On January 1, 2015, the Carryout Bag Ordinance will start in Dallas.
Are you ready?
An Inconvenient tax: picking people’s pockets
By Raymond Thomas Pronk
Warning, when you check out, be on the lookout for pickpockets.
The latest green movement cause du jour is the banning or taxing of disposable plastic and paper bags. These laws or city ordinances are designed to nudge or coerce customers to bring their own reusable tote bag when they shop for groceries and other merchandise.
A number of United States cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boulder, Austin and now unfortunately Dallas have either banned or taxed disposable plastic and/or paper bags or so-called “single-use carryout bags.” According to the Earth Policy Institute, over 20 million people are currently covered by 132 city and county plastic bag bans or fee ordinances in the U.S.
For decades most American and European businesses have provided their customers bags, at no additional charge, to carryout and transport their purchase. In the 1980s businesses began to give their customers a choice of paper or plastic.
On March 26, 2014, the Dallas City Council passed an 8 to 6 City Ordinance No. 29307. It requires business establishments that provide their customers “single-use carryout bags” to register with the city annually each location providing these bags and charge their customers an “environment fee” of 5 cents per bag to promote a “culture of clean” and “to protect the natural environment, the economy and the health of its residences.”
Give me a break. It is a new tax to raise millions in new tax revenue for the City of Dallas. Who are the elected Dallas-8 council member watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) that ordained this tax on the people and businesses of Dallas? The names of the Dallas-8 are Tennell Atkins, Carolyn R. Davis, Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Dwaine R. Caraway, Sandy Greyson, Philip T. Kingston, and Mayor Mike Rawlings.
The Dallas-8 are led by council member Caraway, who wanted to completely ban plastic and paper single-use carryout bags. Instead they decided to shake down Dallas businesses and their customers with a new highly regressive tax. Caraway refuses to call it a tax and claims the new ordinance which went in effect on January 1 is “a ban with a fee, such as other cities are doing across the United States.”
The eight-page ordinance includes the definition and standards that reusable carryout bags must satisfy: “A reusable carryout bag must meet the minimum reuse testing standard of 100 reuses carrying 16 pound.” Reusable bags may be made of cloth, washable fabric, durable materials, recyclable plastic with a minimum thickness of 4.0 mil or recyclable paper that contains a minimum of 40 percent recycled content.
All of the above reusable bags must have handles with the exception of small bags with a height of less than 14 inches and a width of less than 8 inches.
Business establishments can either provide or sell reusable carryout bags to its customer or to any person.
The city ordinance exempts some bags from the single-use carryout definition including:
The Dallas 5 cent paper and plastic bag tax or environment fee applies only to single-use carryout bags defined as bags not meeting the requirements of a reusable bag.
Businesses that violate the ordinance can be fined up to a maximum of $500 per day.
Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a bag manufacturing group, said “This legislation applies to a product that is less than 0.5 percent of municipal waste in the United States and typically less than 1 percent of litter in studies conducted across the country;” “Placing a fee on a product with such a minuscule contribution to the waste and litter streams will not help the environment: but it will cost Dallas consumers millions more per year on their grocery bills, while hurting small business and threatening the livelihoods of the 4,500 Texans who work in the plastic bag and recycling industry.”
Stop the shakedown of Dallas businesses and their customers. Repeal the inconvenient tax on paper and plastic disposable bags by voting out of office the Dallas-8 city council members who voted for this tax, Dwaine Caraway. Support your Texas state representatives in passing a new law that would prohibit cities such as Dallas and Austin from banning or taxing paper and plastic carryout bags.
On January 1, 2015, the Carryout Bag Ordinance will start in Dallas.
Are you ready?
Retailers offering only reusable bags, as defined by the ordinance, have different requirements.
All retailers should look at their operations and determine if their bags are single-use, reusable, or exempted from the single-use definition. Consult the full ordinance for all details pertaining to the ordinance and what is expected for each type of bag including thickness, language on the bag, durability, signage, and other considerations.
Customers, you are encouraged to bring your bagand keep your change.Single-use carryout bags have a five-cent per bag environmental fee. A single-use bag can be paper or plastic.Reusable bags do not have the environmental fee, though stores may charge you to offset costs. Reusable bags stores offer can be made from cloth or other washable woven materials, recyclable paper, or recyclable plastic so long as they meet certain requirements. However, any bag you bring with you to use is considered reusable since you are reusing it.There are some bags that are exempted from the single-use bag definition:
Remember to recycle the bags you can recycle appropriately.
Many wonder why the City passed this ordinance. The Dallas City Council passed the ordinance to help improve the environment and keep our city clean. The City is currently spending nearly $4 million dollars to remove litter from our community to keep it beautiful and thriving.
The Carryout Bag ordinance is intended to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags to carry goods from stores, restaurants, and other locations to reduce the number of bags that can end up loose in the environment as litter.
To help you understand, we have created this list of frequently asked question.
The carryout bag ordinance outlines the City’s “desire to protect the natural environment, the economy and the health of its residents,” and the “negative impact on the environment caused by improper disposal of single-use carryout bags.” The Dallas City Council approved the ordinance on March 26, 2014.
The ordinance takes effect on January 1, 2015.
Retailers and customers should be ready and know all the details. This website and the City’s Code Compliance Services website have details to help retailers prepare. The links to the Code website on DallasCityHall.com are below.
Some are still unclear how the ordinance may impact them.
Businesses will have to register each location with the City in order to offer single-use bags. No registration is necessary if a business is only offering reusable bags or bags that are exempted from the single-use bag definition in the ordinance. Businesses must be registered before distributing single-use carryout bags starting January 1, 2015. Businesses are required to collect a five-cent environmental fee for every single-use bag used by a customer.
Customers will be charged a five-cent environmental fee for each single-use bag, paper or plastic, they receive from retailers. Again, reusable bags and bags exempted from the definition of single-use bags do not carry the environmental fee. You can avoid the environmental fee by bringing your own bags with you. The five cent fee assessed for the single-use bag is not subject to sales tax.
Will I still be able to get plastic carryout bags?
Yes, provided your retailer chooses to offer them and collect the environmental fee.
Can I bring my own reusable bags to carry out items I purchased?
Yes. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to carry out their items instead of paying the five-cent environmental fee per single-use plastic or paper bag.
If I reuse a single-use carryout bag, will I have to pay the fee again?
Whatever bag you bring — tote bag, golf bag, diaper bag, satchel, purse, or produce bag — if you bring it with you to reuse, you do not have to pay the environmental fee.
Where does the money go?
A portion of the fees will be used to pay for enforcement of the ordinance and for public education efforts. Stores keep 10 percent of the five-cent fee to help offset administrative costs.
Does this ordinance apply to all businesses?
All retailers that offer single-use carryout bags in Dallas are subject to this ordinance.
What about non-profits or charities?
If the non-profit or charity offers food, groceries, clothing, or other household items free of charge to clients, they may still use single-use carryout bags for the specific function of distributing those items. However, the ordinance will apply to any bags used at the point of sale for any goods sold through the non-profit or charity.
Additionally, any non-profit or charity that collects goods for donation from the public or which leaves informational material for the public must be sure any door-hanger bags left for collecting those goods or providing that informational material are biodegradable.
Does the ordinance include all bags?
The ordinance applies to single-use paper or plastic carryout bags used by businesses as defined in the ordinance language.
What if businesses don’t follow the ordinance?
Businesses that violate the ordinance could face fines of up to $500 per day.
How will the ordinance be enforced?
City Code Compliance inspectors will respond to complaints and provide proactive enforcement.
How can the City know if businesses aren’t complying with the law? Will they be doing more inspections?
There will be proactive enforcement and periodic audits. Additionally, the City will respond to complaints from residents.
Will the ban on single-use bags at city facilities apply to retailers at American Airlines Center, city museums, the Omni Dallas Hotel, and Fair Park?
Yes. The City Attorney’s Office will work with Code Enforcement to determine which facilities are affected and how.
Whom should I contact if I have additional questions?
Call 3-1-1, the Office of Environmental Quality, Code Compliance or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW⇒ Where can I find the forms?
Forms and more information are available on the Code Compliance website dedicated to the Carryout Bag Ordinance here.
For months Dwaine Caraway has insisted he had the votes to pass at least a partial ban on the single-use carryout bag. He was right: By a vote of 8-6 the Dallas City Council passed the so-called “environmental fee ordinance,” which bans single-use carryout bags at all city facilities and events while still allowing retailers to use plastic and paper bags.
But beginning January 1 retailers will have to charge customers who want them “an environmental fee” of five cents per bag, and they will get to keep 10 percent of that money. The ordinance also says retailers who want to keep handing out plastic and paper bags will have to register with the city and keep track of bags sold.
The city says the money raised from the bag fees will help go toward funding enforcement and education efforts that assistant city manager Jill Jordan told the council could cost around $250,000 and necessitate the hiring of up to 12 additional staff members.
Wednesday’s vote came a year after council member Dwaine Caraway asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance that completely banned the bag. The council member says the ordinance passed today was a compromise born out of “a fair process” that included environmentalists, bag manufactures and retailers. Several of his colleagues wanted to send the proposed ordinances back to committee for further debate. But Caraway wanted a vote now.
“You get to a point where it’s time to make decisions, decisions that will have a great impact on the city of Dallas and our environmental status … and the beautification of our city,” he said. The process has “been pretty tough. it’s been back and forth. We listened and listened fairly.”
But six of his colleagues disagreed: Sheffie Kadane said the fee-based ban will result in a lawsuit from retailers and manufacturers. Rick Callahan called it a “government intrusion.” Jennifer Staubach Gates said it wouldn’t do any good, because in five years the reusable bags supported by the environmentalists will end up in landfills too. And Jerry Allen said the three options being considered by council, including a full-out ban, represented “a lack of clear conviction,” which he found disappointing.
And then there was Lee Kleinman, who on Friday indicated he supported the fee-based ordinance. Five days later he’d changed his mind and said he no longer cared what happened in his colleagues’ districts.
“I would personally probably stay more focused on my own district, which does not have the same trash problems as others,” he said, to the amazement of some of his southern sector colleagues. “Why should I care if someone is shopping like at Southwest Center Mall and they want a plastic bag? If people in that community are satisfied with the conditions around that mall, why should I utilize my position in North Dallas to improve those conditions? I should just focus my energies on North Dallas redevelopment projects and not help another improve quality of life in other areas of the city.”
That entire speech is above, thanks to my colleague Scott Goldstein.
Vonciel Jones Hill, who has said in the past she opposes any ban or bag tax, was no present for today’s vote. Monica Alonzo also voted against it, but said nothing.
In a statement released following the vote, the American Progressive Bag Alliance said it’s “a move that will fail to accomplish any environmental goals while jeopardizing 4,500 Texas jobs and hurting consumers.”
Its executive director, Lee Califf, said in a statement that “the vote to approve a 5-cent plastic and paper grocery bag fee in Dallas is another example of environmental myths and junk science driving poor policy in the plastic bag debate.”
But it’s not clear if the state will allow Dallas’ new bag “ban” — or bag tax, more appropriately.
Attorney General Greg Abbott is going to weigh in on the legality of bag bans, following a request by state Rep. Dan Flynn of Canton on behalf of the Texas Retailers Association. Jerry Allen asked Dallas City Attorney Warren Ernst if the state allows bag bans.
“We are ready to defend that position,” Ernst said. “If it’s the will of the council to pass the ordinance, we’ll defend that as a legal action by the city.”
Allen was not convinced, insisting “there’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty.” Ernst appeared to agree.
Those council members opposed to the ordinance said Dallas needs to do a better job of enforcing its litter laws. Jordan told the council that the city spends $4 million annually on trash pick-up, “and we still have litter.”
In the end, said council member Scott Griggs, “this is just one step. We tackle the bags then we can move on to Styrofoam and other issues that cause trash. This is a large elephant we’ll have to take on as a city and a council.”
Kroger’s Gary Huddleston, also of the Texas Retailers Association, shared a hug with Dwaine Caraway following today’s council vote.
Following the vote, Gary Huddleston, head of the Texas Retailers Association, said he wasn’t sure whether his organization would sue the city. He noted that they are awaiting the attorney general’s ruling on the legality of a fee.
“It will affect the retailers in the city of Dallas and it will affect our customers,” Huddleston said. “They’ll have to pay for their paper and plastic bags or they bring in their reusable bags.”
“We personally believe the solution to litter in the city of Dallas is a strong recycling program and also punishing the people that litter and not punishing the retailer,” Huddleston said.
The fee means that businesses will have to institute additional programming and training in order to enforce ordinance and track the fees. Customers will “have to pay a nickel a bag, whereas maybe they use that nickel to buy more product in my store.”
But Huddleston’s concerns didn’t stop him from hugging Caraway outside chambers. The two men smiled and embraced in front of television cameras.
The council member said he was pleased with the result of more than a year of work. He refused to call the fee a “tax.”
“It’s a ban with a fee, such as other cities are doing across the United States,” Caraway said.
He said it’s important for residents to know the ban does not cover a variety of bags, such as those in the produce section of grocery stores or at restaurants
“Folks need to understand that these are single-use carryout bags,” Caraway said. “These are simply those thin, flimsy bags that take flight and that are undesirable and bad for the environment.”
Staff writer Scott Goldstein contributed to this report.
The City of Dallas has implemented new rules for plastic grocery bags, imposing a 5 cent fee on single-use plastic or paper grocery bags. The rules go into effect in January. (Published Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014)
Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 • Updated at 5:56 AM CST
The Dallas City Council has passed a proposal ordering retailers to charge a fee for one-time use plastic bags while partially banning them from city-owned facilities.
In a 8-6 vote, the council passed the ordinance requiring retailers to charge customers a $0.05 fee if they request single-use plastic or paper bags.
Dallas Plastic Bag Ban Vote Wednesday[DFW] Dallas Plastic Bag Ban Vote Wednesday
The Dallas City Council is expected to vote on plastic bag ban issue on Wednesday. (Published Monday, Mar 24, 2014)
Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway accepted the compromise of a bag fee after spending a year fighting for a ban on single-use bags.
“This is an opportunity for us to clean our city, to clean our environment and to move forward, and to be like the other cities across the country and around the world,” Caraway said.
Zac Trahan with Texas Campaign for The Environment said Austin and eight smaller Texas cities have taken stronger action by banning single-use bags, but he still supported the Dallas regulations.
“It’s still a step in the right direction because it will still result in a huge reduction in the number of bags that will be distributed,” he said.
The ordinance also requires those retailers to register with the city and track the number of single-use bags sold.
The retailer would keep 10 percent of the environmental fee with the remainder going to the city to fund enforcement and education efforts.
Lee Califf, the executive director of the bag manufacturers’ group American Progressive Bag Alliance, released the following statement after the ordinance was passed.
“The vote to approve a 5-cent plastic and paper grocery bag fee in Dallas is another example of environmental myths and junk science driving poor policy in the plastic bag debate. This legislation applies to a product that is less than 0.5% of municipal waste in the United States and typically less than 1% of litter in studies conducted across the country. The City Council rushed through a flawed bill to appease its misguided sponsor, despite the fact that 70% of Dallas residents opposed this legislation in a recent poll.
“Placing a fee on a product with such a minuscule contribution to the waste and litter streams will not help the environment; but it will cost Dallas consumers millions more per year on their grocery bills, while hurting small businesses and threatening the livelihoods of the 4,500 Texans who work in the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry. Councilman Caraway may view this vote as a victory for his political career, but there are no winners with today’s outcome.”
Several Council Members opposed any new restrictions.
Rick Callahan said grocery bags are only a small part of the Dallas litter problem and better recycling education is needed.
“Banning something or adding a fee, putting more regulation on business is not the answer,” Callahan said.
The ordinance does ban single-use plastic or paper bags at city-owned facilities and events.
It still allows distributing multi-use, or stronger, paper or plastic bags for free so stores can get around charging the fee by offering better bags.
The ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015.
After more than a year of considering a ban on disposable shopping bags, the Dallas City Council voted instead last week to impose a 5-cent “environmental fee” on each bag.
In previous columns, Steve Blow had opposed a ban, while Jacquielynn Floyd had supported it. Today, they debate the council’s new approach.
Steve: Leave it to the Dallas City Council to take a bad idea and find a way to make it worse. I thought a ban on shopping bags was a bad idea, but slapping a new tax on Dallas shoppers is even more pointless.
This isn’t just a new tax, it’s a new mini-bureaucracy at City Hall. There’s talk of hiring 12 new people to run the program. And I’m sure someone is already writing a job description for a Deputy Junior Assistant City Manager for Retail Packaging Assessment and Oversight.
Good grief. I had little faith that a ban would accomplish much. I’m even more dubious about a bag tax — except as a tool of government growth.
Jacquielynn: Dude, it’s a nickel. Nobody’s getting taxed into bankruptcy here.
I hope, in fact, that this modest 5 cents is enough to assign at least minimal value to these awful bags. The reason they end up on fences, in fields and as tree garbage is that they’re so free and plentiful.
Almost everybody collects them every day — yet they have virtually no value. It’s human nature to take something for free, then toss it or lose track if you don’t need it.
Like it or not, this is the direction cities are headed. Los Angeles has had a ban in effect for more than a year. New York and Chicago are talking about either banning or limiting plastic bags.
I don’t think this is a case of forcing people to bow to the authoritarian rule of government overlords — we’re asking for a very minor change in their habits. It makes environmental sense, like other conservation and recycling measures that have become routine.
Steve: They don’t end up as litter because they’re free and plentiful. They end up as litter because a few dopes among us litter. A nickel is not going to transform those dopes into responsible citizens. Anyone careless with trash is not going to suddenly become careful with 5-cent trash.
On a fundamental level, this issue chaps my inner libertarian. I don’t think “government regulation” is automatically a dirty word. But I firmly believe the need must be obvious and compelling before we add more regulation.
Jack, you may be fixated on plastic bags as you drive around, but I promise they make up a small percentage of the litter that’s out there. I see more cups than anything. Will we be required to carry around reusable cups next? Or pay a cups tax?
Jacquielynn: Steve, I agree that clueless dolts dump all kinds of garbage, from burger wrappers to moldy old sofas.
Plastic bags are a particular problem, though, for the very qualities that make them such a successful consumer product: They’re cheap, durable, lightweight and water-resistant. They’re mobile, easily blown into trees, creeks, fences and even for miles out into rural areas. A farmer who lives outside Dallas told me this week he hates plastic bags because when they land on his property, baby calves can choke on them.
Most of us don’t have calf problems, but the bags’ weightlessness makes them vulnerable to any breeze. Even if they’re responsibly discarded, they’ll blow out of open trash cans, trucks, you name it.
They’re not just a blight — they’re a highly contagious blight.
Steve: Oh, c’mon. How am I supposed to rebut choking baby calves?
I will point out that Washington, D.C., has a real paradox on its hands. It implemented a 5-cent fee on disposable bags in 2010. And in a survey last year, residents reported using 60 percent fewer bags.
But get this: Tax revenue from the bags has been going up, not down as was expected. The city had originally projected to collect $1.05 million in fiscal 2013. Instead, bag fees topped $2 million.
The dollars don’t lie. More bags are being used after four years. Sure, some people will switch to reusable bags. But this sure isn’t going to make plastic bags disappear. Is a regressive new tax really worth it?
Jacquielynn: I’d be happy to sidestep the entire “tax” issue by banning bags outright. If you want groceries, make sure you have a way to get them home.
But if cities aren’t ready to take that step, and they actually see a windfall out of bag taxes, maybe that should be dedicated to cleanup efforts.
Ideally, though, stores wouldn’t have the things at all. They can make boxes available (a la Costco). They can sell heavier plastic multiple-use bags for 25 or 50 cents. Shoppers buying just one or two items could learn to use the flexible appendages at the ends of their arms to carry stuff away.
The mail I’ve received from angry readers makes it plain that a lot of people loathe this plan, whether you call it a ban or a tax.
But I just don’t think we’re asking for a dramatic change in the way we live our lives. If we don’t stop assuming that everything we send to the landfill magically disappears, the landfill is going to start coming to us. Do you really want to live in a city that has garbage in the trees?
Steve: No, it’s not a drastic change. Just a needless one. And I’m looking out my office window at six or seven trees with nary a bag in sight. Except for a few spots, the litter problem has been overblown.
I just wish we had tried a major public-awareness campaign before imposing more taxes and more regulation. 1. Recycle bags where you get them. 2. Try reusable bags. 3. Don’t litter, you dope.
Jacquielynn: On those points, we’re in wholehearted agreement.
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The GOP Senate primary in Mississippi continues to intensify with the surfacing of a robocall aimed at potential voters that strongly criticizes the tea party and urges the listeners to vote against state Sen. Chris McDaniel in Tuesday’s runoff vote.
In the automated message appearing to target black Democrat voters in Mississippi, the female voice on the line claims that tea party challenger Chris McDaniel would lead to more obstruction in Washington and create more “disrespectful treatment” to the nation’s first African-American president.
“The time has come to take a stand and say NO to the tea party,” the message says. “NO to their obstruction. NO to their disrespectful treatment of the first African-American president.”
The robocall, which was first obtained by freelance journalist Charles C. Johnson from a local resident, goes on to urge listeners to go to the next polls Tuesday and vote against McDaniel. The only option in voting against McDaniel is to vote for incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran as they will be the only two names on the ballot.
“If we do nothing, tea party candidate Chris McDaniel wins and causes even more problems for President Obama,” the message continues. “With your help we can stop this. Please commit to voting against tea party candidate Chris McDaniel next Tuesday and say NO to the tea party!”
Some experts have argued that it is technically illegal for voters affiliated with an opposing party to vote in another party’s primary in Mississippi.
The Cochran campaign is denying that they have any connection with the robocall and declared it to be a “stunt” coming from allies of McDaniel.
“It’s an obvious, transparent stunt by McDaniel and his allies,” Jordan Russell, a spokesman for Cochran, told The Daily Caller Sunday.
The McDaniel campaign is claiming otherwise.
“It is clear that Mississippi Republicans have rejected Thad Cochran’s liberal voting record and it’s sad to see Thad Cochran resort to courting Democrats simply to hold onto power,” McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch told TheDC.
This isn’t the first allegation that there are efforts to get out Democratic votes for Cochran in Tuesday’s vote.
This is only the latest incident in controversy surrounding efforts to get out Democratic votes for Cochran in the runoff that includes a black preacher — who is a strong supporter of the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat — actively trying to get members of his community to vote for the sitting senator.
CreditEdmund D. Fountain for The New York Times
A surge of voters showed up on Tuesday in African-American precincts and in Mr. Cochran’s other strongholds to surprise Mr. McDaniel, 41, who just Monday night declared his campaign had gone from impossible to improbable to unstoppable. Early Wednesday, with all but one precinct reporting, Mr. Cochran’s lead over Mr. McDaniel was a little more than 6,000 votes. Recounts are not required under Mississippi law, although Mr. McDaniel could seek to challenge the results through the courts.
Mr. Cochran’s victory was powered in part by African-Americans in areas of north Jackson whose turnout shattered that seen in those precincts in the primary. Turnout jumped fivefold at New Hope Baptist Church, and sevenfold at Green Elementary School, where only 14 voters came out on June 3 but about 100 showed up on Tuesday.
Their high numbers came despite pledges by conservative political action committees to monitor turnout in Democratic areas targeted by Mr. Cochran’s campaign. Both the N.A.A.C.P. — which sent its own poll watchers — and the United States Justice Department expressed concerns about the possible intimidation of black Democrats, but no irregularities were reported to Mississippi election officials. The state has no party registration, and anyone could vote in the Republican runoff who had not voted in the Democratic primary, which was won by former Representative Travis Childers, 56.
It was an extraordinary end to a wild campaign, with a Republican standing up for the rights of black Democrats, and with Tea Party groups from the North, especially the Senate Conservatives Fund, crying foul.
Also sure to inflame the right: a center-right super PAC, Defending Main Street, which contributed over $150,000 to Mr. Cochran during the runoff, received $250,000 from Michael Bloomberg in the same period, according to a source close to the former New York City mayor.
Mr. Bloomberg also contributed $250,000 to Mr Cochran’s super PAC, Mississippi Conservatives, before the primary.
For months, the contest between Mr. Cochran and Mr. McDaniel was viewed as this year’smain event in the six-year clash between conservative activists and Republican incumbents. Money and celebrities poured into Mississippi from all over the country, with the establishment determined to make the state a Tea Party Waterloo. For their part, conservative groups were hoping for one major victory for the season.
But after the surprise primary defeat this month of Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, the Mississippi contest took on greater significance. Outside conservative groups hoped to emerge with a second victory that would propel challenges in Tennessee, where Senator Lamar Alexander was widely expected to win, and perhaps in Kansas, where Senator Pat Roberts appeared to have recovered from an early stumble overwhether he lived in Kansas or the Washington area.
Instead, establishment Republicans and a surprisingly high number of Democrats helped deliver a come-from-behind victory for a senator known for his soft-spoken patrician air and his ability to bring home millions in dollars of federal spending.
Mr. Cochran shifted his campaign message from polishing his conservative credentials to extolling his record of keeping Mississippi flush with federal cash. He also attacked Mr. McDaniel for his vows of austerity, especially in education.
CreditEdmund D. Fountain for The New York Times
Those attacks seemed to work with voters — at least enough to spook Democrats, and even some Republicans, who are accustomed to the protection and seniority of a long line of Congress members going back almost 100 years, including Senators John C. Stennis, James Eastland and Trent Lott and Representatives Sonny Montgomery and Jamie L. Whitten.
Jeanie Munn, who lives in Hattiesburg, said Mr. McDaniel “represents a threat to the state.” She cited a vote he cast in the State Senate against a new nursing school building at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Roger Smith, a black Democrat who said he was being paid to organize for Mr. Cochran, said, “I don’t know too much about McDaniel other than what McDaniel’s saying: that he’s Tea Party, he’s against Obama, he don’t like black people.”
“You’re going to get one of the white guys in there,” he said. “You got to make a choice.”
In downtown Hattiesburg, Democratic voters trickled out of the Court Street United Methodist Church, saying they had voted for a Republican for the first time in their lives — Mr. Cochran. Heath Kleinke, 38, held his 4-month-old baby and said he wanted her to get a good education in Mississippi, something he believed would be made more difficult if Mr. McDaniel were to make good on his proposal to cut federal funding.
Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi celebrated his victory over a Tea Party-backed challenger, Chris McDaniel, at a party in Jackson on Tuesday.
“The fact that he openly criticizes Thad Cochran for talking to Democrats riled me up from the beginning,” added Mr. Kleinke, a graphic designer.
White Democrats also turned out for the senator. Dorothy McGehee, 88, a lifelong Democrat who registered blacks to vote in the civil rights era, found herself putting out Cochran yard signs in Meadville, Miss., and begging her friends to vote.
Kino Sintee, 17, and three black friends waved “Thad” signs on a street corner in a black Hattiesburg neighborhood. They said the preacher from Mount Olive Baptist Church asked them to help out.
“They’re talking about taking everything away from us,” he said. “People still need stuff.”
CreditWilliam Widmer for The New York Times
Michael Davis, 44, said it was his “duty” to stop Mr. McDaniel. “If anyone wants to tell me I’m stealing the election or something ludicrous like that, it doesn’t work that way,” he said.
In Tupelo, Miss., John Armistead, 73, a die-hard Democrat, and his wife, Sandra, 69, a Republican, put aside their differences on Tuesday, and both voted for Mr. Cochran.
“Even though he votes with the Republicans on virtually everything, I’ve never seen Cochran as being so partisan,” Mr. Armistead said. “As a Democrat, that’s important to me. McDaniel is very partisan and will align himself with the right-wing, partisan-type people.”
Those crossover votes from Democrats left many of Mr. McDaniel’s supporters seething.
“Our whole system is corrupt,” said a glum Alicia Holloman of George County as the last results trickled into the McDaniel party at the Hattiesburg Convention Center. “We deserve to be called the most corrupt state in the nation.”
Her husband, Michael, was more circumspect.
“You should be able to vote the way you want to vote. It’s fair,” he said. “But when you’re on the losing side, it stinks.”
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The 99-page decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board said the team’s name and logo are disparaging. It dilutes the Redskins’ legal protection against infringement and hinders the team’s ability to block counterfeit merchandise from entering the country.
But its effect is largely symbolic. The ruling cannot stop the team from selling T-shirts, beer glasses and license-plate holders with the moniker or keep the team from trying to defend itself against others who try to profit from the logo. And the trademark registrations will remain effective during any appeal process.
The ruling’s main impact is as a cudgel by an increasingly vocal group of Native Americans, lawmakers, former players and others who are trying to persuade team officials to change the name. The backlash against the name has never been more intense.
And opponents immediately seized upon the decision to increase pressure on the team.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who persuaded 49 other members of Congress to send a letter last month to the National Football League on the issue, interrupted a debate on the Senate floor to herald the decision.
“So many people have helped in this effort, and I want to applaud them,” Cantwell said. She later said she believes the decision will ultimately force the hands of team owner Daniel Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in ways other efforts have not. “You want to ignore millions of Native Americans?” she said. “Well, it’s pretty hard to say the federal government doesn’t know what they’re talking about when they say it’s disparaging.”
Snyder has steadfastly refused to consider a name change, saying the name and logo honor Native Americans.
Jesse Witten, an attorney for the Native Americans who filed the case, called the victory “a long time coming.” The board had previously ruled in favor of a different group of Native Americans, led by Suzan Harjo, that filed a similar case in 1992. But that case was later dismissed in the federal courts. The court did not rule on the merits of the case but ultimately said the plaintiffs did not have standing to file it.
Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The ruling pertains to six trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word “Redskin.”
Robert Raskopf, a lawyer who has been representing the team since the 1992 case was filed, said he was “disheartened” and “surprised” by the ruling. He noted that Wednesday’s decision came from a divided panel of judges, with one of the three dissenting, and that the earlier case was won on appeal. “We’ve been down this road already,” he said. “We have the same evidence here that we had last time, the same arguments, the same exact case.”
He said that the team plans to appeal the decision. “We are certainly confident that moving forward we are going to prevail yet again,” he said.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO or USPTO) is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification. The USPTO is “unique among federal agencies because it operates solely on fees collected by its users, and not on taxpayer dollars”. Its “operating structure is like a business in that it receives requests for services—applications for patents and trademark registrations—and charges fees projected to cover the cost of performing the services [it] provide[s]”.
The USPTO is based in Alexandria, Virginia, after a 2006 move from the Crystal City area of neighboring Arlington,Virginia. The offices under Patents and the Chief Information Officer that remained just outside the southern end of Crystal City completed moving to Randolph Square, a brand-new building in Shirlington Village, on April 27, 2009.
The USPTO cooperates with the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) as one of theTrilateral Patent Offices. The USPTO is also a Receiving Office, an International Searching Authority and an International Preliminary Examination Authority for international patent applications filed in accordance with the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
The USPTO mission is to “maintain a permanent, interdisciplinary historical record of all U.S. patent applications in order to fulfill objectives outlined in the United States constitution“. The legal basis for the United States patent system is Article 1, Section 8, wherein the powers of Congress are defined.
It states, in part:
The PTO’s mission is to promote “industrial and technological progress in the United States and strengthen the national economy” by:
The USPTO is headquartered at the Alexandria Campus, consisting of 11 buildings in a city-like development surrounded by ground floor retail and high rise residential buildings between the METRO stations of King Street station and Eisenhower Avenue station where the actual Alexandria Campus is located between Duke Street (on the North) to Eisenhower Avenue (on the South), and between John Carlyle Street (on the East) to Elizabeth Lane (on the West) in Alexandria, Virginia. An additional building in Arlington, Virginia, was opened in 2009.
The USPTO was expected by 2014 to open its first ever satellite offices in Detroit, Dallas, Denver, and Silicon Valleyto reduce backlog and reflect regional industrial strengths. The first satellite office opened in Detroit on July 13, 2012. The 2013 sequestration has put the satellite office for Silicon Valley, which is home to the nation’s top patent-producing cities, on hold indefinitely.
As of September 30, 2009, the end of the U.S. government’s fiscal year, the PTO had 9,716 employees, nearly all of whom are based at its five-building headquarters complex in Alexandria. Of those, 6,242 were patent examiners(almost all of whom were assigned to examine utility patents; only 99 were assigned to examine design patents) and 388 were trademark examining attorneys; the rest are support staff. While the agency has noticeably grown in recent years, the rate of growth was far slower in fiscal 2009 than in the recent past; this is borne out by data from fiscal 2005 to the present:
|At end of FY||Employees||Patent examiners||Trademark examining attorneys|
Patent examiners make up the bulk of the employees at USPTO. They are generally newly graduated scientists and engineers, recruited from various universities around the nation. They hold degrees in various scientific disciplines, but who do not necessarily hold law degrees. Unlike patent examiners, trademark examiners must be licensed attorneys. All examiners work under a strict, “count”-based production system. For every application, “counts” are earned by composing, filing, and mailing a first office action on the merits, and upon disposal of an application.
The Commissioner for Patents oversees three main bodies, headed by former Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations, currently Peggy Focarino, the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, currently[when?] Andrew Hirshfeld as Acting Deputy, and finally the Commissioner for Patent Resources and Planning, which is currently[when?] vacant. The Patent Operations of the office is divided into nine different technology centers that deal with various arts.
Prior to 2012, decisions of patent examiners may be appealed to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, an administrative law body of the USPTO. Decisions of the BPAI could further be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, or a civil suit may be brought against the Commissioner of Patents in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The United States Supreme Court may ultimately decide on a patent case. Similarly, decisions of trademark examiners may be appealed to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, with subsequent appeals directed to the Federal Circuit, or a civil action may also be brought.
In recent years, the USPTO has seen increasing delays between when a patent application is filed and when it issues. To address its workload challenges, the USPTO has undertaken an aggressive program of hiring and recruitment. The USPTO hired 1,193 new patent examiners in Fiscal Year 2006 (year ending September 30, 2006), 1,215 new examiners in fiscal 2007, and 1,211 in fiscal year 2008. The USPTO expected to continue hiring patent examiners at a rate of approximately 1,200 per year through 2012; however, due to a slowdown in new application filings since the onset of the late-2000s economic crisis, and projections of substantial declines in maintenance fees in coming years, the agency imposed a hiring freeze in early March 2009.
In 2006, USPTO instituted a new training program for patent examiners called the “Patent Training Academy”. It is an eight-month program designed to teach new patent examiners the fundamentals of patent law, practice and examination procedure in a college-style environment. Because of the impending USPTO budget crisis previously alluded to, it had been rumored that the Academy would be closed by the end of 2009. Focarino, then Acting Commissioner for Patents, denied in a May 2009 interview that the Academy was being shut down, but stated that it would be cut back because the hiring goal for new examiners in fiscal 2009 was reduced to 600. Ultimately, 588 new patent examiners were hired in fiscal year 2009.
For many years, Congress has “diverted” about 10% of the fees that the USPTO collected into the general treasury of the United States. In effect, this took money collected from the patent system to use for the general budget. This fee diversion has been generally opposed by patent practitioners (e.g., patent attorneys andpatent agents), inventors, the USPTO, as well as former federal judge Paul R. Michel. These stakeholders would rather use the funds to improve the patent office and patent system, such as by implementing the USPTO’s 21st Century Strategic Plan. The last six annual budgets of the George W. Bush administration did not propose to divert any USPTO fees, and the first budget of the Barack Obama administration continues this practice; however, stakeholders continue to press for a permanent end to fee diversion.
The USPTO examines applications for trademark registration. If approved, the trademarks are registered on either the Principal Register or the Supplemental Register, depending upon whether the mark meets the appropriate distinctiveness criteria. However, this function is declining in popularity as trademark applicants move to cheaper, more straightforward state-by-state registrations.
The PTO only allows certain qualified persons to practice before the PTO. Practice includes filing of patent applications on behalf of inventors, prosecuting patent applications on behalf of inventors, and participating in administrative appeals and other proceedings before the PTO examiners and boards. The PTO sets its own standards for who may practice and requires that any person who practices become registered. A patent agent is a person who has passed the USPTO registration examination (the “patent bar”) but has not passed any state bar exam to become a licensed attorney; a patent attorney is a person who has passed both a state bar and the patent bar and is in good standing as an attorney. A patent agent can only act in a representative capacity in patent matters presented to the USPTO, and may not represent a patent holder or applicant in a court of law. To be eligible for taking the patent bar exam, a candidate must possess a degree in “engineering or physical science or the equivalent of such a degree”.
The United States allows any citizen from any country to sit for the patent bar (if he/she has the requisite technical background). Only Canada has a reciprocity agreement with the United States that confers upon a patent agent similar rights.
An unrepresented inventor may file a patent application and prosecute it on his or her own behalf (pro se). If it appears to a patent examiner that an inventor filing apro se application is not familiar with the proper procedures of the Patent Office, the examiner may suggest that the filing party obtain representation by a registered patent attorney or patent agent. The patent examiner cannot recommend a specific attorney or agent, but the Patent Office does post a list of those who are registered.
While the inventor of a relatively simple-to-describe invention may well be able to produce an adequate specification and detailed drawings, there remains language complexity in what is claimed, either in the particular claim language of a utility application, or in the manner in which drawings are presented in a design application. There is also skill required when searching for prior art that is used to support the application and to prevent applying for a patent for something that may be unpatentable. A patent examiner will make special efforts to help pro se inventors understand the process but the failure to adequately understand or respond to an Office action from the USPTO can endanger the inventor’s rights, and may lead to abandonment of the application.
The USPTO accepts patent applications filed in electronic form. Inventors or their patent agents/attorneys can file applications as Adobe PDF documents. Filing fees can be paid by credit card or by a USPTO “deposit account”.
The USPTO’s free distribution service only distributes the patent documents as a set of TIFF files. Numerous free and commercial services provide patent documents in other formats, such as Adobe PDF and CPC.
||This article’s Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article’s neutral point of view of the subject. (October 2013)|
The USPTO has been criticized for granting patents for impossible or absurd, already known, or arguably obvious inventions.
The USPTO has been criticized for taking an inordinate amount of time in examining patent applications. This is particularly true in the fast-growing area[dated info] ofbusiness method patents. As of 2005, patent examiners in the business method area were still examining patent applications filed in 2001.
The delay was attributed by spokesmen for the Patent Office to a combination of a sudden increase in business method patent filings after the 1998 State Street Bank decision, the unfamiliarity of patent examiners with the business and financial arts (e.g., banking, insurance, stock trading etc.), and the issuance of a number of controversial patents (e.g., U.S. Patent 5,960,411 “Amazon one click patent“) in the business method area.
Effective August 2006, the USPTO introduced an accelerated patent examination procedure in an effort to allow inventors a speedy evaluation of an application with a final disposition within twelve months. The procedure requires additional information to be submitted with the application and also includes an interview with the examiner. The first accelerated patent was granted on March 15, 2007, with a six-month issuance time.
As of the end of 2008, there were 1,208,076 patent applications pending at the Patent Office. At the end of 1997, the number of applications pending was 275,295. Therefore, over those eleven years there was a 439% increase in the number of pending applications.
December 2012 data showed that there was 597,579 unexamined patent application backlog. During the four years since 2009, more than 50% reduction was achieved. First action pendency was reported as 19.2 months.
As libertarians attempt to persuade others of their position, they encounter an interesting paradox. On the one hand, the libertarian message is simple. It involves moral premises and intuitions that in principle are shared by virtually everyone, including children. Do not hurt anyone. Do not steal from anyone. Mind your own business.
A child will say, “I had it first.” There is an intuitive sense according to which the first user of a previously unowned good holds moral priority over latecomers. This, too, is a central aspect of libertarian theory.
Following Locke, Murray Rothbard, and other libertarian philosophers sought to establish a morally and philosophically defensible account of how property comes to be owned. Locke held the goods of the earth to have been owned in common at the beginning, while Rothbard more plausibly held all goods to have been initially unowned, but this difference does not affect their analysis. Locke is looking to justify how someone may remove a good from common ownership for his individual use, and Rothbard is interested in how someone may take an unowned good and claim it for his individual use.
Locke’s answer will be familiar. He noted, first of all, that “every man has a property in his own person.” By extension, everyone justly holds as his own property those goods with which he has mixed his labor. Cultivating land, picking an apple – whatever the case may be, we say that the first person to homestead property that had previously sat in the state of nature without an individual owner could call himself its owner.
Once a good that was previously in the state of nature has been homesteaded, its owner need not continue to work on or transform it in order to maintain his ownership title. Once the initial homesteading process has taken place, future owners can acquire the property not by mixing their labor with it – which at this point would be trespassing – but by purchasing it or receiving it as a gift from the legitimate owner.
As I’ve said, we sense intuitively the justice at the heart of this rule. If the individual does not own himself, then what other human being does? If the individual who transforms some good that previously lacked specific ownership title does not have a right to that good, then what other person should?
In addition to being just, this rule also minimizes conflict. It is a rule everyone can understand, based on a principle that applies to all people equally. It does not say that only members of a particular race or level of intelligence may own property. And it is a rule that definitively stakes out ownership claims in ways that anyone can grasp, and which will keep disputes to a minimum.
Alternatives to this first user, first homesteader principle are few and unhelpful. If not the first user, then who? The fourth user? The twelfth user? But if only the fourth or twelfth user is the rightful owner, then only the fourth or twelfth user has the right to do anything with the good. That is what ownership is: the ability to dispose of a good however one wishes, provided that in doing so the owner does not harm anyone else. Assigning property title through a method like verbal declaration, say, would do nothing to minimize conflict; people would shout vainly at each other, each claiming ownership of the good in question, and peaceful resolution of the resulting conflict seems impossible.
These principles are easy to grasp, and as I’ve said, they involve moral insights which practically everyone claims to share.
And here is the libertarian paradox. Libertarians begin with these basic, commonly shared principles, and seek only to apply them consistently and equally to all people. But even though people claim to support these principles, and even though most people claim to believe in equality – which is what the libertarian is upholding by applying moral principles to everyone without exception – the libertarian message suddenly becomes extreme, unreasonable, and unacceptable.
Why is it so difficult to persuade people of what they implicitly believe already?
The reason is not difficult to find. Most people inherit an intellectual schizophrenia from the state that educates them, the media that amuses them, and the intellectuals who propagandize them.
This is what Murray Rothbard was driving at when he described the relationship between the state and the intellectuals. “The ruling elite,” he wrote,
whether it be the monarchs of yore or the Communist parties of today, are in desperate need of intellectual elites to weave apologias for state power. The state rules by divine edict; the state insures the common good or the general welfare; the state protects us from the bad guys over the mountain; the state guarantees full employment; the state activates the multiplier effect; the state insures social justice, and on and on. The apologias differ over the centuries; the effect is always the same.
Why, in turn, do the intellectuals provide the state this service? Why are they so eager to defend, legitimate, and make excuses for the corridors of power?
Rothbard had an answer:
We can see what the state rulers get out of their alliance with the intellectuals; but what do the intellectuals get out of it? Intellectuals are the sort of people who believe that, in the free market, they are getting paid far less than their wisdom requires. Now the state is willing to pay them salaries, both for apologizing for state power, and in the modern state, for staffing the myriad jobs in the welfare, regulatory state apparatus.
In addition to this, the intellectual class we are dealing with wants to impose its vision, its pattern, on society. Frederic Bastiat spends much of his classic little book The Law on this very impulse: the conception of the intellectual and the politician as the sculptors, and the human race as so much clay.
What we are taught, therefore, from all official channels, is something like the following. For the sake of mankind’s well-being and improvement, some individuals need to exercise power over others. On our own, we would have little if any philanthropic instinct. We would commit the vilest of crimes. Commerce would grind to a halt, innovation would cease, and the arts and sciences would be neglected. The human race would descend to a condition too degraded and appalling to contemplate.
Therefore, a single institution needs a monopoly on the initiation of physical force and on the ability to expropriate individuals. That institution will ensure that society is molded according to the proper pattern, that “social justice” is achieved, and that mankind’s deepest aspirations have some chance of fulfillment.
So entrenched in our minds are these ideas that it would hardly occur to most people even to think of them as propaganda. This is simply the truth about the world, people assume. It is the way things are. They cannot be otherwise.
But what if they can? What if there really is another way to live? What if the sphere of freedom need not be so confined after all, but may expand without limit? What if the general presumption against monopoly applies to government just as much as it does to anything else? What if the free market, the most extraordinary creator of wealth and innovation ever known, and the most reliable and efficient allocation mechanism of scarce resources, is also better at producing the goods for which we have been told we must rely on government? And what if the state, the greatest mass-murderer in history, the great drag on economic progress, and the institution that pits us against each other in a zero-sum game of mutual plunder, is retarding rather than advancing human welfare?
Just how liberating this political philosophy is becomes clear when we realize some of its implications.
It means that taxation is a moral outrage, since it involves the violent expropriation of peaceful individuals.
It means that military conscription is a fancy term for official kidnapping.
It means that the state’s wars are cases of mass murder, and that the suspension of normal moral rules that the state’s officials insist on during wartime is a transparent attempt to divert the normal kinds of moral inquiries that might occur to someone unschooled in government propaganda.
And it means the state is not the glorious guarantor of the public good, but is instead, a parasite on the individuals it rules. The left-anarchists were grotesquely wrong to condemn the state as the protector of private property. The state could not survive absent its aggression against private property. It produces nothing of its own, and can survive only because of the productive work of those it expropriates.
The state is the very opposite of the free market in its ethics and in its behavior, and yet so few supporters of the market bother to examine their premises. They continue to believe the following:
(1) The best social system is one in which private property is respected, people are free to exchange with each other, and coercion is not used.
(2) That is, until the production of certain goods is in question. Then we need monopoly, coercion, expropriation, bureaucratic decisionmaking – in other words, the most egregious contradiction of the principles we claim to uphold.
To be sure, it may not be so easy at first to imagine the free-market provision of certain goods. And anyway, don’t we need someone “in charge”?
But by the same token, it should be just as difficult to imagine the success of the free market itself: without someone in charge of production decisions, how can we expect private actors to produce what people want, especially when faced with a virtually infinite number of possible combinations of resources, each of which is demanded in varying degrees of intensity by an unimaginable number of possible production processes? Yet that is exactly what happens on the market, without fanfare, every day.
I’ve been surprised not only by the spread of anarcho-capitalism – quite a surprising development, since it runs counter to everything people are taught to take for granted – but also by the attacks on it. You’d think, since we’re still a tiny minority, no important periodical would bother going after us. And yet they have. The reason? Because they realize, as you and I do, what these ideas mean.
Libertarians have put forth the most radical critique of the state ever posed. The Marxists claimed to favor the withering away of the state, it is true, but this can hardly be taken seriously. The coercive power of the state plays a central role in the Marxist transition from capitalism to socialism. As Rothbard put it, “It is absurd to try to reach statelessness via the absolute maximization of state power in a totalitarian dictatorship of the proletariat (or more realistically a select vanguard of the said proletariat). The result can only be maximum statism and hence maximum slavery….”
And without private property, how would production decisions be made? By a state, of course. The Marxists just wouldn’t call it a state. Again Rothbard:
With private property mysteriously abolished, then, the elimination of the state under communism…would necessarily be a mere camouflage for a new state that would emerge to control and make decisions for communally owned resources. Except that the state would not be called such, but rather renamed something like a “people’s statistical bureau”…. It will be small consolation to future victims, incarcerated or shot for committing “capitalist acts between consenting adults” (to cite a phrase made popular by Robert Nozick), that their oppressors will no longer be the state but only a people’s statistical bureau. The state under any other name will smell as acrid.
“Limited-government” conservatives, in turn – who in practice favor an enormous government footprint, but for the sake of argument we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt – want to reform the system. If we try this or that, they say, we can transform a monopoly on violence and expropriation into the fountainhead of order and civilization.
We libertarians are a million miles removed from either of these views. We do not view government officials as “public servants.” How sad to hear naïve conservatives speak of returning to a time when government is responsive to the people, whose elected officials in turn pursue the public good. The situation we face now, contrary to what these conservatives try to believe, is not an unfortunate aberration. It is the dismal norm.
There are two, and only two, versions of the story of liberty and power. One looks to power, as manifested in the state, as the source of progress, prosperity, and order. The other credits liberty with these good things, along with commerce, invention, prosperity, the arts and sciences, the conquering of disease and destitution, and much else. For us liberty truly is the mother, not the daughter, of order.
Some will protest that a third option is available: a judicious combination of the state and liberty, it may be said, is necessary to human flourishing. But this is merely an apologia for the state, since it takes for granted precisely what we libertarians dispute: that the state is the indispensable source of order, within which liberty flourishes. To the contrary, liberty flourishes despite the state, and the fruits of liberty that we observe around us would be all the more abundant were it not for the state’s dead hand.
We can find precursors of anarcho-capitalism here and there in Western intellectual history – Gustave de Molinari, for example, and in the United States Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, and a handful of others. But no one developed it fully, followed it consistently, or assembled it in a coherent system before Rothbard. It was Rothbard who made a sweeping and systematic case for private-property anarchism, based on economics, philosophy, and history.
Very few people have either the courage or the originality to break radically with existing systems of thought, much less to develop their own. Courage and originality were Rothbard’s trademarks. Had Murray been content to repeat the state’s propaganda, a man of his genius could have taught wherever he wanted, and enjoyed the prestige and privilege of the top tier of academia. He refused to do it. Instead, he labored, often thanklessly, to bequeath to us an elegant – and massive – system of scholarship from which we can learn and to which we can add as we press forward toward Murray’s lifelong goal of a truly free society.
We can be thankful that we live in an age in which the work of Rothbard – despised, resisted, and suppressed by the purveyors of official opinion – is readily available.
And here is another side to the libertarian paradox: although our philosophy derives from a single proposition, the nonaggression principle, the development of and elaborations on that principle provide an inexhaustible source of intellectual pleasure, as we explore how the interlocking features of human society can work together harmoniously in the absence of coercion.
The intellectual class has its task and we have ours. Theirs is to confuse and obscure; ours is to clarify and explain. Theirs is to darken the mind; ours is to enlighten it. Theirs is to subject man to the domination of those who violate the moral principles all civilized people claim to cherish. Ours is to emancipate him from that subjection.
I will leave you with the final libertarian paradox, which is this: while on the one hand we are teachers of the philosophy of freedom, as long as we love and cherish these great ideas, we shall always be students as well. Continue to explore and discover, to read and to write, to discuss and to persuade. Violence is the tool of the state. Knowledge and the mind are the tools of free people.
Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology belonging to liberalism in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government. The philosophy emerged as a response to the Industrial Revolution and urbanization in the 19th century in Europe and the United States. It advocates civil liberties with a limited government under the rule of law, private property rights, and belief in laissez-faire economic liberalism. Classical liberalism is built on ideas that had already arisen by the end of the 18th century, including ideas of Adam Smith, John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo. It drew on a psychological understanding of individual liberty, natural law, utilitarianism, and a belief in progress.
In the early 20th century, liberals split on several issues, and particularly in America a distinction grew up between classical liberals and social liberals.
In the late 19th century, classical liberalism developed into neo-classical liberalism, which argued for government to be as small as possible in order to allow the exercise of individual freedom. In its most extreme form, it advocated Social Darwinism. Libertarianism is a modern form of neo-classical liberalism.
The term classical liberalism was applied in retrospect to distinguish earlier 19th-century liberalism from the newer social liberalism. The phrase classical liberalism is also sometimes used to refer to all forms of liberalismbefore the 20th century, and some conservatives and libertarians use the term classical liberalism to describe their belief in the primacy of individual freedom and minimal government. It is not always clear which meaning is intended.
Core beliefs of classical liberals included new ideas—which departed from both the older conservative idea of society as a family and from later sociological concept of society as complex set of social networks—that individuals were “egoistic, coldly calculating, essentially inert and atomistic” and that society was no more than the sum of its individual members.
These beliefs were complemented by a belief that “labour”, i.e. individuals without capital, can only be motivated by fear of hunger and by a reward, while “men of higher rank” can be motivated by ambition, as well. This led politicians at the time to pass the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, which limited the provision of social assistance, because classical liberals believed in “an unfettered market” as the mechanism that will most efficiently lead to a nation’s wealth. Adopting Thomas Malthus‘s population theory, they saw poor urban conditions as inevitable, as they believed population growth would outstrip food production; and they considered that to be desirable, as starvation would help limit population growth. They opposed any income or wealth redistribution, which they believed would be dissipated by the lowest orders.
Classical liberals agreed with Thomas Hobbes that government had been created by individuals to protect themselves from one another. They thought that individuals should be free to pursue their self-interest without control or restraint by society. Individuals should be free to obtain work from the highest-paying employers, while the profit motive would ensure that products that people desired were produced at prices they would pay. In a free market, both labour and capital would receive the greatest possible reward, while production would be organised efficiently to meet consumer demand.
Drawing on selected ideas of Adam Smith, classical liberals believed that all individuals are able to equally freely pursue their own economic self-interest, without government direction, serving the common good. They were critical of welfare state as interfering in a free market. They criticized labour’s group rights being pursued at the expense of individual rights, while they accepted big corporations’ rights being pursued at the expense of inequality of bargaining power noted by Adam Smith:
A landlord, a farmer, a master manufacturer, a merchant, though they did not employ a single workman, could generally live a year or two upon the stocks which they have already acquired. Many workmen could not subsist a week, few could subsist a month, and scarce any a year without employment. In the long run the workman may be as necessary to his master as his master is to him; but the necessity is not so immediate.
It was not until emergence of social liberalism that child labour was forbidden, minimum standards of worker safety were introduced, a minimum wage and old age pensions were established, and financial institutions regulations with the goal of fighting cyclic depressions, monopolies, and cartels, were introduced. They were met by classical liberalism as an unjust interference of the state. So called slim state was argued for, instead, serving only the following functions:
They believed that rights are of a negative nature which require other individuals (and governments) to refrain from interfering with free market, whereas social liberalism believes labour has a right to be provided with certain benefits or services via taxes paid by corporations.
Core beliefs of classical liberals did not necessarily include democracy where law is made by majority vote by citizens, because “there is nothing in the bare idea of majority rule to show that majorities will always respect the rights of property or maintain rule of law.”For example, James Madison argued for a constitutional republic with protections for individual liberty over a pure democracy, reasoning that, in a pure democracy, a “common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole…and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party….”
Friedrich Hayek identified two different traditions within classical liberalism: the “British tradition” and the “French tradition”. Hayek saw the British philosophers Bernard Mandeville, David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, Josiah Tucker, Edmund Burke and William Paley as representative of a tradition that articulated beliefs in empiricism, the common law, and in traditions and institutions which had spontaneously evolved but were imperfectly understood. The French tradition included Rousseau, Condorcet, the Encyclopedistsand the Physiocrats. This tradition believed in rationalism and sometimes showed hostility to tradition and religion. Hayek conceded that the national labels did not exactly correspond to those belonging to each tradition: Hayek saw the Frenchmen Montesquieu,Constant and Tocqueville as belonging to the “British tradition” and the British Thomas Hobbes, Priestley, Richard Price and Thomas Paine as belonging to the “French tradition”. Hayek also rejected the label laissez faire as originating from the French tradition and alien to the beliefs of Hume, Smith and Burke.
Classical liberalism in Britain developed from Whiggery and radicalism, and represented a new political ideology. Whiggery had become a dominant ideology following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and was associated with the defence of Parliament, upholding the rule of law and defending landed property. The origins of rights were seen as being in an ancient constitution, which had existed from time immemorial. These rights, which some Whigs considered to include freedom of the press and freedom of speech, were justified by custom rather than by natural rights. They believed that the power of the executive had to be constrained. While they supported limited suffrage, they saw voting as a privilege, rather than as a right. However there was no consistency in Whig ideology, and diverse writers including John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith and Edmund Burke were all influential among Whigs, although none of them was universally accepted.
British radicals, from the 1790s to the 1820s, concentrated on parliamentary and electoral reform, emphasizing natural rights and popular sovereignty. Richard Price and Joseph Priestley adapted the language of Locke to the ideology of radicalism. The radicals saw parliamentary reform as a first step toward dealing with their many grievances, including the treatment of Protestant Dissenters, the slave trade, high prices and high taxes.
There was greater unity to classical liberalism ideology than there had been with Whiggery. Classical liberals were committed to individualism, liberty and equal rights. They believed that required a free economy with minimal government interference. Writers such asJohn Bright and Richard Cobden opposed both aristocratic privilege and property, which they saw as an impediment to the development of a class of yeoman farmers. Some elements of Whiggery opposed this new thinking, and were uncomfortable with the commercial nature of classical liberalism. These elements became associated with conservatism.
Classical liberalism was the dominant political theory in Britain from the early 19th century until the First World War. Its notable victories were the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, the Reform Act of 1832, and the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. The Anti-Corn Law League brought together a coalition of liberal and radical groups in support of free trade under the leadership of Richard Cobden and John Bright, who opposed militarism and public expenditure. Their policies of low public expenditure and low taxation were adopted by William Ewart Gladstone when he became chancellor of the exchequer and later prime minister. Classical liberalism was often associated with religious dissent and nonconformism.
Although classical liberals aspired to a minimum of state activity, they accepted the principle of government intervention in the economy from the early 19th century with passage of the Factory Acts. From around 1840 to 1860, laissez-faire advocates of the Manchester School and writers in The Economist were confident that their early victories would lead to a period of expanding economic and personal liberty and world peace but would face reversals as government intervention and activity continued to expand from the 1850s. Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, although advocates of laissez faire, non-intervention in foreign affairs, and individual liberty, believed that social institutions could be rationally redesigned through the principles of Utilitarianism. The Conservative prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, rejected classical liberalism altogether and advocated Tory Democracy. By the 1870s, Herbert Spencer and other classical liberals concluded that historical development was turning against them. By the First World War, the Liberal Party had largely abandoned classical liberal principles.
The changing economic and social conditions of the 19th century led to a division between neo-classical and social liberals who, while agreeing on the importance of individual liberty, differed on the role of the state. Neo-classical liberals, who called themselves “true liberals”, saw Locke’s Second Treatise as the best guide, and emphasised “limited government”, while social liberals supported government regulation and the welfare state.Herbert Spencer in Britain and William Graham Sumner were the leading neo-classical liberal theorists of the 19th century. Neo-classical liberalism has continued into the contemporary era, with writers such as Robert Nozick.
In the United States, liberalism took a strong root because it had little opposition to its ideals, whereas in Europe liberalism was opposed by many reactionary interests. In a nation of farmers, especially farmers whose workers were slaves, little attention was paid to the economic aspects of liberalism. Thomas Jefferson adopted many of the ideals of liberalism but, in the Declaration of Independence, changed Locke’s “life, liberty, and property” to the more socially liberal “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. As America grew, industry became a larger and larger part of American life; and, during the term of America’s first populist president, Andrew Jackson, economic questions came to the forefront. The economic ideas of the Jacksonian era were almost universally the ideas of classical liberalism. Freedom was maximised when the government took a “hands off” attitude toward industrial development and supported the value of the currency by freely exchanging paper money for gold. The ideas of classical liberalism remained essentially unchallenged until a series of depressions, thought to be impossible according to the tenets of classical economics, led to economic hardship from which the voters demanded relief. In the words of William Jennings Bryan, “You shall not crucify the American farmer on a cross of gold.” Classical liberalism remained the orthodox belief among American businessmen until the Great Depression. The Great Depression saw a sea change in liberalism, leading to the development of modern liberalism. In the words of Arthur Schlesinger Jr.:
When the growing complexity of industrial conditions required increasing government intervention in order to assure more equal opportunities, the liberal tradition, faithful to the goal rather than to the dogma, altered its view of the state,” and “there emerged the conception of a social welfare state, in which the national government had the express obligation to maintain high levels of employment in the economy, to supervise standards of life and labour, to regulate the methods of business competition, and to establish comprehensive patterns of social security.
Central to classical liberal ideology was their interpretation of John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government and “A Letter Concerning Toleration“, which had been written as a defence of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Although these writings were considered too radical at the time for Britain’s new rulers, they later came to be cited by Whigs, radicals and supporters of the American Revolution. However, much of later liberal thought was absent in Locke’s writings or scarcely mentioned, and his writings have been subject to various interpretations. There is little mention, for example, of constitutionalism, the separation of powers, and limited government.
James L. Richardson identified five central themes in Locke’s writing: individualism, consent, the concepts of the rule of law and government as trustee, the significance of property, and religious toleration. Although Locke did not develop a theory of natural rights, he envisioned individuals in the state of nature as being free and equal. The individual, rather than the community or institutions, was the point of reference. Locke believed that individuals had given consent to government and therefore authority derived from the people rather than from above. This belief would influence later revolutionary movements.
As a trustee, Government was expected to serve the interests of the people, not the rulers, and rulers were expected to follow the laws enacted by legislatures. Locke also held that the main purpose of men uniting into commonwealths and governments was for the preservation of their property. Despite the ambiguity of Locke’s definition of property, which limited property to “as much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the product of”, this principle held great appeal to individuals possessed of great wealth.
Locke held that the individual had the right to follow his own religious beliefs and that the state should not impose a religion against Dissenters. But there were limitations. No tolerance should be shown for atheists, who were seen as amoral, or to Catholics, who were seen as owing allegiance to the Pope over their own national government.
Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, was to provide most of the ideas of economics, at least until the publication of J. S. Mill‘s Principles in 1848. Smith addressed the motivation for economic activity, the causes of prices and the distribution of wealth, and the policies the state should follow in order to maximise wealth.
Smith wrote that as long as supply, demand, prices, and competition were left free of government regulation, the pursuit of material self-interest, rather than altruism, would maximize the wealth of a society through profit-driven production of goods and services. An “invisible hand” directed individuals and firms to work toward the nation’s good as an unintended consequence of efforts to maximize their own gain. This provided a moral justification for the accumulation of wealth, which had previously been viewed by some as sinful.
He assumed that workers could be paid as low as was necessary for their survival, which was later transformed by Ricardo and Malthus into the “Iron Law of Wages“. His main emphasis was on the benefit of free internal and international trade, which he thought could increase wealth through specialization in production. He also opposed restrictive trade preferences, state grants of monopolies, and employers’ organisations and trade unions.Government should be limited to defence, public works and the administration of justice, financed by taxes based on income.
Smith’s economics was carried into practice in the nineteenth century with the lowering of tariffs in the 1820s, the repeal of the Poor Relief Act, that had restricted the mobility of labour, in 1834, and the end of the rule of the East India Company over India in 1858.
In addition to Adam Smith’s legacy, Say’s law, Malthus theories of population and Ricardo’s iron law of wages became central doctrines of classical economics. The pessimistic nature of these theories led to Carlyle calling economics the dismal science and it provided a basis of criticism of capitalism by its opponents.
Jean-Baptiste Say was a French economist who introduced Adam Smith’s economic theories into France and whose commentaries on Smith were read in both France and Britain. Say challenged Smith’s labour theory of value, believing that prices were determined by utility and also emphasised the critical role of the entrepreneur in the economy. However neither of those observations became accepted by British economists at the time. His most important contribution to economic thinking was Say’s law, which was interpreted by classical economists that there could be no overproduction in a market, and that there would always be a balance between supply and demand. This general belief influenced government policies until the 1930s. Following this law, since the economic cycle was seen as self-correcting, government did not intervene during periods of economic hardship because it was seen as futile.
Thomas Malthus wrote two books, An essay on the principle of population, published in 1798, and Principles of political economy, published in 1820. The second book which was a rebuttal of Say’s law had little influence on contemporary economists. His first book however became a major influence on classical liberalism. In that book, Malthus claimed that population growth would outstrip food production, because population grew geometrically, while food production grew arithmetically. As people were provided with food, they would reproduce until their growth outstripped the food supply. Nature would then provide a check to growth in the forms of vice and misery. No gains in income could prevent this, and any welfare for the poor would be self-defeating. The poor were in fact responsible for their own problems which could have been avoided through self-restraint.
David Ricardo, who was an admirer of Adam Smith, covered many of the same topics but while Smith drew conclusions from broadly empirical observations, Ricardo used induction, drawing conclusions by reasoning from basic assumptions. While Ricardo accepted Smith’s labour theory of value, he acknowledged that utility could influence the price of some rare items. Rents on agricultural land were seen as the production that was surplus to the subsistence required by the tenants. Wages were seen as the amount required for workers’ subsistence and to maintain current population levels. According to his Iron Law of Wages, wages could never rise beyond subsistence levels. Ricardo explained profits as a return on capital, which itself was the product of labour. But a conclusion many drew from his theory was that profit was a surplus appropriated by capitalists to which they were not entitled.
Utilitarianism provided the political justification for implementation of economic liberalism by British governments, which was to dominate economic policy from the 1830s. Although utilitarianism prompted legislative and administrative reform and John Stuart Mill‘s later writings on the subject foreshadowed the welfare state, it was mainly used as a justification for laissez faire.
The central concept of utilitarianism, which was developed by Jeremy Bentham, was that public policy should seek to provide “the greatest happiness of the greatest number”. While this could be interpreted as a justification for state action to reduce poverty, it was used by classical liberals to justify inaction with the argument that the net benefit to all individuals would be higher.
Classical liberals saw utility as the foundation for public policies. This broke both with conservative “tradition” and Lockean “natural rights”, which were seen as irrational. Utility, which emphasises the happiness of individuals, became the central ethical value of all liberalism. Although utilitarianism inspired wide-ranging reforms, it became primarily a justification for laissez-faire economics. However, classical liberals rejected Adam Smith‘s belief that the “invisible hand” would lead to general benefits and embraced Thomas Robert Malthus‘ view that population expansion would prevent any general benefit and David Ricardo‘s view of the inevitability of class conflict. Laissez faire was seen as the only possible economic approach, and any government intervention was seen as useless and harmful. The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 was defended on “scientific or economic principles” while the authors of the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601 were seen as not having had the benefit of reading Malthus.
Commitment to laissez faire, however, was not uniform. Some economists advocated state support of public works and education. Classical liberals were also divided on free trade. Ricardo, for example, expressed doubt that the removal of grain tariffs advocated byRichard Cobden and the Anti-Corn Law League would have any general benefits. Most classical liberals also supported legislation to regulate the number of hours that children were allowed to work and usually did not oppose factory reform legislation.
Despite the pragmatism of classical economists, their views were expressed in dogmatic terms by such popular writers as Jane Marcet and Harriet Martineau. The strongest defender of laissez faire was The Economist founded by James Wilson in 1843. The Economist criticised Ricardo for his lack of support for free trade and expressed hostility to welfare, believing that the lower orders were responsible for their economic circumstances. The Economist took the position that regulation of factory hours was harmful to workers and also strongly opposed state support for education, health, the provision of water, and granting of patents and copyrights.
The Economist also campaigned against the Corn Laws that protected landlords in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland against competition from less expensive foreign imports of cereal products. A rigid belief in laissez faire guided the government response in 1846–1849 to the Great Famine in Ireland, during which an estimated 1.5 million people died. The minister responsible for economic and financial affairs, Charles Wood, expected that private enterprise and free trade, rather than government intervention, would alleviate the famine. The Corn Laws were finally repealed in 1846 by removal tariffs on grain which kept the price of bread artificially high. However, repeal of the Corn Laws came too late to stop Irish famine, partly because it was done in stages over three years.
Several liberals, including Adam Smith and Richard Cobden, argued that the free exchange of goods between nations could lead to world peace, a view recognised by such modern American political scientists as Robert Alan Dahl, Michael W. Doyle, Bruce Martin Rassett and John Robert Oneal. Dr. Erik Gartzke of Columbia University states, “Scholars like Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Richard Cobden, Norman Angell, and Richard Rosecrance have long speculated that free markets have the potential to free states from the looming prospect of recurrent warfare.” American political scientists John R. Oneal and Bruce M. Russett, well known for their work on the democratic peace theory, state:
The classical liberals advocated policies to increase liberty and prosperity. They sought to empower the commercial class politically and to abolish royal charters, monopolies, and the protectionist policies of mercantilism so as to encourage entrepreneurship and increase productive efficiency. They also expected democracy and laissez-faire economics to diminish the frequency of war.
Adam Smith argued in the Wealth of Nations that, as societies progressed from hunter gatherers to industrial societies, the spoils of war would rise but that the costs of war would rise further, making war difficult and costly for industrialised nations.
… the honours, the fame, the emoluments of war, belong not to [the middle and industrial classes]; the battle-plain is the harvest field of the aristocracy, watered with the blood of the people…Whilst our trade rested upon our foreign dependencies, as was the case in the middle of the last century…force and violence, were necessary to command our customers for our manufacturers…But war, although the greatest of consumers, not only produces nothing in return, but, by abstracting labour from productive employment and interrupting the course of trade, it impedes, in a variety of indirect ways, the creation of wealth; and, should hostilities be continued for a series of years, each successive war-loan will be felt in our commercial and manufacturing districts with an augmented pressure—Richard Cobden
When goods cannot cross borders, armies will.
By virtue of their mutual interest does nature unite people against violence and war…the spirit of trade cannot coexist with war, and sooner or later this spirit dominates every people. For among all those powers…that belong to a nation, financial power may be the most reliable in forcing nations to pursue the noble cause of peace…and wherever in the world war threatens to break out, they will try to head it off through mediation, just as if they were permanently leagued for this purpose.
Cobden believed that military expenditures worsened the welfare of the state and benefited a small but concentrated elite minority, summing up British imperialism, which he believed was the result of the economic restrictions of mercantilist policies. To Cobden, and many classical liberals, those who advocated peace must also advocate free markets.
reject(s) any such distinction and argue(s) instead for the existence of a continuous liberal understanding that includes both Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes… The idea that liberalism comes in two forms assumes that the most fundamental question facing mankind is how much government intervenes into the economy… When instead we discuss human purpose and the meaning of life, Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes are on the same side. Both of them possessed an expansive sense of what we are put on this earth to accomplish. Both were on the side of enlightenment. Both were optimists who believed in progress but were dubious about grand schemes that claimed to know all the answers. For Smith, mercantilism was the enemy of human liberty. For Keynes, monopolies were. It makes perfect sense for an eighteenth-century thinker to conclude that humanity would flourish under the market. For a twentieth century thinker committed to the same ideal, government was an essential tool to the same end… [M]odern liberalism is instead the logical and sociological outcome of classical liberalism.
According to William J. Novak, however, liberalism in the United States shifted, “between 1877 and 1937…from laissez-faire constitutionalism to New Deal statism, from classical liberalism to democratic social-welfarism”.
L. T. Hobhouse, in Liberalism (London: Williams and Norgate, 1911), attributed this purported shift, which included qualified acceptance of government intervention in the economy and the collective right to equality in dealings, to an increased desire for what Hobhouse called “just consent”. Hayek wrote that Hobhouse’s book would have been more accurately titled Socialism, and Hobhouse himself called his beliefs “liberal socialism”.
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Duck Commander Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty spoke to the congregation of Saddleback church in July on why people need Jesus and why the founders would agree — and I gotta say it was awesome. I watched it last night and knew I had to post it for you guys. Duck Commander’s message is really simple, that people need to love God and love each other and he delivers it beautifully. He really is a fantastic preacher.
Duck Dynasty could very well be done.
Sources connected to the hit A&E show, and the Robertson clan, tell E! News that the family is “very serious” about leaving the reality series, after the network suspended patriarch Phil Robertson for his GQ interview, in which he grouped homosexuality in with bestiality as deviant behavior.
“They’re an extremely tight-knit family and they’re not going to let this get in the way,” a source connected to the family explains. “[Phil] is the reason for their success—they’re not going to abandon him. They’re also not about to let anyone threaten their religious beliefs.”
Says one insider who works on Duck Dynasty, “People who work on the show feel like it’s a big pissing match and there is no way that anyone can win.”
The current plan is to include Robertson in the upcoming fourth season, set to premiere Jan 15 on A&E. Season four had wrapped production before the controversy began. “Phil might be diminished but there’s no way to cut him out altogether,” says a source.
But can the family really walk away? Will a fifth season even happen?
The network owns the series and all of the intellectual property behind it, for at least one more season. But as one source points out, “The family could do appear on another network once their exclusivity is up with A&E. Under a normal contract, that usually means anywhere from six months to a year after the final episode has aired. However, if the family breaks their agreement with the network, the network could hold them for longer.”
It’s also fair to assume that A&E needs the series more than the family does. Duck Dynasty is A&E’s highest-rated show of all time, and has put the cable network on the map. It is the second-biggest cable series of the year, behind AMC’s The Walking Dead, and the Christmas special pulled in nearly 9 million viewers.
Meanwhile, the Robertson family has plenty of financial stability (for, arguably, future generations), thanks to their estimated whopping $400 million fortune. More than half of that comes from their retail brand, currently being sold at Wal-Mart, which could possibly get pulled in the wake of the scandal, as the mega-chain did with Paula Deen in the wake of the N-word controversy. But even still, the family’s Christmas album also hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. They appear to remain a viable brand, for the time being. And they also have a show called Buck Commander on the Outdoor Channel. (A rep for the Outdoor Channel has not responded to request for comment regarding the future of the show.)
A source who works on Duck Dynasty believes the Phil Robertson controversy “can’t end well,” citing that the network has nowhere now to go. And the most likely scenario is that the series will end up being cancelled.
“If the network backs down and they bring Phil back, they look weak,” one insider explains. “If they stand their ground, the family probably won’t move forward and A&E loses their highest rated show.” Not to mention,
“No one can really imagine the show going forward without Phil. It would be too weird.”
A&E has not responded to request for comment.
By Andrea Morabito
Phil Robertson, patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” clan, is being slammed for controversial comments he made about homosexuality in an interview in the January issue of GQ.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me,” Robertson told the magazine. “I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
When the reporter asked Robertson what he found sinful, he said “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
The self-proclaimed Bible-thumper then went on to paraphrase Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
On Wednesday, GLAAD called Robertson’s statements “vile” and “littered with outdated stereotypes.”
“Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. “He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.
“Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”
An A&E spokesman had no comment, but Robertson released his own statement responding to the controversy.
“I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior,” he said. “My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.
“However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
“Duck Dynasty” has been a ratings phenomenon for A&E, drawing 11.8 million viewers to its fourth season premiere last August, the most-watched nonfiction series telecast in cable history.
Its fifth season premieres on Jan. 15.
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