A provocative take on politics and culture from a skeptical, libertarian point of view

Location: Long Island, New York, United States

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Obama's Radical Law School Proposal by Richard Cooper

President Obama spoke on education during a tour of universities.  Besides criticizing proprietary colleges, he made an unexpected proposal that was understandably overlooked during the nostalgic look at the 1963 March on Washington and the threat of war with Syria.  Obama, a former professor at the University of Chicago Law School, suggested shrinking law school to two years from the standard three. 

Obama said "In the first two years, young people are learning in the classroom.  The third year, they'd be better off clerking or practicing in a firm, even if they weren't getting paid that much.  But that step alone would reduce the cost for the student."

When universities began in medieval Europe, law was one of the original faculties along with theology and medicine.  Later, in England and its American colonies, the principal route for the legal profession was working for a lawyer and studying law in that lawyer's office, known as "reading law."

This route to application to join the bar was common in America until well into the twentieth century.  It would surprise many to find out that this route is still permitted in California, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington State.  New York requires a year of law school before applying to the bar, but does not require graduation.

This is an Obama proposal that those who want smaller government should study and probably embrace.  Legislation would probably be needed to return to the less restrictive regime of the past.

(Full disclosure:  My older brother is an attorney.   I was accepted to law school and turned it down.)

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Momentarily Candid Governor Dead

Former Ohio Democratic Governor John J. Gilligan has died at the age of 92.  According to the Associated Press obituary he persuaded legislators to impose Ohio's first corporate and personal income tax in 1971.   Later he was at the Ohio State Fair.  A reporter asked him if he would shear a sheep.  Gilligan's reply "I shear taxpayers, not sheep."  Gilligan lost the 1974 election to former Republican Governor James A. Rhodes.  

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Locavores Versus Locovores

If a locavore eats locally does a locovore eat crazily?

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Libertarian Says Hands Off Long Beach Hospital! By Richard Cooper

Libertarian Says Hands Off Long Beach Hospital!  By Richard Cooper

Long Beach Hospital has served the Long Island, New York waterfront community since 1922.  It was closed by Hurricane Sandy and remains closed.   Besides the physical challenges of renovation, Long Beach Hospital has a precarious financial situation.  But it also has the heavy hand of state government regulators who want it closed and merged with South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside.   “The feud with state regulators, which apparently has been simmering for some time, was publicly revealed in June, when the hospital's board of directors placed an advertisement in local newspapers declaring that the state Health Department "does not want LBMC to reopen as an acute care hospital."

State health commissioner Nirav Shah responded to the board that “ fiscal problems "have plagued the hospital since long before the storm." LBMC ranks ninth on the state's list of financially distressed hospitals and has had annual losses of more than $2 million since 2008, he said.”

For those unfamiliar with our Long Island geography, be aware that Long Beach rests on a barrier island.  Oceanside is on the mainland connected by a causeway, subject to washout in a hurricane. 

It may very well be true that Long Beach Medical Center is fiscally unsound and could go bankrupt.  But why should it be the decision of Commission Shah and other state bureaucrats?   This seems to me to be part of the fixation of state regulators that there are too many hospital beds.  Who should decide the location and provision of hospitals?  The market of doctors and their patients in my view as a Libertarian.   Who should decide whether the hospital can continue financially?  In my view as a Libertarian, the administrators and trustees who are responsible for the financial health of the hospital as the doctors and nurses are of the medical health of the patients. 

Stop Soviet-style planning in health and hospitals.
Let Long Beach Hospital decide, not Albany bureaucrats.  



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NYC Mayoral Candidate Anthony Weiner Says He Is Tough

In a new ad, former Congressman Anthony Weiner says he is tough.  I guess that is because he is Carlos Danger Man.  (see my lyrics to the tune of "Secret Agent Man").

How is he tough?  He will use the power of the state to deprive people of their property to give to favored others.  He has that in common with his Democrat and Republican opponents.  He is just ruder in expressing himself.

For an alternative, Michael Sanchez is the Libertarian Party candidate for New York City mayor.  He will be tough in defending the rights of New Yorkers against people like Anthony Weiner and Michael Bloomberg.

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Monday, August 05, 2013


NYC 2013 ELECTION & EMINENT DOMAIN by Richard Cooper

This year’s election will select three citywide officials with considerable decision-making powers and influence over the use of eminent domain.   What have the candidates said and done?  As an eminent domain activist and former Libertarian Party of New York State Chair, I will present what I have learned about the candidates for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate.  Libertarians have fought the Atlantic Yards, West Harlem and Willets Point eminent domain schemes of the city and state governments.  

For mayor, we are indebted to Norman Oder and his comprehensive blog, Atlantic Yards Report, From Norman Oder’s Atlantic Yards Report  For the major party candidates, candidates for mayor we can rely on his reporting.  In particular, I would note that Republican Joseph Lhota as Metropolitan Transit Authority head and deputy mayor under former mayor Rudy Giuliani was instrumental in making eminent domain projects happen.  Meanwhile, Christine Quinn supported the Manhattanville (or West Harlem) scheme to benefit my alma mater, Columbia University Science Campus expansion. 

See also for the Columbia Libertarian alumni response.

Michael Sanchez, Libertarian for Mayor

I don't believe eminent domain should ever be used for commercial projects. I consider the use of eminent domain for private projects as an infringement of our liberties and they will not receive any support from me.”  (source, private communication).

Alex Merced, Libertarian for Public Advocate


“I'm in principle against eminent domain due to its disrespect for an individual’s control over their property. Although in US law eminent domain is a long existing institution, but which in a less than ideal world should be used only for its intended use in streamlining the creation of roads and infrastructure not for the private us of other individuals other than the original property owner such as in the Kelo case.

 So I am against eminent domain, but even more against its misuse.” (source, private communication)

For City Comptroller, the excitement of course is that former Governor Spitzer unexpectedly entered the race, upsetting Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer , who formerly served in the State Assembly.”

Where does Spitzer stand?  Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer supports the Manhattanville (West Harlem) eminent domain plan to expand Columbia University.

Former Governor Eliot Spitzer advised Former Governor Pataki to veto a modest eminent domain reform law.  Spitzer supported Bruce Ratner’s Barclays Center eminent domain in Brooklyn. 

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer supports the Manhattanville (West Harlem) eminent domain plan to expand Columbia University.

Hesham El-Meligy, the Libertarian candidate for Comptroller “My position on eminent domain is simple. In principle, I am against the use of eminent domain because it is the threat or actual use of force against someone to force the transfer of his/her property to others. That goes against our foundational principles of protecting life, liberty, and property. Of course every case is a different case, but that's the general principle.  The Atlantic Yard project has some good benefits, but mostly to the well to do. I wish there was a better deal for the people of Brooklyn and NYC.”  (source, private communication.”

Obviously, I support the Libertarian team of Michael Sanchez for Mayor, Alex Merced for Public Advocate and Hesham El-Meligy for Comptroller.  Right now, petitioners are seeking voter signatures to qualify these candidates for the ballot.  Check out or for more about the Libertarian Party.   -30-


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Saturday, August 03, 2013

Columbia Revived Blog

An interesting new blog from Noah Zinsmeister of Columbia University called "Columbia Revived" harking back to the symbol of America in the early days of the Republic, "Columbia."   I graduated from Columbia University myself.