Libertarian Humanitarianism

I’m violating something of a rule of mine to post here as this isn’t a Chicago issue but a few posts on the blog regarding the recent tsunami drive me to put my own two cents in here.

First, I believe that in a perfect world, government action in areas struck by natural disaster should be limited to applying violence to criminals in areas where the rule of law is entirely absent or has significantly broken down. If you’re stealing rice or other disaster aid to make a buck and letting others die, I’m all in favor of having the US marines (or whoever is handy) put a bullet in you.

Governments do violence very well and that, ultimately is their proper job. They do it so well that an entire class of thieves has arisen who insinuate themselves in these organizations and their creatures (such as the UN) to steal while being protected by sufficient force and the custom of sovereignty that they can do so with impunity.

Still living in that ideal world, it would be best if private groups did the actual job of providing aid to bypass those government thieves. Private aid groups, at their best, are the most efficient providers of humanitarian assistance. Where failures occur, private groups are punished without much fuss as their donors simply turn elsewhere.

Moving to the real world, we would have needed to radically remake things decades ago for private aid to rule the roost in ameliorating the recent tsunami catastrophe. Since we haven’t, we go with what we’ve got and do the best we can as human beings, doctrine be damned.

Still, we do see some short term adjustments like the US’ coordinating council move to ensure that the UN’s pack of thieves don’t shift from Iraq’s oil for food to the Indian Ocean disaster relief effort. This is as it should be. Those who wish to actually influence disaster relief efforts for next time and tilt them toward fewer thieves feeding on aid and minimizing wasted overhead have two areas to concentrate on:

1. Promoting private aid starts by first counting it in the “aid totals” used as scorecards. By only counting government to government aid, private contributions are given 2nd class status. The hierarchy needs to be reversed.
2. Demanding criminal accountability for government thieves who take commissions to let aid get through, who steal out of aid warehouses, etc. Hunt down the thieves and put them in the dock. It’s not like the big scale thefts are much of a secret.

Disaster recovery is never going to run entirely smoothly. It’s always going to have some breaks in the system. The Chicago School has always had a great deal of practicality to it. We should always make it clear that critiques are for preparation for next time, that efficiency arguments are there to save lives, and that the wolves in sheep’s clothing should never have a free shot at our wallets, no matter what the circumstances.

And now, Chicago Moonbats

You might want to steer clear of federal plaza today (11/3). The less restrained portion of the Kerry coalition will be protesting the Iraq war at 5 pm. This is part of a 30 city protest tour today. Chicago festivities will continue with a two day protest against bankers, Thursday and Friday. Hopefully the violence will be kept to a minimum.

The Libertarian Gap

(crossposted on Flit(TM))

The Gap, or more formally the Non-Integrating Gap, is a concept at the core of Dr. Barnett’s The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century. But what is the Gap? This question comes to me every time I read a libertarian critic of the concept.

Gap countries are, by definition disconnected from the global rulesets that manage the Core, those states where a disturbingly large proportion of the world wants to get into. I say disturbingly because, all things being equal, there is really no reason for people socially acculturated and biologically specialized to warm climes to make their way in large numbers to nordic nations, but they do. Something pretty special must be attracting them while simultaneously repelling them from their ancient homelands. That something is clear after a bit of investigation, huge waves of horrifying violence interspersed with a daily brutality of individual denigration and lack of the normal rights to live out their lives in control of their own destiny.

Read more

An Entrepreneurial Adventure

The Mrs. finally bit the bullet today and let her boss know that she will be opening up her own medical practice. This is a Chicago story because we’re swimming against the tide, moving from NW Indiana to Illinois while the big story is the tide of doctors going the other direction. So is it possible for a doctor to open up a brand new (no existing patients) practice in a state in a malpractice insurance crisis? We’re going to find out and I’ll be chronicling the story here and in my individual blog Flit(TM).

In Case of Terrorist Attack: Electoral College II

I just got an email from Steve Sandvoss and just finished chatting with him on Illinois electoral law. It turns out that there is some provision for electors being unable to do their duty. It’s all laid out at 10 ILCS 5/21-5. Here’s the text:

Sec. 21-5.
In case any person duly elected an elector of President and Vice?President of the United States shall fail to attend at the Capitol on the day on which his vote is required to be given, it shall be the duty of the elector or electors of President and Vice-President, attending at the time and place, to appoint a person or persons to fill such vacancy; provided, that should the person or persons chosen, as in this Article provided, in the foregoing sections, arrive at the place aforesaid before the votes for President and Vice-President are actually given, the person or persons appointed to fill such vacancy shall not act as elector of President and Vice-President.
(Source: Laws 1943, vol. 2, p. 1.)

A quick read will show that this is perfectly adequate for a heart attack, no shows, or mistaken appointments (where the elector isn’t actually qualified to serve). This is important because ~0.5% of electors had to be replaced in 2000 and no doubt a similar percentage are replaced every election.

What this doesn’t help at all for is cases where the whole college is taken out prior to voting and transmitting their votes. There’s a war on and the state legislature has the duty to tighten up the laws so an attack would not imperil Illinois’ votes for the presidency due to enemy attack.

Again, this isn’t rocket science here. A fair procedure to throw it back to the legislature in case of incapacity of the entire college should neither take much of the legislature’s time, nor would either party be likely to object to a quick electoral procedure reform to fix the hole.

Will the legislature act? Who knows?