Friday, May 27, 2011

Mugabe torturer is given asylum in Britain... and yes it's in case he's tortured back in Zimbabwe

A thug who carried out horrific acts of torture for Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe has been allowed to live in Britain – to protect his human rights.

An immigration tribunal found Phillip Machemedze inflicted terrible injuries on political opponents of the vile Mugabe regime. But despite ruling he was involved in ‘savage acts of extreme violence’ – including smashing a man’s jaw with a pair of pliers – immigration judges said he could not be deported.

They said the 46-year-old, who is HIV positive, could himself face torture if he was returned home, having turned his back on Mugabe’s Zanu PF regime. Both he and his wife – who was granted asylum – can stay in Britain indefinitely.

Machemedze worked as a bodyguard to a senior Zanu PF minister, as part of Mugabe’s feared Central Intelligence Organisation.

Court documents exposed the horrendous crimes he committed as a state-sponsored torturer. The tribunal heard he smashed one victim’s jaw with a pair of pliers, before pulling out a tooth.

Another victim, a farmer accused of supporting the rival Movement for Democratic Change, was shocked with electric cables, slapped, beaten and punched unconscious.

On another occasion, a woman MDC member was taken to an underground cell where she was stripped naked and whipped. Machemedze admitted putting salt in her wounds.

He also stripped a man naked and told him he would be forced to have sex with his daughters if he did not talk.

The hired thug told the court he ‘initially enjoyed his job’ but ‘soon had enough of the torture’. He left Zimbabwe and came to Britain in 2000 on a visitor visa. Eight years later, in December 2008, he claimed asylum along with his wife Febbie. The couple live in Bristol. Their daughter also lives in Britain, but two other children are in Zimbabwe.

The immigration tribunal ruled his crimes were so horrendous that he was barred from claiming asylum. However, the judge ruled that he could not be sent home because of the likelihood he will be tortured or executed by the Mugabe regime – breaching his rights under Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

His wife, an MDC activist, was granted asylum. In his ruling, Judge David Archer said: ‘I find the respondent has produced a compelling case that the first appellant has committed crimes against humanity. ‘I reject his claim that he was acting under duress. The first appellant was deeply involved in savage acts of extreme violence.’ He added: ‘I find that the appellant’s protected rights under Articles 2 and 3 of the Human Rights Convention will be breached by returning him to Zimbabwe.

‘Those rights are absolute and whatever crimes he has committed, he cannot be returned to face the highly likely prospect of torture and execution without trial.’

Ministers have faced demands to take action over the more than 350 suspected war criminals living in Britain. Nearly 500 have been targeted by the authorities over the past five years, but just a fifth have been refused entry, kicked out or have left voluntarily. The total includes 75 from Afghanistan, 73 from Sri Lanka, 39 from Rwanda and 32 from Zimbabwe.

A Home Office spokesman said the Government was ‘disappointed’ with the ruling and would seek to appeal. He said: ‘We consider all asylum applications on their individual merits, however it is the Government’s policy that the UK should not be a refuge for war criminals or those who have committed crimes against humanity or genocide.

‘Where someone has been found not to need protection, we expect them to leave voluntarily. For those who choose not to do so, we will seek to enforce their departure.’


It Just Ain't So

We Need to Build Society for “Shared Prosperity”?

In a recent New York Times column (“Degrees and Dollars,” March 6), economist Paul Krugman surprisingly had an “it just ain’t so” moment of his own, taking issue with the widely accepted but erroneous idea that more education is the key to increasing prosperity. While he was right about that, his conclusion that technological changes will so “hollow out” the middle class that massive new government programs are needed to “directly” build a society of “shared prosperity” does not follow at all.

Proponents of the megastate like Krugman simply cannot acknowledge that the coercive, redistributive policies they love have adverse consequences. As we will see, his proposed “shared prosperity” will further undermine the prosperity we still have, reduce incentives for individual effort, and create new opportunities for political rent-seeking. If you would like to see America become more like Greece, Krugman’s ideas are a perfect recipe.

Let’s look first at what Krugman gets right, though.

One of the greatest conceits of modern liberalism is that more education (formal education, especially of the sort run and funded by government) is always good because it gives people “higher skills,” thus making the United States “more competitive.” To his credit Krugman joins a growing number of critics who argue that such education doesn’t necessarily produce good results. President Obama keeps saying the nation must make more “investments” in education to increase employment and keep up with other countries. Not so, says Krugman.

But why has Krugman broken ranks? In the last few months evidence has strengthened the contrarian case by showing that a large and increasing percentage of college degree holders end up having to take jobs that don’t call for any advanced academic preparation and that many college students coast through with little or no gain in human capital. Those are among the reasons why I long ago concluded that America has oversold higher education, principally by heavily subsidizing it.

Krugman, however, points to a different reason for his turn. He contends that technology and “globalization” are eliminating the middle-class jobs college-educated people used to take, thus “hollowing out” the middle class. As a result, he argues, we can’t rely on education for social mobility.

Exhibit A is Krugman’s discovery that technology is having an impact on the legal profession. Computers, he reports, are increasingly used in legal research, scanning cases and documents for possible relevance much faster than people can. He says that this shows how technology “is actually reducing the demand for highly educated workers.”

It’s perfectly true that technology is changing the legal profession. Decades ago, lawyers had to manually hunt for relevant cases and other documents, then read them. Beginning more than 20 years ago, that laborious work was made easier with the advent of computerized research engines that would almost instantly compile lists of cases. Now computers can apparently even do some of the preliminary analysis.

Krugman’s conclusion that this is reducing the demand for educated workers does not follow, however. Just because technology has made a part of lawyers’ work faster does not mean there will be fewer lawyers—any more than the technological improvements that have made writing and editing easier and faster than in the days of typewriters and erasers has reduced the number of writers and editors.

America already has a surplus of lawyers, but that isn’t because of technology. It is because government subsidizes students who want to go to law school, and some law schools practice deception with regard to the employment and earnings prospects for their graduates.

Technological improvements certainly can lead to the elimination of some jobs in the legal profession (and others), but they simultaneously open up new jobs for educated workers elsewhere.

Krugman’s other argument is that globalization is going to wipe out some middle-class jobs because it is now possible to offshore work formerly done by American workers. He gives no examples or evidence of the magnitude of this phenomenon, but let’s assume that he is correct. Do we need to worry and insist on government action?

No, we don’t. The number of middle-class jobs is not fixed, dictating that if some are done by robots or foreigners or computers, the number remaining must be lower. You might think an economics professor and international trade specialist with a Nobel Prize to his name would know that people have been wringing their hands over the supposed harms of free trade in goods and services for centuries, but despite the apocalyptic predictions, the dynamism of the economy always produces new jobs to replace those that are lost.

In sum there is very little support for Krugman’s claim that the middle class is being hollowed out, but that doesn’t keep him from leaping to the conclusion that we need more government intervention.

He first declares that labor needs more “bargaining power.” That’s vague language, but what Krugman undoubtedly means is that the government should enact pro-union legislation. Make that more pro-union legislation, since existing law (unchanged since 1959) is already highly pro-union. Bargaining power has not been taken from unions over the last 30 years. Rather, many old, unionized companies have had to face increasing competition. They have shed workers and some have gone out of existence. Simultaneously, many new firms have come into existence, and their workers have often shown so little interest in unionization that union organizers have given up.

Furthermore, can Krugman believe that unions automatically and costlessly raise worker earnings? They can’t. As economist W. H. Hutt showed in his book The Strike-Threat System, even if unions can temporarily exploit invested capital (as was the case in the auto industry), in the long run investors will put their money elsewhere.

Finally, Krugman writes that government must “guarantee the essentials, above all health care, to every citizen.” Even if it were true that technology and global competition were hollowing out the middle class, why should government assume this role? Back in the 1960s the federal government began a “War on Poverty” that entailed giving “the essentials” to the poor. Rather than conquering poverty, the policies exacerbated it, as recipients of government benefits reduced their own efforts at improving their circumstances and interest groups learned how to game the system. Krugman’s coercively shared prosperity ideas would give America more of that.

Instead of resorting to federal handouts and union threats to increase the middle class, I suggest we abolish the many governmental barriers to entrepreneurship and entry into occupations so that more Americans can succeed on their own.


Six Political Illusions: A Primer on Government for Idealists Fed Up with History Repeating Itself

You don’t believe in magic, do you? Magicians employ a variety of tricks to deceive audiences into thinking that something has happened that can’t. They are masters of illusion. Adults know that they’re being fooled when the rabbit seems to materialize out of an empty hat.

Magic is harmless fun, but the government is not. It squanders vast amounts of money while simultaneously whittling away at people’s freedom. Instead of solving problems, it makes them worse, often creating brand new problems. Why don’t more of us rebel or at least denounce the State? In his latest book, political scientist and Freeman contributing editor James Payne explains why not: Most Americans have fallen for six political illusions. Although opinion polls show that a large majority of the population is fed up with the government, most think we must continue to rely on it for a wide array of “services.” They just want better politicians in charge. Those people aren’t stupid; they’re under the spell of the following illusions:

* The Philanthropic Illusion: the idea that government has money of its own.

* The Voluntary Illusion: the impulse to want to believe that government action is not based on force.

* The Illusion of the Frictionless State: the idea that the State can transfer resources with negligible overhead cost.

* The Materialistic Illusion: that money alone buys public-policy results.

* The Watchful Eye Illusion: the idea that the government has greater knowledge and wisdom than the public.

* The Illusion of Government Preeminence: the belief that the government is the only problem-solving institution in society.

In short, Payne admonishes people to start examining government as it really is, not the way children see magic. The book’s cover, a reproduction of an 1842 painting by Thomas Cole, gives a visual analogy to its thesis. In the painting a lad in a boat on a river is entranced by an apparition in the sky—a gleaming temple. Unfortunately, he is oblivious to the reality that his boat will soon go over a waterfall unless he gives up on the apparition and grasps the truth confronting him. That’s an excellent depiction of modern America.

Payne does a superb job of explaining and illustrating each of his illusions. I will focus my comments on the last two of them, as they are particularly critical at this juncture.

In the wake of the financial meltdown following the collapse of the housing bubble, politicians have been trying to capitalize on Payne’s “watchful eye” illusion by telling voters that the debacle was all due to inadequate powers of supervision by the government. What we needed, they cry, was more federal oversight to prevent short-sighted and greedy decisions. Give us more regulatory authority and nothing like that will ever happen again!

Payne shows that there were in fact regulators whose job was to blow the whistle on excessive risk-taking by the federal housing giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but politicians paid no heed to their warnings. Payne then takes the analysis a step deeper, arguing that people should never put faith in government officials to foresee danger and protect them. That is because government officials don’t suffer the losses when they’re wrong. Instead of expecting a watchful eye from the government, it’s far more intelligent to rely on individuals and private institutions to detect and avoid undue risks because they will suffer adverse consequences if they are wrong.

Payne’s sixth illusion encompasses the others. It is the erroneous view that we must look first (and perhaps exclusively) to government for the solutions to problems. Politicians encourage that illusion since they want citizens to regard themselves as impotent while the State possesses almost limitless capabilities. When a social problem arises, politicians almost never say, “The government should do nothing about that; it’s a problem that should be dealt with by the voluntary sector.” Saying that would be almost suicidal in a nation caught in the grip of the illusion of government preeminence. Instead, politicians seldom miss an opportunity to show their great “concern” by introducing new legislation they claim will take care of everything, from the harm supposedly done by incandescent light bulbs to the drug trade.

Wise individuals, Payne contends, will look at the merits of the voluntary sector rather than leaping on the bandwagon for government activism. Currently, for example, many people are concerned about the possibility of catastrophic climate change and automatically assume that the only way of responding is to give government officials tremendous new regulatory powers. Anyone who reads Payne will contemplate both the possibility that voluntary responses might work better and that government will botch the job.


Liberty and the Power of Ideas

A belief that I stress again and again is that we are at war—not a physical, shooting war, but nonetheless a war that is fully capable of becoming just as destructive and just as costly.

The battle for the preservation and advancement of liberty is a battle not against personalities but against opposing ideas. The French author Victor Hugo declared that “One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.” This is often rendered as, “More powerful than armies is an idea whose time has come.”

In the past ideas have had earthshaking consequences. They have determined the course of history.

The system of feudalism existed for a thousand years in large part because scholars, teachers, intellectuals, educators, clergymen, and politicians propagated feudalistic ideas. The notion “once a serf, always a serf” kept millions of people from ever questioning their station in life.

Under mercantilism, the widely accepted concept that the world’s wealth is fixed prompted men to take what they wanted from others in a long series of bloody wars.

The publication of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations in 1776 is a landmark in the history of the power of ideas. As Smith’s message of free trade spread, political barriers to peaceful cooperation collapsed, and virtually the whole world decided to try freedom for a change.

Marx and the Marxists would have us believe that socialism is inevitable, that it will embrace the world as surely as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. As long as men have free will (the power to choose right from wrong), however, nothing that involves this human volition can ever be inevitable! If socialism comes it will come because men choose to embrace its principles.

Socialism is an age-old failure, yet the socialist idea constitutes the chief threat to liberty today. As I see it, socialism can be broken into five ideas.

1. The Pass-a-Law Syndrome. Passing laws has become a national pastime. Business in trouble? Pass a law to give it public subsidies or restrict its freedom of action. Poverty? Pass a law to abolish it. Perhaps America needs a law against passing more laws.

Almost invariably a new law means: a) more taxes to finance its administration; b) additional government officials to regulate some heretofore unregulated aspect of life; and c) new penalties for violating the law. In brief, more laws mean more regimentation, more coercion. Let there be no doubt about what the word coercion means: force, plunder, compulsion, restraint. Synonyms for the verb form of the word are even more instructive: impel, exact, subject, conscript, extort, wring, pry, twist, dragoon, bludgeon, and squeeze.

When government begins to intervene in the free economy, bureaucrats and politicians spend most of their time undoing their own handiwork. To repair the damage of Provision A, they pass Provision B. Then they find that to repair Provision B, they need Provision C, and to undo C, they need D, and so on until the alphabet and our freedoms are exhausted.

The Pass-a-Law Syndrome is evidence of a misplaced faith in the political process, a reliance on force, which is anathema to a free society.

2. The Get-Something-from-Government Fantasy. Government by definition has nothing to distribute except what it first takes from people. Taxes are not donations.

In the welfare state this basic fact gets lost in the rush for special favors and giveaways. People speak of “government money” as if it were truly free.

One who is thinking of accepting something from government that he could not acquire voluntarily should ask, “From whose pocket is it coming? Am I being robbed to pay for this benefit or is government robbing someone else on my behalf?” Frequently the answer will be both.

The end result of this “fantasy” is that everyone in society has his hands in someone else’s pockets.

3. The Pass-the-Buck Psychosis. Recently a welfare recipient wrote her welfare office and demanded, “This is my sixth child. What are you going to do about it?”

An individual is victim to the Pass-the-Buck Psychosis when he abandons himself as the solver of his problems. He might say, “My problems are really not mine at all. They are society’s, and if society doesn’t solve them and solve them quickly, there’s going to be trouble!”

Socialism thrives on the shirking of responsibility. When men lose their spirit of independence and initiative, their confidence in themselves, they become clay in the hands of tyrants and despots.

4. The Know-It-All Affliction. Leonard Read, in The Free Market and Its Enemy, identified “know-it-allness” as a central feature of the socialist idea. The know-it-all is a meddler in the affairs of others. His attitude can be expressed in this way: “I know what’s best for you, but I’m not content to merely convince you of my rightness; I’d rather force you to adopt my ways.” The know-it-all evinces arrogance and a lack of tolerance for the great diversity among people.

In government the know-it-all refrain sounds like this: “If I didn’t think of it, then it can’t be done, and since it can’t be done, we must prevent anyone from trying.” A group of West Coast businessmen once ran into this snag when their request to operate barge service between the Pacific Northwest and Southern California was denied by the (now-defunct) Interstate Commerce Commission because the agency felt the group could not operate such a service profitably.

The miracle of the market is that when individuals are free to try, they can and do accomplish great things. Read’s well-known admonition that there should be “no man-concocted restraints against the release of creative energy” is a powerful rejection of the Know-It-All Affliction.

5. The Envy Obsession. Coveting the wealth and income of others has given rise to a sizable chunk of today’s socialist legislation. Envy is the fuel that runs the engine of redistribution. Surely, the many soak-the-rich schemes are rooted in envy and covetousness.

What happens when people are obsessed with envy? They blame those who are better off than themselves for their troubles. Society is fractured into classes and faction preys on faction. Civilizations have been known to crumble under the weight of envy and the disrespect for property it entails.

A common thread runs through these five socialist ideas. They all appeal to the darker side of man: the primitive, noncreative, slothful, dependent, demoralizing, unproductive, and destructive side of human nature. No society can long endure if its people practice such suicidal notions.

Consider the freedom philosophy. It is an uplifting, regenerative, motivating, creative, exciting philosophy. It appeals to and relies on the higher qualities of human nature such as self-reliance, personal responsibility, individual initiative, respect for property, and voluntary cooperation.

The outcome of the struggle between freedom and serfdom depends entirely on what percolates in the hearts and minds of men. At the present time the jury is still deliberating.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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