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  • Author: Steve Simpson
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The Supreme Court's recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC is one of the most important First Amendment decisions in a generation and one of the most controversial. In it, the Supreme Court struck down a law that banned corporations from spending their own money on speech that advocated the election or defeat of candidates. In the process, the Court overturned portions of McConnell v. FEC, a case in which the Supreme Court, a mere six years ago, upheld McCain-Feingold, one of the most sweeping restrictions on campaign speech in history.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Alan Germani, J. Brian Phillips
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: For centuries, few have questioned the idea that waterways-streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans-are or should be "public property." The doctrine of "public trust," with roots in both Roman and English common law, holds that these resources should not be privately owned but rather held in trust by government for use by all. The United States Supreme Court cited this doctrine in 1892, ruling that state governments properly hold title to waterways such as lakes and rivers, "a title held in trust for the people of the state that they may enjoy the navigation of the waters, carry on commerce over them, and have liberty of fishing therein freed from the obstruction or interference of private parties."1 This "public ownership," however, is increasingly thwarting the life-serving nature of waterways as sources of drinking water, fish, and recreation. Predictably, when a resource-whether a park, an alleyway, or a pond-is owned by "everyone," its users have less incentive to protect or improve its long-term value than they would if it were owned by an individual or a corporation. Users of "public property" tend to use the resource for short-term gain, often causing the deterioration of its long-term value-the well-known "tragedy of the commons." This phenomenon is perhaps nowhere clearer than in the case of waterways. "Public ownership" of waterways has led to, among other problems, harmful levels of pollution and depleted fish populations. Many waterways around the world have become so polluted that they are no longer fit for human use. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that one-third of America's lakes and nearly one-fourth of its rivers were under fish-consumption advisories due to polluted waters.2 In 2005, officials in China estimated that 75 percent of that nation's lakes were contaminated with potentially toxic algal blooms caused by sewage and industrial waste.3 And the World Commission on Water has found that half the world's rivers are either seriously polluted or running dry from irrigation and other human uses or both.4 By one estimate, the contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation that result from pollution and low water levels account for five to ten million deaths per year worldwide.5 In addition to containing harmful levels of pollution, many of the world's waterways are being fished in a manner that is depleting fish populations and threatening with extinction fish species such as red snapper, white sturgeon, and bluefin tuna-species highly valuable to human life.6 By 2003, primarily due to fishing practices associated with public waterways, 27 percent of the world's fisheries (zones where fish and other seafood is caught) had "collapsed"-the term used by scientists to denote fish populations that drop to 10 percent or less of their historical highs.7 In 2006, the journal Science published a study that offered a grim prediction: All of the world's fisheries will collapse by 2048.8 Whether or not all of the world's fisheries will collapse in a mere forty years, the data clearly show that current fishing practices are depleting supplies of many species of consumable fish. At best, at the current rate of fish depletion, many fishermen will lose their livelihoods and consumers will have fewer and fewer species from which to choose, species that will become more and more expensive. What solutions have been proposed? Federal and state governments have attempted to remedy these problems through regulation-violating rights and creating new problems in the process. For example, twenty-five states prohibit or severely restrict the use of laundry detergents containing phosphates, substances that harm aquatic life when present in water in high quantities.9 A growing number of state and local governments-including Westchester County, New York, and Annapolis, Maryland-are enacting similar regulations on phosphate-containing fertilizers.10 These laws violate the rights of detergent and fertilizer manufacturers by precluding them from creating the products they choose to create-and they violate the rights of consumers who want to buy such products rather than more-expensive, less-effective alternatives. Further, these rights-violating prohibitions have proven impractical in achieving their purpose: Despite many such regulations having been in effect for nearly forty years,11 an estimated two-thirds of America's bays and estuaries still contain harmful amounts of phosphates.12 Regulations regarding sewage treatment have proven similarly impractical: Since 1972, the federal government has forced water utilities to spend billions of dollars upgrading water treatment facilities, and yet, during the past four years, record numbers of beaches have closed due to pollution from sewage.13 And, for what it is worth, the EPA predicts that by 2016 American rivers will be as polluted by sewage as they were in the 1970s.14 Government efforts to address depleted fish populations have proven similarly impractical. The history of the halibut industry in Alaska is an illuminating case in point. In the 1970s, the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC)-a U.S.-backed intergovernmental regulatory agency-established a five-month fishing season in public waters off the Alaskan coast with the hope of maintaining halibut populations, which had become severely depleted. But forcibly limiting the time during which fishermen could operate did little to improve the fishery's viability: Fishermen simply worked more vigorously during the season, and the halibut population remained at historically low levels. So, in the 1980s, the IPHC attempted to remedy the problem by reducing the five-month fishing season dramatically-to as few as two days.15 During these shortened windows of opportunity, fishermen took extreme risks to maximize their catches, only to be "rewarded" onshore with the plummeting prices of a glutted market. And, in the end, the huge catches brought in by fishermen on these days were still large enough to jeopardize the halibut population.16 So, in 1995, the IPHC dropped the idea of a short fishing season and instead introduced a "catch share program," through which it limits each fisherman's yearly catch to a percentage of what it deems to be a "safe" overall halibut harvest. But neither has this policy helped the situation; today, after more than two decades of shifting regulations, the usable halibut population in Alaskan waters is less than in 1985.17 Although some claim that still more government regulations are required to combat the ongoing problems of pollution and depleted fish populations, any such coercive measures are in principle doomed to failure because they attempt to treat problems in the waterways while ignoring their actual cause: "public ownership." Government force may provide a disincentive for certain behaviors, but this disincentive does not motivate the users of waterways to maintain or enhance the life-serving value of these resources. As a result, America's waterways remain largely and significantly polluted, and fish populations, even where they are stabilizing, remain at levels insufficient to meet the growing demand for seafood. . . . Endnotes The authors would like to thank Craig Biddle, Dwyane Hicks, and Thomas A. Bowden for discussions that aided the authors' understanding of the issues discussed in this article, and Matthew Gerber, Ben Bayer, and Steve Simpson for helpful comments made to earlier drafts. 1 Illinois Central R.R. Co. v Illinois (1892) 146 U.S. 387, 452. 2 Jaime Holguin, "Pollution Overtaking Lakes, Rivers,," CBSNews.com, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/08/24/tech/main638130.shtml. 3 Antoaneta Bezlova, "China's Toxic Spillover," Asia Times, December 2, 2005, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China_Business/GL02Cb06.html. When consumed by fish, shellfish, and livestock, such hazardous algae can enter the human food chain. 4 Mary Dejevsky, "Half of World's Rivers Polluted or Running Dry," The Independent, November 30, 1999; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/half-of-worlds-rivers-polluted-or-running-dry-1129811.html. 5 http://www.grinningplanet.com/2005/07-26/water-pollution-facts-article.htm. 6 http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/species/red_snapper.htm , Species l ist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/SpeciesReport.do?groups=E=L=1; http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/07/060724-bluefin-tuna.html. 7 "Catch Shares Key to Reviving Fisheries," Environmental Defense Fund, http://www.edf.org/article.cfm?contentID=8446. 8 Cornelia Dean, "Study Sees 'Global Collapse' of Fish Species," New York Times, November 3, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/03/science/03fish. 9 http://enviro.blr.com/enviro_docs/88147_9.pdf. 10 Juli S. Charkes, "Board Votes to Ban Phosphate Fertilizers," New York Times, May 1, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/nyregion/westchester/03lawnwe.html; Karl Blankenship, "Annapolis to Ban Use of Fertilizer with Phosphorus in Most Cases," Bay Journal, http://www.bayjournal.com/article.cfm?article=3511. 11 Michael Hawthorne, "From the Archives: Banned in Chicago but Available in Stores," Chicago Tribune, April 4, 2007, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-daley-phosphates,0,2871187.story. 12 http://www.grinningplanet.com/2005/07-26/water-pollution-facts-article.htm. 13 http://www.nrdc.org/water/oceans/ttw/titinx.asp and http://epa.gov/beaches/learn/pollution.html#primary. 14 Martha L. Noble, "The Clean Water Act at 30-Time to Renew a Commitment to National Stewardship," Catholic Rural Life Magazine, vol. 45, no. 2, Spring 2003, http://www.ncrlc.com/crl-magazine-articles/vol45no2/Noble.pdf. 15 http://www.fishex.com/seafood/halibut/halibut.html. 16 Halibut populations continued to decline, and the IPHC decreased the allowed catch more than 26 percent between 1986 and 1995. http://www.iphc.washington.edu/halcom/commerc/limits80299.htm. 17 The total catch share for halibut-which is based on "exploitable biomass"-declined between 1985 and 2009. For 1985 limits, see http://www.iphc.washington.edu/halcom/commerc/limits80299.htm. For 2009 limits, see http://www.iphc.washington.edu/halcom/newsrel/2009/nr20090120.htm.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Gideon Reich
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Norman Podhoretz, Jewish neoconservative and former editor-in-chief of Commentary magazine, attempts in his book Why Are Jews Liberals? to answer the perplexing commitment of American Jews to modern liberalism. Jews, according to Podhoretz, violate "commonplace assumptions" about political behavior, such as that "people tend to vote their pocket books"; they "take pride . . . in their refusal to put self-interest . . . above the demands of \'social justice\'"; and they have consistently sided with the left in the "culture war" (pp. 2-3). According to statistics cited by Podhoretz, 74 percent of Jews support increased government spending and, since 1928, on average, 75 percent have voted for candidates of the Democratic Party. Such political behavior "finds no warrant either in the Jewish religion or in the socioeconomic condition of the American Jewish community" (p. 3), argues Podhoretz; it can be explained only by realizing that Jews are treating liberalism as a "religion . . . obdurately resistant to facts that undermine its claims and promises" (p. 283). Podhoretz traces the prevalent political orientation of present-day Jews to conditions suffered by their Jewish ancestors in medieval Europe and later in the United States. During the Dark and Middle Ages, Christian authorities in Europe placed severe restrictions on Jews, including where they could live and what professions they could practice. In later centuries, as the influence of Christianity declined, liberal revolutions swept much of the European continent, and, in the 19th century, Western European governments began recognizing the rights of Jews and treating them as equal under the law (p. 57). Even so, conservative Christians, who still supported the monarchies, remained opposed to the "emancipation" of the Jews (pp. 55-57). Consequently, Jews entered politics in Europe almost exclusively as liberals, in opposition to the Christian right that had oppressed them and their ancestors (pp. 58-59). Governments in Eastern Europe and Russia, however, continued to persecute Jews well into the early 20th century (pp. 65-67), and, between 1881 and 1924, two million Jews immigrated to America, where they would be treated equally before the law. Most were poor, and few ventured out of Lower East Side Manhattan, where the majority found jobs in the textile industry, working more than sixty hours a week for low wages, and where even "modest improvements in their condition" were achieved only by the efforts of a Jewish labor movement (pp. 99-100). . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, America, Europe
  • Author: Jorge Dezcallar
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Ambassadors Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Relations between Spain and the United States are rooted in historical ties that date back to 1778, when Spain provided military and financial assistance to the fledgling nation during the American War of Independence. Since that time and following several historical developments, Spain and the United States have become friends and allies. We share the same values; we deal with the same threats. Our strategic vision of the world is similar, and we work together to meet today's global challenges.
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Spain
  • Author: David Lewis
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: World Policy Journal
  • Institution: World Policy Institute
  • Abstract: In medieval times, traders carried jewels, spices, perfumes, and fabulous fabrics along the legendary Silk Route through Central Asia. Today, the goods are just as valuable, but infinitely more dangerous. Weapons and equipment for American troops in Afghanistan travel from west to east, along the vital lifeline of the Northern Supply Route. In the other direction, an unadvertised, but no less deadly product travels along the same roads, generating billions of dollars in illicit profits. As much as 25 percent of Afghanistan's heroin production is exported through the former Soviet states of Central Asia, and the UN's drug experts express grave concerns. Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN's Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), claims that the “Silk Route, turned into a heroin route, is carving out a path of death and violence through one of the world's most strategic, yet volatile regions.” A report from his office asserts that there is a “perfect storm spiraling into Central Asia” with drug trafficking funding terrorist groups and insurgency, fostering instability and conflict, and leaving a host of health problems behind. This should be a wake-up call to Central Asian governments. Yet, oddly, nobody seems to care very much.
  • Topic: Crime, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, America, Central Asia
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: On May 31, 2010, a flotilla of six ships manned by alleged "peace activists" motored toward Gaza, which, since 2007, has been controlled by the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group Hamas. But because Hamas openly seeks to destroy Israel and has already fired "more than 4,000 rockets and mortar shells [into the state] from Gaza," Israel has imposed a blockade on the region. The "peace activists" ostensibly sought to breach the blockade and reach Gaza to deliver "humanitarian aid." Their real goal, however, was revealed by their own words and actions.
  • Topic: Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: America, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Paul Hsieh
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known colloquially as "ObamaCare"), declaring that the law would enshrine "the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care."1 But, for reasons I have elaborated in previous articles in TOS, far from establishing security regarding Americans' health care, this new law will make quality health care harder to come by and more expensive for everyone. Unfortunately, until our politicians rediscover the principle of individual rights, choose to uphold it, and reverse this monstrosity of a law, we Americans are stuck with it and will have to cope the best we can.
  • Topic: Government, Health
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Ramin Asgard
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: al Nakhlah
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: In his seminal review of modern American cultural diplomacy, The First Resort of Kings, American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century (2005), Dr. Richard Arndt explored the full breadth of this important element of American international statecraft. Arndt defined cultural diplomacy by first considering how it contrasted with “cultural relations, or “relations between national cultures, those aspects of intellect and education lodged in any society that tend to cross borders and connect with foreign institutions.” Cultural diplomacy, he stated, “can only be said to take place when formal diplomats, serving national governments, try to shape and channel this natural flow to advance national interests.”
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Iran
  • Author: Stella Daily Zawistowski
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In their desire for less expensive, higher quality, more accessible health care, Americans have accepted a false alternative: fully regulated, socialized medicine, as advocated by Democrats, or semi-regulated, semi-socialized medicine, as advocated by most Republicans. But if Americans want better health care, they must come to recognize that government intervention, great and small, is precisely to blame for America's health care ills. And they must begin to advocate a third alternative: a steady and uncompromising transition toward a rights-respecting, fully free market in health care. In order to see why this is so, let us first consider the unfree, rights-violating nature of American health care today. Under our current semi-socialized health care system (which both Democrats and Republicans created), the government violates the rights of everyone who provides, purchases, insures, or needs health care. It violates the rights of doctors by forcibly subverting their medical judgment to the whims of government bureaucrats or to the heavily regulated insurance companies; it violates the rights of citizens in general by forcing them to buy insurance with a mandated set of benefits; it violates the rights of insurers by prohibiting them from selling plans of their design to customers of their choice at prices they deem economically appropriate; it violates the rights of pharmaceutical companies by forcing them to conduct trials that, in their professional judgment, are unnecessary; and it violates the rights of suffering and dying patients who wish to take trial medications but are forbidden to by law. These instances merely indicate the numerous ways in which the government violates the rights of health care participants, but they are enough to draw the conclusion that Americans are substantially unfree to act in accordance with their own judgment—a fact that alone is sufficient reason to condemn our current system as immoral. But, as we shall see, the immoral nature of the current system is also precisely what makes it impractical. The system is in shambles because of these rights violations, a fact that will bear out on examination of the three aspects of health care of most concern to Americans: its cost, its quality, and its accessibility. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Last quarter we focused on remarks by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaiming that “America is back in Asia,” an obvious dig at real and perceived neglect of Asia by the previous administration. This quarter, both were forced to postpone planned trips to Asia although, in Secretary Clinton's case, not before giving a major Asia policy address in Honolulu. This quarter also ended the same as last, amid hints that Pyongyang really would, at some not too distant point (but not this past quarter), return to six-party deliberations. On a more positive note, it looks like arms control agreements are on the way back, following the announcement that the US and Russia had finally come to terms on a new strategic arms agreement, to be signed by both presidents in April. Speculation about the “changing balance of power” in Asia also continues as a result of China's economic resilience and apparent newfound confidence, although it still seems premature to announce that the Middle Kingdom is back, given the challenges highlighted at this year's National Peoples' Congress. Political normalcy also appears to be a long way from returning to Bangkok where the “red shirts” have once again taken to the street, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, America, Asia, Bangkok