Letters and Replies, Summer 2009 - The Objective Standard

To the Editor:

I wanted to let you know that I received my first issue of The Objective Standard (Winter 2008–2009) in the mail and was greatly impressed. I am relatively new to the ideas of Objectivism, and the articles in this issue have helped to clarify both the theory behind the philosophy and the practical implications of its principles. Seeing how the principles apply to real-life issues and current events makes them much easier to understand (and to explain to others). I just ordered all the available back issues and look forward to reading them as well.

Kendall Bryan
Jacksonville, Florida

To the Editor:

I enjoyed Brian Phillips’s article “Houston, We Have a (Zoning) Problem” (Spring 2009). Zoning has existed for so long, in so many cities, that most people can hardly conceive of a way in which a free market in land use might operate. For readers interested in a longer discussion in that direction, I recommend Bernard Siegan’s 1972 book Land Use Without Zoning, which also focuses on Houston (it was then, as now, among the largest cities in the country to refrain from comprehensive regulation of land use through zoning). Although written nearly forty years ago, the book’s observations hold up—zoning has only become more pervasive and complicated (particularly as it intermingles with the many environmental laws enacted) since that time.

 Larry Salzman
San Diego, California

To the Editor:

In “Immigration and Individual Rights” (Spring 2008), Craig Biddle says that immigrants should be required to pass “an objective screening process, the purpose of which is to keep out criminals, enemies of America, and people with certain kinds of contagious diseases.” But would it not be a violation of the rights of immigrants to force them to pass such a screening process? Obviously, criminals, terrorists, and people with infectious diseases should not be allowed to roam free, but would not a screening process presume immigrants guilty until proven innocent? What is the difference between forcing immigrants to pass screening measures and forcing citizens to do the same? Immigrants may represent potential threats insofar as criminals and disease-carriers may be among their ranks. But unapprehended criminals and disease-carriers exist among U.S. citizens, too. Why should immigrants but not citizens be forced to undergo a screening process?

Michael Labeit
Richmond Hill, New York

Craig Biddle Replies:

We need to unpack several issues here. . . .

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