Links of Interest to Activists

Bits & Pieces from around the web:

  • Have you ever been tempted to want to expand the federal government with a new bureaucracy? Lord knows, many people have. But those few libertarian hold-outs may have finally met the ultimate temptation — the anti-agency agency:

    The Government Reorganization and Program Performance Improvement Act of 2005 would create a standing sunset commission, which would review all federal agencies and programs every 10 years and recommend changes. If lawmakers did not vote to continue a program, its funding, not just its authorization, would automatically cease.

    Of course, the commissions (it will take two, apparently) would be full of people appointed by the politicians, so I’d be a fool to expect much good to come out of them, but daydreams are free.
  • Rahul Mahajan at Empire Notes takes a critical look at the U.S. anti-war movement:

    I begin with the observation that criticism of the war has been almost entirely as a fiasco, a failed and reckless venture, and not as a moral failure.…

    In one breath, one mentions torture by U.S. troops, checkpoint killings, the savage destruction of Fallujah, and then in the next one talks about the great bravery and nobility of the troops that did it and of one’s complete support for them. Well, such a complete disjunction between the evil of the enterprise and the nobility of those who carry it out is just untenable. There is no need to paint the American soldiers as any more monstrous than the cogs in other monstrous machines have been. But neither are they any less so.

    More important, the way they have conducted themselves and the way that Iraq has been treated since the regime change doesn’t just reveal something about the Bush administration. It doesn’t just reveal something about the military-industrial complex and corporate CEOs. It reveals something about American culture and about the deeper morality of this country and its people.…

    The Iraq occupation is a mirror in which to look at this country, and so far nobody wants to take a serious look.

  • Zeynep Toufe of Under the Same Sun examines the implications of a recent claim by a U.S. General that “U.S. and Iraqi forces have killed or arrested more than 50,000 Iraqi insurgents in the past seven months.”
  • And here’s a little something for the “harm reduction” advocates. Alcohol prohibition finally ended in in Athens, Tennessee — one of those freakish “dry town” hold-outs in our nation’s noble experiment. Well, when you keep an experiment going that long, you’re bound to pick up a few data points along the way. For instance:

    According to court records, Athens police made one less misdemeanor driving under the influence arrest in than in . The Sheriff’s Department and troopers made 37 fewer DUI arrests last year. That figure includes Athens police’s felony arrests.

    Driving under the influence includes alcohol and drugs.

    The city’s numbers are not staggering, but Athens police Capt. Marty Bruce said he sees an impact.

    On the weekends since Athens went wet, police typically arrest two to three drivers for DUI, Bruce said.

    “Before, it was eight to 10 people,” he said.

    How did legalizing alcohol cut down on drunk driving? The Decatur Daily decided to ask a drunk driver for his opinion:

    Kendall Dowell of Athens, who has four DUIs on his record, making him a felon, said going wet has kept people from driving to Huntsville and Decatur for alcohol.

    “It is much easier for people to get the alcohol here, stay home and stay safe,” Dowell said.

  • More from MANAS:

    In any society of the future worth talking about and working toward, independent moral decision will be the dominant cultural habit — the universal goal and the highest abstract good. So, when it comes to making a living, here and now, the primary task is to build a pattern of endeavor which permits that kind of decision — a pattern which, if and as it is successful, increases the opportunity for that kind of decision.

    In this regard…

    We recall the story [of] an eminent engineer whose professional abilities led him most naturally to municipal employment. This man, who was young in his career at the time of this episode, realized that municipal governments are sometimes corrupt. For him, right livelihood meant foresight in respect to the possibility that he might some day be asked to participate in dishonest practices, under pressure from the city fathers. Confronted by this abstract possibility, he laid plans for a small business of his own, so that he would be economically free, should he feel morally obliged to resign as city engineer. He was a man with a wife, two small children, and a mortgage, which made a steady income of substantial importance. It eventually happened that the small business was the means of preserving this man’s integrity without harm to his family.

    People sometimes tell me that they admire the stand I’ve taken, and “wish” they could do such a thing themselves, but for some financial reason or other, they cannot. Sometimes these reasons are unforeseeable and urgent — more often, they’re ordinary but expensive lifestyle choices. It is a rare person who, like the engineer in the example above, has the foresight to consider moral autonomy an asset worth valuing as such and worth including in financial calculations.