Time for a human rights review?

The Times law report (15th July) concerned a Muslim school-age immigrant, granted asylum in France, who had come to the UK instead on the grounds that she was not permitted to wear the burka in French schools. She claimed that to be a human right and therefore the Home Secretary was wrong in seeking her return to France.

The rights and wrongs of human rights and clothing indicating religion are not my concern.  The issue here is the extent to which foreigners are entitled to legal representation to fight their cases at UK taxpayers’ expense.  Some lawyers claim that justice has no price but can that really be so?

In this case, Mr Justice Hickinbottom refused a judicial review of the Home Secretary’s decision.  On 24th June, the Court of Appeal, being the Master of the Rolls and two other Lord Justices, resoundingly supported the earlier judgment.  The appellant needed to show that there was a “flagrant violation” of the European Convention on Human Rights.  In this case, there was no violation at all, never mind flagrant.

Although the report does not say so, it is hard to believe that this school-age asylum seeker had the funds to cover the original hearing, still less the appeal. Perhaps we will be paying for a further appeal to the European Court of Human Rights itself even though the ECHR has already ruled several times that France is entitled to ban the burka in schools so long as it does not do so in general.  Other forms of education are available, e.g. distance learning.

Some will feel that an asylum seeker is lucky to be accepted at all and such acceptance should not entitle them, free of charge, to the full panoply of rights built up and paid for by the citizens.  Obviously as time goes by and they integrate, so their rights should build up but not immediately and certainly not before they have gained admission.

One solution would be to require asylum seekers as part of their acceptance to sign, with legal advice, a binding agreement that they are not entitled to legal aid until assimilated into the country as defined by learning the language to conversational level, paying UK taxes for, say, five years and not being found guilty of a crime normally punishable by a prison sentence.

Some will say that the last is both unfair and inefficient.  In effect they would be deemed guilty before being judged and self-defence by someone without the language would clog up the courts.  But the present system lands the UK taxpayer with the not inconsiderable cost of prison followed by a failure to expel them, as we legally can, because deportation is appealed and the Home Office is overwhelmed by cases.  The UK taxpayer funds not only the legal costs of asylum seekers’ “rights” but all the associated civil service, police and imprisonment costs.

Time for a review?

Why prostitution should be safe, legal and, well not rare actually

We’re all well aware of the way in which various feminists are insisting that prostitution should be made illegal in the UK. (A note for non-Brits, prostitution itself is legal in the UK, various activities around it, pimping, running a brothel, soliciting are not.) Two major counter arguments occur:

Most governments in the world including the United States prohibit prostitution. Given these types of laws rarely change and are fairly uniform across regions, our knowledge about the impact of decriminalizing sex work is largely conjectural. We exploit the fact that a Rhode Island District Court judge unexpectedly decriminalized indoor prostitution in 2003 to provide the first causal estimates of the impact of decriminalization on the composition of the sex market, rape offenses, and sexually transmitted infection outcomes. Not surprisingly, we find that decriminalization increased the size of the indoor market. However, we also find that decriminalization caused both forcible rape offenses and gonorrhea incidence to decline for the overall population. Our synthetic control model finds 824 fewer reported rape offenses (31 percent decrease) and 1,035 fewer cases of female gonorrhea (39 percent decrease) from 2004 to 2009.

If decriminalisation reduces rape and clap cases then we should probably assume that those who would criminalise it are pro-clap and pro-rape. So there’s certainly an empirical argument against criminalisation.

There’s also a good theoretical argument which is that what on Earth is the definition of an adult if it isn’t someone who gets to decide what to do with their own gonads? So as long as everything is confined to consenting adults then renting out body parts is and should be no different from lending them out for fun or for free. That is, if consenting adults are, by law, allowed to have sex with any, and any combination of, other consenting adults it is absurd to distinguish between paid events of such activity and unpaid events of such activity.

Not that either argument is going to convince the more militant feminists but fortunately we all get to vote on their suggestions, don’t we?

The costs of a government-sponsored crisis

Accusations of child neglect are surfacing in the United States asleaked photos from Arizona and Texas border patrol processing centers show hundreds of migrant children sleeping in razor-lined cages.

Thousands of unaccompanied minors, who have narrowly escaped from dangerous, cartel-infested areas of Central America and Mexico, have been brought into federally-run boarder patrol centers, only to receive further inhumane treatment. The photos reveal that minors – many young girls under the age of twelve – are left unsupervised, crowded into caged cells along with hundreds of their peers, and forced to sleep on the ground.

Since the leak, new regulations have come into effect. According to Patrol Agent Charge Leslie Lawson’s memo obtained by Townhall, steps were taken on June 6th to change procedures at one of Arizona’s border detention facilities:

Effective immediately, the use of personally owned cellular phones, cameras, or recoding devices in the Nogales Dentition Facility and Nogales Processing Center is strictly prohibited.

Forget the living standards of the kids; Patrol Lawson decided to get tough with the whistleblowers instead.

Despite (tragically) popular belief, millions of illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. are hard workers, adding net value to the U.S. economy. Roughly 11 million illegal U.S. immigrants are providing nearly $11billion worth of revenue per year through state and local tax payments – an amount that is estimated to skyrocket by billions if more immigrants earn a legal status (not citizenship – just a legal status). Furthermore, over half of illegal immigrants voluntarily choose to pay income tax, knowing they’re very unlikely to see a social security paycheck or Medicare subsidies down the road.

Meanwhile, the U.S. spends over $18 billion a year on immigration enforcement to keep their young counterparts locked in cages.

Yes – we can debate the specifics of immigration reform; but U.S. citizens and illegal immigrants alike can probably agree that $18 billion is far too much to be spending on a government-sponsored humanitarian crisis.

Liberalism Unrelinquished: An interview with Dan Klein

Liberalism Unrelinquished (LU), is a new project by Prof Daniel Klein and Kevin Frei which aims to reclaim the word ‘liberal’ from those people who want to ‘governmentalize’ social affairs. So far it has been signed by around 350 people, including Alan Macfarlane, Charles Murray, Deirdre McCloskey, Richard Epstein, and Alan Charles Kors — as well as several members of the ASI. Dan spoke at the ASI back in 2012 on“Mere Libertarianism”, his synthesis of Hayekian and Rothbardian strands of libertarianism. I reviewed his rather excellent book Knowledge and Coordination here. I spoke to Dan about his new project.

Bio: Daniel Klein is a professor of economics at George Mason University (where he leads a program in Adam Smith), the JIN Chair at the Mercatus Center at GMU, a fellow of the Ratio Institute in Stockholm, editor of Econ Journal Watch, and the author of Knowledge and Coordination: A Liberal Interpretation(Oxford University Press, 2012).

What is Liberalism Unrelinquished (LU)?

LU is a declaration of no surrender on the word liberal. The 250-word Statement is as follows:

In the 17th and 18th centuries there was an ascendant cultural outlook that may be termed the liberal outlook. It was best represented by the Scottish enlightenment, especially Adam Smith, and it flowed into a liberal era, which came to be represented politically by people like Richard Cobden, William Gladstone, and John Bright. The liberal outlook revolved around a number of central terms (in English-language discourse, the context of the semantic issue that concerns us).

Especially from 1880 there began an undoing of the meaning of the central terms, among them the word liberal. The tendency of the trends of the past 130 years has been toward the governmentalization of social affairs. The tendency exploded during the First World War, the Interwar Years, and the Second World War. After the Second World War the most extreme forms of governmentalization were pushed back and there have since been movements against the governmentalization trend. But by no means has the original liberal outlook been restored to its earlier cultural standing. The semantic catastrophes of the period 1880-1940 persist, and today, amidst the confusion of tongues, governmentalization continues to hold its ground and even creep forward. For the term liberal, in particular, it is especially in the United States and Canada that the term is used in ways to which we take exception.

We the undersigned affirm the original arc of liberalism, and the intention not to relinquish the term liberal to the trends, semantic and institutional, toward the governmentalization of social affairs.

Thus far, about 350 people have signed the statement.

(more…)

Where next for capitalism?

Writing for the BBC today, Madsen outlines his ideas about what capitalism should do to renew itself:

What capitalism should now do is to free itself from these rent-seeking perversions and spread its benefits as widely as possible.

It should act against anti-competitive practices to give people instead the power of free choices between competing goods and services. It should spread ownership of capital and investment as widely as possible through such things as personal pensions and individual savings accounts.

Read the whole thing.