July 7, 2008
Causes and Cures
By James Wilson
Two economists, Milton Friedman and Murray Rothbard, agreed that many of the steps Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt took to end the Great Depression only made it worse. Also, that their expanded Presidential powers, new bureaucracies, and curbs on economic freedom had long-term disastrous consequences both morally and economically. Both Friedman and Rothbard promoted the downsize DC message for several decades, and remain admired by many for their work. But the funny thing is, they disagreed about what actually caused the Great Depression in the first place. Friedman thought the Federal Reserve was too deflationary; Rothbard thought it was too inflationary and that the Fed itself should be abolished. They disagreed about the causes, but agreed that FDR's "cure" was worse than the disease. Likewise, we don't have to agree on everything in order to agree that DC must be downsized. We often get mail from supporters of the 9/11 Truth Movement disputing some of our assumptions, such as that we were attacked by Islamic terrorists on 9/11. We do believe a new investigation of 9/11 should take place, because the federal government already had the tools it needed to prevent the attacks and that those who failed should be held accountable. And if an investigation reveals criminal conduct rather than mere incompetence, the guilty persons should be prosecuted. But here's a question for 9/11 Truthers: what if there was nothing fishy about the attacks? What if it was indeed true that Islamic terrorists planned and executed the whole thing? Would the War on Terror then be justified? Would it be justified if we had a smarter, more trustworthy President? We at say no, and that is the basis of our "I am not afraid" campaign. Regardless of the causes behind 9/11, the government's cure - destroying a thousand-year Western tradition of individual liberty - is worse than the terror threat itself. We saw something similar with the War on Iraq: after-the-fact finger-pointing. The Administration claimed that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction and had links to Al Qaeda. When both claims were demonstrated to be false, the question turned to who in the Administration lied about what. But the following points were missed: - The Administration did make "claims" before the war, but never did provide much in the way of evidence; - Congress had an obligation to insist upon evidence; - Congress and the President had an obligation to explain why such evidence provided a justification for war; - Congress and the President had an obligation to explain why an invasion, and not less extreme measures or diplomacy, was necessary; - Congress had a Constitutional responsibility to declare war, and violated the Constitution by "delegating" that power to the President to start a war when and if he deemed it necessary. What if U.S. troops invaded, discovered nuclear warheads, and found Saddam playing tennis with Osama bin Laden? Unfortunately, many war critics would have been silenced, and the war would have been seen as a "triumph" for Bush. But this would have been a "post-hoc" justification for the war, where the end result excuses an illegal act. And it would have been unnecessary to invade illegally, had Bush actually provided evidence and Congress actually declared war. We may disagree on what the "real motives" of the Administration were in invading Iraq. But whether or not their intentions were good, good intentions do not justify by-passing the Constitution. Likewise, even if the "official account of 9/11 is true and there was no government conspiracy, and even if the Administration has only "good intentions" in keeping Americans safe, these do not justify shredding the Bill of Rights. Regardless of what you believe about conspiracies and criminality within the government, we hope that you will join us in refusing to be afraid. Regardless of how it started, the War on Terror as it is presently waged must come to an end. We may disagree about causes, but we can agree to oppose government "cures."
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