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Bob Barr: Outlawing of Pre-paid Cell Phones May Come Soon

Bob Barr, on his blog at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called The Barr Code, has published a post concerning a possible ban on pre-paid cell phones, conceived of by Senators Schumer and Cornyn.

This session of the 111th Congress has been one that will go down in infamy by virtue of its assault on privacy and other civil liberties.  Several of these problematic provisions have not yet made it to President Barack Obama’s desk, but in today’s political environment, resisting them will be difficult.  Many in the Congress still tremble as a result of the Times Square bombing attempt; even as many also remain gripped by the hysteria surrounding the as-yet unproven Toyota rogue acceleration problem.

The latest civil liberties victim of Times Square Brainiac Faisal Shahzad’s feeble attempt at terrorism fame is the pre-paid cell phone.  This innocuous device, available now to virtually anyone wishing to buy a cheap cell phone useable for a limited period, represents perhaps the last opportunity for a person to communicate anonymously.  Yet, these devices are being targeted for extinction by a pair of United States Senators simply because the failed Times Square bomber used one in his preparatory activities; and law enforcement discovered this not because the purchase of the cell phone was recorded in an accessible database, but because Shahzad made at least one call to a number already on a government list of suspected terrorists.

Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer now has teamed with his Republican colleague from Texas, John Cornyn, and introduced a bill that would employ the heavy hand of federal law to prohibit anonymous cell phones.  Leaving aside the question of where the Congress finds authority in the Constitution to do this, it is certain that many of their colleagues will jump at this latest chance to prove they are as tough on terrorists as the next guy, whatever the cost to the rest of the citizenry.

Bob Barr was the Presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party in 2008. He is still active in the Libertarian Party, especially in meting out endorsements to fellow Libertarian Party candidates.

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Trent Hill

28 Comments

  1. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz June 14, 2010

    Here is an IWW text explaining what they mean by “abolition of the wage system”. They are just so cute.

  2. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz June 14, 2010

    Fun quotes from the IWW Constitution:

    The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

    Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organise as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the earth.

    Instead of the conservative motto, ”A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,” we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, ”Abolition of the wage system.” It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organised, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown.

  3. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz June 14, 2010

    1) Calling my arguments names doesn’t change the fact that when you say a right is “recognized”, you’re asserting it exists.

    2) I can believe that the IWW might not think that political action is an expedient way to protect their prima-facie-unlibertarian notions of what workers’ rights are. However, nothing you’ve quoted, and nothing I see in the 2010 IWW Constitution, says that the IWW opposes the policies I listed @13. The IWW obviously thinks workers should take advantage of the unlibertarian laws I listed, even if the IWW’s own strategic vision doesn’t involve passing or strengthening such laws.

    The IWW is of course simply a (very) red herring from Sipos, as for all we can tell the IWW might only have a few thousand members.

    I stand by my default assumption that the unlibertarian laws I listed @13 are all supported by all major private-sector unions.

  4. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp June 14, 2010

    1) is quote possibly the most ignorant piece of bullshit spin I’ve ever seen you try to pull. And that’s saying a lot.

    2) I’ve cited, rather than quoted, IWW opposing all of the polices you listed @13. If you want quotes, feel free to read the IWW Constitution and bylaws.

    You do, however, have me on the “major” part. IWW is only in the last decade emerging from decades of decline and beginning to expand again.

  5. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz June 14, 2010

    1) It’s a list of “rights recognized by Federal law”. When you say a right is “recognized”, you’re asserting it exists. That’s an endorsement.

    2) Nobody has quoted IWW opposing a single one of the policies I listed @13. I doubt the IWW does, but if it does, it is hardly a “major union”. There are 16M union members in the U.S. The IWW would only constitute half a percent of them if it were still at its 1923 peak of 100K members, which it now apparently is nowhere near.

  6. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp June 14, 2010

    “Here’s the IWW web site explicitly endorsing many of the laws I listed above”

    1) The page you link to “endorses” nothing, explicitly or otherwise. It is a descriptive guide, not a prescriptive platform.

    2) Your bar was low. You challenged Sipos to name a major union that opposes “a single one” of the policies you named. The IWW is inherently in opposition to all of them, and has been ever since the “political” DeLeonist/SLP faction left in 1908 and the “non-political” Haywood/direct action faction was left in control of the union.

    As Hoxie, Hoxie and Fine write in Trade Unionism in the United States:

    All political action is abhorrent to [the Chicago IWW, which is the organization which became and now constitutes the existing IWW proper], partly because the state is outside their scheme of things and political action is a recognition of a compromise with it, but largely because they believe that experience has proved it to be not only useless as a working-class weapon but positively harmful to working class interests. … [The Chicago IWW unionists] have noted that political associations and political gains make the workers soft, conservative, and nonrevolutionary.

    Nicholas,

    “Do the wobblies actually have union chapters? I thought they were more of an umbrella political movement than a union proper.”

    Not only are they not an umbrella political movement, they’re not a political movement at all. Their bylaws even forbid members to hold political party office, which is why I’m currently a withdrawn member.

    Yes, the IWW has “union chapters.” More specifically it is organized into industrial unions (non-geographical) into cross-industrial local “general membership branches,” shop units, etc. The IWW normally eschews participation in NLRB-sanctioned election schemes and instead pursues gains for its workers through “solidarity unionism whether it has secured a collective bargaining contract or not.

  7. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz June 14, 2010

    Swing and a miss. Here’s the IWW web site explicitly endorsing many of the laws I listed above:

    * The right to equal pay for equal work (the Equal Pay Act).

    * The right to a minimum wage and to overtime pay after forty hours work in a week (the Fair Labor Standards Act).

    * The right not to be discriminated against because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability in hiring, promotion, or discharge (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other laws).

    * The right to pension security (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act).

    Can you quote the IWW opposing a single one of the policies listed @13? Here’s what I can quote from the IWW web site:

    In order to prevent the slave-like conditions of 19th century America and many third world countries, labor laws were passed in the United states, requiring employers to guarantee a minimum wage, provide breaks from work for rest and lunch, and maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Unfortunately, employers often see these guarantees as unnecessary expenses to them, and try to cheat their workers out of what is provided for them by law. Workers who experience such problems as unpaid wages, pay below the minimum wage, non-compensated over-time, denial of time for breaks, unsafe or unhealthy work environments, discrimination, or sexual harassment are often afraid that there is nothing that they can do about these abuses.

    The IWW fights to give workers control over their salaries, working conditions, workplace responsibilities, job training, health care, child care, and in many other areas. Unlike other unions, we do not view these things as “benefits”, but as the true cost of doing business which the bosses should be obligated to pay.

  8. Nicholas Sarwark Nicholas Sarwark June 14, 2010

    Do the wobblies actually have union chapters? I thought they were more of an umbrella political movement than a union proper.

  9. Per Brian Holtz // Jun 14, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    [Ronald Reagan voice over * there ya go again* producing words and saying nothing! And West Coast Libs wonder why other alternative political activists roll there eyes and shake their heads! Try to say what you mean and mean what you say, damn California spin doctor and lawyer wanna be!]

  10. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp June 14, 2010

    “I challenge Sipos to identify a single significant private-sector union that opposes a single one of the policies above. But he won’t …”

    OK, then, I WWill.

  11. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz June 14, 2010

    Where does one go for repairs to an IPR stalker troll? I think I’ve broken one of mine…

  12. Thomas M. Sipos // Jun 14, 2010:
    ” [Brain] Holtz * switches focus, as per his usual dishonest, weaselie debating tactics ……..”

    No, no, no, Don Lake (and other critics are) is the bad guy! And do not just focus on Holtz, there is always Bruce Cohen, Steven Kubby, George Phillies, Thomas Knappster, and, of course, W. A. R.

    You are a trial attorney.

    Things are a lock: you argue the facts!

    Less of a lock: you argue the law!

    ‘Not so much’: does not matter what you say, just say it standing on the table, yelling at the top of your lungs!

    [We, the ‘Loyal Opposition’ need to be better than the Establishment Duopoly, not just as bad! We need a paradyne more than ‘We are no worse than the bad guys.’]

    Like the deform / reform movement, the Natural Law Party, the Veterans Party USA, and the (so called) Constitution Party, if the organization does not serve the public —– does it even deserve to exist ???????]

  13. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz June 14, 2010

    What’s “dishonest and weasly [sic]” is Sipos pretending that I questioned private-sector unions’ “right to exist and engage in collective bargaining”, when all I said was that “private-sector unions are unlibertarian to the extent that they support” unlibertarian laws.

    the policies that some private sector unions support.

    What’s “dishonest and weasly [sic]” is pretending that the unlibertarian laws I listed above aren’t all supported by all major private-sector unions. I challenge Sipos to identify a single significant private-sector union that opposes a single one of the policies above.

    But he won’t, because Sipos deals in smears, rather than facts and quotes. If you search on union/corporate/corporation in Root’s book, here is some of what you find before you get past page 15:

    • someone who represents the people, instead of the lawyers, lobbyists, big unions, and big corporations.
    • I’m also the anti-Bush, anti-Republican, anti-Democrat, anti-lawyer, anti-lobbyist, anti-corporate fact cats.
    • Corporate CEOs are now bigger welfare queens than welfare mothers and fathers. Unions, big corporations, cities, states, banks — they all beg the federal government on hands and knees to save them.
    • In Bush’s case, the sins included the doubling of spending during his reign, the dramatic increases in corporate welfare, dramatic increases in military spending to to fight wars on multiple fronts, and the passage of a prescription-drug entitlement added to Medicare.

    We now return you to your fact-free Sipos smears, already in progress.

  14. Thomas M. Sipos Thomas M. Sipos June 14, 2010

    Holtz switches focus, as per his usual dishonest, weasly debating tactics.

    Private sector unions — their right to exist and engage in collective bargaining — are not “unlibertarian.”

    So instead, Holtz switches the focus to the policies that some private sector unions support.

    But you can find businesses (big and small) and individuals that support unlibertarian policies.

    Yet Root would not attack businesses as a group, but rather those particular policies. Whereas he slams unions with a broad brush.

    Holtz is trying to nit-pick a libertarian rationale from Root’s broad brush slams on unions.

    And now I expect Holtz will switch his focus onto something else, because he can’t logically defend Root’s broad brush slams against unions.

  15. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz June 14, 2010

    Root even slams private sector unions, so some of his offensive remarks aren’t even based on libertarian principle.

    Private-sector unions are unlibertarian to the extent that they support

    * card-check laws eliminating the secret ballot in unionization
    * minimum-wage laws
    * mandatory overtime laws
    * plant closure regulations
    * “equal pay for equal work” laws (e.g. the Equal Pay Act of 1963)
    * workmen’s compensation laws
    * Americans With Disabilities Act
    * bans on employment contracts that don’t include family medical leave
    * antitrust laws against employers but not against unions
    * mandatory collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act
    * workplace safety bureaucracy under OSHA
    * pension guarantees under ERISA
    * etc. etc.

  16. Thomas M. Sipos Thomas M. Sipos June 14, 2010

    Scott Lieberman: “Do you think that the primary, overall goal of a Libertarian politician is to offend people?”

    Offense is not the goal, but neither should it be avoided.

    Do you think Libertarians should avoid advocating principles if they offend certain people?

    One of my problems with Root is that he avoids advocating principles that offend his Fox News customer base.

    Certainly, Root has no problem offending union members. He offends them with relish and glee, blaming unions for all manner of problems.

    Root even slams private sector unions, so some of his offensive remarks aren’t even based on libertarian principle.

    If you’re going to offend voters, your remarks should at least be based on libertarian principle (as Barr’s remarks here), instead of just personal gripes (as in Root’s attacks on unions).

  17. David F. Nolan David F. Nolan June 13, 2010

    Good column by Barr. Dunno if Root has addressed this issue or not.

  18. Brian Holtz Brian Holtz June 12, 2010

    Holtz’s Law Of Libertarian Polemics: “Every statement purporting to express a dispute among libertarians embeds a strawman or a fallacy of the excluded middle — and this statement is no exception.”

  19. Steven R Linnabary Steven R Linnabary June 12, 2010

    Do you think that the primary, overall goal of a Libertarian politician is to offend people?

    Or do you just think that if a Libertarian politician is not offending people, by definition he or she is not a “real” Libertarian?

    If you’re going to be involved in politics, you are going to offend somebody. Or are saying that to be successful Libertarians shouldn’t have any principles?

    PEACE

  20. Scott Lieberman Scott Lieberman June 12, 2010

    “Thomas M. Sipos // Jun 12, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    To his credit, Barr has taken more libertarian, controversial views than has Root.

    By controversial, I mean Barr is more likely to offend conservatives. Root is more cautious about offending conservatives.”

    *****************************************

    Mr. Sipos:

    Do you think that the primary, overall goal of a Libertarian politician is to offend people?

    Or do you just think that if a Libertarian politician is not offending people, by definition he or she is not a “real” Libertarian?

  21. Thomas M. Sipos Thomas M. Sipos June 12, 2010

    To his credit, Barr has taken more libertarian, controversial views than has Root.

    By controversial, I mean Barr is more likely to offend conservatives. Root is more cautious about offending conservatives.

    Many talk radio/Fox News conservatives would say that Barr’s pro-civil liberty views here are soft on “the war on terror.”

  22. Vaughn Vaughn June 12, 2010

    That’s a pretty big conversion…

  23. Richard Cooper Richard Cooper June 11, 2010

    Barr has become a consultant to the ACLU on combatting invasions of privacy and the like.

  24. NewFederalist NewFederalist June 11, 2010

    “This from a guy who voted for the PATRIOT act?”

    Somewhere on the road to Damascus he had a BIG conversion!

  25. Vaughn Vaughn June 11, 2010

    This from a guy who voted for the PATRIOT act?

  26. NewFederalist NewFederalist June 11, 2010

    Well, I feel safer now.

  27. Richard Cooper Richard Cooper June 11, 2010

    My understanding from the Wall Street Journal article was that the Schumer and Cornyn legislation would not ban prepaid cell phones but rather require identification and recordkeeping of the identities of buyers.

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