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Month: May 2005

White farmers reject Mugabe plea to return

by David Veksler David Veksler No Comments

The Telegraph:

White farmers evicted by Robert Mugabe’s government have reacted with contempt to an offer that they should return to Zimbabwe to take part in “joint ventures” with those who brutalised them and stole their land.

Gideon Gono, the governor of the country’s central bank, suggested the idea last Thursday as a possible solution to Zimbabwe’s economic crisis. …

During the evictions, some white farmers were murdered and many others were beaten and their families abused. The evictions prompted the collapse of the agriculture sector, the traditional engine of the economy.

Those who took over the farms had no specialist knowledge – and most farmland now lies uncultivated. The machinery has been stolen, buildings have been plundered and the former workers are starving. …

One tobacco and cattle farmer, who was forced off his property by armed squatters in 2000, said: “He can’t be serious. My house has been burnt down, my fields destroyed and he wants to invite me back?

“There has to be a proper return to respect for property rights. We need facts, not words and a legal framework. No one’s going to go back on the basis of this.”

More at Cox and Forkum

Defending Usury

by David Veksler David Veksler 2 Comments

In response to a comment by a friend who pointed out that the Bible expressly forbids usury, (as do all major world religions) I wrote a paragraph for Wikipedia presenting an argument in defense of usury.:

The primary argument given in defense of usury is that charging
interest is essential to guiding the investment process, which
cannot be sustained by charity even it were forthcoming due to the economic calculation problem. (In other words, interest rates are required to direct
investments to their most productive use.) According to this argument, interest-driven investment is essential to economic
growth, and therefore to the very existence of industrial civilization. If charging interest were outlawed, industrial
societies would quickly collapse due to the inability to efficiently allocate savings.

In addition to the defense of interest as such, the practice of
charging high interest rates backed up by the threat of
violence is also defended by those who point out that high interest
rates reflect the very fact that the loans are being given to
creditors with a high risk of default. The need for violence is due to
the failure of governments to see this fact, or to
adequately enforce the loan contracts (such as with overly lax
bankruptcy laws), rather than any immorality inherent in
moneylenders. Free-market economists point out that there is no such
thing as a “just” interest rate because interest
rates in a free market move towards an equilibrium determined by the time-preferences of individual debtors and lenders.

The fascist philosophy behind "Click it or Ticket"

by David Veksler David Veksler 3 Comments

Have you noticed the “Click it or Ticket” commercials and billboards going up across the country? The message goes something like “buckle up or pay: it saves lives.” Whose life is the state protecting? Presumably, it is the life of the previously un-buckled driver, as the commercials and billboards usually show young men driving alone, and I don’t think there are many injuries caused by bodies flying out and into other cars.

Why is the federal government spending $500 million dollars to aggressively enforce seat-belt laws? Why do our politicians feel that Americans are neither responsible nor intelligent enough to be concerned with their own safety? Common sense indicates that people are more likely to be concerned over their own safety than a Washington politician. Yet mandatory seat belt laws are one of many safety programs the government enforces “for our own good.”

The premise behind these programs is that individuals are property of the state, to be organized and shepherded for the “common good.” Virtually everything we do today is regulated by government regulations that replace our judgment with politically-mandated notions of what risks we are and are not allowed to take. And why not – if it desirable to the state to control individuals while driving, eating, working, and seeing the doctor, it follows that the state should regulate every other aspect of their lives as well. Without a principled and uncompromising defense of the individuals right to own his own life, we are reduced to being slaves of the omnipotent State, being permitted to live only at the mercy of a bureaucrat’s decision that we contribute to the common good.” What kind of philosophy takes us from Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson to politicians who believe that they have the right to coerce individuals in every aspect of their life?

There are a number of individuals who have taken these premises to their natural conclusion:

“It is thus necessary that the individual should come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole … that above all the unity of a nation’s spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual. …. – Adolph Hitler, 1933

“To be a socialist, is to submit the I to the thou; socialism is sacrificing the individual to the whole.” – Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s chief propagandist)

“The common good comes before the private good.” – Nazi slogan

“There is the great, silent, continuous struggle: the struggle between the State and the Individual; between the State which demands and the individual who attempts to evade such demands. Because the individual, left to himself, unless he be a saint or hero, always refuses to pay taxes, obey laws, or go to war.” -Benito Mussolini

“Comrades! We must abolish the cult of the individual decisively, once and for all.” – Nikita Khrushchev , February 25, 1956

“All our lives we fought against exalting the individual, against the elevation of the single person, and long ago we were over and done with the business of a hero, and here it comes up again: the glorification of one personality. This is not good at all.” -Vladimir Lenin

“We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society.” -Hillary Clinton, 1993

“We can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans …” -President Bill Clinton

For more, read my One Minute Case Against Mandatory Seatbelt Laws.

The DOJ versus e-mail

by David Veksler David Veksler 1 Comment

In the latest of a series of rulings, a federal judge has issued a $1.45 billion judgment against Morgan Stanley for not keeping records of email communications.
Partly in response to such rulings, many corporations now have detailed
email retention policies and keep years of email records. But this is a
lose-lose situation for companies: five years ago, New York Attorney
General Eliot Spitzer fined Morgan Stanley $10 million dollars because
it (like most firms at the time) did not keep e-mail records. Merill
Lynch was one of a few that did keep detailed records, and was fined
$100 million dollars for its efforts because some e-mails contained
compromising materials.

Keeping track of what e-mail is to be retained for how long is a
major headache – and not just for mail administrators like myself.
While SEC regulations require a variety of periods for record
retention, anti-discrimination statutes like the Data Protection Act of
1998 require that personal data should not be kept “for longer than is
necessary.” This effectively means that each e-mail user must be an
expert in the relevant laws in order to filter every single received
email into the appropriate category, as dictated by a multitude of
vague and contradictory regulations. Managers must obsess over trifling
communications sent by a low-level employee that might be uncovered by
prosecutors armed with powerful search software years later. The
consequent cost (or boon, depending on your perspective) to
software-development and consulting companies is enormous as well.

Can you guess the most likely response to the DOJ’s policy? If you
guessed that companies are likely to severely restrict e-mail use, you
might be right. Next on the DOJ agenda: requiring years of instant
messaging and phone records.

Crossposted to The Egosphere

New Blog

by David Veksler David Veksler No Comments

Since this blog is used primarily for musings of philosophical and political matters, I have started a new blog for technical topics –in particular, .Net web development. My first post is up, so if you’re into that sort of stuff, check out Smart Design