You are browsing the archive for 2014 December 31.

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Time to Close the Government to Close the Government

December 31, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The year is drawing to a close and we are supposed to be happy that the lame duck Congress survived its usual year-end brinkmanship and threats of a government shutdown. Horrors! What would the helpless people do if politicians weren’t able to legislate, regulate, and dictate in the “public interest”? Why, the republic would collapse.


The traditional civics book notion of government at all levels is that the state does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. That’s typically seen as creating the framework for a free society—police, courts, defense, basic health and safety, “public” goods which otherwise wouldn’t be provided.

If the state was this focused on its most important and basic tasks, we might notice if it closed. If you rely on government as a matter of necessity for something that truly matters, then it’s obvious when it’s not there.

Unfortunately, the state has turned into something very different. It’s now a welfare agency for the wealthy, a vast soup kitchen for special interests, an engine for social engineering at home and abroad, and a national nanny determined to run citizens’ lives.

While the beneficiaries of programs get excited when the money disappears, no one else cares. To the contrary, closing down Washington’s great income redistribution racket actually would help most Americans.

Yet perhaps the most irritating, even infuriating, government activity is paternalism. What is worse than government taking your money in order to run your life? Often the worst culprits are at the state or local levels.

It’s the basic difference between a gang of highwaymen and caucus of legislators. The first group takes your cash and then leaves you alone. The second group empties your wallet or purse, and then insists on sticking around for your benefit to make sure you’re eating and dressing right, have correct posture, aren’t taking undue risks, and are exercising properly. Your new overseers expect not only regular payment but eternal gratitude for their services.

Consider the concerted campaign against smoking. I’ve never liked the habit. But adults are entitled to smoke cancer sticks if they like. And the idea that not one restaurant or bar in a city of thousands or state of millions can allow someone to smoke is, well, outrageous, especially when people continue to prattle on about the U.S. being a free society.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to ban large cups of soda. He’s the worst sort of “public servant,” …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Circus Harmony Coming to Fractious Ferguson

December 31, 2014 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

Increasingly known throughout the United States and abroad, the “Circus Lady” – the founder, executive and artistic director of St. Louis-based Circus Harmony – “has a long history of building bridges,” as St. Louis Public Radio’s Linda Lockhart reports (“Reactions to Grand Jury’s Decision Reflect Diversity of Perspectives,” Linda Lockhart,, Nov. 25).

“Over the past 10 years,” Lockhart writes, “she has developed youth circus troupes that consist of Jewish, Christian, Caucasian, Hispanic, African-American and Asian children from throughout the St. Louis area.”

And, the Circus Lady “has gone all the way to Israel,” where this past summer, she “took members of her tumbling group, the St. Louis Arches.

“There, the Arches joined with Arab and Israeli youth from the Galilee Circus, where they work and learned together, setting aside religious, political and cultural differences.”

This Circus Lady is Jessica Hentoff, my daughter. I have written about her and her involvement in Circus Harmony before – my interest as a reporter going far beyond parental pride, which certainly does exist.

“I’m following in your footsteps,” she once said to me.

But I haven’t traveled an inch near the life-changing effect she has had on the members of her circus troupes.

The mission of the nonprofit Circus Harmony is clear: “Through teaching and performance of circus arts, we help people defy gravity, soar with confidence, and leap over social barriers, all at the same time” (

As she has explained to me and others: “Children involved in Circus Harmony learn how to defy gravity, becoming part of a creative team, and how to overcome the prejudices society places upon them because of race, religion or socioeconomic standing.

“Our programs teach valuable life skills like perseverance, focus and teamwork. Learning circus with others teaches trust responsibility and cooperation.

“Perhaps the most important experience we give our participants is the opportunity to meet with and interact with children from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds than their own.

“Many children live under certain labels imposed on them because they are a certain race or from a particular neighborhood. Our students learn to define themselves as capable community members and creative performing artists … the circus has given them confidence and the courage to be themselves.”

When Circus Harmony starts a troupe in Ferguson, Missouri, in February (funded in part by a social impact grant from the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission), the Circus Lady intends to have her experienced students take charge of teaching their …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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PTSD for Christmas—The Boredom, Dispatch 6

December 31, 2014 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster

This dispatch is way overdue but thanks for bearing with me.
Catch up with
An Afghan policeman stands with a British mercenary
The 24th day of The Boredomwas a lovely, sunny Sunday in Southern California. I woke up with plenty of time for leisure and knocked through a chapter of Erik Prince’s book Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror. It’s a dynamite read so far, and as a libertarian I like reading about the ups and downs of the military’s private sector.
Later in the morning I took my mom with me to the Christmas service at the First Baptist Church of San Dimas. The First Baptist Church is the oldest church and building in my town—118 years old. It’s always been a small congregation—thirty or fewer people usually come to Sunday morning service, and there may be ten or fewer at evening service. However, it’s the small congregations where I feel most at home.
It’s written that “…if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:19-20).
The mostly-white church interior was lined at the front with pine garlands and bright red poinsettias, all running along the piano, pulpit, and communion altar. It was simple but tastefully elegant. The highlight (other than the Salvation message, which is open to ALL people, regardless) was the Christmas music.
In the first twenty minutes the congregation sang Christmas songs from the old hymnal. Then, several members either sang or performed on instruments in front of the whole congregation. Kudos to the Santana siblings and their killer saxophones! The pastor rounded the service out with …read more