• The Arkansas Supreme Court has decided that $10,000 is too high a price for the decomposed mouse that Betty McAlpin found in her half-consumed bottle of beer (Budweiser, if you're interested) and reduced the damages Anheuser-Busch must pay her to $3000. Oh yes; the House just voted to legalize homebrew.
• On the 11th of March, 11 Palestinian guerrillas, heavily armed with automatic rifles, grenades, and the like, entered northern Israel seeking to take hostages and force the release of other Palestinians from Israeli prisons. Before the day was out, they had killed 35 Israeli (and one American) civilians. They were universally denounced as terrorists and murderers. On the 15th of March, some 20,000 Israeli soldiers, heavily armed with automatic rifles, grenades, mortars, heavy artillery, naval and air support, and the like, entered southern Lebanon seeking to take territory and force the Palestinian guerrillas from their Lebanese strongholds. Before the week was out, they had killed over 1000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, and driven another 160,000 across the Litani River as refugees. (Israeli Prime Minister Begin called this the "purification" of southern Lebanon.) Virtually no one denounced them as terrorists and murderers. Time magazine, which called the PLO attack "savage" and a "massacre," the next week printed a photograph blandly captioned: "Residential section of Tyre under heavy bombardment by Israeli naval guns." (Said the Christian Science Monitor, "Israeli military sources said it had been decided not to try to take Tyre because such an operation could involve hand-to-hand fighting with entrenched Palestinians." Jimmy Carter had called the PLO raid "cowardly.") Columnist Jimmy Breslin observed that "apparently a dead woman in Lebanon is not worth as much as a dead woman in Israel."
But of course there's more to it than that. The Israeli Defense Forces aren't called terrorists because they work for a State. And as the libertarian Albert Jay Nock remarked: "The State exercises the monopoly of crime. It forbids private murder, but itself organizes murder on the colossal scale. It outlaws theft, but itself lays unscrupulous hands on whatever it wants, whether the property of citizen or of alien." Since libertarians don't (usually) draw spurious distinctions between private crime and State crime they should have no trouble recognizing the Israeli butchery as also "terrorism"—except, of course, for those sectarians who only oppose the initiation of force when it's done by the goyim.
• Quest, "Canada's Urban Magazine," has no subscribers. Instead it is "delivered at no charge to 700,000 homes" and lives off advertising. An obvious formula for innocuous, Family Weekly-style pap; and the December 1977 issue seems no exception, with gems like "You and Your Dreams," and "The Boom in Cross-Country Skiing"—and "Vile Bodies We Should Love," on Walter Block's Defending the Undefendable; that "sensationalistic," "absolutely mad," "menace to the libertarian movement." Not having read the libertarian press, Quest didn't know they were supposed to be "turned off" by Block's innocuous opus, and praised his "irrefutable logic and consistency." Perhaps Sharon Presley, Walter Grinder, Jim Davidson etc. think logic and consistency "turn off" the Great Unwashed. Maybe they're right but you can get a free copy of the article from Fleet Press, Box 2R, Brooklyn, NY 11235 and test it on yourself.
• Everybody loves "sunset laws." Supposedly, they limit government spending by requiring every board, commission, or program to expire after a fixed length of time, unless the legislature votes to extend it. Both Barry Goldwater and George McGovern endorse a federal Sunset law. Now any scheme blessed by two such arch-statists should be immediately suspect, and syndicated columnist Abe Mellinkoff confirms our worst fears. In Colorado, he observes, four of 13 programs reviewed were canceled for a munificent saving of $11,000. The cost of the cancellation was just under $200,000. So perhaps it's just as well that Alabama kept 199 of the 200 agencies it "reviewed." Clearly, There Ain't No Such Thing As A Limited Government—if the government gets to "limit" itself.
• Japanese steel products undersell American steel because the Japanese "dump" steel at below cost, right? One Edward Greer reports (in the Nation, March 4) that according to the FTC the export price of Japanese steel is actually higher than the domestic price. The FTC also claimed that the value of Japanese government aid to the steel industry is only 43¢ a ton—small beer on a $360 a ton item. The real reason Japanese steel costs less, says the Council on Wage and Price Stability, is that Japanese labor costs are lower. Greer doesn't go so far as to blame the United Steelworkers for the industry's woes, but he is writing for the Nation, after all.
• The Last Word on the Canal Treaties: Garner Ted Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God notes that "everybody has neglected" the Canal's "role in Bible prophecy." Americans are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, you see, and the Canal is one of the "sea gates" of Israel that are our "birthright promise" from Abraham. If the treaties pass, Armstrong prophesies, "it will represent a significant milestone in the prophetic decline of this country, because it will mean that God is allowing us to lose our birthright heritage."…The Washington Post reveals that the Panamanian Minister of Planning is, "a former student of the University of Chicago conservative economist Milton Friedman."…Between 1903 and 1914, James Luitweiler told Congress, the US-Panamanian Land Commission paid $4.7 million for the privately owned land in the Canal Zone. (Lobbyists have spent $2.7 million over the treaties; $2.3 million to oppose them). He should know; he headed the Commission. A clerk for the US District Court in the Zone, one Doris McClellan, produced three boxes of deeds to support Luitweiler and complained: "I can't understand how people can say that we didn't own the land." Luitweiler said a "purchase" from Panamanians "was a matter of eminent domain. They had no choice."
• Texas faces a natural gas glut, and the Texas Railroad Commission wants to order Texas producers to cut production to keep the price high. "Deregulation" advocate Jack Allen, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, is all for it: "to protect the small producer." As political theorist Willi Schlamm put it, "The trouble with socialism is socialism. The trouble with capitalism is capitalists."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".