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Monday, May 31, 2004

The Real Mill.

Karen De Coster
rightly notes that John Stuart Mill is no friend of libertarianism.

So many people who are perceived as libertarians, but are not at all, such as Richard Posner and other Chicago types, refer to the non-agression axiom as the "Mill principle," as though Mill came up with the idea, or provided the best case for it. It just ain't so.

Of course, the real story on Mill is that he was a socialist, and he became a socialist because he allowed himself to be led around by the nose by a Mrs. Taylor. Sadly, allowing a woman to control one's life in this way has been the downfall of many a great man. (A fact we here at keep in mind at all times.)

On the other hand, it seems to be working out okay for John Kerry.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 2:52 PM

Monday, May 24, 2004

Boring Reads?

Stephan Kinsella
says that he finds the little hardback books written by the late Leonard E. Read "boring," and adds that they "have sat on my shelf for over a decade now, collecting dust."

To some extent, I know what he means, because I have a collection of Read books just like it, including probably 10 or so that I have not read and might well never read.

But let us not dismiss all of this man's written work so quickly.

While some of those book titles may be, as Kinsella says, "meaningless," Read wrote two books relatively early in his writing career whose titles describe their contents precisely: Anything That's Peaceful and Elements of Libertarian Leadership. These two books respectively present Read's ideas on the ideology and methodology of libertarianism.

Anything That's Peaceful stated the basic libertarian idea, and described its application, in a clear and simple way, as few had done before. Elements, though it may contain some dubious theology, has important ideas on why trying to convert the mass man is not a good means of advancing liberty. It and "Isaiah's Job," by Albert Jay Nock, provided the ideas that motivated me to write my own material on more recent "excitement" at FEE.

By the way, Read reportedly took Elements of Libertarian Leadership out of print after he decided he didn't like the word "libertarian" anymore. One reason he may have disliked the word is because it had come to be used by anarchocapitalists like Rothbard. Read was firmly in the "limited government" camp, as one can see in another early, more focused book that he wrote, called Government: An Ideal Concept (!).

The other books that Read wrote in later years were generally less focused, and contained various short meditations on life and liberty. Without question, these things' marginal value is pretty small after you've read his earlier stuff. Read wrote them, I think, to refine his own thinking, and because the more stuff he put out there, the greater the likelihood that someone, somewhere would find it, and would find it useful.

Kinsella also mentions Rose Wilder Lane's Discovery of Freedom as another book he can't bring himself to finish. This one, too, sits on my shelf with a bookmark in it, about one third of the way through, where it has remained for maybe five years. I much prefer Henry Grady Weaver's reworking of the same material, The Mainspring of Human Progress.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 12:46 AM

The place for right thinking people.

Now that I've been there and
told the world, it appears that all manner of right thinking people are flocking to the Riviera Maya, south of Cancun, for fun in the sun.

Karen De Coster files two reports from Playa del Carmen, and Taki reports on the sort of affair that many people can only experience vicariously.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 12:20 AM

Worst decision ever?

Roe v. Wade? Lawrence v. Texas? There are many contenders.

Paul Craig Roberts is pretty convincing, however, in making the case for (or rather against) the awful Brown v. Board of Education:

Brown Myths Live in Law School

"The Brown decision rests on Gunnar Myrdal’s book, An American Dilemma. Tomorrow’s decision may come from lyrics to a rap song or from a legal decision in a South African or a French court."

Meanwhile, some folks over at the Volokh Conspiracy can't quite handle the less-than-PC line Roberts takes.

Alert readers may recall that one of my correspondents nailed this some time ago.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 12:11 AM

Monday, May 17, 2004

Now online: The Block-Epstein debate!

The dynamic debate between Walter Block and Richard Epstein, held last Monday at the University of Chicago Law School, is now in the archives at
Mises Media.

Hear these two giants of libertarianism in a feisty dispute on the issue: "Do we really need eminent domain?"

Here's the direct link to the mp3 audio:

Walter Block and Richard Epstein, "Do We Really Need Eminent Domain?"

Your feedback on this debate would be appreciated.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 10:45 PM

Friday, May 14, 2004

Suddenly, I wish I subscribed to Reason.

I don't like the quasi-libertarian Reason magazine quite enough to subscribe to it, but I do like it enough to pick it up when I see on the stand at Borders. This is somewhat paradoxical, I'll admit, since it's costing me more to buy it off the shelf pretty much every month than it would to subscribe. I'd like to think I'm making a statement of some sort, but I'll have to get back to you on exactly what that statement is.

At any rate,
this is cool. My compliments to them on a most innovative idea.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 3:14 AM

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Block vs. Epstein online soon.

Many people have e-mailed me asking either for details on how Monday's
debate between Walter Block and Richard Epstein went, or if a recording will be available.

An audio recording will be available soon, on, and you'll be able to hear it all for yourself.

So keep your eyes open, and get ready for what was, indeed, a feisty contest of libertarian ideas, and a huge success all around. My personal thanks to Walter Block, Richard Epstein, Lew Rockwell, and the Mises Institute for making it possible!

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 8:57 AM

Sunday, May 09, 2004

F-word retracted.

Karen De Coster
apologizes for her libelous statement about me.

Elsewhere, Stephan Kinsella adds his thoughts. (I, too, think Friends is a-okay when Jennifer Aniston is on screen, provided that the mute button has been pressed, so I don't have to hear any lame one-liners.)

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 11:36 PM

Saturday, May 08, 2004


Based on a
previous post, Karen De Coster has mistaken me for a "Friends watcher"!

Let me assure the world that nothing could be further from the truth. My hatred for Friends knows no limits. I firmly believe it is the worst television show ever, combining everything that is bad about both sitcoms and soap operas. Miss De Coster was absolutely correct in saying that it is "for morons." Its popularity certainly makes a sad statement about our culture. I am shocked that even some seemingly intelligent, educated adults can find this show at all funny or interesting.

Thus, I found Miss De Coster's statement about watching the Pistons game ironic, coming right after her entirely accurate comment about Friends, given that pro team sports are played primarily by "morons," and enjoyed primarily by morons (but not exclusively, as Miss De Coster and others of my acquaintance prove).

Moderate sports fandom certainly isn't as bad as even casual Friends watching, though. A person who finds Friends even remotely entertaining is obviously of no use to me at all, whereas at least a few sports fans are mostly okay otherwise.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 8:49 PM

An idea whose time has come, again.

Local governments sometimes discourage university students who live there temporarily from voting. In response, Amber Taylor
asks, "But if childless renters with low wage jobs who merely pay sales tax and use the roads deserve the vote less than families who own homes and businesses, why not just reinstitute a property requirement for voting?"

Indeed, why not? These local governments understand why we had the property requirement in the first place, and why it was a good rule. For someone who claims to be a libertarian, restricting the vote should be a no-brainer.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 7:57 PM

Judge not, lest...

Karen De Coster:

I am so tired of the Friends eulogies all week, everywhere I turn. A show by morons, for morons.


Time to go. Pistons game is on.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 3:50 PM

Friday, May 07, 2004

Super size critic.

It's worth reading
Roger Ebert's review of Super Size Me, in which he writes, "Eating responsibly at McDonald's is like going to a strip club for the iced tea." More importantly, he offers these words of wisdom, after losing 86 pounds in under two years:

You didn't ask, but what I Truly Believe is that unless you can find an eating program you can stay on for the rest of your life, dieting is a waste of time. The pounds come back. Instead of extreme high-protein or low-carb diets with all their health risks, why not exercise more, avoid refined foods and eat a balanced diet of fruits and veggies, whole grains, fish and a little meat, beans, soy products, low-fat dairy, low fat, low salt? Of course I agree with McDonald's that a visit to Mickey D's can be part of a responsible nutritional approach. That's why I've dined there twice in the last 17 months.
And when you've finished that morsel, check out his review of the the Olsen Twins' new movie. I love how he devotes so much print and thought to even the most trifling movie.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 1:38 PM

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Those Iraqi prisoners deserved it for not being feminist enough.

That's the conclusion I draw from
Virginia Postrel's analysis.

Apparently, Iraqi prisoners should know that it's insensitive to say that severe torture that you personally endured, including sexual torture, made you, as a man, feel emasculated. (Compare her out-of-context quote to the full context of the statement on the site from which she drew the quote.)

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 3:39 PM

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Don't overeat, and get enough exercise.

That's the message of Super Size Me the new documentary film by Morgan Spurlock, in which the filmmaker eats nothing but McDonald's "meals" for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 30 days.

Here's an interview with Spurlock on the making of the film, and the ideas he's trying to get across.

I agree with the film's message overall, but Spurlock doesn't seem to understand economics as well as he understands diet and exercise. He says:

People will buy what you sell them, McD knows this. If they pump and sell healthy food, they will make money, they just have to be more steadfast in their decisions and they should not just turn out junk with healthy looking possibilities, but food that is not loaded with preservatives and that will nurture the body and the mind at the same time.
No, McDonald's knows that it has to please consumers, and that's how it's gotten where it is. If McDonald's quit selling burgers and started selling rice patties, everyone would flock to Burger King and Wendy's, and McDonald's would soon be out of business, and rightly so.

Super Size Me opens in select cities on Friday... and one of those cities happens to be Chicago, so I know where I'll be at some point this weekend. (Hint: Not McDonald's.)

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 11:01 PM

We bought it to help with your homework.

This music video is brilliant:

Hey, Hey, 16k

Especially if you, like me, grew up using a Commodore 64 and other great machines of the 80's.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 7:12 PM

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Block debates Epstein on eminent domain, Monday, May 10!

Here's an article from the University of Chicago's student newspaper about the upcoming live debate on eminent domain between the Mises Institute's own Walter Block, who says we don't need it, and the University of Chicago's Richard Epstein, who says we must have it.

Are you in the Chicago area, and interested in attending this historic live debate between leaders of the Austrian and Chicago schools of economics?

Here are the details:

What: Walter Block and Richard Epstein debate "Do We Really Need Eminent Domain?" Sponsored by the Mises Institute. The debate is free and open to the public.

Where: The University of Chicago Law School, first floor, Room IV. The Law School is located at 1111 East 60th Street in Chicago.

When: Monday, May 10, beginning promptly at 12:13 p.m. It is critical that everyone who wishes to attend arrives on time. No one will be admitted after the debate begins.

Parking: Free parking is available on the street, but finding a space may be difficult at this time of day. There is a pay lot on University Avenue ("Lexington Lot U"), between 58th and 59th Streets. From the lot, walk south, across the Midway, to 60th Street and the Law School. An online campus map is available here.

If you have any questions, e-mail me.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 10:38 PM

Monday, May 03, 2004

Sometimes the truth isn't in "good taste."

didn't run one of Ted Rall's recent cartoons, because it didn't meet its standards of "fairness and taste."

However, it does meet mine, and it reflects my gut reaction to the news about the "heroic" Pat Tillman, so here you go:

The fawning over Tillman is typical of the mentality that says, "Well, even if you don't support the war, you've got to support our troops!" Says who? Anyone who bothers to learn anything about the world around them should know that the US military is not in the business of defending America, and is in the business of meddling and killing innocents around the world. And if you sign up to participate in that, you're part of the problem.

(Via Drudge.)

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 8:44 PM

Senile, evil, or both?

Just when I thought I'd heard and read everything I would ever need to on "the neocons," along comes a shocking new low, in
this piece from the Washington Post:

"The trouble with the emphasis in conservatism on the market," Buckley told me, "is that it becomes rather boring. You hear it once, you master the idea. The notion of devoting your life to it is horrifying if only because it's so repetitious. It's like sex." Kristol confessed to a yearning for an American empire: "What's the point of being the greatest, most powerful nation in the world and not having an imperial role?"
What sick, strange individuals. It must take some serious bloodlust and other dysfunctionality to find the constant innovation and peaceful cooperation of the market horrifyingly "boring."

(Link via LRC.)

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 3:22 PM

Sunday, May 02, 2004

In case you weren't sure if The Matrix is totally gay.

'Matrix' co-creator ready to be whole new woman


- posted by J. H. Huebert at 3:12 PM

The New York Times, on the trailing edge, as usual.

Reason, May 2000:
Goin' Down to South Park: How kids can learn from "vile trash."

J. H. Huebert, March 31, 2004: Is South Park going PC on us?, April 27, 2004: The Politics of South Park

New York Times, April 28, 2004: What? Morals in 'South Park'?

And, of course, the Times manages to miss most of what's really important, and sees The Passion episode as exemplary rather than an aberration.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 2:44 PM

No stopping the merchants of death.

Don Boudreaux
observes that the recent loss of the CEO and Chairman of McDonald's hasn't disrupted the ability of McDonald's to serve consumers. He adds:

But compare our expectation – indeed, our knowledge – that McDonald’s will continue supplying fast food even upon the sudden death or departure of its head man with the presumption that infuses most news stories about the death or capture of drug kingpins. On such occasions, reporters and, especially, law-enforcement officials typically talk of how the demise of the drug kingpin is a significant blow to the supply of illegal narcotics.
Taking out drug kingpins not only doesn't stop the drug trade, as Boudreaux correctly notes, it also causes more violence, as those lower in the ranks may fight to take the kingpin's place. That violence may also affect entirely innocent people.

This does not typically happen, of course, in markets that have not been driven underground by a government "war" against them.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 2:21 AM

Copyright 2004 J. H. Huebert.