Sunday, April 5, 2015

I'm Schachted! Schachted!

As if the problems of being a supermodel in an Islamic country aren't burden enough, Ayyan Ali discovers the ghost of Hjalmar Schacht lurking in her suitcase;
On 14 March Ayyan Ali was detained at Islamabad airport on charges of money laundering: the $500,000 in her suitcase exceeded the legal limit of cash that can be carried out of the country, which is $10,000.
Ms Ali denies the charge and says the money was acquired legitimately from the proceeds of property sales and that she was unaware of these customs rules.
Which have their antecedent in the currency controls introduced by Germany's Economics Minister Schacht in the Weimar Republic, and later in Adolf Hitler's regime. One result of that being that Jews fleeing the persecution of the Nazis prior to the start of WWII couldn't take their savings with them. Though, at his trial at Nuremburg Schacht denied that was his intent...and apparently was believed, as he was acquitted.
Prosecutors have said that if convicted of smuggling the money out of Pakistan, the model could be forced to pay a heavy fine and face a 14-year jail term.
The economist Tim Taylor recently had a post on E.B White that touches on this peculiar delusion (that has not been confined to Nazi Germany, nor Pakistan). In a piece in The New Yorker (1953). White had criticized the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. First comparing it's mistake to the fundamental error of FDR's Four Freedoms
F.D.R.  tried manfully to mix principles with goals. He foolishly grouped the exact concepts "freedom of speech" and "freedom of worship" with the inexact and unmanageable goals "freedom from want" and "freedom from fear." The U.N. Commission did the same sort of thing.
Specifically, White was thinking of the U.N. Declaration's 'right to work'--but, one doesn't have a 'right to work' if one doesn't also have the right to the fruits of that work (i.e., being able to take them wherever you choose to go);
...the kind of government that guarantees the right to work is the kind of government that ends up by taking full responsibility and telling the individual how, when, where, and for whom to work, and how to behave while at work, and where to send the fruits of his toil. [bold by HSIB]
What White is really complaining about is mixing the right to a standard of living--freedom from want, in FDR's parlance--with a right to pursue that standard of living. White got some pushback over that from a woman named Margaret Halsey in the form of an article in the ALA Bulletin, and he responded to her with a letter, in which he said;
If you were to pack croquet balls and eggs in a single container, and take them travelling, you would probably end your journey with some broken eggs.  
A right is a responsibility in reverse; therefore, a constitutional government of free people should not award any “rights” that it is not in a position to accept full responsibility for. The social conscience and the economic technique of the United States are gaining strength, and each year sees us getting closer to freedom from want. But I’m awfully glad that the “right to work” is not stated in our bill of rights, and I hope the government never signs a covenant in which it appears.
Governments can only try to guarantee the proper conditions in a country, in which legitimate rights can be exercised. What White didn't explicitly say (nor does Tim Taylor, surprisingly to us) is that economic rights are human rights. Governments that don't recognize that are very dangerous to their own citizens. As Ayyan Ali just found out.

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