Behind the Lines: Israeli Libertarian

Thursday, February 21, 2008

IDF troops mutiny over Sofas, abandon post

From Yedioth Ahronoth:

Five soldiers of the Shaked Batallion of the Givati Brigade abandoned their posts yesterday due to a conflict with their commander.

According to the IDF spokesman, the troops have abandoned the front-line outpost (later to return) due to their commanders' attempt to enforce a General Staff Order according to which no civilian furniture may be put in Army tents, in this case – several sofas.

Original Article in Hebrew

Monday, February 18, 2008

Now returning to the actual topic of the blog...

Apparently, the Central Bank is considering removing Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir from the relevant money notes, and replacing them outright with politically neutral poets.

That is a great thing, in my opinion. The worship of David Ben-Gurion (Altalena disaster, anyone?), and Golda really, really needs to end.

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Remember this one, conservatives?


A Blast from the Past.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Why National Health care will kill your freedom

State-funded health care has always been the flagship project of modern-day welfare statists. Golda Meir is famous, among other things, for diverting funds from the front during her tenure as a minister in 1948, so that the Israeli state-funded health care system could be funded.

Varying arguments exist at to its effectiveness and cost – arguments from cost, life expectancy, infant mortality, and blah, blah, blah. I do not possess the intellectual and statistical tools necessary to properly discuss the effectiveness of this measure, but I will do so once I've researched the issue.

But there is something that should be really glaringly obvious.

Let us suppose that we have a state-owned health care system in place. For simplicity, suppose that this a system where people simply pay for the system from their tax money.

So here are Citizen A, Citizen B, and Citizen C. Should citizen C start smoking – and potentially, cause himself lung cancer – he will thus hike up the health care expenditures of our theoretical country, and thus jack up the health care bill of A and B. If previously, banning smoking was an issue for two or three prudes at best, now citizen A and B have a vested monetary interest in voting for a smoking ban.

When a group of people believes that they're acting for their own self-interest, they may eventually switch to another avenue of profit if the current one doesn't work as well as they expected it to. Conversely, if a group of people believes that they're acting for a higher cause, they'll often get disillusioned, tire of it, and leave. But teach people they can do both at the same time (in the way that teachers' unions persuade everybody that by whining for higher pay, they are actually 'securing the future of our children) – and you have yourself a truly relentless contingent.

Now here are Citizen A and Citizen B – they're well-persuaded that by destroying the hobbies making C's life worthwhile, they're both doing him good and improving their own paycheck. Do you imagine how miserable these two are going to make you?

Consider the United Kingdom with its variety of health-related media fads – a struggle (recently) against smoking in pubs, for compulsory 'health food' in schools, and now, using health as a justification for fingerprinting children. Because, you know, a monitored child is a healthy child. Consider in this vein Israel, with the government still struggling against alcohol consumption. Oh, and consider the War on Drugs.

How does that tie in all of a sudden, you ask?

Once you've persuaded society that it's good and proper to have A and B to pay for C's health care, then the best and most important argument against the war on drugs, against bans on the food-of-the-week, against regulations on how much fashion models may weigh – the argument that a person owns his own body – loses all weight forever. If A and B are compelled to pay for C's health expenses, it would be downright immoral for him to live a lifestyle that keeps A and B's expenses up.

Nationalized health care is the last brick in the wall encasing our freedoms. Once it's in place, it's pointless to rattle our chains and shout "For the love of God, Montressor!"

In that story that doesn't help anybody, either.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

A simple advocacy of the jury system

Today I discovered – after reading the student magazine at Tel-Aviv University, 'Thesis' – that 98% of trial proceedings in Israel end in a conviction. This number is not, of course, in itself meaningful So let us compare this to similar numbers in the US, or – even better – the Russian Federaion. Approximately 20% of US trials, and 18% of Russian trials end in an acquittal – or, in other terms, about ten times as many, in relative, not absolute numbers, as in the Israeli justice system.

Something is clearly wrong here. Naturally, the fact Israel allows the prosecution to appeal the case increases the power of the government. Under Russian law, the judge in an appeals court is prohibited to render a decision that would worsen the situation of the defendant or convict. He can, at worst, render a previous judgement stand, but never make it worse for you. In America, if the jury finds you not guilty, it's over – but not so in Israel.

Worse, Israel's system doesn't have juries at all – it has judges, and that's it. Judges who are not appointed by elected officials or elected directly – in fact, none of the judges in Israel are elected directly – but instead, appointed by a committee where most of the members are judges or members of the attorneys' association. As result, they copy the governing prejudices of a single narrow caste, and apply them to their practice with varying degree of subtley.

That, of course, is the very monstrosity that a jury system is designed to prevent.

Contemplate, in comparison, the American jury in the way it is supposed to function. You have twelve people, selected at random. Then, unlike an Israeli court, where a vote of 2-1 judges is enough to convict a man on the facts of the case, the unanimous agreement of all 12 jurors is necessary to acquit.

Naturally speaking, should there be the suspicion that the jury convicted you due to their long-standing hatred of blacks, Jews, bald people, you will be allowed to appeal. But the converse is not true. The jury can vote to acquit you, and should they do so, it is almost impossible that their decision will be reversed.

Naturally, this leads to a certain amount of people being released who shouldn't be – somewhere on the Internet, a particularly trigger-happy reader is already typing the name 'O.J.Simpson', but of course, that's the whole damn point of juries.

Naturally, juries rarely to acquit people who are blatantly and obviously evil murderers – though it sometimes happens (see O.J. Simpson again). Had they been known to often make such mistakes, humanity would have long since abandoned the trial by jury.

When American judges are polled on their opinion on their cases in a variety of research, they usually state they would have made the same decision as the jurors – except as, as I said, in a variety of borderline situations where the scales could conceivably tip both ways.

It is exactly in such situations that the jury – with it's lack of elite-dictated prejudices, and, most importantly, with its tendency to acquit – is going to come in useful.

Sure, maybe a few more guilty people will be set free. It's still better than having innocent people imprisoned.

And rember: It's better to set two dozen guilty men free than to imprison one innocent.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Castle Doctrine Yay!

Israel's Castle Doctrine law, sponsored by a Likud MK, passed the first reading in the Knesset today 119-1.

We will soon be able to shoot intruders in our homes.

At least those happy 2% that have guns.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Letter to A Republican Friend

You know, I was never one of these starry-eyed people who thought that Ron Paul was bound to win, no matter what. I believe Ron Paul could win, if nothing went disastrously wrong. And I still say it – he could have won, damn it.

Ron Paul was not a RINO, like some other candidates. He was at that precarious edge where conservatism and libertarianism meet – you can call him a conservative or a libertarian and be equally right.

You and I are not really different in our views. We both want the income tax gone, we want the government reduced in size and in power, we want the Constitution, we want our freedom. And you know, Ron Paul would have helped us both a whole damn lot. Oh, sure, he wouldn't repeal all the steaming piles of New Deal crap- sorry, regulations and taxes – in one day. Nobody can. But he'd have cut a thick, quivering, slice right out of Shelob's belly and you know it, too. And even had he not won, we'd have given them a good fight – you and I, together.

Do you imagine it, now? Imagine the Presidential debate, Ron Paul versus Hillary Clinton, Hillary trotting out the same old statist solutions – "ban guns, raise taxes, destroy private enterprise" – and Ron Paul arguing, not for a different statist solution – "regulate guns, raise taxes" – but for something actually different. Imagine an actual stand-up fight between Hillary – the very embodiment of everything wrong with the American Left – and Ron Paul. It would have been the Battle of Yavin all over again. Even if we didn't win, we'd create a real alternative for them. There'd be a fight, a real fight for freedom.

And yet we're not getting that fight. Instead, the GOP will run McCain or someone very like him. You know what that means? Either Hillary wins – and that's not going to be nice in any shape or meaning of the word – or McCain wins. Which is even worse.

Any economist will tell you that people repeat activities which benefit them. Any zoologist will tell you that even an octopus can be taught to repeat an activity that benefits it. Operating on the tenuous assumption that the GOP leadership posesses at least the IQ of a piece of invertebrate seafood, if they can win by running a McCain for office, that this is what they'll do. Again and again.

McCain is indistinguishable from a Democrat in any of his major positions, except, of course, his desire to bomb stuff abroad (which many Democrats hold to as well). Elect him, run a guy like him for office in 2016, and you will destroy American conservatism. There will be a political spectrum not unlike the one in Europe – Welfare-State Party R and Welfare-State Party D.

And unfortunately, I have a very personal reason to care, even though I am not an American at all. You see, what happens in America reflects on the world entire. When Reagan cut taxes and deregulated business, his example was followed in dozens of countries. America doesn't have to invade countries to lead the world – it leads by example, too, whether it wants to or not. And now you are all set to give the world a terrible example.

Should the mantle of the Welfare-State descend upon America completely – as it seems to be about to – there will be no visible alternative. If America adopts gun licensing, universal compulsory education, huge taxes, Europe-style, there will no longer be an alternative for anybody to point to, no longer an prototype to call upon of how different things can be, no longer a source of libertarian ideas and conservative examples.

Damn it, man, you could have voted for Fred Thompson. At least the man had ideas. You could have voted for Tancredo. What, have you deliberately searched for the most unprincipled, most socialist, most un-conservative man in the entire Republican party? Have you decided that you will ruin what's best in America, no matter what it costs?

I know you'll be stamping your feet and calling me a fanatic. It's awesome how the 'moderates' are quickest to stamp their feet and call other people names when someone questions the value of their moderation – but you know, maybe that's a good sign. Maybe that's because, deep in your heart, you, too, wished you could have a real candidate, someone who would actually challenge the status-quo.

But maybe you're not like that. Maybe you just didn't vote for Ron because you didn't like his foreign policy. Don't you feel stupid now, lying there with your own foot on your throat? Here, you can have your wonderful war that you so wanted – it's just that you can't have any guns, or freedom, or gold to go with it. You ended up with a guy who promised you the war you wanted, but you have nothing else. Nothing.

Don't you feel like a fool now, sitting there and slurping on that bean soup you traded your bithright for?

Oh, I know what you're going to say. You're going to claim that I hate Jews and Israel, and so on. Except of course, I'm an Israeli citizen. My ID card number is 307333377 so you can verify this claim. Like that term, 'ID card'? Israel has national ID cards. Soon enough, you will have a shiny new one, too.

I want you to realize, deep in your mind, what a McCain vs. Clinton race means, for America, for the world, for everybody. It means America no longer has any meaningful opposition to the marauding, all-prevailing, State, outside of several think tanks and two or three Congressmen. It'll take decades until someone runs on a real small-government platform. I'll be 31 by the time whoever wins the next election leaves office.

The incrementalist socialists took about 70 years to get government to the size it is today – if you start counting from FDR. About 95 years if you start counting from Wilson.

Do you want to bet on how old I can be until we can cut government back to its proper size – the size at which we can buy M1928 Thompsons over the counter, never fill out an income tax form, never fear a government agent seizing our children and business and everything we hold dear? How old will I be then, you Quisling? 70? 90? 100?

That's your legacy, you moron. You destroyed the only meaningful chance you, me, anybody who's reading this letter, ever had to actually experience what a free society would be like. Oh we can work for our children, for our principles, just to poke Leviathan in his eye. But we will never, ever, ever get to experience what it's actually like.

Imagine if we were characters in A New Hope. Imagine how the rebels would have felt if Rebel Command would have looked at those Death Star blueprints, with the thermal exhaust port marked out good and clear, and said "Let's surrender. It's not like an X-wing can actually get in there." That's how a lot of people feel right now. Because that's what you did.

I hope you feel proud.

Boris Karpa is a columnist and libertarian activist in Israel. He can be reached through

Monday, February 11, 2008

Thinking Beyond Ron Paul

What Next?
Thinking Beyond Ron Paul
by Darian Worden

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

It looks like Ron Paul is not heading to electoral success. If Paul will not go on the ballot in November then his libertarian supporters ought to think about what comes next. Those with no interest in Paul should still think of what impact his campaign has had on the future of the libertarian movement and what to do about it.

More here:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ron Paul Wins 2008 Primaries

This may sound strange to some people – McCain has the nomination almost completely locked up, and it seems Huckabee is angling for the VP slot. It is most likely, at this stage, that America is headed for a Hillary or a McCain Presidency, and it is completely unclear which is worse. Some people will argue Hillary is Satan. Others will argue McCain is Hitler. Both are valid, relevant points.

But I will argue Ron Paul can still win, even if he does not 'win'. In fact, in many senses, Ron Paul has already won. Even if he has a heart attack and dies today, Ron Paul will die victorious

Consider this: Never before had a libertarian candidate received so much grass-roots support, so many actual primary votes, so much money. Ron Paul raised more money in just one day than Badnarik had in his entire election cycle by an order of magnitude.

Ron Paul has made it so that quitting the UN, abolishing the income tax, the War on Drugs, and all gun control laws altogether weren't just things that people talk about in radical party meetings, but something that gets serious page space on Newsweek. By doing that alone, Ron Paul has triumphed.

Ron Paul's campaign staff was not prepared for the battle they fought. They came to run to just make a point, and they ended up drawn in a fight to win, and they couldn't manage it. But, again, Ron Paul has already won, and now – with the help of his valiant volunteers – can win something that McCain, Hillary, and their minions can never accomplish.

Restoring Constitutional order to America will not take one day, not even one decade. We have decades of long, hard work ahead of us. Ron Paul has said it again and again, and I am just repeating what he said.

If we want to make sure Ron Paul wins this – if we want to ensure liberty wins – then, no matter how disappointed we feel right now, we must not quit.

Yes, we believed Ron Paul was going to fly the X-wing up the thermal exhaust port of the Welfare State and blow it all to smithereens. But that was not going to happen, even had he won the Presidency.

If we want to win – if we want to live free, or at least have our children live free – then we must move immediately to capitalize on what we have done. We must use the mailing lists of the people who were active and who donated in the Campaign to raise money for the cause of liberty, and to organize events of various kinds for libertarian causes even after the campaign – just like the Goldwater people did with his donor lists after he lost the election.

We must utilize the organizational capital and the political momentum gained by this campaign to build connections between the various wings of the freedom movement. Those who gained positions within the GOP must remain there, to continue pulling the party in the right direction. Those who made signs, stood at street corners, canvassed, must now make signs, stand at street corners, and canvas for the various mini-Ron Pauls that are now beginning to run.

Join the GOA. Join the JPFO. Join the HSLDA. Remain active.

Do not allow the minor and superficial loss of this campaign get you out of activism. If that happens, Hillary and McCain truly win.

Remember, Ron Paul – and freedom – won in this primary cycle, and with your help, they will win again


Saturday, February 09, 2008

More about Israel's public sector.

According to TheMarker – the economic supplement to Ha'aretz, of course – there is such a thing as the Department for Public Complaints Against Judges in the Ministry of Justice. (I don't know if that's the official name – I only read about this in a Russian translation of the Hebrew article. If I find out better, I'll correct it). So anyhow, the director of this department gets paid 61,000 NIS per month before benefits. When the benefits are factored in, her salary rolls in to 78,000 NIS per month, or 935,000 NIS per year. That's $252,700 per year – more than the salary of the speaker of the US Senate.

Naturally, my readers will point out, this is only an exception, and most of the employees of the state don't get paid as much. That is true. The Chief Administrator of the Ministry of Defense (separate, I note, from the Minister, or from the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry), whose job is undefined – apparently, TheMarker has not the slightest clue what the man actually does for a living. He gets paid 60.7 thousand shekels per month. The various Deputy Chief Executive Officers of the Ministry of Defense (no, there is not just one Deputy CEO of the Ministry of Defense, that would be a naïve assumption) get 58,000 NIS. Crane operators in the state-owned ports get up to five times what a regular crane operator gets – 52,000 NIS per month.

Naturally, the same thing that happens every year will repeat itself. The country will whine for a month about the salaries of these losers and forget about it. People who suggest cutting even one bureaucrat from his desk will be derided as anti-hevrati (anti-social) and possibly even anti-mamlachti (anti-statist).

And yet people insist on whining Israel has too much capitalism. Surely, the stupid of some people is a marvel to behold.