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“So what?”

27 Apr

How do you like them apples?

I am puzzled as to why racism is thought to be a terrible thing, rather than entirely natural and often reasonable, and why people allow themselves to be brow-beaten about it. Maybe we should stop. Domestic tranquility would follow in torrents.

As nearly as I can tell, a racist is one who approves of rigorous education, good English, civilized manners, minimal criminality, and responsible parenthood, among other things. I am, then, a racist. I see no reason to grovel about it.

I decided long ago that if, while I was doing a radio interview, a caller-in told me, “You a racist!” I would hesitate as if puzzled, and say “…So what?” This would add immeasurably to the planetary supply of stunned silence. The expectation is that anyone so charged will fall on his knees and beg for mercy. It would be a lesser offense to be caught sexually molesting autistic three-year-old girls while attending a Nazi torch-rally.

Herewith another and yet worse confession:: I do not see, or care, why it is thought my duty to like, or dislike, groups because of their race, creed, color, sex, sexual aberration, or national origin. Nor do I think it their duty to like me. I especially do not understand why the federal government should decide with whom I ought to associate.

But back to “So what?” Among its charms is that there is no answer to it, other than huffing and puffing and indignant expostulation. All of these amuse me. Used frequently, “So what?”would shut up people who badly need to shut up, or else force them to think. Not likely, as most apparently cannot.

Let us, improbably, glance at reality. A characteristic of human groups is that they do not like each other. The greater the difference between the groups, the greater the dislike; the closer the contact between them, the more open the friction. Note that before the advent of mass immigration, Americans of whatever politics had no dislike of Hispanics.

Thus separation increases the likelihood of amity. Is this not obvious? The instinctive rancor between disparate groups accounts for most of the world’s problems. Moslems and Christians dislike each other, Tamils and Sinhalese, Cambodians and Vietnamese, blacks and whites, Americans and Frenchmen, men and women, homosexuals and the normal and, as Tom Lehrer famously sang, “…everybody hates the Jews.”

Except that in America Jews are so assimilated that most of us don’t remember to hate them. They aren’t different enough. I’ll have to make myself a note.

Humans like to be among their own kind. This can mean many things. It can be political. In Washington, white liberals cheerlead for diversity while spending their time exclusively with white liberals and execrating Southerners, Jesus Creepers, genocidal conservatives (understood to mean all conservatives), Catholics, racists, owners of guns, rednecks, and so on. No dissenting voices are heard because, like conservatives, liberals choose to be among their own. Similarly, if in any of Washington’s dives you know that one person in a table of six has an IQ in excess 130, it is a good bet that all do. It isn’t snobbery. Smart people enjoy the company of smart people. Their own kind. So what?

If left alone, people will naturally and peacefully form such associations as seem to them desirable. If left alone. So what?

The Chinese cluster together in China Towns because they want to be among their own. So what? Jews have yeshivas because they want to preserve their culture. So what? On campus, black students want separate fraternities and dormitories. So what? When men can find a pretext for being among other men, they do. So what?

In all of this, I am a bit of an outlier, having lived among many cultures and generally liked them. Some can do this. Yet as a white American of European extraction, I too want to preserve my culture. This involves (or did) respect for law, studiousness, the production of children within marriage, self-reliance, honesty, sexual restraint, and so on. Another part of my cultural package is the literature of Milne, Milton, Twain, Galsworthy, Gibbon, and others at length. I want my children to read them

However, I do not want to impose my values and culture on others. American blacks for example are truly African Americans, and quite reasonably may have as little interest in European history as I do in African. Rationally this would argue for separate schools where each could study what and as it chose. For reasons impenetrable to me, to suggest this is thought worse than genocide.

A reason for letting people associate as they choose is that, while groups naturally do not like each other, they overlap in curious ways. Left to themselves, people sort these matters out like water reaching its level. When I lived in Washington I used to spend afternoons over a Bass and several of its friends at the Cafe Asia, on Wilson Boulevard just across Key Bridge into Virginia. The Asia was then staffed by Asian girls—Malays, Chinese, Vietnamese, and a lovely Japanese woman who managed it. The clientele ran to young white professionals.

Their unanimous opinion held of these women by white men was highly favorable. Why? Well, these young ladies—they were ladies–were sleek, pretty, classy, never toilet-mouthed, and smart. Smart: One was doing graduate work in computer security, another was a wide-area network engineer, a third had been unable to find work after a master’s in biochem, and so was in dental school.

Here we have an example of people, being left alone, deciding for themselves who to hang out with. The young white professionals had decided, probably not consciously, that the Asian women had enough in common with us, and enough not in common but appealing, that we really enjoyed them.

Where is the fly in this ointment? I suppose we were racists, as we were assuredly discriminating racially: We thought Malays pretty. The horror. No doubt we were sinners all.

Today of course we are federally admonished not to choose our own friends and neighbors as if our lives were our own business. No. Instead we must follow the social directives of the Potomac Soviet, whether anyone wants to or not. Few do. In Washington, on the Hill, upper Connecticut, the inner suburbs, the outer suburbs, everywhere, clubs and restaurants are either almost perfectly white or perfectly black. Whites happily patronize Latin American restaurants intended for the general trade, yet in mini-barrios many venues tacitly are for browns only. So what? It is how people want it. If freedom of association is racism, I am for it.

So what?

 

Crimea? No, Venice! Independence Referendum in EU goes Almost Unnoticed

27 Apr

While the Crimean referendum tops world media headlines, an attempt at secession is going on in Veneto, Italy, with its major city Venice. But as it is being virtually ignored by media, people in Europe are hardly aware of what’s happening next door.

Do you mean the independence of Crimea?” says a Berlin resident when RT’s Irina Galushko asks him of what he thinks of the current referendum in Veneto, Italy, where people are voting on whether to break away from Rome.

No, I haven’t heard of it” was the most common answer Galushko received.

The online referendum in the northern Italian province was launched on Sunday, the same day the majority of people in Crimea voted yes to seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia. But unlike the Crimean referendum, the Veneto one has not quite found itself in the media spotlight.

Nevertheless, about 3.8 million eligible Veneto resident voters will now be able, until Friday, to say if they would like to see the region an independent, sovereign and federative Republic of Veneto.

Veneto is one of the biggest and wealthiest provinces in Italy with a population of more than 5 million people. One of the main reasons for the vote is that the region is tired of the backbreaking burden of taxes imposed by Rome.

We would like to continue the economic ties with Italy,” Lodovico Pizzati, the spokesman for the independence movement, told RT. “But from a fiscal standpoint there’s a huge gap between what we pay in taxes and what we receive as public service. We are talking about a difference of 20 billion euro.”

The latest polls, suggesting that about 65 percent of the population is in favor of becoming independent, have encouraged the independence movement leaders finally to have the region’s fate decided.

We have to fight for it [independence],” Giovanni Dalla Valle, head of the Veneto independence movement, told RT. “We will do it in a peaceful, diplomatic way. We do strongly believe that when the majority wants to be independent there is nothing they [the Italian government] can do.

Veneto independence activists say they have been inspired by secession movements in Scotland and Catalonia.

Reprinted with permission from Russia Today.

 

 

 

 

Our Oligarchs Can Thank James Madison

27 Apr

According to authors Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.

Fortunately for The Average Joe, however, his stated policy preferences happen to coincide with the desires of the wealthy elites much of the time, (according to the study) so even though his views and desires don’t matter in Congress, he nonetheless sometimes gets what he wants, simply by coincidence.[1]

It’s only when the desires of middle-income Americans are in conflict with the goals of interest groups and the wealthy elites that he is likely to lose most of the time:

Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all.

Are interest groups and wealthy elites more powerful than the average American? Certainly evidence of that is all around us, with perhaps the most obvious and dramatic example in recent years being the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) engineered by the Bush administration in 2008 to bail out wealthy hedge fund managers and bankers who had run their companies into the ground. Prior to the passage of TARP, members of Congress admitted that calls from their constituents were 95 percent or more against the passage of TARP. Congress passed the legislation anyway, handing about a trillion dollars of taxpayer money to wealthy corporations, bankers, and other interests.

James Madison and Federalist #10

According to the propagandists for the centralization of the American national government in 1787, known euphemistically today as “Federalists,” the size, scope, and diversity of the United States is supposed to make such looting impossible. The claim that a larger and more expansive government produces more freedom may seem counterintuitive to some, but such is the proposition taught to American school children year after year.

We have James Madison, and specifically his Federalist Paper No. 10, to thank for the popularity of this rather dubious theory.

In the essay, Madison’s position is that large expansive republics are superior to small limited republics because they balance a variety of “factions” (by which he meant interest groups and voting blocs) against each other and prevent any single group from unduly influencing the government. In a small republic, Madison argued, small factions are able to easily take control of the state’s resources or the state itself. Included among these factions is any large voting bloc with similar interests. The majority and its alleged penchant for the oppression of the minority can be controlled by cancelling out the interests of local majorities at the national level with majorities from other states, thus leading to a balanced population in which no particular faction can gain an upper hand.

Madison’s purpose was to demonstrate that if the American states were allowed to remain largely independent, as they indeed were in 1787, they would degenerate into despotism, but if the states were all consolidated into one federal system, the different factions within the many states would be balanced out and no group or alliance could ever take control of the new government.

Like today’s elites in D.C. and Brussels, Madison’s greatest fear was political decentralization and disintegration, and upon reading No. 10 and other Federalist writings, it quickly becomes clear that many of them were obsessed with the idea of the United States being torn apart by separatist and rebellious factions. This preoccupation is easy to understand if we remember that the convention of 1787 was born out of hysteria over domestic terrorism. That’s not the terminology they used at the time, of course, but the catalyst for the convention was Shays’ Rebellion. The response of the wealthy elites at the time — people like George Washington and James Madison — was to call for a massive expansion of government power to ensure that any future resistance movement could be easily crushed.

The Anti-Federalist Response

Many of the anti-Federalists, including “Cato” disputed the assertions of Madison (who offered precious few real-world examples to support his theory).

Specifically, Cato’s letters argue that smaller states are superior to larger ones because they control less wealth and fewer resources, and therefore offer fewer benefits to factions seeking power, while at the same time limiting the scope and complexity of state matters to a scale at which “average” citizens can hope to understand and witness the dangers posed by those seeking to extract government favors. Cato quotes Montesquieu:

[T]here are too great deposits to intrust in the hands of a single subject, an ambitious person soon becomes sensible that he may be happy, great, and glorious by oppressing his fellow citizens, and that he might raise himself to grandeur, on the ruins of his country. In large republics, the public good is sacrificed to a thousand views; in a small one the interest of the public is easily perceived, better understood, and more within the reach of every citizen; abuses have a less extent, and of course are less protected.

In other words, small republics prevent any one interest from seizing the sort of super-sized power that would most easily be attained through a more expansive state. Moreover, in a large republic, the overall population consists of many competing factions that pave the way for factions to seize power by encouraging division among the population.

In these arguments we see some early precursors of arguments we find later in Rothbard and Hoppe.[2] Hoppe offers the anti-Madisonian view:

Political integration involves the territorial expansion of a state’s powers of taxation and property regulation. … In general, the smaller a country and its internal markets the more likely it is that it will opt for free trade.

I think that a world consisting of tens of thousands of distinct countries, regions and cantons, and hundreds of thousands of independent free cities such as the present-day “oddities” of Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Hong Kong, and Singapore, would be a world of unprecedented prosperity, economic growth, and cultural advancement.

Conclusion

The anti-Federalists lost and Madison won, so we can now witness the true extent to which a large republic has failed to prevent the rise of exploitive and powerful factions in the United States. The U.S. government now controls more than 2.5 trillion dollars that flow to the treasury every year, inviting every faction, large and small, that hopes to capture even a tiny fraction of this enormous pile of wealth for itself. Never in the history of the world has any single state spent so much and owed so much, while maintaining military bases in every corner of the world while spying, cataloging, taxing, regulating, and imprisoning so many.

At one time, it was thought that those who paid for such “amenities” would rise up and object, but thanks to the vastness of the republic, taxing and spending need never be challenged. This huge, federal republic, so naively assumed by Madison to be balanced against spending and expansion, has instead facilitated a way to allow endless spending by simply spreading out the benefits. Many districts, states, counties, and regions may theoretically be at odds, but their primary concern is getting their share. Whether it’s military spending in the South, subsidies for industry in the North, cheap lands and water for farmers and ranchers in the West, farm bills for the farmers, pensions and pills for the elderly, schools for families, and roads for everyone else, there’s no one left to protest. Meanwhile, the sheer vastness and uniformity of the state’s power nationwide ensures few options for voting with one’s feet to the millions within its enormous frontiers.

The system of oligarchy identified by Gilens and Page is familiar territory to economic historians. Today’s oligarchs are little more than modern versions of the mercantilists of old. It’s unfortunate the American Revolution, a war fought against mercantilist privilege, ended as a Federalist counter-revolution that paved the way for the triumph of similar interests in later decades.

Notes


[1] The study is written by political scientists performing quantatitive analysis, so it’s best to not get bogged down in the numerical details of the study. Nevertheless, while we might critically dissect the assumptions and data behind the report, one is still struck by how very plausible the report’s research and conclusion are.

[2] Rothbard is said to have suggested the name of the Cato Institute due to his affinity for the letters of the Anti-Federalist Cato.

 

Ron Paul warns that Bundy ranch standoff isn’t over just yet

20 Apr

Edited time: April 16, 2014 12:27

Ron Paul (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)

Ron Paul (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)

A heated land dispute between the federal government and a Nevada cattle rancher subsided over the weekend, but longtime lawmaker and former presidential hopeful Ron Paul says tensions might soon worsen once again.

An armed standoff between Cliven Bundy and the United States Bureau of Land Management ended on Saturday with the federal agency agreeing to release around 400 head of cattle it had seized from the Clark County, Nevada rancher. The bureau said Bundy owed roughly $1 million to the government because for the last two decades he failed to pay a fee for letting his cattle graze on federal land, but the rancher insisted that he owed the agency nothing. Supporters soon took up arms and flocked to the Bunch ranch to stand by in support as feds began to seize nearly 1,000 head of cattle, but over the weekend the BLM aborted their attempt to confiscate the animals in order avoid any violent showdown that might have emerged.

Paul — the former Republican congressman for Texas and a three-time contender for the office of US president — said on Monday that things aren’t necessarily over on the Bundy ranch, even though the feds have for now relinquished their war with the rancher.

“They may come back with a lot more force like they did at Waco with the Davidians,” Paul told Fox News host Neil Cavuto on Friday, adding that he wished for a non-violent resolution.

Only days earlier, the rancher’s wife told the Huffington Post that the mobilization of heavily armed federal agents around her land was all too similar to the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidians’ Waco, Texas compound that ended with the deaths of 87 civilians.

“If you saw the artillery and their presence — the intimidation they are trying to put on us — it could turn into that,” Carol Bundy said she feared.

Speaking to Paul, Cavuto claimed that the potential for violence to erupt at the Bundy ranch on par with what occurred 20 years ago in Texas was on a “very slight trigger,” to which the former congressman responded, “That’s the great fear….especially if the financial crisis gets much worse which I anticipate.”

According to Paul, the entire incident in Clark County could have emerged differently if the government reconsidered the way it claimed land rights. Bundy said that the disputed property had been in his family for nearly 150 years, but the BLM insisted that his animals were trespassing on federal land since he stopped paying the government a grazing fee back in the early 1990s.

“I don’t believe I owe one penny to the United States government,” Bundy told Nevada’s Desert News last week. “I don’t have a contract with the United States government.”

On Friday, Paul told Cavuto that the Bundy family “had virtual ownership of that land because they had been using it,” yet the law is “not clean enough.

“I think land should be in the states and I think the states should sell it to the people,” he continued, adding that “it’s worked out quite well in big states.”

“You need the government out of it and I think that’s the important point, if you don’t look at that you can expect more of these problems, especially when our economy gets into more trouble,” the former congressman said.

In the meantime, tensions have lessened to a degree in Clark County, where hundreds of seized cattle were handed back to the Bundy family on Saturday, as RT reported earlier. Nevertheless, BLM spokesman Craig Leff told the AP that his agency will work to resolve the matter “administratively and judicially.” Neither the BLM nor the US Department of Justice responded on Monday to requests for comment made by the newswire, but Cliven Bundy himself said he was going to have to inspect his returned cattle to assess their post-confiscation condition.

“It’s going to take a lot to revive the calves that were nearly dead when they were returned to the Bundy Ranch because they had been separated from their mothers during the roundup, and a few most likely won’t make it,” Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R-Las Vegas) told the AP. “It’s time for Nevada to stand up to the federal government and demand the return of the BLM lands to the people of Nevada.”

For his part, Bundy said at a news conference on Monday that “Every sheriff across the United States of America, take away the guns from the United States bureaucrats,” according to the AP.

“Understand it is because of each and every one of you standing here and each and every one of our Americans watching us and protecting us with our firearms why this did not turn into Waco massacre or a Ruby Ridge,” added Fiore.

When an Accusation Becomes Proof: America’s Legal Revolution

20 Apr

 

In the spring of 2006, three white lacrosse players from Duke University were charged with raping a black stripper who briefly had performed at a team party. It was the proverbial “Perfect Storm” of race, class, and sex, and united many of the usual political pressure groups that infect our body politic today.

The so-called Duke Lacrosse Rape Case (or better put, Non-Rape case) received media and political mileage because of who was involved, and the story had an ending that was somewhat more unusual than what is seen when accusations of rape and sexual assault occur. That was because the prosecutor that pursued the lacrosse players, the infamous Michael B. Nifong, went from hero to villain when defense attorneys successfully exposed that Nifong and his “star” witnesses had fabricated inculpatory evidence and Nifong had hidden evidence that was exculpatory.

His once-adoring media sycophants turned into inquisitors after Nifong’s lies became public and his name became synonymous with prosecutorial misconduct, and he ultimately lost his job as Durham County District Attorney and the State of North Carolina revoked his law license. Unfortunately, people believe that Nifong’s lies and willful misconduct were the real story of injustice, but they are not. In fact, they only are a sideshow of the legal terror that literally thousands of people have faced in the past 30 years, and the actual story is much worse than anything Nifong did because misconduct and wrongful convictions (or open invitations to misconduct) are built into the law itself.

Those of us that are intimately familiar with this case know how close these young men came to being put on trial in Durham and being convicted of “crimes” that never happened. The sad irony is that thanks to federal law and federal policies, Nifong did not have to present any real evidence in order to gain a conviction. All he needed was an accusation from Crystal Mangum, the accuser, and jurors would have had all of the “proof” they needed to vote “guilty.” Given the political and racial climate in Durham, it almost is certain that jurors would have convicted the three simply because the powers that be in that city would have demanded nothing less.

That Mangum’s story was not credible from the beginning was irrelevant to how the “justice” system worked in the Duke case – and in many cases involving accusations of sexual assault or molestation, not to mention the carrying out of drug laws. As a result, I will make an astonishing claim: I believe that thousands – yes, thousands – of people are or have been incarcerated in prison for “crimes” that never happened because of America’s legal revolution during the past century.

This state of injustice has not come about accidentally. Instead, it is the result of a politicized age in which intellectuals, politicians, and policymakers who deem themselves to be “Progressives” have fashioned the law into a set of rules and policies that even tyrants like Nero and Caligula would have considered to be unjust.

It Always Starts With Progressivism

American criminal law today does not reflect what the USA inherited from common law England, complete with the “Rights of Englishmen” that Americans also assumed for themselves. From the founding of the republic until the Progressive Era of the early 1900s, criminal law in this country mostly reflected the principle of malum in se, a legal doctrine that has holds that certain acts are bad in themselves.

For example, almost every society that has existed in history has had prohibitions against murder, theft, and robbery. From Hammurabi’s Code to the Ten Commandments to modern law, certain actions have been criminalized because they involved things everyone recognized as being wrong. This does not mean that such laws cannot be abused, but they do tend to reflect universal principles.

Unfortunately, legal systems also have reflected the legal doctrine of malum prohibitum which says certain acts are bad and worthy of punishment because they violate certain rules that government agents have created. For example, at the turn of the 20th Century, it was legal for Americans to ingest drugs like marijuana and cocaine, and alcohol was readily available. In a couple of decades, however, the law prohibited consumption of drugs and possession of alcoholic beverages because the powers that be had decreed as such. Furthermore, violation of those laws could mean a spell in prison, something that previously had been reserved for those who ran afoul of malum in se laws.

American Progressives, who had Grand Visions for how to organize life for Americans – including those Americans who had no desire to take part in the Grand Visions, tended to favor a legal system based upon malum prohibitum because they believed that individuals in society needed to conform to a set of social and political ideals created by the Great Superior Minds of Progressives. The idea that governments should not interfere with the routines of daily life – and especially those routines that involved mutually-consensual acts and the actions of the marketplace – was scorned by Progressives, who believed that individuals should not be permitted to act outside of boundaries set by political authorities who supposedly knew what was best for everyone else.

Progressives relentlessly attacked social institutions that did not easily fit under the umbrella of state-based control, and over time those institutions – entities like religious groups, voluntary societies, and local education – succumbed to statist pressure. All of these actions took place under the guise of “reforms” in which society was to be centralized under federal power with Progressive intellectuals and “reformers” being the ones to determine the boundaries of conduct of individuals.

The so-called Progressive reforms transformed American law in two ways. First, its insistence upon the expansion of state power and state-enforced regulation over the lives of individuals meant the inevitable growth of criminal law under malum prohibitum. The “duty” of Americans was to “obey” state directives, and those who did not obey were to be punished via imprisonment. Thus, in 1919, it was legal to possess alcoholic beverages and it was legal for business firms to brew and distill them. A year later, such things were crimes, accomplished by the mere stroke of a pen.

Second, by demanding the centralization of political, legal, and economic power via Washington, Progressives helped to create a federal legal system which permits prosecutors to take almost any individual action and find ways to criminalize it. No longer was the legal emphasis upon the protection of life, liberty, and property, but rather it was on subjected people following sets of rules created by intellectuals and politicians.

The legal system that came from the Progressive Era and has metastasized unabated for more than a century is hostile to the venerable “Rights of Englishmen” that undergirded American criminal law for many years and nowhere is this better reflected than in the evisceration of the important but now little-known legal doctrine of mens rea. To understand the contempt that modern Progressives have for individuals and to understand the utter tyranny of modern American criminal law, one first must understand why mens rea is vital to protecting individual rights.

The term mens rea essentially means “a guilty mind.” That is, in order for one’s action to be determined as criminal or not, the mindset of the person engaging in a particular action was paramount. For example, say I am driving cautiously in a neighborhood when suddenly a child chasing a ball comes out of nowhere and appears in front of my car, and I hit him. I did not intend to hit the child, nor was I acting in a reckless manner; the result was an unavoidable accident, not a criminal act on my part.

However, say that I see a child in the street and speed up my car in order to hit him. The action was deliberate and, thus, criminal under a doctrine of mens rea. In other words, intent matters under criminal law, or at least it is supposed to matter.

The growth of the regulatory and bureaucratic state with its emphasis upon malum prohibitum, however, is incompatible with mens rea and over the years, American courts have slowly but surely eliminated it from this nation’s de facto body of law. Every year, local, state, and federal agencies churn out thousands of new regulations, most of which have the power of law, with many carrying criminal penalties for people who violate them. Furthermore, the American courts have ruled time and again that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” for disobeying them.

In other words – and I am not exaggerating here – every American is responsible for knowing every regulation and every law that is passed and, more important, must obey each one or face a penalty and even prison for failure to do so. For ordinary people, there is no exception unless a judge or administrator decides not to punish someone for violating a rule of which the person had no knowledge.

There are classes of people that are exempt from having to know all of the laws and regulations, however: those charged with enforcing the laws, from administrators to police to prosecutors to judges. I am not kidding, nor do I exaggerate. The very people who are supposed to be the most intimate with laws and regulations because their very livelihoods rest upon their enforcement also are the very people who are legally permitted to be ignorant of such laws and regulations.

It gets worse. People in those enforcement lines of work who are caught violating the law or policies pertaining to enforcement are exempt from having people whom the law enforcers have victimized from seeking legal redress in the courts. Thus, when the three falsely-accused defendants in the Duke Lacrosse Case filed lawsuits against the City of Durham and prosecutor Michael Nifong, the federal courts dismissed most of the claims because of the legal doctrines of immunity that the courts and legislatures have imposed.

The effect is that wrongdoers, should they be employed by government, are pretty much exempted from having to face consequences of their wrongdoing. This is not an oversight; it is the result of the political goals that perpetrators of modern regimes have imposed. I call it a corollary of what economists call “Capture Theory.” The government employees in the law enforcement lines of work have “captured” the system and have rewritten the rules in order to protect themselves at the expense of the people these government agents victimize every day.

And even in the very rare events when perpetrators are charged with wrongdoing, they often are acquitted by the system. For example, the infamous “not guilty” verdict in a recent trial of two former police officers from Fullerton, California, for beating a homeless man to death despite the overwhelming evidence of their guilt (evidence caught on videotape) reflect the modern political reality that government agents truly are shielded from consequences of their own actions, even when they break the law. William Norman Grigg also has documented numerous times when U.S. police officers essentially engaged in summary executions of unarmed and unthreatening people, yet have faced no legal or even personal consequences for their actions.

Accusations and Political Goals

All of this brings us back not only to the Duke case but also to the thousands of cases in which people are charged with sexual assault and/or child molestation. At this point, I will make a very provocative statement: U.S. prisons are full of thousands of wrongfully-convicted people and thousands more outside of prison live under the weight of being convicted felons. American law has become so tyrannical that many wrongfully-charged people cannot defend themselves from false charges because the law is stacked against them.

In 1974, Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act or CAPTA, better known as the Mondale Act for its vocal sponsor, Sen. Walter Mondale of Minnesota. The law had all of the hallmarks of the Progressive outlook for which Mondale was famous, including the offering of federal money to the states to encourage the prosecution of more people for child abuse and child molestation. (Congress passed new editions of CAPTA over the years and it remains on the books today.)

Congress later passed the Violence Against Women Act which encouraged states and localities to prosecute rape and sexual assault against women, promising federal money to those governmental entities for doing so. The laws also helped to create and fund governmental and government-connected agencies such as Child Protective Services to investigate claims of abuse and molestation and to aid law enforcement agencies in bringing charges against alleged perpetrators of abuse.

Understand that the offenses listed in these laws are not imaginary constructs. Children are abused and, yes, many are molested and the damage done to those children is incalculable. If the law had resulted in the actual prosecution and punishment of real perpetrators, that would have been one thing – and I would not have written this article. Rape and sexual assault are terrible things and no one denies that fact.

Instead, the laws led to what I believe are thousands of false charges and convictions because they changed the fundamental rules of evidence. Before CAPTA and the VAWA, most states required corroborating evidence besides the mere accusation of abuse and the like because authorities recognized that it is too easy for people to make false charges due to ulterior motives.

For example, it is not unusual for warring spouses in divorce litigation to make accusations of abuse or worse against one another to aid their own claim for child custody. Before CAPTA, such accusations would have required evidence other than the spouse’s claim. After CAPTA and after VAWA, the accusation itself became absolute proof of criminal wrongdoing.

These new standards of evidence, while guaranteeing false accusations and wrongful convictions, were not written to satisfy justice but rather to satisfy pressure groups with political goals. The modern child protection industry, with parents having to worry about a government agency falsely accusing them of abuse or worse and having their children removed from their own care, could not exist without CAPTA. Likewise, it now is much too easy for someone to be accused falsely of rape, something that feminists and their political allies have demanded for years.

What makes things worse is that prosecutors, both state and federal, are permitted to pile up charges upon charges on people and then hold the very real prospect over their heads of draconian punishments should they be convicted on even one of those charges. The result is that 95 percent of all U.S. criminal cases result in guilty pleas, and lawyers of people who demonstrably are innocent often will encourage their clients to plead to “something” just to give prosecutors their little victories and to prevent even worse punishments.

Many other writers and I have written about how a false accusation industry sprang up, and how innocent people were railroaded into prison. Absurd prosecutions now have become the norm, as the lure of federal money and political benefits to crusading prosecutors have overcome any whit of interest in justice.

In the LRC piece, “Nifonged in Narragansett,” I wrote nearly seven years ago, the attorney general of Rhode Island charged a man with rape for actions he allegedly committed 32 years before. The accuser had been undergoing the infamous (and discredited) “recovered memories” therapy and suddenly “remembered” this man having raped her.

Now, she could not remember when or where it happened. Instead, she just “remembered” that it was some time in a six month span and somewhere in the neighborhood where she lived. In other words, the whole thing reeked of absurdity, but it was perfectly logical under the terms of the VAWA. (Shortly after the LRC piece was published, the AG dropped the charges. However, that did not change the fact that he still could have won a conviction with just the woman’s claims, should the jurors have chosen to believe her.)

Likewise, we saw a spate of child molestation investigations that would have made the weirdest episodes of “The Twilight Zone” seem to be logical by comparison. I have written about many of them and have seen how some of the worst offenders – like Janet Reno – have been rewarded for gaining wrongful convictions. For that matter, Nifong himself was the darling of the U.S. mainstream media for many months (and especially the New York Times) until it became abundantly clear that he was lying. And even then, a number of media and legal writers, including Lester Munson of ESPN, still tried to cover for him.

Many of these wrongful convictions came right from the playbook pages of Progressivism. First, federal laws changed the legal incentives to financially and politically-reward prosecutors who got wrongful convictions – and then ensured that even if those same prosecutors later were found to be lying, that they would escape meaningful punishment. Centralization of political and judicial power has been a main priority for Progressives for more than a century.

Second, by helping to create scores of new agencies staffed by “experts” who then plied their “expertise” in courts and convinced jurors that the charges – however absurd they seemed to be – really were true, the government ensured an increase in the prison population, thus strengthening the Prison-Industrial Complex that exists in this country. Third, the federal government was able to eviscerate the precious “Rights of the Accused” that Americans supposedly enjoyed, thus further empowering government agents. All of these things have come from the playbooks of Progressive writers and politicians such as Herbert Croly and Woodrow Wilson.

American criminal law, be it at the state or federal level, is a mere shadow of what it used to be. The vast growth of federal crimes and the evisceration of the rules of evidence at all levels have turned what the famed English jurist William Blackstone once termed as a “shield for the innocent” into a system of governmental tyranny.

This is no accident. The tyrannical criminal law regime that grips America is what the Progressives wanted all along. They wanted Americans to have to live in fear of a powerful state that could and should tell them how to live, what to believe, and what to do. And the police state is what we have.

 

Statistical Frauds

20 Apr

 

The “war on women” political slogan is in fact a war against common sense.

It is a statistical fraud when Barack Obama and other politicians say that women earn only 77 percent of what men earn — and that this is because of discrimination.

It would certainly be discrimination if women were doing the same work as men, for the same number of hours, with the same amount of training and experience, as well as other things being the same. But study after study, over the past several decades, has shown repeatedly that those things are not the same.

Constantly repeating the “77 percent” statistic does not make them the same. It simply takes advantage of many people’s ignorance — something that Barack Obama has been very good at doing on many other issues.

What if you compare women and men who are the same on all the relevant characteristics?

First of all, you can seldom do that, because the statistics you would need are not always available for the whole range of occupations and the whole range of differences between women’s patterns and men’s patterns in the labor market.

Even where relevant statistics are available, careful judgment is required to pick samples of women and men who are truly comparable.

For example, some women are mothers and some men are fathers. But does the fact that they are both parents make them comparable in the labor market? Actually the biggest disparity in incomes is between fathers and mothers. Nor is there anything mysterious about this, when you stop and think about it.

How surprising is it that women with children do not earn as much as women who do not have children? If you don’t think children take up a mother’s time, you just haven’t raised any children.

How surprising is it that men with children earn more than men without children, just the opposite of the situation with women? Is it surprising that a man who has more mouths to feed is more likely to work longer hours? Or take on harder or more dangerous jobs, in order to earn more money?

More than 90 percent of the people who are killed on the job are men.

There is no point pretending that there are no differences between what women do and what men do in the workplace, or that these differences don’t affect income.

During my research on male-female differences for my book “Economic Facts and Fallacies,” I was amazed to learn that young male doctors earned much higher incomes than young female doctors. But it wasn’t so amazing after I discovered that young male doctors worked over 500 hours more per year than young female doctors.

Even when women and men work at jobs that have the same title — whether doctors, lawyers, economists or whatever — people do not get paid for what their job title is, but for what they actually do.

Women lawyers who are pregnant, or who have young children, may have good reasons to prefer a 9 to 5 job in a government agency to working 60 hours a week in a high-powered law firm. But there is no point comparing male lawyers as a group with female lawyers as a group, if you don’t look any deeper than job titles.

Unless, of course, you are not looking for the truth, but for political talking points to excite the gullible.

Even when you compare women and men with the “same” education, as measured by college or university degrees, the women usually specialize in a very different mix of subjects, with very different income-earning potential.

Although comparing women and men who are in fact comparable is not easy to do, when you look at women and men who are similar on multiple factors, the sex differential in pay shrinks drastically and gets close to the vanishing point. In some categories, women earn more than men with the same range of characteristics.

If the 77 percent statistic was for real, employers would be paying 30 percent more than they had to, every time they hired a man to do a job that a woman could do just as well. Would employers be such fools with their own money? If you think employers don’t care about paying 30 percent more than they have to, just go ask your boss for a 30 percent raise!

 

Equality in Discipline

20 Apr

 

George Leef, director of research for the North Carolina-based John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, authored a Forbes op-ed article titled “Obama Administration Takes Groupthink To Absurd Lengths.” The subtitle is “School Discipline Rates Must Be ‘Proportionate.’” (http://tinyurl.com/mxnlg9h). Let’s examine some of the absurdity of the Obama administration’s take on student discipline.

Last January, the departments of Justice and Education published a “guidance” letter describing how schools can meet their obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin. Its underlying threat is that if federal bureaucrats learn of racial disproportionality in the punishments meted out for misbehavior, they will descend upon a school’s administrators. If schools cannot justify differentials in rates of punishment by race or ethnic group, they will face the loss of federal funds and be forced to undertake costly diversity training.

The nation’s educators can avoid sanctions by adopting a racial quota system for student discipline. So as Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, predicts, “school officials will either start disciplining students who shouldn’t be, or, more likely, will not discipline some students who ought to be.” I can imagine school administrators reasoning this way: “Blacks are 20 percent of our student body, and 20 percent of suspensions this year have been of black students. In order to discipline another black student while maintaining our suspension quota, we will have to suspend some white students, whether they’re guilty or not.” Some administrators might see some injustice in that approach and simply ignore the misbehavior of black students.

Leef cites Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald, who wrote in City Journal (http://tinyurl.com/9k648fj) that “the Departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students.

The possibility that students’ behavior, not educators’ racism, drives those rates lies outside the Obama administration’s conceptual universe.” She quoted Aaron Benner, a black teacher in a St. Paul, Minn., school who abhors the idea that school officials should go easy on black students who act up because (as a “facilitator” said) that’s what black culture is. “They’re trying to pull one over on us. Black folks are drinking the Kool-Aid; this ‘let-them-clown’ philosophy could have been devised by the KKK.” Benner is right. I can’t think of a more racist argument than one that holds that disruptive, rude behavior and foul language are a part of black culture.

If Barack Obama’s Department of Justice thinks that disproportionality in school punishments is probative of racial discrimination, what about our criminal justice system, in which a disproportionate number of blacks are imprisoned, on parole or probation, and executed? According to the NAACP’s criminal justice fact sheet, blacks now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million people who are incarcerated. Blacks are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. The NAACP goes on to report that if blacks and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rate as whites, today’s prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50 percent (http://tinyurl.com/7g2b32h).

So what to do? For example, blacks are 13 percent of the population but over 50 percent of homicide victims and about 46 percent of convicted murderers. Seeing as the Obama administration is concerned about punishment disproportionality, should black convicts be released so that only 13 percent of incarcerated murderers are black? Or should the Department of Justice order the conviction of whites, whether they’re guilty or not, so that the number of people convicted of murder by race is equal to their number in the general population? You say, “Williams, that not only is a stupid suggestion but violates all concepts of justice!” You’re absolutely right, but isn’t it just as stupid and unjust for the Obama administration to seek punishment equality in schools?