Nov 032009

Sometimes public humiliation is an appropriate punishment. To wit:

Women who stole from girl, 9, hold public signs of shame

“A woman and her daughter are outside the Bedford County Courthouse holding signs saying they stole a gift card from a 9-year-old girl on her birthday…which the girl set on a shelf while a Wal-Mart employee helped her.”

Shame benefits society by discouraging undesirable behavior. In this case it’ll keep two people out of tax-eating prisons. Hopefully, the perpetrators have learned a valuable lesson and will be better neighbors henceforth. Unfortunately, the girl will likely learn the wrong lesson from what happened to her.

“The girl’s mother planned to drive by the courthouse to teach her daughter the importance of obeying the law.”

Um, no. What’s important to learn is not be a petty, thieving scumbag. Teaching blind obedience to the law instills fear of getting caught without inspiring moral and ethical behavior.

Oct 112009

A tongue-in-cheek post by Justin Kownacki and a debate at Podcamp Pittsburgh 4 with Justin, Tami Dixon, Steve Klabnik, and Nick Pinkston has inspired some thoughts about intellectual property (IP). I can’t shake the feeling that the debate could have been more fruitful if some terms had been explicitly defined. Let’s see if I can sum up the gist of Steve and Nick’s point. Afterward, I’ll offer some suggestions for continuing the discussion.

Continue reading »

Jun 192009

Libertarians take as axiomatic that every person has a natural right to be secure in his life, liberty, and property. Necessary to respect and protect these rights is the non-agression principle, which states that all interpersonal exchanges must be voluntary and coercion is immoral. Briefly, to take one’s life is to take one’s future, to take one’s liberty is to take one’s present, and to take one’s property (the product of one’s life and liberty) is to take the part of one’s past that produced or acquired that property. A lengthier explanation can be found in the “Philosophy of Liberty”.

This ethos is good so far as it goes, and I find it far more appealing than the interventionism (imperialistic paternalism abroad and socialist paternalism at home) I see taking over American government, but I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that it’s missing something. Libertarianism seems to me to be vulnerable to accusations of being the philosophy of the selfish. While objectivists might not object to such an accusation, I suspect most other libertarians would. Collectivists of various stripes argue that man, self-centered and self-serving as he is, cannot be trusted to adhere to non-aggression for very long without a least a little – and perhaps a great deal of – governance.

Continue reading »

Jun 052009

I’ve found a couple interesting speeches from a recent Austrian Scholars Conference about Christian views on economy, specifically private property and capitalism. I’ll post more as I discover and listen to them.

Nineteenth Century Conservative Protestant Theory and the Biblical View of Property by Shawn Ritenour (player, mp3)

Catholic Social Teaching and the Austrian School Revisited: A Reply to Thomas Storck by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (player, mp3)

The latter seems to be a follow up to one or all of these:

The Trouble with Catholic Social Teaching by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (player, mp3)

The Crisis in Catholic Social Teaching on Economics by William Luckey (player, mp3)

The Trouble with Catholic Social Teaching by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (player, mp3)