Posted by: bridget | 16 March 2007

Miscellanea

Catching up on a week’s worth of blogging, so some highlights:

China passed a law that would give protection to owners of real property, such as farmers with long-term leases on land. Currently, all land belongs to the government. This will give more protection to the citizens of China and may reduce the crooked deals that go into managing land: in a market economy, land is exchanged through the medium of currency, with no other justification for the exchange and no other compulsion. In any other economy, where the government controls the exchange of land or goods, the currency is not just money but government force, brought to bear by those with access to it.

As James Madison said in the Federalist, #51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Communism has missed the second part of Madison’s wisdom: a government, however well-intentioned, does not turn its stewards into angels or saints.

As usual, the mainstream media has slaughtered the Bush administration while glossing over any wrongdoing by the Clinton administration. Shortly after his inauguration, Mr. Clinton fired all 93 of the US attorneys who were working at the time; Janet Reno gave them ten days to vacate their offices. When President Bush fired a mere seven attorneys, all hell broke loose. President Bush did not do a clean sweep of the offices, as did Mr. Clinton. Even if he did, US attorneys serve at the discretion of the Executive; it is well within his province as President to fire whomever he deems unsuitable for the job. Given allegations that the attorneys were not handling voter fraud cases, firings are appropriate. As Ann Coulter points out, US attorneys lack the lifetime appointments of Article III judges, or, say, school teachers.

Congress is considering a bill that would give residents of DC the right to vote. DC would get one representative and Utah, the next state in line (by population per delegate, presumably) would also get an extra seat in the House. Constitutional law scholars disagree over whether or not such a bill meets constitutional muster: representatives are explicitly limited to the states, although DC was provided for in the Constitution. Nevertheless, Congress is given complete legislative control over the District.

Generally, when a specific provision conflicts with a general provision, the specific one will trump; it is considered to be an exception, or something contemplated by the general but specificially prohibited (or allowed, as the case may be). This is nearly as unpalatable as the move earlier this year to give voting rights to representatives of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.

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Responses

  1. While I am happy for the peasants of China, I have to say that I have to say that I have little but loathing for China.

    Having recently read about the ongoing destruction in Tibet, and the continued disregard for human rights in TPR, I am more than a little skeptical about this new found liberty they offer selectively. Probably it is done to curb the massive exodus from rural regions of their nation over the past years.

    China… just thinking about that nation sends chills down my back.

  2. Given the fact that the government controls the media; internet access is restricted; there is a one-child per family policy that virtually requires families to expose infants or to selectively abort females – and the government enforces the one-child policy by forcing abortions and IUDs; oh, yeah, and China has absolutely no respect for the intellectual property of other countries – yeah, I don’t like the place, either.

    You make my point better than I, however; mostly, I see the lack of property rights as but one manifestation of what is wrong with that country.

  3. Great point about Clinton’s firing of the 93. Still waiting for the MSM to highlight that to point out how inconsequential Bush’s firings are.

  4. Don’t hold your breath – we like you too much to watch the consequences. ;)

  5. The attorney-firing “scandal” is ridiculous. We fiddle while Rome burns. Goes back to my point that Democrats in DC see their primary duty in office to undo electoral results they don’t like. Hence, a new potential source of Bush-impeachment every week. They’re gonna get a lot of us killed. Of course, idiots will continue to vote for them ’cause they “sound good” when they speak.

  6. Check out the comments on my first AG post:
    https://helvidiuspachyderm.wordpress.com/2007/02/06/separation-of-powers-the-justice-dept/

    Scary,huh?

  7. We really need to either make PR a state or cut them free sometime soon. This is getting old.

  8. I would agree with you, but we can’t make them a state. They can vote themselves into statehood, and Congress can approve it, but, until Puerto Rico takes that first step, we’re stuck.

    If they have no desire to become a state, I fail to see why they should receive the benefits and protections of statehood.

  9. We are however free to let them know that if they don’t choose statehood they will be cut loose.

  10. No disagreements from me!

    We could take on Puerto Rico as a state and give California back to Mexico, thus keeping the number of states at 50. Plan?

  11. As I tend to more economically focused, I am nothing but glad that the Chinese peasants will have a chance to own property. However, I appreciate both you and avoiceofreason for pointing out that despite moving in the right direction in terms of economic rights, such a totalitarian state has a light years to go in terms of political and social rights. Hopefully, Milton Friedman (RIP) was right and that economic freedom leads to other types of freedom. At any rate, any freedom is a good start.

    In regards to the DOJ firings, when I first heard about it, my immediate thought was, “what’s the issue here?” I still haven’t quite figured it out.

  12. Hi, Pink Elephant! :)

    Thanks for stopping by. Your pseudonym is the name of one of my favourite mixed drinks* (vodka, grenadine, ginger ale, and pink lemonade).

    I agree with Mr. Friedman; an economically free country is one that can use the force of money to advance the interests of civil rights, if they so desire. It is also difficult to give people economic freedom without social freedom; the two are intrinsically related. So I’m cautiously optimistic; this is a step in the right direction for China. Nevertheless, as you point out, they have light years to go before they can properly call themselves a civilised society.

    Then again, I’m a huge free market/capitalist type… one only need to look at the hundred million people who died as a result of Communism to see how demented any other system really is.

    The issue with the DOJ firings is that it smacks of control. You know, the President is actually stretching his muscles, flexing his wings, and using some of the power granted to him by the Constitution instead of deferring to the people who lose elections (i.e. liberals).

    In all seriousness, I do agree with you. The Attorneys General firings and the Scooter Libby trial are just manufactured disasters. It’s like the media thinks that if they say everything in an appropriately shocked and appalled tone, people who think it’s a scandal.

    If you do figure out the issue, please let me know. ;)

    *Emphasis on “mixed,” as this was clearly meant to exclude bourbon and wine.

  13. Pink Elephant,
    Freidman’s analysis may be correct, but also nations which have free trade have long traditions of self-governance. Many of the Federalist viewed the pursuit of happiness as pursuit of property, but this was also a part of the system.

    Today’s pursuit of property in China is marred by a corporist system which makes the Robber Barons of the late 19th and early 20th century look like spokespeople for The Great Society. It is simply two of the worst elements of capitalism, unbridled lust, coming together with people who want unbridled power.

    Again, I have to be careful when I speak of China, often it is the same when I consider the many people I know, who seem to be wonderful, who follow Muslim teachings, yet are pleasant productive citizens, and not confuse the people with the leadership.

    China’s history of despotism is long and dates back to their very first dynasties. There’s a reason why there are thousands of bones buried in The Great Wall. I would feel much better about our nation’s cry for the democratization of the world if we treated China the way we rightly treated South Africa.

  14. I just spent the last ten minutes listening to some yahoo on NPR reading e-mails about the firings. It was the best thing to get me out of bed and turning off the radio.

    Who cares is they were political firings? Aren’t these folks political appointees? Sheesh!

    I wonder what they are sneaking through right now, while the media attention is deflected…

  15. Hi Kelly,

    LOL! Yes, you are right – they are political appointees, much like Cabinet positions, and serve at the whim of the President. In many ways, they do his job (of enforcing the law).

    While the “yahoo on NPR” got you out of bed, I’m sure that breakfast didn’t sit too well after that! :) Listening to the pious ramblings of progressives is going to make an inadvertent bulimic out of me.

  16. My nightmare is that we will wakeup in a month or so and hear the same old stuff about the President this, Haliburton that, and then, “In other news, while we were distracted by stupid frivolous investigations, congress has finally passed a national health care bill.” I just don’t trust them, darn it. I am paranoid, perhaps.

  17. No disagreement from this blogress. I would not be surprised to see them use these manufactured “scandals” to get legislation through that they could not get through otherwise, or to deflect attention should someone criticise it.

    You know, kind of like how Bill Clinton tried to distract us from Monica by blowing up a factory in some foreign country….

  18. Kelly,

    I think your nightmare is going to keep ME up tonight. Maybe Bush will blow the dust off that veto pen for that one.


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