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Steve Langer (Ultrix)
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On last month's Fix;

the answer to last month's Fix, 

        "What should be done to fix welfare?"

What is the purpose of welfare? Is it to help the unfortunate through a rough point in their life, or is it meant to be a way of life? Is it meant to help the poor single mother who has been abandoned by the father of her child, or, is it meant to substitute the govt. for the role of provider and create an economic disincentive for the father to stay with his family? Is it to encourage those on the dole to seek out a better standard of living, or, is it to punish those who want to work by immediately cutting all cash and health care benefits the instant those people find a job - even one below the poverty level?

Right now, most states have no limit to the amount of time that a person can remain on Welfare. Most states reward single mothers with increasing AFDC payments for additional children, but withhold those benefits if the father lives in the household. Most states immediately cut aid for someone the moment they find a job, regardless of the wages or benefits of that job. The modern "Welfare State" was created by Lyndon Johnson in the mid-sixties as part of his "War on Poverty." Since then, we have spent over $4 trillion dollars, the black illigitamacy rate has climbed from 19% to over 60% (white rates from 11 to 30% ), and illiteracy is the highest it's been in this century. If money cures poverty, we can't afford the cure.

Wisconsin and Michigan have time limits. They don't reward women for bearing more children out of wedlock. They have a sliding benefits package to wean Welfare users off the dole, without cutting them off completely. Wisonconsin's Govnr Tommy Thomson even had the incredible idea a few years ago of tying AFDC payments to the condition that school aged children had to actually go to school. The program was called LearnFare. Of course, the state supreme court found the program unConstitutional, claiming that it put too much pressure on the children.

What does this all mean? Well, that's tough to say. At the very least, Wisconsin has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and Michigan's is dropping. Because these states spend less, they tax less making them more attractive to manufacturing and other business. Michigan has also gone from a $3 billion deficit (under the previous Dem govr), to a $1/2 billion state surplus now. Are illiteracy and illigitimacy dropping? Possibly. After only 4-6 years, it's too early to tell, but after 30+ years of the "Great Society", I think we can afford to wait a bit longer for more data.

On the Tax Code;

What is the purpose of the tax code? Is it to raise revenue to operate the govt., or is it a tool of social engineering to smooth out the injustices of life? Or, is the purpose of the tax code to guide our spending habits in our alledgedly free market?

Well, I think the Founders had this crazy idea that taxes were to pay for the common defense and a judicial system. Of course today we have sin taxes, energy taxes, pollution taxes, gift taxes, heredity taxes, interest/capital-gains taxes and income taxes.

The purpose of the first three is to compel us to spend money in a way that the govt. defines as "good." The purpose of the next two is to act as a transfer payment from those who have to those who don't (did you know that at your death, 75% of your estate beyond the first $600K goes straight to the Federal govt.) The purpose of the last two is to act as a transfer payment from those who produce to those who consume. As Walter Williams said in the March 29 _Detroit Free Press_,

  "If sin taxes punish sin and pollution taxes punish polluters, what
   do income taxes punish?"
But what could be more fair than the "progressive income tax?" Could someone explain to me why it is fair to tax someone who makes $30k/year at 28% and a millionaire at 48%? Is it because the millionaire doesn't experience as much hardship when buying a new car because the car is a smaller fraction of their worth? Yet is it not true that by buying more than the rest of us, the wealthy provide more jobs which produce additional income tax?

Of course the pinnacle of fairness is defined by pure democracy as exemplified in a stockholder's election. One vote per share. Those with a bigger stake get a bigger say, a linear weighting function as it were. I say we sell stock in the US, and you get as many votes as you own shares. Now that would be progressive.

On the Declining Dollar;

The dollar's fall can be attributed to a number of things. It started at the end of the Japaneese market's fiscal year (about the beginning of March). It started to gain again when Congress debated passing the Balanced Budget amendment, then dropped when that vote failed. It rallied slightly during dollar buy backs by Germany and Japan, then slid down further when Allen Greenspan announced that the Fed Reserve would not be raising interest rates this quarter. This, it appears, was the straw that broke the camel's back. The U.S. govt keeps raising interest rates on T-bills to attract foreign investment dollars, but increasingly, those investors are seeing the US go bankrupt to maintain a welfare state. With even the Fed Reserve shying off of decisive steps to shore up the dollar against devaluing pressures, the GATT nations in particular, are withdrawing their investments from this country. In a final irony, some 30 of the nation's billionaires, in an attempt to flee the Clinton taxes, have surrendered their US citizenship and moved elsewhere. However, a Presidential executive order has raised the exit tax to something like 80% of a person's net worth, so the remaining billionaires who were tardy in their escape, are now trying to find ways to move their assets offshore without moving themselves and incurring the 80% tax.

On Poetic Justice;

Near the beginning of this month, I was present in one of the MRI film reading rooms during the exam of a 50'ish male who was admitted for slurred speech, declining motor skills, and an inability to identify the larger of two numbers. While the malady was not diagnosed (at least while I was there), I asked, "What kind of carreer did this guy have that could do this to him?" It turns out that he was a director at one of the IRS regional centers. I am not making this up.

On the Media;

Today's NewsWeek (April 20) had an incredible story about the "heroism" of the reporters covering yesterday's bombing in Oklahoma City. One picture of CBS reporter Tim Robbins had the following caption,

  "... who in his rush to get on the air bypassed make-up"
ABC's anchor Peter Jenning's heroism was summed up,
  "... with his hair and tie a bit askew ..."
Of course, Newsweek also happened to mention that, by the way, some cops and firemen are risking their lives to pull out the injured. Yet you really have to wonder about the perspective of a press that can rank bypassing make-up as being as heroic as crawling into a burning, collapsing, building. Then again, maybe you don't need to wonder.

Guest Editorial:

Ed: I thought long and hard before scrapping this month's Guest in favor of my own thoughts, but I think the situation demands it.

Oklahoma City
by Steve Langer

Tonight (April 24) I watched in stunned disbelief as the nightly news (ABC, NBC and CBS) unanimously painted the most outrageous tapestry of lies imaginable on the backs of grieving thousands. As cynical as I am, even I found the willingness of the media to use this event as a ideaological soapbox a new low.

The "facts" as we now appear to know them are these:

That is all we know for sure. Yet the current line from the media, and President Clinton himself, is that this is all due to a climate of hate fomented by right wing radical talk radio. Yes, you read that right. Rush Limbaugh, Ollie North, G. Gordon Liddy and others, by simply disagreeing with the liberal mindset which has governed the nation for most of this century, are responsible for those deaths.

Will _Time_ and _NewsWeek_ magazines (who both carried images just before last Xmas of Newt Gingrich with the caption "The Gingrinch Who Stole Xmas") take responsibility for the assasination attempts on Gingrinch which followed those issues? Of course not.

The hypocrisy continued next to indict all state militias as ultra right wing fanatics, bent on overthrowing the govt. That may in fact be true, but that sword cuts both ways. If the Nichols were in fact operating under orders of the Michigan Militia, their target would not have been any arbitrary federal building, but more likely an IRS center, Capitol Hill, the White House, the FBI building or the BATF HQ. These are the centers of power that a militant Libertarian or anarchist would target, not just a generic office building. If the media would lift a finger to investigate the charters of these organizations, they would know this.

Finally, each 'news' cast ended with a call for renewed efforts at tightened gun control laws. That's right - gun control. Somehow, building a bomb with 1000 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer, 100 gallons of kerosene and some blasting caps adds up to an evil assault rifle. Why do I bother? And naturally, you can expect that this episode will provide justification for invasions of privacy, the scope of which even I cannot foresee.

What's the take home message from this editorial? It is this: free speech is only a guaranteed right if the speaker is liberal. Any dissension is a threat to the very fabric of our society. Nevermind that the entire history of this nation has consisted of a debate between Federalists and Statists. Today, to oppose via speech increasing centralization is treason. It promotes hate and leads to abominable acts. If the year was 1776 and Bill Clinton was King George, the press would be the loyalists demanding disarmament at all costs. Right wing talk radio hosts would be the equivalent of the Founders. It says something for how far the US has slid down the revisionist slope when those two groups have swapped places on the hero-villian spectrum.

I'm reminded of an episode of David Brinkley's Sunday morning talk show which took place shortly after the Waco inferno. Sam Donaldson said that the Davideans were little more than religios wackos with guns. George Will reminded Sam that the nation was founded by religios wackos with guns, only we call them Pilgrims today.


1. Paul Campbell educates us.

>From Sun Apr 9 13:59:56 1995

Re: "On Pursuit of the Truth" from last month's News

The journal used to be called The Journal of Irreproducible Results and the article you mentioned, "Tabletop Fusion", comes from the journal by it's previous name. You are still correct that it is now called Annals of Improbable Research.

Answer to, "Welfare reform, what should be done about it?"

Come now, Steve, softballs like this? Does the Bible not say,

Thessalonians, 3:11, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."
Of course you know that I don't buy into the Christian line anyways. So instead I will settle on the universal principle of theft. Or perhaps the universal concept is not so universal anymore. Either way, I consider the very idea of taking property from one person against their will for the benefit of another to be the general meaning of theft. It is also considered against the moral foundations of every country in the world. So, why is it that
It is believed to be "okay" to steal when it is done by the government and called taxation, but wrong for you and I to do it?
I personally believe that the whole question of what to do with welfare would be moot if we would quit teaching our kids that the answers to all of our social problems can be solved by litigation and latex prophilatics and try teaching them to respect private property, the immorality of diverse measures, the abusive nature of tyranny, and the wrongful nature of murder.

So, clearly the way to solve the welfare problem is to stop doing it. Is that so difficult to understand? I can hear the whining even now. What to do about the "needy". Let them fend for themselves. If they don't like it, then we can do things the "old fashioned way" which would be to throw them in jail (see previous paragraph) as accomplices. They can think of it merely as being extremely generous by granting them pardons.

However, in the interests of pragmatism, it could be done very simply. Offer the bill to cut welfare program X (whichever one you choose) along with a proposed across the board tax cut of the same size as the portion that program X occupies in the federal budget. That way, you are truly trimming that program completely out of the budget. In individual states, this could be offered as a referendum vote (even though this gaurantees it will be passed except in foreign autocracies like the People's Republic of Kalifornia or Massatwoshits.)

If anyone wants to call me cold, callous, cruel, etc., and if they can actually manage to defend their position, bring 'em on! I will even lay out the ground rules. They are allowed to use any references or material they want. The entire contents of the argument can occur via email ( All email on the subject is subject to publication. And I will restrict myself to using just two references to back up my claims:

The Law by Frederic Bastiat.

The King James Bible

Absolute Rights

Charles and I recently got into an argument of sorts over the age old question of what was intended by the "Bill of Rights", the idea of absolute rights, and specifically firearms ownership. There was an idea in English common law that there are certain absolute rights that transcend government as far as justice goes and extend to everyone, citizen or not. In reference to that argument, here is what William Blackstone had to say about it.

Note: From page xi (the introduction by Stanley N. Katz in my edition), he gives a quick explanation which goes a long way toward explaining the term "constitution" as it is used below.

Book I of the Commentaries is thus Blackstone's essay on constitutional law, "constitutional" in a specifically old-fashioned sense. By constitution, Bernard Bailyn has remarked, Blackstone and his English contemporaries meant "the constituted--that is, existing--arrangement of governmental institutions, laws and customs together with the principles and goals that animated them. Eighteenth-century Englishmen did not conceive of that the constitution in the same terms as did the American revolutionaries, as "a written document or even an unwritten but deliberately contrived design of government and a specification of rights beyond the power of ordinary legislation to alter...." The most original intellectual contribution of the American Revolution to public law was thus to conceptualize the constitution as fundamental law. As Gordon Wood has noted, "for Blackstone and for Englishmen generally there could be no distinction between the 'constitution or frame of government' and the 'system of laws.' All were one: every act of Parliament was in a sense part of the constitution, and all law, customary and statutory, was thus constitutional." Wood quotes a contemporary commentator as noting that, in England, "the terms constitutional and unconstitutional, mean legal and illegal."

Commentaries on the Laws of England by William Blackstone

>From a facsimile copy of the first edition of 1765-1769, pages 120-136.

For the principal aim of society is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of those absolute rights, which were vested in them by the immutable laws of nature; but which could not be preserved in peace without that mutual assistance and intercourse, which is gained by the institution of friendly and social communities. Hence it follows, that the first and primary end of human laws is to maintain and regulate these absolute rights of individuals. Such rights as are social and relative result from, and are posterior to, the formation of states and societies: so that to maintain and regulate these, is clearly a subsequent consideration. And therefore the principal view of human laws is, or ought always to be, to explain, protect, and enforce such rights as are absolute, which in themselves are few and simple; and, then, such rights as are relative, which arising from a variety of connexions, will be far more numerous and more complicated. These will take up a greater space in any code of laws, and hence may appear to be more attended to, though in reality they are not, than the rights of the former kind. Let us therefore proceed to examine how far all laws ought, and how far the laws of England actually do, take notice of these absolute rights, and provide for their lasting security.

The absolute rights of man, considered as a free agent, endowed with discernment to know good from evil, and with power of choosing those measures which appear to him to be most desirable, are usually summed up in one general appellation, and denominated the natural liberty of mankind. This natural liberty consists properly in a power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, unless by the law of nature: being a right inherent in us by birth, and one of the gifts of God to man at his creation, when he endued him with the faculty of free will. But every man, when he enters into society, gives up a part of his natural liberty, as a price of so valuable a purchase; and, in consideration of receiving the advantages of mutual commerce, obliges himself to conform to those laws, which the community has thought proper to establish. And this species of legal obedience and conformity is infinitely more desirable, than that wild and savage liberty which is sacrificed to obtain it. For no man, that considers a moment, would wish to retain the absolute and uncontrolled power of doing whatever he pleases; the consequence of which is, that every other man would also have the same power; and then there would be no security to individuals in any of the enjoyments of life. Political therefore, or civil, liberty, which is that of a member of society, is no other than natural liberty so far restrained by human laws (and no farther) as is necessary and expedient for the general advantage of the publick. Hence we may collect that law, which restrains a man from doing dischief to his fellow citizens, though it diminishes the natural, increases the civil liberty of mankind: but every wanton and causeless restraint of the will of the subject, whether practiced by a monarch, a nobility, or a popular assembly, is a degree of tyranny. Nay, that even laws themselves, whether made with or without our consent, if they regulate and constrain our conduct in matters of mere indifference, without any good end in view, are laws destructive of liberty: whereas if control of our private inclinations, in one or two particular points, will conduce to preserve our general freedom in others or more importance; by supporting that state, of society, which alone can secure or independence. Thus the statute of king Edward IV, which forbad the fine gentlemen of those times (under the degree of a lord) to wear pikes upon their shoes or boots of more than two inches in length, was a law that favoured of oppression; because, however ridiculous the fashion then in use might appear, the restraining of it by pecuniary penalties could serve no purpose of common utility. But the statute of king Charles II, which prescribes a thing seemingly as indifferent; viz. a dress for the dead, who are all ordered to be buried in woollen; is a law consistent with public liberty, for it encourages the staple trade, on which in great measure depends the universal good of the nation. So that laws, when prudently framed, are by no means subversive but rather introductive of liberty; for (as Mr. Locke has well observed) where there is no law, there is no freedom. But then, on the other hand, that constitution or frame of government, that system of laws, is alone calculated to maintain civil liberty, which leaves the subject entire master of his own conduct, except in those points wherein the public good requires some direction or restraint.

The idea and practice of this political or civil liberty flourish in their highest vigour in these kingdoms, where it falls little short of perfection, and can only be lost or destroyed by the folly or demerits of it's owner: the legislature, and of course the laws of England, being peculiarly adapted to the preservation of this inestimable blessing even in the meanest subject. Very different from the modern constitutions of other states, on the continent of Europe, and from the genius of the imperial law; which in general are calculated to vest an arbitrary and despotic power of controlling the actions of the subject in the prince, or in a few grandees. And this spirit of liberty is so deeply implanted in our constitution, and rooted even in our very soil, that a slave or a negro, the moment he lands in England, falls under the protection of the laws, and with regard to all natural rights becomes co instanti a freeman.

The absolute rights of every Englishman (which, taken in a political and extensive sense, are usually called their liberties) as they are founded on nature and reason, so they are coeval with our form of government; though subject at times to fluctuate and change: their establishment (excellent as it is) being still human. At some times we have seen them depressed by overbearing and tyrannical princes; at others so luxuriant as even to tend to anarchy, a worse state that tyranny itself, as any government is better than none at all. But the vigour of our free constitution has always delivered the nation from these embarassments, and, as soon as the convulsions consequent on the struggle have been over, the ballance of our rights and liberties has settled to it's proper level; and their fundamental articles have been from time to time asserted in parliament, as often as they were thought to be in danger.

First, by the great charter of liberties, which was obtained, sword in hand, from king John; and afterwards, with some alterations, confirmed in parliament by king Henry the third, his son. Which charter contained very few new grants; but, as sir Edward Coke observes, was for the most part declaratory of the principal grounds of the fundamental laws of England. Afterwards by the statute called confirmatio cartarum, whereby the great charter is directed to be allowed as the common law; all judgements contrary to it are declared void; copies of it are ordered to be sent to all cathedral churches, and read twice a year to the people; and sentence of excommunication is directed to be as constantly denounced against all those that by word, deed, or counsel act contrary thereto, or in any degree infringe it. Next by a multitude of subsequent corroborating statutes, (sir Edward Coke, I think, reckons thirty two,) from the first Edward to Henry the fourth. Then, after a long interval, by the petition of right; which was a parliamentary declaration of the liberties of the people, assented to by king Charles the first in the beginning of his reign. Which is closely followed by the still more ample concessions made by that unhappy prince to his parliament, before the fatal rupture between them; and by the many salutary laws, particularly the habeas corpus act, passed under Charles the second. To these succeeded the bill of rights, or declaration delivered by the lords and commons to the prince and princess of Orange 13 February 1688; and afterwards enacted in parliament, when they became king and queen: which declaration concludes in these remarkable words; "and they do claim, demand, and insist upon all and singular the premises, as their undoubted rights and liberties." And the act of parliament itself recognizes "all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and claimed in the said declaration to be the true, antient, and indubitable rights of the people of this kingdom." Lastly, these liberties were again asserted at the commencement of the present century, in the act of settlement, whereby the crown is limited to his present majesty's illustrious house, and some new provisions were added at the same fortunate aera for better securring our religion, laws, and liberties; which the statute declares to be "the birthright of the people of England;" according to the antient doctrine of the common law.

Thus much for the declarationof our rights and liberties. The rights themselves thus defined by these several statutes, consist in a number of private immunities; which will appear, from what has been premised, to be indeed no other, than either that residuum of natural liberty, which is not required by the laws of society to be sacrificed to public convenience; or else those civil privileges, which society hath engaged to provide, in lieu of the natural liberties so given up by individuals. These therefore were formerly, either by inheritance or purchase, the rights of all mankind; but, in most other countries of the world being now more or less debased and destroyed, they at present may be said to remain, in a peculiar and emphatical manner, the rights of the people of England. And these may be reduced to three principal or primary articles; the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty; and the right of private property: because as there is no other known method of compulsion, or of abridging man's natural free will, but by an infringement or diminution of one or other of these important rights, the preservation of these, inviolate, may justly be said to include the preservation of our civil immunities in their largest and most extensive sense.

>From this point, Blackstone goes on to enumerate the absolute rights according to the categories he set up. Under personal security, he includes life, and limb, body, health, and reputation. Under personal liberty he includes, imprisonment and other miscellaneous items. Property is also pretty clear.

Closing Comments

Well, I've pretty much done my part for the environment (slaughtered many trees and wasted bandwidth) for this month and made up for being conspicuously absent for a couple months.

Paul Campbell,

Ed: On a lighter note, Paul also sent the following:

>Forwarded-by: "Andrew S. Clapp" 

Dating Don'ts and Don'ts
-- A Handy Checklist for the Politically Correct 90's

Here, just in time for spring, is a list of things that are now
against the rules, according to the the sex-and-dating police.
Read -- and memorize -- this information to avoid lawsuits,
dismissal from work, expulsion from school -- or worse!

All these (and more) are on a list of "unacceptable gestures
and behaviors" distributed at the University of Maryland at
College Park.

Standing too close is one of a long list of "sexually harassing
behaviors" that Susan Strauss and Pamela Espeland caution us
"have been reported in U.S. high schools."  (Others are MAKING

London school official Jane Hardman-Brown refused to take her
students to see "Romeo and Juliet" on the grounds that it was
a "blatantly heterosexual love story."  (It's not clear whether
Hardman-Brown wants the play rewritten to celebrate alternative
lifestyles, or would prefer to have it banned altogether.)

University of Toronto chemistry professor Richard Hummel was
recently prosecuted for "prolonged staring" at a female student.

A handbook published at Barnard College in New York warns male
professors who fail to make sufficient eye-contact with their
female students that their conduct is "contributing to a biased
atmosphere in the classroom" which may cause women to "feel
discouraged and/or physically threatened."

If a woman makes a pass at her male boss, and her boss responds,
he (not she) is guilty of sexual harassment, according to Hunter
College professor Sue Rosenberg Zalk.  Zalk's term for this
underpublicized offense: "receptive noninitiation."

A report issued by a committee at the University of Pennsylvania
lists "women's names not remembered" as a pernicious form of
sexual discrimination.

The Minnesota Department of Education discourages "displays of
affection in hallways" on the grounds that such displays "may
offend others" and are "heterosexist."

Jeremy Rifkin, author of Beyond Beef, notes that "the statistics
linking  domestic violence and quarrels over beef are both revealing
and compelling."

And finally this, from Robin Morgan, former editor of Ms.:  If
a man's "self-deprecating humor" leads a woman to initiate sex
with him, then that man is -- in a "radical feminist" sense of
the term -- guilty of assault.

Source: The Official Sexually Correct Dictionary and Dating Guide 
        -- by Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf.

Ed: C'mon Paul, you know as well as I do that stealing by the state (ie. redistribution of wealth through taxes) is morally defensible for the same reason that state sponsored gambling (read Lotto) is. Because when you hold the guns, and you write the laws, you define what is moral.

2. Texas Tom writes

>From Thu Apr 20 10:35:05 1995

> "The US welfare mess, how would you fix it?"

Allocate everyone 24 months of Welfare and provide trade-learning programs.
You use it up, well, you had two years to fix things.  After that, ship the
poor to South America and get some of our workers working in the bigger
industries down there, like coke production.


3. The Rafeman pens from the Plains;

Date: Thu, 20 Apr 1995 12:27:24 EDT
X-Sender-Info: Rafe Donahue, MMD Statistics
               (816)966-7797, FAX: (816)966-6855


I think I can throw in my $0.02 on this one: I was reading Bill
Bennett's Book of Virtues and in there in the section discussing Work was
a letter that Abe Lincoln wrote to his brother-in-law. (You might want
to go look it up and include salient points for your readers with the
text.) Anyway, it seems that Abe's bro-in-law was kind of a free-loader
and was always asking Abe for loans and financial assistance. Abe
finally said 'enough is enough' and said that he would not loan him any
money but he would, get this, match dollar for dollar (up to a certain
amount, I believe) all the money that this guy went out and *earned*.

Could that work? How would that affect things like the minimum wage?
That sure would change welfare as we know it...

Also a funny thing:  I know a guy who was talking to his wife on the phone
one day.  Seems that he was at work and she was at home and the power had
gone out.  She needed to leave to run some errands.  What should she do?,
she asked.  "Don't open the fridge," he said, "and let me tell you how to
disconnect the garage door from the garage door opener so that you can get
the car out."  Her response: "Ok, I won't touch the fridge.  But I thought
about the garage door thing and I don't think it's going to be a problem:
the clicker in the car runs on a battery so things should work just fine."

Just some thoughts from the heartland,

4. Arizona Matt shares some new info, and a book review. {Matt, please forgive some of my editing to compact this.}

>From Thu Apr 20 16:33:12 1995
Subject: Epstein chronicles the futility of policies aimed at redistributing 
         income from rich to poor.

A Libertarian ex-colleague of Lori's sent me a copy of a message he got
from the Laissez Faire Book News mailing list.  I've asked to join the
list.  You can too by sending a message to Chris Whitten .

Date: 4/12/95 2:35 PM
From: Chris Whitten

Distinguished law professor Richard Epstein's radical principles for 
dismantling the welfare state and liberating people

by Richard A. Epstein
(reviewed by Jim Powell)

This book is a bombshell. While Congress considers tinkering with
Lyndon Johnson's Great Society giveaways and devolving school
lunch programs back to the states, University of Chicago
Distinguished Service Professor of Law Richard Epstein takes a giant
step to radicalize the debate. In his book bearing the prestigious
imprint of Harvard University Press, Epstein spells out an elegant
case for dismantling the welfare state. He goes after not only the
Great Society, but also Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, the so-called
Progressive Era and much more besides.

Epstein affirms that it is private enterprise, not government, which
makes a society harmonious and successful. The more complicated a
society becomes, the less government officials know about how
everything interacts, and the more laws backfire badly. Epstein
presents a compelling case that the fewer and simpler the laws, the

He proposes a legal framework based on six principles--about as
stripped down a government as you will see, short of trashing it
altogether. His principles: 

(1) individuals own themselves; 
(2) individuals may appropriate unowned property, so virtually
everything ends up belonging to someone; 
(3) individuals are free to make contracts with others; 
(4) tort law provides remedies when individual rights are infringed, as
by fraud, theft, robbery, rape or murder; 
(5) private property rights may be violated in a few cases of
overwhelming necessity such as to relieve starving people during a
(6) in all cases when government violates private property rights,
through regulation or outright seizure, government must pay the
owner just compensation. 

Then Epstein shows how these six principles, alone or in
combination, cover the great bulk of disputes which arise--and why,
therefore, thousands of outrageously complex, costly, intrusive and
counterproductive laws should be scrapped.

His radicalism gains intellectual power as he tackles one category of
laws after another. He explains how the present morass of
environmental laws and regulations have resulted in consequences
which are the opposite of what was intended. Then he shows why
environmental laws often aren't even needed. He favors a market for
"pollution rights" which would help limit pollution while encouraging
technological improvements, unlike the EPA's discredited "command
and control" regulations.

Epstein tells how U.S. labor laws--including such sacred cows as the
Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act--
provoke bitter, violent disputes. He urges that such laws be repealed.
He makes clear how labor disputes can be resolved by applying his

Epstein covers the failure of product liability laws which have
increased the cost of many products and given companies strong
incentives to withdraw other useful products from the market. Epstein
talks about the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (1966)
which disrupted the auto industry but didn't have any apparent effect
on the death rate from auto accidents.

Epstein attacks laws which attempt to pin liability for every
imaginable loss on corporations. The ultimate consequence, he warns,
will be fewer corporations, smaller corporations and less
technological innovation which has contributed so much to improved
safety. He cites good reasons to believe his principles would produce
better results than current corporate laws.

Epstein expands his case against antidiscrimination laws, discussed at
length in a previous book, which require equal treatment of
employees involving very different costs. Such laws, he shows,
provides perverse incentives for employers to reduce the number of
jobs and harm the very people who are supposedly helped.

Epstein chronicles the futility of policies aimed at redistributing
income from rich to poor. For example, he tells why laws intended to
help the homeless have increased the number of homeless. He talks
about graduated tax rates which, promoted to "soak the rich," fail to
do that while limiting the amount of capital available for new jobs
desperately needed by the poor.

While Epstein doesn't categorically reject income redistribution, he
insists that the costs should be borne by all taxpayers. A small group
shouldn't be stuck with the costs. This is the case, for example, with
rent control laws which force landlords to subsidize tenants (rich and
poor alike) with below-market rents. Rent control laws, Epstein says,
effect a taking, and landlords are entitled to just compensation paid by
all taxpayers through government revenues. Requiring all taxpayers to
bear the costs of redistribution, he believes, will make them less likely
to pursue it.

Epstein notes that his six principles don't promote virtue as many
conservatives would like, but he says: "Law's stock in trade is the use
of collective might, and the sanctions that it imposes must be reserved
for the most serious social violations--which typically involve using
force and not keeping serious contractual engagements. A legal
system is not a complete social system, and we should not reflexively
invoke legal remedies to enforce whatever conduct we think to be
socially desirable." 

Epstein's obvious intelligence, his honored position, the compelling
logic of his case and the reasonableness with which he presents it
seem sure to help this book become an enormously influential classic.
Don't miss it. The first 300 readers who order will get a copy
featuring a bookplate with Epstein's autograph.

Book No. LL6271 (hardcover) 350p.      publisher's price $35.00
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---The world's largest selection of books on liberty---
Ask me about free Book News e-mail list, print catalog,

5. And for the second straight month, another birth announcent. Congrats all around.

Hi Stevie,

I have a birth announcement:

        Adrienne Lucille Neef
        born 2:25 a.m. on 4/20/95
        weight 8 lb. 1 oz.
        length 20 in.

feel free to compute the metric equivalents for the physicists *8^>.
Mother, brother, dad and baby are doing fine.
Talk to you later,


Quotes(s) of the month:

Andrew Ford
"The price of liberty is, always has been, and always will be blood: The person who is not willing to die for his liberty has already lost it to the first scoundrel who is willing to risk dying to violate that person's liberty! "

Fix of the month:

"Oklahoma City: For the sake of security, do we become a police state?"



1. Decker, April 20: This sleepy town less than an hour north of Detroit has become the focal point for the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing. The Nichols brothers, alledgedly members of the Michigan Militia (see detnew94.dec), apparently plotted the bombing here.

Wash D.C.;

1. March 30, NPR: The House failed to achieve the votes needed to pass term limits. Democrats are hailing the bill's defeat as proof that the Reps. are hypocrites and don't really want term limits now that they hold a majority in both houses of Congress. Of course, the Dems neglect to mention that they are responsible for 85% of the NO vote on the bill.

2. April 24: The Clinton's testified for several hours today to the Special Council for their part in WhiteWater.

3. March 25, Lansing State Journal: A new proposal would put the heat on the IRS for a change. A bill currently in Congress would require that the IRS prove that filers are wrong, rather than the current practice of requiring filers to prove that they are right. "An accused mass murderer has more rights than someone fingered by the IRS", said Rep. Jim Traficant, Dem., Ohio. He continued,

  "The tax code is the only law in the country where the presumption
   of innocence is turned on its head"
IRS Comissioner Margeret Milner Richardson warned the House Ways and Means committe that the change would destroy the tax system. "You might as well repeal the income tax law and pass the hat," she said.

Ed: Not a bad idea.


1. Little Rock, April 24: Webster Hubble, former attorney for the Clinton's until he left the White House last December under investigation for his part in the WhiteWater fiasco, was disbarred today.


1. Little Rock, April 25: Rep. David Duke, former KKK Grand Wizard, has chosen to once again run for Govnr. of the state. One of his campaign promises is that as gov he'll seek to pass a law that will tatoo the genitals of all knwon AIDS victims with some kind of glow in the dark dye. This, he says, will slow transmission of the virus.

Ed: Wow, this guy is just brilliant. I think he should raise his sights to the US Senate. After all, being a KKK member never hurt Dem. Robert Byrd.

Last Updated 04/25/95.© 1996 PPSA Consulting