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The Irish Revolution

I generally don't like to be too topical with holidays, but for St. Patrick's day why not check out Murray Rothbard on the Irish Revolution (pdf).


There's no turn for them to wait for

Radley Balko comes around to a theme that I've harped on here quite a bit: the main motivator behind opposing immigration—I mean, "illegal" immigration—appears to me to be racism, and it further appears more and more that my take isn't unique.


Trouble in Brasília

The Guardian has an interesting spotlight on the world's most famous planned city. Brasília, the capital of Brazil since 1960, was designed from the ground up by Lúcio Costa (urban planning), Oscar Niemeyer (architecture of the important buildings), and Roberto Burle Marx (landscape design). These guys were no slouches in terms of credentials. Oscar Niemeyer, for instance, is one of the most famous living architects, even if I am not really impressed with his work (or his Communism).

The big problem is that it was supposed to be the planning architect's dream city, and instead actually has real people living in it.

Unveiled almost half a century ago, Brasilia astonished the world. Brazil's purpose-built capital of perfect grids and avant garde buildings exuded wonder and optimism, control and beauty.

The then president, Juscelino Kubitschek, hailed a new dawn for his country and the United Nations designated the city a world heritage site. It was a living, futurist museum.

As the 50th anniversary approaches, however, the future seems to have ambushed Brasilia. What was supposed to be a shiny citadel with huge attention to detail and organisation has in places degraded into a violent, crime-ridden sprawl of cacophonous traffic jams. The real Brazil has spilled into its utopian vision.

The design of the city is really remarkable, make no mistake, but its location—the real world—is a hard problem to work around. Niemeyer's take:

"The way Brasilia has evolved, it has problems. It should have stopped growing some time ago. Traffic is becoming more difficult, the number of inhabitants has surpassed the target, limits are being exceeded."

Well, in that case, I guess the Brazilian governement at some level will simply have to tell people they can't move to Brasília. The city was supposed to be a fixed, completed entity without more inputs. It would not "live" like other cities "lived". It would have a goal imposed on it from on high and an ordered plan, free from the organic mess that characterized life in other cities.

That these aspirations did not come true is no doubt puzzling to the designers and their imitators the world over, but it shouldn't be to us classical liberals. The ideas that a handful of people will have for the uses of a city, however brilliant they are, will never match up with what the inhabitants (and possible inhabitants) want to do with their lives in that city. Just like expert economic planners can never predict the specific decisions of a multitude of economic agents, expert urban planners can never predict the specific decisions of a multitude of city residents.

Via Archinect 


If this were all they spent money on, I'd give it to them

<offtopic>

Transport for London and the Mayor of London's Office have released an excellent ad for bike safety in the form of an awareness test, which I guarantee is worth your time. You'll be glad you watched it. You can watch it here. (That first thing that comes up is not an ad, so don't get discouraged.)

Via Commute by Bike

</offtopic>


They figured he was a lazy time wasting slacker. They were wrong.

Ordinarily the decisions of the United States Bowling Congress don't catch my eye, but their recent one to move from their traditional headquarters in suburban Milwaukee to Arlington, Texas did:

MILWAUKEE — The United States Bowling Congress has decided to move its headquarters from suburban Milwaukee to Arlington, Texas.

...

USBC had hinted for months it wanted to leave Milwaukee. It cited the cost of doing business, including taxes and health care costs, in southeast Wisconsin as a major factor.

From another source: "A move of its headquarters out of Milwaukee was viewed by many as more than just a loss of jobs, but the loss of a key part of the city's identity."

So, legislators, councilmen, and other high-and-mighty guardians take note: you can't have everything you want.

Relive the awesomeness of The Big Lebowski, one of my Top 10, here.


Next one's on me

Congratulations to Dan D'Amico, who'll soon be defending his dissertation at George Mason and who has recently been offered a position in the economics department at his alma mater, Loyola University in New Orleans. Danny's a good guy who is sure to do good work in the academy.


They have their priorities seriously wrong

Torturing and murdering Iraqis gets you a slap on the wrist if it gets you anything at all, but throwing a puppy off a cliff?  Shocking and deplorable.


Culture reporting in the NYT

"If you're unfamiliar with the Times, it's sort of an obituary for subcultures, in that once yours appears there then it's already dead." - Bike Snob NYC


...by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the least value

Ryan McMaken has a great post about the hard-to-see relations between massive government distortion of the corn market and your irresponsible water use.


Karoshi

Not like this is disputed, but culture can play a large role in an economy. Example: the Japanese economy is famously productive, ranking second or third in the world (by nominal GDP or purchasing power parity, respectively), but one of the reasons is that its workers work such long hours that there's apparently a commonly-known term for "death from overwork".

A major characteristic of JPM [Japanese Production Management] is that no time is supposed to be wasted. It's a stressful work system because even seconds that are wasted are considered unacceptable. Another main characteristic of JPM is the teamwork approach. If even one worker takes seconds longer than is considered the most efficient time to complete a task, then the whole team becomes slower which slows down production. There can be great pressure not to be the person responsible for slowing down the team.


A new kind of war: a guerrilla war

A tasty little morsel from Murray Rothbard's Conceived in Liberty that was posted Mises.org last week:

The first thing to do was end the occupation of Philadelphia, which at best had been a waste of time. Howe had thought of Philadelphia as equivalent to a European capital: the hub and nerve center of administrative, commercial, political, and military life. But in a decentralized people's war such as the Americans were waging, there was no fixed nerve center; indeed, there was scarcely any central government at all. All this gave the Americans a flexibility and an ability to absorb invading armies in a manner highly statified Europe could not understand.


How much more evidence do we need (of police corruption)?


This is totally screwy
: police in Tennessee chase down a suspect wanted on domestic assault charges, and let the dog bite him several times when he's already on the ground. Then they handcuff him and pat his pockets down multiple times. Then one officer makes a strange hand symbol to another officer, who then pulls something out of his pocket, reaches down to pat the suspect down again, and immediately finds drugs. Not only that, the whole thing is recorded on camera, including the officer looking at the camera while he fishes in his pocket.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to suppose that what was captured on video was the officers conspiring to plant drugs on the suspect. Maybe the suspect was a jerk anyway, but when they can do it to him, they can do it to you. And if they were bold enough to do it plainly in front of a camera, knowing the camera was there, even looking into the camera while they did it, it's plain lunacy, or a willful refusal to use your reasoning powers, to think that this doesn't happen all the time.

Yet another reason to immediately free all people convicted of non-violent drug crimes: it shouldn't be a crime in the first place, and many of them probably didn't even do it.

Via Radley Balko


What's the point of getting all this power if I can't create my own separate standard of justice?

Jim Bovard has a post in which he republishes a piece he wrote for Playboy in 1997 about the children or wives of politicians getting slaps on the wrist for infractions of drug laws that would cost other people huge chunks of their lives. It's amazing how prosecutors will bend over backwards to turn minor violations into huge penalties for the poor, and how for the privileged there's no drug crime worth hard time.

If a poor black woman from Anacostia had committed the crimes that Cindy McCain committed, the black woman might have been sent to prison for the duration of her life.

John McCain has never shown any courage on the drug war. As long as people like his wife don’t need to fear jail time for crimes, there is no reason to reform the law to cease the persecution of other Americans.

In other news, I just stumbled across some really good stuff, but you'll have to wait until my father gets elected to Congress before I can share.


Sex is not a public offense, but cronyism is

Apparently some people are very concerned with a recent new story that a powerful senator might have been having an affair 8+ years ago. This senator, of course, is John McCain, the man who has the Republican party's presidential nomination all but guaranteed, and this lobbyist is, well who cares. Some lady.

McCain hasn't run on a strong "pro-family" platform, so that part of it isn't really relevant news. What about what she was getting out of it? After listing some of the favors that McCain did for Iseman, Dave Lindorff at CounterPunch adds:

The problem may be that what McCain was doing shilling for the telecom industry is not illegal, and is not uncommon. In fact, it's what our legislators do. Virtually all of them. The only thing different about McCain is that he claims he doesn't do that, at least not since he saw the light when he had a near political death experience after hitching his nascent congressional career to a corrupt banker's wagon, in the Keating scandal, which finished off the careers of four of McCain's senatorial colleagues and from which he escaped by the skin of his teeth.

[emphasis mine]

The major media couldn't be happier letting McCain's 100% pure-bullshit approach slide right past them, so it takes a place like CounterPunch to bring this up.

 

 


Liberty: too hot to handle?

Yesterday Jeff Tucker posted some excerpts from a new Mises Institute release, H.L. Mencken's Notes on Democracy. Here's a choice (and characteristically pessimistic) sample:

A policeman is a charlatan who offers, in return for obedience, to protect him (a) from his superiors, (b) from his equals, and (c) from himself. This last service, under democracy, is commonly the most esteemed of them all. In the United States, at least theoretically, it is the only thing that keeps ice-wagon drivers, Y.M.C.A. secretaries, insurance collectors and other such human camels from smoking opium, ruining themselves in the night clubs, and going to Palm Beach with Follies girls...Here, though the common man is deceived, he starts from a sound premise: to wit, that liberty is something too hot for his hands---or, as Nietzsche put it, too cold for his spine.

I don't know if I can handle 200 pages of Mencken's pessimism, but it might be worth a try.

In other news, David Weigel has a post on the Reason blog called How Ron Paul Could Destroy the GOP.  If only.