The Locker Room

June 23, 2005

Re: John Locke, busted

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:22 PM

I would note for the record that the John Locke Foundation bookcases also feature a bust of Locke, which although is one of contemporary origin, nevertheless is unique in its own fashion.

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Re: John Locke, busted

Posted by Jon Sanders at 6:39 PM

You aren't kidding John. Jefferson mentioned that Locke's writings were among the most basic works of public right that people ought to read (he coupled Locke with Aristotle and Sydney).

But I just got done slogging through the Virginia constitutional convention debates of 1829-30 and wouldn't you know: Locke's state of nature theory was quite the debated topic. A majority, if not all, the statesmen of the time knew Locke and could quote him at length. Could you imagine such a debate today in the North Carolina General Assembly?

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Re: Bitterly Divided

Posted by Paul Chesser at 3:07 PM

Jon, I'm guessing that SCOTUS reached this decision over a platter of Krispy Kremes and lattes, and therefore were sweetly divided.

And as you know, that's not newsworthy!

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John Locke, busted

Posted by John Hood at 2:17 PM

There is a fascinating passage in historian David Hackett Fischer's recent book Liberty and Freedom that discusses John Locke. In particular, Fischer discusses the prevalence of a certain kind of pediment bust used to decorate chests, secretaries, bookcases, and other furniture during the Revolutionary period. It seems that in Philadelphia and elsewhere, John Locke was among the most commonly depicted person in this bust work:

Historians have challenged the primary of Locke’s books in the philosophy of the American Revolution, but Philadelphia's furniture makers had no doubt of his central role. The same pattern of Locke's primacy also appeared in the books that filled these cases. In libraries and book lists throughout the colonies, the writings of John Locke appeared more often that the work of any other modern author. Locke dominated the book collections of eighteenth-century America, just as his image dominated the finial busts on the bookcases themselves.”

My, how things have changed.

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At least they weren't 'bitterly divided'

Posted by Jon Ham at 1:05 PM

The 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the New London, Conn., Kelo case was described as follows by The Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

Why not "bitterly divided"? Most 5-4, or even 6-3, decisions by the SCOTUS in recent years have been characterized that way.

For instance, when the court ruled 6-3 in June 2002 that executing the mentally retarded was unconstitutional, Jan Crawford Greenburg had this to say on PBS's NewHour:

"Well, the vote today was 6-3, but the court was bitterly, bitterly divided."

When the Supremes voted 5-4 in June 2004 on the issue of judges going beyond sentencing guidelines, The Washington Post ran with this:

A bitterly divided Supreme Court ruled yesterday that only juries, not judges, may increase criminal sentences beyond the maximums suggested by statutory guidelines, a decision that throws into doubt sentencing procedures used by nine states and possibly the federal government.

In anyone knows the criteria for bitter divisions on the court, please let me know.

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The Empire Strikes Back

Posted by Chad Adams at 12:59 AM

As we were busy fighting annexation and incentives, the Supreme Court (as blogged by Jon and Joe) has effectively nixed any "pursuit of happiness" that might involve you owning property if an Economic Developer wants it more.

A bit more of the dissent by O'Connor, "Under the banner of ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner. . "

Maybe we should consider using Emminent Domain to give Puerto Rico to Donald Trump in the name of job creation and economic development.

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No longer your castle

Posted by Jon Ham at 12:28 AM

One of my favorite books from my childhood was "The Little House," the 1943 Caldecott Award winning children's book by Virginia Lee Burton. In "The Little House," over time the city encroaches upon a house once in the country. But the owner wanted the house passed down from generation to generation, so the skyscrapers eventually grow up all around the little house. Today, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, the owner of the little house would have no say in the matter. The skyscraper developers would simply have to show tax-loving local-government officials that a high-rise would bring in more tax dollars than the little house and the house would be bulldozed. In "The Little House," the descendants of the original owner decide to move the house back into the country, but it was their choice, not government's. A man's house is no longer his castle. Isn't this one of the issues we fought a revolution over?

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Supreme Court Redefines "Public"

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 11:21 AM

In a 5-4 decision against property rights, the Supreme Court has changed what the words "public use" mean. Justice John Paul Stevens writing for the majority with the usual suspects and Justice Anthony Kennedy said the magic words: "new jobs and increased tax revenue." Now nobody is safe if the city deems a more valuable purpose for their property. Stevens said the benefits of the development were "by no means limited to" jobs and taxes, leaving room for cities to take land and give tax breaks to companies locating on the land.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor apparently lost the coin flip with Kennedy and wrote the minority opininion: "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but...beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process." 

Thanks again to Paul Messino. 

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Maybe this is why ...

Posted by Hal Young at 11:07 AM

Today's News & Observer reports State Board of Education Howard Lee's protest over legislative attention:

… the House provision to take a microscope to DPI's functions and budget -- through a process known as "zero-based budgeting" -- has surprised many education leaders, including Lee.

"It makes me wonder why we would be the first agency to be targeted," Lee said. "I don't know what the message is."

With all due respect to Chairman Lee, I think the message is that DPI spent nearly $6 billion last year, which doesn't even count over $3 billion in federal and local funding, and Governor Easley's 2005-2007 proposed budget earmarks 57.8% of the state's budget for education -- in other words, more than all other categories combined.

So if you want to reduce overall spending, naturally you start with the biggest item on the list. What's surprising about that?

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The right direction

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 10:30 AM

Thanks to Paul for alerting me to this comment about vouchers.

I think that Friedman might eventually go all the way to a full private market solution, given time.

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liberal activists versus knowledge

Posted by George Leef at 10:22 AM

Much as liberals like to say they're all for open inquiry and the spread of knowledge, there is abundant evidence to suggest that they're only interested in propagating the notions that shore up the crumbling edifice of statism.

One piece of such evidence is the campaign that a liberal pressure group has been waging against allowing judges to go to educational seminars where they learn some potentially relevant economic concepts. Most judges are wholly ignorant of basic economics and such seminars perform an important educational task.

You can read here Prof. Jonathan Adler's NRO article on the relentless and dishonest campaign one group has been waging against those seminars.

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Hey, That's Mine!

Posted by Paul Chesser at 09:04 AM

Here's another group that's "reclaiming" something or other for themselves...wish we'd quit taking these things away from each other.

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Religious Freedom Entering Iraq

Posted by Paul Chesser at 08:34 AM

Right in the heart of Baghdad.

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Grosh, What Honesty

Posted by Paul Chesser at 08:24 AM

For a peek into nefarious and sleazy D.C. deal-making, phony nonprofits, and lobbyist misconduct, it's hard to beat The Washington Post's account of the Senate hearing about lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Whetting your appetite:

(David) Grosh, with tousled hair and long sideburns, told about a call from (Michael) Scanlon asking, "Do you want to be head of an international corporation?" That, Grosh added, was "a hard one to turn down." The lifeguard/excavator/bartender had the gallery in stitches, and he wasn't finished. "I asked him what I had to do, and he said 'Nothing.' So that sounded pretty good to me."

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Playing in the Bush League

Posted by John Hood at 07:53 AM

North Carolina’s Rep. Walter Jones makes an appearance in this USA Today news analysis about the friction evident between President Bush and the Republican Congress. A key paragraph:

Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican who served in the Senate leadership and is a friend of the Bush family, says the president's "uncharacteristic rigidity" on some issues is causing heartburn for Republicans. "They're thinking re-election and the president is asking them to go over a cliff," he says.

Now that's sure a friendly thing to say. Actually, the piece does present a range of GOP views on the situation as well as discussions about what the president needs to do to advance his agenda in the coming months.

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Some interesting news

Posted by John Hood at 07:50 AM

Here is some interesting conservative-movement news, care of The Washington Times:

A conservative who's who in Washington -- David Keene, Becky Norton Dunlop, Morton Blackwell, Grover Norquist, Ron Robinson and Tony Perkins — huddled this week with Sen. Richard M. Burr, North Carolina Republican, and the family and office alumni of Jesse Helms, to plan what one dubbed a "long-overdue Washington tribute" to the senator, who retired in 2002.

It was decided that the gala, benefiting the Jesse Helms Center Foundation, will take place Sept. 20 at the Marriott Crystal Gateway. Mr. Burr and North Carolina Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole will be co-chairmen for the event, which is timed to coincide with the release of Mr. Helms' long-anticipated memoir, "Here's Where I Stand."

"This is going to be huge," one attendee says. "I think a lot of folks — and not just conservatives — will really look forward to this opportunity to properly honor Senator Helms and his rich legacy here in Washington. The fact that we're able to do it to coincide with the release of his memoir is just icing on the cake."

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