What the Left Cannot Supply, the Right Will Not Demand

Tuesday, June 15, AD 2010

Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a series of posts looking at the recent survey purporting to know a lack of economic knowledge on the Left, with one post for each of the eight questions on the survey. As I look at the list of questions, however, a clear theme emerges, namely that liberals tend to think that the price of a good or service isn’t much affected by the supply of that good or service or visa versa. According to the survey, liberals tend to think that restricting the supply of housing doesn’t increase the price of housing (question 1), that restricting the supply of doctors (through licensing) doesn’t increase the price of doctors (question 2), and that price floors won’t decrease the supply of either rental space (question 4) or jobs (question 8).

Coincidentally, I’m currently reading a (surprisingly good) book by Paul Krugman, in which he argues that conservatives tend to minimize or dismiss the part changes in demand have on getting us into or out of recessions. Naturally this got me thinking whether one of the things separating left from right in this country is a difference in the importance of supply and demand in economic phenomenon. For the above issues, at least, liberals seem to be ready to discount the importance of supply, whereas conservatives underestimate the importance of demand.

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  • I realize there is a standard argument that licensing restricts supply. Does it though? I think it is akin to arguing the ACT artificially restricts the supply of college students. (Admittedly, most colleges don’t require the ACT, but work with me here.) In both cases, there is a nominal fee and a background requirement, either explicit or implicit. While it is certainly true that there are people capable of going to college that don’t don’t take the ACT, there are also people capable of becoming doctors that don’t complete the formal requirements to do so. But is it truly the case that the ACT or licensing is restricting supply?

    In the case of supply, I think an example would be airline regulation. By essentially setting a price floor, money was able to be spent on R&D resulting in better aircraft over time. I think a lot of the interurban rail arguments are similar as well, where you have to have a sufficient base of supply before demand will truly kick in.

  • It’s true liberals tend to be Keynesian demand-siders and conservatives tend to be Say’s supply-siders. But you can be a Keynesian like Krugman and still get those questions right. Our political divide on economic issues seems to be primarily driven not by Keynesians and supply-siders but illiterate Keynesians and supply-siders. I bet if you get Krugman and Gary Becker in a room, they’d come out with pretty sensible economic policy roadmap.

  • The best lecture on supply and demand is

  • But is it truly the case that the ACT or licensing is restricting supply?

    Does it render the supply of providers smaller than it would otherwise be? If so (and there would not be much point to licensure if it did not) then it restricts supply and affects price.

    A more telling example than that of physicians would be certification requirements for school teachers and librarians, which are often a parody of vocational training.

  • I would imagine that the degree to which licensing restricts supply is directly proportional to how much of an obstacle the licensing is.

    If a license was as easy to procure as the ACT, it seems unlikely that it would restrict supply much — though it would do so slightly at the margins. (Arguably, the sort of college student who fails to go to college because he doesn’t get around to taking the ACT isn’t that much of a loss, academically.)

    However, when licensing requirements become steep, they restrict supply more. Librarian work is probably a decent example. My mom works as a library aide. The work she does is essentially the same as that which the librarians do (a bit more shelving and less answering questions), but the city she lives in only hires people with masters degrees in library science. Since a lot of the sort of people who want to work part time at a library are not going to go sink $30k+ and two years into getting a masters degree for it, the librarians are in comparatively short supply and highly paid (while there are lots of aides, and they’re low paid.)

    I find it hard to imagine that the masters requirement is not inflating the salary (by decreasing the supply) of librarians relative to the actual skills required.

  • The President’s speech tonight was a classic example of the utter economic ignorance that dominates the left.

    “Lets all stand in a circle, hold hands, and embrace a new “green economy”, because the time is now. Here it is, I think its coming. There, we did it, a brand new green economy.”

    Mr President, stop the BS, our country has been ripped off by false promises and promoters of junk science for years now. FOSSIL FUELS ARE BY FAR THE CHEAPEST SOURCE OF THE ENERGY AVAILABLE. If you have to subsidize something to get it to compete with fossil fuels, then its less economic. The money to subsidize it has to come from somewhere, and that means a net loss of productivity and jobs.

    A green economy is a less productive economy because our economy is more productive when energy is cheaper. He’s gonna make some green jobs, but what he isn’t telling everyone is that for each green job we’ll lose many regular jobs as even more manufacturers and businesses go somewhere else where the energy is cheaper.

  • Yes We Can!! Gulf D-Day 58, or is it 59?

    It’s tragic. Quis Ut Deus could have declared war on the Gulf. That could be very good for the Gulf.

    Kumbaya, my Lord! Kumbaya!!!!

    This is what happens when liberals, clueless college profs, people with multiple PhD’s in theology, economists of the income-redistribution-is-everything school, community agitators, ex-weather underground terrorists, etc. take over everything. Some dad-gummed fact that adults have lived with since God created us jumps out and bites them in the @$$.

    And, he fired that other gen’l. and put in snake-eater McKrystal as OIC of Afghanistan ‘war.’ Go long on the Taliban. Short US health care and the Gulf.

    It’s okay! They can always blame Bush.

  • I imagine the argument would be that while you may not see librarians and library assistants as distinct goods, those hiring them do see them as such. I’m not sure of the extent economics has seen every man as a potential supplier of goods. I’m well familiar with licensing being a bugaboo for a while.

    Does it render the supply of providers smaller than it would otherwise be? If so (and there would not be much point to licensure if it did not) then it restricts supply and affects price.

    This is of course dependent on what you want to consider supply. For example, I can supply oil changes to your car, but I haven’t increased the supply of car mechanics. Most folks outside economics see licensing as a way of legally certifying duties and providing a means of redress when incompetence occurs. Not only does a plumber who consistently allows sewer gases to enter a home get sanctioned civilly, he can be sanctioned by license loss and prevented from harming other households.

  • I’m not sure of the extent economics has seen every man as a potential supplier of goods.

    I take that back. In Econ 101, there are assumed to be no frictional costs to transitioning.

  • I’m not sure I see the analogy to the ACT. Aside from the fact that you don’t have to take the ACT to get into college, simply taking the ACT doesn’t mean you’ll get into college, whereas getting a license does mean you can work in the given field.

  • perhaps its not the licensing per se, but the entrance costs to the chosen field that does the limiting. The licensing portion, after all, is the least costly of it, unless you include the capital requirements (college and grad school) that go into getting that license. Dropping the licensing requirement for doctors would not likely reduce costs much, since it would still be prohibitively expensive for most to become.

    I suppose you may have several tiers of “doctors”, those that deal with more complicated ailments and conditions, and those treating run of the mill stuff (maybe for $30 you’d be willing to go to someone with a bachelor’s in biology if you had a headache, but willing to pay $8,000 to an M.D. for a C-section).

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Is Collective Punishment Always Wrong?

Monday, June 14, AD 2010

As readers of this blog are probably aware, I am not a fan of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. I find the blockade to be morally unjustifiable and ultimately not in the interests of Israel’s security. Yet I do wonder about some of the moral claims made in the course of the controversy.

For example, a recent Vox Nova post by contributor Morning’s Minion contains the following aside:

Remember, collective punishment is absolutely forbidden under the moral law.

Morning’s Minion, of course, is hardly the only one to make this point, and at first blush it seems fairly sensible and obvious. It’s easy to see why punishing one person for the crimes of another, which is what collective punishment seems to consist in, would be morally objectionable, and one might readily conclude that, just as a straightforward application of moral logic, collective punishment is always and everywhere morally wrong.

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  • Considering the fact that our entire faith is based on the concept of collective guilt (Original Sin) and collective punishment (death) combined with collective redemption (achieved by Christ), it would be kind of difficult to argue that collective punishment is always and everywhere inherently evil.

    Also, weren’t all of ancient Israel’s military defeats and even the Bablylonian exile itself presented in Scripture as a collective punishment for the sins of the nation — meaning in effect, the sins of the king, since such punishment always turned on whether or not the king was faithful to the Lord or not, regardless of what the rest of the nation did.

    To top it all off, didn’t Our Lady of Fatima state that World War II (referred to as “another and greater war” because it hadn’t happened yet), and in fact ALL wars, were a collective punishment for sin? I realize that is private revelation and not part of the deposit of faith, but it is not contrary to the faith to accept this.

    I suppose one could argue that collective punishment is something that ought to be reserved to God alone and for human beings to attempt it is a form or presumption or pride.

  • Popes used to place entire nations or regions of nations under the interdict for reasons that they deemed sufficient.

    Jesus makes several references to collective punishment in the New Testament:

    “Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida: for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes.”

    “Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.”

  • The analogy to detention was helpful. Maybe the distinction is the nature of the punishment? If a murderer can be one of two people, the other being entirely innocent, we can justly detain them both but we can’t justly imprison both of them. Maybe collectively punishing a people by denying them the means of survival is always wrong.

  • It also prompts the question: Who is punishing the Gazan Palestinians? I have read (admittedly, not witnessed) that large amounts of supplies are shipped from Israel, and markets in Gaza have plenty of goods. Even the media claim that the Israelis did not allow chocolate to cross the border was apparently false.

    On the other hand, Hamas is running a totalitarian religious terror state. And yet, Hamas won the elections to achieve power, and still enjoy considerable popularity there.

    So, is this ‘punishment’ and are the recipients really so far removed from responsibility?

  • Whether or not collective punishment is right or wrong is irrelevant to this issue – the Israelis aren’t punishing anyone, collectively or otherwise. Hamas and Israel are in a state of war and Israel is carrying out a legitimate war measure – blockade. In point of fact, Israel’s blockade is softer and more merciful than the Union blockade of the South in the Civil War or the British blockade of Germany in the World Wars. Essentially, those earlier blockades were of everything – not just weapons of war, but of anything which could conceivably help the other side. Merely allowing something as simple as bread to come through puts Israel on a higher moral plane, blockade-wise, than us.

    Collective punishment would be to, say, area bomb a section of Gaza from which rockets are fired – unless something like that happens, Israel is not in the business of punishing, at all.

    Mark Noonan

  • Not sure if MM is a theologian.

    When I (torture myself) read the male-of-the-bovine-species-feces they spew over at vn, the following thought rolls through my alleged mind: “Theology is making up stuff about God to advance some secular humanist agenda item.”

  • First of all, Chuck Schumer’s comment is disgusting.

    Having said this, I hasten to add that it is irrelevant, and the attempt, which Morning’s Minion so egregiously makes, to color the Israeli security action with the moral squalor of a US Senator, would be outrageous if it were not comic in its transparent absurdity.

    LD

  • I think Schumer is wrong but his rationale is not any different from the rationale for the embargo on Cuba.

  • Oh, and to answer your question: sic et non.

    Yes, it seems that there is no positively constituted human authority capable of justly meting out punishment collectively, i.e., upon a group constituted not by each member’s peccaminous and/or criminal participation in a given act or series of acts (or policies), but by some other criterion.

    His scriptis, a blockade is not properly an act of punishment. The point is: most acts that would bring suffering upon a group or population, generally, are not punitive acts, properly speaking. They might be discutble and even condemnable under other areas of the moral law, but not under the prohibition against “collective punishment”.

    LD

  • Obviously, I am speaking of positively constituted judiciary authority.

    The squad leader who confines all his men to base because of one man’s transgression is another matter.

    LD

  • Lazy Disciple, I would imagine that a blockade that denies the population of necessities for survival would be punishment, no?

  • restrainedradical:
    I suspect the purpose of the blockade is prophylactic not penitential. While I do not claim that this distinction resolves all moral questions, I do speculate that evaluating these questions by using a “morality of punishment” analysis probably muddies the waters.

  • Why is this not being more widely reported? Because it disrupts the narrative?

  • The difficulty with Minion’s principle stated in those terms is that any penalty has knock-on effects on the persons proximate to those punished, because life is lived socially, and can thus be conceived of as ‘collective punishment’.

  • First of all, Chuck Schumer’s comment is disgusting.

    Schumer’s comments are in keeping with comments Israeli officials have made about the purpose of the blockade. So if you find them disgusting….

  • I believe collective punishment is always wrong. In the schoolchild case, we are talking about a mere peccadillo. But it still violates the principle of justice, and even children know that (I rememember vivly how unfair I felt these little “collective punishments” as a child).

    But the matter of hand is not a mere peccadillo. It is a war crime. It is a systemic deprival of 1.5 million people of their basic rights – to food, shelter, employment, healthcare.

    Let us not forget what is happening in Gaza:

    (1) Severe food shortages. Chronic malnutrition at 10 percent. Over 60 percent of households are food insecure. 80 percent depend on humanitarian aid.

    (2) Serious water shortages. Israel refuses to allow the sewage system be repaired, so that 95 percent of drinking water is contaminated and unfit for consumption.

    (3) Industry decimated. 98 percent of industrial operations have shut down. Exports practically banned. Unemployment at 42 percent. Fishing catch down 47 percent.

    (4) Severe electricity shortages, as Israel refused to allow the reconstruction of Gaza’s only power plant after bombing it (from 140 to 80 megawatts in 2006, 60 megawatts in 2009, 30 megawatts in 2010). Most have power cuts from 8-12 hours a day.

    (5) Healthcare in crisis. 15 of 27 hospitals, 43 of 110 of primary care facilities, and 29 of its 148 ambulances were damaged or destroyed, and not rebuilt of replaced. 21 percent of permits to leave for emergency medical treatment were denied or delayed, sometimes resulting in death.

  • Gee, perhaps if the Palestinians weren’t so devoted to the murder of Jews they’d have the resources to farm (remember those greenhouses they destroyed when Israel left Gaza?), repair their sewer, engage in productive industry instead of suicide bomb-making, etc.

    I’m not really feeling sympathetic to a society whose entire existence revolves around murdering Jews.

  • Oh, and I agree with T.Shaw. It’s stupid to take seriously anything the VN sophists say. Their entire agenda is liberalism. Catholicism for them is a means to an end.

  • Yes, but it would be nice if MM really did believe all that tripe about the Palestinians. Then one of us could sell him the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • “Remember, collective punishment is absolutely forbidden under the moral law.”

    Later,

    “I believe collective punishment is always wrong.”

    The claim has lessened. I also find this curious givne the concept of Original Sin, the punishment of nations, etc.

    Seems to me that if we are to act in solidarity (as MM and other VN contributors would suggest with things such as the health care bill) then it is also possible that we can be punished collectively as a society. Indeed the claim that we cannot be punished as a group smacks of the individualism that MM and others on VN continue to reject out of hand.

    Thoughts?

  • I don’t think original sin counts as collective punishment in Catholic theology (which is to say that it is something inherited rather than imputed).

    The issue of the judgment of nations is trickier, but I think we should always be cautious in trying to apply examples from the Old Testament outside their historical context.

  • So what is the “historical context” of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? Abraham tries to strike a bargain with the Lord and keeps lowering the bar. God agrees at every point, but trashes the joint anyway.

    But I guess God wouldn’t do that nowadays because He has decided that gays aren’t that bad.

    I’m not claiming this is the way to look at things, just throwing some stuff at the wall and seeing if it sticks. Get out the heresy meter if you want.

  • It is always wrong to punish an innocent person. God does not punish the innocent – to claim otherwise is the embrace the very voluntarism that the pope condemned in his infamous Regensburg address. It will not do to read the OT as a fundamentalist.

  • So what is the “historical context” of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah?

    God said He would spare the entire city if there were ten innocent people there. It turned out that there were only 4-6 innocent people in the city, so He destroyed it after telling the six to leave. It hardly seems a good example of collective punishment in action (do you really think that in all of Gaza you couldn’t find ten people who hate Hamas?)

  • “I don’t think original sin counts as collective punishment in Catholic theology (which is to say that it is something inherited rather than imputed). ”

    Fair enough.

    “It is always wrong to punish an innocent person.”

    MM, that’s the point. Can we be punished collectively for the sins of a nation? As we can do good as a society we do evil as well. As such I see no logical reason why we cannot be punished as a nation for the sin of abortion, for example.

    It seems to me that if we are to maintain that we are tied to a society and therefore are responsible for doing good we can in turn be punished for doing evil as a society, even if as an individual might hold opinions contrary to the society’s. We cannot be wholly innocent of a society’s sins if we are also responsible for that society’s well being, right? The society is an aspect of who we are.

  • If I were Lot I might feel a little punished to have my wife whacked on the way out. Of course I might feel a little to blame as well. I mean, if he was like me he was probably always saying “Honey did you turn off the teakettle?”

    (BTW, I’m not thinking about the Hamas/Gaza thing. It’s too obvious to even discuss seriously.)

  • I assume the first born of Egypt, slain in the final plague on Egypt before the Hebrews were liberated, are following this discussion in the next life and saying, “Now they tell us!” Unless the Old Testament in many passages is going to be rendered devoid of the meaning that is obviously meant to be conveyed, I do not see how any Christian can argue with a straight face that God is opposed to collective punishment when it suits His purposes. The Faith is useless indeed if we simply invent away hard passages in Scripture which do not comport with modern concepts of morality.

  • I don’t care to make a point about collective punishment, per se, but rather I post this in response to MM’s comment about God not punishing the innocent and about reading OT scripture like a “fundamentalist”.

    What does it mean to be admonished not to “read the Old Testament as a fundamentalist”? I generally see such terminology used whenever there is something in OT scripture that makes certain people uncomfortable because it is at odds with their particular world view.

    Is it meant in the sense that we are not to read ANYTHING in the OT historically? That the OT isn’t to have any practical applicability to our own lives and circumstances?

    Let’s take, for example, the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to Assyria in 722 B.C. and the fall and ensuing captivity of the Southern Kingdom of Judah to Babylon in 587 B.C. These are ACTUAL historical events for which the divinely inspired word of God makes some specific claims: namely, that the people of those two kingdoms were being punished – collectively – for falling away from God.

    Was EVERYONE who was affected by this punishment “guilty”? Was Jeremiah guilty? Did Jeremiah suffer, along with the rest of the people of Judah, the loss of his homeland and the Temple where his people had worshipped? See, e.g., Lamentations.

  • It is a war crime. It is a systemic deprival of 1.5 million people of their basic rights

    The bulk of those 1.5 million and all of the political leadership prefer the current situation to feasible alternatives, because the feasible alternatives require they give up something they value that most folk would not. Their claim on anyone’s sympathy is exceedingly limited.

  • The bulk of those 1.5 million and all of the political leadership prefer the current situation to feasible alternatives

    The bulk of the 1.5 million are children.

  • Jay,

    I don’t the point is that you cannot read the OT historically as if everything is merely metaphorical and/or allegorical.

    For example, the Psalmist often prays for not simply deliverance from his enemies, not even just the death of his enemies, but at times, he prays for their utter annihilation and eternal damnation. But we are instructed in the Gospel to love and pray for our enemies.

    The Old Testament permits divorce, but Jesus instructs the Jews that the ordinance given to them was because of the hardness of their heart — and had they understood the true spirit of the law, they would not have reached the conclusion they had.

    I think “Dei Verbum” assists in this endeavor because it illuminates the question of inspiration — and how something inspired to be included in the Sacred Text need not be taken as “dogmatic,” if read in a literal (at-face-value) manner (e.g. read Sirach and the Sacred Author’s theological treatment of women).

    So I think I share your fundamental concern and I’m not sure we disagree.

    But MM’s point about a fundamentalist reading of the OT being problematic is obviously correct — though I’m not sure who was being a fundamentalist (I didn’t thoroughly read throught the comments). A literal reading of the Psalms could lead one to believe that it is morally acceptable to bash the heads of your enemy’s infants against rocks — or in the words of the Psalmist, “blessed” is he who does these things (cf. Psalm 137).

    There are other instances where certain OT realities seem to clash to a degree with the Gospels and/or the paradigm of moral theology, particularly natural law thinking, promulgated in the Church.

    Obviously none of this means the Old Testament is to be ignored or subordinated to the New Testament. It is a question of biblical hermeneutics and the proper methodology of reading and interpreting the Sacred Text particularly given the varying historical circumstances of each text as well as the fact that each a number of the books are different genres, e.g. letters, apocalyptic texts, gospels, etc.

  • Also see Sirach 25 — the Fall is blamed entirely on women. In patristics, it always “fault of Adam” — as St. Augustine so popularly termed it — when the subject of original sin occurs. So again there is a question of biblical hermeneutics.

  • The bulk of the 1.5 million are children.

    Yeah, you’ll get that when you allow multiple wives.

  • The bulk of the 1.5 million are children.

    The median age in the Gaza Strip is 17.5 years, so, no.

    And the primary responsibility for their welfare does not lie with the Israel Defense Force.

  • In regards to the Babylonian Captivity, I could see arguing that when the Bible talks about it being because of Israel’s sins, it doesn’t necessarily mean that because of their idol worshiping God specifically “helped” the Babylonians in some way, or that God would in some definite way not have allowed the Babylonians to conquers Israel if they had been more faithful to some specific degree. Scripture could be describing the Captivity as an opportunity for Israel to expiate its sins, without asserting a direct cause and effect relationship.

    However, this strikes me as pretty clearly going against how both the authors and most of those within the Church have interpreted such passages them through history. My personal tendency is to take such expressions as metaphorical in the context of my life, but that doesn’t mean I’m right and it certainly doesn’t mean one can simply assume that because one tends not to see misfortunes as being “punishments” from God, that therefore one may discount anything in scripture which runs contrary to one’s preference.

    I have to agree with Blackadder’s basic point: there are situations in which collective punishment is not unjust, I don’t think that we can assert that it is “always wrong”. (And I say this while agreeing that the blockade is not right in its current form.)

    If I can make a suggestion with tongue only slightly in cheek — it strikes me that an absolute assertion that no form of collective punishment is ever justified can only spring from a form of radical individualism, whereby we refuse to admit the possibility that a group as a whole may share in guilt, or indeed that communities or countries in fact exist.

    I could certainly see that many severe sorts of punishment are always unjust if applied collectively, and I would have no problem with the claim that the practice of punishing randomly selected people (along the lines of: turn over the guerrillas or we’ll execute ten randomly chosen people from the village) is always wrong, but I don’t see that one could claim that an example such as the school example is unjust, in part because it’s a situation where everyone by action or inaction shares a degree of culpability.

  • You raise a good point DC, albeit indirectly. In the Old Testament, it is evident that the Israelites believed that misfortunes were a “punishment” for sin. If something bad happened to you, it was because God was punishing you for it. But in the New Testament, Jesus makes it clear that this is not the case. The story of the blind man in the Gospel of John comes to mind — where the Pharisees are sure his blindness is the result of his own personal sinfulness.

  • Good point.

    To refine slighter further: From the gospels we get the feeling that at least some Jews in the time of Jesus believed that basically all misfortunes were the result of some kind of sin. Jesus clearly rejects that. (The blind man, the fallen tower, etc.) Arguably, this was off base from the OT view anyway, since in Job we have someone who suffered great misfortune which was not the result of any sin.

    However, I think that that many of us now (and I’d count myself here) tend to go to the other extreme and assume that misfortunes are never punishment sin, that “bad things just happen”, and I’m not clear that this is necessarily what Jesus is saying. So far as I can tell, it could be that some misfortunes are not the result of sin, but others are. Or it could be that they are the result of sin in one sense, but not in other senses.

    No matter how well it comports with my prefered way of viewing the world, I guess I’m hesitant to rule out the idea that some misfortunes may in fact be punishments from God (especially in some cases in the OT where the prophets say outright that they are), though I’m certainly skeptical enough that I wouldn’t necessarily believe anyone who claimed that any particular misfortune was punishment for any particular sin.

  • what i continue not to understand is that Israel will allow the ships in thier port so they can make sure the supplies are those intended to aiid the people but want to ascertain there are no arms or counterbrand and guarantee the delivery of the goods into Gaza. why does this not seem reasonable, erspecially when arms are intended to contiune the confict.

  • afl,

    The blockade isn’t limited to arms.

  • Good points, Darwin and Eric.

    I guess my take on it is that either Jeremiah was truly a prophet of the Lord, delivering God’s message that misfortune was about to fall upon Judah for their sins, or he was the equivalent of an OT Pat Robertson, blaming completely unrelated misfortunes on the collective sin of the nation. I’m not sure if this makes my reading of the OT “fundamentalist” or not, but I choose to believe the former.

    If it’s the latter, then I suppose we can pay about as much attention to the book of Jeremiah as we pay to The 700 Club.

    😉

  • Or maybe it’s the fact that I put it in terms of that either/or without leaving room for a more “nuanced” reading that marks me as a “fundamentalist”.

    😉

  • Morning’s Minion,

    So, a blockade is collective punishment and health care is a right? How so? Seems to me that a blockade is just that – and if you can come up with a logical argument which determines that someone who voluntarily enters the medical profession becomes encumbered with an absolute obligation to treat people, then I’d like to hear it.

    Mark Noonan

  • When the Gazans, the West Bankers, the Lebonese, or the Egyptians for that matter, begin the process of demonstrating an intolerance for those who smuggle weapons (large and small) into their territories for the purpose of releasing them toward or in Israel, with the hoped for civilian casualties, I may take seriously any discussions about Israeli “punishment”, collective or otherwise, of the willing subjects of the Hamas regime.
    Until then, a day that will not occur while the fires burn in hell, all of the hand-wringing over the plight of these willful unlawful combatants makes me nauseous.

  • Modern criminal law does not recognize collective punishment. Only those found guilty as individuals are punished under modern criminal law. No State openly claims the right to inflict collective punishment. The reason is that such form of punishment is considered contrary to human rights and humanitarian law.

    Yet, feelings sometimes tend to blur our vision. We may sometimes feel that entire groups or societies should be rightfully punished, or coerced, in order to bring about more justice. One particular case in point is the State of Israel, in which the public willingly supports policies generally regarded as war crimes. By inflicting hardship on such a public, so goes the reasoning, that public would perhaps refrain from supporting politicians who pursue such criminal policies. The theory bases on the premise that the Israeli public enjoys democratic rights and can, without incurring hardship, remove their government by peaceful, electoral means.

    The policy of collective punishment would thus be applicable particularly against democratic societies, because a democratic government truly represents the will of its citizens (or at least the majority of the citizens).

    The question arises therefore, whether collective punishment should be allowed where the targeted victims possess real and viable choices and are not enduring duress or danger by opposing certain policies. A further question will have to be answered: Who would be in a position to assess the degree of freedom by the targeted victims of collective punishment? And why should those individuals within the targeted collective who strive to oppose the criminal acts of their government and even incur risks in doing so, be equally punished?

    The answer to the above conundrum would seem to be that punishment or coercion should be targeted against specific individuals or institutions who refuse to oppose criminal policies.

Israel to Loosen Gaza Blockaid

Wednesday, June 9, AD 2010

Palestinian official Raed Fattouh, who coordinates the flow of goods into Gaza with Israel, said soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy were now permitted. He said Israel rebuffed Palestinian requests for construction goods, raw materials for factories to operate and medical devices.

Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal policymaking, said their goal in allowing more goods into Gaza was to defuse pressure for an international investigation of the sea raid.

More.  Since the blockaid is essential to Israel’s security and right to defend itself, one can only assume that the country will now cease to exist.

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0 Responses to Israel to Loosen Gaza Blockaid

  • Since the blockaid is essential to Israel’s security and right to defend itself, one can only assume that the country will now cease to exist.

    Heh.

  • Since the blockaid is essential to Israel’s security and right to defend itself, one can only assume that the country will now cease to exist.

    Ummm, but the blockade still is in place – they’ve only decided to loosen some of the restrictions – something you were whining about last week.

  • I also am not sure that many said the blockade was essential to Israel’s existence, only that it was a reasonable course of action to take in order for the country to protect itself.

  • I take the argument to be that given Israel’s decision to loosen the blockade either:

    a) The blockade was in fact, as claimed, more daconian than it needed to be in order to effect Israeli security or

    b) Israeli security is now going to be seriously compromised.

    It seems hard to claim b), so that leaves us with a).

  • I apologize in advance.

    Is Egypt also blockading Gaza?

    Since soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy could not be delivered from Egypt via two roads running into Rafah, running the blockaid(sic) was essential to Gaza’s survival and its right to launch rockets into Israel . . . that Gaza of the terrorists, by the terrorists, and for the terrorists shall not perish from the Earth.

  • Is Egypt also blockading Gaza?

    Not anymore.

  • Then none of this should be a problem any more.

  • It is of course as predictable as night follows day that Hamas will hail this as a great victory and intensify their war against Israel. Israel will then respond by toughening the blockade once again. That is assuming the story is not complete hooey. As for Egypt, I will hold to my prediction that their land border will be sealed with Gaza again by the end of the month.

  • The loosening of the blockade means that the land based crossings into Gaza will be operating more hours per day than before.

    Those crossings are regularly attacked by Hamas. So IDF soldiers will be risking their lives, for more hours, to ensure the long suffering citizens of Gaza can have raspberry jam and coriander.

    The blockade itself,however, is still in place. And Israel has every right to keep it in place.

  • In the mean time, perhaps the commenters here can tell us how they feel about the Reverend Archbishop Capucci, who was on the boat? This is a man who committed repeated acts of perfidy in smuggling arms to the PLO, and since those arms were used to murder civilians, he is an accomplice to multiple murders.

    This, His Eminence openly acknowledges, and has never repented.

    And yet, he deems himself in a state of grace, takes communion, and has never suffered any action against him by the Holy See.

    Pardon us Tribals if we continue to view Rome with suspicion on account of this.

  • Someone, please, correct all uses of “blockaid” to “blockade.”

  • Given some of the items on the list, I’m not certain correction is needed.

    Not that I would be completely against a blockade of items reasonably calculated to assist in terrorist acts, but potato chips and shaving cream? (although shaving cream is a bit puzzling, I thought Muslims didn’t shave?)

  • Every additional truck going into Gaza is another few minutes of an IDF border crossing guard putting himself in the line of fire. Ask yourself, C. Matt, would you put yourself at risk of Hamas sniper fire just so your enemy can have a clean shave? Those goods are not delivered under a flag of truce, you know.

  • Remember the warsaw ghettos now its the gaza ghettos.Divide and conquer!

0 Responses to If You Heard Palestinians Playing the Violin, You'd Understand

  • It sure seems like the Israelis allow the basic life necessities to enter into the Gaza Strip.

    I don’t think that either a donkey or a violin is a necessity for living.

  • I imagine it is some Israeli Min of Finance bureaucrat’s idea of promoting self-reliance among the Gazans. Hay, fertiliser and animal feed for the local industry. Pepper, rice and chickpeas don’t grow well in the dry Mediterranean climate. No metals though for improvised weapons. Little here that an agrarian can find fault with.

  • Ivan

    What? They are not given the materials (like lumbar) nor the resources (like hatcheries) to actually be agrarian, to be self-reliant. Look what is forbidden. They are not being given what is needed to be anything but indebted to aid.

  • I don’t think that either a donkey or a violin is a necessity for living.

    Neither is prohibiting them necessary for Israel’s security.

  • Ah, but now the Gazans can import whatever they want from Egypt, until the Egyptians slam the border shut again which I predict they will do before the end of June. The Israelis are not the only state to have a great many problems with the Gazans and their Hamas government.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007%E2%80%932010_blockade_of_the_Gaza_Strip

  • Donald,

    I keep hearing people make this point, but I’m not sure what to make of it. Is the idea that if Egypt does something it can’t be bad?

  • The idea BA is that Hamas is a noxious terrorist group that is abhorred by not only Israel, but Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. You can also toss into that mix Jordan. The main backer of Hamas is Iran with Damascus having an on again-off again relationship. The problem in this case isn’t Israel or the blockade, but that the people of Gaza chose to have their state led by a gang of terrorists. Political decisions have consequences and the people of Gaza are reaping what their ballots sowed.

  • Anyone who follows the Vatican knows the Pope’s stand here.

    He has been against the blockade: http://presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=94604

    http://sify.com/news/pope-condemns-israeli-raid-on-gaza-aid-ships-news-international-kgcvuffdeij.html his reaction has been that of those some people call “liberal.” Funny that.

  • The idea BA is that Hamas is a noxious terrorist group that is abhorred by not only Israel, but Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.

    And by me. But what does that have to do with whether Israel allows fresh meat to be imported into the Gaza Strip?

  • Everything BA. Israel will maintain the blockade as will Egypt until Hamas is no longer in power. The Gazans have it within their power to correct this situation, a power I am certain they will not exercise. In regard to fresh meat as opposed to packaged meat, I assume the distinction has to do with the smuggling of arms and ammunition. When one state has chosen to be in a state of war with another state, a choice the Gazans manifestly made when they picked Hamas, they have to put up with a lot when they end up losing the war.

  • In regard to fresh meat as opposed to packaged meat, I assume the distinction has to do with the smuggling of arms and ammunition.

    Thanks, Donald, I needed a laugh.

  • So BA, you simply assume that the Israelis are being irrational and doing it for the hell of it? Smuggling arms and ammunition would be far easier in meat carcasses than in pre-packaged frozen meat. Thank you for the returned amusement. Libertarian ideals and the real world so often have such a poor fit, such as your obvious belief that the solution to the Gaza problem is trade.

  • Awe come on. You know how “creative” terrorists are these days. If a person can hide drugs within their own self, then terrorists could probably figure out a way to use an animal and sneak in a donkey bomber (sarcasm).

  • So BA, you simply assume that the Israelis are being irrational and doing it for the hell of it?

    The restrictions are irrational if the goal is to stop arms from coming into Gaza. They aren’t irrational if the goal is simply to punish Palestinians for electing Hamas (some of the restrictions also appear to be based on a protectionist motive). Since punishing Gaza residents is one of the explicit aims of the blockaid, trying to figure out how nutmug poses a security threat while cinnamon does not is a fool’s game.

  • Megan McArdle had a good post on this on Tuesday:

    “Many of my commenters seem to think that the point of the Gaza blockade is simply to keep war materiel from reaching insurgents in Gaza. That is not the reason for the Gaza blockade, though it may be one goal. But the strategy is much farther reaching than that: it is to topple Hamas by immiserating the people who elected them. […]

    “I know that terrorists can be fiendishly clever, but there is no real evidence, only unconfirmed rumors among the intel community, that Hamas actually has the Coriander Bomb. Most experts put them at least 5-8 years away from developing that sort of destructive technology. […]

    “But whether or not you agree with the policy, this was not particularly about keeping Hamas or other groups from getting weapons–the “weapons cache” found aboard consisted of knives, slingshots, and wooden batons, which pose no threat to Israeli civilians even if they make it to Gaza. This was about control.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/06/what-is-israels-blockade-for/57574/

  • Considering how the number of terrorist incidents against Israel have plunged, I’d say that the blockade from an Israeli standpoint is quite rational and working swimmingly. The blockade is a problem for the Gazans and not for the Israelis, unless one takes seriously world public opinion which the Israelis are rational enough not to.

  • I can certainly imagine that one of the pleasant side-effects of having a complex and nonsensical list of banned items for the blockade is that enforcing those restrictions involves the Israeli’s inspecting enough of what goes in and out that they end up being pretty effective in blocking weapons as well. However, there are a couple obvious points here:

    1) If Israel enforced a blockade that really did ban only weapons, it would he harder for people to work up international sympathy about the cruelty of it all. There’s a certain amount of international opinion (out of Europe and some parts of the American left) which is always going to be dead-set against Israel, but they’ve also always recognized that a certain amount of international support is necessary to their survival in a region which would much rather see them exterminated.

    2) Enforcing a blockade (as opposed to an embargo, such as the US embargo of Cuba) means you have to be prepared to sink or board any ships which are attempting to run the blockade. Against the determined opponent, this will mean killing a lot of people. I think that raises a legitimate moral question as to whether it’s acceptable to kill a large number of people in support of crippling Gaza’s economy in order to put pressure on the Gazans to replace their government. Surely, having the Gazans replace their government would be a good thing. But killing a number of people in support of such an indirect means (We had to sink their ship to keep our coriander and musical instruments so they’d get rid of their government!) of achieving that objective seems morally problematic. If it’s really worth killing a number of people over, the traditional way of getting rid of a government is via invasion and occupation. (Though in this case, the Israeli’s have tried that as well and it didn’t work out well.)

    It would arguably be more moral and just as effective to embargo (rather than blockade) Gaza, clear a dimilitarized zone around it, point artillery at it, and be very clear that if they manage to kill Israelis with their cross border attacks, they’ll be hit back hard.

  • Considering how the number of terrorist incidents against Israel have plunged, I’d say that the blockade from an Israeli standpoint is quite rational and working swimmingly.

    Actually this plunge occurred before the blockaid, as can be seen by this data compiled by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • I think that raises a legitimate moral question as to whether it’s acceptable to kill a large number of people in support of crippling Gaza’s economy in order to put pressure on the Gazans to replace their government.

    There’s also the question of whether making Palestinians suffer is actually an effective means of making them turn against Hamas. From what I know of human nature, I would say not.

  • The Chart you reference BA includes the West Bank and the Second Intifada. Rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza plunged from 2,048 in 2008 to 566 in 2009, only 160 of which were fired after the Gaza War. The Gaza War caused Hamas to shoot off most of its rockets and the blockade have prevented them from doing much to replenish their supply.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Palestinian_rocket_attacks_on_Israel,_2009

  • But the blockade also includes things that have *nothing* to do with munitions, Donald.

    I can understand trying to keep explosives and their ingredients away from Hamas.

    I can’t understand trying to keep dried bananas and ginger away from the people in Gaza.

  • Rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza plunged from 2,048 in 2008 to 566 in 2009, only 160 of which were fired after the Gaza War.

    I don’t know why people keep citing statistics comparing 2008 to 2009 when the blockaid started in early 2007. The number of rocket attacks increased significantly after the blockaid was imposed, and the plunge of which you speak happened after the Gaza war. So clearly it was a blockaid and not the war that caused the decline.

  • “The number of rocket attacks increased significantly after the blockaid was imposed, and the plunge of which you speak happened after the Gaza war. So clearly it was a blockaid and not the war that caused the decline.”

    It is both the war BA and the blockaid that has caused the decline. In the war Hamas depleted their arsenal of missles and the blockaid has prevented Hamas from replenishing their missles to the same extent pre-blockaid. Without the blockaid rest assured that Hamas would be rapidly replenishing their missles for another round of lets-see-if-we-can-provoke-the-Israelis-into-flattening-us-again.

  • Some parts of the “concentration camp” are not doing so poorly though.

    http://www.bivouac-id.com/2009/12/06/attention-photos-insoutenables-gaza-affamee/

  • Thanks for that link, Phillip. Yeah, it looks just like Buchenwald there. I didn’t spot coriander amongst the foodstuffs piled high. That proves the Israelis are terrible, terrible oppressors.

    The list of “forbidden items” unwittingly shows how truly petty the complaints of the Israel-haters are. People who had the misfortune to live under Japanese or Nazi rule in 1943 would have been thrilled if the only thing they had to worry about was a ban on spices and violins.

    Why is it that when it comes to Israel, otherwise sensible people completely lose all sense of proportion? What is it about that potato-chip sized country that drives folks around the bend? They want so badly to believe that a tiny bunch of Jews who have faced an existential threat since the day their country was founded are heartless Jack-the-Rippers. Why, it seems like just yesterday I was reading breathless accounts of bodies piled to the sky in Jenin – a report that turned out to be utterly false. Now we’re supposed to feel indignant because Gaza residents can’t toss a bit of coriander in the tabbouli.

    As for violins, it seems to me what Mark Steyn calls the “world’s most comprehensively wrecked people” (wrecked not by Israelis, but by their own hatred, addiction to violence, and status as Left-wing victims par excellence) have been playing the world’s smallest one since 1948.

  • On the other hand, Donna, it seems that any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel means that the person making the critique has lost all sense of proportion and been driven around the bend.

    I’m fairly confident that BA supports the right of Israel to exist, and I know that I do. But that obviously doesn’t mean that their actions can’t be critiqued.

    In this case, the point is that this blockade is *not* simply about keeping explosives out of the hands of those who hate Israel, but rather is about squeezing the civilian population as an indirect attack on Hamas. Can we at least agree on that?

  • If we also agree Gaza isn’t a “Concentration Camp.”

  • Sure, but no one here has said that anyway, Phillip.

  • Chris, it’s true that some of the items on the list are puzzling. But in this world of manifest evils, I see the list as a mote in the eye, not a beam. I’m sorry – in a world in which news of female circumcisions, honor killings, beheadings, etc are met by our enlightened elites without a blink of an eye, while Israel gets pilloried for – coriander bans, well, all I can say is we are truly living in the Age of Stupid. If I seem knee-jerk to you, it’s because I’ve gotten awfully tired at hysterical Internet assertions (I am not saying BA is guilty of this) that the Israelis are committing “genocide” in Gaza and that they’re every bit as brutal as the Nazis. I’ve read enough about the extermination camps to know what an absurd and wicked comparison that is.

    You know, maybe I am a bit reluctant to come down hard on Israelis because I have no idea what it is like to live in a postage stamp of a country surrounded by millions of people who hate me and wish me dead and to have the question of whether my country has a right to even exist debated daily by the world and answered in the negative by most of the world. That’s quite apart from what Israelis do or don’t do. It’s not like they get any credit when they make concessions. I expect that after 60 years of constant attacks, Israelis (who are just human like the rest of us) sometimes make mistakes, just as Americans do. I’m sick of Israelis and Americans getting condemned because they don’t always live up to impossibly high standards, while our enemies are not expected to live up to any standards of humane behavior whatsoever.

  • Chris, here is another reason why I am unmoved by Gazans who have to endure life without coriander:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9331863/

    Israeli settlers in Gaza had created a booming greenhouse business, one that competed with the Dutch. And what did the Palestinians do when they took control of Gaza in 2005? Their first act was to strip and smash those greenhouses, to utterly destroy that thriving business. And now we’re supposed to feel pity because they don’t have spices? Well, gee, maybe if they hadn’t trashed the greenhouse business they wouldn’t have to worry about lack of nutmeg or coriander.

    That’s the thing that maddens me. The Palestinians destroy. They destroy innocent people at Seder dinners and on buses and discos, they destroy Israeli homes with bombs, they destroy infrastructure, even infrastructure that can be used to their advantage. That is all they do. That seems to be all they know how to do. And why should they create, when the more they destroy, the more the world sympathizes with their troubles and takes pity on them. The Israelis create and build, make the desert bloom,develop businesses and trades – and my, how the world hates them.

  • The defense of the list is “spices aren’t a big deal.” They ignore what is the big deal.. typical.

  • You a quite correct, Chris. No one said it here. But it is a continuation of a conversation which you clearly did not read here:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/06/01/israel-vs-the-freedom-flotilla/#comments

    One even provided a link to the innane comments of the Cardinal that originated the quote.

    But its good that we can agree that such a comment is false and unconstructive in discussing the topic.

  • It’s true that a lot of criticism of Israel is overwrought. On the other hand, I think a lot of those supportive of Israel have fallen into the somewhat lazy habit of dismissing any criticism of Israel as based in Jew-hatred or as otherwise illegitimate. Israel has the complete right to defend itself, but a ban on musical instruments isn’t necessary to protect Israel’s security and in fact has the potential to seriously harm Israel’s security interests long-term.

  • It’s a hard balance to hit because of the way that we normally tend to think about contentious issues, in terms of faction. On the other side, we see this in some of the folks who come over here from other blogs and while insisting that they “abhore violence”, defend anything and everything that thugs like Hamas do because “it’s understandable given all they’ve suffered.”

    As someone who is pro-Israeli in outlook, I want to avoid making the same mistake. As such, I think it’s important to be able to criticize individual Israeli actions, without in the process being taken to support Hamas or those who tacitly support its violence.

  • Much of the world jumped to conclusions right off the bat and declared that Israel was in the wrong. I stated in my own post that I would need to wait and see as the facts unfolded and became clear, and then I would decide whether Israel was in the right or wrong in this matter. Maybe, the Israelis could have handled this situation better? But, it seems that Israel was in a no win situation here, where if the Israelis did something different and acted in a more peaceful manner there could have been many more dead, and with the situation that did occur Israelis were more prepared, and maybe they saved more lives from being killed because of taking more of a proactive role, but in the end many in the world condemned their actions.

    I think these no win situations also apply to the blockade and what items the Israelis allow to be brought into Israel. Should they allow public opinion to sway how they conduct their national security or should they do what they perceive to be best to save lives in Israel?

  • Blackadder:

    A ban on musical instruments is not going to harm Israel’s security in the short, medium, or long run.

    Darwin:

    I would agree with you with one caveat: few of us have granular knowledge of what the likely implications are of undertaking or failing to undertake certain sorts of action with regard to security. So, unless you are making a normative argument that such and such an action is inherently wrong, you generally have to be very alive to the possibility you misunderstand what is being done and why.

    Evaluating police shootings presents similar problems for the layman. There can also be key facts left out of common narratives. The arrest of Rodney King in 1992 would be relevant here. (King’s companions were unmolested by the police and a short segment of the film in question which showed King charging the officers was not broadcast).

    As for functional pacifists who busy themselves filing lawyers’ briefs for the gratuitously violent, you might consider the possibility that both poses could serve similar ends, with little to do with politics and war in the Near East. (See Political Pilgrims by Paul Hollander and Vision of the Anointed by Thomas Sowell). The reluctance of some of these characters (any I have ever talked to) to delineate for you what is their idea is of an agreeable equilibrium in the Near East is instructive.

  • “As for functional pacifists who busy themselves filing lawyers’ briefs for the gratuitously violent,”

    Thank you Art! That goes right into my little black book of memorable quotes I have stolen.

  • As such, I think it’s important to be able to criticize individual Israeli actions, without in the process being taken to support Hamas or those who tacitly support its violence.

    Fair enough and I hope you realize I do not consider either you or Blackadder to be in the pro-Hamas club. No country is above criticism. At the same time, nobody can say Israel is in danger of being under-criticized.

  • At the same time, nobody can say Israel is in danger of being under-criticized.

    Ain’t that the truth…

  • At the same time, nobody can say Israel is in danger of being under-criticized.

    DarwinCatholic said “Ain’t that the truth…”

    I second that.

  • Teresa,

    Thanks for joining in the many conversations we have here.

    Want to add a pic to your icon?

    http://en.gravatar.com/

  • There ya go!

    Your husbands next.

  • Thank you very much, Tito.

    Yes. I’ll get him to add a pic also.

  • A ban on musical instruments is not going to harm Israel’s security in the short, medium, or long run.

    I would imagine that being known as a country which is willing to kill foreign nationals in order to enforce a ban on things like musical instruments and coriander would in fact be damaging to one’s security in some term or other.

  • Certainly Israel is in no danger of being under-criticized, although various individuals may be in danger of either under-criticizing or over-criticizing.

The Nuclear Option

Thursday, June 3, AD 2010

It was September of 1966, and gas was gushing uncontrollably from the wells in the Bukhara province of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. But the Reds, at the height of their industrial might, had a novel solution. They drilled nearly four miles into the sand and rock of the Kyzyl Kum Desert, and lowered a 30-kiloton nuclear warhead — more than half-again as large as “Little Boy,” the crude uranium bomb dropped over Hiroshima — to the depths beneath the wellhead. With the pull of a lever, a fistful of plutonium was introduced to itself under enormous pressure, setting off the chain reaction that starts with E = MC2 and ends in Kaboom! The ensuing blast collapsed the drill channel in on itself, sealing off the well.

The Soviets repeated the trick four times between 1966 and 1979, using payloads as large as 60 kilotons to choke hydrocarbon leaks. Now, as the Obama administration stares into the abyss of the Deepwater Horizon spill, and a slicker of sweet, medium crude blankets the Gulf of Mexico, slouching its way toward American beaches and wetlands, Russia’s newspaper of record is calling on the president to consider this literal “nuclear option.”

As well he should. It’s a little less crazy than it sounds. The simple fact is that the leak has confounded all conventional efforts to quell it, forcing British Petroleum and its federal overseers to resort to a series of untested, increasingly unwieldy, and heretofore unsuccessful backup plans as the American people’s impatience and rage grow at geometric rates. In the madness that is Deepwater Horizon, The Bomb may be the sanest choice.

More.

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0 Responses to The Nuclear Option

  • Maybe it would work, but my initial reaction is that I’d rather the oil than a nuclear explosion that close to the city of New Orleans. Maybe it can be done with radiation damage, but count me skeptical.

  • Apparently it worked well enough for the Russians, but it’s never been done underwater. Then again, BP keeps backing up the “when we’ll have it sealed” promise. We may have no choice to prevent an unimaginable catastrophe.

  • A big question is what it will do, not on the nature of radiation, but the potential to actually damage the floor more.

  • I assume that means loss of the well and any chance of recovery of the oil. These other options seem to leave opent the possibility of some recovery (which can then be used to offset the costs of cleanup). After so much invested, I am sure BP wants to try to salvage what it can for as long as it can, before going nuclear.

    As bad as this is, in the grand scheme of things drilling in the Gulf has been pretty successful – its been going on for so many years, thousands of wells, and I have only heard of this and one other incident of these proportions.

  • All we need now is a nice big hurricane to suck up all the oily water and dump it inland.

  • Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

    (1) With a hydraulic force pushing out 5k+ barrels a day, how do you expect to get a bomb down the well bore?
    (2) If you could over come that force, why not just set a bridge plug in it?
    (3) Assuming you do bomb it, how can they provide zonal isolation to ensure it won’t make the problem worse.

    Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

  • It’s a little early to resort to the nuclear option. After all, movie producer James Cameron has only been on the case a week or so.

  • Well said, RL. I’m a little reluctant to take advice on capping oil wells from op ed writers.

  • I agree that the use of the nuclear option is way too early, but part of me would love reading the headline:

    OBAMA DROPS THE BIG ONE!

  • They can plug the leak with 300 liberal congresspersons.

    No.

    Obama’s intention is to destroy the evil, racist Gulf Coast. He cannot possibly be this incompetent.

Political Correctness Trumps Expertise in Gulf Oil Spill Response

Tuesday, June 1, AD 2010

During his press statement last week, President Obama said that in dealing with the recent oil spill in the Gulf, he was “examining every recommendation, every idea that’s out there, and making our best judgment as to whether these are the right steps to take, based on the best experts that we know of.”

That, however, is not entirely true:

A St. Louis scientist who was among a select group picked by the Obama administration to pursue a solution to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been removed from the group because of writings on his website, the U.S. Energy Department confirmed Wednesday.

Washington University physics professor Jonathan Katz was one of five top scientists chosen by the Department of Energy and attended meetings in Houston last week.

Though considered a leading scientist, Katz’s website postings often touch on social issues. Some of those writings have stirred anger in the past and include postings defending homophobia and questioning the value of racial diversity efforts.

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0 Responses to Political Correctness Trumps Expertise in Gulf Oil Spill Response

  • Pingback: The Patriot's Flag » BP – Update Page
  • In addition to his “expertise”, he did find Jesus burial box: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Tomb_of_Jesus

    And President Obama is supposed to be “smart”.

    I have a bridge to sell you if that’s true.

  • 1/20/2009: Beginning of an Error.

    Hold them regime responsible for the misery.

  • To be fair, I did just learn that James Cameron is also an engineer. Didn’t know that, and it puts his involvement in a different light.

    But to exclude someone because he has differing opinions on unrelated topics? Well, that’s only something conservatives do, right? /sarcasm

  • Engineer is a very broad category (like doctor). You wouldn’t call in a cardiologist to do brain surgery (heck, you wouldn’t even call him in to do heart surgery, since cardiologists are not surgeons).

  • This whole situation will be extremely unforunate for the environmental life and for the economy in a number of clashing ways. This problem could have been baffled however sometimes accidents happen. These companies should be held responsible for this global catastrophe.

  • It is nearly unbelievable that this oil spill is still not taken care of. It’s been what, like 46 days now?? All i see on the tv all day long is washed up fish, and poor pelicans covered in oil.

  • The Gulf is a nightmare and the oil has been seen as far as Alabama and Florida…Obama didn’t do himself any favors by criticizing Bush’s response time to Katrina

  • This whole catastrophe with BP is out of control. The amount of spilling into the Gulf of Mexico sprung up by thousands of barrelfuls Wednesday right after an underwater robot seemingly hit the containment cap that has been getting oil from BP’s Macondo well. I question how much desolation this entire oil spill is going to cost the sea when it’s all over

  • Well finally they have a plan to cap this thing, but given their track-record so far, I’m not holding out a ton of hope for this. I was in Tampa when that tanker caught fire (I was driving over the Skyway right when it happened, saw the smoke) and the beaches are still washing up tar balls. I think it has effectively ruined the economy of southern LA, MI and AL towns. I have a ton of family there and they are really desperate.

0 Responses to Why Aren't There More Worker Co-Ops?

  • The principles of neoclassical economics are a flashpoint in some Catholic circles, where the mainstream economist is derided for his “science” and unwavering belief that economic phenomena are defined by something akin to scientific laws. But what are we to make of this:

    An increasing percentage of Mondragon employees, for example, do not have an ownership stake in the company, but work for it much as they would for an ordinary business. But while this may be a solution for a particular co-operative business, it is not really a solution for the co-operative business model so much as a gradual abandonment of it.

    The Catholic criticism of mainstream economics is fair enough — get the anthropology in the correct order before positing homo economicus, we’re told. I sympathize, but if there’s an incentive against expansion because of share dilution even at Mondragon, how do we square this apparent inevitability with the insistence that politcal economy and economic institutions are not deterministic?

    (This is a bit off topic and might make a good topic for a separate post.)

  • I don’t know that it’s necessarily that far off-topic. My issue with most discussions of economic “justice” is that they inevitably drift over toward equality of outcome at the expense of equality of opportunity. That is precisely the issue, it seems to me, with Mondragon and other worker co-ops.

    SOmeone has to set a relative value for the stuff being co-op’d. Whoever does that will be required to make value judgments as to the relative worth if various inputs to the system, and then to relate those values to outcomes. If we’re all OK with me being paid less than Blackadder because I only input potatoes while he inputs truffles (does anyone not-French really eat those things?), then we’re good. But when Blackadder becomes richer than me because his inputs are more valuable than mine, many Catholic sociologists will cry foul and seek to level the playing field. THAT’S when we get into trouble.

    Concentration of wealth, or resources, or whatever, into the hands of less than the entire society is inevitable, unless we desire to take everyone to the lowest comoon denominator. And remember: when everyone is at a subsistence level…the poor will STILL be with us, except that none of us will be able to afford largesse to aid them!

  • “If employers and employees find, for the reasons given above, that worker co-ops are less preferable than other forms in many circumstances, there is nothing wrong with that.”

    I really hope the assumption here isn’t that anyone ever said there WAS something wrong with it.

  • Deacon Chip,

    ” But when Blackadder becomes richer than me because his inputs are more valuable than mine, many Catholic sociologists will cry foul and seek to level the playing field. THAT’S when we get into trouble.”

    I agree. And Catholic social teaching is clear – men have a right to make a profit from their labor, to enrich themselves. They also have a MORAL obligation to use their wealth charitably (which is NOT the same as saying that the state should force them to; unfortunately we live in a world in which people can ONLY imagine obligations coming from the state, since they no longer believe in God).

    “Concentration of wealth, or resources, or whatever, into the hands of less than the entire society is inevitable, unless we desire to take everyone to the lowest comoon denominator.”

    I completely agree. But “less than the entire society” is very broad. It could mean almost everyone, or it could mean almost no one. What Catholic social teaching makes clear is this: in so far as POSSIBLE (the exact words of Pius XI and a paraphrase of JP II), we should look for ways to make more people full participants in the economic process – through degrees of ownership and control of the means of production.

    This doesn’t mean “do it, even if it will ruin the company or the economy.” It means, “examine each situation to discover how far this general principle can be applied, if it all.” And even BA is forced to admit that in some sectors of the economy it DOES work.

    In any case, we also have to remember that the aim of CST is to prevent or mitigate class warfare. The Church has always recognized a polarizing tendency in what we call “capitalism” and has suggested Distributism as ONE way of addressing it.

    The other ways – labor unions, and state assistance, have mutated into corrupt bureaucratic enterprises. In fact I would argue that it is because of a false hope that men in all classes put in these institutions that the real solution, Distributism, was never really tried on a mass scale.

    Now that the bankruptcy of organized labor and welfare-statism is evident, I believe the already empirically demonstrated upward trend in employee ownership (which I pointed out in this post:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/06/25/worker-ownership-%E2%80%93-the-untold-stories/)

    will continue. Though some people make a career out of denying it, the dog-eat-dog individualism of the unfettered market does not and will not serve as the foundation of a stable or a just or a moral society. We are social beings, we are meant to live, to work, and to worship as a community (without negating our individual dignity or rights, of course).

    As a final thought, even Ronald Reagan supported employee ownership.

  • Pingback: Round Up – May 11, 2010 « Restrained Radical
  • Though some people make a career out of denying it, the dog-eat-dog individualism of the unfettered market does not and will not serve as the foundation of a stable or a just or a moral society.,-Joe Hargrave

    Dogs don’t eat dogs – despite the claims of those who make a career asserting it. However the 20th century experience with unfettered collectivism demonstrates that socialists do eat other socialists.

    I am pleased to see Blackadder’s article explaining that worker co-ops are rare not because they are wilfully suppressed by Secret Masters of Political Economy (SMOPEs) but because they are naturally selected against by people’s own individual choices. I am amused by advocates of distributism who use mass-produced computers and a ubiquitous Internet to stump for distributism without regard to the fact that such tools subsist in an economy where large capital formations are commonplace. As Blackadder put it, “worker co-ops tend to be disproportionately concentrated in labor intensive, capital light industries.” These haven’t been the commanding heights of a Western economy since the Industrial Revolution, maybe not even since the days medieval Benedictine monks built water wheels, windmills, and forges adjacent to their monasteries.

  • Micha,

    The extent to which you go to misrepresent arguments is well known, and unworthy of a response. I’ll pray for you.

Is the Means of Production an Obsolete Idea?

Sunday, May 9, AD 2010

The “means of production” (which may be defined, roughly, as consisting of capital goods minus human and financial capital), is a central concept in Marxism, as well as in other ideologies such as Distributism. The problems of capitalism, according to both Marxists and Distributists, arise from the fact that ownership of the means of production is concentrated in the hands of the few. Marxists propose to remedy these problems by having the means of production be collectively owned. Distributists want to retain private ownership, but to break the means of production up (where practicable) into smaller parts so that everyone will have a piece (if you wanted to describe the difference between the Marxist and Distributist solutions here, it would be that Distributists want everyone to own part of the means of production, whereas Marxists want everyone to be part owner of all of it).

Where a society’s economy is based primarily on agriculture or manufacture, thinking in terms of the means of production makes some sense. In an agricultural economy wealth is based primarily on ownership of land, and in a manufacturing economy ownership of things like factories and machinery plays an analogous role. In a modern service-based economy, by contrast, wealth is based largely on human capital (the possession of knowledge and skills). As Pope John Paul II notes in Centesimus Annus, “[i]n our time, in particular, there exists another form of ownership which is becoming no less important than land: the possession of know-how, technology and skill. The wealth of the industrialized nations is based much more on this kind of ownership than on natural resources.”

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0 Responses to Is the Means of Production an Obsolete Idea?

  • As long as people combine to form economic enterprises that can be quantified in terms of share ownership, discussions of the “means of production” will continue to have relevance.

    I’ll also add that Distributism, and Catholic social teaching in general, does not merely apply to America or other developed economies – though both still engage in agriculture and industry.

    “if you wanted to describe the difference between the Marxist and Distributist solutions here, it would be that Distributists want everyone to own part of the means of production, whereas Marxists want everyone to be part owner of all of it”

    Some Marxists. Others advocate total nationalization of the means of production, in which the state owns all of it. Though technically, I suppose, the theory is that a “workers state”, by representing the working class, owns and distributes revenues on behalf of the working class, and by that logic they may say that “the workers own the means of production.”

    In reality, the people who argued for actual, direct worker ownership of the means of production in Russia, the “Workers Opposition”, were suppressed by the Bolsheviks.

  • As long as people combine to form economic enterprises that can be quantified in terms of share ownership, discussions of the “means of production” will continue to have relevance.

    A law firm might have share ownership, but I’m not sure how useful the means of production would be in analyzing it.

  • Btw, you make a good point that much of the world hasn’t yet moved to a service based economy.

  • I’m not so sure it is an obsolete idea, although I am neither a Marxist nor a Distributist. I have a particular set of skills and knowledge that makes me useful to an insurance company. That knowledge and skill cannot be put to use except within a corporate environment. I could potentially quit and hang out a shingle and try to obtain consulting work, but there is no market for it. It is impossible for most individuals to be able to capitalize an insurance company, and it is also not desireable that this be done due to the risk of policyholders would face that the company would collapse and their claims go unpaid.

    In a certain sense, the modern corporation is in itself the means of production in a modern service economy. It brings efficiencies through organization, time management, concentration of money, and market share that cannot be matched on an individual or small business level. Small businesses have to find small niches in which to compete. In effect, we have migrated from “things” to organizations in a service economy. I’m not saying it’s better or worse, it’s just the way things are.

    Now, there are niches in which small businesses can thrive, which larger organizations will fail in. It is crucial that individuals be allowed the freedom to pursue happiness and livelihoods in the manner of their choice, whether in a modern corporation or in a self-owned business. This is why I’m neither a Marxist nor a Distributist. I don’t want the government to try to force a particular “ideal” on everyone, as this is not conducive to human happiness. Government should simply step in when people’s liberty is being infringed upon.

  • “This is why I’m neither a Marxist nor a Distributist. I don’t want the government to try to force a particular “ideal” on everyone, as this is not conducive to human happiness.”

    Doug,

    Distributism is not about the government “forc[ing] a particular “ideal” on everyone.”

    Anyone can argue that any idea ought to be forced upon everyone. This isn’t exclusive to Distributism or Marxism.

    On the other hand, anyone can argue that individuals ought to embrace an idea freely because it is good. And this is one way to approach Distributism, and it is how I approach it.

    The role the government plays is a variable, not a fixed measure. It can be a little or a lot. It could even be none at all.

    If you want to learn more about Distributism from my point of view, I invite you to read this:

    http://joeahargrave.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/the-distributist-manifesto/

  • Doug,

    I think your example of the insurance company is more an issue of financial capital than of the means of production as such.

  • Yes! I think this is certainly true of intellectual workers, who are persons who are not interchangable and are themselves assets to the company.

    As you suggest, the idea of “the means of production” is not totally obsolete but is of less analytical value in modern industrial economies.

  • Even though I work for a company which is, in a sense, a manufacturer (of consumer electronics and IT infrastructure) it strikes me that in many ways most large modern corporations run more on organizational capital, information, financial and brand equity than on actually owning “means of production”.

    Thus, while many of us who work there would have a hard time making as much without working for some sort of large company, it’s also the case that employees are not interchangeable for the employer. With fairly specialized human capital, the employer doesn’t exercise nearly as much power as an 1880s era landholder or a turn of the century factory owner. (As demonstrated by the dramatic increase in wages.)

    I certainly think there’s been some sort of major shift in what the “means of production” are, and that this shift has implications for the economy and society, but I’ve got the feeling it’s a bit more complicated than simply “now human capital is the means of production.”

    Interesting train of thought…

  • The distributists never thought highly of intellectual property rights. Much of the modern economy is a discussion of IP rents. A cursory search on my part suggests Marx wasn’t all that cool with IP rights. While human capital could merely mean the training of works, it has tended to be code for IP.

    human capital cannot be easily alienated from the individual, either to another individual or to the collective as a whole.

    The movie and music industries would be counterexamples.

  • The movie and music industries would be counterexamples.

    I’m not sure I’m following your point — could you expand?

  • It is not unusual for a band that has gone on tour to owe the recording company money for doing the tour, leaving them no net. In the odd universe of music, performers sign away all their rights and the music companies give them permission to perform their works. This is most apparent if you read the complaint lists of American Idol winners. Likewise in the movie industry, a large portion of the gross does not go towards the actors. The amount that goes to the actors is actually quite insignificant once the headliners’s earnings are taken out of consideration.

    Of course this is in the end an argument of what is actually property. And despite BA’s protestations, worker ability and knowledge has been folded into working capital and been considered a part of it for a long time.

  • In the odd universe of music, performers sign away all their rights and the music companies give them permission to perform their works. This is most apparent if you read the complaint lists of American Idol winners.

    That does certainly suggest an odd state of affairs, though it sounds to me more like a case of people signing a contract based on an expectation of larger ticket sales than actually materialized. Or at least, it’s hard to imagine why it would be a standard business practice that people sign up to work for free.

    Though with American Idol winners, perhaps the key is that most of the skill leading to revenues is actually on the part of the marketers, producers, promoters, etc., while the “talent” is interchangeable.

    Likewise in the movie industry, a large portion of the gross does not go towards the actors. The amount that goes to the actors is actually quite insignificant once the headliners’s earnings are taken out of consideration.

    Isn’t that assuming that the only skilled “workers” involved in producing a movie are the actors? They are in fact a minority of those who work in a movie crew, and at a supply and demand level there are an incredible number of people eager to take minor film roles in hope of being “discovered”, or just for the fun of it.

    If anything, I would imagine that movies and music would be a good example of how technology has leveled things in the last 10-20 years, as independent musicians and independent film makers have become increasingly successful at working outside the studio system.

  • Joe, thanks for the link. It was informative.

  • An interesting article. Have you considered the possibility that the important thing now is that the government is trying to control the means of *re*production?

Arizona, Immigration, and Moral Panic

Monday, April 26, AD 2010

When I first heard of the controversy swirling around Arizona’s “draconian” new immigration law, I’ll admit I was skeptical. It’s not that I thought I would approve of the Arizona law (I tend to be of the view that immigration is a net benefit to America). But hyperbole is an all too common feature of political discourse, and I had to wonder whether the bill was really as harsh and wrongheaded as its critics were making out.

After reading the text of the bill, however, I have to say that, yes, it really is that bad. The bill would criminalize charitable activities directed at illegal immigrants, would making it a crime for an illegal immigrant to try to get a legitimate job, and, in an Orwellian twist, would make illegal immigrants guilty of trespassing for being on private property even with the owner’s permission.

The law also requires state officials to enforce federal immigration laws, effectively turning every Arizona cop into a part time border patrol agent. Arizona’s politicians may like the idea of having cops enforce the immigration code because it makes them look tough, but actual police tend to hate the idea, as it makes their job more difficult and forces them to take resources away from actual police work. (During the debate on the Bush immigration bill back in 2006, for example, the Major Cities Chiefs Associations came out against a requirement for state police to enforce immigration laws, arguing that doing so “undermines trust and cooperation with immigrant communities, which are essential elements of community oriented policing,” and would require scarce resources to be devoted to immigration enforcement rather than other, higher priorities).

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0 Responses to Arizona, Immigration, and Moral Panic

  • Under the law, any citizen who feels the state or locality isn’t fully enforcing the immigration laws (perhaps because they are spending to much time trying to solve murders instead of raiding soup kitchens)

    Just out of curiousity, do you have an idea of what share of a typical departments man-hours are actually devoted to investigating homicides, and at what point the marginal utility of adding additional officers to such detail falls to zero?

  • The cops in Central Illinois, in my experience as a Defense Attorney, seem to have quite a bit of time to devote to such subjects as low level cannabis arrests, not wearing seat belt arrests, domestic battery arrests where no blows are exchanged, overweight trucks, cars with windows that are tinted too dark, etc. I doubt if checking on the immigrant status of people would take much time away from murders, etc.

  • I don’t think the argument used to justify the law was that the police don’t have anything better to do than look for illegal immigrants.

  • It seems to me that the article from American Conservative basically proves that crime rates for Hispanics, while higher than those for whites, are really close. I don’t really understand how that translates, “illegal aliens don’t break the law.” You do understand our problem isn’t with Hispanics?
    Also, you state “And, mind you, the law doesn’t just empower state officials to enforce immigration laws. It mandates that they do so.” A law that mandates police enforce the law does not fill me with righteous anger.

  • “I don’t think the argument used to justify the law was that the police don’t have anything better to do than look for illegal immigrants.”

    One of your attacks on the law did appear to be BA that it would divert the police from more important functions. I doubt very seriously if this would be the case.

    I think the main arguments in favor of the law would be that Arizona would be better off by stopping or slowing the flow of illegal aliens and that the Federal government has proven both inept and uninterested in stopping illegal border crossings. I have a feeling that the main effect of the law might be that it will cause illegal aliens to head for states that are considered illegal alien friendly like California. I suspect that result will bring broad smiles to the faces of most Arizonans.

  • The cops in Central Illinois, in my experience as a Defense Attorney..

    Well, but you only see the cases that are actually charged. That could represent a small percentage of the activity of the police; also, it could be that Central Illinois law enforcement has different priorities and staffing than Arizona law enforcement; or, it could be that the levels of criminal activity are different between the states. It is instructive, however, that the police in the situation are concerned about these issues, and have said so publicly.

    Even if they are wrong, I don’t think the law should criminalize charitable activities or charge invited guests for trespassing (a law which, one suspects, will simply increase the level of crime appearing in statistics on illegal immigration).

  • “Well, but you only see the cases that are actually charged.”

    Yep. I know that cops waste far more time on inconsequential offenses that are never charged.

    “It is instructive, however, that the police in the situation are concerned about these issues, and have said so publicly.”

    Major City Chiefs tend to be political appointees who are usually far more concerned about politics than policing in my experience and often take stances that bear no relationship to the attitudes expressed by the cops who actually enforce the laws.

  • I think CA Prop 187 is about was far as I’m willing to go on the “I’m peeved the Feds don’t enforce the immigration laws” tack. This seems to me to be going very much too far.

  • Prop 187 made a lot of sense, so naturally a federal judge found it to be unconstitutional:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_187_(1994)

  • One of your attacks on the law did appear to be BA that it would divert the police from more important functions.

    Well I do think that. However, the law has been justified by some pretty apocalyptic language, invoking drug gangs, murders, kidnappings, etc. If it turns out that crime in Arizona is more akin to the Central Illinois town where you work, then I’d say the bill was passed under false pretenses (what is the murder rate for your town, btw?)

  • A law that mandates police enforce the law does not fill me with righteous anger.

    In that case perhaps we should mandate cops spend their time doing audits for the IRS or spot inspections for the EPA. After all, they’d just be enforcing the law. Which is their job, right?

  • BA,

    Here is one reading of the law: http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2010/04/saturday-night-card-game-arizona.html.

    You note the law would:

    1. Criminalize charitable activities directed at illegal immigrants

    2. Make it a crime for an illegal immigrant to try to get a legitimate job

    3. Make illegal immigrants guilty of trespassing for being on private property even with the owner’s permission.

    4. Require state officials to enforce federal immigration laws.

    Some notes of mine:

    1. Any such identification must be made pursuant to an otherwise lawful incident (in other words, no searching / stopping / arresting based on suspicion of status alone).

    2. If the US Government gives an indication that such a person is illegal, the AZ police then turn the person over to Federal custody. The Federal law does not give exclusive right to enforcement of Federal law to Federal officers, I do not think, or at the very least, does not prevent state officers who have been informed that an individual is violating Federal law from taking such an individual into custody.

    3. It is already illegal under Federal law for an employer to hire illegal immigrants. Why are you concerned that this law makes it illegal for an illegal immigrant to be hired, when the Federal law does so already?

    4. What charitable functions do you think are affected by this law, and what sections support your claim?

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  • “(what is the murder rate for your town, btw?)”

    Shockingly high for a town of 4000 actually. In 2002 in a case in which I was involved two kids were murdered by their father, for example. My former partner’s great,great grand father was the first recorded murder victim in Dwight. The richest man in town was gunned down in broad daylight by Chicago gangsters in 1933, the rumor in town being that he was keeping time with a mob boss’ moll. I’d say that the town has averaged about one murder every other year since I arrived in town in 85.

  • “In that case perhaps we should mandate cops spend their time doing audits for the IRS…”

    When tax-cheats engage in human trafficking, drug smuggling, murder and mayhem in the streets and in the countryside, then maybe we should.

  • Any such identification must be made pursuant to an otherwise lawful incident (in other words, no searching / stopping / arresting based on suspicion of status alone).

    Outside of traffic stops the police can pretty much always come up and talk to you if they wish, and often they have to in order to do their job. Suppose, for example, that a woman is raped and the police are canvassing the neighborhood to see if their are any witnesses. Everyone they talk to will be via a lawful contact and, under the law, they will have to verify the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect might be an illegal immigrant. Of course if they do that, then illegals won’t ever talk to the police, which will make it more difficult for the police to solve the crime (obviously this is purely hypothetical, as cops in Arizona don’t do anything but arrest people for not wearing seat belts).

    It is already illegal under Federal law for an employer to hire illegal immigrants. Why are you concerned that this law makes it illegal for an illegal immigrant to be hired, when the Federal law does so already?

    I don’t think it makes it a criminal offense to do so.

    What charitable functions do you think are affected by this law, and what sections support your claim?

    Section 13-2929(A)(2). A friend of mine used to work at a homeless shelter in El Paso. Most of the folks there were illegal immigrants. I suspect that this is true for most social services in border areas (fwiw, the local INS head had an agreement with the head of the homeless shelter that he would leave them alone as he didn’t want to interfere with the provision of charitable services; if a state official in Arizona followed a similar course he could be fined $5,000 a day).

  • Btw, Jonathan, the blog post you link to is explicitly limited to arguing that the Arizona law isn’t racist:

    If you want to argue that the law is not sound on civil liberties grounds, do so. If you want to argue that as a matter of public policy local governments should not enforce the immigration laws, then make that argument.

    But the one argument which is not legitimate is that the law is racist.

    As I didn’t argue that the law was racist, I don’t see how the blog post is relevant.

  • Prop 187 made a lot of sense, so naturally a federal judge found it to be unconstitutional

    I think that 187 did indeed make a lot of sense. (I was a Californie at the time, so I was right in the middle of it.) No thanks to the Feds on that one.

    However, I think this law sounds rather overboard.

  • “Everyone they talk to will be via a lawful contact and, under the law, they will have to verify the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect might be an illegal immigrant.”

    They will have to make a reasonable attempt, “when practicable,” to verify immigration status. In the course of an investigation, it would seem to be up to the officer’s discretion as to whether it is practicable at that point to do so.

    It also does not appear that the immigrant may be taken into custody purely on that status alone. There must be some other reason for assessment of criminal status.

    So, you’re more concerned with the criminal status than with the actual illegality of the job seeking? It did not seem so in your original post.

    Finally, section 13-2929(A)(2) states that it is illegal to “conceal…in violation of law” when the person doing the concealment “is in violation of a criminal offense.” So, it would have to mean that the person running the homeless shelter is already committing or has committed some criminal offense, and is attempting to harbor or conceal illegal immigrants in addition. If it were general, the wording would have to be “it is unlawful for a person to:…conceal” without the addition “in violation of a criminal offense.”

  • BA,

    The post I linked to also does a good job analyzing and clarifying some of the things (such as enforcement of federal laws) that you raise as concerns. I was not worried about the consideration of the racist part, as such.

    -J.

  • BTW,

    It appears that much of this bill is repeating Federal law in places. For instance, a much more intense version of this bill’s language is found at 8 USC 1324 – http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode08/usc_sec_08_00001324—-000-.html

  • BA,
    Really, really, bad example. That shelter was not a homeless shelter so much as it was the Catholic Diocese of El Paso’s whistle stop on the underground railroad up to Chicago and other points, north. If you didn’t know, they had facilities on both sides of the border (meaning in what is now the war zone of Juarez)and worked primarily for the purpose of frustrating the enforcement of US immigration law. I don’t know if they are still there, but if they are, they are surely more about violating our immigration law than they are about caring for the needs of the homeless in the community; of which we have plenty.
    As a former officer of the US government, I doubt the local INS chief had the authority to agree not to do his job.

  • I’m not sure why anyone would want to cite Prop 187 as a precedent here. After all, the law (1) did serious damage to the Republican party in California (and, by extension, the nation), and (2) never went into effect. So even if you think the law sounded good in theory, in practice all it did was hurt the Republican party, literally.

    In the other thread Donald cited an article arguing that what happened in California wouldn’t happen in Arizona because voter turnout among Hispanics is low in Arizona. Er, is it not possible that the passage of this bill might change that? As I reflect on the matter, it is increasingly clear to me that this law will never go into effect (there are serious preemption and 4th Amendment problems with it, to say the least). So if there is a backlash and the Dems get another 10 sure thing electoral votes, you won’t even be able to say “well, at least we stuck it to the illegals.”

  • Arizona isn’t California BA just like Texas isn’t California. The demographics and the politics are completely different. Additionally the Democrat dream is that Hispanics will give them a permanent electoral majority, especially if this country continues to essentially have a “Y’all come!” policy to illegal immigration from Mexico. The politics are not so simple. Stop illegal immigration, or simply substantially reduce it, and assimilation and time will lessen the Democrat advantage among Hispanics. Political suicide for the Republicans is to continue to sit by and allow the Federal government to do nothing to stem the flow of illegal aliens.

  • FWIW, I don’t think that 187 hurt the GOP in California particularly. Indeed, 187 was one of the first high profile cases of the California GOP getting behind what proved to be fairly popular populist ballot measures.

    What’s crippled the GOP in California has been a combination of:

    1) The state becoming one of the most liberal in the nation in regards to polled opinion, with much of this centering around the LA and SanFran metropolitan areas (which have seen a huge influx of highly educated urban elite demographics over the last 30 years).

    2) The split within the California GOP between fairly liberal Republicans (as typified by Pete Wilson, Arnold, Meg Whitman, etc.) and hard right candidates from the more rural parts of the state and a few of the affluent suburbs. The state party is pretty well split between those two factions, each one of which is willing to refuse to support candidates put forward by the other.

    3) Some of the strongest public sector unions in the country.

    The state politics of California have become increasingly self-destructive on both sides of the aisle, but I don’t think it accurately reflects the history there to argue that 187 was a key turning point against the GOP. If anything, it underlined the ability of conservative ballot measures to do significantly better than GOP state candidates usually do at the polls. Further examples including the marriage ballot initiative, the marriage amendment, and the Grey Davis recall.

  • That said, while I don’t claim to know anything about the internal political dynamics in Arizona, it’s hard for me to imagine that this kind of stunt (which seems far more punitive and impractical than 187) will do the GOP any good. Even if it’s locally popular, it seems to reinforce an impractical reactionary streak which makes the GOP a bad governing party no matter how good it may be for campaigning.

  • This unmatched chaos caused by decades of unimportance as seen by both political parties over illegal immigration. In this firestorm of an issue we need to enact immediately the following measures to stabilize our nation’s immigration enforcement. This is specifically come to the surface after the bloody murder of Robert Krentz, rancher and landowner, with the upsurge in deaths of border Patrol agents and illegal aliens. 1. Deploy the National Guard permanently–fully armed along the border from San Diego, CA to Brownville, Texas. 2. Make it a felony with prison time for any employer not using the computer application E-Verify, to identify all workers on the payroll. This program will improve nationwide impact of self-deportation by ATTRITION, over the coming years for unlawful labor. 3. To terminate decades of unprecedented billions of dollars of debt for support of illegal immigrants on taxpayers. Read what Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) has to say about what taxpayers are forced to pay for 20 to 30 million illegal immigrants at–THE DAILY CALLER WEBSITE.

    Reestablish the legality of instant citizenship to babies born to an illegal parent or parents in federal court. 4. Make absolutely sure that any incumbent of both parties, starting with Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is thrown out of office this year. Send this searing message to–ALL–pro illegal immigrant, Pro-amnesty politicians that America will not stand any longer lawmakers that are for sale to the highest bidder. 5. Those elected will re-fence the border as two separate barriers, with an open tracking area in between for the movement of National Guardsman accompanying the US Border patrol with full funding. That lawmakers who are supposedly there to represent every citizen and permanent resident possessing a green card, appropriate the money to seal the border from illegal entry. That these same elected officials have already spent $445 Billion dollars in taxpayer’s money in supporting some distant foreign government in Afghanistan; they therefore can easily appropriate funds for the correctly designed border fence.

    As a patriotic people we will voice our vehemence that we will join the war against any type of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. That contains in any shape or form a citizenship path, for those who stole into America. THERE WILL BE NO AMNESTY–NO PARDON FOR CRIMINALS WHO IGNORE OUR LAWS. We are not the financial, free-handout for foreign labor, which cannot support those entering America illegally. Arizona is the first state with a backbone that has been financial crippled by welfare payments to illegal alien families. Its undercurrent caused by the rising crime rate never seen to this extent before. Violence on a grand scale has flowed across the Rio Grande from the illicit drug industry. Exhaustion of the local police in Phoenix and other communities unable to handle the daily homicides, kidnappings, home invasions, predatory smuggling people and the narcotics trade.

    Any state, county city, town or public servant that boycotts the exceptional state of Arizona, should be black-listed. Hopefully–Americans will donate (however small) money to Arizona if the Governor Jan brewer gets sued. Perhaps a good patriotic American will arrange a website for everybody to give money in the immediate future? If and when it happens my check will be waiting…? If that happens Americans will boycott companies that hire illegal immigrants and that I will add–ONE–company hiring foreign labor to my blogs.

    NUMBERSUSA–is the website for the legal people of this country, so you can fight this illegal immigrant epidemic–with over a MILLION–members. We are here to tell the–TRUTH–not lies or well-honed rhetoric as the Far-Left liberals, hidden inside the Democratic Party, not from the Liberal editors of national press at the, Huffington Post, New York Times or the Los Angeles Times and others.

  • An impractical reactionary policy Darwin is thinking that the current policy of de facto open borders with Mexico can continue. This nation cannot continue being a safety valve forever for the failure of Mexican elites to reform their economy to provide economic growth for their citizens. I think most of the country agrees which is why Rasmussen is showing 60% support for the law across the nation.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/immigration/nationally_60_favor_letting_local_police_stop_and_verify_immigration_status

    As for being a bad governing party, the saving grace for Republicans is that they get to run against Democrats who have amply demonstrated this election cycle just how bad a governing party can be.

  • Joe Hargrave continues to mistakenly believe this law does something to fight drug violence.

    Jonathan,

    It also does not appear that the immigrant may be taken into custody purely on that status alone. There must be some other reason for assessment of criminal status.

    The law also makes presence in the state a crime.

    13-2929(A) uses some curious phrasing. So I can harbor illegal immigrants but not if I didn’t pay my taxes?

  • The Rasmussen poll is interesting. Most believe the law will violate civil rights but most still support it.

  • As for being a bad governing party, the saving grace for Republicans is that they get to run against Democrats who have amply demonstrated this election cycle just how bad a governing party can be.

    No disagreement from me there.

    I also agree that tough immigration enforcement is broadly popular, at least in concept, throughout the country. And I think that whatever laws we have, we should enforce — though I’d like to see higher immigration quotas and a much simpler immigration process.

    However, at the same time, I think the extent to which heavy immigration from Mexico is hurting the US is in most cases overplayed. The fact that lots of people eager to work are coming into the US and working or starting businesses tends to help us and hurt Mexico, not the other way around.

    It is certainly a big problem when we have cross-border gangs and other criminal organizations — but I’m not clear that’s related to the issue of people simply wanting to come here to work.

  • If Tom Tancredo thinks the law goes too far, it probably goes too far.

  • In 2008, there were candidates that ran for offices in places like Arizona that ran as restrictionists and lost. Immigration polling suffers from a lot of issues polling in that it measures sentiment and not depth. Consensus was that being restrictionist wouldn’t preclude someone from election, but it wasn’t enough to secure them power.

    Right now, there isn’t any real institutional support for Arizona’s law, so it will become more unpopular over time. (As a note, I haven’t reviewed the bill itself.) As for the politics, who know? I know, a rare admission of modesty on my part. I imagine Arizonians aren’t in the habit of sending people to the statehouse to address immigration, so I’m thinking they won’t be evaluated too strongly on that matter. Arizona’s staggering budget deficit and massive cuts to public schools will likely be issues that have an impact.

  • “As I reflect on the matter, it is increasingly clear to me that this law will never go into effect (there are serious preemption and 4th Amendment problems with it, to say the least). So if there is a backlash and the Dems get another 10 sure thing electoral votes, you won’t even be able to say “well, at least we stuck it to the illegals.”

    The real poltical backlash and how it will delay real immigration reform often gets overlooked

  • “that the Federal government has proven both inept and uninterested in stopping illegal border crossings.”

    I think this is a little too braod. Once can say LOOK STATE and Local Govt don’t care about Druck Drivers because they are still on the road

    There has been a lot of effort at the border and some immigration folks are screaming at Obama at the high level of deportations

    The fact is it is not so mucha failure of Federal Govt but a failure of the American people to quit letting the extrmes on either side that want move a inch define the debate and the solutions

    Till that cahnges nothing will happen.

  • However, at the same time, I think the extent to which heavy immigration from Mexico is hurting the US is in most cases overplayed. The fact that lots of people eager to work are coming into the US and working or starting businesses tends to help us and hurt Mexico, not the other way around.

    Common theoretical exercises of the sort published in textbooks tend to demonstrate that trade in factors of production (e.g. labor as manifested in immigration) are beneficial economically. If I am not mistaken, this has been empirically verified, but the benefits are small and collared for the most part by the immigrant populations themselves. The benefit to the extant population is tiny (IIRC, one study put it at <0.1% of domestic product per annum) and sensitive to the public benefits regime (which the judiciary fancies they ought to have discretion over, natch).

    Immigration streams are regulated by a famously incompetent bureaucracy, are in their source severely maldistributed, are modally from a country suffering severe social pathologies at this point in time, are arriving in a society where the dominant faction of the elite is dedicated to the fostering of unassimilable subcultures for its own self-aggrandizement, and tend (to a small degree) to damage the employment prospect of the lower strata of the labor force. In short, mass immigration is a loser as a social (not economic) proposition.

    The thing is, immigration cannot be conducted according to public policy if it is not controlled. It is not controlled if you do not enforce the law. It is not terribly credible that that cannot be done, which makes much discussion of immigration regimes rather exasperating.

  • “There has been a lot of effort at the border and some immigration folks are screaming at Obama at the high level of deportations”

    I disagree jh. What enforcement there is tends to be for show. That is why we have such absurdities as a return to “catch and release”,

    http://myvisausa.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/immigration-enforcement-agents-drive-illegal-aliens-to-work/

    and the abandonment of the virtual fence along the southern border.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/17/us/17fence.html

    The Obama administration is as serious about curbing illegal immigration as it is about curbing government spending.

  • I am against any law that attempts to stop Mexican Gangs from racially profiling their victims.

  • “13-2929(A) uses some curious phrasing. So I can harbor illegal immigrants but not if I didn’t pay my taxes?”

    As noted over on Volokh, that is one of the ambiguities of the law. However, I suspect that will be worked out in the courts and in further revisions.

  • Here’s an example of moral panic. Cardinal Roger Mahony wrote in a blog post, “I can’t imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques.”

    Failed words from a failed prelate.

  • UPDATE: It appears that I may have linked to the wrong version of the bill text (at least, that’s according to Mark Krikorian at the Corner). The actual version of the bill that was passed does not appear to include the provision making it trespassing for an illegal immigrant to be on private property with the owner’s permission, but otherwise appears to the objectionable features of the Senate version. Indeed in at least one case it appears to be worse. Commenter Jonathan, for example, had argued that the bill would not criminalize the provision of charitable services to illegal immigrants because the anti-harboring provision said that it was illegal to “conceal…in violation of law” rather than simply saying “it is unlawful for a person to:…conceal.” The final version of the bill says the latter.

    I apologize for the error.

  • This is funny. Mark Krikorian links to the wrong bill too! It took me a while to track the final final bill down. http://www.azsos.gov/public_services/Chapter_Laws/2010/49th_legislature_2nd_regular_session/CH_113.pdf

    The trespassing language is gone but doesn’t really make a difference. “Trespassing” is replaced with “willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document.” So illegal immigrants can be in the state but not without papers which means they can’t be in the state. Same thing.

    The harboring ambiguity is back. A court looking at the legislative history can’t read the qualifier out since it was removed by the House at one point then put back in. A very good case can be made for voiding the entire section.

  • Don, you may recall that when the mandatory seat belt laws took effect in Illinois everyone was repeatedly assured that police were not going to stop anyone “just” for not wearing a seat belt — they would only ticket if you were caught doing something else like speeding and they noticed that you also were not buckled up. Well, that isn’t the case anymore — seat belt violations can now be treated as a “primary offense.” Plus, we also have the periodic “roadside safety checks” where everyone is stopped and asked for their license, insurance cards, etc.

    Now, if the intent of the law in Arizona is to allow or encourage local police who stop or arrest a suspect on probable cause for ANOTHER crime to also check the suspect’s immigration status while they are at it, that would not be so bad. However, given what has happened with seatbelt laws, drunk driving, insurance laws, etc. I fear that the law as written could very easily devolve into a situation in which either 1) people start getting pulled over for “driving while Hispanic” or 2) in reaction to 1), police start demanding some kind of citizenship documentation from everyone they arrest, including Anglos, to prove that they are not “profiling.”

  • I certainly do remember that Elaine! I recently had a conversation with one of my judge friends where he told me about a jury trial he had over a seat belt case. He was pretty ticked that the State was wasting his time with a prosecution on just a seat belt.

    You raise a legitimate concern in that there can always be overreaching by the police. However, aliens in this country are already required I believe to have their papers allowing them to be in the country on their person at all times. My mother, before she became a naturalized citizen, always kept her papers in her purse. In regard to people who are already citizens, most people I assume would have documents on them to establish citizenship. Looking in my wallet I have my voter registration card, my attorney registration card and various other forms of identification. I wouldn’t consider showing these to the police any more onerous than the showing to them of my driver’s license.

  • I don’t see why leftwingers are getting so angry by this new law. All it does is give police the right to ask people to present their immigration documents. In nearly all places on earth that is thoroughly fine. Why is that some outrage in The USA?

  • OH YEA, GIVE THEM ALL THEIR RIGHTS AS HUMANS, GIVE THEM THE MASS IN THEIR LANGUAGE AND GIVE THEM THE TRAINING AND THE JOBS BUT ME A US CITIZEN WHO ONLY SPEAKS ENGLISH AND IS UNEMPLOYED FOR THE FIRST TIME AT THE AGE OF 57 CAN’T GET A JOB BECAUSE I DO NOT SPEAK SPANISH AND ENGLISH . SO BY NOT MAKING IT A LAW TO LEARN ENGLISH AND SPEAK ENGLISH, THE PERSON WHO WORKS IN THE DOCTORS OFFICE HAS TO SPEAK BOTH LANGUAGES TO TAKE CARE OF FREE OF CHARGE OR CHARGE THE GOV. FOR THEIR HEALTH, THEIR HOUSING, THEIR EDUCATION, THEIR FOOD STAMPS, AND THEN THEY DRIVE AROUND WITHOUT LICENSES AND INSURANCE. BUT THAT IS OK, WE ARE SUPPOSE TO TAKE CARE OF ALL THE POOR, BUUL CRAP…IT IS A SYSTEM GONE WRONG AND CHRIST HIMSELF WOULD TELL YOU THE SAME THING. THESE PEOPLE COME HERE BECAUSE WE GIVE THEM EVERYTHING AND WE WON’T HAVE ANY MONEY LEFT TOTAKE CARE OF THEM MUCH LESS OURSELVES. SO KEEP IT UP..THE BISHOPS CAN TAKE THEM IN THEIR HOMES.

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