" /> I write: November 2008
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November 28, 2008

The Wealth of Nations

P.J. O’Rourke – ISBN – 9780802143426

The cognoscenti will appreciate that the title of this historic book—the original treatise on the economic system we call Capitalism—was published in 1776 by a Scot named Smith. Its full title was: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. P.J. has undertaken to write The Inquiry into the inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. Those of you who have read my site in depth, or know me personally, know that P.J. is one of my favorite authors. He is bright, knowledgeable, articulate, and funny as well. I have anxiously awaited the emergence of this little jewel in paperback so that I could read it. It does not disappoint. Few people have actually read the original tome in its entirety. It would be more correct to say (for those of us who have split the covers at all) that we have “read in ‘Wealth.’” Trust me, you will read--and reread--this entire little tome. One must caution himself not to overlook the essential profundity of this inquiry, since he surrounds it, as he always does, with his signature humor.

I recommend it highly to anyone who really wants to know about economics (along with Hazlitt’s Economics in one Lesson.) Especially so now, as our world is collapsing around us due to the ignorance, stupidity, cupidity, greed and sloth of ostensibly brilliant and perceptive minds. I was particularly curious to see how O’Rourke made this subject humorous. He succeeds.

Early on he discusses that Smith was explaining: (1) that money has no objective value; and (2) money is a notation of subjective worth, because when one person exchanges something with another they both get the best side of the deal. O’Rourke then opines: “It’s not that we who are getting this explained to us are stupid. But every overcompensated modern CEO has tried the first explanation on us. And every car dealer tries the second when we offer him a trade in.”

Smith didn’t think of man as innately good or rich; rather that man is endowed with the imaginative capacity to be both, given freedom to strive. The desire for power goads man “to the highest degree of arrogance . . . to erect his own judgment into the supreme standard of right and wrong . . . [and] to fancy himself the only wise and worthy man in the commonwealth.” P.J. then adds the caveat that “Smith managed to describe not only Barbra Streisand but everyone in the world of politics.”

Smith endeavored to determine and explain how systems of morality, economics and government arise, and how, using this information, people could better their ethical, material and political situations. He was an idealist, but one without the pretension to offer “a blueprint for society.” At the time Britain was at the apogee of its mercantilist period, and he was arguing for the restoration of a free trade environment. P.J. observes that “Smith chose his absurdity comparisons with an eye to the Newt Gingriches [of the era] and the too visionary visions that preceded the Enlightenment.”

Thomas More’s 16th century Utopia was, after all, a manufactured dream utterly detached from reality. Smith insisted the necessity of delegating to imagination the creation of methods to render “decent judgments on feelings,” and upon the actions that proceed from these feelings, and upon whether these feelings are right or wrong--moral or immoral. Selfishness is by no means the weak side of human nature; hence morality cannot be just a series of “good feelings.” Smith advises that we cannot enter into activities with a complete insensibility to honor and infamy, yet when encompassing morality there is the “apparatus of unintended benefit.” He described this as the “invisible hand” which harmonizes the disjointed phenomena of human nature.

Government and the law should further the “natural liberty which it is the proper business of law not to infringe upon, but to support.” That is, oppressive legislation and coercive direction is to be avoided. This is especially cogent now, since it is not so much the lack of oversight which has created our current conundrum, but the corruption of the capitalists and the misguided and immoral clamor of politicians for universal equality, despite inchoate disciplinary and economic differences.

One lesson of “Wealth” is the need to avoid greed. It is requisite to recall that amongst the avaricious are those who work for “the public good,” who seek trillions of dollars to make life better for everyone. Some old wag once observed that the problem with Socialism is Socialism, while the problem with Capitalism is Capitalists!

The responsibility of government planning is to better the condition of the populace. The inherent political problem is that there are always those who consider mass transit, bicycle paths, improved education, or whatever, to be a betterment within the province of government, and worthy regardless of cost or alternative uses of the same money—or provision by the private sector. Under indulging of these ideas is wasteful, at least, while overindulging bankrupts the economy. Private discipline, investment and frugality exhibited by individuals in the effort to better their own condition is most desirable. Since government is never parsimonious, entrusting it to drive the economy is “impertinent” (actually, it’s stupid!)

Smith abhorred the fact that the elemental British Empire was founded upon the pursuit of empire purely for the purpose of having subjects to purchase their manufacture. He disagreed, and strongly favored the American Revolution. Capitalism, not mercantilism!

Included in the coverage of subjects are checks and balances, wholesale and retail providers, the scheduling of life, management of money, etc. and he does so in scholarly fashion which is readable (he being O’Rourke’s exposition of Smith’s dissertation.) Interestingly, he reviews how restrictions on land conveyance at the time allowed nobility to make sure that everyone’s livelihood depended upon them, much same way as welfare politicians do today.

A final and I hope tantalizing quote (better understood in full context):
“Leftists critics of free markets assume that there is a fraudulent aspect to capitalism. They’re right. We tricked the feudal powers into setting us free, and we remained free by continuing to bamboozle them. We used chicanery and sharp dealing to found our cities, become rich bourgeoisie, and supply ourselves with creature comforts.
“We left the barbarian aristocracy in their drafty castles throwing chicken bones on the floor. And we are by no means finished with cheating the nobility. We did the worst that can be done to fools; we gave them what they wanted. The towns imported luxury goods and developed arts and crafts. Among these products the nobles discovered things that they’d rather spend their money on than feeding thugs [who abused their underlings.] Feast budgets were trimmed. Barbarian hospitality was curtailed.
“Adam Smith argued that the inclination of the feudal overlords to be selfish was so strong that it overwhelmed their instinct for self preservation. . . .
“Never complain that people in power are stupid. It is their best trait.”

No review of the subject will do it justice. No one can completely review the original 1000 pages of Smith’s dense dissertation, but O’Rourke manages quite well in fewer than 200 . . . and it is well worth the time to study his presentation.

Posted by respeto at 1:07 PM

November 26, 2008

America’s Three Regimes

A New Political History
Morton Keller – ISBN – 9780195325027

A new approach to history, indeed. Keller neatly separates our political history into three categories, distinct from one another, and distinctly different. The founders were driven to avoid the imperialism of England, establishing a deferential-republican period, long on independence and short on central control. This prevailed until Andrew Jackson’s presidency, whence followed the party-democratic period from 1830-1930. Finally, the great depression and FDR authored the populist-bureaucratic period, which continues to the present day (and is about to be invigorated “in no-trump,” I suspect.)

Old world revolutions were bloody carnage, with religious intolerance, intrigue, poisonings, treason, and executions—even kings. The miserable life predicated upon this was amongst the important reasons the colonists came to America in the first place, to escape overpopulation, poverty, crowded cities, disease, aristocratic conspiracies, oppression and death for any number of reasons. America offered an opportunity for a new life to both rich and poor.

Over 175 years Englishmen (and others) became American, and a new world was founded upon freedom and responsible democracy. The contrast instructed our founding intellects what to avoid. The rational tumult was also informed by understandings of market economics--formalized by Adam Smith--and the recognition of the rights of man, by others. The U.S. was indeed unique. Sherman, of Connecticut, noted that the arguments over the constitution were not “what rights naturally belong to man, but how they may be most effectually guarded in society.” While parties were not initially very potent, the founders were nonetheless ferocious partisans. Jefferson and Adams were at sword’s point on many issues, and the Federalists and Republicans disagreed robustly.

He does, however, differentiate between early politics . . . men who did what they did from a sense of duty, obligation, and responsibility—people who’s public persona was an ideal of honor and dignity—distinct from “politicos” of the modern stripe. Further, he concludes that the power of the later party system, and the requirements of mass politics, mitigated against the selection of the best and the brightest for office (which is increasingly apparent in recent years!)

The history of each period is covered comprehensively. At the end of the first period Tocqueville spent several years observing and many more writing about the country, explaining to Europeans—and Americans—what had been wrought..

As the U.S. became more industrialized, populous and complex, “Jeffersonian Democracy” (which it seldom really was) evolved into the “Jacksonian” variety, with clearly defined ideas, platforms and rigorous voting blocks. He observes that by the middle of the 19th century the American character type was recognized internationally: brazen, assertive, individualistic, and defined by the vibrant present and not by an imagined past. Not incidentally, along the way the problem of slavery was confronted with a bloody if definitive resolution, yet it hardly impacted upon governance.

A century later we entered the “New Deal:” the answer to the presumed need for a powerful government to apply bureaucratic notions of solutions to the calamitous depression . . . though bureaucracy had been authored by Wilson during WW I (which shriveled thereafter until the 30’s.) The sheer scale of the financial, human, material, and organizational demands required at least some of this, though the battle between [real] conservatives and progressives remains, and isn’t likely to depart any time soon.

Throughout, there is a fulsome discussion of the body and tangents of these concepts and divisions. Nonetheless it is done in a non-academic and informative way which reads comfortably, without an overindulgence in esoteric facts. Still, it’s not a “leisure” read. It is history, after all, and worth the read for those inclined.

Posted by respeto at 1:07 PM

November 21, 2008

Nothing Like it in The World

The men who built the transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869
Stephen E. Ambrose – ISBN – 9780743203173

Indeed, there was not! Unlike several other Ambrose works this is quite well done. As is not uncommon with my critiques (to quote a onetime patron of Mozart), “it has too many notes.” That is, there is more information than I’d like to have available, but that is what comprehensive history is about. So, with that caveat . . . and advice to skim thru some of the wordy parts:

Herein is a clear and authentic picture of what it took for and from the dreamers, planners, sponsors, financiers and workmen who built this railroad. Actually, there were two: the Central Pacific Railroad (moving east from San Francisco) and the Union Pacific Railroad (moving west from Omaha.)

Over hill and dale, across grassy plains and deserts, thru and around mountains, over rivers and not a few creeks, using quite primitive mechanical devices a “first in the world” transcontinental railroad was fashioned out of steel and wood, with monumental engineering skill, physical risk, labor, and not a little blood, by Irish immigrants and imported Chinese labor (and in Utah, Mormons), much of it back breaking . . . even heroic, against heat and drought, snow and cold, sometimes removing snow in order to build it. When built it required many snow sheds over the tracks to keep them passable. One such shed became known as “the House Without End,” deservedly at twenty-nine miles, which required one hundred million board feet of lumber. One season it withstood sixty-five feet of snow load.

Grades were sometimes a hundred feet wide—all made with wheelbarrow delivered fill—to create wide avenues thru forests to avoid trees falling upon the completed rails. Thousands of laborers were needed, which necessitated housing, food, laundry facilities, etc. Of course there were camp followers to provide entertainment: alcohol, prostitutes, etc. Quartermaster duties, alone, were almost beyond comprehension, though the recent Civil War had taught many lessons.

Roadbeds were carved from mountain sides with near vertical drop-offs, the most dangerous of which was over three miles long. More than a dozen tunnels were driven thru mountains of rock by hammering star drills to chisel away small tracts in stone, packing them with powder, blasting away inches at a time a semi-circular hole 16 ft. in diameter. Working 24 hours a day, progress was painfully slow; only six to twelve inches per day. The rocky debris was hauled away—by hand, in wheelbarrows; hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of the stuff. The longest was the Summit Tunnel, 1,659 feet in length and 7,043 feet above sea level. It required a million dollars for the blasting powder, alone. It was “drilled” thru living rock, separately from each end, and when the two excavations were joined midway they were but two inches off!

Other physical obstacles were bridged with forests of wood for trestles and bridges, while additional forests were used for the railroad ties. All of the steel rails were made in the eastern U.S. and transported by ship to California, either around South America or thru the jungles of Columbia (now Panama). The engines were shipped, complete, in the same way, over a monumental distance of 6,000 miles, creating yet other problems and expenses. Needless to say there was the impediment of lawyers filing suits for whatever against whomsoever (can’t do without them, of course.)

Grading required armies of men, while the laying of ties, placement and securing the rails with spikes required platoons of disciplined workers. Anyone my age who has watched the roustabouts drive in tent stakes for the erection of the Circus Big-Tops of our youth can readily imagine the coordination required to drive steel spikes into the ties; this after the synchronization of previous teams handling the paired rails with similar aplomb, placing them exactly where necessary, upon ties carefully laid down beforehand. All of this was accomplished in a minute or so per rail; averaging about a mile per day. The sequence was repeated over a million times before the final spike was driven at Promontory Point, Utah (a place Ambrose notes had never been visited before—nor has it been since.)

Interest was international, and fed by regular reports “from the front” by telegraph. It was the world’s largest undertaking . . . ever. The two railroads were the first big businesses in America, raising and solving myriad complex problems as they opened up the west. The life of the country was changed immeasurably by the project, as it irreparably altered that of the Native Americans.

Being deemed “the most important event of modern times,” is hardly an exaggeration. “A man [born before 1869] had been born into a world in which President Andrew Jackson traveled no faster then Julius Caesar, [wherein] information could be transmitted no faster than in Alexander the Great’s time,” yet the railroad, paired with a telegraph line, permitted a man to move at 60 miles per hour and transmit information from coast to coast all but instantly. One could now go from New York to San Francisco in less than a week . . . and for as little as sixty-five dollars; saving months in a Conestoga wagon and over several thousand dollars in expense. Mail delivered to California cost dollars per ounce; by rail it cost pennies. It authored the standardization of time across the U.S., where before it had been determined by local needs.

Together, the transcontinental railroad and the telegraph made modern America possible. While hoped for trade with Asia didn’t deliver as expected, “the enormous development of local business surpassed anything . . . ever dreamed of.” The UP and CP were the largest corporations of their time, and the first to have extensive dealings with federal, state, county and local governments, originating much of the law required for such integration. Lavish riches were created and spent while facilitating other businesses creating like fortunes.

It is likewise cogent to note that at the time Washington was paying fifty cents per ton of supplies to remote outposts. Upon completion the railroads reduced this to less than ten cents, saving over two million dollars per year, not to mention delivery within days not weeks, with little risk of loss. The benefit to the country is virtually incalculable.

It was alleged by historians of the early 20th century that the lands granted the builders were alone worth more than the railroads, when built, which was typical of the “robber baron” mentality of the time. In fact, however, these grants never brought in enough money to pay the bills. It didn’t even come close. True, land could be sold for $2.50 per acre in town, but much of the remaining land was worthless. It is not altogether by accident that the government still owns vast tracts of land in the west.

The total value of the land, as determined by the Interior Department in 1880 was about $392,000,000. In that same year, total investment in the railroads in the U.S. was about $4,650,000,000, representing nearly a 12 fold difference! Furthermore--New Deal socialist representations notwithstanding--much of the land was secured by bonds, that is, debt which had to be repaid (and was!) In 1898-99, alone, the government collected $167,746,490 on an initial loan of $64,623,512; “financially not less than brilliant” according to Hugo Meyer, an economics professor at Harvard.

“An automatic reaction that big business is always on the wrong side, corrupt and untrustworthy, is too easy, and the error is compounded if we fail to distinguish between incentives, for example, and fraud.” Not a bad idea to keep in mind when hammering on corrupt corporations vs. the (ig?)noble congress.

Posted by respeto at 12:50 PM

November 17, 2008

Agent Zigzag

A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal
Ben Macintyre – ISBN 9780307353412

This is the next to the best spy story ever written; next, that is, to A Man Called Intrepid. Newly issued in paperback, it is written by one of my recently discovered, most favored writers. My problem with him is that he hasn’t written enough. As with Intrepid, Zigzag is a true story, so bizarre that it could never be conceived as a fictional plot, and if written no one would consider it believable!

I’ve reviewed most of Macintyre’s books before on this site: The Englishman’s Daughter; The Napoleon of Crime, and The Man Who Would Be King. This book is every bit as good as any of them. You’ll recall that he is a journalist who, in his various travels and assignments, discovers unusual people, often largely unknown, and spends years researching them before writing some of the most riveting and perfect prose you will ever read . . . always biographic history.

Zigzag was one of the foremost British double agents of WWII, having infiltrated the upper levels of Nazi intelligence, and was trusted by all, including Hitler. Near the end of the war the Germans were giving him unbelievable assignments which clearly could not be accomplished, but they assigned them to him anyway, desperate as they were for success in the waning days of the Third Reich.

His British managers carefully arranged for some of his assignments to appear to have been completed successfully, adding to Zigzag’s credibility. Foremost of these was the sabotage of the “Mosquito” factory in Britain--the Mosquito being one of the most unusual and feared bombers of WWII. It wreaked havoc on the Germans, and they wanted it neutralized—removed from manufacture. An elaborate ruse was required in order to make it appear to Luftwaffe aerial reconnaissance that the factory had, indeed been “decommissioned,” which façade, itself, was an incredible achievement.

Moreover, Eddie Chapman—Zigzag—was a common criminal (actually a very uncommon one) who was attracted to risk, danger, notoriety and fame. He was fearless, and imagined himself going down in flames by assassinating Hitler. His most important asset was his ability to memorize most anything, and stick rigidly to any story concocted to “out him.” As well, he would explore military installations, memorize the layout, and then duplicate it accurately months later.

While in Norway, training for a Nazi spy mission, he so thoroughly managed the situation that he became a lifelong friend and admirer of his German manager/trainer. Indeed, on more than one occasion the man interceded to save him from undue harassment when the SS was trying to break him. Many years later—both presuming the other to be dead—they resurrected their friendship.

As an amorous and high testosterone male he had many affairs, not unlike 007. He was friends with the devilishly clever Baron Rothschild—British bomb maker and expert, who was the model for the creative genius “Q” in the James Bond genre. Fleming likely stole a little from Zigzag when modeling 007 himself.

Suffice it to say that this is one hell of a book; one noted by a reviewer for the Boston Globe to be “The best book ever written.” (I don’t agree with that bit of hyperbole, since Intrepid is at least as good, and there are others—The Odessa File comes to mind—as well as other genres between which there is intrinsically no way to compare.)

Nonetheless, it is sheer fun to read.

Posted by respeto at 10:45 AM

November 15, 2008

My Cousin, My Husband

Clans and Kinship in Mediterranean Societies
Germaine Tillion – ISBN – 9780863566257

Tillion, a legendary French anthropologist, studied Mediterranean societies; largely those in Algeria and North Africa. She died this year, age 100, and I suspect this reissued book was an honorarium of sorts, though the subject is certainly aucourant. She argues that the phenomenon of men killing their daughters, sisters and wives over matters of sexual honor is not an aberration specific to Islam, but part of a pagan legacy of the area which still affects modern societies regardless of religion; more prevalent in Islam, to be sure, but not limited to it.

“My Cousin” was first published in 1963, and of special interest in that close familial marriages are exposed as Mediterranean customs which include virtually all of its cultures--and from prehistoric times. She posits: “Must we then attribute veil and harem to a specific climate, or race? [This is] inconsistent with everything we know from the past. So what is the reason for this stubborn survival, which to this day, wherever it flourishes, constitutes the most serious obstacle to progress?”

Long before Islam and Christianity, incest was a practice which hadn’t the sacrilegious character it carries today. Despite current religious prohibition, cousin marriages occur with regularity, within all religious communities. Endogamy is particularly prominent amongst Zoroastrian Persians.

Virginity is an important matter, but primarily to brothers and fathers. Seven year old boys are required to accompany their sisters about to “protect” them . . . occasionally aunts and even their mothers. Anything with sexual inference is a terrible shame to be protected against. This leads to family besmirchment—and in turn to honor killings--but the “snotty little kids” are honor bound to report what they are taught to be infractions. She eschews discussing the psychological traumas which may attendant this responsibility, but suggests that it authors the sexual obsessions of the men.

She explores Italian Catholicism, in which virginity is also important, noting that there is a sometimes “extreme archaism” when compared to prevailing mores. Contrariwise, Muslim society exhibits mores even more retrograde than their religion. This is the result of tribalism overriding religious dictate. In sophisticated, urban settings (as with original Moorish civilization) there were literates, subjects of compulsory education, who overwhelmed the “old peasant civilizations.” It is sometimes so now in large Muslim cities. Still, tradition prevails, “to the detriment of society.” For example, the veil rarely appears in rural tribes, being a feature of metropolitan living--and another means of separation of women from society. As well, this fosters cousin marriage by preventing the appearance of divergent social arrangements. The burkha is but an expansion on the veil.

Her discussions are replete with facts—some arcane--but she expounds prolifically. I found it very interesting, if a sometimes difficult read. Certainly it requires further reflection before damning Islam alone, and an explanation of the origins of these multiple societal problems assists in interpretation.

“All family situations, at all stages of life, now bristle with thorns, imposing on every man and every woman an obsession with flight, [forward and/or retrograde.] . . . [There is presumed to be a long past] haven of peace, understanding, virtue and happiness: a golden age. [A nice fantasy, that.] But it is not possible to go backward, and all the efforts expended in that direction have only one result: to halt progress, obstruct the future and hold society at the most painful and dangerous stage of its evolution.” This is one of the important dilemmas of “modern” Islam!

Posted by respeto at 12:14 PM

November 9, 2008

The Basque History of the World

Mark Kurlansky – ISBN 9780140298512

It is altogether probable that the Basques were the first modern humans on the continent of Europe, descendants of Cro-Magnon man who arrived perhaps 40,000 years ago, from who knows where and in the same general area which Basques still inhabit. Their language has no identifiable root, is altogether different than any other. Their ancient culture had little in common with any neighbor. Their speech was incomprehensible, which has kept them apart, and is probably the reason they remain united these millennia later. While from the time of the Romans they have acceded to “occupation” by others, it has always been with the understanding that they would rule themselves within their own domain, obey their own laws and follow their own customs.

Until about 175 years ago they succeeded, but more recent Spanish rulers have overturned this long tradition, explaining why there are now “Basque Terrorists” in Spain. They still want their limited independence! Not unlike the Kurds of the middle-east--who occupy portions of three countries--Basques occupy a small portion of two: southwestern France and the juxtaposed northwestern portion of Spain.

They were the first commercial whale hunters (in the 7th or 8th century), the most effective commercial fishermen not long after that, (as mentioned in Cod, also reviewed on this site) having discovered the Grand Banks nearly a thousand years ago, and at least 400 years before any other Europeans. They were probably the first to actually see “the New World,” though there is no record of it. Their salting process preserved fish better than Vikings, which permitted them to travel farther at a time when it was necessary to bring along all of your own food—or starve.

As a result of their seafaring ways—at least of the coastal populations—they were also responsible for the development of some of the finest ships of the time, and were amongst the most skilled and prolific ship builders on the continent. Further, with the development of iron and steel--because of their immense inland deposits of ore--they became the foremost makers of these products on the European continent. They mistakenly taught the English to make steel, sold them their fine ore, and were routed from that particular business.

They were also the inventors of beach resorts which, to their chagrin, have now taken over much of their coastal area, most notably within France. This is beginning to separate the French and the Spanish Basques, with the French Basque population assimilating and/or being overrun, and becoming lost, so to speak.

Not bad for a small population of industrious people! Kurlansky first became interested in them during a project some 30 years ago, and has returned to Basqueland annually ever since. One surmises he knows this rather small area of the world quite well, and while he doesn’t say so, one presumes that he probably speaks enough of their language (Euskera) to get along.

As is always the case with Kurlansky, he writes eloquently and comprehensively . . . being a little too comprehensive for my taste in this small book. Granted it is “the history” of the Basques, but he includes a little more than I really wanted to know. Nonetheless it is done well. He includes, as he always does, many Basque recipes, not a few of which appear to be quite delicate and appealing.

He pursues what there is available of their ancient history, but from the time of the Romans his coverage is increasingly wide-ranging; especially so from the Napoleonic and later industrial eras, thru the Spanish civil war and WW II to the present.

By far the most recognizable person of Basque ancestry is Inigo de Loyola, a renowned military commander who, having found Christ, became the man who established the Jesuit order of priests, later becoming St. Ignatius. The most important apparel item is the Beret, uniquely Basque until introduced to the world.

I think you will find this book interesting. Certainly the Basques are fascinating. You might want to skim thru some of the parts, but for those whose interest is piqued by this commentary, you’ll find it time well spent.

Posted by respeto at 11:05 AM

November 1, 2008

Voting Americans, Abroad

I have recently been communicating via e-mail with a bright, pleasant nephew who has immigrated--permanently--to Australia. Now . . . I have nothing against that. Indeed, I encouraged him to do so for a lot of reasons.

He is an almost rabid supporter of Obama. I have difficulty with that, since he is prone to argue rather than debate his support. Nonetheless he is entitled to his opinion, and I cannot dissuade him from his conclusion.

My problem is that he is a permanent expatriot who has absolutely no intention of ever returning to the U.S., except to visit . . . yet he is privileged and encouraged to vote by absentee ballot, since he is a U.S. citizen.

I am offended by this. His vote counts, yet he will be unimpacted by the vote he casts. We've communicated about his right to vote, about which I have some doubt under the circumstances, but I do feel he has a positive obligation not to vote because he will experience none of the consequence of that vote.

I object !!

And I presume that if he takes up dual citizenship he will still be allowed to vote, both there and here.

The same applies to my daughter-in-law by marriage who has moved to England to live. Permanently.

Think about that. Two people, amongs hundreds of thousands I suspect, who are permitted and encouraged to impact upon our government with none of the obligations. No taxes, no consequence to their vote, yet they help determine who will govern US !!

Posted by respeto at 4:17 PM