Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I recommend Steven Greenhut's article on R.C. Hoiles for an introduction to this great libertarian. His influence has been great, but little-studied. His consistency during invasions of civil liberties (such as the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII), his strident opposition to public school education (his frequently quoted “21 Ways.. is below), and his advocacy of individual rights has no match in the newspaper business.

As Greenhut points out, Hoiles states on 2/5/42 prior to the internment order:
"The recommendation of the grand jury to have all alien enemies removed from Orange County calls for a difficult undertaking. Every bit of wealth that these workers are prevented from creating, which we so badly need during the war, will have to be created by the labor of some other worker.

"Of course, there is no such thing as absolute security. We must run some risks in every move. Risks are life itself.

"It would seem that we should not become too skeptical of the loyalty of those people who were born in a foreign country and have lived in the country as good citizens for many years. It is very hard to believe that they are dangerous."

I was introduced to his son, Harry Hoiles, by Bob LeFevre and enjoyed discussing matters with him, ideological and otherwise. As Bob mentioned to me, Harry was his father's ideological child as well as his biological.

Here are some other online articles on RC:
one by Carl Watner
and some others--1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Freedom Newspapers now has a website dedicated to RC Hoiles (b. 11/24/1878) and a humorous commentary about the website is here
Hoiles’ “Unlimited Voluntary Exchanges
21 Ways “Public Schools” Harm Your Children
another version of “21 Ways…” with added commentary by Russell Bingman.

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

Monday, November 21, 2005

J.K. Rowling--Libertarian?


Benjamin Barton has a wonderful essay, "Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Bureaucracy" (forthcoming in Harry Potter and the Law (Jeffrey E. Thomas, ed., Carolina Press, 2006) on J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books (tip of the hat to Volokh). The Rowling series certainly has captured the imagination of an entire generation, as few works have before. Rowling does not venture into fundamental principles as, for example, Ayn Rand had done in her fiction, but it is well worth considering the politics (or anti-politics) of the framework of Rowling's novels. The abstract for Barton's paper states:
This Essay examines what the Harry Potter series...tells us about government and bureaucracy. There are two short answers. The first is that Rowling presents a government ... that is 100% bureaucracy. There is no discernable executive or legislative branch, and no elections. There is a modified judicial function, but it appears to be completely dominated by the bureaucracy, and certainly does not serve as an independent check on governmental excess.

Second, government is controlled by and for the benefit of the self-interested bureaucrat. The most cold-blooded public choice theorist could not present a bleaker portrait of a government captured by special interests and motivated solely by a desire to increase bureaucratic power and influence. Consider this partial list of government activities: a) torturing children for lying; b) utilizing a prison designed and staffed specifically to suck all life and hope out of the inmates; c) placing citizens in that prison without a hearing; d) allows the death penalty without a trial; e) allowing the powerful, rich or famous to control policy and practice; f) selective prosecution (the powerful go unpunished and the unpopular face trumped-up charges); g) conducting criminal trials without independent defense counsel; h) using truth serum to force confessions; i) maintaining constant surveillance over all citizens; j) allowing no elections whatsoever and no democratic lawmaking process; k) controlling the press. [my emphasis--Ken]

This partial list of activities brings home just how bleak Rowling's portrait of government is. The critique is even more devastating because the governmental actors and actions in the book look and feel so authentic and familiar... The Ministry itself is made up of various sub-ministries with goofy names ...enforcing silly sounding regulations... These descriptions of government jibe with our own sarcastic views of bureaucracy and bureaucrats: bureaucrats tend to be amusing characters that propagate and enforce laws of limited utility with unwieldy names. When you combine the light-hearted satire with the above list of government activities, however, Rowling's critique of government becomes substantially darker and more powerful.

Furthermore, Rowling eliminates many of the progressive defenses of bureaucracy. The most obvious omission is the elimination of the democratic defense. The first line of attack against public choice theory is always that bureaucrats must answer to elected officials, who must in turn answer to the voters. Rowling eliminates this defense by presenting a wholly unelected government.

A second line of defense is the public-minded bureaucrat. ... Rowling parries this defense by her presentation of successful bureaucrats (who clearly fit the public choice model) and unsuccessful bureaucrats. ...In Rowling's world governmental virtue is disrespected and punished.

Lastly, Rowling even eliminates the free press as a check on government power. ...I end the piece with some speculation about how Rowling came to her bleak vision of government, and the greater societal effects it might have. Speculating about the effects of Rowling's portrait of government is obviously dangerous, but it seems likely that we will see a continuing uptick in distrust of government and libertarianism as the Harry Potter generation reaches adulthood.

There has been a increasing number of posts by libertarians (see Patri Friedman, Brian Doss, Daniel D'Amico, and Natalie Solent, among others, for example) on the anti-state/Harry Potter/J.K. Rowling connection, and with good reason, as Benjamin's paper makes clear.

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Online Books!

Several books now online may be of interest to you:

Carl Watner's excellent collection of antipolitical essays by various authors, "I Must Speak Out: The Best of The Voluntaryist 1982-1999" (San Francisco: Fox & Wilkes, 1999. 499 pp.) is now available. This collection contains some of the finest essays from the nonpolitical (or social) libertarian standpoint available. For those who are only familiar with the political libertarian thinking will find many of these essays an eye-opener.

John A. Pugsley's The Alpha Strategy (Common Sense Press, 1980. 194 pp.) is also available at his Bio-Rational Institute (which I recommend). This was the work that brought John Pugsley on the NYT best-seller list for 9 weeks.

Richard D. Fuerle has two books online: The Pure Logic of Choice (Grand Island NY: Spooner Press, 1986) and Natural Rights: A New Theory (2003). The first work I read when it was published and was quite impressed with it. It still holds up quite well as an independent work on Austrian economic theory and freedom. The second work I've only cursorily read and find his theory of rights coherent and his elaborations worth reading more carefully.

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sperm Donor Found on the Web! Can Inheritance Rights, Child Support Be Far Behind?

I knew it was going to happen! The ramifications for privacy rights and family law will ricoche back and forth. As the Washington Post (11/13/05) reports:
Like many children whose mothers used an anonymous sperm donor, the 15-year-old boy longed for any shred of information about his biological father. But, uniquely, this resourceful teenager decided to try exploiting the latest in genetic technology and the sleuthing powers of the Internet in his quest.

By submitting a DNA sample to a commercial genetic database service designed to help people draw their family tree, the youth found a crucial clue that quickly enabled him to track down his long-sought parent.

"I was stunned," said Wendy Kramer, whose online registry for children trying to find anonymous donors of sperm or egg helped lead the teenager to his father. "This had never been done before. No one knew you could get a DNA test and find your donor."

While welcomed by advocates of children trying to locate anonymous donors, the case -- apparently the first of its kind -- has raised alarm among sperm banks and some medical ethicists. They are concerned it might start a trend that could violate the privacy of thousands of sperm donors and discourage future ones.

The case has also underscored how the growing number of genetic databases being established by governments, law enforcement agencies, private companies and research organizations could be used in unintended ways, potentially invading personal privacy and raising a thicket of social, ethical and legal questions.

"When you create these databases, you're creating something that has a lot of power -- far beyond what they were originally designed for," said David M.J. Lazer, who studies the legal implications of genetic databases at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "This seems like one of those scenarios."

The database involved in the sperm donor case was set up by Family Tree DNA of Houston, a private company that has accumulated more than 45,000 DNA samples. For a fee, clients hoping to learn more about their heritage can have their DNA tested to see if it matches anyone in the database.

"We provide services for genealogists. That's what we do," company spokesman Max Blankfeld said. "We really didn't have anything like this in mind."

In this case, the teenager scraped some cells off the inside of his cheek last year and sent in the sample with $296 to see if his Y chromosome, which is passed down from father to son, matched anyone on file.

"At first he just wanted to get a little more information about his paternal side, like countries or origin. That kind of thing helps people who want to know: 'Where am I from culturally? Where are my people from?' Any bit of information is so welcomed," Kramer said.

The youth has declined to be identified, revealing just the outlines of his case through Kramer's registry to protect the identity of his newfound biological father. The case was first reported by the British magazine New Scientist.

About nine months after submitting his sample and agreeing to be contacted by other clients, the U.S. youth heard from two men with Y chromosomes that closely matched his, Kramer said. Neither man knew the other, but the analysis indicated there was about a 50 percent chance that all three had the same father, grandfather or great-grandfather, Kramer said. The men also had similar last names, spelled differently.

Because the youth's mother had obtained the donor's date of birth and birthplace from the sperm bank, he paid another online service,, to buy the name of every person born there on the same day, Kramer said. One man with the same last name appeared on the list, and within 10 days the youth contacted him, said Kramer, who declined to reveal details about the donor's reaction.

"I think this kid would love to come out with his story, but for the time being those are the wishes of the donor," Kramer said.

Since word of the case emerged, several other offspring registered on Kramer's site, have clicked the link to the Family Tree DNA site in hopes of locating their biological father, she said.

"Given this case, more people will be putting their DNA in the pool so that potential connections can be made," Kramer said. "Not everyone who puts their DNA in is going to find their biological father, but now we've seen this as a distinct possibility. The DNA databases are just going to grow and grow, and this is going to be more and more common."

That scenario is likely to concern thousands of men who have donated sperm anonymously -- often college students or other young men who saw it as an easy way to make money -- according to sperm bank officials and ethicists. There are no reliable estimates of the number of Americans who have been born using donated sperm, but it could number in the hundreds of thousands.

"A fair number will be quite perturbed," said R. Alta Charo, a University of Wisconsin bioethicist. "They well may be wondering, 'Am I next?' "

Several experts said the relatively small number of people whose DNA is on file means the approach remains a long shot.

"The sperm bank involved in this case disclosed a lot more information than we do," said William Jaeger of the Genetics and IVF Institute of Fairfax, one of the nation's largest sperm banks. "In cases where the donor does not want to be identified, we do everything we can to protect them."

Nevertheless, Jaeger and officials at several other of the nation's largest sperm banks said the development is disturbing.

"Protecting the identify of our donors is paramount for us," Jaeger said. "It would become a problem if it became common. It would really reduce the number of donors available, and I think you would be doing a disservice to people who want to use sperm donors."

Many sperm banks offer donors the option to donate without anonymity and allow recipients to chose those donors. But those who opt to remain anonymous should be protected, officials said.

"I think it's unethical. It's an invasion of the donor's privacy and a breach of contract," said Cappy M. Rothman of the California Cryobank of Los Angeles, another large sperm bank. "If we were to expose our donors to being known, we would have many fewer donors."

Some ethicists said the rights of offspring outweigh those of donors.

"I have no sympathy for someone who wants to have a child but doesn't want the child to find out who their father is," said George Annas of Boston University. "If you're worried about it, you shouldn't be selling your sperm."

Other ethicists said the case illustrates the need to find ways to balance both interests.

"The overall issue is the importance of some offspring of donors to learn about their biologic parentage, which is a strong impulse in some children and needs to be taken seriously, with ways to accommodate that that are respectful of the privacy of the donors," said John A. Robertson of the University of Texas School of Law.

"At the very least, we may now need to inform donors that we may no longer have a foolproof way to protect them," Robertson said. "If the system is as porous as this case indicates, then at least we need to inform them that someone may track them down."

Moreover, the case illustrates that when people put their DNA on a database, it provides information about more than themselves, several experts said.

"DNA is the ultimate identifier," said Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University. "I don't know to what extent these databanks are taking their responsibility seriously to make sure people are aware of the possibility of these unintended disclosures."

As the editors of the American Journal of Bioethics say:
"London Guardian reports that:
Ending anonymity for sperm donors has contributed to a huge drop in the number of applicants, according to a study published in the journal Human Reproduction yesterday. The study centred on Newcastle Fertility Centre, where applications fell from 175 in 1994 to around 25 in 2003, with the sharpest fall from 2000 when the possibility of ending anonymity was first debated. The change in the anonymity rules introduced this year gives children conceived as a result of using donor sperm or eggs the right to know the donor's identity when they are 18.

If this surprises you then you live under a rock. Donor are basically identifiable already - good luck keeping records secret when a "recipient" comes calling to find dad."

Now, let's add inheritance rights and child support law to this and what do we have? State control of your cojones and ovaries--and your future!
Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

American Spies

Grace and Rachel Martin Capturing Two British Officers
The CIA (tip from Melissa Marsh) has a link to the spies in the American Revolutionary War who aided George Washington as the Committees of Secret Correspondence and others: Knowlton's Rangers, the mechanics (also known as the Liberty Boys), Haym Solomon and the Culper Ring (which may or may not have included the mysterious female, "agent 355"). Washington recognized the importance of the use of spies and constantly relied on their information. On March 24, 1776 he said
"There is one evil I dread, and that is, their spies. I could wish, therefore, the most attentive watch be kept... I wish a dozen or more of honest, sensible and diligent men, were employed... in order to question, cross-question etc., all such persons as are unknown, and cannot give an account of themselves in a straight and satisfactory line.... I think it a matter of importance to prevent them from obtaining intelligence of our situation."
An example of Washington's covert activities:
8 Miles East of Morris Town July 26: 1777.
By a Letter received this morning from Lord Stirling of the 22d Inst, I find he intends to pursue his Rout from Peeks Kill, thro Keckyate & Pyramus to the Great Falls -- From thence thro Watsessing -- Springfield & Brunswick or Bound Brook.
The reason of my being thus particular in describing Lord Stirling's Rout, is, Because I wish you to take every possible pains in your power, by sending trusty persons to Staten Island in whom you can confide, to obtain Intelligence of the Enemy's situation & numbers -- what kind of Troops they are, and what Guards they have -- their strength & where posted. -- My view in this, is, that his Lordship, when he arrives, may make an attempt upon the Enemy there with his division, If it should appear from a full consideration of all circumstances and the information you obtain, that it can be done with a strong prospect of Success. -- You will also make some enquiry How many Boats are & may be certainly [used?] to transport the Troops, in case the Enterprize [should?] appear adviseable. You will, after having assured yourself upon these [several?] matters, send a good & faithful Officer to meet Lord Stirling with a distinct and accurate Account of every thing -- As well respecting the numbers & strength of the Enemy -- their situation &c -- As about the Boats, that he may have a General view of the whole, and possessing all the circumstances, may know how to regulate his conduct in the Affair.
The necessity of procuring good Intelligence is apparent & need not be further urged -- All that remains for me to add is, that you keep the whole matter as secret as possible. For upon Secrecy, Success depends in Most Enterprizes of the kind, and for want of it, they are generally defeated, however well planned & promising a favourable issue.
I am Sir
Yr Most Obed Sert
G. Washington
Washington carefully evaluated his intelligence to sift the truth from the lies. Would that our current president were as careful.

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

Friday, November 11, 2005

Happy Armistice Day!

Thrones shall crumble,
Kings shall perish,
Howsoe'er their legions strive;
But the liberties men cherish,
They shall triumph and survive.
--Clinton Scollard

On this Armistice Day, peace should be on all of our minds. It is the anniversary of the official end of World War I on November 11, 1918, less than ninety years ago. It is a commemoration of the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month." The very term, "armistice", means a cessation of hostilities as a prelude to peace negotiations.

What a glorious word, PEACE. No organized violence on the part of any group, any nation. Property boundaries are respected and honored. Individual responsibility reigns, not power politics. But this can only occur where diplomacy is not defined as lies3, as politics is defined as lies2. It may be that we can mediate an honorable way out. It is necessary.

I have opposed war my entire adult life, from the Viet Nam War to today's cruelty. I neither support war against some criminal in another country, nor would I ever support making war against our kids in this one.

I have seen too many who signed up with the State Guards with the expectation of a weekend per month for college in the future to believe that they are killers who should be killed. The U.S. military has never been designed for seiges, nor long-term occupation. The continuation of our occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere is an aberrant abomination contrary to American tradition and will not last.

It is the classical liberal's responsibility to keep the flame of libertarian principles alive for all to see and to experience. It is our responsibility to constantly extend and expand those ideas into all areas of our lives--personal, social and political.

I've worked in mediation for too many years not to realize that there are viable, reasonable alternatives, such as VOM, VORP, mediation and alternative dispute resolution. There are many already long established organizations which provide effective tools for resolving international problems.

It is time to settle the American affairs in Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as possible. Peacefully. Our soldiers need to leave now and give the citizenry of those countries the opportunity to make their own decisions.

May you find peace.
May you be free.

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism