Originally created 6/15/2007
Whatever one’s political stripe, it is always unfortunate to see a parody of law enforcement carried out in the form of the Paris Hilton sentencing. Stupidly enough, not only is this particular story not even a true trial, the crime is fairly common and the importance to an everyday individual is minimal, probably even on an entertainment level. Hilton’s fame has always been somewhat of a mystery. She is a socialite in the truest sense, living off nothing more than modest good looks (complete with droopy left eyelid – although I suppose she’s a model and someone finds her extraordinarily attractive), a famous last name and an ability to have sex with anything that moves and getting those coital acts on film. She did not, according to Wikipedia, graduate from high school (instead earning a GED) and thus did not go to college (and thereby earning a prime role on Girls Gone Wild: I Like Having Sex with Paris Volumes 1-6). So Hilton, as far as one can tell, is a pretty, not to intelligent girl who also has no acting skills, fewer singing skills, and little business sense. More recently, she seemed to wile her way out of jail time for repeated driving offenses, namely:
“In September 2006, Hilton was arrested and charged with driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, the minimum at which it is illegal to drive in California. Hilton’s drivers license was subsequently suspended in November 2006, and in January 2007 she pled no contest to the alcohol-related reckless driving charge. Her punishment was 36 months’ probation and fines of about $1,500. On January 15, 2007, Hilton was pulled over for driving with a suspended license and signed a document acknowledging that she was not permitted to drive. On February 27, 2007 Hilton was caught driving 70 MPH in a 35 MPH zone, again with a suspended license. She also did not have her headlights on even though it was after dark. Prosecutors in the office of the Los Angeles City Attorney charged that those actions, along with the failure to enroll in a court-ordered alcohol education program constituted a violation of the terms of her probation.”
Rather than rehash all the drama that ensued, one can only wonder what exactly this girl, albeit with the intelligence of a distracted squirrel, was thinking when she decided to keep driving on a suspended license. It seems unlikely that she consciously believed herself to be immune from prosecution or consequence. Instead, as Lindsay Lohan is quickly proving, any young person given insane amounts of money, beauty and privilege will wind up screwing the pooch; and it is going to fall into the glaring media lights if they also famous. By way of a point, historians have pointed out in books concerning World War II that the Allies only had pilots in their late teens and early twenties fly P-51 dive bombers – the main reason being that such pilots necessarily had to take insane risks on the low level straffing runs. That age group was ideal because they just did not think about the consequences. Thus, it is not so much that the young believe their own invincibility, but the idea of troubling fallout from their actions simply escapes their minds.
Returning to Hilton’s stature receiving benefits over and above the normal citizen, the free market economics’ greatest challenge has always been the efficient allocation of law and order. In the present case, wealthy defendants are able to afford better lawyers and often get lesser sentences than they otherwise would have. Some have suggested an elimination of criminal law entirely–i.e., with no crimes against “society” but only one individual (or group of individuals) against another individual (or group of individuals). I still do not believe this fully addresses the problem of uneven enforcement of property rights. And if such enforcement is uneven or inconsistent, the full benefits of the free market will no be realized.
Is a government necessary then to enforce law, whether criminal or civil? I would remain in the pro-government camp with the reservation that the power of government is so easily abused. The anarcho-capitalists appear to believe that man is self-harmonizing if left to his own devices. I do not for a number of reasons: government presents an illusion of certainty with regard to the law (and that should be its only purview; as the illusion can have catastrophic consequences when applied to disaster relief and breaks down – as in regard to Katrina). The concept that law is not as government makes it but is pre-existing suffers from the fact that it is far from certain among economic agents. Since the law is not known, government can reflect the illusion, beneficial or not, that it is. Humans experience with government derives from the family – if one is too remove the government entirely, one must break down the family (a wholly involuntary enterprise from the child’s standpoint). There is also the so-called “cowpox” theory: better to have some say in a tyrannical government than risk being taken over by a true tyrant. There is also the specialization problem, a corollary of the cowpox theory. As an economy becomes more diverse, individuals begin to specialize into narrower fields. Thus, most individuals would specialize away from personal and group defense skills while a relatively very few would become proficient in police and armed force tactics. Thus, this very few, though perhaps beginning as private forces, could easily become tyrants fairly easily by exploiting the mass of defensively unskilled individuals prime weakness to create a tyranical government. Thus it would be better for the mass of individuals to rely on the democratic vote to maintain their say rather than their own personal force.
The Hilton saga is a prime example of the illusion being broken – the law is not applied equally through all economic agents. The wealthier receive preferential treatment. The question remains: putting aside the cowpox theory and the family issue, is it beneficial to promulgate this illusion? Some might say that the free market courts and defense companies could also fail and thus fall prey to the same problem. However, that is not the case for the simple reason that any free market company should be recognized as susceptible to failure – thus there is no illusion of certainty. Though the government must be maintained in some sense, however perhaps with the reduction of most crime to violation of property rights in the civil sphere. Let the Paris Hiltons of the world get plowed under by private individuals (in this case, road owners in the road was privatized) just like she is with other private companies.
The Death of Western Civilization: Iraq’s throes of civil war has destroyed its rich history as well as its people:
“Hussaini confirmed a report two years ago by John Curtis, of the British Museum, on America’s conversion of Nebuchadnezzar’s great city of Babylon into the hanging gardens of Halliburton. This meant a 150-hectare camp for 2,000 troops. In the process the 2,500-year-old brick pavement to the Ishtar Gate was smashed by tanks and the gate itself damaged. The archaeology-rich subsoil was bulldozed to fill sandbags, and large areas covered in compacted gravel for helipads and car parks. Babylon is being rendered archaeologically barren. Meanwhile the courtyard of the 10th-century caravanserai of Khan al-Raba was used by the Americans for exploding captured insurgent weapons. One blast demolished the ancient roofs and felled many of the walls. The place is now a ruin.Outside the capital some 10,000 sites of incomparable importance to the history of western civilisation, barely 20% yet excavated, are being looted as systematically as was the museum in 2003. When George tried to remove vulnerable carvings from the ancient city of Umma to Baghdad, he found gangs of looters already in place with bulldozers, dump trucks and AK47s.”
The tyranny of good intentions. Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, tells German newspaper Der Spiegel that aid to Africa does more harm than good.
“Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.
“When there’s a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program — which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It’s only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it’s not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that request to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa …and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unsrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN’s World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It’s a simple but fatal cycle.”
Government aid may well be a system that has no fix.
Ground control to Major Tom: Global Warble has hit Mars. Apparently the Red Planet needs to wipe the sweat from melting polar caps from its brow:
“Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period. Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena. The mechanism at work on Mars appears, however, to be different from that on Earth. One of the researchers, Lori Fenton, believes variations in radiation and temperature across the surface of the Red Planet are generating strong winds.”
Note to self: don’t ever try to compliment English women I don’t know. And not just because of their awful teeth. However, with some of them (NSFW), I’m just going to start motorboating and damn the consequences. Man the lifeboats, we’re going overboard!
“She is blonde, with the warmest brown eyes. Smiling my politest smile, I venture to approach her. “May I say, that you have the most beautiful eyes?” Those warm eyes harden to cold flint in an instant. ‘Not good,’ she grimaces. ‘Talking to random women like that. Really. NOT. Good.’ This is very encouraging. This is progress. The beautiful woman hasn’t called the police yet, she can’t conceal her strong feelings about me, and she’s talking. The last blonde I complimented just waved me away in silent disgust and took her onward road, quickly.”