Libertarianism opposes all economic regulations. Robert A. Levy, of the libertarian Koch brothers’ Cato Institute, has written that, “Libertarians are not opposed to reasonable safety regulations, sensible compromises of civil liberties to enhance national security, or even selective gun controls,” but whenever a ‘libertarian’ advocates that way, and (like there) fails to define what determines those adjectives “reasonable” and “sensible,” and “selective” (on what basis?), he or she is merely begging the issue (faking it), so as to avoid dealing with the reality of their own ridiculous philosophy.
Libertarianism has accurately and commonly been described as anarchism, the repudiation of government, which is actually at the very foundation of libertarian philosophy. The way that Grover Norquist most famously phrased it was “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” But what “size” is that, and how is it to be empirically determined? And why that particular size and shape, and none other? They never say, because their philosophy is too ridiculous to address the real issues in a way that will make it attractive to intelligent people, and so it’s all a game to them, a game of deceit to themselves (for whatever psychological reason) and to others (for whatever reason they want to spread their faith). Libertarianism is a repudiation of government, but it pretends not to be anarchic. Essential to libertrianism is its repudiation of regulation.
Nobody credibly denies the fact that, in actual practice, libertarians are especially fighting against regulations of corporations. However, in the case of sellers in the gun-control debates, libertarians — who tend to be very much on the pro-gun side as a reflection of their repudiation of government — fight for gun-owners’ rights (the rights of the consumers, instead of the gun-makers), and against gun-sale regulations that reduce consumers’ rights to purchase guns.
But the vast majority of the anti-regulatory thrust of libertarianism, particularly as reflected by the mega-corporate funders of libertarianism and their most broadly influential fundees — people such as the funders Kochs, and such as the fundees Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman — are for (as much as possible) unfettered corporations. Libertarians are for corporations’ rights, against governments’ rights, and against governments’ obligations to their citizens — those citizens being the real persons, instead of fictitious collective “artificial persons” that are no “persons” at all but instead collections of financial assets —- mere property, not real “owners” (except in the legalistic fiction). So: libertarianism is against regulations that restrict the rights of corporations (i.e., that restrict the rights of owners, most prominent of which are corporations). As between producers (including corporations) and consumers (including everybody), libertarians are especially concerned to protect the rights of producers.
However, economic regulation lowers, not just raises, prices; and it raises efficiency by introducing and enforcing standardization, so that consumers can reliably know what they’ll get for what they pay — for example, “500 mg” of x will then far likelier be 500 mg of x. Of course, if the government is corrupt, then the regulation and its enforcement will be, too, but that’s a corruption-problem, not a problem of regulations that shouldn’t exist at all (according to libertarian dogma); so, keeping one’s conceptual categories clear is important, when discussing regulation (or anything else).
Take, for example, drugs — all types, regardless of whether they’re now legal, or, to the exact contrary, are altogether prohibited. Any drug should be taken in the dose suitable for the intended purpose — neither more nor less — but if there is no reliably enforced legal penalty for dishonest labeling of potency, etc., then the consumer (again, regardless of whether the drug itself is legal or not) can be victimized by a dishonest or sloppy vendor, who can be careless or else shortchange that consumer on potency or even include toxic impurities, without that seller’s having any other concern than that perhaps the consumer will change vendors or perhaps die from what the vendor did and will thereby reduce the seller’s customer-count by one, but cannot be subjected to legal or regulatory penalties that would be disincentives above and beyond that of perhaps merely losing a customer.
Furthermore, in all types of consumer-rights cases, not just drug-related ones, only the existence of government enables the consumer to hold accountable a manufacturer or seller of dangerous and misrepresented products, such as of tobacco products, insecticides, or food-ingredients such as hydrogenated oils, if and when those products or services turn out to be vastly more dangerous than their consumers assume (and such as their news-media have been paid by the producers of these products and services to promote or to advertise).
For example, Janet Bufton, co-founder of the libertarian Institute for Liberal Studies, has written against regulations of tattooists, because:
I’m considering getting a tattoo of ama-gi, the earliest known writing of the word “freedom” and was trying to find out if the Ontario tattoo industry was regulated or not, since if it was I would go to Michigan, where the industry is unregulated.
[A friend challenged her preference to buy tattoos in a country where it’s an unregulated industry and asked her, “So, on principle you want to get hepatitis?”]
Finally, I had an epiphany. I texted her: “It’s important to me that where I go is being safe because they think it’s important to be safe, and not because they’re doing the absolute minimum the government says they have to do.”
And I think that’s at the heart of the libertarian argument against regulation.
Government regulations take away our vigilance for our own well-being and the rewards that should be enjoyed by people who are willing to go the extra mile with their business through a declaration that all businesses are acceptable in their eyes. It’s a terrible injustice; in fact the epiphany probably put me one step closer to a pro-tattoo decision.
Buffoon wanted “to get my freedom tattoo in an unregulated tattoo parlour” so as to be totally ‘responsible’ for the outcome (after all: in an anarchic world, it’s every person on his own and for herself, no laws restraining his or her ‘freedom’), so that if she’d become diseased from it, she would blame only herself, and not the corrupt system in which she functions and which she wants to love — craves to love the “state of nature” — and not to blame it for whatever bad might come to her from its being corrupt. Only the consumer is to blame, in that system (libertarianism). (Like she said: “Government regulations take away our vigilance for our own well-being and the rewards that should be enjoyed by people who are willing to go the extra mile.”)
Of course, aristocrats, who have enormous wealth, might reasonably self-identify with the supply side in all economic transactions, because they’re much more on that side (the side of the producer and seller) than on the side of the consumer (the purchaser and user), and so they reasonably might fund such operations as the Cato Institute or perhaps the Institute for Liberal Studies — in order to maximize the freedom of corporations.
But, for anyone else to welcome the increased danger to themselves that will result from such a corrupt system, is to self-identify with the corruption, and self-identify against anyone who would seek to change it so as to attach legal accountability to irresponsible or evil unconcern regarding suppliers’ meeting the most basic and legally enforced standards of safety in the provisioning of the given product or service.
Such buffoons — suckers of the corporate propaganda — are unfortunately assisting the corrupt to victimize the public. They’re thus dangers not only to themselves, but also to non-buffoons, who recognize the foolishness (if not evil) of libertarianism. They thus harm the entire body-politic, by their foolishness. To the extent that they influence government, they reduce everyone’s safety.
Typhoons and this Week’s Typhoon of Sex Abuse
Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 1 but still huge in moisture content will continue to pour rain on Georgia and the Carolinas over the weekend. At the same time, Typhoon Mangkhut in the Pacific will be ravaging the Philippines, Hong Kong and China. It is larger and much more powerful, a category 5, and the Philippines, which lacks the infrastructure and resources of the others, is expected to suffer the worst.
Meanwhile another typhoon of sorts is hitting the U.S. Powerful men topple as women shame them through the #MeToo movement. The latest is Leslie Moonves the head of CBS one of the major U.S. TV networks. Apparently, Mr. Moonves had the habit of forcing himself, his attentions and his anatomy on vulnerable young females working for him.
This particular typhoon has now enveloped Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the new Supreme Court nominee who would have shifted the court decisively to the right. A letter has appeared and forwarded to the FBI for further investigation. It recalls a high school incident over which the other party wishes to remain anonymous. Is this the beginning of the end for Mr. Kavanaugh? One never knows. Justice Thomas survived some very troubling appalling allegations by Anita Hill. She has been chosen now to lead the recently formed Hollywood Commission on Harassment.
Ants in the pants or in this case the cassock are in the news once again. In Germany, some 1670 Catholic priests committed some form of sex abuse on 3677 minors between 1940 and 2014; so finds a study commissioned by the church. One in six cases involved rape. The authors noted the figures and the extent of the abuse may be higher as some records had been “destroyed or manipulated”. The work was extensive enough that three German universities participated in the study, which examined 38,000 documents obtained from 27 German dioceses.
The state of Kerala, home to one of the largest Christian populations in India, has seen protests by nuns and their supporters over the rape of a nun by a bishop. The nun lodged a formal complaint with the police on June 27 claiming abuse by Bishop Franco Mullackal over two years. So far no action by the police, who pushed from both sides probably wish the whole issue would disappear. As she made the complaint after the bishop went to the police claiming she and five other nuns were harassing and blackmailing him, some politicians have questioned her account.
Yet former nuns have previously raised the question of a climate of sexual abuse in the Kerala Catholic Church. Babies born from such liaisons are often murdered says former Sister Mary who now runs an orphanage. She saved one such child from the mother, a nun, who was trying to kill the newborn by drowning it in a toilet tank. “That boy is a student who lives the life of an orphan,” she adds. She thinks priests should be allowed to marry. Then there is another former nun, Sister Jesme, who wrote openly about sexual abuse in her book, “Amen: The Autobiography of a Nun” after she left her Catholic order. She has severed all ties.
Add the abuse of boys by a charismatic priest in Chile, and we have news stories covering four continents just this week alone. That the Catholic church needs an overhaul, at least in this respect, must be clear to the pope and his advisers. Of course medical science now allows chemical castration, a reversible process. And then there is marriage as the good sister suggests.
The sexual exploitation of the weak and vulnerable by the powerful transgresses religious and secular boundaries. Not for nothing is ‘the director’s couch’ a metaphor. The fault in the end lies with society, and a pervasive ‘wink and nod’ corporate culture that often still prevails.
Fear in the White House and Trump’s Foreign Policy
The sensation this week is Bob Woodward’s book on the Trump White House titled, “Fear: Trump in the White House.” It shows a President Trump universally disparaging his own White House staff, even cabinet members. His first Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is likened to a rat, “He just scurries around.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions is, “mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama”. To commence Secretary Wilbur Ross: “You’re past your prime.” He could well be, otherwise he would have resigned following such a clear and direct indication of no confidence.
As can be expected such ‘favors’ are reciprocated. Thus Chief of Staff John Kelly, “We’re in Crazytown.” He is alleged also to have called President Trump an “idiot’ repeatedly. Defense Secretary James Mattis told an aide that Trump understands foreign policy at the level of a “fifth or sixth grader”. Of course, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was once quoted in news reports as calling Trump “a f****ing moron”.
All of which serves as an introduction for a quick look at Trump’s foreign policy. To say it is unorthodox is to minimize the upending of the status quo ante. He has simultaneously angered European allies, Canada and Mexico, threatened trade war with China and broken the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement with Iran. He has embraced Israel’s Netanyahu in the tightest hug seen, moving the U .S. embassy to Jerusalem — the sole major power to do so — and dumping the Palestinians in a garbage bin of misery by cutting US funding for their UN Relief and Works Agency lifeline.
His reflexive attack on Syria following a chemical attack in the country established a trigger-happy Trump reputation, which might paradoxically have helped negotiations with North Korea. Tensions have subsided following the summit and the North Koreans have dismantled nuclear testing facilities, although it would be naive to imagine they will give up nuclear weapons. The ambiguity of informal promises continues to cause mild acrimony.
Mr. Trump is not getting a new wall from Mexico but a new NAFTA has been agreed upon pending Canada’s decision. The White House says it will continue talks with its northern neighbor. The issues with Canada are of course different from Mexico.
For several decades, Donald Trump has been accusing America’s allies notably the major European powers and Japan of getting a free ride on defense while they focus their resources on improving their own quality of life. He wants Europeans to abide by the NATO stated goal of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense. A majority now have plans to do so by 2024.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has neatly side-stepped a trade war. As early as April 2018, he showed a willingness to compromise, pledging to reduce barriers to foreign investment in his country. Meanwhile, more tariffs escalating tensions continue to be imposed by both sides as trade negotiations continue and China enjoys a huge trade surplus.
The wily Vladimir Putin manages to maintain good relations with countries that are sworn enemies to each other, for example Israel and Iran. He is selling arms to NATO member Turkey and he has had a friendly summit with Mr. Trump … plus he is getting his own way in Syria.
So the report card on Trump’s foreign policy? He is being taken seriously by his allies as he continues to be outflanked by China and Russia.
Tussle between America and Turkey: The Whole Story
An economic tussle between the US and Turkey has heightened over the past few months. Both countries are continuously imposing sanctions to paralyze each other economically. But why they are doing so? First of all, we have to keep in view the main reasons behind this tussle.
This tussle started after failed coup attempt by the Turkish Army on July 15, 2016 on which, a week after, Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for failed bloody coup attempt to topple Erdogan’s government and behind this failed coup attempt for Marshall Law, Gulen network was of intention to remove Erdogan from the way and to promote his philosophy of moderate Islam. According to Gulen, Turkey was heading backward because of Erdogan’s conventional and orthodox policies. Erdogan then accused Gulen of conspiring to overthrow him from the government by building a network and officially declared the Gulen movement a terrorist organization in 2016. Erdogan and Gulen were once allies until Gullen opened a corruption probe into Erdogan’s inner circle in 2013. Turkey’s repetitive requests for Fethullah Gulen’s extradition from the US to face trial were rejected by the US saying they need a proper evidence of Gulen’s involvement first.
Fethullah Gulen is a Turkish Preacher, imam, and writer, currently living in self-imposed exile in the United States. He is the founder of Gulen movement known as Hizmet which is 3 to 6 million strong volunteer-based movement mostly focused on education, hard work, altruism, and modesty. This movement serves in Europe, the United States, Asia, and Africa.
This rift intensified more when Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, currently living in Turkey, arrested by the Turkish government in October 2016, has taken to the court to face trials over an allegation of alleged espionage on behalf of Kurdish insurgents and Gullen network and involvement in the failed coup attempt in 2016. He was under detention of Turkish government for 600 days, almost 2 years, is now released from jail due to health issues and placed under house arrest on July 25, 2018. The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, welcomed Andrew Brunson’s release from prison but said it is not far enough and demanded his complete release as they have not seen any credible evidence against Mr. Brunson but Turkish authorities neglected continuous demand for Brunson’s release by American policymakers.
Donald Trump rebuked Turkish authorities over their decision for not releasing their man in his tweet and said, “this is a total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected American pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison. He has been held hostage far too long. Erdogan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband and father. He has done nothing wrong and his family needs him.” Turkish prosecutors are seeking a maximum prison sentence of 35 years for the pastor and the court has also imposed a travel ban on him.
The US’s Vice President, Mike Pence in response to this, threatened Turkey in his interview and said, “on behalf of the United States of America, release pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences.” Trump also said I thought Ankara and Washington had a deal that if Washington will help in the release of Turkish citizen in Israel on behalf of Ankara, they will fully release the pastor. Trump claimed, he urged the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu for the release of a Turkish citizen. However, Israel had even released Turkish citizen named Ebru Ozkan, on whom allegations are imposed that he was involved in abetting Hamas but Turkey instead, did not keep its words and moved the pastor to house arrest. Not fair. Not right.
In retaliation to Turkey’s betrayal, Trump administration levied sanctions on two Turkish ministers (Minister of Justice, Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior, Suleyman Soylu) over propaganda on Andrew Brunson, and also banned their entry into the US and made their assets even frozen to suppress Turkish government on August 1, 2018. In addition to this, Trump further reacted in ire and said, we are cutting back on Turkey and announced a doubling of tariffs on Turkey on August 10, 2018. He said in his tweet, “I have just authorized a doubling of tariffs on steel and aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong dollar. Aluminum will now be 20% and steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time.” He did not care much about that Turkey is their NATO ally. Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin said, Turkey has “not proven to be a good friend” and we are ready to slap Turkey with more sanctions if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refuses the quick release of an American pastor on August 16, 2018.
In reciprocation to the US’s operations, Turkey took immediate steps by imposing heavy tariffs on products imported from the United States including cars, alcohol, and tobacco also on rice, nuts, cosmetics, paper, machines etc. Turkey placed 140% on alcohol, 120% on cars and 60% on tobacco and slaps sanctions on 2 US officials i.e., minister of Interior and Minister of Justice. Banned their entry into Turkey and had also frozen their assets. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a press conference, “our nation will boycott U.S. electronic goods. We will stop bringing iPhone. He said, if they have their iPhone, we have South Korea’s Samsung as an alternative. In our own country, we have a Vestel.”
Supporters were strongly fascinated by Erdogan’s statement that “don’t forget, if they have their dollars, we have our people, our God. We are working hard. Look at what we were 16 years ago and look at us now.” As their deliberated trade tensions are at its peak, Turkish Lira shattered badly against the US’s mounting dollar and tumbled up to 5%. Investors started to pull out their money from banks. Such withdrawals have also hurt other currencies. Argentine peso and Indian rupee touched their weakest level against the US dollar. Turkey’s economy is suffering severely due to escalating sanctions by the US and is facing a currency crisis. Loss of $12 billion or more is expected to both countries amid their crumbling relations. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is also expected that these actions by the US can cause a loss of more than $500 billion to the whole world. It seemed like the only way for Turkey to get out of this crisis is by securing the help of IMF’s rescue bailout but Turkey’s Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said in a conference, there is no need to be panic, we will easily overcome this economic crisis and will emerge even stronger than before. He is taking its investors in confidence and also talks to France and Germany. Turkey is insistent that no matter what happens, they will not seek the help of IMF. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuelle Macron have agreed to improve bilateral relations as Turkey is passing through the dire strait. Turkey’s Finance Minister Berat Albayrak engaged with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and have agreed to meet in Berlin to take steps for further enhancement of economic cooperation.
Turkish Lira was up 4% against US dollar following the conference call and reassuring words from French President Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Merkel. Qatar pledged to invest $15 billion in Turkey’s financial sector which will also help to stabilize and bolster their economy. Pakistan, Iran, and Russia have also announced to help Turkey in their impassable time and deplored the US’s sanction on Turkey. Russian foreign minister calls US sanctions illegitimate. He further added that they are devising to end the US dollar’s dominance and envisaging to trade with Turkey and other countries as an alternative currency. Turkey’s president Erdogan also denied to stop trading with Iran after the cancellation of a nuclear deal between Iran and America and is likely thinking forward to purchase Russian Air Defense System if needed which America does not like.
On August 20, 2018, some assailants opened fire on the US Embassy in the capital Ankara. It has been suspected that this attack was carried out as a result of increased tensions between two NATO allies. Turkish Lira plunged further against the dollar after their spat with the United States on August 29, 2018. It has lost almost more than a quarter of its value. On the same day, Turkish media reported that Mohammad Ahmad, known as the spiritual son of Andrew Brunson, has been accused of being the link between the pastor and the Gulenist terror group. As on August 17, 2018, Turkish court in the province of Izmir, rejected an appeal to release Brunson, the lawyer of Brunson on August 30, 2018, has now decided that they would go to European Court of Human Rights.
The only way for both countries to reinstate their extremely disturbed relations is by reconciliation and consensus. Otherwise, the entire world would have to suffer from their delicate and shabby relationship.
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