There’s only one Danny Murphy

by Chris Bertram on April 24, 2004

A chink of hope in an otherwise dismal season as Danny Murphy becomes the first player to score a league penalty for an away team at Old Trafford since 1993.

Taxation and conscription

by John Quiggin on April 24, 2004

A while ago, I made the observation that

since most libertarians envisage a minimal state with no real taxing powers but a continuing responsibility for defence, reliance on conscription would be almost inevitable. From the libertarian viewpoint, any form of taxation constitutes slavery[1], and fairness is not a proper concern of policy, so there can be no particular objection to the press gang as opposed to, say, voluntary recruitment financed by involuntary income taxes.

I was speaking in the context of the Aubrey-Maturin novels, set during the Napoleonic Wars, but the issue has come up again in relation to contemporary debates about the draft. Julian Sanchez has a very good discussion of the issues from a libertarian viewpoint, rejecting Nozick and arguing that rights over property are derivative of, and potentially far more qualified than, rights over one’s own labour.

My own view is broadly similar to Julian’s. Conscription may be justified in the kind of total war situation that also requires “conscription of wealth”, but not as a cheap way of filling the military.

fn1. Nozick is clear on this, and a lot of other libertarians say much the same thing, though usually more foggily. As noted below, however, it’s always a mistake to refer to “the” libertarian viewpoint.

Culture Matters

by Kieran Healy on April 24, 2004

There’s often a strong temptation to think that only other people have culture, a mistake of the same kind as thinking only other people speak with an accent. The odd beliefs and attitudes of foreigners are best explained by reference to their culture, whereas our own actions are generally rational and defensible on their own terms. This fascinating story is about the Japanese hostages recently released in Iraq and their subsequent reception on their return home. It’s a reminder that culture matters and an invitation to the comparative sociology of culture. Thanks to my friend Marion Fourcade-Gourinchas for the pointer. Incidentally, you really should read Marion’s terrific article on Politics, Institutional Structures and the Rise of Economics.

The Interregnum

by John Quiggin on April 24, 2004

I’m looking ahead to the June 30 “handover” of power in Iraq with increasing trepidation. As this NYT story indicates, the handover is shaping up to be a complete sham (more on this from Nathan Brown, guest commentator for Juan Cole). Anybody silly or corrupt enough to join the new “government” will be in the same position as the Iraq governments of the British Mandate/Treaty period, taking responsibility for policies dictated by a foreign occupying force, while having no effective power over anything that matters.

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