Wrong Republican Way on Geo-Green

Gas-thirsty cars imperil U.S., conservative ex-officials warn,” by Edward Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 April 2005, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/04/07/MNGIAC4EBC1.DTL (from Clean Cut Kid).

Republican big-wigs are joining the geogreen fight

Take record high gasoline prices, add in fears of terrorist strikes against Middle East oil fields and a growing financial drain on the country, and you produce a band of national security conservatives who sound like environmentalists in urging President Bush and Congress to push for U.S. energy independence by weaning Americans from oil use.

It makes no sense to import vast amounts of oil from unstable petrokleptocracies. Oil revenues allow corrupt elites to avoid real reform and buy-off (often dangerous) special interests. It diverts capital from New Core growth economies to these backwords pits. It helps funds Islamic terrorism. It exposes us to another oil shock.

That said, the proposed solution is foolish

The conservatives, including some top national security figures from the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, recently sent the White House a letter saying it is time to raise the mandated fuel efficiency on autos and turn away from petroleum-fueled vehicles in favor of such alternative fuels as ethanol, bio-diesel or electricity and more hybrid cars and trucks

We have a real problem, and the dinosauric solution is mandated fuel efficiency. Using vertical controls as clubs. Genius.

When a fuel efficiency standard is mandated, it basically says there is no term of trade that makes consumption above the standard beneficial. This is a belief characteristic of command-and-control economies, not modern free markets. Further, mandated standards increase misery for everyone. The mandates cost a greater fraction of the poor’s income to comply with, but they offer the rich no way to “buy society off” and divert their excess capital to the general welfare for private purposes.

On the other hand, a high but rebated gas tax would be beneficial to the poorest while encouraging the rich to divert their extra cash for everyone’s good. Create a heavy gas tax, but fully rebate it to American citizens (every citizen gets a proportionate share of the revenue). Now that’s a plan everyone can get behind.

Vote Labour

That Special Relationship,” new Sisyphys, 8 April 2005, http://newsisyphus.blogspot.com/2005/04/that-special-relationship.html (from Dawn’s Early Light).

The Conservative Party may win power in Britain. They must be stopped. The British must vote for Tony Blair and give Labour it’s first three-term administration in history.

The fact is that the Tories have always had more than a strong element of anti-Americanism in its ranks. This fact, along with the natural opportunism of an opposition poised to take advantage of the governing party’s support for a deeply unpopular war, has bred a new sort of Conservatism. The kind that can rise in Parliament and ask the Prime Minister “how many Iraqi women and children must die before the Americans have their vengeance in Falluja.”

There is a reason Michael Howard, the Conservative leader, has not been invited to the White House, as have virtually all of his predecessors. Nor was the Conservative Party delegation given a very warm welcome back at the RNC in 2004. Riven by incompatible positions on the only question that matters—that of Europe—the Conservatives have become a party of mush that offers nothing except platitudes and snarky comments.

We never thought we would say this, but……

British friends: please vote for the socialist.

Tony Blair is a social Leftist, but he’s no socialist

  • Wise tax and budget policies have continued Britain’s economic revival, which was started under Margaret Thatcher. He is the Bill Clinton to her Ronald Reagan
  • Tony Blair has restored the privileges and traditions of many ancient regions and kingdoms. Under him the Scottish Parliament has met for the first time in centuries, and local revivals are occuring in Wales and Cornwall. Tony Blair has done more for federalism local control than President Bush ever did.
  • Tony Blair courageously stood with America in the Gulf War, and was instrumental in getting a majority of European nations to ally with the United States.

Vote for the right candidate. Vote Labour.

Libertarian Antihomosexualism

Marriage and the Limits of Contract,” by Jennifer Roback Morse, Policy Review, April 2005, http://www.policyreview.org/apr05/morse.html (from Stanley Kurtz on the Corner).

Yesterday, National Review linked to a libertarian attack on legal recognition homosexualist marriage. The article, written by a Hoover Institution fellow, raises good points and agrees with tdaxp in several places. While I think I would disagree with Jennifer Morse on some other issues, here is she spot-on.

First and most importantly, the article recognizes there are different kinds of freedom

Rousseau could be describing the modern hook-up culture, down to and including the reluctance of hook-up partners to even talk to each other. He seems to define “natural” as acting on impulse and “freedom” as being unencumbered by law, social convention or even attachment to other people.

Libertarians cannot accept these definitions. Being free does not demand that everyone act impulsively rather than deliberately. Libertarian freedom is the modest demand to be left alone by the coercive apparatus of the government. Economic liberty, and libertarian freedom more broadly, is certainly consistent with living with a great many informal social and cultural constraints.

(If only Robert Locke was so wise!)

Morse also shows how increased family size can lead to decreased government size — a brilliant application of the horizontal/vertical dichotomy.

But the influence of the libertarian rationale goes far beyond the membership of the Libertarian Party or the donor list of the Cato Institute. The editors of the Nation, for instance, support gay marriage but do not usually defend the sanctity of contracts. This apparent paradox evaporates when we realize that the dissolution of marriage breaks the family into successively smaller units that are less able to sustain themselves without state assistance.

Families also serve as an alternative to state welfare

But for this minimal government approach to work, there has to be a family in the first place. The family must sustain itself over the course of the life cycle of its members. If too many members spin off into complete isolation, if too many members are unwilling to cooperate with others, the family will not be able to support itself. A woman trying to raise children without their father is unlikely to contribute much to the care of her parents. In fact, unmarried parents are more likely to need help from their parents than to provide it.

Pat Buchanan, normally a loon said it best: “liberals” want government so strong we don’t need families, conservatives want families so strong we don’t need government. Put another way, “conervatives” want to create a culture of freedom by replacing vertical controls with horizontal controls.

Third, she realizes the permance of Old Style Man.

Libertarians have every reason to respect marriage as a social institution. Marriage is an organic institution that emerges spontaneously from society. People of the opposite sex are naturally attracted to one another, couple with each other, co-create children, and raise those children. The little society of the family replenishes and sustains itself. Humanity’s natural sociability expresses itself most vibrantly within the family. A minimum-government libertarian can view this self-sustaining system with unadulterated awe.

Exactly right. Functioning systems of control are ones that survive. Just as “sustainability” is an important part of determing what third-world aid programs we create, “sustainability” must be a vital part of what controls we protect and establish.

tdaxp’s note: The first time I read this article I found four serious flaws. All went away on a second reading. She clearly has a unifying philosophy of the world that I would disagree with. Nonetheless, on homosexual marriage she is exactly right. This paper is a brilliant defense of traditional marriage from the homosexualists and the New Stylists.

Ellen Goodman’s Incoherence on Freedom of Conscience

Whose Conscience Rules?,” by Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, 10 April 2005, http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/04/10/whose_conscience_rules/.

Collounsbury seems to be alone in being able to sensible defend forcing pharmacists to serve patients they don’t want to. His arguments are coherent. Ellen Goodman’s aren’t

How much further do we want to expand the reach of the individual conscience? Does the person at the checkout counter have a right to refuse to sell condoms? Does the bus driver have a right to refuse to let off customers in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic?


A clerk can refuse service to any customer. The clerk’s boss can fire the clerk. It’s freedom of contract, and it is an important part of America. Goodman might have attacked it on technical grounds, as Collounsbury did. Instead she can’t get her facts straight.

Yes, we want people to have a strong moral compass. But they have to coexist with others whose compasses point in another direction. In the debate over conscience clauses, Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice says properly, ”There is very little recognition that the conscience of the woman is as important, let alone more important, than the conscience of the provider.

This is a post-Liberal opinion. America was founded on the belief in equal rights. Goodman wants to move away from this, for special rights for special classes of citizens.

Pharmacists don’t have the same claim to refuse filling a prescription as a doctor has to refuse performing an abortion. But there are other ways to exercise a private conscience clause. Indeed, in a conflict between your job and your ethics, you can quit. It happens every day.

What other laws designed to protect ethics does Goodman want repealed? Does she believe that sex discrimination laws meant to protect womanly virtue should go, because the woman can always quit?

I do, but my position is intellectually consistant.

Reality is complicated, and complicated solutions may be best in the short term. But Goodman’s political rhetoric doesn’t see complexities — she sees pseudo-simplicities.

When Thoreau refused to pay taxes as a war protest, remember, he went to jail. What pharmacists and others are asking for is conscience without consequence. The plea to protect their conscience is a thinly veiled ploy for conquest.

Freedom of contract is analogous to tax protesting. Again, genius.

However, on the subject of being jailed for doing the “right” thing. This is another post-Liberal stance. If the innocent are being unjustly jailed, the solution is to free the innocent. Not to harrang other innocents for not also being imprisoned.

Did Goodman say to Iraqi exiles: why are you not in mass graves too?

This is not easy stuff. But in the culture wars we have become enamored of moral stances. Have we forgotten that what holds us together is the other lowly virtue: minding your own business?

She confuses horizontal and vertical freedom. Government should not use its power to enforce its morality, which is one reason why her desire to use vertical controls to enforce sexual licentiousness if troubling.

However, she is exactly wrong if she is saying horizontal isolation somehow “holds us together.” The ties of culture, our horizontal bonds to each other, hold us together. It is the critical component of civil society. Goodman’s disregard for horizontal ties is breathtaking.

To each his own conscience. But the drugstore is not an altar. The last time I looked, the pharmacist’s license did not include the right to dispense morality.

A “liberal” using masculine language? Interesting, but that’s a post for another time….

Designer Social Security

Designer Social Security,” by Dick Morris, New York Post, 29 March 2005, http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/43317.htm (from South Dakota Politics).

Social Security, Thune, and Schaff,” by Chad M. Schuldt, Clean Cut Kid, 23 April 2005, http://www.cleancutkid.com/2005/04/12/social-security-daschle-and-schaff/.

Our favorite Clean Cut Kid is worried that Bush’s plan is too risky

On the other hand, if we were to privatize Social Security as Bush and Thune would like, we would essentially dissolve the trust fund into tiny pieces, with risk concentrated in a segment of those who are part of the program. There would be some big winners, but there would be some big losers to be sure.

So, say what you will about investing a portion of the Social Security trust fund in the market … I’m not sold on the idea personally, but I do know risk for individual investors would be marginalized when compared to the scheme Bush and Thune want to see implemented. That’s why Professor Schaff’s retirement plan is set up in this very way … to minimize risk!

Well, no one is proposing privitizing social security, but that dishonesty confusion aside, President Clinton’s former political consultant Dick Morris may have a plan

We are all adults. We get the point that the Social Security system can’t pay us the benefits now on the books with the revenues slated to flow in during the coming decades. We know that something has got to give. That’s why we are hesitant to buy into privatization in the first place until Bush explains how he will solve the basic problems of the system.

So offer us options. For example:

Option A — No increase in taxes. No change in the retirement age. A cut in benefits.

Option B — No increase in taxes. A later retirement age. The current level of benefits.

Option C — An increase in taxes. No change in retirement age. The current level of benefits. (For those who can document higher income levels, there could be a further option of an increase in the ceiling of taxation or a raise in the rate.)

Throw the Bush choices into the mix — private investments in exchange for an added tax hike, benefit cut or increased retirement age.

Now there’s a compromise. Old-age security for all, with both a public and private component. The Morris Compromise would combined defined-benefit benefits (the current system) with an optional defined-contribution angle.

Let’s do it.

Controls: Vertical-Horizontal, Strong-Weak, Implicit-Explicit (Spousal Abuse an a Transcending Example)

Chapter 13: Submission to the Authorities,” by Paul, Letter to the Romans, http://bible.gospelcom.net/passage/?search=romans%2013:1-7&version=31.

Mmm, that’s interesting,” by “Not One of Chad’s Little Sheep,” Clean Cut Kid, 12 April 2005, http://www.cleancutkid.com/2005/04/09/ways-to-actually-reduce-abortions#comment-1141.

Freedom of contract is great,” by “Not One of Chad’s Little Sheep,” Clean Cut Kid, 12 April 2005, http://www.cleancutkid.com/2005/04/09/ways-to-actually-reduce-abortions#comment-1143.

Yesterday I blogged on the unequal nature of work. This post extends that words and also replies to a comment on CCK

I’m using the following definitions

  • vertical control is domination supported by nonconsentual violence
  • horizontal control is domination not supported by nonconsentual violence

For example, the following groups may excersize vertical control against you

  • The IRS (they will take your property)
  • The Police (they can imprison you)
  • Thugs (also may take your property, but with less fuss and more random violence than the IRS)

Meanwhile, the following probably are excersizing horizontol control over you

  • Friends (be rude to them, they will be rude to you)
  • Employer (not show up on time, he will stop paying you)
  • Parent (“fail” expectations, they are no longer proud of you)

Systems of horizontal and vertical control can interact. Saint Paul created a morality of authority to get followers to peer pressure each other into obeying the government — horizontal pressure reenforcing vertical pressure.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Vertical controls are sometimes used to reenforce horizontal ones as well. Hillary Clinton is noteably encouraging the government to force employers to recognize religions — an authority of morality

Vertical and Horizontal Controls can be strong or weak. Roughly, a control is weak if it can be profitably violated to little personal ill effect. For example, the following prohibitions:

  • Strong Vertical: Terrorism, Murder, Bank Robbery
  • Weak Vertical: Littering
  • Strong Horizontal: “Stealing” a significant other
  • Weak Horizontal: Spitting outdoors

The ultimate consequences of violating strong controls may be severe, regardless of whether they are vertical or horizontal. Breaking the strong vertical prohibitions may lead to imprisonment or even death. But breaking strong horizontal prohibitions can also lead serious emotional which can kill (suicide).

What’s nice about horizontal controls is that they are voluntary. If a man wishes to be a devout Catholic and observe all the canon laws, fine – the Church will have horizontal control of you. If not, fine – the Church no longer has that control. If you yearn for the acceptance of your friends, you are under their horizontal control and must be the friend they wish you to be. If not, be yourself.

Note how the voluntary nature of horizontal controls affects the bargaining situation. There are thousands of faiths in the world, so if a man just wishes to be faithful he has tremendous buyer power. But if that man wishes to be a devout and noted Roman Catholic in the Sioux Falls Archdioces, suddendly that Churh has immense sellign power. In horizontal control, the bargaining positions are voluntary.

One last note: horizontal and vertical rules can be implicit or explicit. Implicit rules are often recognized as “natural” while explicit ones are “artificial.” For example

  • Implicit Vertical: murder (the legal term is a heinous crime or crime of moral terpitude)
  • Explicit Vertical: accounting fraud
  • Implicit Horizontal: murder (even in anarchy, few people would kill even if able to get away with it)
  • Explicit Horizontal: When at an expensive restaurant, use the outer silverwear first

Note the overlap between implicit vertical and implicit horizontal controls — both are “natural.” And also notice the calculation needed to avoid violating explicit rules — both are “unnatural.” Any rule can be internalized and made implicit — public nudity is an implicit vertical prohibition in the United States and a implicit horizontal prohibition pretty much everywhere.

This all leads up to two comments on Clean Cut Kid on spousal abuse

The abusing spouse has inordinate control over the abused spouse. The inherent power of the abusing spouse makes their abuse worse than that doled out in a simple battery outside of a marriage or relationship and abuse of that power should receive greater punishment.

and later

Freedom of contract is great. When the parties are of equal strength. It has no application in the case of spousal abuse where, typically, the abusing spouse has inordinate control over the abused spouse.

I thank the poster for the comments, but the comments themselves are spurious. The husband has the selling power the wife wishes, and the wife has the selling power the husband wishes. Each spouse only open to abuse to the extent that spouse chooses — further, each spouse recognizes abuse to the extent that spouse chooses.

A devout Muslim woman may choose (have an internalized horizontal ruleset that states) to recognize abuse as being told to appear in public without a veil (“forced” to be “immodest”). A secular American man may choose (have an internalized horizontal ruleset that states) to recognize abuse as being calmly verbally abused (“nagged”). Each recognizes and accepts those actions

On the othe hand, laws against spousal abuse are vertical controls. They are non voluntary. Spousal abuse laws are completely nonhorizontal — they are culturally arbitrary. American laws against spousal abuse may heavily punish a striker but consider the woman who wishes to be veiled weird (at best). Analagous Saudi laws are the reverse.

And such is the way of controls, both implicit and explicit, strong and weak, vertical and horizontal.

Bad News for Japan (No UNSC Seat this Year?)

Japan’s Bid for UN Council Seat This Year Frustrated,” Digital Chosunilbo, 12 April 2005, http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200504/200504120024.html.

If this is accurate, it’s frustrating

Representatives of 116 nations including Korea, Italy and Pakistan met in New York on Monday and agreed to oppose hasty reform of the U.N. Security Council, which could dash the hopes of the so-called G-4 — Japan, Germany, India and Brazil — of a permanent seat on the council.

The U.S. and China joined the meeting under the slogan “Uniting for Consensus” saying, “Security Council reform must be pursued by agreement without set deadlines.” Both are veto-wielding members of the council.

That in effect scuppers Japanese plans to enter the permanent council this November after getting it expanded by six members through a resolution in the General Assembly in June.

The group’s chairman, Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini, said, “Each national representative expressed the opinion that consensus was important for Security Council reform, and they presented the opinion that it was illogical to set a deadline for such reform.”

At the meeting, nicknamed the “Coffee Club, Beijing’s U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya and Washington’s U.N. delegation minister Howard Stoffer also voiced opposition to a vote before consensus is reached.

This is disturbing. The United Nations Security Council, as it is today, is bizarre. It does not reflect geopolitical realities or contributions to global stability. Expanding the Security Council to include India, Japan, Germany, and Brazil is a sensible first step towards reorganization. America’s stalling slows down our friends and appeases pseudo-allies like Korea.

I first heard the news over at The Acorn, but I was hoping it wasn’t true.

Even Vietnam was on board! And France!