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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9915/no-its-not-okay/

No, It’s Not Okay!

May 7, 2009 by

We’re all familiar with laws requiring convicted “sex offenders” to register there whereabouts with state authorities. It seems to me there ought to be a public registry to track another class of career criminals — former state officials.

I bring this up because of a press release issued today by the Federal Trade Commission:

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz announced today that Ken Glazer, Senior Deputy Director of the Bureau of Competition, plans to leave the FTC this month.

“Ken is a first-rate lawyer and antitrust thinker,” said Chairman Leibowitz. “We are grateful for his service to the public, his contribution to the Commission’s competition mission, and his willingness to help with the transition.”

Glazer joined the Commission in April 2006 as Deputy Director of the Bureau of Competition. In this role, he has been a key member of the management team overseeing the approximately 200-lawyer Bureau. He has also represented the FTC in a number of international gatherings.

Glazer helped oversee the agency’s challenges to several merger transactions including Whole Foods/Wild Oats, Redsky Sky Holdings/Newpark Resources, Polypore/Microporous, and Ovation Pharmaceuticals. He has also played a major role in supervising the Bureau’s pharmaceutical pay-for-delay settlement program, helping to supervise court challenges in Cephalon (Provigil) and Watson (Androgel). He also helped oversee the agency’s review of hospital mergers, including Inova/Prince William.

Glazer helped supervise the Bureau’s real estate program, including seven consent decrees and one Part III case (Realcomp), the standard-setting program, and single-firm conduct and state-action cases. He was instrumental in obtaining consent decrees regarding numerous merger transactions, and in key anticompetitive conduct cases such as Missouri State Board of Embalmers & Funeral Directors, Motor Oil Importers of Puerto Rico, Negotiated Data Solutions, TALX Corporation, Boulder Valley Independent Practice Association, and National Association of Musical Merchants.

In summary, Mr. Glazer violated the property, due process and other constitutional rights of dozens of companies. In the Whole Foods case, just to use one example, he supervised the theft of entire stores from the company. In all of these cases, he was the aggressor against individuals who committed no crime. Under a libertarian standard of justice, he is a career criminal, no different that a serial arsonist or a bank robber.

The FTC’s statement made no mention of Mr. Grazer’s future employment. Most likely he will end up as a highly-compensated partner at a law firm with a large antitrust practice. There, he will advise some of the companies he prosecuted at the FTC while helping others negotiate their own surrenders consent decrees with the government. Or perhaps he’ll end up teaching antitrust at some esteemed university — maybe George Mason University, which despite its libertarian reputation has long been a haven for FTC criminals-turned-professors. Either way, he will profit from his crimes.

It would be nice if corporate directors took a stand against this by refusing to hire law firms that employed ex-FTC officials. It would be nice if universities refused to hire — and protect the “academic freedom” of — professors who participated in the violent suppression of property and free speech rights while serving the state. Heck, it would be nice if people simply had the courage to stand up and say, “No, it’s not okay to work for agencies like the FTC.”

{ 11 comments }

P.M.Lawrence May 7, 2009 at 8:57 pm

I’ve sometimes wondered if it would be practical, including legal within the framework, for municipalities to levy poll taxes on serving and retired public servants. As well as “bleeding the beast”, it would hamper the beast’s activity.

sorrytobeapedant May 8, 2009 at 3:40 am

please… “their whereabouts”. we all make typos… but minimal proofreading and less relying on spellcheck…

Jim May 8, 2009 at 7:30 am

“No, it’s not okay to work for agencies like the FTC.”

Unless perhaps you use your position there to undermine the state’s criminal activities.

Christopher Peters May 8, 2009 at 8:57 am

Mr. Tucker,

Would it be possible to somehow get a “back” or “previous” button at the bottom of the blog to show more previous posts?

Chris

Anonymous May 8, 2009 at 12:50 pm

sorrytobeapedant
What is wrong with whereabouts?

Taylor May 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Jim,

“Unless perhaps you use your position there to undermine the state’s criminal activities.”

How far are you willing to take that logic? Can people join the Mafia? Military? Police chief? The Fed? Can they work for Hitler or Stalin?

What happens when they’re asked to carry out an unjust law, and risk losing their position if they refuse to do so? Do they do it anyway to pragmatically ensure they can remain in place to continue their acts of sabotage?

I’m sincerely interested in your response, and anyone else who chimes in. Frankly, i’ve been struggling with this quite a bit lately (my general feeling, so far, is… it’s hypocritical and immoral, at the very least, for libertarians to join that which they claim to be immoral and wrong), and I think practical experience demonstrates that most people don’t end up being Ron Paul once they arrive in govt and instead are most likely corrupted by the system themselves (also, RP is far from a saint in this regard… lets not deny his salary is tax-derived, and his presidential platform, while an improvement on other competitors, involved some dubious strategies for incurring the votes of veterans…), but is joining up and working from within a viable, non-criminal, non-hypocritical strategy for attaining liberty?

Oliva’s post makes me wonder, whether he meant this by implication or not… if one can’t be a libertarian and join the FTC, can we derive a list of government bureaucracies and agenices one can and can’t participate in as a libertarian, if there is no blanket “Yes you can join any” or “No, you can’t join any” consensus?

S.M. Oliva May 8, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Taylor —

Ayn Rand once suggested it would be okay to work for government agencies that merely duplicate or supersede private sector functions — like, say, a school or a highway department — but it was never morally permissible to work for an agency whose function depends entirely on the state’s existence, such as the FTC. I think it’s a good rule of thumb.

As for “working from within,” I can say there are people who tried to do just that at the FTC. A number libertarian-leaning economists have worked for the agency in an attempt to restrain some of the nastier antitrust impulses on the lawyer side. It hasn’t worked.

Taylor May 8, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Skip,

These may be dumb questions but, take working as a school teacher, for instance:

1.) Teachers don’t negotiate their salaries with their employers, they bargain collectively through their represenative unions with state politicians. Getting a raise or change in benefits means using money contributed to the unions (the basis of which seems coercive… first its taxed, then its forced payment as union dues as I dont think you can be a non-union teacher) to lobby politicians and influence campaign outcomes which result in larger expropriation from taxpayers. Is this an acceptable way to be compensated?
2.) What happens when you are forced, as part of the curriculum, to teach anti-liberty, anti-individual ideas, to feed children propaganda or teach them things that just aren’t true?
3.) What do you do when it’s your obligation, as a teacher, to report on and enforce truancy policies, absences, etc.?

Another question I have is about being a police officer… some of the functions of the police are probably still going to be prevalent amongst private security, though who is to say for sure, that’s another problem. But, can one be a police officer because private society would still require security, some kind of law enforcement function, etc., when your job also requires you to violate property rights and natural law?

Maybe to being a police officer the answer is definitely not, but what about a fire fighter? There will still be fire fighters. But part of a fire fighters job (as fire marshall, anyway), is to create and enforce fire safety laws for businesses. What happens when you, as part of your job, must have a business shut down for violating the fire code?

What do you think? I am trying to sort this all out.

S.M. Oliva May 8, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Taylor —

I wouldn’t recommend working in most state jobs myself. But, again referring to Rand’s argument, you can make the case that some types of government work are ethically acceptable. But all of your questions are certainly worthwhile. The problem is not enough people ask them before taking government work!

Taylor May 8, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Skip,

A final remark, another difficulty about all of this: as the State continues to encroach upon and crowd out market occupations, roles and what are increasingly being viewed as “alternatives” to the State, we must wonder at what point people are simply excused, entirely, from ethical and moral considerations in taking a job with the State, because their choice has truly become “work for the State, or perish” as it was in the former United Soviet Socialist Republic.

I know that many I have spoken to about these questions and these dilemmas basically take the pragmatic tact and insist that unless their job would clearly not be present at all in the free market, or it was a job whose primarily vocation was the oppression of free people (such as IRS agent)… they’ll take it and worry about the moral qualms on their deathbed, as the practical concern of making a little dough overrides their theoretical concerns about whether this is leading us down the path of totalitarianism.

Same logic gets applied to taking handouts from the State, with the additional justification provided often being “Well, I’m going to be productive later on, so this is like a downpayment of sorts.”

I’m not smart enough at this point to argue beyond saying something feels obviously wrong and hypocritical about all of this and that anyone who is truly committed to liberty shouldn’t be dirtying their hands and their souls in this way. But that’s about as far as I get… at the end of the day, if your potential opportunities are bank regulator with the Fed or hamburger flipper at McDonald’s, or some other equally skewed choice in terms of difference in prestige and pay… can’t expect too many to live the ascetic life as a matter of principle, I guess.

We could all retreat to farms and minimize our dependence and contributions to the State, but who wants to be a farmer when you can be a retired Naval commander and drive a nice new Lexus every few years on your pension, right?

intolerance May 8, 2009 at 7:17 pm

their whereabouts.”

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