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rlclrose22

When discussing contemporary theories of global socioeconomic justice we should begin with John Rawls, if only for the fact that the two other philosophers whose views I shall be examining, Martha Nussbaum and Thomas Pogge, refer to Rawls frequently in their own arguments.  Rawls concept of “Justice as Fairness” is found in the first chapter of his book, A Theory of Justice where Rawls say that it “corresponds to the state of nature in the traditional theory of the social contract.” [1]   In this hypothetical state behind Rawls’ “veil of ignorance” no one knows in advance what their social, political, or economic position in life will be, which serves as a strong motivation to agree that everyone should have equal opportunities, resources and rights.   In order for this to play out realistically in a society, in addition to everyone having equal access to opportunities, any inequalities that do exist should benefit the economically and socially disadvantaged.

In a later book, The Law of Peoples,[2] Rawls seems to take a more pragmatic view of the situation describing a society of “well ordered” peoples made up of “liberal” societies constructed as constitutional democracies and “decent” hierarchical states that allow for political input from their citizens while acknowledging basic human rights.  “Outlaw” societies are those which are totalitarian in nature or severely “burdened” by economic or cultural failings preventing them from operating in democratic manner.

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rlclrose22

Very occasionally, in the morning when the weather is not too hot, I step out onto my front porch and sit on a broad wooden bench, looking out into my front yard and that of my neighbor’s, enjoying the coolness of the air with nothing save birdsong to disturb the silence. I may bring a cup of tea with me, and perhaps one of my cats will come to sit near.

For the moment, I am at rest. I own the ground upon which I sit. I am fully provisioned and no enemies appear on my immediate horizon. I am well aware that this is an illusion, but choose to pretend in the moment, that all is well. Now in my fifties, my ambitions are modest. “A home, respect, freedom, and neighbors who want the same” (Lamar). I desire peace and quiet broken only by the occasional company of my extended family and close friends. I think that this is a desire commonly held by the overwhelming majority of mature adults existent across the face of the earth, irrespective of their culture, their history, or their present social and economic position within their particular communities. In the following pages it is my intention to describe the realization of this desire by a certain class of men among the petit-bourgeoisie whom I shall refer to as neo-patriarchs.
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“I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”[1]

rlclrose21These are the words of Howard Beale in “Network”. The American movie classic is about an aging network broadcaster who rebels against the corporate oligarchy and subsequently is murdered at their hands.  Rebellion and the rebels that foment them are a recurrent theme in story and song.  Spartacus[2], Robin of Loxley, William Wallace, Zorro, Patrick Henry[3], John Brown, and Michael Collins are but a few characters, real and imagined, who considered their own liberty and that of their fellow compatriots more important than the authority of a tyrannical state.
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“Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

The question of whether citizens in a democracy should have ready access to firearms suggests a more basic question, which has often been asked within the memory of man, usually by elitists and autocrats. It is, “Just who the Hell do you think you are?” Here then, a brief answer. I am an adult male; a sovereign political entity; a creation of the living God. I believe that God has endowed me with rights.

rlclrose21The Declaration of Independence agrees with this and that is why that I condescend to pledge allegiance to the United States of America. The Constitution or the government of the United States does not grant rights to me. The ninth amendment clearly recognizes this truth when it states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Indeed, I continue to maintain my rights if the Constitution or the United States ceases to exist. I am entitled to these rights even if I live under the subjugation of a cruel tyrant or a totalitarian government.

It is up to the individual to defend their rights by exercising them, by seeing them codified into law, by petitioning, protesting, or performing acts of civil disobedience when government attempts to curtail them. In the extreme, these rights are to be protected by using any means necessary, up to and including the taking of life or the sacrificing of one’s own.
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Here is a link to a recent article in the LA times comparing Adam Smith and Charles Darwin by Robert H. Frank. Frank recently appeared on NPR to talk about his new book, The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-frank-darwin-economics-20111018,0,5949996.story

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Amongst many, though certainly not all, political theorists and economists there is a tendency to believe that in the absence of government, mutually beneficial voluntary economic interactions- and hence property rights- cannot exist, or, if they can, do so only infrequently (see, for instance, Murphy and Nagel (2002); Buchanan (1975); Glaeser et al. (2001); Rand (1967) pp. 329 – 337; Friedman (2002); Epstein (1985) chapter 1; Macpherson (1962)). This view has as its philosophical progenitor Thomas Hobbes, who famously concludes in his masterpiece, Leviathan, that in order to allow for mutually beneficial economic interactions- and thus property rights- a civil authority with the power to create and enforce laws is first necessary. What Hobbes (and by implication most modern political theorists and economists) fails to address adequately is that agents can establish property holdings and facilitate economic transactions in the absence of a government via self-enforcing contracts, particularly given his starting assumptions.

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Jon Stewart on the unabashed Republican and Fox News bias against Ron Paul. Congressman Paul’s conspicuous treatment (or lack thereof) at the hands of conservative pundits and the conservative media is especially curious considering the popularity of the so-called Tea Party. Ron Paul, perhaps more than any other politician, has indefatigably and consistently argued for the well-established merits of the free market and the implementation of greater fiscal discipline in government operations & a revision of the Federal tax codes, causes to which Tea partiers have paid much lip service. As Stewart says, Ron Paul is Tea Party ‘patient zero’ who ‘planted the seed of the grass root movement.’ (I would argue that the Tea Party is no more libertarian than George W. Bush, but whatever.) It is only after the (what I consider) empty popular uprising termed the ‘Tea Party’ have politicians like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Mitt Romney, to name only three, jumped on the limited government bandwagon.

Media bias is to be expected; in fact, I think, given the varied sources of information available, media bias is beneficial; but the mistreatment of Ron Paul by the conservative media is pernicious. Paul is by far the most- indeed, the only- ideologically consistent politician of the two primary parties, yet he is a man without a home, so to speak. As a libertarian (I would wager I am probably more militant in my libertarian political philosophy than Paul- at the end of the day, I self-identify as an anarcho-capitalist), I can empathize with Paul here. Libertarian social policy is, if consistent with its starting principles, far more ‘liberal’ than its progressive counterpart’s, while libertarian economic policies are far more consistent with free markets than the economic policies of social conservatives, and thus libertarians are often erroneously identified as ‘conservaitve’. Hence, social conservatives are apt to view libertarians as too liberal and liberals are apt to view libertarians as too conservative. Nevertheless, insofar as the media do not present Paul, despite his obvious popularity, on an even platform, they are snuffing out what ought to bloom into a fruitful philosophical discussion: broadly, the nature and proper role of government. Representative Paul does not equivocate, alter his views per the whim of his audience, and does not shy from poignant discourse. His counterparts, however, run the standard politician line and provide one empty slogan and ambiguous catchphrase after another. What the media are doing is unethical and really ought to be denounced.

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