Defending Your Castle

I’m going to follow Eugene Volokh’s lead and put in a good word for the Institute for Justice.

The Institute for Justice is a civil liberties public interest law firm that focuses largely on those areas of most interest to libertarians (e.g. property rights, free speech, school choice, etc.) As their website describes their work:

Simply put, we sue the government when it stands in the way of people trying to earn an honest living, when it unconstitutionally takes away individuals’ property, when bureaucrats instead of parents dictate the education of children, and when government stifles speech. We seek a rule of law under which individuals can control their destinies as free and responsible members of society.

If these are things you believe are worth supporting, then I urge you to support the Institute for Justice, as I do.

Also, if you are as outraged by the recent Kelo decision as I am, you might consider giving particular support to their Castle Coalition project which focuses on eminent domain abuse in particular.

And this gives me a chance to repeat my praise of justice Thomas and another excellent dissenting opinion.

The Enemy of the Good

Kerry Howley at Reason has a nice piece up about the recent controversy about Microsoft’s MSN Spaces blog software enforcing Chinese censorship against certain words used in blog entry titles.

I agree that the criticisms of Microsoft are silly, and that those bloggers who want to circumvent restrictions will easily be able to do it.

My main complaint, though, is that it seems to be very common for people to criticize some person or company (particularly Microsoft) by comparing the actions to an imagined ideal, rather than currently realistic alternatives. They are letting the unrealizable perfect become the enemy of the good.

The question is NOT: “Should Microsoft refuse to comply with these restrictive Chinese laws and bring down Chinese repression by the sheer force of its moral rightiousness?” This is just not a realistic possiblity.

The question is: “Would things be better if Microsoft supplied Chinese bloggers with a, somewhat restricted, forum for sharing information and ideas; or none at all?”

These are the realistic alternatives, and the answer seems obvious to me.

Lying About Drugs

Matt Welch has written a nice, short, article about how the Raich decision helps enable the government’s addiction to lying about drugs in general and marijuana in particular.

The War on Drugs aggravates me on many levels.

It aggravates me philosophically because it violates individual liberty and responsibility for risk-taking. It’s just wrong to forcibly prevent someone from acting on a considered judgment about what to consume or buy for personal use.

It aggravates me practically because of all of the waste, corruption, liberty infringements, and real crime that come with prohibition. Especially now, when we have genuine security threats to focus on, this misuse of resources to do much more harm than good is particularly infuriating.

We Need More Clarence Thomases

I was going to write a post praising Clarence Thomas for his reasonable decision in
Gonzalez v. Raich
today, but Radley Balko already did it, with all of the good quotes, here. I’ll just quote part of the opening paragraph of Thomas’ dissent:

If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.

Thomas insists on interpreting the Constitution as limiting federal power. Others seem to see it as allowing federal power limited only by whether or not they happen to like the particular policy.

I hope Bush has the opportunity to appoint several more Justices like Clarence Thomas. Unfortunately, I’m sure that someone like that would trigger the “extraordinary circumstances” loophole to the filibuster compromise.

I can’t say that I’m surprised by the decision. I expected the left-liberals on the Court to side with virtually unlimited federal power. I was curious which way Scalia and Kennedy would go, and the anti-drug-user weasels showed their colors. So, I guess the case is valuable to show us where they stand.

I’d also like to mention that I think Randy Barnett did a great job of arguing the case, and his work really seemed to connect with Thomas’ thinking as Thomas quoted him three times in the dissenting opinion.