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  • Author: John David Lewis
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: What does the bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, HR3962, short-titled the "Affordable Health Care for America Act," actually say about major health-care issues? I here pose a few commonsense questions, cite some relevant passages, and offer a few brief comments. (The bill is available at http://docs.house.gov/rules/health/111_ahcaa.pdf.)
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Doug Altner
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Over the past few years, Somali pirates have attacked numerous ships, hijacking more than forty in 2008, holding more than six hundred seafarers for ransom that same year,1 and extorting more than $150 million in ransom payments from December 2007 to November 2008.2 More troubling is that, as of September, reported pirate attacks for 2009 have already surpassed the total number reported in 2008-a strong indication that the problem of piracy is only worsening.3 Because of these attacks, shipping companies must choose between navigating dangerous waters and taking costly alternate routes in order to protect their crews and goods. In November 2008, Maersk, one of the world's largest container shipping companies, announced that, until there are more convoys to protect its ships from attacks, some of its fleet will avoid taking the most direct sea route to the East through the Suez Canal, which leads to pirate-infested waters.4 By taking the next best route from Europe to the East-around South Africa's Cape of Good Hope-shipping companies such as Maersk will add an average of 5.7 days and three thousand miles to each trip. The average annual cost of this route change to such a shipping company will range in millions of dollars for each of its ships that uses the alternate route,5 not to mention short- and long-term expenses from additional wear on its vessels. And, of course, given the integrated nature of the economy and the amount of goods shipped to and from the East, such route changes negatively affect all industries, directly or indirectly. Although the piracy threat has been well known to those in the shipping industry for a few years, it became manifest to most Americans in April 2009 when Somali pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama and captured twenty U.S. sailors. Although the sailors soon regained control of the ship,6 four pirates took Captain Richard Phillips hostage on a lifeboat. The three-day standoff that ensued ended when a team of navy SEAL snipers rescued the captain.7 Fortunately, neither the captain nor any sailors were seriously harmed during this attack-but it is disconcerting that a small gang of third-world pirates dared to attack an American ship and abduct its captain. Why were the pirates not afraid of a standoff with the most powerful navy on earth? To determine what is motivating these pirates and how the U.S. Navy should best combat their attacks, many policy analysts, historians, and defense experts are looking to the Barbary Wars-two wars the United States fought in the early 19th century to end North African piracy-for guidance. These experts are wise to look here, for the situation surrounding the Barbary pirates of the revolutionary era is similar in important respects to the situation surrounding the Somali pirates of today. Like the Somali pirates, the Barbary pirates attacked trade ships, stole goods, took prisoners, and demanded ransom from wealthy nations with strong militaries. And like the Somali pirates, the Barbary pirates got away with their thievery for some time. But unlike the Somali pirates, who continue their predations, after the Second Barbary War the Barbary pirates stopped assaulting U.S. ships-permanently. Toward establishing a policy that can bring about this same effect with regard to the Somali pirates, it is instructive to examine those aspects of late-18th- and early-19th-century U.S. foreign policy that were effective against Barbary piracy and those that were not. In particular, it is instructive to identify why the First Barbary War failed to end the pirate attacks but the second succeeded. Let us consider the key events surrounding these two wars. . . . To read the rest of this article, select one of the following options:Subscriber Login | Subscribe | Renew | Purchase a PDF of this article
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, South Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Eric Daniels
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: On June 23, 2005, the United States Supreme Court's acquiescence in a municipal government's use of eminent domain to advance "economic development" goals sent shockwaves across the country. When the Court announced its decision in Kelo v. City of New London, average homeowners realized that their houses could be condemned, seized, and handed over to other private parties. They wanted to know what had gone wrong, why the Constitution and Fifth Amendment had failed to protect their property rights. The crux of the decision, and the source of so much indignation, was the majority opinion of Justice John Paul Stevens, which contended that "economic development" was such a "traditional and long accepted function of government" that it fell under the rubric of "public use." If a municipality or state determined, through a "carefully considered" planning process, that taking land from one owner and giving it to another would lead to increased tax revenue, job growth, and the revitalization of depressed urban areas, the Court would allow it. If the government had to condemn private homes to meet "the diverse and always evolving needs of society," Stevens wrote, so be it. The reaction to the Kelo decision was swift and widespread. Surveys showed that 80 to 90 percent of Americans opposed the decision. Politicians from both parties spoke out against it. Such strange bedfellows as Rush Limbaugh and Ralph Nader were united in their opposition to the Court's ruling. Legislatures in more than forty states proposed and most then passed eminent domain "reforms." In the 2006 elections, nearly one dozen states considered anti-Kelo ballot initiatives, and ten such measures passed. On the one-year anniversary of the decision, President Bush issued an executive order that barred federal agencies from using eminent domain to take property for economic development purposes (even though the primary use of eminent domain is by state and local agencies). The "backlash" against the Court's Kelo decision continues today by way of reform efforts in California and other states. Public outcry notwithstanding, the Kelo decision did not represent a substantial worsening of the state of property rights in America. Rather, the Kelo decision reaffirmed decades of precedent-precedent unfortunately rooted in the origins of the American system. Nor is eminent domain the only threat to property rights in America. Even if the federal and state governments abolished eminent domain tomorrow, property rights would still be insecure, because the cause of the problem is more fundamental than law or politics. In order to identify the fundamental cause of the property rights crisis, we must observe how the American legal and political system has treated property rights over the course of the past two centuries and take note of the ideas offered in support of their rulings and regulations. In so doing, we will see that the assault on property rights in America is the result of a long chain of historical precedent moored in widespread acceptance of a particular moral philosophy.Property, Principle, and Precedent In the Revolutionary era, America's Founding Fathers argued that respect for property rights formed the very foundation of good government. For instance, Arthur Lee, a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, wrote that "the right of property is the guardian of every other right, and to deprive a people of this, is in fact to deprive them of their liberty." In a 1792 essay on property published in the National Gazette, James Madison expressed the importance of property to the founding generation. "Government is instituted to protect property of every sort," he explained, "this being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own." Despite this prevalent attitude-along with the strong protections for property contained in the United States Constitution's contracts clause, ex post facto clause, and the prohibition of state interference with currency-the founders accepted the idea that the power of eminent domain, the power to forcibly wrest property from private individuals, was a legitimate power of sovereignty resting in all governments. Although the founders held that the "despotic power" of eminent domain should be limited to taking property for "public use," and that the victims of such takings were due "just compensation," their acceptance of its legitimacy was the tip of a wedge. The principle that property rights are inalienable had been violated. If the government can properly take property for "public use," then property rights are not absolute, and the extent to which they can be violated depends on the meaning ascribed to "public use." From the earliest adjudication of eminent domain cases, it became clear that the term "public use" would cause problems. Although the founders intended eminent domain to be used only for public projects such as roads, 19th-century legislatures began using it to transfer property to private parties, such as mill and dam owners or canal and railroad companies, on the grounds that they were open to public use and provided wide public benefits. Add to this the fact that, during the New Deal, the Supreme Court explicitly endorsed the idea that property issues were to be determined not by reference to the principle of individual rights but by legislative majorities, and you have the foundation for all that followed. . . .
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, America, London
  • Author: Gus Van Horn
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In August 1919, three white men brutally beat John R. Shillady in broad daylight outside his hotel. Shillady, also white, had come to Austin, Texas, as executive secretary of the NAACP to persuade state officials not to suppress its local branch. One of his attackers, a county judge, claimed that "it was my duty to stop him" because Shillady was there to "sow discontent among the Negroes" (pp. 105-106). In 1920, Shillady would resign from the NAACP, expressing despair for his cause: "I am less confident than heretofore . . . of the probability of overcoming, within a reasonable period, the forces opposed to Negro equality" (p. 109). And yet, not even a century later, the United States has elected its first black president-in an election in which race was hardly an issue. How did racial equality in America progress so far in so short a time? This is the remarkable story that Adam Fairclough relates in Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality, 1890-2000. Fairclough succeeds in making his introduction to the struggle for black equality accessible to the general reader in two ways. First, he concentrates on events in the South, wherein particularly harsh forms of racial domination made it the logical focus of black efforts to achieve equality. Second, he follows the lead of fellow historian John W. Cell and classifies the approaches taken by various figures in his narrative as either "militant confrontation" (defiantly opposing racial oppression), "separatism" (working toward the creation of an all-black society here or abroad), or "accommodation" (gradually securing improvements from within the system of white supremacy) (pp. xi-xii). It is from this perspective that the book's chapters examine prominent individuals, organizations, events, and periods of the civil rights movement. Fairclough begins his narrative at a time when blacks were "more powerless than at any other time since the death of slavery" and had been "purged from the voting rolls" of the former Confederacy (pp. 15-17). He proceeds to examine the many different ways in which blacks fought against discrimination and oppression: from the intransigent, confrontational approach of Ida B. Wells, who campaigned against lynching in the 1890s; to the accommodation of Booker T. Washington, whose emphasis on black self-improvement over confrontation is characterized by Fairclough as "a tactical retreat in order to prepare the way for a strategic advance" (p. 63); to the separatism of Marcus Garvey, who proposed that blacks fight for an independent, united Africa (p. 126). Fairclough continues this kind of analysis throughout subsequent chapters, where we learn, among other things, about the involvement of the labor movement and the Communist party in the civil rights movement during the 1930s, the evolution of the NAACP's strategy to include legal challenges to discrimination in education after World War II and then mass civil disobedience after 1955, and the rise and fall of the "Black Power" movement. . . .
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Alex Epstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Who were we that we should succeed where so many others failed? Of course, there was something wrong, some dark, evil mystery, or we never should have succeeded!1 -John D. Rockefeller The Standard Story of Standard Oil In 1881, The Atlantic magazine published Henry Demarest Lloyd's essay "The Story of a Great Monopoly"-the first in-depth account of one of the most infamous stories in the history of capitalism: the "monopolization" of the oil refining market by the Standard Oil Company and its leader, John D. Rockefeller. "Very few of the forty millions of people in the United States who burn kerosene," Lloyd wrote,
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, New York