adequately financed post-marketing system that
would follow through on a drug's safety, using information and financing
independent of the drug manufacturers.Â?

These are all pseudo-noble notions and while they fall way short of
justifying what the F.D.A. is supposed to be doing at its idealistic best,
there is an omission in GooznerÂ?s discussion that amounts to out and out
malpractice: He fails to discuss either the very famous argument of
economist Sam Peltzman, of the University of Chicago, concerning the drug
lag problem or the Nobel Prize winning idea of Professor James M. Buchanan
of George Mason University called Â?public choice theory.Â?

Anyone who still has the temerity to propose that government is the
solution to problems associated with drug manufacturing and marketing has
the moral and professional obligation to discuss these two basic
objections to such an idea. The drug lag argument shows that even
following the intentions of the legislators who created the Food and Drug
Administration, the results are going to be disastrous. Yes, one can
always call up such rare victories as the banning of thalidomide (though
even this one is no slam dunk when the details are considered). But as
Aristotle taught us some 2600 years ago, Â?one swallow does not a summer

In fact, the F.D.A.Â?s policies produce even greater health hazards than
anyone could imagine it averting. The reason is pretty simple: By
insisting on certain types of tests for drugs that are being slated for
manufactureÂ?routinely requiring the impossible of proving a negative (Â?No
one will be put at risk from this drugÂ?)Â?Americans are often prevented
from gaining access to very effective means to fend off life threatening
diseases. The country thus lags behind many others and only those rich
enough to visit these others are able to overcome this obstacle to their
likely medical recoveries.

The merits of this argument are, of course, in the details. Yet it has
gained considerable credibility over the last five or so decades and
anyone who promotes greater powers for the F.D.A. needs to discuss it. The
same holds for BuchananÂ?s theory of public choice, one he developed with
Gordon Tullock in their book, The Calculus of Consent (University of
Michigan Press, 1962). In 1985 Buchanan received the Nobel Prize in
economics for this work and anyone who is proposing that outfits such as
the F.D.A. can escape the inherent problem of bias would have to address
his work.

Contrary to the suggestion by all those who propose to solve problems via
governmentÂ?namely, that all we really need is better people and more
stringent rulesÂ?public choice theorists argues that inherent in the
process of government regulation we invariably find the triumph of vested
interest. Bureaucrats, including the most honorable scientists who might
be hired to work in government agencies, are inclined to bolster their own
special purposes and goalsÂ?some call this their Â?selfish interestsÂ?Â?and
the way the welfare state works there simply is no way to curtail any of
this. The dynamics of the nearly unbound democratic system are such that
government must respond to those in the constituency who exert the most
clout. This is the most natural way of its operation. So it is sheer
fantasy to hope that new people or rules will manage to circumvent it all.

But, instead of at least hinting at such problems with his proposal, Mr.
Goozner charges ahead zealously, failing to raise any of the well
established skeptical concerns with what he wishes for, holding out the
myth of government regulators as Â?independent arbiters.Â?

Never mind that even at it most ideal conception, government regulation
is a violation of due process because it intrudes on peopleÂ?s lives,
imposing major burdens on those who have not hurt anyone at allÂ?a form of
impermissible prior restraint in a free country. Even the utilitarian
consideration that F.D.A. type operations have innate flaws fails to
receive acknowledgment in Mr. GooznerÂ?s proselytizing.

To return to an old theme of mine, isnÂ?t it interesting that when
journalists and pundits peddle their deadly wares, there is no requirement
for warning labels!

Machan teaches business ethics at Chapman University, Orange, CA. He is
research fellow at the Hoover Institution and advises Freedom
Communications, Inc., on libertarian issues. His most recent book is
Objectivity (Ashgate, 2004).

Monday, December 20, 2004

Column on the Cost of Risk-taking

Footing the Bill for Risk Takers

Tibor R. Machan

Waiting for the feature film to come on the screen, I sat through
innumerable ads. (These days one no longer can go to the movies to get
away from them and then one must also payÂ?so I rarely go.) One of these
featured a surfer who proudly announced that heÂ?s broken his foot several
times, as well as injuring his knees and his back. He seemed rather
pleased with himself for all this, smiling as he made his confession.

Or at least is should have been a confession. For years from now, when he
will be old, he will have innumerable medical problems as a result of all
this risky play. My own mother, who was a vigorous athlete from age
14thÂ?she fenced and swam and skiedÂ?now, at 85, is feeling pain in her
lower extremities and frankly blames it on her early athletic prowess (and
on my father, another fanatic, who forced her into much of thisÂ?he was her
coach from age 14 on).

But, of course, in the wonderful welfare state in which we live there is
nothing much to regret. Not only will everyone be taken care of by various
state and federal "insurance" programsÂ?all of them coercive wealth
redistribution schemes without any means testingÂ?but perhaps by then all
the sports equipment manufacturers and athletic clubs, maybe even
university athletic departmentsÂ?will be ripe for massive law suits by the
government to pay up for all the ailing old folks who will need to be
taken care of. (This will be required, given that the state coffers will
soon be bankrupt from all this Â?freeÂ? medical service everyone has a
Â?basic rightÂ? to.)

This is indeed the consequence of collectivismÂ?we are all in the same
boat, whether or not we individually chose to be in it. If you do not
engage in risky behavior and thus spare yourself from injury and later
innumerable trips to the doctor, it is almost irrelevant. Funds will still
be extorted from you so as to take care of the ailments of your fellows.

The precedent for this is set in law and public policy now. People who
smoked for decadesÂ?with the warning labels starting them in the face and
the news about tobacco being bad for you all around (I knew it back in
Hungary in the 1950s)Â?could not only win huge legal judgments in their or
their kinÂ?s favor but their medical costs, covered by the states, were
used as grounds for bilking the tobacco firms out of billions of dollars.
Now the targets are the various food producers, who are allegedly making
us all fat and causing all the medical expenses related to obesity. And
the gun manufacturers are constantly fending off the lawyers these daysÂ?in
TV dramas and at the movies they are losing the legal battles more and
more frequently.

Reality is sure to follow soon, given the incredible legal-cultural
climate in which individual responsibility is dead, except when it comes
to corporate executives who are, of course, responsible for every bad
thing, including inclement weather and huge icebergs blocking penguins
from their food. (I will never understand how the major media never, ever
focus on this rank inconsistencyÂ?we are all victims, but people in
business never are. Maybe they were brainwashed at the Harvard Business

Alas, asking for coherence or consistency in these matters is probably
futile, what with so many vested interests lined up to get in on the game.
Sometimes I wonder what if the people who ran the Auschwitz or Dachau
death camps had themselves some competent lobbyists they might have kept
their jobs since, well, they had a right to job security, didnÂ?t they?
Sure, their Â?public serviceÂ? was so transparently vicious to the rest of
humanity that this wouldnÂ?t have worked well, but with the lesser evils
done by our bureaucrats, they can insist that aiding along the petty
tyrannies of the welfare state should never be interrupted.

Anyway, I just wish the folks who make a mess of their livesÂ?and if I do,
that should include meÂ?wouldnÂ?t get the chance to dump the cost of it all
on the rest of us.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Column on SS Privatization

Social Security Abolition vs. Gradualism

Tibor R. Machan

Human beings often want to improve matters, including how they solve
problems. Some of their efforts could use drastic improvement. When a
goodly portion of America tolerated slavery, this was something that
needed drastic changeÂ?it had to be abolished somehow. The social security
system isnÂ?t so severely tyrannical, but it, too, needs to be gotten rid
of. On a personal level, too, there can be demands for different degrees
of change. If one is a thief or molester of children, this requires
drastic change, no two ways about it; if one smokes or eats too much, the
change to moderation is needed but not so urgently.

How does one go about changing these kinds of things in oneÂ?s life and
society? Some believe that nothing but cold turkey will do, in any of
these cases. I disagree.

In personal matters it is often best to go cold turkey, but that, too,
can depend on oneÂ?s personality, temperament and even medical situation.
When it is a matter of violating other peopleÂ?s rights, cold turkey is a
must, that is clear. When it is a matter of becoming more virtuous,
conscientious in going about oneÂ?s life, a gradual approach is certainly
not out of the question.

There are those who believe that in matters of political reform only the
abolitionist approach will suffice. Thus, for example, they insist that be
it slavery or social security, there is no room for gradualismÂ?both must
be instantly abolished. Well, sadly, this is a mere dream.

Unfortunately institutional malfeasance brings about massive dependence.
Slavery, once established, became entrenched and in order to rid the
country of it, there needed to be a process of disengagement. Abolition
was, of course, the right goal. But there was no way to simply halt it.
Too many people had all sorts of rationalizations for hanging on to the
practice and they needed to be dealt with without catastrophic measures.
Indeed, many argue that the a war was not the right way to handle itÂ?the
slave holders could have been bought out or some other policy of bringing
about change might have been tried so as to save the thousands and
thousands of lives lost in the war.

Once an institution gains a loyal constituency in a society, however evil
it may be, it will require cumbersome disengagement and there is rarely
some policy of pushing a button that can switch things from bad to good,
from wrong to right. ItÂ?s a bit like going from sickness to
healthÂ?convalescence, recovery, cure and the rest all require time.

Social security abolition is even more difficult to deal with because so
many people sincerely believe it is OK to coerce people to put money away
for their retirement. Never mind that the scheme is also fraught with
fraud. The fact the millions of people accept it as legitimate and that
hundreds of pundits and politicians rationalize it around the countryÂ?not
to mention all those employed to administer and are thus economically
wedded to itÂ?makes instant reform impossible.

However, the gradual approach is also very risky and could amount to no
change at all. Already, in the case of social security, we get word from
President George W. Bush that severe restriction will accompany his meager
privatization measures, should they go through. Â?You canÂ?t take it
[Â?retirement nest eggsÂ?] to the racetrack and hope to really increase the
returns.Â? He added, Â?ItÂ?s not there for the lotteryÂ?.People are not going
to be allowed to take their money for their retirement account and take it
to Vegas and shoot dice.Â?

Now this is outrageous by standards the American founders set out in the
Declaration of Independence, where they spoke of our unalienable right to
liberty. Who is President Bush to speak of Â?allowingÂ? anyone to do this or
that with his or her money? All this talk about an Â?ownership societyÂ? is
evidently bunk. People will continue to be treated like children or

Sadly, this is standard fare these daysÂ?political thinkers around
universities and the media accept that government is in charge of us. Yes,
it is a kind of modern day serfdom, one that denies our sovereignty. But
because of its widespread acceptance, there is no way to put a stop to it

So those who love liberty may just have to put up with the gradual,
imperfect approach of semi-privatizationÂ?just as they need to put up with
school vouchersÂ?in order to make some headway toward the proper goal of
ridding our society of the paternalism that the social security system

Mencken quote re. practical politics

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
- H.L. Mencken (From: Minority Report, H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Knopf, 1956. These have numbers in square brackets corresponding to the numbers in the book.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Column on Boston Legal

"Boston Legal" equals Boston Unjust

Tibor R. Machan

Having from my early childhood been a fan of court room dramasÂ?I had read
45 Perry Mason novels before I ever left Hungary at age 14Â?I have a hard
time denying myself the pleasures of a good legal squabble. So, I have
watched Law & Order since it started and even stuck with The Practice
until it turned into little more than a soap opera where law was but a
side show.

Now I am giving Boston Legal a try and my patience is being seriously
tested. In addition to finding one of the central characters, Alan Shore
played by James Spader, mostly annoying while also somewhat admirable,
there is a bigger issue for me. I am now and have for a couple of decades
been teaching business ethics courses in which I try to impress upon my
students that the profession is actually quite honorable, no need at all
to apologize for it and its primary goals, namely, profit. (If it were not
so, business ethics would indeed be an oxymoron.)

You see, in Boston Legal the firm for which Shore works represents many
big corporations and one way that he is made out to be a hero is that he
repeatedly denounces these firms for having profit as their major
objective. In a recent case a drug company was funding an experimental
study with a promising new drug but, alas, the doctor who designed the
study got too eager and introduced a significant bit of deception that
ultimately hurt mainly her alone and disappointed several dozen others who
had to stop taking an experimental drug. Sure, the hope was to demonstrate
that the drug the subjects were using would do millions of people a lot of
good; but the subjects were not told the truth and thought they were
actually in a different experimental program. It all came out in the wash,
in the end, with the doctor who perpetrated the deception suffering most
but looking merely a little morally shady, while the corporation that
funded the study end up looking terrible. Why? Because David E. Kelley,
the creator of and major writer on Boston Legal, made sure that viewers
were told via Alan Shore that the company was motivated only Â?by greed.Â?
As if he had actually known the owners, managers, investors, employees who
made up the firm.

Still, Alan Shore being the hero of the show, it made little difference
that he hadnÂ?t a clue about the motivation of the companyÂ?for all he could
tell, the money the company would make of the drug would be spent on
saving the spotted owl or feeding children in Bangladesh. But, no, the
showÂ?s writer, David E. KelleyÂ?famous for creating and writing for many of
TVÂ?s legal showsÂ?just had to stick it to big corporations. Never mind that
Boston Legal is broadcast on ABC-TV, itself certainly a huge corporation,
that makes it possible for Kelley to peddle his prejudices across the land.

In fact, of course, the general task of businesses is indeed to achieve
significant measures of prosperity for those who own them through the
production of goods and services that the buying public will value. This,
then, makes it possible for these owners to devote their earnings from the
firmÂ?s business to whatever they deem has merit, including contributing to
innumerable philanthropic objectives, as well as to sending their children
to good schools, taking decent vacations, purchasing health insurance, and
so forth. Again, neither the fictional Alan Shore, nor the actual David E.
Kelley has a clue just what such the prosperity the company achieves will
go to help support. Somehow that is of no concern to them. Bashing big
business is.

Back in the 80s television personality and attorney Ben Stein narrated an
hour long documentary, HollywoodÂ?s Heavies. It demonstratedÂ?as well as
such programs can do such a thingÂ?that Hollywood writers systematically
discriminate against corporate managers. Most crimes were committed by
them on their programs and movies and none of them ever managed to come
off as a hero. The movie Wall Street is perhaps the paradigm instance of
this but there are many more.

To this day Hollywood hasnÂ?t changed. As if they were part of a Ralph
Nader Chorus. I have no idea why, although several reasons come to mind
that may well explain it. But I would have to know these people
betterÂ?David E. Kelley, in particularÂ?to venture an educated guess as to
why the very institution that allows them to prosper and to back all kinds
of goals and causes is hated by them so much. LetÂ?s just say, whatever
explains it, the outcome is plainly unjust.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Friday, December 10, 2004

Column David Brudnoy, RIP

David Brudnoy, RIP

Tibor R. Machan

Boston, Mass., will never be the same. David Brudnoy, its most
intelligent and high spirited talk show personality, who broadcast from
WBZ-AM, died of skin cancer, at age 64, on December 9th, after a career
in various branches of journalism and media work.

I have a very special spot in my heart for David, who was the first one
to review my very first book, The Pseudo Science of B. F. Skinner, just
after it appeared in 1974, in the pages of National Review, where he was
an editor at the time. We became friends shortly thereafter, sometimes
linking up at one or another of the many libertarian-conservative

David was a loyal champion of human liberty all his life, moving
gradually from attempting to educate Republicans and conservatives about
how they ought to be more principled in their defense of the FoundersÂ?
vision, to eventually embracing the libertarian alternative outright. He
taught several courses at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and
indeed he was kind enough to invite me to lecture in one of his classes on
the nature of human rights when I was still teaching back in Fredonia, New
York. (Incidentally, such an invitation did a young professorÂ?s career a
world of good, given how the academy is mired in the nearly blind worship
of prestige!)

It was after I gave this lecture to a bunch of top of the line Harvard
students that I figured out the main difference between my students back
in Fredonia and those at CambridgeÂ?self-confidence. None at Harvard began
a question to me, following my presentation, with Â?This may be a stupid
question.Â? They all Â?knewÂ? their questions had merit, whereas my students,
who asked questions of equal substance, always tended to apologize.

Later, when David became the host of his own radio programÂ?in addition to
being a reviewer on, I believe, BostonÂ?s PBS television stationÂ?he made
absolutely no bones about his devotion to human liberty. Despite being in
the center of modern liberal, welfare statist academic (as well as public)
opinion, David pulled no punches but championed free minds and free
markets on the air whenever he could.

So when I began to get some more of my work published in books, David
immediately took the opportunity to have me on his program and the two of
us went at discussing the fallacies of statism. His audience was vastÂ?in
the end reaching 38 states and Eastern CanadaÂ?and he and his guests would
receive calls from every nook and cranny of the country. It was a delight
to sit across from him in the studio and interact with a pretty formidable
radio audience comprised of both severe critics and enthusiastic
supporters of the free society.

David had a style about him that was both firm and gracious, so those
with whom he disagreed seemed very rarely to get mad at him even though he
shut some of them off once they proved to be insufferably thickheaded. He
was openly gay from I cannot remember what year and suffered from AIDS
without, however, succumbing to the illness even after a couple of very
close calls. As a gay man, libertarian, and highly cultured individual he
was also a cosmopolitan and someone who believed that individual liberty
is for everyone, including for homophobes who would not extend the same
civilized attitude toward him.

Although David grew up close to the budding conservative movement led by
William F. Buckley, Jr., he wasnÂ?t bitter about how so many millions of
supposedly pro-American conservatives betrayed their loyalty to the
FounderÂ?s vision by urging homophobic laws and regulations or the war on
drugs everywhere. David detested, mostly philosophically, such
duplicitousness, yet dealt with those exhibiting it most cordially. (It
must have been agonizing for his adversaries to be treated so decently,
when they often lashed out at him with open venom.)

David BrudnoyÂ?s memoirs, Life Is Not A Rehearsal (Bantam, 1997), is a
wonderful, racy and cheerful account of his adventuresome life. It conveys
how one can fare well even in a world in which all too many people wish
one ill.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Tibor Machan--Column on Obesity Study

The Coming Assault on Food Firms!
Freedom News Wire

Tibor R. Machan

Reuters reported on its Web Site on December 7th
( that a study from
the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University states that
"With current trends of increasing overweight and obesity afflicting all
age groups, urgent preventive measures are required not only to lessen the
burden of disease and disability associated with excess weight but also to
contain future health care costs incurred by the aging population."
According to the report, recent Â?annual average Medicare charges for
severely obese men were $6,192 more than for non-overweight menÂ?84 percent
higher.Â? Routers reported that Â?For severely obese women, annual average
charges were $5,618 more, or 88 percent higher than for women not
overweightÂ? and that Â?For men the total average annual Medicare charges
for those not overweight were $7,205, for the overweight $8,390, for the
obese $10,128 and for the severely obese $13,674.Â?

Now this report is important for a variety of reasons. For one, the
data do bode ill for the obese among usÂ?we are not only likely to die
sooner than the fit but if we live on, we will be doing so badly and itÂ?ll
cost a lot to treat us. Another important and alarming aspect of the
report is that it treats obesity as if it were some kind of act of nature,
something with which one is afflicted, like a viral disease, not as a
self-inflicted condition for which those who are suffering from it are
responsible. Once again, people are denied their fundamental human
capacity to make choices in life and instead seen a zombies or non-human
animals doing what they are forced to do by factors outside their own
What other health related issue recently came to light in this fashion
and what were the results? Remember tobacco and the humongous sums with
which tobacco firms were fined? They, too, rested on the contention that
tobacco smoking caused not only serious health problems for smokers but
also major economic burdens for the Â?heath care system.Â?
In light of all the government propaganda about what ails America and the
worldÂ?the global warming scam being just one of themÂ?I must say I donÂ?t
trust the latest study as far as I can through an obese person! This is
because of the way the study conclusions are worded, namely, omitting very
assiduously any mention that obese folksÂ?of whom I am a member, judging by
my scores (I should lose quite a bunch of weight)Â?are responsible for
getting that way. But since costs need to be borne by some, who do you
think is the next best candidate for bearing them?

Yes, it will be various major corporations that are in the business
of selling the goods and services that can make customers fat. McDonald
comes to mind, as do the rest of the fast food firms, as well as all those
that produce beef, pork, and the rest of fatty foods.
A countryÂ?s financial burdens arise from mismanagementÂ?government is
subject to the dynamics of always spending more than it has on hand to
cover its expenses. This is one of the symptoms of the tragedy of the
commons, in this case of the treasure which everyone wants to use via the
political process. It is also predicted by public choice theory. So the
result is literal bankruptcy.

Taxation, that vicious extortionist scheme, is being widely resisted
by citizens these days, so the new tactic is to go after the big bad
corporations that Ralph Nader uses on each presidential run lately for his
demagogic purposes.

The study at the Feinberg School is, I am willing to bet, the most
recent move in the direction of suing all those American companies the
products and service of which can be used to get obese.

One public policy disaster begets another and anotherÂ?but
governments never go out of business because of their mismanagement and
the malpractice of their administrators. Instead, they dump the results of
these on us all, even if we had nothing to do with the matter. My obesity
ought to be my problem, not that of my neighbors. But that ideal of
individual responsibility is now nearly dead among public policy
expertsÂ?there isnÂ?t any money in it for them.

Tibor Machan holds the R.C. Hoiles Chair in business ethics and free
enterprise at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and is author of
"Putting Humans First" (Rowman & Littlefield). He advises Freedom
Communications, parent company of this newspaper. E-mail him at

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Tibor's Quite Happy Again Posted by Hello

Essay on Constitutional Problems

The Paradoxes of Special Treatment

Tibor R. Machan

One of the embarrassments of the First Amendment to the US Constitution
is that although it is a quintessentially libertarian principleÂ?the right
to freedom of the press and religionÂ?it perpetrates a colossal case of
favoritism, given how much power the courts have taken the US Constitution
to accord to the government in other areas and professions. And today this
is coming to haunt jurists big time.

The recent proliferation of bloggersÂ?who are amateur journalists,
reporters, editorialists, pundits and the restÂ?is testing the notion that
those who deal with ideas ought to be more free (and enjoy exclusively the
special privilege of keeping sources confidential) than the rest of us.
Bloggers are some of the rest of us. But should they not be free of
government meddling? Should confidentiality be granted to conversations
between a blogger and some source concerning a matter of concern to the
law? Well, journalists have been insisting they deserve this because they
would lose a vital resource if they had to reveal the names of their
informants. Well, so might bloggersÂ?or anyone else, for that matter.

So now the bright idea has been proposed that a legally binding
distinction be made between professional journalists and amateurs,
including bloggers. Two journalists, from The NY Times and TIME Magazine,
are attempting to fend off investigations into the leaking of a CIA
operativeÂ?s name to columnists Robert Novak and they are advancing an
interesting argument. As The New York Sun reports,

The crux of the reportersÂ? contention is that the public would be less
well informed if journalists could not promise their sources
confidentiality. However, the proliferation of blogs and bloggers could
represent the AchillesÂ? heel in this approach. If Ms. Miller and Mr.
Cooper are entitled to claim special treatment in the courts, so too could
hundreds of thousands of Americans who use the Internet to post comments
about their views on current events.

Problem is the true AchillesÂ? heel goes much deeper. Journalists and
ministers simply ought not to be the only ones whose individual rights
need to be fully respected as they go about doing their work. Whether this
includes their having the right to keep sources confidential or anything
else, the point is that neither bloggers nor anyone else ought to be
subject to prior restraint. And this means that all professionals, not
just those in journalism (and the ministry), must be treated as innocent
unless proven guilty.

But this, of course, would pull the rug from under all government
regulations of all professionals throughout the country. None of them
should be treated as less deserving of having their unalienable right to
liberty protected, which means none of them may have prior restrain
applied to them. All government regulation amounts to prior restraint (a
term usually reserved to government trying to step in to mess with the
press even if what the press has done violated no oneÂ?s rights). All these
regulations aim to tame the professionals being regulated before they do
any harm, without the requirement that what they do is shown to pose a
clear and present danger to anyone.

The New York Sun piece goes on to discuss certain pertinent remarks by a
journalism lobbyist:

Â?The whole issue now is, who is a reporter?Â? said the president of the
Texas Press Association, Wanda Cash. Â?I have great discomfort with that.
Is Drudge a journalist? Probably. Is the disgruntled refinery worker who
puts up a blog about Exxon a journalist? I donÂ?t think so. The problem is,
who decides?Â?

If, however, all citizens had the very same liberties, never mind what
profession they belong to, these issues would never arise. Either everyone
is free to do whatever is peaceful but, if there is some kind of rights
violation, no one may hide behind privilege, period. Or, alternatively, if
professional journalists may hide their sources when they learn of
something of interest to the legal authorities, everyone else should also
have that right. If a colleague of mine tells me of some deed that the
legal authorities want me to reveal, I get to keep the matter to myself as
much as a journalist or priest or spouse does without being accused of
obstruction of justice.

Trouble is that much of politics, law, and public policy plainly lacks
integrity. It is all about yielding to pleas for special treatment.
Farmers, scientists, educators or whoever are all standing in line for
being dealt some favor or exception or subsidy.

What is not fully recognized is that the US Constitution itself gave rise
to this with privileging journalists and ministers regarding much of their
conduct, while fully exposing the rest of us to the meddlesome state.
Yet, the criterion for whose right to liberty requires full protection
should have nothing at all to do with oneÂ?s profession. No one should be
at liberty to violate anyoneÂ?s rights but everyone who acts peacefully
must be protected from prior restraint.

The Interstate Commerce Clause has, sadly, been interpreted over the last
12 decades or so to expose everyone within or near commerce to government
interference. There is absolutely no justification for thisÂ?our rights are
ours as human beings, first, then as citizens, not as journalists,
philosophers, auto mechanics, psychiatrists or restaurateurs. Regardless
of oneÂ?s profession, one has basic rights to, among other things, oneÂ?s
life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. And the US Constitution, while
comparatively speaking a relatively freedom-promoting document, simply
fails to apply the FounderÂ?s basic political philosophy strictly enough.

Periodically these flaws of the Constitution lead to troubleÂ?as they did
to major trouble via the civil war (or as some prefer to call it, the War
Between the States). Now the problems spring up vis-à-vis journalism and
the bloggersÂ?should the latter be among those exposed to government
meddling or should they be privileged just as journalists are? And then
shouldnÂ?t just all of us? (And when it comes to ministers, what if I start
a little church of my ownÂ?should I be tax-exempt or should there be some
government established distinction between me, a member of a tiny clergy,
and all those others who are members of big, established churches?)

These problems are all symptoms of failing to respect and protect
everyoneÂ?s rights. Any decisions the courts make here are already flawed
because the document on the basis of which they attempt to rest a decision
is itself incoherent.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Essay on secularisms

Materialism through Equivocation

Tibor R. Machan

Within the secular philosophical community there is more division than
meets the eye. Critics of Secular Humanism, mainly from theological and
religious circles, tend to overlook thisÂ?they think that all those who
reject the supernatural realm are therefore materialists. This way they
can intimate that without embracing the supernatural, we consign ourselves
to the status of bits of matter floating about aimlesslyÂ?without
consciousness and, more importantly, without moral conscienceÂ?in the
universe (unless we drastically redefine these notions).

But some justification exists for how Secular Humanists are treated by
these critics. Quite a few secular thinkers do embrace the materialist
alternative. Their false choice is that between materialism and
spiritualism, where the former amounts to affirming only nature-as-pure
matter as real, the latter embracing something spooky and ineffable,
namely, the ghostly supernatural.

But there are other alternatives that many philosophers who have rejected
supernaturalism or spiritualism affirm without hesitation. These thinkers
are also naturalists, holding that there nothing besides what is part of
nature exists. They do not believe that any scientific laws can be escaped
in this natural realm, nor the laws of a metaphysics, limited to the basic
ones, such as the Law of Identity, the Law of Non-Contradiction, the Law
of the Excluded Middle, and the Law of Causality.

Yet what separates these secular thinkers from the materialists is that
they agree that many types of beings can exists in the world, not just
bits of matter (whatever that is supposed to be anyway). As a result, of
course, they also hold that there can be different kinds of causes in
reality, depending on the nature of what is involved in a causal
relationship. Sure, billiard balls on a pool table and a whole lot else
thatÂ?s part of reality will exhibit the Law of Causality in a mechanistic
fashion. On the subatomic level, however, this same law will be exhibited
in the fashion spelled out by quantum mechanics; while at the level of
human consciousness the Law of Causality will be manifest as self- or
agent causation or free will. And others versions may well exist, too,
with scientists looking into the matter all the time.

My point here isnÂ?t to show that these different forms of causation
existÂ?it is, at any rate, pretty evident to most of us that they do.
ThatÂ?s because human beings also have the unique capacity to know of their
own causal power Â?from inside.Â? They are able to experience it as it
exists within them when they act (and how this differs from when they are,
say, pushed about by forces over which they have no control, such as the
wind or a virus). Ed Pols, in his The Acts of Our Being (1982), shows this
brilliantly. The point is to make it clear that not all naturalisms are
alike. AristotleÂ?s is different from HobbesÂ?s, SpinozaÂ?s from MarxÂ?s, and
NewtonÂ?s (when he wasnÂ?t dabbling in supernaturalism and the occult) isnÂ?t
that of EinsteinÂ?s.

In short, not all naturalists are reductive materialists. Whether they
are correct is, of course, another matter. But to know that the
alternatives are more varied than both some of the critics and some of the
defenders of the secular stance make it appear is important. At least for
PR purposes! Why?

Because common sense tells many people that they have free will and there
are moral responsibilities they need to fulfill. They have a well enough
grasp that they could well neglect these (which is when they may be said
to be acting irresponsibly and can be blamed for this), or fulfill them in
exemplary fashion (which is when they deserve praise). When secular
thinkers deny this, along with denying some alleged supernatural
dimension, they easily alienate ordinary folks from secularism. Few will
go along at the price they think they have to pay, namely, to abandon
their common sense, what essentially gets them through their lives with a
good deal of success. So they remain linked to supernaturalism where they
think free will and morality has to be located.

But if they are aware that embracing secular ideas does not need to mean
giving up on their common sense beliefs in free will and moral
responsibility, they could well give the secular option more attention.
And they indeed should.

Tibor in Good Mood! Posted by Hello

Column on Crimes vs. "Crimes"

Perils of Meddlesome Public Policy

Tibor R. Machan

A clear case is drug enforcement. Since much of drug trade and use is
carried out in private, within the borders of someoneÂ?s own property, the
only way to detect this stuff is by invading privacy in the myriad ways
that can be done in todayÂ?s high tech culture.

The laws against drug use, as many other laws pertaining to victimless
Â?crimes,Â? plainly encourage law enforcement that is in blatant violation
of justice, of due process. That is to say, it violates the provision of
justice that requires that laws be enforced without violating individual
rights. A good constitution spells out those rights and the American
document does a creditable job of stating some of these.

When police officers must enforce laws that require violating such
rights, we witness the systematic debasement of the legal order we live
under. What is not fully appreciated is that this is nearly impossible to
avoid when there are so many laws regulating private conduct. Take a law
against sodomy, for example, or against hiring illegal aliens. To find out
that these laws are being violated is very difficult without breaking all
kinds of principles of justice.

The reason is that such victimless crimes involve mostly willing
participants. These laws, in other words, pertain to acts between
consenting adults. So they have no complainants, no one who is actually
hurt when the crime is committed. But then how is one to tell where itÂ?s
being committed, who is committing it, etc.?

The answer is you need to gain entrance to locations and the
Â?cooperationÂ? of witnesses, by intimidation, threats, spying, snooping,
breaking and entering and so forth. No way can the enforcement of such
crimes remain on the up and up.

One beauty of the free society is that when laws are being violated, it
must involve someone who is wronged. Rights violation wrongs people, even
if they might benefit from it in limited ways (say by writing a best
selling book after being assaulted or robbed). Limiting law enforcement to
laws that are truly in the business of Â?securing rightsÂ? makes it possible
to be guided by due process and achieve the objective sought.

But when the law, public policy or regulation gets involved in
regimenting how people should conduct themselves irrespective of whether
they violate or threaten to violate peopleÂ?s rights, then the standards of
police work get utterly confused. In the very act of doing oneÂ?s job as a
police officer, one is violating peopleÂ?s rights, which deprives the
entire system of moral standing. It also attracts the worst kind of police
officers, the bullies, those who love to harass people whose choices they
simply do not like, never mind whether they have done someone any wrong.

The situation is perilous for justice because it is very difficult to
extricate a legal system from these corruptions. For all the malpractices
there tend to arise vested interest groups. Unlike with the Draconian
tyrannies where once found out, there is sufficient resolve not to fall
pretty to pleas of special privilegeÂ?e.g., Nazi concentration camps did
not remain active because the guards had strong unions and lobbyistsÂ?with
the sort of malpractices involved in the meddlesome welfare state this
isnÂ?t so. Instead a tug of war ensues, with all parties insisting that
their meddlesomeness is vital to the quality of the society. (Just think
of all those righteous advocates of the war on drugs!)

My only hope here is education. In time enough folks could acknowledge
the superior value of respect for rights, even to trump their special
projects. Then, maybe, the system will get cleaned up. But until then
those in society who understand the gross injustices that are perpetrated
by the system must keep at it, even if immediate progress is unlikely.

Today a sheriffÂ?s organization called me to contribute to some retirement
program or something. I kept the guy on the phone long enough to give him
a lesson or two about what is involved in enforcing vicious laws. Who
knows, it might have taken.

Column on diversity

The Ideal of Meaningless Diversity

Tibor R. Machan

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd isnÂ?t happy. When that occurs, we,
who follow the venerable publication, will know it. The home of her
columns are the envy of many who sound off on the events of our time.

On this occasion she was complaining about how Tom Brokaw of NBC TVÂ?s
Nightly News will not be replaced by someone black or by a woman but,
instead, by another white male. As she puts it, Â?Those guys are hard to
kill off. Indeed, white men are ascendant in Red State America.Â? She
quotes Brokaw himself opining on this: Â?I honestly thought, eight or nine
years ago, that when we [Peter Jennings, Dan Rather] left," she quotes
Brokaw, Â?that it would be the end of white male anchor time."

OK, so perhaps she didnÂ?t really mean literally Â?kill offÂ?, although with
her characteristic venom whenever her own will is thwarted, you cannot
tell for sure. On the occasion of her ill chosen words, however, we may
take a pause and consider just what this racial and sexual diversity stuff
is all about. Certainly, it follows nicely the intentions of many, many
people at university campuses across the country. As a member of several
panel discussions at those where I have taught and am still teaching, I
get this a lot: Â?But you are a white male and this shows we lack diversity
on this campus, what with those other white guys sitting there next to

Just exactly why is it so important to construe diversity in terms of
color and sex, even national or ethnic background? Surely it is rank
prejudice to believe that because someone is black or a woman or hails
from China, certain views will emanate from that personÂ?s lips. The depth
of diversity involved in mixing it by such criteria is ridiculously
shallow. So, OK, we will see blacks and women but for all we may usually
anticipate, the views we will get are the same across the board. The
really important diversity, namely of viewpoints, is completely unrelated
to whether on is a woman, a man, 50 or 23 years old, from Europe or
Africa, rich or poor.

Unless, of course, color, race, sex, location and such make someone think
a certain way. But that would be a racist, sexists, ageists or whatever
thought. And then, naturally, the very policy of diversity would be tied
to whether one is of a certain race, sex, national or ethnic origin. And
that would render it immune to criticism.

Ms. Dowd probably doesnÂ?t even fathom this, but her demand for other than
a white male at the helm of NBC TV Nightly News is, actually, racist. As
if picking a black would make the news come off differently. As if putting
people of a certain color, race, sex or national/ethnic background on the
airÂ?or, for that matter, on a panel of scholarsÂ?amounted to providing a
diversity of viewpoints.

If that were the case, racism and such must be viewed as very
naturalÂ?those who are white males can be counted on, reasonably, to make
certain choices in hiring, irrespective of competence, qualifications,
skill, and the like. Blacks will then be guaranteed by their color to
think in certain ways, as will whites, women, those from Russia or
Afghanistan. And Maureen Dowd will, of course, spout forth as she does
because, well, she has to, regardless of judgment, reflection, evidence,
argumentÂ?that is to say, regardless of the qualify of her thinking about
these matters. ItÂ?s simply all set, by race, sex, ethnicity.

Such Â?identity politicsÂ? is the death of true diversity, of the variety
of thinking that ought to be hosted at universities and other centers of
debate, including in the news media. What good does it do to mix it up on
the basis of such irrelevant criteria anyway when it has nothing to do, as
it surely does not, with how someone thinks?

At a recent event at my university, following the viewing of Michael
MooreÂ?s Fahrenheit 9/11, a few professors, including me, mixed it up about
the merits or lack thereof of this cinematographic jewel. None of us
looked all that different from one another but, by Jove, we all thought
quite differently. After I spoke a few words in the midst of it all, a
young black woman stood up to say that if someone is white, he or she will
never be able to know just what blacks have been experiencing in the way
of prejudice and oppression. I quickly replied that that is a hopelessly
defeatist view: it would mean that understanding across the races is
impossible. (Never mind that it assumes that no whites have ever
experienced prejudice and oppression!)

Very tellingly after the event was over, three black students came up to
me thanking me for my comments, saying they appreciated how I acknowledge
that what counts is not oneÂ?s color, race or similar relatively
superficial attributes but the qualify of oneÂ?s mind and the merits of
oneÂ?s thinking. Just so.


Sideways is hilarious, even if neither of the main characters is to be
emulated at all. The story line isn't bad, though--especially the stuff on
getting published. But it is the scenery, which is simply stunning,
conveying an ambiance via the California Central Coast's wine country
that's hard to beat--I'd say it matches Tuscany, where I have done a bit
of traveling, without much trouble. It occurred to me that here is for
once Hollywood having no trouble making bourgeois life look pretty good!


Column on Law & Order

The Corruption of Law & Order

Tibor R. Machan

No, this time I am only indirectly speaking about the terrible legal
system that the USA is now sliding toward. Instead, it is the TV show, Law
& Order, that comes up for discussion. But, once again, it is for its slow

When the show began there was a healthy idealism about it. The initial
story lines stressed principles not only of law but of justice. Michael
MoriarityÂ?s Assistant DA was motivated from conviction and the ideas and
ideals that guided him were mostly truly valuable.

In time others came to the show, left it, and Sam Waterson, while very
competent and often dealing with very significant issuesÂ?such as
individual responsibility versus excuses for how one behavesÂ?isnÂ?t given
as many occasions for soaring as was his predecessor on the show. Much of
the show now is torturously PC.

Perhaps the most disturbing element of the programÂ?for not always dealing
with monumental themes is not something for which a TV program ought to be
chidedÂ?is how the most recent addition to the characters, one who replaces
Lenny, that of Dennis Ferina, has brought some really objectionable traits
to the way the police are depicted. Or, are the writers perhaps aiming to
be more realistic?

FerinaÂ?s character is given the role of bullying. A night club owner is
nearly coerced into giving him help by using the threat of closing down
his establishment for trivial violations of some kind of city regulations.
This approach to gathering information, which really indicts the
detectives for lacking the skill to proceed within the guidelines of due
process, is not OK at all. It is vicious, a form of police malpractice,
yet the show makes no mention of that fact, no one is called on the carpet
to answer for such conduct. By omission, then, Law & Order is now
endorsing injustice, somewhat akin to how those giving lip service to law
and order in the USA are often doing gross violence to justice, to
individual rights.

As Thomas Aquinas said, Â?A man is said to be just because he respects the
rights (jus) of others.Â? While mere authority shouldnÂ?t count for much,
Aquinas had it right, just as did the American Founders: Political and
legal justice is when the peopleÂ?s rights are respected as they are being
protected. Which means due process.

So many people in our country and elsewhere bellyache about the bad
influence of Hollywood and other producers of entertainment, mainly
because of sex and violence. Well, few would point to Law & Order, the TV
show, but I will. Just as it was with Miami Vice, so it is beginning to be
with Law & Order. The cops canÂ?t do anything wrong.

This is sad. I have myself been a member of the police in my life, an Air
Policeman, and I find it especially annoying to have one of the most
poplar TV shows in the country sanction methods of dealing with the public
they are supposed to serve that are obviously wrong. I and most of my
colleagues struggled hard never to step over the line, never to
intimidate, threaten anyone who hasnÂ?t be shown to be guilty of anything.
It is disturbing that a popular and widely respected TV program would so
betray the profession of the peace officer.

Again, let me make clear: I do not expect drama of Shakespearian caliber
on a TV series. So if Law & Order isnÂ?t any longer its original
exceptional self, such is life. Writers can run out of elevating material.

But itÂ?s another thing entirely to begin to slack off on essentials. And
of police work it is most essential that due process be strictly adhered
to, including in how the profession is depicted when made a vehicle of
entertainment. Talk about promoting perverse moral values!

Alas, it goes to show, once again, that people are often able to fail as
well as succeed. However, when it is not noted clearly and explicitly that
such is our lot, there is even greater danger of malfeasance. The very
corruption of a profession is recklessly glorified on TV.

Column on Bad vs. Evil

Why Bad isnÂ?t the Same as Evil

Tibor R. Machan

Because so much of the substance of ethics is linked to religion, and
because religion is a troublesome seat of truth for those who trade in
evidence and argument, ethics (or morality) has itself gotten the back of
the hand of the modern, erudite intellectual. Instead of talk of evil,
which such people tend to demean as superstitious or confused, modern
thinkers acknowledge only the existence of bad things, mistakes, or

Bad things, of course, are hardly deniable. An earthquake that kills
thousands is bad. A virus or a hurricane would also be. But all these are
generally thought of as distinct from evil deeds, which are the bad things
people do that they might and ought not have done. Evil assume that those
who do it have a choice. They could refrain from doing the deed and indeed
ought to. Evil is something only an agent with free will can produce.

In the last 400 years or so there emerged a view of the world that has
basically eliminated morality because the idea is that everything that
happens has to happen. There is no choice in the universe, nothing that
can be produced by something with a free will. A free will is taken to be
something spooky, mysterious, miraculous and thus the province of faith,
not of science, reason, evidence or argument. As a result, evil is dead.

What has come to replace evil is, of course, bad stuff. Murder, rape,
lying, cheating, laziness, betrayal, cowardliness, and such are all
afflictions. People are victims of such behavior or suffer such conditions
but are never responsible for them. And their decency, heroism, or other
worthy achievements are also simply accidental, not something for which
they can rightfully take credit. The most prominent of ethical and
political writers today embrace this outlook.

Of course there isnÂ?t full consistency about any of this. There are
plenty of intellectuals, philosophers, even psychologists willing to
deploy ethical or moral language, but very selectively. Racism is still
evil, so is bigotry or unfairness, especially when it comes to promoting
it in the economic sphere. And EnronÂ?s ex-chiefs are still evil!

But when push comes to shove, this is pretty forced nowadays. The basic
theories that rule, from particle physics to cosmology, tilt firmly
against the idea that human beings are free agents and are responsible for
what they do.

Not that all those who are complicit in dispensing with ethics will
bite the bullet. Some doÂ?there are books arguing unapologetically against
morality by people who embrace the fully determinist outlook (just take a
look at Ted HonderichÂ?s little volume, How Free Are You? [Oxford
University Press, 2002])Â?but some want to have it both ways and try to
make determinism compatible with free will (for instance, Daniel Dennett
in his Elbow Room, The Varieties of Free Will Worth Having [MIT Press,
1984]). But the latter mean something different by ethics from what most
of us do: they have in mind that bad behavior exists and that yes there
are means of coping with such behavior, like punishment, blame and so
forth. Yet, they deny that the behavior could have been otherwise, except
if certain impersonal forces had prevented it.

So, for example, a murderer is responsible for the murder in the sense
that it was he or she who engaged in the behavior that produced the
homicide. But only if there had been some factors to intervene would the
behavior have been avoided. Choice didnÂ?t have a role at allÂ?or if it did,
then the choice itself had to be caused by certain factors.

In short, the same person in the identical circumstances could not have
done otherwise. Which is to say, free will does not exist by this view.

Well, this is a problem and I am not going to presume to deal with it all
here. Suffice it to observe only that what underlies it is an impoverished
view of what is possible in the world. The determinists think there can
only be one kind of cause, namely, the sort we witness in mechanicsÂ?say on
the pool table when one ball causes another to move. But there could well
be other types of causesÂ?for instance, when Mozart creates music or
Rembrandt paints or indeed a philosophers produces a defense of

Column on Medical v. Non-Med Marijuana Use

Marijuana UseÂ?Medical vs. non-Medical

Tibor R. Machan

The late 60s and early 70s were my graduate school days, at U. C. Santa
Barbara, and there was then plenty of pot smoking going on. Some of it was
reckless, just as alcohol consumption or gambling or other peaceful
conduct can be quite reckless, but most of it was merely a bit
mind-numbing and consciousness-altering. Yes, many, many young people got
high yet few if any suffered greatly, certainly not by moving on to hard
drugs. At least no more so than the number of moderate wine consumers move
on to become alcoholics.

But while the United States of America was parading itself as the leader
of the free world during that Cold War era, it was mostly the champions of
patriotism and loyalty to the flag who insisted on making pot consumption
a crime. Their persistence led to the abomination we know as Â?the war on
drugs,Â? an immensely costly and vicious undertaking by government to
punish people engaged in the trade and consumption of a substance that
does not cause anyone to do anything criminal (even if it does lead some
people to become lethargic and temporarily confused). The policy also
resulted in making the USA a massive home to prisoners who have violated
no oneÂ?s rights at all.

>Nothing above even suggests that consuming pot is
OK. It is very risky to any users and as such extreme caution needs to be
exercised with it, just as with alcohol. Indeed, abstinence is probably
best, for most of us.

Yet here was a place where a dominant element of American culture turned
directly against the political principles on which the country was
founded. We all, individually, have the unalienable right to our lives,
liberty and pursuit of happiness, or so the Founders stated because they
learned it from people like John Locke, the English political philosopher,
and from their knowledge of the history of human community life. That
history showed them that government is to be the hired servant of people,
not their rulerÂ?ergo, the importance of asserting those rights. Sadly,
conservatives, who pride themselves on wanting to retain the principles on
which their communities are founded, completely jettisoned their
commitment to honor this countryÂ?s most important tradition and switched,
instead, to embracing the statist conservatism of Europe and the rest of
the world.

Of course, it is a problem of conservatism which of several competing
traditions to embrace, so the switch was not all that surprisingÂ?just look
at President Bush and his reversal of Ronald ReaganÂ?s efforts to cut back
the scope and size of government, all the while claiming to be a
conservative. The price of the witch, however, is staggering. Thousands of
lives have been ruined because these conservativesÂ?and by now even
othersÂ?take it upon themselves to disregard the unalienable rights of
individuals and impose their will on the rest of us.

At this time there is a little bit of an opening out of the morass of
this shameful tyranny in our Â?freeÂ? society. The US Supreme Court will
decide whether at least some people, those who are likely to gain health
benefits from consuming marijuana, will have their right to liberty
protected. If they judge in favor, they will uphold another conservative
ideal, namely, stateÂ?s rights, something that used to be partisan but now
is embraced not just by advocates of medical marijuana use but many
environmentalists. And they will also exempt a few folks from the tyranny
of the war on drugs.

Yet, sadly, they will also affirm a disgraceful policy of discrimination
by treating those who have a certain use for pot, leaving others with a
different but equally peaceful use as criminals if they persist.

The real answer is the abolition of prohibitionÂ?just as it was, once
again, with alcohol.

Friday, October 22, 2004

One of My Pet Peeves

Tibor R. Machan

It’s when promises go unfulfilled, that’s certainly one. The other day I had a guest speaker to our college whom I promised a certain sum from a budget set up for just this purpose. I had put in the request for the money two weeks before the event but when it rolled around there was still no check. So I implored those in charge of the matter to please issue the check and was told it would be around the day after the event. OK, so I arranged to have it sent to the speaker only it didn’t show up that day either.

Then our speaker happened to be coming to campus to do an interview with someone and so I called the bursar’s office and asked whether we could get the check over to our offices so he could pick it up after he did the interview. I was told it would be ready at 1:30 PM, about an hour later. At this point I made my dismay quite evident and insisted that they get the check to our offices by noon, no later. And so it happened but not without a fuss.

Now this is one reason some folks consider me a pain—or, to quote a former dean of mine at Auburn University, “difficult.” I am difficult if that means I speak up when promises made to me aren’t kept.

Recently I had a proposal in to a well known organization with which I had been doing business since 1976; I had done umpteen events for them and attended many more and I was hoping they would accept this proposal on a very important philosophical topic.

I first broached the issue with them about 4 years ago and after a lot of back and forth got a promise that they would be back with an answer by early 2004. I waited and waited and then I called and was told some story about why I need to wait again and then silence sat in. After a few months went by I finally called and was again stone walled by some big shots and at that point I just had had it. I told them off.

Treating people who come through regularly with prompt and very satisfying work with such lack of consideration, with failure to make good on promises to them, is not something anyone ought to simply tolerate. Sure, often there is nothing one can do about it apart from making one’s position clear and eventually simply stopping to deal with such folks. And on several occasions I have done just that, hence the “difficult” label. (In one recent instance when I spoke up about the disrespect such treatment shows one, I was characterized as “paranoid” by one of the people who had been complicit in the dilly-dallying.)

All this is rather baffling to me. Maybe I am naïve but I do not think so, for holding that when promises are made, they ought to be kept. Oh, there is that cultural thing some folks invoke, as when they claim that in Italy, of course, one cannot expect punctuality or in Hungary enthusiastically made plans will be forgotten in no time. But even that seems to me to be bunk—the Italians and Hungarians who indulge themselves thus ought to shape up, that’s the answer.

This summer a travel agency—that took my very early pre-payment for a cruise my daughters and I were going to take—suddenly, about 10 days or so before the cruise was to commence, cancelled it all without any explanation. We had made elaborate preparations—the cruise was to sail from London to St. Petersburg, Russia and back—and the cancellation meant the non-refundable airline tickets would be lost, not to mention the nearly $5k for the cruise itself and the fee to an airline for some flight changes. OK, but then I was promised, via a fax and an email, that all would be refunded by August 20, 2004, not to worry.

Well, folks, it is now nearly November and but a 3rd of what we were owed had been paid back and each time I inquire I get a song and dance about how I am making things worse by asking! I just do not get it. So my answer is to keep after them.

I am often a severe critic of government regulations and have even threatened to write a book titled “Be Your Own Ralph Nader,” to argue that it is best to rely on one’s own savvy to rectify the “market failures” we encounter, not to beg for government intervention. And I haven’t changed my views on that. It does occur to me, however, that perhaps some folks have personalities that simply aren’t fit to cope with the varieties of bad behavior one encounters in the market place. It takes a lot out of me, for example, to keep after these folks who breach their promises but I am sort of prepped for it, having had to fight my way throughout most of my life since I left my country of birth and needed to hone special skills for getting on. My own kids often find themselves stymied because they aren’t all that fond of struggling against the dilly-dalliers they find as they grow up and need to cope with logistics more and more. Although, they have learned a trick or two from their Papa!

I have no big answers here, only a warning. If you insist that folks behave as they ought to, if you refuse to be a sap, you will often annoy them. And so perhaps prudence needs to accompany the courage to stand up for what you know is right.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

From Tom Palmer:
Good notes. I may have put the point too strongly. (I'll have to listento it again to be sure.) I think that I did emphasize that the American founders radicalized and purified the ideas, making them more consistent. But I don't think that they were original in their basic ideas aboutindividual liberty per se (although the constitutional scheme that Madison and others set out could be said to be a more radical innovation); they drew on a long tradition, to which they made frequent reference. Few of the founders would have given women any political role, although most were pretty hostile to slavery, but the abstract formulation of thelanguage of the Declaration and the Constitution certainly lent themselves to consistent application to recognition of the equal rights of women and of black people. (By the way, the piece you heard was less than half ofthe lecture that I gave; it just stopped around Magna Charta or somewheresimilar, which was a bit odd.)

Tom Palmer
Hi, Tom [Palmer]:
In your talk about liberty on the CD Cato sent out this month [October, 2004] you take some pleasure in ridiculing those who think liberty is a recent development in human history. Having heard you speak many many times and having never been a progressivist myself has put me on guard about this for a long time. Yet, I do believe that the Declaration of Independence had been a revolutionary political document, not because it invented liberty but because never before had the idea--which admittedly had lurked about for centuries--been incorporated into a full fledged political creed. That's probably because, as Stanley Cavell has put it, America was made by the Founders--it isn't something that slowly evolved. So there was a chance here to give expression, officially, to these heretical ideas and ideals. While the notions involved had percolated for centuries--starting probably with Lao Tzu and Alcibiades (as I chronicle in The Virtue of Liberty [FEE, 1994])--understandably it never got a good rap from leaders of countries. (Why should it have--it would have meant pretty much disenfranchising them!)
Also, some things needed to be known that had not been in order to gain full confidence in such notions that slavery sucks and women ought to have a place among the citizenry, as men do. I do not believe one needs to have a Whig notion of history to accept that even in ethics and politics there can be some advances made, never guaranteed. After all, while not exactly like medicine, ethics and politics do gain from greater understanding of, say, the merits of the division of labor or public choice theory.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

From Jeffrey Friedman (10-10-04)

I looked forward with great interest to Tibor's response to Bruce Ramsey's account of a recent Critical Review Foundation seminar. But instead, he refers to a 1997 article I wrote in Critical Review, and gets what I said there completely wrong.

In that article (see --> back issues --> vol. 11, no. 3), I criticized extant rationales for libertarianism that fail to draw on our knowledge of the empirical world (non-consequentialist rationales, roughly speaking), as well as consequentialist economic rationales for libertarianism. Then I proposed a new consequentialist rationale for libertarianism, drawn from our knowledge of mass democratic politics (but not the public-choice rationale).

Machan, apparently assuming that the only things anyone can say about libertarianism must be things he has already rebutted, thinks that I must be arguing that "each instance of proposed coercion" must be proved undesirable, "over and over again." Wrong.

What I wrote in 1997, and what I teach in the seminar on which Ramsey reports, concerns what, if anything, makes infringements on capitalism coercive; and what makes coercion bad. To oversimplify, what's at issue is whether non-consequentialist rationales for libertarianism make sense—not whether consequentialist rationales should assess the consequences of individual acts, or of general rules, or of overarching economic systems.

Perhaps some day Tibor will choose to debate (or even agree with) what I have actually written or said, rather than with what he imagines the only conceivable positions at odds with his own must be.

Jeffrey Friedman
Editor, Critical Review (
Publisher, The Dissident (

From Tibor Machan (10-10-04):
Here is what I actually wrote involving Jeffrey Friedman, just in case his own reply has, as I think it has, confused the issue: "A dispute among those who favor the free society concerns whether the merits of that society need to be demonstrated over and over again, in each instance of proposed coercion. I believe this is the main thrust of an essay by Jeffrey Friedman, editor of Critical Review, published in that same journal back in 1997, titled, "What's Wrong with Libertarianism," Critical Review 11, no. 3 (1997). (See, for a recent discussion of Friedman's challenge, by Bruce Ramsay’s essay at"
Friedman never responds to this, and why should he? What I believe doesn't appear to interest him. But what I wrote is, in fact, the main thrust of all those who denounce libertarians who consider well defended moral and political principles a sound basis on which to oppose various private actions and public policies. Indeed, the entire matter of dickering about what coercion is, what amounts to initiating force, is not the issue--certainly there can be question about whether one or another interaction with others amounts to coercion, just as there can be dispute about whether a case of sexual intercourse amounts to rape or seduction or something else. But I have never found Friedman and those who join him actually state, unequivocally, that they oppose the use of coercion by some people against others. No, they wish to debate whether coercion itself may or may not be effective public policy. As Friedman puts his most general point (associated with his reading of several books on the topic), "libertarians do not yet possess an adequate critique of government interference in the market economy--a critique, that is to say, that establishes not only why the state should be kept on a very short leash, but why it should be emasculated." Friedman then sets out to see whether libertarians have shown that two supposedly incompatible attributes of statism have been established, namely, "harmful empirical effects" of state interference, and the "allegedly intrinsic evil of state regulation or redistribution."
Many have responded to Friedman's paper but Friedman keeps insisting no one has rebutted his points successfully. And perhaps he is correct, but not because no libertarian has managed to show that state coercion has harmful effects (the "empirical" is a pointless qualifier--harmful effects are harmful effects, and what "empirical" adds to this is anybody's guess; perhaps he means material effects, like run down housing produced by urban renewal, which was demonstrated several decades ago by, for example, Martin Anderson in The Federal bulldozer; a critical analysis of urban renewal, 1949-1962 [Cambridge, M.I.T. Press,1964], a work he ignores) but because there is nothing to indicate what would count for Friedman as a demonstration of any such thing. He leaves it entirely indeterminate what criterion is to count as having shown what he wants to have shown.
This is also the case with the second attribute of the state he asks libertarians to demonstrate, namely, the "intrinsic evil of state regulation or redistribution." Those libertarians who argue on the basis of the natural rights of individuals to their lives, etc., or some other principle such as "equal liberty," rarely if ever uphold some intrincisist view of the evil of state regulation or redistribution but they do maintain that forcibly mandating some conduct or extorting the wealth of others, whether it be done by the state or by some criminal or criminal gang such as the Mafia, is morally and should be legally wrong.
Many, many libertarians have advanced somewhat different cases for this but Friedman takes no notice of a great many of them so his dismissal of them all--"libertarians do not yet possess" refers to all libertarians, with no qualification such as "the bulk of them," "some of them," "the most prominent of them" or the like--is plainly unjustified. By 1991, when Friedman's paper appeared, several Herculean efforts have been placed on record regarding whether "state regulation or redistribution" is morally and political wrong, unjustified, a violation of principles of justice (that is, individual rights). (See, M. Bruce Johnson & Tibor R. Machan, eds., Rights and Regulation [1983], for just one example of a rich collection of papers addressing some of these matters. My own contributions are numerous but at that time Individuals and Their Rights [1989] advanced a sustained critique of, among other coercive policies, wealth redistribution; a chapter, "The Non-Existence of Welfare Rights," from this work has been repeatedly reprinted in collections of essays on social and political philosophy, testifying to the fact that at least some folks had deemed the points raised there by one libertarian worthy of discussion. Essays by other libertarians, such as Eric Mack, have also made the rounds in this kind of literature, yet Friedman appears to find them all worthless.)
So if there is someone who hasn't met the requirement of demonstrating his points, Friedman is the prime candidate. Moreover, his practice of recasting the views of those whom he lambastes--for "criticizing" is too generous a term when people aren't quoted and some of the main contributors to the discussion aren't even mentioned--makes it very difficult to take up what he puts forth, since in too many cases--for example, his talk of "intrinsic evil"--none fit the characterization he advances.
It is my understanding that when one discusses people with whom one disagrees, one ought to try very conscientiously to lay out their position in their own terms and deal with them accordingly. This Friedman hasn't done. So when he states now that "What I wrote in 1997, and what I teach in the seminar on which Ramsey reports, concerns what, if anything, makes infringements on capitalism coercive; and what makes coercion bad," appears to me confused. What makes "infringements" "coercive"? Well, if they really are infringements--say, taking someone's property in a phony eminent domain scam so the government can collect more taxes than otherwise by leasing it to Costco (see, as an example of more on this, Steven Greenhut, Abuse of Power [2004])--then they are coercive in as much as "coercive" means "violation of someone's basic rights" (in this instance to private property). What makes coercion bad? What makes rape bad? What makes assault bad? What makes robbery bad? Surely Friedman must know that many libertarians have answered these questions and to declare that none has produced "an adequate critique" is groundless, given his skimpy examination of libertarian arguments. In effect, Friedman needs an impossibility proof--showing that no libertarian can possibly produce "an adequate critique"--to sustain his claim and he has produced nothing remotely close to that.
So, perhaps we can now carry on with the work that matters, namely, developing some of the nuances and detailed legal implications of the several very promising libertarian arguments that have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that those who are identified as "the state" are embarking on harmful policies and are being unjust as they are doing infringing coercively on capitalism--that is to say, on human beings going about the innumerable facets of the peaceful task of production and trade.