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Lying About Cass Sunstein

April 30th, 2009 · 56 Comments

I could probably write a post running several thousand words just listing all the issues on which I disagree with legal/political theorist Cass Sunstein, but I was nevertheless pretty sanguine about news of his appointment to head the Office of Information an Regulatory Affairs. Via David Weinberger, I see that Sunstein is the latest victim of WorldNetDaily’s predictable MO of plugging their writers’ new books by creating a bogus controversy designed to drive eyeballs to the merchandise by way of a thoroughly mendacious article, which also pushes a petition drive by the American Conservative Union aimed at blocking Sunstein’s confirmation.  Even by their usual low standards, this one’s a beaut.

First, it’s just worth being clear on what the OIRA administrator—a post WND keeps referring to as “regulatory czar”—actually does. OIRA reviews regulations promulgated by federal agencies, first, in order to do an independent cost-benefit analysis, and second, to ensure that when the domains of multiple agencies overlap, the rules they make fit together into a coherent system or regulation rather than working at cross purposes.  Probably given his high profile and his prior relationship with Obama, Sunstein will have more sway than previous occupants of the office. But it is not a position with any independent power to create  rules. That means his views on the best approach to gun control, for example, are pretty much irrelevant. He can encourage different agencies to prefer some consistent types of regulatory mechanisms to achieve their substantive goals, and he can object to proposed regulations that his office concludes are inefficient, but he can’t tell the agencies what their goals should be, let alone grant them new regulatory powers.

For the most part, then, it wouldn’t matter all that much if Sunstein held the positions WND attributes to him. But just about every claim in the article falls somewhere on the gradient between “grossly and deliberately misleading” and “a flat-out lie.” The two big ones are the claims that Sunstein supports regulation to create “electronic sidewalks” on the Internet where people visiting partisan Websites are exposed to opposing views, and that he favors some kind of mandatory “cooling off” period before sending angry e-mails, enforced by some kind of government monitoring.

The first idea, floated in Republic 2.0 Republic.com, is thrown out as an idea for countering the online echo-chamber effect, and in a way, WND illustrates his point by basing their characterization of Sunstein’s views on an Adam Thierer post, which they don’t link because it would make it too obvious how dishonest they’re being.  The important thing to note here is that Sunstein is tossing out a bunch of proposals primarily as food for thought, that he’s mostly talking about the desirability of having online norms encouraging links to people you disagree with (and, indeed, the Internet has developed such a norm), and that he briefly suggests that failing this it would be “worth considering” regulation, though he quickly notes that there would be serious free speech objections to any such policy.  Here’s the actual passage about “electronic sidewalks”:

Drawing on the public forum analogy, law and technology specialist Noah Zatz has suggested that through this route, “sidewalks” might be created in cyberspace, allowing speakers to have “specific access” to certain users subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. An obvious objection is that many people would find this intrusive. Attempting to have access to the Website of Time magazine, they might find themselves opening a page to Citizens for Control of Nuclear Power as well. This is indeed an intrusion. But is it much different from daily life on a street or in a park? Is it much different from reading the newspaper or a general interest magazine? Because it is so easy to close a Webpage, any intrusion on Internet users seems far more trivial than those introduced via public forums and general interest intermediaries, intrusions that produce many benefits.  What is important about Zatz’s proposal is not the relatively complex details, which I do not mean to endorse, but the effort to adapt technology to the service of goals associated with the public forum doctrine.

Emphasis mine. Now, even if offered tentatively, as springboards for further thought, these are in fact, pretty dumb, unconstituional ideas. Don’t take my word for it, just listen to… Cass Sunstein:

I now the believe that the government should not consider that — that it’s a stupid and almost certainly an unconstitutional suggestion…. [My view changed after hearing] counter-arguments and seeing the nature of the Internet as it unfolded over time. “Republic.com” made a mistake of applying to the Internet some ideas that were developed in a world of three or four television networks. … But the kinds of regulation that would respond to my concerns, they’re not really feasible and they probably wouldn’t help. Most problems are best solved privately, not through government. There’s a problem of discourtesy in the world, which is best handled through social norms, which are indispensable. But you wouldn’t want the government to be mandating courtesy.

So, just to be clear: Sunstein once thought some profoundly dumb policies might be worth considering, but realized years ago he was wrong about that. WND does acknowledge that Sunstein’s backed off the idea, but you’re left with the impression that this was a policy he vehemently endorsed and has now sort of reluctantly been forced to abandon hope for—that darn constitution won’t let him. The reality, of course, is more or less the opposite: The idea was a tentative, speculative suggestion he now condemns in pretty strong terms.

Possibly even more outrageous is the spin they put on a suggestion in his recent book Nudge, basically hoping that someone would create a piece of software like Google’s Mail Goggles designed to deter people from hastily sending drunken or angry e-mails. Since Google’s Mail Goggles now exists, their proposal has already been implemented. WND bizarrely interprets this inoccuous idea as a proposal for some kind of mandatory government screening of private communications.

Of the remaining claims they make, two are basically accurate:

In a 2007 speech at Harvard he called for banning hunting in the U.S.

In “Animal Rights: A Very Short Primer,” he wrote “[T]here should be extensive regulation of the use of animals in entertainment, in scientific experiments, and in agriculture.”

He was only talking about hunting for sport, but otherwise these are pretty much correct. If you’re a hunter or a rodeo cowboy, these might be good reasons not to vote for him should he run for Congress—at least if you thought those proposals had any chance of making their way into law.  I have no idea why they’re relevant to his fitness for the OIRA job

In his book “Radicals in Robes,” he wrote: “[A]lmost all gun control legislation is constitutionally fine. And if the Court is right, then fundamentalism does not justify the view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms.”

Here’s the quotation in context:

The Court [in United States v. Miller] said that the Second Amendment must be interpreted in light of the constitutional goal of recognizing and permitting militias…. If this pronouncement is taken seriously, then almost all gun control legislation is constitutionally fine…. Of course, the Supreme Court could have been wrong in the Miller case. but its reading of the text is reasonable, and the history is not without ambiguity. I am not insisting that there is no individual right to bear arms; the history can plausibly be read to support that right. But on the Constitution’s text, fundamentalists should not be so confident in their enthusiasm for invalidating gun control legislation.

Fair game, I suppose, if and when Sunstein is nominated to the Supreme Court. Again, not sure what it has to do with the OIRA gig.

In his 2004 book, “Animal Rights,” he wrote: “Animals should be permitted to bring suit, with human beings as their representatives …”

Accurate quote, but grossly misleading out of context. Sunstein was suggesting that in order to enforce animal cruelty laws already on the books, private parties might be given standing to bring civil actions against those who violate these existing laws, rather than leaving it up to government prosecutors to investigate and make cases. Judges could order plaintiffs to pay defendants attorneys fees in order to deter frivolous suits. I’m inclined to agree with his own characterization of this as a pretty modest reform proposal.

WND primarily seems interested in peddling their book and getting media bookings for the author, but they’re also touting the American Conservative Union’s petition to “Stop Sunstein”. That petition makes the following claims:

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Sunstein will have unchecked power to severely limit or end hunting freedom and gun ownership in America.   [….] Sunstein will have the power to write regulations dealing with the length of hunting seasons, Federal land use, deciding which species are “endangered,” draconian noise and environmental standards at shooting ranges,  taxes on guns and ammunition, gun shop and gun show regulations, federal record keeping on gun purchases…  And on thousands of regulations dealing with meat processing, life-saving medical research that involves animal testing, animal “rights,” and much more.

This isn’t just false, it’s insane. Go read the executive order establishing OIRA’s responsibilities if you have any doubts. The office is probably more potentially influential than its almost total neglect might suggest, but honestly, do they really expect people to believe that there’s a post with this kind of ludicrously sweeping authority, and nobody’s ever heard of it? Unless they’ve actually finally snapped and think this is true, the petition is just an insulting attempt to collect e-mail addresses from gun enthusiasts. Seriously, this is just conservative leadership’s way of announcing that if you care about the Second Amendment, they think you’re an easily-maniuplated halfwit.

For further reading, check out endorsements of Sunstein for the OIRA job from such flaming pinko commies as Jonathan Adler and Glenn Reynolds.

Tags: Academia · Journalism & the Media · Law · Tech and Tech Policy


       

 

56 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Klug // Apr 30, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    So Reynolds is enough of a hack to criticize, but not enough of one to ignore his opinions on Sunstein?

  • 2 david // May 1, 2009 at 9:49 am

    John Graham and Susan Dudley also got ad hominen attacks. I use this one in class when I talk about OIRA.

    http://thinkprogress.org/2006/07/06/susan-dudley/

  • 3 Patrick // May 1, 2009 at 10:25 am

    My worry would be that he actually believed that second amendment stuff!

  • 4 RJ // May 1, 2009 at 11:20 am

    So, Sunstein still believes all those fringe things; it’s just that he knows there isn’t a chance to implement them until the pesky ole constitution is completely shredded.

    Yeah, that makes me feel better

  • 5 Julian Sanchez // May 1, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    What fringe things? That it’s bad if people only get exposed to views they already agree with, and that it would be better if people heard arguments from different perspectives? I believe that too. I’ve just always held the position Sunstein holds now: That a government “solution” would be clearly unconstitutional, and that in any event this is one of many “problems” (like rudeness) that we shouldn’t want government to try to “solve.”

    I suppose some of his animal rights views count as “fringe” but again… who cares? I’m sure he’d like to ban hunting. He has NO POWER to do so. The absolute most he might do is hold up a new regulation that made things easier for hunters, I suppose. In general, though, it’s folks on the left who *want a lot more regulation* that should be worried about who takes the job of OIRA administrator, because the power they have is primarily about blocking, not creating, rules. Indeed, you see a lot of progressives freaking out about Sunstein because he’s too friendly to the idea that you should scrutinize well-meaning regulations to see whether they impose costs on the market that outweigh the benefits they create.

  • 6 Dave Mastio // May 1, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Here’s what Public Citizen tried to do to Bush’s OIRA nominee. The mirror image dishonesty is entertaining:

    http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=423

  • 7 simon // May 1, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Wanting to regulate hunting isn’t the same as wanting to ban it. Cars are extensively regulated, and yet somehow people manage to get away with driving them. Same with beer, guns, labor, insurance… somehow all survive despite having been regulated

  • 8 Instapundit » Blog Archive » JULIAN SANCHEZ says critics are Lying About Cass Sunstein. I’ve known Sunstein for a while — in fa… // May 1, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    […] SANCHEZ says critics are Lying About Cass Sunstein. I’ve known Sunstein for a while — in fact, my first introduction to Barack Obama was […]

  • 9 Etl World News | Assorted links // May 1, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    […] 2. The campaign against Cass Sunstein. […]

  • 10 Julian Sanchez // May 1, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    simon-
    Right, but Sunstein actually DOES want to ban hunting for sport.

  • 11 mk // May 1, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Julian,

    The problem is one of context. First, he at one time believed crazy things which are still believed on the Left. Have you heard of the Fairness Doctrine? He will do what he’s told and the prevailing wind is blowing Left. This administration has already demonstrated that they believe the people best in a position to run the private sector of the country is the government.

  • 12 Paul A'Barge // May 1, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    If you’re a hunter or a rodeo cowboy, these might be good reasons not to vote for him

    that’ll do it for me.

    There is no place in the public arena for an anti-hunting bigot. No place. Period.

  • 13 Michael Pate // May 1, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Actually, he first made the argument outlined above in Republic.com (2001). Republic.com 2.0 (2007) was the update. He came to my attention when I read Ann Coulter’s Slander (2003) in which she discussed some of the ideas he outlined.

    Interestingly enough, this Business Week review by Peter Coy saw that book as an attack on the views of EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow. http://tinyurl.com/dzbbd5

  • 14 C. August // May 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I agree with you that the WND article is inflammatory and misleading simply in the way it focuses on some things out of context. I’m not convinced that the OIRA post is as powerless as you claim, though.

    Glenn Reynolds said that Sunstein is “an honest, decent and very smart guy who wants to help the country.” The only one of those I can confirm is that he is very very smart. And his volume of output is impressive. But after having read thousands of pages of his work, I still can’t really pin him down. But to sum it all up in a simple statement, I think he is no friend to individual rights.

    With that, I’m much more interested in the Souter resignation. I have thought for many months that Sunstein would be one of Obama’s picks for the Supreme Court. And though he has argued for minimalism in Constitutional interpretation (though he seems to have modified that recently with the idea of “trimming” — see Feb 2009 Harvard Law Review) he could in fact be very dangerous on the Supreme Court, where his fringe ideas would certainly come into play.

  • 15 Right Wing Smears Against Cass Sunstein Persist - Liberal Values - Defending Liberty and Enlightened Thought // May 1, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    […] After Cass Sunstein was appointed by Obama to oversee regulatory reform some conservatives praised the move but soon afterwards I found he was the target of right wing smears. Julian Sanchez has found that the smears have continued and has further debunked them here. […]

  • 16 Ed Jones // May 1, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    The author of this post, in an attempt to protect the political viability of dangerous wacko Cass Sustein, argues that the prominent Professor has been nominated by his pal to a meaningless position where he will be powerless. Sounds fishy. Sunstein cares more about lab rats than women with breast cancer and gay men with AIDS. He should be blocked from any government position by filibuster.

  • 17 C. August // May 1, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    I forgot to mention that I don’t think Sunstein will be Obama’s first pick for the Court. It will likely be a woman or an ethnic minority, because reason and the ability to judge objectivity and law somehow seem to be dependent on skin color and gender. But Obama will likely get more than one pick…

  • 18 Julian Sanchez // May 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    August-
    The OIRA post is not “powerless” but the SPECIFIC powers it involves are such that actually, someone with Sunstein’s views — small careful nudges are better than sweeping control; cost-benefit analysis is important — is actually going to be more likely to use them as you and I might like than just about anyone else Obama might nominate.

    The Supreme Court, I agree, would be a completely different story, and while I find him thoughtful and interesting, I’d be much more worried about having him on the bench. If Obama were to tap him for that, I’d be a lot more likely to oppose confirmation.

  • 19 Julian Sanchez // May 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    “Sunstein cares more about lab rats than women with breast cancer and gay men with AIDS”

    Also false, by the way; Sunstein’s criticisms of animal research always focus pretty specifically on stuff like cosmetics. But I wouldn’t expect you to be any more informed about his positions than you are about the nature of OIRA, since you’re sharing your boundless wisdom about what “sounds fishy” rather than taking five minutes to read about what the office actually does.

  • 20 Matthew Vadum // May 1, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    I’ve actually read Sunstein’s book, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and
    Why We Need it More Than Ever. While he may be articulate and a good, clear writer, he is nonetheless a radical legal theorist who believes the words of the Constitution are virtually meaningless and that America’s great charter ought to be susceptible to regular reinterpretation. He believes so-called social justice is more important than the Constitution.

    I’m not terribly familiar with OIRA but cannot imagine how Sunstein’s legal philosophy would not be relevant to his performance as “regulatory czar.” A Time article, http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1881473,00.html, suggests OIRA is very powerful.

    It “examines all proposed federal regulations before they take effect — be they issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — and it has the power to delay or reject the ones it believes will be too costly to impose. ‘Every time the agencies come out with a regulation that’s controversial, OIRA tries to stop it.’

    His saving grace may be his utilitarian streak, that is, the fact that he believes in cost-benefit analysis. It may be correct to say that he’s the best conservatives and libertarians can expect from the Obama administration. But to repeat, his views on the Constitution are what worry limited government enthusiasts.

    I cannot defend some of the claims in the WND article but point out that WND is not the first to refer to the post Sunstein would fill as “regulatory czar.” Your wording seems to suggest WND coined the phrase. Google the phrase “regulatory czar” and you’ll see it has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, L.A. Times, and Time magazine in recent months. Nexis shows an early use of the phrase in the National Journal, October 11, 1980.

  • 21 holmegm // May 2, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Hmm … well, especially the way things are going with Obama, the idea that someone who “merely” tinkers with regulations will have no real power worth fearing is *not* reassuring.

    After all, the federal government has no (legitimate) authority at all to decide who is on the board of GM …

  • 22 Tom // May 3, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    “Have you heard of the Fairness Doctrine?”

    Yes, but the only people who I’ve ever heard mention it are righties who don’t know what they’re talking about and lefties who enjoy pointing this out. I find it pretty funny that the right keeps talking about this rather than about any of the things the left would actually like to do.

  • 23 C. August // May 3, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Matthew V.,

    Thanks for bringing up Sunstein’s “Second Bill of Rights” book. That is the work that has me most concerned when envisioning him on the Supreme Court. You said, “He believes so-called social justice is more important than the Constitution.” It goes further, in that he advocates for “positive rights” to income, a job, etc., thereby obliterating the real meaning of rights as freedom from force or fraud.

    He has proclaimed minimalism as his ideal Constitutional interpretation mode, but just because he would rule as narrowly as possible in all cases doesn’t mean that he’d not use his radical ideology to inform all those narrow rulings… death by a million paper cuts.

  • 24 James Hanley // May 3, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Re: Hunting. Hunting is regulated at the state level, except in regards to endangered/threatened species and birds protected by the migratory bird treaty.

    However Sunstein feels about it, the federal government isn’t where he’d go if he was actively trying to ban it.

  • 25 Alan // May 3, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Sunstein, who is of Jewish birth, chose to marry the wondergirl of the Left, the anti-Semitic Samantha Power, whose “wet dream” is to witness U.S. Marines invade Israel and fight the IDF on the side of the Palestinians. That alone makes him a sniveling scumbag not worthy of ANY Legal position in this country. But of course an Obama who sat in a pew will pick him just as he gave the wife a position on the National Security Council, despite her remarks about both Israel – and that laughable joke Shillary Clinton.

  • 26 Seerak // May 5, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Teh fact that Sunstein even thought of such ideas as these in the first place is sufficient grounds to question him; they are profoundly un-American at their origin.

    He has proclaimed minimalism as his ideal Constitutional interpretation mode, but just because he would rule as narrowly as possible in all cases doesn’t mean that he’d not use his radical ideology to inform all those narrow rulings… death by a million paper cuts.

    A milder version of a poison… is still poison, and should be avoided ciompletely, on principle. Similarly, minimal paternalism is still paternalism, and that is morally objectionable as such.

  • 27 jane air // May 26, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    “Sunstein, who is of Jewish birth, chose to marry the wondergirl of the Left, the anti-Semitic Samantha Power, whose “wet dream” is to witness U.S. Marines invade Israel…”

    Alan, I love you.

    The only reason Sunstein married Power is that Eva Braun was unavailable.

  • 28 United States v. Doe // Jun 29, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    […] already written about this at some length, but I see that one of the bogus charges against prospective OIRA director Cass Sunstein is actually […]

  • 29 Colster // Aug 5, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    And yet, does Sunstein disapprove of the snitch program instituted by the White House asking supporters to report “fishy” arguments against health care reform to flag@whitehouse.gov? And does he disapprove of the White House information gathering about specific, individual internet access under the guise of NTIA?

    Together, these two acts suggest that the White House is going ahead with efforts to “regulate” opinion on the internet. Is this despite Sunstein’s strenuous objection?

    Just askin’

  • 30 Padraig's Ghost // Aug 12, 2009 at 3:37 am

    OBAMA BORG, YOU WILL BE ASSIMULATED! RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    or,

    IF WE WANT YOUR OPINION, WE WILL GIVE IT TO YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    or,

    Beehive Politics: Obama represent the Queen, The Party Faithful are the Drones to service “her”, We are the Worker Bees, and the Dem’s Feeders and Breeders on the dole are the Larvae. Except that the Larvae never become productive members of the hive and the whole hive eventually collapses on itself…

  • 31 We Are Change Colorado Springs » Blog Archive » The Left Attacking The Right: Don’t Play the Same Games // Sep 8, 2009 at 9:33 am

    […] fact, as Julian Sanchez writes, in the statement in question Sunstein floated the theory as “food for thought.” And […]

  • 32 We’re Terribly Czarry | Think Tank West // Sep 8, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    […] appointed — who would be better in the OIRA post from a limited government perspective. (I considered some of the specific concerns being raised about Sunstein back in the spring and found that they […]

  • 33 Most obscenely stupid right-wing theories » Whole Weird World // Sep 8, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    […] fact, as Julian Sanchez writes, in the statement in question Sunstein floated the theory as “food for thought.” And […]

  • 34 raoul // Sep 9, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Where in the U.S. Constitution do you find executive branch authority for the appointment of a “czar”?

  • 35 cicsasus // Sep 9, 2009 at 10:44 am

    cass sunstein is a commie thug. He once wrote that the money in your pocket is not really yours – it belongs to the state. He argues that if it wasn’t for the state you would not have the money in your pocket in the first place. Tell the senate not to confirm this thug.

  • 36 NotAHunter // Sep 9, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    That’s more of a state issue, in no way should the Feds be meddling in such things…but change you can believe in follows big government programs.

  • 37 fideist // Sep 9, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    “Animal rights” is NOT “animal welfare.” Animal rights promotes not just care consideration for animals but also legal protection. Hunting, Rodeos, and Research have been mentioned. Has anyone mentioned MEAT! Raising animals, breeding animals, transporting animals, slaughtering animals. Yes, yes, yes, these are all outside the sphere or government regulations.

  • 38 All the President’s Czars – Part 2 : The Daily Patriot // Sep 9, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    […] | Wall Street Journal Online | FoxNews.com | Huffington Post | Julian Sanchez The vote will take place today, September 9th, or tomorrow, September 10th. Have an opinion to […]

  • 39 Cass Sunstein, Glenn Beck, and Diversity of Opinion @ Helian Unbound // Sep 11, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    […] worth a closer look. The picture of the man that emerges from his own work is a great deal more nuanced than the filtered versions we’ve being seeing from both his detractors on the right and his […]

  • 40 Tibor R. Machan // Sep 19, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Sunstein & Co. on how Society Comes First

    Sadly this is an ancient thesis that’s being revived now in a country that was founded on denying it. The idea is well expressed in a recent book by Professor William E. Hudson, titled, The Libertarian Illusion: Ideology, Public Policy, and the Assault on the Common Good (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2008). Hudson states, on page 43, that “The ability that any of us have to earn income and acquire wealth depends only partly on our own individual efforts. It relies as well on the operation of political, economic, and social institutions that make it possible for any of us to ‘earn a living.’ . . .Viewed in this light, those deductions from my paycheck can be seen as reimbursements to society for that portion of my earnings derived from social goods.” The very same idea has been championed for years by one of President Obama’s favorite intellectuals, Cass Sunstein, for example in the book the latter co-authored with Stephen Holmes, The Cost of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxes (W. W. Norton & Co., 1999).

    Reimbursements to society! What a ruse that is, given that society is nothing more than all of us together as individuals and that what we own, so long as we stole it from no one, ought to be left to each of us to allocate as he or she judges proper, not to the likes of the sneaky professor and his gang in centers of political power.

    A long time ago it was the French father of sociology and avid champion of a huge system of socialism, Auguste Comte (1798-1857), who maintained that very same thesis. As he put it, in his book The Catechism of Positive Religion (Clifton, NJ: Augustus M. Kelley Publ., 1973),

    “Everything we have belongs then to Humanity…[my system] never admits anything but duties, of all to all. For its social point of view cannot tolerate the notion of right, constantly based on individualism. We are born loaded with obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries. Later they only grow or accumulate before we can return any service. On what human foundation then could rest the idea of right, which in reason should imply some previous efficiency? Whatever may be our efforts, the longest life well employed will never enable us to pay back but an imperceptible part of what we have received. And yet it would only be after a complete return that we should be justly authorized to require reciprocity for the new services. All human rights then are as absurd as they are immoral. This [“to live for others”], the definitive formula of human morality, gives a direct sanction exclusively to our instincts of benevolence, the common source of happiness and duty. [Man must serve] Humanity, whose we are entirely” (212-30).

    Both Comte and his contemporary followers–who, by the way keep calling themselves progressives even though what they advocate is about as reactionary as it could get–maintain the fallacy that because people made major contributions with their works to our lives–the scientists, artists, farmers, inventors, and the lot–we now are obligated to give up our resources, our labor, indeed our very lives, and let a bunch of our contemporaries whom we don’t know and often have never met, decide what is to be done with it all. What a ruse this is!

    In fact, of course, the contributions made by all those productive, creative folks of the past were not made with the provision that members of far off future generations will be held in bondage to them somehow, in consequence. And notice, the debt is not said be to those who made those great contributions, no sir. The debt is to be paid to these contemporaries who have done little or nothing at all for you and me other than to send out tax collectors to raid our more or less substantial wealth. All because, well, we didn’t earn all the value of this wealth on our but had benefited from those folks from the past. (By that argument you don’t own your health, beauty, talents, nothing you didn’t produce on your own!)

    Exactly why any of this should entitle this current bunch to any of what you and I and the rest of us they want to rip off have come by, whether by luck or personal effort, I cannot fathom. The argument they put forth, from Comte to Hudson, just does not prove any such obligation, none at all, certainly not to those who now collect the reimbursement–i.e., perpetrate the extortion, which is what it in reality amounts to.

    I greatly enjoy the works of many artists and performers who have long since died, via old movies, reproduction of their paintings, music, literature, and the rest. I mean they literally keep thrilling me, as I listen, watch and read. Quite spontaneously I often wish I could shake their hands, hug them, thank them for having done so much that gives me pleasure in my life. (I am especially fond of the works of some novelist, musicians, actors, painters with whose work I have surrounded my life for decades.)

    By what perverted line of reasoning, if one can even call it that, do the likes of Comte, Sunstein and Hudson make a claim on me in the name of these wonderful folks? Who on earth entrusted them with this job?

    No one, that’s who. They are trying to perpetrate an out and out ruse, that’s what they are about. If one falls for their deception, they will have gained power and resources they certainly did not earn and do not deserve. And it will not be luck that landed them all of what they are attempting to gain from us but trickery, sophistry, and ruthless indifference to our own right to make the effort to carve out a decent life for ourselves.

    I hope they do not win, at least not for much longer.

  • 41 JeepJeep // Jan 18, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    The underlying problem with position-holders such as Sunstein, is thier possible COMPLICANCY, and lack of direct intervention in passage/implementation of those regulations which DO undermine the US Constitution, as well as the delicate balance of sanity in the regulatory structure.

  • 42 seo // Mar 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    “Sunstein, who is of Jewish birth, chose to marry the wondergirl of the Left, the anti-Semitic Samantha Power, whose “wet dream” is to witness U.S. Marines invade Israel…”

    Alan, I love you.

    The only reason Sunstein married Power is that Eva Braun was unavailable.

  • 43 fred // Mar 13, 2010 at 1:22 am

    You know Sunstein’s visceral reaction to regulate the internet given some failing level of civility is/was exactly Sunstein’s problem.

    I viscerally react violently against such an idea. I trust the masses to work their way through a maelstrom of comments. I don’t trust Sunstein to get us through it because he THINKS his intellecutal elitimism knows best. The masses don’t need his guidance. The masses in fact know best. The masses can more accurately get it right than any single individual when their collective thought is pooled/polled.

    Why do you defend him by recalling that he “immediately” talked about free speech issues. That is simply irritating and does not indemnify him. Reflexively Sunstein wants to regulate other’s thoughts that is very, very bad. I hate that hubris.

  • 44 Düzce // Sep 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Where in the U.S. Constitution do you find executive branch authority for the appointment of a “czar”?

  • 45 acer servisleri // Sep 25, 2010 at 4:02 am

    Everything looked in here. Immediate and clear information.
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  • 46 düzce // Sep 26, 2010 at 4:51 am

    That’s more of a state issue, in no way should the Feds be meddling in such things…but change you can believe in follows big government programs

  • 47 lahmacun firini // Oct 6, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Fine was a work and full-time. Thank you.

  • 48 chat // Oct 11, 2010 at 6:35 am

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  • 49 Chat // Nov 6, 2010 at 6:55 pm

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  • 50 sohbet // Dec 12, 2010 at 3:42 am

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  • 51 ゴヤール // Jan 20, 2012 at 2:31 am

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  • 52 Another Entry in the Sunstein Saga « Politics & Prosperity // Jan 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    […] Left-libertarian defends Sunstein’s foray into thought control, concluding that Sunstein once thought some profoundly dumb […]

  • 53 şişli arçelik servisi // Apr 4, 2012 at 9:11 am

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  • 54 klima // Mar 21, 2013 at 11:54 am

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  • 55 bisiklet süsleri toptan // Apr 25, 2014 at 2:52 am

    Daima bisiklet süsü daima üretim hizmeti için bize ulaşın.

  • 56 Fascism with a “Friendly” Face | POLITICS & PROSPERITY // Nov 1, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    […] Left-libertarian defends Sunstein’s foray into thought control, concluding […]

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