Saturday, February 25, 2006

“Public Purpose” Versus “Public Good”

Fifth Admenment, US Bill of Right:
...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
There is much controversy over the public use clause, especially post Kelo v. New London. According to Justice Steven, “Because that plan unquestionably serves a public purpose, the takings challenged here satisfy the public use requirement of the Fifth Amendment.” (Emphasis is mine)

The public use clause should not be equated to public purpose. The test for public use should be public good – not public purpose.

There are two qualities to public good (via wikipedia):

Non-rivalrous — its benefits fail to exhibit consumption scarcity; once it has been produced, everyone can benefit from it without diminishing other's enjoyment.
Non-excludable — once it has been created, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to prevent access to the good.

This should be the qualifying test for all eminent domain cases. If this test had been use, the City of New London could not rob the home owners of their houses. In fact, I would favor the public good test for all government spending, not just on eminent domain. It would severely limit the ability of our government to waste our money.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

US-India Relation

I am looking forward to the President visit to India next week. I say it's about time. In fact he should have visited India the first year he was in office. India is the most populous democracy in the world, a future economic and military powerhouse. India is a key player international. Unfortunately the US has ignored India importance; and even in the past hostile toward it. I believes it was to our own detriment that President Nixon side with China against India. Our foreign policy in relation to China and India in the past reveals the hypocrasy and immorality of international realism. It is absolutely absurd that the US sided with China, a tyranical dictatorship, against India, a liberal democracy.
But relationship between the US and India is warming up. According to the Economist ("The great Indian hope trick," subscription required)
According to Promod Haque of Norwest Venture, a venture-capital firm, it is also suffering a “reverse brain-drain” as Indian and Chinese engineers go home. This, he argues, coupled with the retirement of the baby-boomers, is creating a “shortage of intellectual capital” in America which will eventually threaten its superpower status. The solution is to build a “strategic competitive advantage” through an alliance with an offshore base of intellectual capital. India is the obvious choice. Its pool of highly qualified graduates will be twice as large as China's by 2008, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, and they speak English.

Such a de facto alliance is already in the making, and is helping alert American business to India's other attractions: an economy expected to grow by more than 7% in 2006, for the fourth year running; a fast-expanding middle-class; and a government committed to liberalisation, even if implementing it is painfully slow. In the past year, India has allowed foreign firms to enter the construction and property industries, signed an “open skies” agreement with America and passed a patent law that meets WTO standards. As India continues to open up new industries to foreign investment, the opportunities for American firms are proliferating, says Ron Somers, head of the US-India Business Council.
One key huddle during the President visit will be India status as a nuclear power - both its civilian program as well as its military program. When Prime Minister Singh came to Washington DC, the US promised to share our civilian nuclear technology with India. However implementing the promise is easier said than done. The non-proliferation purists in the US object. According to another Economist article ("A passage to India", subscription required):

Under American and international law, such technology can be given only to countries that have renounced nuclear weapons and joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India has never joined the treaty, and it tested nuclear weapons in 1998. Mr Bush, in effect, was driving a coach and horses through the treaty in order to suit his own strategic ends, a move that invites the accusation of hypocrisy from other nuclear states and wannabes not so favoured. The idea was that India, in return, should take steps to satisfy the Americans on a long list of nuclear-security concerns, such as not exporting weapons technology and continuing to observe a moratorium on testing. Most important, India was asked to separate its civilian and military nuclear programmes, with the former subject to a rigorous inspection regime.

The Economist:
So far, however, the proposals offered by the Indians actually to do all this are far from adequate. As Mr Bush packs his bags, desperate attempts are being made to bridge the gap. The obvious danger is that in order to portray his summit as a success Mr Bush will be tempted to accept even fewer safeguards from India. That would be a dangerous mistake: nuclear proliferation matters too much to allow excessive wiggle-room or create bad precedents. Fortunately, whatever deal is agreed between Mr Bush and Mr Singh will also require the approval of America's Congress, which has already taken a dim view of Mr Bush's nuclear generosity to India.
I disagree with the Economist and Congress. I think we are overreacting. India was never a threat, is not a threat, and extremely unlikely to be a threat. If we are comfortable to transfer our nuclear technology to the United Kingdoms, there should be the same level of comfort with India.
Furthermore, India relying on nuclear energy is important to the world security and the US security. The increase price of petroleum is due to increase demand from India and China. And petrodollars are being used by the Saudi regime to fund various madrassas, mosques, and religious institutions across the globe, turning those institutions into Jihadi information center, which in turn produce more terrorists. The President is commendable on his goal of reducing dependency on petroleum. But the the effect will be negligent if the demand for petroleum worldwide is not reduced. If India depends primarily on its nuclear reactor for its energy need, it will ease its demand for crude oil, and in turn lessens the amount of pretrodollars available to the Saudi regime.
The security and prosperity of the US depends on India-US relation. Do not let isolationists and protectionists stand in the way of our most important diplomatic victory in many decades. And isolationists in the US is not the only obstacle.
"This debate... has been hijacked over here [in the United States] by non-proliferation theologians and in India by those rallying under the banner of self-reliance," (India's Ambassador to Washington, Ronen Sen)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mythical Creatures

Black Five suggests that “moderate Muslims” may be “mythical beasties;” somehow I managed to have met many of those mythical creatures, even fought alongside many of them. They exist, and they are very real. I wrote about them here, even includes a picture.

I am a strong supporter of the Danes against fundamentalists, but I am also a strong supporter of Muslims against fundamentalist. Those who claim, that because there is no uproar of opposition against fundamentalism from Muslim, that there is no moderate Muslim, have never lived in an oppressed tyranny. This is the equivalence of the argument from the Left (made during the Cold War) that because there is no protest against Communism behind the Iron Curtain, the Worker Paradise is truly a paradise.

The reason moderate Muslims are so quiet is the same reason we victims of Communism were so quiet – fear. For 15 years, I lived under the tyranny of communism; and for those 15 years, I said nothing. My father said nothing, my neighbors said nothing, and my (then) countrymen said nothing. In fact, if a Western journalist asked me a question about the government, I would have nothing but glorious praise for the Communist government. Of course, I would not believe what I said. We had food shortage; our lives were miserable and oppressive. But miserable as we were, we preferred living in misery to death and imprisonment. My family and I were terrified, and being terrified is a forgivable sin.

The majority of Muslims are afraid – and they have every reason to be fearful. We, in the West, think of Islamic fundamentalists in term of the September 11th attack, the Madrid attack, the London attack. But Islamists waged war on moderate Muslims long before they waged war on the West. All the Western casualties combined are only a fraction in comparison to the Muslims killed in Algeria by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). And Algeria is only a small front in the war. Add that number to the number of Muslims killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The recent bombing of the al-Askari Mosque prove that extremists are waging war against moderate (or as they call it “the near enemies’) and that we in the West are the peripheral to the conflict (“the far enemies).

Those who claim that there are no moderate Muslims must have never read the blog of Iraq the Model or the Big Pharoah. They of course never fought alongside the Peshmerga or the 206th Iraqi National Guard.

By not separating between the extremists and the moderates, we will loose potential allies and pitch ourselves against the greater Islamic world. The oversimplified clash of civilization meme will be detrimental to our cause.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Taxation and the reason for low and high tax revenues (from Ibn Khaldun)

Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) is an Islamic scholar living in the 14th century Andalusia, what we now known as Spain. Ibn Khaldun is many things. He is a historian, a government administrator and an Islamic jurist. But he is also the first sociologist and the first economist. In “The Muqaddimah” (translated as Prolegomena or Introduction), Chapter 3 titles “On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks, and all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic and supplementary propositions,” Section 36 titles “Taxation and the reason for low and high tax revenues,” Ibn Khaldun wrote:

QUOTE:

36 Taxation and the reason for low and high tax revenues

It should be known that at the beginning of a dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments.

The same reason for this is that when the dynasty follows the way of Islam, it imposes only such taxes as are stipulated by the religious law, such as charity taxes, the land tax, and the poll tax. Theses have fixed limits that cannot be exceeded.

When the dynasty follows the ways of group feeling and (political) superiority, it necessary has at first a desert attitude, as has been mentioned before. The desert attitude requires kindness, reverence, humility, respect for the property of other people, and disinclination to appropriate it, except in rare instances. Therefore, the individual, the individual imposts and assessments, which together constitute the tax revenue, are low. When tax assessment and imposts upon the subjects are low, the latter have the energy and desire to do things. Cultural enterprises grow and increase, because the low taxes bring satisfaction. When cultural enterprises grow, the number of individual imposts and assessments mounts. In consequence, the tax revenue, which is in sum total of (the individual assessment), increase.

When the dynasty continues in power and their rulers follow each other in succession, they become sophisticated. The Bedouin attitude and simplicity lose their significance, and the Bedouin qualities of moderation and restraint disappear. Royal authority with its tyranny and sedentary culture that stimulates sophistication, make their appearance. The people of the dynasty then acquire qualities of character related to cleverness. Their customs and needs become more varied because of the prosperity and luxury in which they are immersed. As a result, the individual imposts and assessments upon the subjects, agricultural labourers, farmers and all the other tax payers, increase. Every individual impost and assessment is greatly increased, in order to obtain a higher tax revenue. Customs duties are placed upon articles of commerce and (levied) at the city gates. Then, gradual increases in the amount of the assessments succeed each other regularly, in correspondence with the gradual increase in the luxury customs and many needs of the dynasty and the spending required in connection with them. Eventually, the taxes will weigh heavily upon the subjects and overburden them. Heavy taxes become an obligation and tradition, because the increase took place gradually, and no one knows specifically who increase them or levied them. They lie upon the subjects like an obligation and tradition.

The assessments increase beyond the limited of equity. The result is that the interest of the subjects in cultural enterprise disappears, since they compare expenditure and taxes with their income and gain and see little profit they make, they loose all hope. Therefore, many of them refrain from all cultural activity. The result is that the total tax revenue goes down, as individual assessment go down. Often when decrease is noticed, the amounts of individual imposts are increased. This is considered a means of compensating for the decrease. Finally, individual imposts and assessments reach their limit. It would be of no avail to increase them further. The costs of all cultural enterprise are now too high, the taxes are too heavy, and the profits anticipated fail to materialize. Finally, civilization is destroyed, because the incentive for cultural activity is gone. It is the dynasty that suffers from the situation, because its profits from cultural activity.

If one understands this, he will realize that the strongest incentive for cultural activity is to lower as much as possible the amounts of individual imposts levied upon persons capable of undertaking cultural enterprises. In this manner, such persons will be psychologically disposed to undertake them, because they can be confident of making a profit from them.

COMMENT:

The commentary by Ibn Khaldun describes what latter known as The Laffer Curve, names after the supply side economist Arthur Laffer. It should have been name the Khaldun Curve since he was the first to have mentioned it. It is important to note that Ibn Khaldun in describe the phenomenon was mainly interest in the effect on the state coffer, not the taxpayers; so he cannot be accuse of being anti-government or a libertarian.

Imagine writing the above paragraph in The Middle Ages. Ibn Khaldun was very wise. He was ahead of his time, and is perhaps ahead of our time as well. We are now seven hundred years after Ibn Khaldun. Yet we still have people who believe in big government, in high taxation, who still refuse to see the aggregate benefit to society when individual is given economic incentive.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Not Even Slavery Is Offered

Dymphna quote me from this post.
Let not pretend that they seek to redress an insult to their religion. It is a mere pretext. They seek nothing less than our submission - our unconditional surrender to their rule. To them I say “bring it on.” I will not submit. I will not surrender. I will not be a dhimmi. I did not escape Communism to live under Sharia.
I just realized that dhimmitude is not even available to me. To be a dhimmi, one has to be of “people of the books,” that is either a Christian or a Jew. I am neither. I am a Buddhist, therefore slavery is not even offered. The choice for me is conversion or death. Some choices!

When this war began, many Buddhists (and Hindus) took a position that the war is between the West (implying Christians) and Muslim Fundamentalist – and it does not concern them. They are “useful idiots.” It is not possible for them or me to sit on the fence. In the global caliphate, at least Christians will be offered a chance as lowly second class citizens – if they submitt themselves to the Sharia. If one is an atheist or if one religion is not from a Abrahamic tradition, no quarter will be given. It is time for the fence sitters to take side in the war against Islamic fundamentalists; because the consequence for them is life or death.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Left, Tort Reform, and Universal Healthcare

Regardless if you are from the right or the left of the political spectrum - you should support tort reform, especially tort reform on medical malpratice. It puzzles me a great deal that the Left are adamantly opposed to tort reform.
If you are on the Right, like me, you support privatization of health care. If you are on the Left, you support universal healthcare. But neither goal can be achieved without reducing the cost of healthcare. I think both sides agree that the current price of healthcare is too high. It is too high for a person to buy health insurance on his own. And it would bankrupt the government if we decide to nationalized healthcare.
One factor that makes heathcare so expensive is the high cost of malpractice insurance to healthcare provider. And I do not buy into the argument (by attorney lobbyist, of all people) that there are no frivolous lawsuits. Stella Liebeck v. McDonald's Corp is not as rare as they claimed. Both my brother and I had been partied to frivilous lawsuit.
The Right, by supporting tort reform, shows that they are serious about keeping healthcare in the private sector. If the Left is truly serious about universal healthcare, they should be supporting tort reform. Their current position only reveals that they are in the pocket of trial lawyers, and all the talks of universal healthcare is mere political rhetoric, not to be taken seriously.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Kurosawa view on Postmodernism and Multiculturalism




Akira Kurosawa is perhaps my most favorite film maker in the history of cinema. His works is the best proofs that postmodernism and multiculturalism are wrong. There are many critics of both postmodernism and multiculturalism – but Kurosawa is perhaps the best and the most successful critic.

Among the best of Kurosawa works are two of my favorite movies, “Ran” and “Throne of Blood.” The first is based on Shakespeare’s “King Lear. The second is based on Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” The two movies are Kurosawa declaration of universalism and a condemnation of postmodernism and multiculturalism.
“Ran” and “Throne of Blood” are both set in medieval Japan – a period known as Sengoku-jidai (The Warring State Period). Kurosawa did not simply doing imitations of Shakespeare. He had done something amazing. Here are two movies made my a modern Japanese, inspired by a playwright living in Renaissance England, transposed to medieval Japan, through modern medium (cinema), created masterpieces that are loved and understood by modern movie viewers across the globe. When I first watched the movies, I simply thought that the movies are Japanese movies about medieval Japan. To someone who is unfamiliar with Western classic literature, there is nothing to suggest that the movies derived from a Western source. I did not recognize Shakespeare in Kurosawa. I did not know anything about Shakespeare at the time. But later, studying Shakespeare in college, I recognized Kurosawa in Shakespeare.

By making these two movies, Kurosawa rejected postmodernism and its offspring, multiculturalism. Postmodernism rejects that words have no intrinsic meaning, that there is no universal human value. In fact, there is no such thing as value. This philosophy then gave birth to modern multiculturalism. Kurosawa through his movies demonstrated that there are universal values that transcend time, space, and culture.
I invite readers to watch “Ran” and “Throne of Blood,” as well as other Kurosawa’s movies.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Dishonesty and Dishonor from the U.S. Media

I find the stated reasons by US mainstream media not to show the cartoons extremely disingenuous. It is understandably if they did not show the cartoons a month ago, when the issue had not surface. But the cartoons themselves are now a central part of the story. How can they report about the story without showing the cartoons that began it all? The reason that the cartoons should be reprinted is not to offend Muslim, or to express any opinion about the cartoons themselves, but to put the story in context.

These are the very same organization that had no second thought about showing the pictures of Abu Ghraib or other equally offensive images. The reason is no other than fear. They are afraid that Muslim extremists would bomb their building or harm their staffs. It is an understanding fear and they should say so. I would still respect the media if they came out and said that the reason they did not reprint the cartoons because they fear for their lives. At least they can score points for honesty. We expect the media to tell the truth, but we certainly do not expect them to risk their lives. We do not expect the media to be fearless, but we expect them to be honest.

Let me suggest a respectable press release for media organization who will not reprint or show the cartoons.
“We apologize to our readers/viewers that we cannot show the controversial cartoons. We wish we could show it to you so that you can completely comprehend the cause for the controversy. We wish we could show the cartoons to you so that you can decide for yourself if they are offensive or not. We do not show the cartoons because of the risks they pose to us as an organization and to our staffs as individuals. Our job is to report to you the story in it entirely, as honestly as we possibly can, but without jeopardizing our lives. In this case, our lives can be in serious danger. It is therefore with regret that we cannot show you the cartoons. We hope that you will understand our position.”
Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff of the German newsweekly (which reprinted the cartoons) had this to say in a Washington Post editorial title: “Tolerance Toward Intolerance”

When the cartoons were first published in Denmark in September, nobody in Germany took notice. Had our publication been offered the drawings at that point, in all likelihood we would have declined to print them. At least one of them seems to equate Islam with radical Islamism. That is exactly the direction nobody wants the debate about fundamentalism to take -- even though the very nature of a political cartoon is overstatement. We would not have printed the caricature out of a sense of moderation and respect for the Muslim minority in our country. News people make judgments about taste all the time. We do not show sexually explicit pictures or body parts after a terrorist attack. We try to keep racism and anti-Semitism out of the paper. Freedom of the press comes with a responsibility.

But the criteria change when material that is seen as offensive becomes newsworthy. That's why we saw bodies falling out of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. That's why we saw the pictures from Abu Ghraib. On such issues we print what we usually wouldn't. The very nature of the discourse is to find parameters of what is culturally acceptable. How many times have we seen Janet Jackson's breast in the course of a discussion of the limits of family entertainment? How many times have we printed material that Jews might consider offensive in an attempt to define the extent of anti-Semitism? It seems odd that most U.S. papers patronize their readers by withholding cartoons that the whole world talks about. To publish does not mean to endorse. Context matters.

He also has this to say about President Clinton and our government.

The former president has turned the argument upside down. In this jihad over humor, tolerance is disdained by people who demand it of others. The authoritarian governments that claim to speak on behalf of Europe's supposedly oppressed Muslim minorities practice systematic repression against their own religious minorities. They have radicalized what was at first a difficult question. Now they are asking not for respect but for submission. They want non-Muslims in Europe to live by Muslim rules. Does Bill Clinton want to counsel tolerance toward intolerance?

On Friday the State Department found it appropriate to intervene. It blasted the publication of the cartoons as unacceptable incitement to religious hatred. It is a peculiar moment when the government of the United States, which likes to see itself as the home of free speech, suggests to European journalists what not to print.

It is an excellent op-ed. Please read the whole thing.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Under Seige




A Muslim commenter left behind an absurd and bizzare comment. "Are you trying to say that you are happy that the Danish government has still not apologized to Muslims all over the world?" It is absurd to ask a government to apologize for an act of it private citizens - acts that are protective by freedom of expression. If a government is responsible for all action of its citizens, we should have bombed Riyadh, Medina, and Mecca to the stone age. We did not. The commenter should consider himself lucky that we in the West do not apply his bizzare logic.
Let be clear, my previous posting is not about whether the cartoons are offensive or not. That is beyond the point of debate. Last year, a US under-garment company introduced a line of panty with the image of Lord Buddha on them. My family and I, who are devout Buddhists, wrote to the company, explained to them why the products were offensive to us, and asked them the stop. Buddhists throughout the world participated in the campaign. We did not threaten bodily harm to anyone, we did not ask the US government to apologize, we did not boycott other companies that had nothing to do with the offense.

Demands by some Muslims on the government of Denmark, Norway and the people of Denmark and Norway is unacceptable. They may boycott the company that published the cartoons, they may even boycott the companies that have financial relationship with the company that published the cartoons. Other parties (the governments of Denmark and Norway, Danish and Norwegian bussinesses) are innocent of the offense.
The demands suggest a few things about those who demanded them. By asking the government of Denmark and Norway to punish the cartoonist and their publishers, the demanders have absolutely no regard for individual liberty. By asking the government of Denmark and Norway to apologize for the offense of private citizen, they believe that the state and the individuals are one and the same - this is the central value of facism. By boycotting Danish and Norwegian products, they believe that one member of the collective can be punished for the action of the other. This is the very same attitude that result in the barbaric gang rape of Mukhtar Mai.
Let not pretend that they seek to redress an insult to their religion. It is a mere pretext. They seek nothing less than our submission - our unconditional surrender to their rule. To them I say "bring it on." I will not submit. I will not surrender. I will not be a dhimmi. I did not escape Communism to live under Sharia. You are prepared to die for your religion. I am prepared to die for my freedom.
The new front is being fought in Denmark and Norway. If they fall, we are next. So here are the address, phone number, and email to the embassies of Denmark and Norway. Please send them your words of support and encouragement.
Embassy of Denmark
3200 Whitehaven St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 234-4300
Fax: (202) 328-1470

Royal Norwegian Embassy
2720 34th St. N.W.
Washington DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 333-6000
Fax: (202) 337-0870

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Open Letter To Denmark





Dear the People of the Kingdom of Denmark,
We are all Danes today. I am a Dane today. Today I stand in solidarity with you and your great kingdom against the barbarians who want to put you under submission of their fanatical tyranny. Your kingdom is a loyal friend of the United State of America. You have always been along our side. I had the distinguish honor of serving along side your brave soldiers in Bosnia. I can say with certainty that the Danish Royal Armed Forces is one of the finest military forces in Europe. Since then, your country had stood by us in every conflict. You fought with us in Kosovo. After our country was attacked in September 11th, 2001, you sent your brave soldiers to dangerous mountains of Afghanistan. When we liberated Iraq, despite the strong sentiment against the war in Europe, you again sent your brave warriors to the heart of Mesopotania. In every case, you were honorable, dependable and continue to be so.
You have never fail us. We could not have asked for a better friend. But with great shame, anger, and embarrasment, I apologize for my government. My government have fail you. I am sorry for the cowardice statements that came out of our State Department. If you have felt betrayed by our State Department, it is a correct sentiment. You were stabbed in the back by those with tender spines. But please be mindful that they do not speak for me, nor do they speak for the Americans people. We, the great people of the United States of America hold the Kingdom of Denmark and her people in our heart and our prayers.
We are all Danes. I am a Dane.

A friend of Denmark,

Minh-Duc

Friday, February 03, 2006

What President Bush Should Have Said

This should have been the State of the Union Address (via Pedro the Quietist). Robert Mandel wrote the best alternative speech that the President should have given. It starts out:
My fellow Americans, tonight I report on the state of the Union.
We are mired in debt.
We spend far more than we take in every year.
We have exceedingly high taxes.
We have huge trade imbalances...
The solution:
...So tonight, I say to the American public that we can restore this great land. But it will require change. And the change is far more than just some federal program, law, or department. It requires a changing of the soul, the very fiber of what made our nation the shining city on a hill, the envy of the world. We must stop asking the government to solve our problems, blaming others for our own failings, and expecting the world on a silver platter without work and effort commensurate...
This is perhap the best line:
...So tonight I propose nothing. That is I propose no new programs, no new spending, no new departments, no new anything. In fact, I propose quite the opposite. We must reduce, we must contract, we must devolve. Power, and money, must devolve from Washington and be returned to the citizens. We must allow the citizens to be free to conduct their own lives free from government intrusion...