The issue before us today is not simply whether civil liberties should be curtailed, but whether executive officials should be given increased power without increased accountability. Institutions, and in particular government institutions, have inherent incentives to try to increase their authority while decreasing their accountability.
Power without accountability leads to arrogance and corruption, and these lead to errors of judgment. Government officials are agents of the people, and like all those who wield power on behalf of others, they have natural incentives to abuse their authority if there are not sufficient checks and monitoring devices.
When government officials act in secret, when they arrest individuals without disclosing their identities or hold them indefinitely and deny their right to an attorney or to judicial review, they make it easier to cover up their mistakes. And when government officials are utterly convinced of their rectitude and view others as mere hindrances to the pursuit of the nation's interests, they are more likely to succumb to the perils of groupthink, self-delusion, and hubris.
A government untethered from the checks and balances that individual rights and democracy provide may make serious errors of judgment that lead to more deaths and more human suffering, both for our own people and for people in other lands.
--Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment, Yale Univ., from The Truth About Our Institutions
The natural, free market way to help low income Americans is to increase their value by making them rarer commodities. How do you do this? You guessed it, by severely curtailing (a moratorium would be ideal) immigration. Do that and America becomes more of a worker's market, forcing businesses to offer more money to attract applicants.
-- Selwyn Duke, excerpt from "What Jobs Americans Won't Do?," NewsWithViews (4/3/06)
There are 8.3 million native-born workers 18 years of age or older working full-time who have not completed high school. In addition, there are 3.4 million adult native-born Americans who lack a high school education working part-time. There is a good deal of evidence that these workers are in direct competition with Mexican immigrants. ... In a comparison across cities, Cordelia Reimers found that the impact of immigration falls heaviest on African-American and white high school dropouts. Other research has come to a similar conclusion. Because immigration in general and Mexican immigration in particular increases the supply of high school dropouts, it should come as no surprise that it reduces wages for unskilled workers.
-- Excerpt from "Impact of Mexican Immigration on
Wages and Prices in the United States," Center for Immigration Studies.
Right after the sixties' civil-rights victories came what I believe to be the greatest miscalculation in black American history. Others had oppressed us, but this was to be the first "fall" to come by our own hand. We allowed ourselves to see a greater power in America's liability for our oppression than we saw in ourselves. Thus, we were faithless with ourselves just when we had given ourselves reason to have such faith. We couldn't have made a worse mistake. We have not been the same since.
To go after America's liability we had to locate real transformative power outside ourselves. Worse, we had to see our fate as contingent on America's paying off that liability. We have been a contingent people ever since, arguing our weakness and white racism in order to ignite the engine of white liability. And this has mired us in a protest-group identity that mistrusts individualism because free individuals might jeopardize the group's effort to activate this [white] liability.
-- Shelby Steele, "The Age of White Guilt, and the Disappearance of the Black Individual," Harper's magazine, November 2002.
From the Biweekly Archive
# Even wrong ideas have a contribution to make, when they provoke open discussions and investigations that end up with our knowing and understanding more than we knew or understood before. What contribution has the enforced silence of censorship ever made?
-- Thomas Sowell
A scoundrel's refuge
"Emboldening the enemy" is a scoundrel's refuge that makes sacred the status quo, no matter how bad it may be. When there is no other rationale for a failed foreign policy, there is always the claim that changing policy will embolden our enemies. Since we can neither prove nor disprove that our enemies have been either emboldened or chastened, this argument is a political wonder-weapon, turning rational (and democratic) decision-making from a virtue into a vice.
-- Russell A. Burgos
# I once wrote that if reparations are paid to African-Americans, every cent of that money would be back in the hands of the white and Asian communities inside a week. I got called "Uncle Tom," I got called "Sambo," I got called "traitor," and everything else. A short time later, Louis Farrakhan comes to Baltimore and says the exact same thing, practically verbatim. He got a standing ovation. Go figure!
-- Gregory Kane, Baltimore Sun journalist
"The pursuit of integration has cost African-Americans too much," says Kenny Gamble. A well-known music composer and producer, and now a land developer, Gamble speaks of the thriving black communities where people once came to "enjoy black food, music and clubs." Reciting a fact acknowledged by so many regretful blacks before him, Gamble says, "We created a community for ourselves. That's the reason why I think the integration movement was not well-thought out, because you devastated the black community."
-- Doing it the old-fashioned way
An African's view of the film "Adanggaman":
After having seen the film, we would embarrass ourselves to ask for reparations. We've just seen how slavery was not caused only by white traders, but that it existed even before the arrival of the whites. The Negro kings, who enslaved other black people, made the bondage of their own sons possible in the New World. Who is it we can compensate today?
-- Some truth about slavery
Ever since we ventured beyond our native soil, crossed the water, set foot on many islands and continents, and filled the whole sea and the whole earth with our name and power, we have experienced nothing but ill fortune.
-- Maecenas, adviser to Augustus Caesar
Do we need leaders who, for decades, misled the black masses away from economic strategies into corrupting social programs, any more than we need a former U.S. President who, during his Presidency, publicly gloated that he looked forward to the day when other races in this country outnumber his own? What kind of leaders offer demoralization in place of uplift, or encourage self-annihilation?
Think. It's patriotic.