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Volume 8, Issue 9: February 27, 2006

  1. Sexual Harassment Reform 101
  2. Israel in NATO?
  3. Hugo Chávez : What's Left?
  4. The Special-Interest-Group Economy

1) Sexual Harassment Reform 101

A Massachusetts school recently suspended a six-year-old boy -- for three days -- for allegedly snapping the waistband of a girl who had just poked him. Are school officials overreacting to the inevitable?

If today schools officials seem to want to criminalize misbehavior that not long ago would have led merely to an apology and detention, it may be because today's educational establishment plays fast and loose with its definition of sexual harassment, argues Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy in her latest op-ed.

A new report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), for example, "defines sexual harassment as 'unwanted and unwelcome sexual behavior which interferes with your life,'" writes McElroy. "Fifteen types of behavior constitute sexual harassment. Topping the report's list are 'sexual comments, jokes, gestures, or looks.' In short, if someone shoots an unwanted 'sexual look' your way, you've been sexually harassed."


Although hostile media coverage and a lawsuit have prompted the Massachusetts school to change its policy, a nationwide trend of harsh punishment for minor misdeeds in still underway. Concludes McElroy: "Another step is to hold the AAUW responsible for the harm wrought to children by biased reports that lump 'comments, jokes, teasing, gestures, or looks' in with real violence."

"Sexual Harassment Policies Need Reform," by Wendy McElroy (2/17/06)
"Las políticas sobre el acoso sexual precisan ser reformadas"

LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century, ed. by Wendy McElroy

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2) Israel in NATO?

Americans should oppose efforts to admit Israel into the NATO security alliance because giving Israel NATO protection would undermine U.S. security, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace & Liberty.

Because bringing Israel into NATO would "inflame radical Islamists around the world" and worsen anti-U.S. Islamist terrorism, "admitting Israel into NATO would reduce U.S. security, not enhance it," Eland writes in his latest op-ed. "This bizarre idea should be put to bed at once."

In addition, he argues, despite the recent election of Hamas members to the Palestinian parliamentary elections and Iran's probable efforts at building a nuclear weapon, "Israeli security has never been better and doesn't need NATO protection." For example, Israel's spending on national security beats Syria's ten to one, and its nuclear arsenal (estimated currently at 200 or more nuclear weapons) is large enough to deter Iran from launching a nuclear strike, were it to achieve that capability in five or ten years.

And wasn't NATO supposed to be about security along the North Atlantic?

See "Just Say 'No' to Israel in NATO," by Ivan Eland (2/27/06)
"Simplemente digámosle 'No' al ingreso de Israel en la OTAN"

To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland, see

To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland, see

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)

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3) Hugo Chávez : What's Left?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has built up his country's fleet of military vehicles, has become a virtual "IMF" to poor debtor nations, and has reneged on his pledge to curtail oil sales to the United States -- not exactly the kind of agenda that the politically left usually praises.

Yet those are some of the reasons why the left should cringe at the mention of Hugo Chávez, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director the Center on Global Prosperity. Here are two more:

"Hugo Chávez has undertaken the biggest privatization to date in Latin America by expanding the number of military reservists from 90,000 to one million," writes Vargas Llosa. "These reservists are not answerable to the army's hierarchy. In effect, Chávez has created a private militia that serves him directly."

Chávez's policy on freedom of the press is also ominous: "Chávez has passed a Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television that Human Rights Watch, the organization usually touted by the left when it wants to give weight to its criticisms of press censorship under right-wing governments, has called 'a recipe for self-censorship.'"

See "Why The Left Should Cringe at the Mention of Hugo Chávez," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (2/23/06)
"Por qué la izquierda debiera escarapelarse ante la mera la mención de Hugo Chávez"


LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five-Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director)

Spanish-language Blog:
El Independent: El Blog del Centro Para la Prosperidad Global de The Independent Institute

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4) The Special-Interest-Group Economy

Full-fledged corporatism -- the political system under which the state confers political representation to particular industrial sectors, largely for the purpose of cartelizing industry -- never took hold in the United States, at least not in peacetime. Two years after Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law the National Industrial Recovery Act, a Depression-era measure to cartelize much of the American economy -- the Supreme Court struck it down. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy further discredited the idea of corporatism in the United States.

But as Senior Fellow Robert Higgs notes, over the decades a weaker variant -- quasi-corporatism -- took hold in the United States decades ago, helping to cartelize sectors in agriculture, medicine and hospital care, fishery management, urban redevelopment, and, especially, defense contracting.

"National emergencies create conditions in which government officials and private special-interest groups have much to gain by striking political bargains with one another," writes Higgs in a recent article. "The government gains the resources, expertise, and cooperation of the private parties, which are usually essential for the success of its crisis policies. Private special-interest groups gain the application of government authority to enforce compliance with their cartel rules, which is essential to preclude the free-riding that normally jeopardizes the success of every arrangement for the provision of collective goods to special-interest groups. Crisis promotes extended politicization of economic life, which in turn encourages additional political organization and bargaining."

See "Quasi-Corporatism: America’s Homegrown Fascism," by Robert Higgs (THE FREEMAN, )
"Cuasi-Corporativismo: El fascismo autóctono de los Estados Unidos"

AGAINST LEVIATHAN: Government Power and a Free Society, by Robert Higgs

RESURGENCE OF THE WARFARE STATE: The Crisis Since 9/11, by Robert Higgs

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