Who Should Bail Out the Auto Industry?

The other day Laurie David, writing at the Huffington Post, suggested that the oil industry rather than the us government should bail out the auto industry:

“The best idea I’ve heard in the last few days comes from an unlikely source, the actor Ashton Kutcher on the Bill Maher show, who repeated the suggestion that the auto industry go meet with the oil industry – their partner in crime – and ask them for a bailout. At least we know ExxonMobil can afford it.”

Laurie and Kutcher are partially correct. The oil industry is a partner but, alas, it is not the only partner and not even the main partner.
The big 3 were at their normal and largest trough, congress. The difference now is that the play is visible to the rest of us. Normally the industry’s subsidies are indirect, yet massive, and by some strange perversion of perspective we do not typically lay the consequences at the feet of the auto industry which is much broader than the big 3, the oil industry or their federal, state and local government accomplices.
A subsidy example: like it or not, the thousands of miles of concrete spread across previously fecund land that the vehicles require to be useful are massive subsidies to the auto industry.
A consequence example: over 40,000 people/year die in the US as a result of traffic accidents. Unfortunately, these deaths are diffuse; one or two or three at a time and widely dispersed geographically. We ignore them. Yet, after a concentrated 3,000 die in the World Trade Center the country goes to war.
This is not the only subsidy nor are the fatalities the only consequence.
The appropriate approach begins with not a bailout but eliminating all subsidies at all levels of government…starting with, but not ending with, auto industry subsidies.
In time we will, then, start seeing the best results socially and economically. Amongst other things the former fat cats will no longer get to feed at the public teat; income disparities will start diminishing; legislative types will spend most of their time at home; lobbyists will go in search of real work; government can get back to basics, e.g., providing an accessible judicial system.

It’s Ancient, It’s Right

Precedent, precedent, precedent. Apparently because the idea that thieves and governments can point a gun and take whatever they want has been around for centuries makes it right:

You have to accept that government can take property. The power of eminent domain is ancient. What the Constitution requires that “just compensation” be paid to the owners and that the taking be for a “public use.” This case was about what counted as a “public use.”

Slavery is ancient. Human sacrifice is ancient. The idea that women should not have the vote is ancient. None of these practices is considered acceptable today in the United States.
The Constitution is a great document. It was a great step forward in the development of human societies. And, in the context of the Constitution and subsequent jurisprudence Kelo should not surprise anyone. That does not make Kelo just or consistent with the rule of law. Thank goodness that Kelo has generated outrage. There is some hope that we can look toward an even better Constituion in the future. One that clearly focuses on serving and protecting the individuals it should be meant to serve.
In one of the comments to her post Althouse asks:

All you conservatives: why aren’t you interested in federalism today?

and here argues:

If you generally support federalism, that means you like the idea of freeing state and local government to set their own policies in response to local ideas about how things ought to be done. You like decentralized decisionmaking.

I doubt I’d be considered a conservative so my answer may not count. What is broken here is that this is all about government. Where are our rights as individual human beings? Did we establish our governments to legitimize gangs of thieves or to protect the rights of individual human beings? I know which answer I prefer.
Furthermore, decentralized decision making is great but not when it is only governments who can make the decisions and not when a government entity can breach the rights of the very people it is meant to serve. Decentralized use of local knowledge leads to great results when individuals and freely formed associations of individuals exchange goods and services with others free of force and fraud.

Partners in Abuse

Britsh home secretary david blunkett apparently drinks from the same cup as US attorney general john ashcroft. blunkett is proposing changes to British law that fly in the face of individual rights:

The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 allows foreigners who are suspected international terrorists to be detained indefinitely without charge or trial in the event their lives would be in danger if they were deported.
Mr Blunkett wants to extend this so prosecutors can take action against suspected British extremists even though the evidence may not be strong enough to win a conviction under existing laws.
This may mean lowering the burden of proof in such cases from “beyond reasonable doubt” to what is acceptable in civil cases, “the balance of probabilities”
Evidence in the new trials would be kept secret from the defendants …
We have to have prevention under a new category which is to intervene before the act is committed, rather than do so by due process after the act is committed when it’s too late.
This may mean lowering the burden of proof in such cases from “beyond reasonable doubt” to what is acceptable in civil cases, “the balance of probabilities”.

None of this is acceptable under any circumstances whether applied to citizens or non-citizens.
When dealing with someones life or when justifying war “beyond a reasonable doubt” needs to be a minimum standard.
Via David Carr at Samizdata.