9/11 Could Have Been Prevented
, 21 Apr 2004
Counters the claim that Islamists hate the U.S. because Americans love freedom
"The question now is, when will the American people understand? The crimes of 9/11 should have focused attention on the policies that made Arabs willing to commit such heinous acts here. ... The horrors at the World Trade Center could not have been prevented by actions taken between January 20 and September 11, 2001. The real issue is whether they could have been prevented had U.S. administrations followed the noninterventionist advice of the Founding Fathers."
A Bogus Libertarian Defense of War
, Future of Freedom
, Oct 2007
Examines Randy Barnett's Wall Street Journal
article "Libertarians and the War" and a follow-up at the Volokh Conspiracy blog
"... libertarian principles tell us that any response to a truly unprovoked attack must respect the rights of innocents. Actions that can be expected to harm people not involved in the original attack should be avoided. War must not be an occasion for dispensing with normal moral prohibitions. Those who disagree lose their standing to object to the murder of innocents on 9/11."
Abolish the Income Tax and IRS
, 28 Oct 2014
Comments on New York Times
article about asset forfeiture by the IRS
"In the past, when advocates of big government called for an income tax, opponents warned that the government would become 'inquisitorial.' How right they were. The tax rationalized the creation of the inquisitorial Internal Revenue Service, which to carry out its nefarious work must have access to all of our personal financial information."
A Foreign Policy by and for Knaves
, 10 Oct 2014
Further thoughts on "Does Freedom Require Empire" prompted by Daniel McCarthy's counterpoint article
"Even if we accept (for argument's sake) McCarthy's vision as desirable, the odds of its adoption as he intends it are nil. The private interests of the political class — and those in the 'private' sector for whom the political class acts — virtually guarantee that the power to police the world will be put to perverse objectives. McCarthy's criteria for a good intervention may be impeccable, but what grounds have we for confidence that the policy makers and their patrons will share those criteria?"
Again, the Isolationist Smear
, 17 Jul 2014
Comments on the targeting of Rand Paul by Rick Perry, Dick Cheney and other Republican hawks on Paul's stance about sending ground troops to Iraq
"Someone who simply doesn't want Americans draw into foreign conflicts is not an isolationist. The proper word is 'noninterventionist.' ... The wish to isolate the government from foreign wars does not translate into a desire to isolate the American people from commerce and other peaceful exchange. ... The noninterventionist case boils down to this: U.S. aggression abroad makes enemies and provokes blowback."
, 5 Jul 2013
Demonstrates how politicians and pundits twist the meaning of terms to support their desired ends while concealing true purposes
"Think of common political terms and how they obfuscate: Social Security, national security, border security, zoning, licensing, intellectual property, deficit spending, quantitative easing, civil forfeiture, civil commitment, taxation, subsidy, free elections, public schooling, farm policy, foreign policy, free coverage, drug war, and many more. All entail forcing individuals to do or not do something against their wishes. These euphemisms are intended to diminish our awareness of that truth."
America Must Reject Netanyahu's War Cry on Iran
, 4 Mar 2015
Counters Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the U.S. Congress about Iran's nuclear weapons intentions
"To begin, Iran has not sought a nuclear weapon, and the country's leader declares such weapons contrary to Islam. ... Iran's government is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), subjecting it to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency ... Israel and the United States have been waging war — economic, covert, proxy, and cyber — against Iran for decades."
American Hawks Risk Escalating the Ukrainian Crisis
, 5 Mar 2014
Discusses the potential expansion of the 2014 Ukrainian conflict due to those who advocate a "get tough" stance
"The theme of the Obama-goading is that Putin wouldn't have dreamed of intervening in Ukraine had America not 'retreated from the world.' The problem with this claim is that it is utterly without foundation. ... Not only is the U.S. government exerting influence, however ineptly, in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, it's been heavily involved in the very location under examination, Russia's backyard."
Americans Should Be "Anti-American"
, 21 Jun 2006
Comments on Robert Kagan's statement that the Iraq War "made anti-Americanism respectable again"
"What exactly do anti-Americanists dislike? There are several possible candidates: the people, the culture, the tradition of freedom, the commercial spirit, the U.S. government's foreign policies. That leaves only one real object of foreign hostility, U.S. foreign policy. And let's face it, what's not to dislike? Since the end of World War II, a succession of American presidents and their diplomatic and military minions have treated much of the world like slow, pitiable stepchildren badly in need of their guidance."
"And the Pursuit of Happiness": Nathaniel Branden, RIP
, 12 Dec 2014
Memorial essay, including some personal recollections, with emphasis on Branden's work on self-esteem and self-responsibility
"Libertarians and others have wondered why Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence concludes its explicitly incomplete list of unalienable rights with the pursuit of happiness rather than property. ... I, like Albert Jay Nock, believe that freedom is the great teacher of virtue because one cannot force others to suffer the consequences of one's irresponsible actions. So we need not begin with a population of virtuous people before a free society can be achieved. Nevertheless, a free and vibrant society will have its best chance to remain such only when people cultivate the psychological traits that Branden elaborated."
A Nightmare in Iraq
, 24 Sep 2003
Examines the situation in Iraq six months after the March 2003 invasion, including the consideration of using Israel as a model to manage the Iraqi population
"Americans soldiers are killing innocent Iraqi civilians almost on a regular basis. ... No wonder that U.S. government analysts believe that the troops have more to fear from average citizens than from the remnant of Saddam Hussein sympathizers. ... This has got to be an eye-opener to all those who insisted that the Americans would be greeted as liberators."
An Unstimulating Idea
, 25 Jan 2008
Examines the economic "stimulus" proposals being made by candidates and incumbent politicians
"The most objectionable side of the stimulus frenzy is the assumption that government can and should run the economy. ... Most people still believe the economy is a vehicle and the government the driver, precisely adjusting the gas pedal and brake as needed. But really there is no 'economy.' There are only people pursuing ends and the property they use and exchange in the process. If the government tries to 'run the economy' it has to run us."
April Is the Cruelest Month
, Apr 2001
Discusses the income tax and how government acts as a transfer machine from the majority to various interest groups, while keeping incumbent politicians in power
"Today the federal government takes a record amount of the people's income, more than 20 percent. ... In all the public discussion of the income tax, the key fact gets lost: it's your money. You work for it. You earn it. It's your property. Only you have a right to it. The plans that the politicians make to spend your money are outrages against liberty. We've come a long way since small tea and stamp taxes bred revolutionary thoughts in our forefathers."
A Real Free Market Benefits Workers
, Future of Freedom
, Nov 2006
Discusses arguments from both progressives and their antagonists as to whether workers are losing ground, in terms of inflation-adjusted incomes, and argues that the blame is not on the so-called free market
"Considering that for a couple hundred years local, state, and federal governments in America have intervened in the economy largely in behalf of business interests, we may reply that whatever we call it, it is not a free market. If the outcome in recent years has been unfair (however that may be defined), then the blame is on government intervention. ... The corporate state, by design, inhibits competition and makes average workers worse off than they'd otherwise be. "
A-Scalping We van Gogh
, Future of Freedom
, Feb 1999
Explains the economics concepts of opportunity cost, money, prices and entrepreneurship, based on analysis of scalping of tickets for a Van Gogh exhibit
"The real cost of a ticket for any person is the value of the highest-ranking alternative use of those hours. This is what economists call 'opportunity cost.' ... Money, or wealth, is the result of production, and all production takes time. ... If you were to lose a sum of money, you'd have to devote time to replacing the lost wealth rather than use that time for something else. "
Atlas Shrugged and the Corporate State
, 12 Oct 2007
Explains how Ayn Ran's Atlas Shrugged
properly depicted some businessmen as privilege seekers
"... liberty is threatened by business owners who seek privileges from the state in order to gain protection from open competition ... Those privileges ... encourage others to seek countervailing privileges. If businesses are protecting their market positions with protectionist licensing, taxes, regulations, subsidies, trade restrictions, patents, and the like, why shouldn't labor and other interest groups also seek protection?"
, Future of Freedom
, Nov 2003
Comments on the differences between Democrat and Republican proposals to add prescription-drug coverage to Medicare
"The distance between those two positions is an illusion. In both cases, the money would come from the taxpayers and be controlled by the bureaucrats. The Democrats would deal with the drug companies, the Republicans with the HMOs. Either way, strings will be attached and the medical marketplace will be further hampered from efficiently providing life-saving products and services."
Bad Partisanship Drives Out Good
, 30 Nov 2007
Differentiates between superficial and profound partisanship (loyalty to a party vs. to a set of principles) and the goals of the Unity08 group
"In my view, there can't be too much profound partisanship. Superficial partisanship distracts us from what we really should be arguing about. The proper question is not 'Who should lead?' but rather, 'What makes us think any political leader can make things better than people interacting freely can?'"
Barack Obama: Corporatist
, 17 Apr 2012
Reviews Obama's corporate-friendly (and hypocritical) actions, particularly towards banks like Bank of America
"This is just one of the many ways in which Obama reveals himself as a friend of big, well-connected business interests — that is, as an advocate of the corporate state. Considering that Mitt Romney also favors having government as business's ally, we can look forward to an election between two variations on this corporatist theme."
Bastiat on the Socialization of Wealth
, Future of Freedom
, Dec 2014
Explains what Bastiat meant when saying that real wealth is constantly passing from the realm of (private) property to that of the community
"In a competitive marketplace with advancing technology, as the effort required to produce and, hence, acquire things diminishes, the price of gaining utility falls. ... Thus, progress through the market order consists in ever more people satisfying more of their wants with less and less effort. Bastiat calls this a move from private property to common wealth because he roots property in effort, and greater wealth is available to all with less effort. What makes that possible? Technological innovation."
Beware Income-Tax Casuistry, Part 1
, Future of Freedom
, Aug 2006
Discusses the differences between direct and indirect taxes, pointing out that even James Madison and Alexander Hamilton could not agree unambiguously on definitions
"The tax (like all taxes) entails the threat of physical force against nonaggressors and is thus indistinguishable from robbery or extortion. ... In the most fundamental terms, the income tax is objectionable not because it's an income tax, but because it is an income tax. ... Frank Chodorov ... was wrong. It's not the income tax that is the root of all evil. It's taxation per se."
Beware Income-Tax Casuistry, Part 2
, Future of Freedom
, Sep 2006
Reviews the income tax laws passed between 1861 and 1894 and the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the Pollock case
"... landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. (1895), paved the way for the Sixteenth Amendment. ... the Court concluded that a general tax on income, being indirect, was constitutional without apportionment among the states, but that a tax on income from real and personal property, being indistinguishable from a tax on the property itself, was direct taxation and thus required apportionment."
Beware Income-Tax Casuistry, Part 3
, Future of Freedom
, Oct 2006
Reviews the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad
"Like it or not, the U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to levy any tax it wants. You may read the Constitution otherwise, but the constitutionally endowed courts have spoken. Reading one's libertarian values into the Constitution in defiance of the text and court holdings is futile. ... The battle over the taxing power took place long ago — in 1787 — between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, before the Constitution was ratified. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress had no power to tax; it could only ask the states to raise money."
Big Brother, not Snowden and Greenwald, Is the Story
, 27 Jun 2013
Examines the reaction from various media pundits both progressive and conservative to the Snowden and Greenwald revelations about NSA data collection
"Plenty of reporters and cable-news talking heads are playing the same role in the NSA drama. Indeed, if they spent half the time investigating Obama's Big Brother operations that they spend sneering at Snowden and Greenwald, Americans might demand that the government stop spying on them. ... Snowden and Greenwald have not 'aided the enemy' — unless the American people are the government's enemy. What they have done is embarrass the Obama administration by exposing criminal activity."
Bill Clinton and the Bogus Iranian Threat
, 8 May 2014
Another chapter in the Iran "manufactured crisis" saga: how the Clinton administration was influenced by Israelis
"Clinton's advisers saw the threat of nuclear proliferation as the path to beefing up the national-security apparatus. ... The Clinton administration implemented the 'dual containment' policy against Iraq and Iran. ... The administration charged Iran with abetting international terrorism, beefing up its armed forces, and seeking nuclear weapons. But was there evidence?"
Borderlands: What’s Happening to America?
, 30 Jul 2014
Commentary on the extension of border patrol activities in the United States well beyond (100 miles) the traditional country and coastline limits
"The ACLU calls the expanded borderlands, in which two out of three Americans live, a 'Constitution-free zone.' Specifically, the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure appears to have been suspended. This area is dotted with checkpoints at which anyone can be stopped, questioned, asked to exit his car, searched, and required to surrender personal belongings."
Brian Williams Helped Pave the Way to War
, 10 Feb 2015
Comments on the mainstream broadcast and cable TV network "journalists" who unquestioningly support government military actions
"... tune in to the three major networks' newscasts or consult the American cable news channels: CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. There you'll find stage actors conveying the Obama administration's neoconservative line about the ISIS threat to the American people and the need for government military action to counteract it — never noting that there was no ISIS or al-Qaeda in Iraq before the Bush war they helped make possible. Reporting 'news' without providing the context is a surefire way to mislead viewers."
Bush as Fake Free-Trader
, 28 Nov 2003
Comments on President George W. Bush's claim to being a free-trader while at the same time imposing quotas and tariffs on products from China
"Here's what the counterfeit free-traders don't want you to know: We should open our markets not primarily to get others to open theirs, but rather to enjoy the fullest array of the world's products. Our standard of living is determined by the accessibility of the goods and services we want. Opening our markets means that we are free to buy what we want from whomever we want. In that way we can get the most from our incomes. That's the route to prosperity."
, 19 Jan 2007
Analyses President Bush's statements and possible implications, of a speech made on 10 Jan 2007
"Bush says what he needs to say in order to justify whatever it is he wants to do. The standard isn't truth and logic but appearance. ... Bush may practice Orwellian doublethink, the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at once, never letting himself see that both can't be true."
California's Blow Against Property Rights
, Dec 1997
Discusses the concepts of private property and property rights in view of California's law forbidding smoking in bars
"We generally understand that the owner of private property sets the rules ... That principle does not change if the owner opens his place to the public in order to make a profit. ... It is his right to decide whether to serve Mexican food or Chinese food. Likewise, it is his right to decide whether to permit or prohibit smoking."
Can Iran Trust the United States?
, 2 Oct 2013
Turns around the question on whether the United States can trust Iran by examining the covert and proxy war led by former against the latter
"As one can see, the Iranians are the aggrieved party in the conflict with the United States. ... But, some will say, Iran is building a nuclear bomb. The problem is that this is not true. Twice the American intelligence complex (more than a dozen agencies) has concluded that Iran abandoned whatever weapons program it had in 2003, the year the U.S. government eliminated its archenemy, Saddam Hussein."
Central Planning of Electricity Must Fail
, 20 Aug 2003
Explains why deregulation (or the "free market") was not responsible for the Northeastern U.S. blackout of 2003
"California, the land of alleged power deregulation, is often used to indict free markets. There the authorities froze retail electricity prices even when wholesale prices were rising. (Other stifling regulations were also imposed on every stage of the industry.) ... When higher demand would have raised prices, signaling to end-users that they should conserve, government price controls kept those users from getting the message. Demand continued to rise, squeezing utilities, whose prices were not capped, until a crisis hit."
Congress Must Not Cede Its War Power to Israel
, 26 Dec 2013
Examines the reasons behind the U.S. Senate bill proposed as "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013"
"Netanyahu and Israel's American supporters in and out of Congress loathe the prospect of an American-Iranian rapprochement ... The Israeli government, AIPAC, and the Republicans and Democrats who do their bidding in Congress are on record opposing any agreement that would leave intact Iran's ability to enrich uranium, even at low levels for peaceful civilian purposes. But insisting that Iran cease all enrichment of uranium is equivalent to obliterating any chance of a peaceful settlement with Iran and making war more likely."
Crime and Punishment in a Free Society
, 6 Dec 2013
Describes how customary law and the principle of restitution were corrupted by English kings into a system of government laws and punishment of crimes (originally, violations of the "king's peace")
"At one time, an 'offense' that was not an act of force against an individual was not an offense at all. ... before the royal preemption, customary law prevailed in England. ... In such a system of law, one was not likely to see 'offenses' without true victims. ... This arrangement worked out fairly well — until would-be rulers, who needed money to finance wars of conquest and buy loyalty by dispensing tax-funded jobs, discovered that there was gold to be had in the administration of justice."
Crime and Punishment in a Free Society
, Future of Freedom
, Apr 2014
Expanded version of the TGIF article of 6 Dec 2013: describes how customary law and the principle of restitution were corrupted by English kings into a system of government laws and punishment of crimes
"... I want to draw attention to the distinction between crime and tort — between offenses against the state (or 'society') and offenses against individual persons or their justly held property. We're so used to this distinction, and the priority of the criminal law over tort law, that most of us don't realize that things used to be different. ... In a free society the category torts would fully replace the category crimes, and restitution would fully replace retribution."
Default Circus — er, Crisis — Averted?
, 18 Oct 2013
Examines the U.S. government's possibility of default vs. what it takes from its residents
"It would be better if the politicians couldn't borrow. Americans probably would not put up with the taxation required to balance a nearly $4 trillion budget. ... the government’s ability to fulfill its financial obligations depends on its ability to use force against productive members of society. All its obligations, that is, are founded on a pledge to engage in, as Lysander Spooner would put it, criminal activity — specifically, the theft we call taxation. But no binding obligation can rest on an immoral act."
Delete the Fed
, 20 Aug 2013
Asks who should run the Federal Reserve after Bernanke's term expires and argues the Fed is unnecessary to stabilize the economy or to prevent unemployment
"... government policy and Fed manipulations can create the very recessions that the Fed then tries to reverse. If the politicians and their court economists would get over their hubristic belief that they are stewards of the economy, macroeconomic crises would disappear. Besides, the Fed cannot set interest rates, not even its narrow federal-funds rate for overnight interbank loans. At most, it targets that rate by buying and selling government securities, but it doesn't always hit its target. The idea that the Fed can even heavily influence mortgage and other interest rates ignores important facts."
Democracy and Government Schools
, Future of Freedom
, Jan 2007
Discusses the status quo of government education, including "solutions" such as charter schools and vouchers, and the influence of the "religion of democracy" in attaining a real solution
"A free market in education requires liberty on both the supply side and the demand side. Entrepreneurs have to be free to offer any education service, subject only to the verdict of parents, who in turn must be free to spend their own (not the taxpayers') money as they wish. Only under these circumstances are schools really accountable to the parents."
Did Team Obama Blunder or Conspire in Ukraine?
, 20 Mar 2014
Discusses whether the 2014 Ukraine/Crimea situation was engineered by the Obama administration purposely or with unwanted consequences, as an example of U.S. meddling in foreign nations
"While no one ever lost money overestimating the capacity of the U.S. government to blunder, we cannot rule out that American officials knew exactly what they were doing when they helped provoke the crisis in Ukraine. ... Meddling in other countries' affairs is nothing new for America. We can learn much from ... neoconservative brain-truster Robert Kagan, whose 2006 historical work, Dangerous Nation urges Americans to realize that their country is an empire now and always has been ..."
Does Freedom Require Empire?
, 5 Sep 2014
Critiques an essay by Daniel McCarthy insisting that "power [and imperialism] is the basis of the peaceful order upon which liberal democracy rests"
"We've had enough experience with government to know that even well-intended policies will likely be turned to the benefit of special interests ('free-trade imperialism') ... What's to keep the imperial apparatus from falling into the hands of politicians who see war and conquest as the keys not just to security but also to glory, manliness, and national greatness?"
Does Obama Have the Courage to Pursue Peace with Iran?
, 23 Oct 2013
Examines how the warmongers in the U.S. Congress as well Netanyahu's government put pressure on President Obama not to reach a peaceful agreement with Iran
"All this comes against an incongruous background: U.S. and Israeli intelligence says Iran has no plans to build nuclear weapons. (Its leadership has issued a fatwa against weapons of mass destruction.) Moreover, even if it did build one, Iran would be deterred from offensive action by America's and Israel's overwhelming nuclear arsenals."
Does Obama Want an Agreement with Iran or Not?
, 18 Dec 2013
Ponders the sincerity of the Obama administration's actions after negotiating an interim agreement with Iran
"Do Obama and Kerry want peace with Iran or not? If so, they have a funny way of showing it. The danger of Obama's policy should be obvious. If Iranian officials come to believe that no matter what they do, U.S.-led economic warfare against the Iranian people — for sanctions are nothing less than this — will continue, the hope of a thaw in the absurd cold war will be dashed, and war could follow."
Domestic Fear Is the Price of Empire
, 25 Feb 2015
Comments on threats against Americans from al-Shabaab and recounts U.S. intervention in Somalia
"When the U.S. government invades and occupies other countries, or when it underwrites other governments' invasions or oppression, the people in the victimized societies become angry enough to want and even to exact revenge — against Americans. ... We can live without the fear of terrorism — but only if the U.S. government stops antagonizing foreign populations that have never threatened us."
Don't Blame the Thermometer for the Fever
, Future of Freedom
, Jan 1999
Discusses President Clinton's calls for worldwide regulations limiting capital movements and for a new New Deal
"Like the Great Depression itself, big fluctuations result from government mismanagement of money and credit. Let it not be forgotten that the Great Depression occurred 16 years after the Federal Reserve was set up. The problem is central banking, and the solution is a fully market-based monetary system, including free, competitive banking and the private issuance of currency."
Don't Fund Religious Groups
, Jun 2001
Argues against President George W. Bush's proposal to give taxpayers' money to religious organizations
"He heaps high praise on those groups. But has it occurred to him that their success may have something to do to with their distance from government? Yet he proposes to close that distance. We already know what happens when private groups get too close to government. They lose their autonomy. ... Moreover, there is no way that the program can avoid funding religion — which is anathema in a free society. The Bush folks assure us the money won't be used this way, but they are being disingenuous."
Don't Get Out the Vote
, 14 Feb 2014
Examines the writings of Michael Huemer and Bryan Caplan on whether get-out-the-vote campaigns are in any way beneficial
"... a mass democratic system encourages voter irresponsibility. Because the consequence of any single vote is negligible, individuals have an incentive to vote on some basis other than an understanding of current issues ... Urging voters to do their homework is a waste of time, Huemer writes, because most will find that task prohibitively expensive and, anyway, the question 'Who is the best candidate' may have no answer."
Don't Look for Grown-Ups in Government
, 16 Oct 2013
Responds to those demanding adult, i.e., responsible, behavior from politicians
"Politicians also fail to operate at a responsible adult level to the extent they believe society can be molded according to their whims. Societies aren't made of clay. ... Social engineering is people manipulation backed by force, which requires a level of hubris that no mature person would possess. Yet politicians engage in it every day, free of responsibility for the consequences that come from disrupting people's lives."
Don't Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment!
, 23 May 2008
Analyses various court cases regarding income taxation and suggest the only way to eliminate taxation is by educating and changing people's minds
"Repealing the Sixteenth Amendment would be a waste of time because its disappearance would change nothing. Alas, Congress could continue to tax incomes (and anything else). ... As the Anti-federalists warned in 1787 -- and the courts have affirmed -- the Constitution empowers Congress to tax whatever it wants. If we are ever to get rid of the income tax, we'll have to do it by amending the real constitution -- the one in the hearts and minds of the people."
Dump the Contraception Mandate and All the Rest
, 3 Jan 2014
Questions advocates of mandating employers to pay for "insurance" coverage of contraceptives
"It is the government's decree — not the employers who object to it — that violates religious liberty. Those who favor the mandate say repeatedly that employers who would refuse to pay for their employees' contraceptives because of religious scruples would be denying women access to contraception. That is obviously a lie, sheer demagogy. No woman would be prohibited from obtaining contraceptive products because her employer refused to pay."
Economic Nationalism, Enemy of the People
, 17 Nov 2006
Explains the benefits of free trade and the perils of protectionism in the wake of the 2006 U.S. elections which saw several Democrats elected for their nationalist stances
"The key to understanding the case — and the need — for free trade is contained in a single word: scarcity. At any given time we don't have nearly enough labor, resources, and capital to make all the things we want, including the things we don't yet know we want. So nature forces us to choose among competing desires. We'd rather not have to do that, but that's the world we're stuck with."
Election 2014: The Good News and Bad
, 6 Nov 2014
Sobering comments on elections, governments, democracy and why voting is of so little consequence
"Since no one vote is decisive, most people have no incentive to invest time and money acquiring the knowledge necessary to act responsibly on election day. ... How many voters study economics so they can competently judge what candidates promise to do? And how many study moral philosophy to better decide whether existing and promised policies are moral or immoral?"
, 30 Oct 2006
Comments on an eminent domain case in Riviera Beach, Florida where a developer is threatening to sue the city council for reneging on a supposed deal
"The victims of eminent domain are usually working-class people who are forced to sacrifice their homes for the sake of luxury homes and shops. Sure, they get paid something, but it's not a true market price and some of these folks don't want to move at any price. Fortunately, the [Kelo vs. New London] Court ruling unleashed a public backlash against eminent domain, and in response, over 20 states, including Florida, passed restrictions on their cities' power to take people's homes for private development."
Empire on Their Minds
, 14 Mar 2014
Comparing recent Russian and U.S. imperialistic behavior, then delves into the imperial tendencies of the Founding Fathers and early Presidents
"... in the eyes of the Founders, the American Revolution was largely a war between a mature empire and a nascent one. (Many — but assuredly not all — Americans of the time would have cheerily agreed.) ... Some American figures glimpsed that empire and liberty might not easily so fit together. ... The problem was that even many who opposed empire, sometimes quite eloquently, wanted ends that only an empire could procure."
End Draft Registration!
, 29 Dec 2006
Comments on the proposal by Rep. Charles Rangel to resume military conscription
"... a draft ... concentrates the burden [of military service] on those who don't want to bear it, while those who would have volunteered must accept a draftee's wages. ... Rangel says the draft would ensure that unpopular wars would provoke public opposition, as it eventually did in the Vietnam War. ... A far better way to enable people to effectively object to wars is the volunteer army. At the very least, a society with pretensions of freedom should recognize the right of people to abstain from fighting wars they disapprove of."
End the Other War Too
, 1 Dec 2006
Discusses the case of a woman killed by police based on a false report from an informant and recommends ending the War on Drugs
"The fact is, without the War on Drugs atrocities such as the killing of Kathryn Johnston wouldn't be happening. It is the very nature of victimless crimes that pushes the police to use unscrupulous tactics. In a victimless crime, such as an illegal drug transaction, there is no complaining witness, no one with an interest in reporting the crime to the police. ... the only way the police can detect the criminal activity is to set it up themselves or encourage informants. But the opportunity for corruption in these tactics is immense."
Escape from Responsibility
, May 1996
Discusses a number of cases where victims attempt to hold third-parties responsible for crimes or other harms
"In a free society, a basic distinction is made between acts and words. Furnishing information on how to kill a human being is not the same as killing a human being. Many novels and movies, not to mention technical nonfiction works, provide information on how to kill. That information could be used to murder. Are novelists, movie producers, and technical authors to be held responsible for the use to which their information is put?"
Examining Reagan's Record on Free Trade
, The Wall Street Journal
, 10 May 1982
Analyses several actions by the Reagan administration that belie Mr. Reagan's alleged pro-free trade stance
"Mr. Reagan wants to be known as a free-trader. Indeed, he lists as heroes some of history's foremost free-traders: Frederic Bastiat, Richard Cobden, Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek, all of whom would find import quotas odious. ... How ironic that Mr. Reagan, admirer of free-traders, has yet to discover the senseless self-deprivation of protectionism and the imperative of immediate elimination of U.S. trade barriers."
Extortion in Port Chester
, 5 Jan 2007
Relates the case of the Village of Port Chester, New York which granted exclusive rights to a development area and then overrode the rights of someone whose property laid partly in the area
"A contract is a contract, says Mark Tulis, attorney for the Village. There's just one problem: Didden was not a consenting party to the contract. The Village made commitments on his behalf without his permission. ... Local planning entities and politically connected developers have been running roughshod over property rights for years. It has become so common that it's hardly controversial anymore. It's just the way things are done. Most people think economic development couldn't happen without such practices."
, 19 Nov 2014
Examines Hillary Clinton's review of Henry Kissinger's World Order
"It says a lot about former secretary of state and presumed presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton that she's a member of the Henry Kissinger Fan Club. Progressives who despised George W. Bush might want to examine any warm, fuzzy feelings they harbor for Clinton. She has made no effort to hide her admiration for Kissinger and his geopolitical views."
Farm Subsidies Must Go
, 30 Apr 2004
Discusses the response to a World Trade Organization ruling that U.S. subsidies to cotton farmers violate WTO rules
"Farm subsidies have been on the rise. The 2002 farm bill boosted them to $19 billion a year. Both political parties are at fault. ... The real injustice caused by the subsidies is not to Brazilian cotton growers, but to American taxpayers. Why should they have to cough up money for rich cotton farmers? If cotton is so important, it'll be produced without compulsion. Not all crops are subsidized. How do unsubsidized farmers manage?"
, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
"As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer. The word derives from fasces, the Roman symbol of collectivism and power: a tied bundle of rods with a protruding ax. In its day (the 1920s and 1930s), fascism was seen as the happy medium between boom-and-bust-prone liberal capitalism, with its alleged class conflict, wasteful competition, and profit-oriented egoism, and revolutionary Marxism, with its violent and socially divisive persecution of the bourgeoisie."
Fear Not China
, 8 Jun 2005
Counsels Americans not to be afraid of China's economic activities
"Economically, the Chinese are freer than they used to be. Chinese entrepreneurs can raise capital, and foreigners can invest their money, to create productive enterprises. Chinese workers have far more choices than they used to have. The result has been stunning economic growth and an export boom fueled by low-priced high-quality products."
Fighting Discrimination without the Government
, Future of Freedom
, Jun 2014
Comments on an Arizona amendment about discrimination by non-government individuals or groups
"... the refusal to serve someone ... is nevertheless an exercise of self-ownership, property rights, and freedom of nonassociation. It is both nonviolent and nonviolative of other people's rights. If we are truly to embrace freedom of association, logically we must also embrace freedom of nonassociation. The test of one's commitment to freedom of association, like freedom of speech, is whether one sticks by it even when the content is objectionable."
Foreign Policy Failure Everywhere
, 17 Feb 2015
Reviews what several decades of American intervention around the world has wrought
"Despite President Obama's assurances that America's combat role in the unceasingly violent Afghanistan is over, we know it is not. ... There was no ISIS in Iraq or Syria before America invaded the former and called open season on the regime in the latter. ... Meanwhile in Europe, the U.S.-instigated coup in Ukraine ... has not had the intended effect ... Despite the current ceasefire, a war between nuclear powers Russia and the United States is not impossible."
Frédéric Bastiat: An Annotated Bibliography
Opens with a biography, then discusses Bastiat's main works and concludes with a current perspective; includes short list of works about Bastiat and links to other sites
"Bastiat's first book, Economic Sophisms, is a collection of short essays showing with unparalleled imagination the fallacy of government intervention. ... Bastiat's next book, The Law, is his venture into explicit political philosophy. ... Bastiat moved to the broader examination of the market system as a whole in his third book, Economic Harmonies. ..."
Frédéric Bastiat and Subjective Marginal Utility
, 2 Aug 2013
Explains marginal utility as presented by Menger and examines Bastiat's writings on how exchanges take place
"We might call Bastiat's theory a labor-spared theory of value. But when you recall that for Bastiat a thing has to be found useful for it to be a valuable good, there is perfect harmony with the theory of subjective marginal utility: Given that I find a good useful, what's the best way for me to obtain a unit of it? If someone is willing to furnish it to me, what service must I render in return to that person? Can I obtain the unit on better terms either by making it myself or by exchanging services with someone else?"
Free Cory Maye
, Future of Freedom
, May 2006
Further discussion and commentary on the case of Cory Maye (see "More Drug-War Victims", Dec 2005)
"Maye, 25, is sitting on death row in Mississippi, the latest victim of the government's indefensible war on drug makers, sellers, and consumers. ... Such tragic events will keep occurring as long as the government asserts power to determine what we may and may not ingest. In a truly free society it would have no such power. Individual rights include the right to take any peaceful action, no matter how ill-advised. ... When government enforces laws against consensual activities, police terror is inevitable."
Freeing the Education Market
, Mar 1993
Examines the effects of public education on literacy rates and suggests market alternatives
"The urgent solution to the education crisis is the complete separation of school and state. ... Anyone should be free to start any kind of school, profit or non-profit, religious or secular. There should be no governmental requirements for curricula or textbooks. Parents should be free to send their children to any kind of school — or to none at all."
Free Markets Aren't Conservative
, Nov 2001
Explains why businesses, especially the larger and well established ones, favor business regulations and taxes
"Businessmen, going back at least to the era of mercantilism 400 years ago, have typically embraced government as an effective tool to protect themselves from competitors. ... Taxes that make it difficult to accumulate capital to expand or set up businesses clearly favor established business leaders even if they have to pay the same taxes. The same is true for regulations. Older and bigger firms can more easily contend with such burdens than newer, smaller ones can."
, 14 Nov 2014
Counters the caricature of libertarians as hyperindividualists and explains the benefits that could be gained from truly freed markets
"Nothing about libertarianism commits its adherents to what critics call 'atomistic individualism.' That would be a curious descriptor for people who love the ideas of trade and the division of labor, even among perfect strangers at great distances. ... Libertarians, to the extent that they grasp the fundamentals of their philosophy, care about social dynamics, which accounts for their fascination with economics, especially the Austrian school."
, The Freeman
, Apr 2006
Explains why it is essential to be aware that the existing corporatist economy does not equate to the free market
"What today is called rent-seeking, exploiting others through political means, was as common in earlier times as it is now. It was a rare business proprietor who favored laissez faire. ... Most business people were uninterested in moral philosophy, economic theory, and ideology. ... No knowledgeable champion of free markets will be surprised by any of this."
Getting Away with Torture
, 17 Dec 2014
Examines some of the responses to the report on the CIA's post-9/11 use of "enhanced interrogation techniques"
"No excuse for torture is acceptable. Apologists for the CIA, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and former CIA Director Michael Hayden, may use all the convoluted arguments they can muster to claim that EITs do not constitute torture. But they cannot change the facts. Any government unfriendly to the American empire that had used these techniques would have been condemned by the U.S. government as barbaric."
Give America a Raise?
, 5 Feb 2014
Reflecting on a remark in the 2014 State of the Union address, clearly explains why legislating a minimum wage tends to harm those it supposedly intends to help
"Why is it stuck at $7.25? Shouldn't competition be expected to raise the wage if a higher wage is economically justified? This question is even more interesting when you consider that the higher-minimum lobby points to Costco's success in paying its starting workers $11.50 an hour. Why isn't self-interest driving other employers to offer the higher wage?"
, 11 Feb 2008
Reviews conservatives' criticisms of John McCain and what it means for the Republican Party
"Who, then, can fault the conservatives for their opposition to McCain? Is no principle important enough to stand by it, even at the cost of electoral defeat? ... I agree with the conservatives in this respect: a Republican party that nominates John McCain for president is unfit to exist. The sooner it is demolished, the better."
, 5 Oct 2007
Examines the validity of the concept of "market failures" as an argument for government intervention
"... it is fallacy to assert that any time the market is expected to generate suboptimal results, government should step in. Why is that a fallacy? Because it assumes that the results of government preemption would be superior to whatever results the market would have produced. But that cannot be assumed. It has to be proved. And it has not been."
Government Is the Problem
, Future of Freedom
, Aug 2013
Discusses a spring 2013 speech by Barack Obama and the facts that contradict his statements
"We didn't use a political double standard in ruling on tax-exemption requests from nonprofit organizations. We didn't try to frighten government whistle-blowers by subpoenaing reporters' phone records, reading their email, and even naming one journalist (Fox's James Rosen) as a co-conspirator under the Espionage Act. We didn't ask the NSA to gather data on us. We did none these things. They did. Who are they? The wielders of power and the interests for whom they front."
Government Keeps People Poor
, 28 Jun 2006
Enumerates five ways by which government keeps people in poverty
"... if the politicians really wanted to help poor people, they long ago would have done what it is in their direct power to do — namely, eliminate all the ways that government blocks people from climbing out of poverty. ... low-income people pay various taxes ... government does many things that make the cost of living higher ... government occupational licensing is a devastating one-two punch against low-income people ... government has steadily eroded the value of the dollar ... minimum-wage prices low-skilled workers out of the labor market ..."
Government the Exploiter, Not Protector
, 14 Jul 2006
Argues that, contrary to popular belief, the primary goal of government is not to protect the citizens but rather to exploit them though taxes and a system of privileges
"None of the governments we are familiar with was established primarily to protect the general population. Rather, they were set up to enable a privileged class to extract wealth from the general population. They taxed the people to provide subsidies and restricted trade to create monopoly advantage. To keep a good thing going, of course, rulers afforded the people some protection, lest an outside power horn in on the action."
Happy Birthday, Thomas Szasz!
, 15 Apr 2010
Short tribute to Dr. Szasz on his ninetieth birthday, including a list of many of his books
"Thomas Szasz, the great champion of liberty and critic of what he has dubbed the 'Therapeutic State,' is 90 today. For the last 50 years, no one has worked harder or more eloquently to defend the individual from the State-medicine complex than Szasz. ... Emeritus professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York Health Science Center/Syracuse, Szasz is the author of some 25 books, most famously The Myth of Mental Illness, a 50th anniversary edition of which has just been published, hundreds of scholarly and popular articles, and a column in The Freeman."
Health Insurance Scam
, 13 Nov 2009
Explains why "health insurance" is not about health care, but rather medical care, is not insurance, how it came about, and why it has resulted in rising medical care costs
"When 1940s wartime economic controls prohibited pay increases for factory workers, the government allowed employers to provide medical coverage instead. Unlike wages, noncash benefits were not taxed and soon became part of labor negotiations. The tax advantage given to insurance versus cash wages brought forth ever more elaborate packages, which included coverage for uninsurable events, such as routine physical and dental exams."
Here's How the U.S. Can Help Rid the World of Chemical Weapons
Argues that the U.S. government could set a better example by destroying all its chemical weapons, encouraging Israel and other Middle East nations to do the same, and ratifying the ban on cluster bombs
"If President Obama is serious about ridding the world, and not just Syria, of chemical weapons, he and America's closest allies in the Middle East should lead the way. ... American presidents love to brag about their world leadership. Here are concrete ways to lead that would actually bring constructive results."
, 23 Aug 2013
Discusses the inspiring yet naïve actions of Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning when she realized she could no longer participate in the atrocities of war
"As long as the death and mayhem are over there — and never graphically portrayed in the news media — most Americans couldn't care less how the U.S. military is employed. The deaths and oppression of others is unimportant. ... Americans aren't about to be outraged, much less moved to action, by a mere video — 'Collateral Murder' — showing 'our boys' murdering Iraqi civilians and wounding children from the safety of an Apache helicopter."
, 1 Sep 2006
Discusses the July 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, which resulted in 800 dead and was carried out with assistance from the Bush administration
"Were the American people informed that 'their' government was playing this role? Were they asked for their consent? Would they have approved? That the questions sound absurd demonstrates how far removed government is from the people who are supposedly sovereign in the American system. ... Do the American people have any idea what is being done in their name? Are they aware that wars in Iraq and Lebanon appear to be preludes to a war in Iran?"
History Lesson Lost
, 6 Oct 2006
Comments on Merrill Jensen's 1940 book about the American Revolution, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitutional Convention
"The Articles of Confederation, Jensen writes, were the radicals' triumph over the conservatives in the Continental Congress ... But the conservatives did not give up their nationalist aspirations. After years of denigrating the confederation and attempting to amend the Articles, they finally got their way in 1787 and used the Constitutional Convention to scrap them in favor of a strong central government."
Hobby Lobby Ruling Falls Short
, 2 Jul 2014
Dissects the good and bad parts of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
"A group of politicians cannot legitimately have the power to compel one group of people—employers, taxpayers, or insurers—to pay for things that another group wants. That's immoral, and it violates inalienable rights. ... By what right does someone resort to the aggressive power of government to obtain something he or she cannot or does not want to pay for?"
How Americans Can Help Ukrainians
, 13 Mar 2014
Suggests opening U.S. borders to allow Ukrainians (and others) to immigrate and thus help defuse the situation in their country
"Respecting the freedom to move would not only help the individuals who choose to exercise it; it might also have benefits in Ukraine itself. The kleptocrats of all parties, who have used Ukraine like their personal milch cow, might finally realize their folly if they witnessed an exodus of their most enterprising and ambitious residents. ... So forget guaranteeing loans to corrupt government officials. Forget facing down the Russians over Crimea."
How to Help Fast-Food Workers
, 1 Aug 2013
Discusses the strikes by fast food workers demanding doubling of the minimum wage, the economic realities behind wages, and alternatives that would truly help
"What's wrong with simply doubling the minimum wage? The answer is that wages are not arbitrarily set. Even in a corporatist economy, they result from supply and demand. ... Couldn't a restaurant raise prices to cover the higher wages? It could try, but this would drive away customers, who would seek out cheaper meals at other restaurants."
I Can't Help That I'm a Libertarian
, 1 Aug 2014
Excellent essay on why libertarians hold their beliefs and why they can't be sitlent about them
"My understanding of what it means to be human, of the conditions under which reason-bearing, language-using social animals can flourish, of the nature of violence, and of the essence of the state all lead me to conclude that individuals should be free of aggression, essentially the initiation of physical force. And that means all persons should be unmolested as they peacefully go about their lives, formulating plans and aspirations, justly acquiring possessions ..., and engaging in voluntary cooperation — such as trade — with other persons."
I Love Loosies and the People Who Sell Them
, 10 Dec 2014
Explains how New York cigarette taxes contributed to the police crack down that led to the Eric Garner confrontation (and subsequent death)
"Let's remember what the police say Garner was doing: selling cigarettes that had not been subjected to the high taxes imposed in New York City and State: $5.95 in all. (The feds add another buck.) Thus, a pack costs at least $14. ... The fact is that Eric Garner was a threat to no one. He was just a guy trying to make a few bucks by selling loose cigarettes — loosies — to low-income smokers harmed by the state's and city's tax collectors."
, 23 May 2014
Examines reasons for the continued acceptance of Keynes' economic prescriptions and contrasts them with those of Hayek and others
"A related aspect of the Keynesian response to the Great Depression ... is the stunning lack of interest in what causes hard times. ... Paul Krugman praise[s] Keynes for not concerning himself with why the economy fell into depression in the first place. All that mattered was ending it. ... Hayek, Robbins, and Mises ... could explain the initial downturn in terms of the malinvestment induced by the central bank's creation of money and its low-interest-rate policies during the 1920s."
, 22 Feb 2007
Reflects on the coming United States presidential campaign and election and suggests the candidates are running for the job of emperor
"The U.S. government has been building an empire for decades. ... the underlying theme has been ...: America, because it is exceptionally enlightened and has been anointed by history, must lead the world. To do so it must maintain a worldwide network of political and economic interests, client states, and allies. Those interests must be continuously protected and nurtured, preferably through local leaders, but if necessary by direct intervention."
In Afghanistan, They Died for No Good Cause
, 5 Dec 2013
Critiques an exchange by Richard Engel and Andrea Mitchell on the rationale for keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan
"What good is there to show for that loss and shattering of life? Nothing. Afghanistan remains a violent place, nominally ruled by a corrupt and repressive propped-up government that will remain precarious no matter how long the U.S. military stays. President Karzai regularly gets bags of CIA cash, the illegal drug trade thrives with official connivance, and stoning is about to be introduced as the penalty for adultery."
Individual Rights or Civil Rights?
, Future of Freedom
, Dec 1995
Contrasts the right not to be discriminated against with the right of freedom of association and concludes that one of them is invalid
"If an individual owns his life, he has the right to choose with whom he'll deal. That right to choose logically entails the right to use whatever criteria the person wishes. No rights are violated if he should abstain from dealing with a particular person. That statement remains true regardless of what criteria he uses. No rights are violated, simply because no one has a right to deal with him (absent, of course, some previous contractual obligation)."
Inflation Is the Last Thing We Need
, 31 Oct 2013
Responds to promoters of an inflationary environment by explaining the monetary and its effects
"A wage increase might make up some lost ground, but people on fixed incomes don’t get wage increases, so they're out of luck. Also, prices typically rise faster than wages during an inflationary period. The advocates of inflation say it will raise business profits. Aside from the fact that raising profits is not the government's job, does that really make sense? While businesses will be able to charge more for their goods during an inflation, they will also have to pay more for the things that they buy, including labor. Where's the real gain?"
In Foreign Affairs, Not Doing Anything Is the Thing to Do
, 24 Jul 2014
Comments on the arrogance of those who believe the United States should intervene in any crisis around the world
"Ignorant intervention begets bad consequences — unintended or not — perhaps not for American politicians or those who peddle war materiel, but certainly for those who bear the brunt in the target countries and the Americans who kill, die, and pay the economic cost. Managing world conflict is beyond the power of any mortal. Don't demand that a president do it."
In Memory of the Charlie Hebdo Victims
, 9 Jan 2015
Comments on the executions at the Charlie Hebdo
newspaper and the ensuing mainstream commentary
"Countless American officials and commentators have denounced these crimes as an attack on freedom of the press and speech, which they surely were. But the Obama administration hasn't exactly been respectful of those freedoms, as its pursuit of a record number of whistleblowers and harassment of reporters demonstrate. According to Reporters Without Borders, the United States now ranks 46th in press freedom, a fall from 33rd. (The United Kingdom is 33rd and France is 39th.)"
In Praise of "Thick" Libertarianism
, 4 Apr 2014
Examines "thin" and "thick" libertarianism, explaining how being noncomittal about racism undermines the principle of non-initiation of force
"The freedom philosophy is intimately related to ethical, political, and methodological individualism. ... So I'm puzzled by the pushback whenever someone explicitly associates the libertarian philosophy with values like tolerance and inclusion. We don't care only about force and its improper uses. We care about individual persons."
Intellectual Property Fosters Corporate Concentration
, 10 Jan 2014
After describing and providing references on the case against IP laws, reviews Butler Shaffer's monograph "A Libertarian Critique of Intellectual Property"
"In contrast, 'rights' in ideas — patents and copyrights — were government monopoly grants having nothing in common with the notion of property at the heart of libertarianism. In fact, such artificial rights undermine genuine property by authorizing IP holders to enlist government power to stop other people from using their justly acquired resources and ideas."
Iran: It's Not about Nuclear Weapons
, 26 Nov 2013
Examines the U.S.-Iran 2013 temporary agreement and the rationale of the deal's main opponents: the governments of Saudi Arabia and Israel
"Thus the Iranians, who have made repeated peace overtures, are portrayed as an “existential threat,” which is absurd ... The Iranian people, which includes a large, educated middle class, would welcome friendship with America. Both they and the American people would prosper from trade, tourism, and other personal contact. As a bonus, such friendship would inevitably weaken Iran's theocracy – which is why the hardliners on all sides are determined to prevent it."
Iraqi Death by Political Abstraction
, 5 Jun 2006
Examines the causes of the 2005 Haditha killings, reflecting on Leonard Read's notable essay "Conscience in the Battlefield"
"Try as they might, apologists for the war in Iraq won't be convincing when they insist that, at worst, the Haditha 'incident' (or was it a mishap?) was the unfortunate work of a few bad Marines. It was something much worse. When men trained to kill on a battlefield — this wasn't the Salvation Army, after all — are ordered into civilian areas where many residents see the troops as an occupying force rather than as liberators, what would you expect to happen? ... For too long we have sought escape from responsibility in political clichés. For too long innocents have died at the hands of phantom political abstractions. Enough is enough."
Iraqi Sanctions: Were They Worth It?
, Future of Freedom
, Jan 2004
Analyses the sanctions imposed on Iraq during the 1990's, and Madeleine Albright's attempt to recant on her statement that the sanctions were "worth it"
"Albright is clearly being disingenuous. Contrary to what she writes, food was initially embargoed, along with everything else but medicine in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Although the embargo on food ended in April 1991, Iraq was hampered in importing it because Iraqi oil couldn't be exported. Iraq was heavily dependent on oil exports and food imports: no exports, no imports."
Iraq: One Year Later
, 19 Mar 2004
Comments on the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings and on the first anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq
"It's got to be embarrassing to anyone who backed the war that terrorism is spreading, not receding, since the world's mastermind of all evil, Saddam Hussein, was deposed and arrested. Iraq itself is writhing from the violence, now aimed at civilian social workers and missionaries. ... No matter how devastating the evidence against the administration's policy — no weapons of mass destruction, no Iraqi alliance with bin Laden — the president and his people have only clichés to offer."
Is Any War Civil?
, 4 Dec 2001
Considers the controversy over whether Iraq was engaged in a civil war in 2006, and Tony Snow's comment contrasting the situation with the American 1861-1865 conflict
"If President Bush admits we have a civil war on our hands, the American people will (1) know that the Bush doctrine is a big flop, and (2) wonder why we should stay in Iraq. So what sounds like a debate over semantics is really a matter of politics. ... it doesn't matter whether Iraq is having a civil war nor not. In either case that country is in a situation that the U.S. presence can only make worse. Why? Because the U.S. military is a foreign occupier, and it is perceived as such."
Is Edward Snowden a Lawbreaker?
, 28 Jun 2013
Considers whether Edward Snowden "broke the law" by his disclosures of NSA telephone and internet data collection
"Auburn University philosopher Roderick Long points out that the principle lex injusta non est lex — an unjust law is not a law ... The great American libertarian political philosopher Lysander Spooner (1808–1887) applied this principle in his characteristically consistent and rigorous manner. Indeed, Long notes that Spooner took the principle further than his predecessors 'because traditional natural law theory recognises positive law as an additional source of obligation,' while Spooner's post-Civil War writing 'maintains that legislators cannot add any new obligations to the body of law.'"
Is Free Trade Obsolete? Part 1
, Future of Freedom
, Apr 2004
Comments on a Paul Craig Roberts and Charles Schumer article arguing against free trade, introducing first the law of comparative advantage
"The people of a country will not find it to their interest to make everything they want, because to do so they would have to divert resources from activities in which they have a greater advantage. The price system will lead them to discover that they can be richer if they specialize where their advantage is the greatest and buy the rest from others."
Is Free Trade Obsolete? Part 2
, Future of Freedom
, May 2004
After providing a numerical example of the law of comparative advantage, defends it from the argument that movable factors of production make the law no longer applicable
"Americans now face new competition in lines of work that were formerly sheltered not by U.S. protectionism, but by foreign tyranny. ... Americans ... can resent that progress, arrogantly claim that high-tech jobs belong to Americans, and lobby for protectionism ... Or they can lobby for an end to the mixed economy that holds down investment and wealth creation."
Is Obama Trying to Alienate Muslim-American Youth?
, 7 Oct 2014
Examines the Obama administration's contradictory stances on the Islamic State and outreach efforts towards American Muslims
"Once again the administration is trying to have its cake and eat it too. It says it wants to keep the American people safe and American-Muslim youth out of the clutches of ISIS. But it also wants to drop bombs on ISIS in Iraq and Syria — and as we see, it cannot do that without killing Muslim noncombatants, including elderly men, women, and children."
Is the Foreign-Policy Elite Clueless?
, 17 Sep 2014
Examines the policies of the Bush and Obama administrations in Iraq and Syria that led to the rise of the Islamic State
"The Islamic State, a product of idiotic U.S. actions, controls large parts of Syria and Iraq, effectively erasing the border between them. In response, Obama wants to obliterate the Islamic State (by air) without helping Iran or Assad or alienating Sunnis. Talk about squaring the circle! If recent history is any guide, arming the Iraqi army and the phantom moderate rebels against Assad amounts to arming the Islamic State."
Is This Really War?
, 16 Jun 2006
Discusses the Haditha killings and argues that U.S. troops in Iraq are acting more as a police force for the new Iraqi regime
"One could argue that American forces were at war, albeit unnecessarily and illegally, when they first invaded Iraq and sought to unseat the regime of Saddam Hussein. But after the government fell, was it still war? Or was it simply an occupation in which foreign troops sought to maintain order and suppress any resistance to the invaders and the government it helped to establish? This latter description seems closer to the mark"
It's Not Edward Snowden Who Betrayed Us
, 14 Jun 2013
Discusses statements from progressive and conservative apologists for NSA surveillance disclosed by Snowden and constrasts them to David Hume and Lord Acton
"So it's okay if the government monitors masses of innocent people as long as it's reviewed by a clique of gagged members of Congress and a secret rubber-stamp 'court.' That's what I call trust in power. Frankly, it's more alarming that the spying is legal rather than rogue. Michael Kinsley once said, 'The scandal isn't what's illegal, the scandal is what's legal.'"
It's Not War
, 9 Oct 2006
Counters George W. Bush's contention about a "decisive ideological struggle" by contrasting it to what happened during World War II
"President Bush tells us that in the 'war on terror' our very civilization is at stake. ... he has not asked for 'sacrifices.' He realizes that if he imposes sacrifices, the fragile support for his 'war on terror' will evaporate. ... America is not under siege. There is no threat to its integrity as a society. No barbarians stand at the gates ready to overrun and subjugate us. What we call terrorism is not war, but criminal action. "
James Buchanan's Subjectivist Economics
, Apr 2013
Reviews Buchanan's writings in What Should Economists Do?
, a collection of several of his essays
"James Buchanan, the Nobel laureate who died at 93 in January, was well known for his pioneering work in Public Choice (the application of economic principles to politics), constitutional economics (as a device for limiting government power), and many other key subjects in political economy. His voluminous work has long been of interest to libertarians and classical liberals for what it tells us about political behavior. ... Buchanan's body of work is not entirely immune from libertarian criticism. But at its core is something invaluable for the case for freedom. He was always someone from whom one could learn."
James Madison: Father of the Implied-Powers Doctrine
, 26 Jul 2013
Examines whether James Madison intended the U.S. federal government to have "expressly delegated" powers vs. "powers by implication"
"Thus, the man who promised that the powers of government under the new Constitution would be 'few and defined' now said that any constitution must have unenumerated implied powers. His colleagues should not have been surprised. In Federalist 44 Madison had written that 'No axiom is more clearly established in law or in reason than that wherever the end is required, the means are authorized; wherever a general power to do a thing is given, every particular power necessary for doing it is included.'"
Jane Cobden: Carrying on Her Father's Work
, 25 Jul 2014
Biographical essay on Jane Cobden, daughter of Richard Cobden, who continued her father's advocacy of free trade and other libertarian issues
"... Cobden did not see free trade in a vacuum. He and Bright linked that cause with their campaign against war and empire, arguing that trade among the people of the world was not just beneficial economically but also conducive to world peace. Unlike other liberals of his time (and since), Cobden understood that free trade means trade free of government even when it pursues allegedly pro-trade policies."
Jane Jacobs: The Spontaneity of Cities
, Future of Freedom
, Jul 2006
Memorial commentary, in particular about Jacob's books against urban planning and about her activism
"Lovers of freedom, cities, and spontaneous social processes lost a great champion April 25 when Jane Jacobs died at age 89. She was truly a remarkable woman. With no more than a high-school diploma, but also a keen eye for what other people miss and the ability to turn a phrase, she single-handedly demolished orthodox urban planning in the United States. To the 'planner knows best' advocates she responded, People living their everyday lives know better. In other words, The Plan should not be allowed to overrule people's own plans. ... Jacobs's work will inspire for many generations to come."
Know When to Fold 'Em
, 19 Feb 2007
Discusses the attitudes of Sen. John McCain and other hawks who opposed a non-binding resolution against a troop "surge" in Iraq
"Guerrilla warriors have many times humbled great powers. The Shias and Sunnis in Iraq are highly motivated, and they have the home-field advantage. What offsetting advantage do invading and occupying troops have against that? ... Bravado and messianism won't turn the loss in Iraq into a win. Bush, McCain, and the other hawks should know when to fold. A defeat for them would be the real victory for America."
Leonard P. Liggio (1933–2014)
A tribute to Richman's "favorite teacher"
"He was a radical libertarian devoted to individualism, free markets, and peace. He was a sworn enemy of tyranny, imperialism, and war. But he could overcome ideological disagreements with others by finding those areas in which they believed in human dignity and freedom. ... The key to his success was his ability to show the connections among the mercantilism, imperialism, regulation of business, welfarism, and government spending, inflation, and debt."
Let's Have Candor from the NATO Summit
, 4 Sep 2014
Comments on an article by foreign policy scholar John Mearsheimer about the crisis in the Ukraine
"After the Soviet empire fell, Ukraine had governments friendly to the West, but in 2010, Viktor Yanukovych, who did not view Russia as an adversary, was elected president. ... When Yanukovych balked at an economic offer from the European Union in favor of a deal with Russia, antigovernment demonstrations, encouraged by U.S. officials who wanted regime change, took place in Kiev, and pressure ratcheted up until Yanukovych fled the country."
Let's Make 2014 the Year of Freedom for Low-Wage Workers
, 2 Jan 2014
Examines various hindrances to economic independence, in particular occupational licensing, but also zoning, intellectual property and taxes
"Licensing is one way that freedom is limited on behalf of special interests. The licensing regime is overseen by the current practitioners, giving them the power to limit the number of their competitors. This is a double whammy. It locks people out of occupations, and it raises prices to consumers. We're told that licensing exists to protect consumers from shoddy work, but licensing does not protect consumers."
Let the Immigrants Stay
, 9 Jul 2014
Discusses the plight of Central American children migrating to the U.S. who face deportation by the Obama administraition
"Our rights can be expressed in many ways, but they boil down to just one: the right to be free of aggression. We have this right not by virtue of being American, but by virtue of being human. It is a natural, not national, right, so these young Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans have it too. Locking them up and deporting them should offend Americans, who claim to believe in the natural right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Libertarian Class Analysis
, Future of Freedom
, Jun 2006
Examines the class analysis by Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer, and Augustin Thierry
"Who were the exploiters? All who lived forcibly off of the industrious classes. ... Thus political and economic history is the record of conflict between producers, no matter their station, and the parasitic political classes, both inside and outside the formal state. Or to use terms of a later subscriber to this view, John Bright, it was a clash between the tax-payers and tax-eaters."
Libertarianism: Left or Right?
, Future of Freedom
, Jun 2007
Makes the case that libertarianism is properly on the Left of the polical spectrum
"Left and Right did not refer merely to which side of the assembly one sat on or one's attitude toward the regime. ... The Left understood that historically the state was the most powerful engine of exploitation ... Libertarians also showed their Left colors by opposing imperialism, war, and the accompanying violations of civil liberties ..."
Libertarianism: The Moral and the Practical
, Future of Freedom
, May 2014
Explores whether libertarian policies ought to be based on moral or practical bases
"... we must inquire whether libertarian concerns are really divisible into, on the one hand, a concern with duties (deontology), for example, respecting individual rights, and on the other, a concern with practical consequences. ... I'm hardly alone in my uneasiness with this separation of concerns into the moral and the practical. In my camp is no less a personage than Adam Smith."
Libertarianism Rightly Conceived
, 2 May 2014
Responds to certain criticisms made about Richman's "What Social Animals Owe to Each Other"
"The debate on thick and thin libertarianism continues, and that's a good thing. Libertarians can only gain by the discussion. ... [Lew] Rockwell need not lose sleep worrying that these libertarians might choose some other value over other people's freedom. No one understands better than they that no rational value can be achieved by violating individuals' rights."
Liberty in America during the Great War
, 15 Aug 2014
Examines how various areas of American society were influenced by Woodrow Wilson's decision to enter the First World War
"Wilson of course was reelected president in 1916 after a campaign that reminded voters, 'He kept us out of war.' ... The propaganda campaign was remarkable, the repression more so, as though the policymakers feared that a little dissent could turn the whole country antiwar. ... Kennedy finds parallels between the American propaganda effort and themes found in George Orwell's 1984."
Lysander Spooner on the National Debt
, 27 Sep 2013
Examines the context of raising the national debt limit by considering what Spooner wrote in "The Constitution of No Authority"
"When Spooner rips away the veil, we are left with the fact that a group of unknown profit-seeking principals authorize their agents to use the former's money in order to, among other things, extort a larger sum of money from a larger group of people who never consented to an arrangement in the first place. And it is all done, dishonestly, in the name of that larger group with the fraudulent words 'government of the people, by the people, for the people.'"
Lysander Spooner on the National Debt
, Future of Freedom
, Jan 2014
Analyses how Spooner trounced the arguments given for the legitimacy of the United States' public debt
"Lysander Spooner (1808–1887), lawyer, abolitionist, entrepreneur, and libertarian subversive ... in section XVII of his 1870 essay, 'The Constitution of No Authority' (Number 6 in his No Treason series), ... took up the question of government debt with his signature fresh look. As you might imagine, he left nothing standing."
Mandela Wasn't Radical Enough
, 11 Dec 2013
Examines conservative and progressive views about Mandela and apartheid, finds them lacking and contrasts them with the writings of W. H. Hutt
"The system was instigated by white labor unions precisely to keep blacks from competing. This was clearly spelled out in 1964 in The Economics of the Colour Bar by University of Cape Town economist W.H. Hutt (1899–1988), a self-described classical liberal (libertarian), a leading opponent of apartheid, and a prominent critic of Keynesian economics. While formal apartheid got started in 1948, Hutt wrote, legislation protecting white workers from competition goes as far back as 1907."
Marry and Let Marry
, 3 Mar 2004
Comments on President George W. Bush's proposed amendment to forbid same-sex marriage licenses
"To put it bluntly, this amendment would sully the Constitution. What was supposed to protect us from government power will have been used to threaten and restrain. ... Even if one believes that the definitions of words are set in stone (a dubious proposition) and that marriage for all eternity means a joining of a man and a woman, it is not clear how marriages so defined are threatened by same-sex unions called 'marriages' by the civil authority."
Medicare Rx Reform: The Road to Medical Serfdom
, Health Freedom Watch
, 23 Jun 2003
Criticises the proposed (and later passed) addition of prescription drug coverage to Medicare and predicts the nationalization of health care
"There's been no free market in medicine for many years. Dubious patent laws interfere with competition. The Food and Drug Administration grossly raises the cost of developing new medicines. And government control through licensing and prescriptions cartelize the entire medical profession. If the reformers were really interested in lowering medical costs for retired people and everyone else, they'd be addressing those issues instead of paving the road to medical serfdom."
"Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss"
, 11 Jan 2008
Examines politics and explains why politicians cannot be expected to lead the way to liberty
"Most people apparently like it that way. Politics is more like show-biz -- specifically, melodrama and soap opera -- than anything else. And people behave differently in the political realm than they do in the marketplace. (When was the last time you chose a car dealership because the salesman choked back tears on the thought he was losing your business?)"
Milton Friedman (1912-2006)
, by Richard Ebeling
, Sheldon Richman, 17 Nov 2006
Memorial tribute, highlighting Friedman's role in opposing Keynesianism, and his books and other public activities
Mission Creep in Iraq
, 21 Aug 2014
Examines how the initial Aug 2014 "humanitarian" intervention in Iraq keeps morphing into something bigger
"The safe bet is that the mission in Iraq will continue to grow. Few people believe that airpower alone will defeat the justly abhorred Islamic State or that the Iraqi military can get the job done on the ground. So Obama could be tempted to up the ante in order to prevent any touted gains from being squandered. Mission creep is only one reason why intervention in foreign wars is never a good idea."
Monopoly and Aggression
, 19 Dec 2014
Argues that monopoly and aggression are intimately related and that IP laws are currently the main monopolistic interventions
"Intellectual-property laws — patents, copyrights, and the like — have a similar effect by hampering competition through prohibitions on the use of knowledge and forms that people possess mentally. The creation of an artificial property right through patents is practically indistinguishable from a franchise or license. Its harm to consumers is the same. ... So-called intellectual property is the dominant engine of monopoly in modern economies."
More Bush Insults
, 12 Oct 2005
Comments on George W. Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court and on his speech asking for support on the "war on terror"
"Everybody is good at something, and George Bush is good at insulting our intelligence. ... This is the same man who gave us No Child Left Behind, who signed McCain-Feingold, and who claims the power to imprison American citizens indefinitely without charge just by branding them, without appeal, enemy combatants. ... To be fair, we can’t be sure if Bush presumes we are morons or if he is sincerely ignorant."
More Drug-War Victims
, 28 Dec 2005
Relates the case of Cory Maye, who killed a policeman while defending himself and his 18-month old daughter during a late night raid from a narcotics squad (Maye was released in July 2011)
"Opponents of the so-called war on drugs (it's a war on people) have long cautioned that enforcement of victimless-crime laws is by nature a mockery of justice. ... Nothing is more corrupt than the police-informant relationship in drug enforcement. Countless times informants have fingered innocent people ... Drug raids are notorious for leading to the deaths of people, often cases of mistaken identity, who tried to defend themselves against late-night visits from militarized SWAT teams."
More U.S. Intervention in Libya?
, 22 May 2014
Discusses the 2014 state of affairs in Libya, three years after Obama's "humanitarian intervention"
"The American public has been led to believe that except for [the 2012] terrorist outburst, things have been going pretty well in the country formerly ruled by Muammar Qaddafi. ... American officials assured us that 'moderates' would succeed the cruel and unpredictable dictator, who had become a U.S. ally during the Iraq war. However, it turns out that the moderate victors were not so moderate; in fact they resembled al-Qaeda."
More Victims of Immigration Control
, 18 Jan 2008
Discusses how employers and property owners along the U.S.-Mexico border are also victims of immigration control
"Eminent domain is the doctrine that government is the ultimate landlord of the country and people hold their property at the pleasure of the state. If it wants the land, it can take it. To be sure, the Constitution says it has to pay for the land. But there can be no 'just compensation' in a forced sale. What makes compensation just is consent, which is absent with eminent domain."
Motives Aside, the NSA Should Not Spy on Us
, 18 Jun 2013
Examines a couple of reasons for rejecting the surveillance state, even if well-intentioned
"Since we're assuming pure motives, we'll ignore the specter of deliberate abuse. ... Pure motives, however, do not rule out error. ... Julian Sanchez ... points out that a person who has nothing to hide from government officials — if such a person actually exists — would still not have a good reason to tolerate NSA surveillance ... Is that the kind of society we want, one in which we assume a government official is looking over our shoulders?"
Mr. Bush, Mind Your Own Business
, 21 Oct 2005
Criticises George W. Bush's advice to Americans that they should drive less in order to conserve gasoline
"The principal difference between the genuine marketeer and the phony is that the genuine marketeer ... understands that nothing compares to unfettered markets at (1) respecting freedom and (2) placing the division of labor and knowledge at the service of everyone in society. Part of this process involves the price system's dual constructive role of summoning greater supplies by offering entrepreneurs new chances for profit and encouraging consumers to economize."
, 21 Jun 2013
Examines calls for "national service" and contrasts them to insights from Frédéric Bastiat and Adam Smith
"As the early French economists liked to say: Society is exchange, and exchange is mutually beneficial. Exchange is at the very heart of a civil society based on voluntarism and free markets. ... Each individual wants things in order to live the sort of life she wishes, things she wouldn't be able to make herself. In a free society, no one may compel another to work for her benefit."
News Coverage Misinforms Americans on the Bergdahl Swap
, 10 Jun 2014
Discusses the distorted news about the five Taliban officials released in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl
"How did these men end up in U.S. custody? The U.S. government offered attractive bounties to Afghans who turned alleged Taliban and al-Qaeda members over to American authorities. ... The U.S. invasion-occupation of Afghanistan was a war of choice not necessity. American forces made it worse by indiscriminately placing a price on the head of any Afghan whom someone else was willing to destroy."
No Right to Remain Silent
, 25 Jun 2004
Discusses the U.S. Supreme Court decision compelling people to identify themselves if requested to do so by police
"Nevada and 20 other states have criminalized remaining silent in the face of a policeman's question 'What's your name?' By a 5-4 vote the U.S. Supreme Court said that's okay — it's no violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches ... It should make the citizens of a putatively free country uncomfortable to know that the police can have the authority to stop and demand identification on the basis of a 'reasonable suspicion' ... "
Nothing Is More Local than the Individual
, 31 Oct 2014
Powerful commentary on an Arkansas referendum to end county-level prohibitions on liquor sales
"... so-called local control actually constitutes a violation of the most local prerogatives of all: those of the individual. By what right does anyone prohibit an individual from engaging in peaceful commerce? If a minority of the residents of a county want to buy or sell alcohol, why should their neighbors—no matter how many—have the legal power to stop them? (And how long would a liquor store last in a town where no one drinks?)"
Obama and Kerry Jeopardize Peace with Iran
, 30 Jan 2014
Discusses pronouncements by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama that put in doubt their intentions of reaching a peace agreement with Iran
"... investigative reporter Gareth Porter points out that Kerry repeatedly says the agreement obligates Iran to 'dismantle' nuclear equipment, such as centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani protests that this is incorrect. ... Obama himself told the New Yorker's David Remnick there's less than an even chance of a permanent agreement, which is worse than the odds he gave late last year."
Obama and King
, 30 Aug 2013
Contrasts Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1967 speech condemning the Vietnam War with Obama's actions (planning to bomb Syria) on the 50th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech
"This sort of radical analysis was rare among Vietnam War opponents, who preferred mostly to talk of policy blunders and miscalculations, rather than criminal opportunism. It was particularly courageous of King, for he was working with Johnson and other key politicians on the civil-rights agenda. ... King had been pressured not to denounce the war, but he ignored that advice. How could he preach nonviolence at home, he asked, while remaining silent about 'the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government'?"
Obama Follows Bush's Iraq Playbook
, 10 Sep 2014
Examines the validity of Obama's arguments for going to war against ISIS
"Barack Obama says his job is to protect Americans wherever they are, but he doesn't cite the source of this power. No such power is implied in the president's oath of office ... Obama says he can go to war against ISIS anywhere without 'authorization' from Congress. (No one in government or the media uses the word declaration.)"
Obama Plays with Fire in Ukraine
, 23 Apr 2014
Discusses Obama's decision to send troops to Poland and Baltic states on top of sanctions on Russia over the 2014 Crimea crisis
"President Obama says the "military option" — war, that is — is not on the table in his effort to oppose Russia in the Ukraine crisis, but can we trust him? ... Could Obama withstand the immense pressure he would face to intervene directly if open hostilities broke out? How would he handle what David Brooks of the New York Times calls Obama's "manhood problem"? (Apparently, one is manly to the extent one is willing to risk a senseless war.)"
Obama Should Steer Clear of Ukraine
, 26 Feb 2014
Discusses the 2014 situation in Ukraine, pronouncements from President Obama and effects of potential intervention
"What's happening in Ukraine is sad. The country is divided between those who want closer ties to Western Europe and those who want closer ties to Russia. ... the Russia-leaning president, Viktor Yanukovich, has fled the capital, while the parliament has named an interim replacement. To make things worse, outsiders won't keep their hands off."
Obama's Iraqi Fairy Tale
, 28 Mar 2014
Examines, in devastating detail, Obama's March 2014 remarks about the 2003 Iraqi invasion
"In terms of international law, Bush was not allowed to launch a war against Iraq, which had threatened no one, until he secured another resolution from the Security Council ... That resolution was proposed but then withdrawn when Bush realized it would be vetoed. So he ignored the UN rules, which prohibit launching a war unless it's in self-defense or authorized by the Security Council, and invaded on his own say-so, after Congress rubberstamped his discretionary 'authorization for the use of military force.'"
Obama Speaks with Forked Tongue on Surveillance
, 11 Jun 2013
Compares contradictory claims by Obama and his administration regarding Edward Snowden's disclosures of NSA monitoring of online activity and telephone calls
"When Obama ran for president in 2008, he said Americans shouldn't have to choose between privacy and security. Now he says that 'one of the things that we're going to have to discuss and debate is how are we striking this balance between the need to keep the American people safe and our concerns about privacy? Because there are some tradeoffs involved.'"
Obama Still Does a Good Imitation of Bush
, 22 Oct 2014
Considers President Obama's continuance of the national security policies of his predecessor
"... Obama has yet to decide whether the international ban on torture applies to U.S. government conduct outside the United States. ... But rather than scrapping Appendix M, the administration may now be on the verge of declaring that U.S. government harsh conduct toward prisoners detained outside the United States, such as Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is not covered by the Treaty Against Torture."
Obama's Willful Foreign-Policy Blindness
, 30 May 2013
Analyses President Obama's 23rd May 2013 speech at the National Defense University, later comments on Memorial Day and the reactions from Republicans
"Why did the earlier speech set off Republicans? He acknowledged that terrorism can never be completely eliminated and that a risk-free society is impossible. He conceded that U.S. military action breeds enemies. ... He even quoted James Madison: 'No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.' Indeed, Obama said some things that need saying, but will he do what needs doing? More precisely, will he stop doing what shouldn't be done?"
One Hundred Years in Iraq?
, 4 Apr 2008
Analyses John McCain's comment about staying in Iraq for 100 or more years and his previous comments on the occupation
"Oddly, last November McCain seemed to understand the implications of a long-term occupation when he appeared on Charlie Rose's television program and expressed opposition to a long-term occupation even if there were no casualties. ... McCain seems to be saying that the Iraqis will never accept a U.S force and that therefore America perhaps could never count on an occupation without casualties ..."
One Hundred Years of the Federal Reserve
, Future of Freedom
, Dec 2013
Examines the Fed's record since its inception, quoting the 2010 Cato paper "Has the Fed Been a Failure?" as well as Rothbard, Timberlake and Hummel
"It's a sobering thought that in the 100 years since the Fed's creation, the dollar has lost 95 percent of its value. Had the Fed never been created, America would be dotted with Nickel Stores (other things being equal) instead of Dollar Stores. ... Central banks like the Fed only messed money up, robbing the people of their purchasing power while facilitating warfare and welfare spending through irresponsible large-scale government borrowing."
One Moral Standard for All
, 15 Nov 2013
Postulate that most nonlibertarians agree that initiation of force is wrong, but they have to be shown that the same moral standard should hold for private individuals and government personnel
"If I can't legally impose mandates on people, as the Affordable Care Act does, why can Barack Obama and members of Congress do so? If I can't forcibly forbid you to use marijuana or heroin or cocaine, why can DEA agents do it? Those officials are human beings. You are a human being. I am a human being. So we must have the same basic rights. Therefore, what you and I may not do, they may not do."
Our Elective Monarchy
, 16 Jun 2004
Comments on the seemingly royal funeral for Ronald Reagan and the similar treatment given to other U.S. Presidents, contrasting them to British Prime Ministers
"Great Britain's government is a parliamentary system under a monarchy. Thus the head of state and the head of government are different people. ... The Parliament's vigorous questioning of the prime minister is the most public manifestation of this feature of the British government. ... notwithstanding the jabber about 'of the people, by the people, for the people,' the State is in charge. ... What we [Americans] have is an elective monarch who, if we are to believe the current wearer of the crown, rules by divine right."
Our Patience on Iraq Should Be Exhausted
, 4 Apr 2007
Comments on George W. Bush's request that the Iraqi troop "surge" be given a chance and congressional efforts to impose a withdrawal deadline
"... the big picture is getting lost. Even most war critics in Congress seem to not fully see it. They routinely criticize the Bush administration for its incompetent execution of the war, but by doing so they have dropped the more important ball: regardless of how the war is being run, the invasion was illegal, unconstitutional, and contrary to the interests of the American people."
Out of Iraq, Etc.!
, 13 Aug 2014
Examines the origins of the arbitrary country subdivisions in the Fertile Crescent after World War I and the continuing problems in the region
"European countries drew lines in the sand without much regard for the societies they were constructing from disparate sectarian, tribal, and ethnic populations. ... It's no exaggeration to say that virtually every current problem in the region stems at least in part from the imperial double cross and carve-up that took place after the war. And the immediate results of the European betrayal were then exacerbated by further acts of intervention and neocolonialism ..."
, 29 Sep 2006
Discusses the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian sent to Syria for interrogation on suspectied ties to al-Qaeda
"If you want to see the bare essence of the Bush administration, behold its policy of 'rendition' ... under which American officials send terrorist suspects ... to countries where they will be tortured, keeping the U.S. government's hands clean of the monstrous treatment. Can anyone with a sense of justice or humane bone in his body defend such a shameful policy? ... This is America under George W. Bush. It's not the America we learned about growing up. Something has gone badly wrong. When will we do something about it?"
Ownership and Ideas
, 12 Sep 2014
Critiques some statements by Murray Rothbard in For a New Liberty
about ownership of created products
"As Rothbard acknowledges, when we talk about creation, we don't mean it literally, as though a product comes from nothing. As libertarian thinkers have always understood, when we create things, we only change other already existing things from a less valuable (useful) form to a more valuable (useful) form. (At least that is the goal.)"
Page Scandal: Political Corruption Precedes Sexual Corruption
, 25 Oct 2006
Comments on the U.S. Congress page program and the scandal involving Mark Foley
"Political careers of their own! See what I mean? Their susceptibility to sexual corruption by pathetic, lonely, middle-aged male politicians is made possible by their political corruption. Who is teaching them that power is romantic? Sending these kids to Washington only reinforces their budding power lust and makes them marks for political sexual predators."
Pathetic Arguments for Foreign Intervention
, 25 Jan 2008
Discusses comments made by Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal
about Ron Paul's call for U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East
"For decades U.S. presidents have sought to manage the world in behalf of what they call 'American interests,' and all it has brought is death, mayhem, anti-Americanism, and a price tag that would blow the average citizen's mind if he fully grasped it."
, 25 Apr 2008
Discusses the revelations about TV news analysts connected to the Pentagon and to military contractors
"A retired general representing or wishing to represent a military contractor has no better credential than access to insider briefings about current operations. To lose that access is to lose one's livelihood. Thus the Pentagon's plan worked. Disguised as objective analysts, the Defense Department's mouthpieces faithfully delivered the administration's propaganda."
Pleasing Consumers Isn't Easy
, 12 Jan 2007
Comments on the challenges faced by high tech gadget entrepreneurs, before the release of the first Apple iPhone
"For an entrepreneur, it's a little like stumbling around in the dark. Particularly with cutting-edge hi-tech products, entrepreneurs can't always see the obstacles to success. ... That's where entrepreneurial risk comes in. The daring business people won't know what we consumers want until we are given the choice. Meanwhile, big bucks ride on our decisions."
, 18 May 2007
Reviews Frank Van Dun's 1986 paper titled "Economics and the Limits of Value-Free Science" and its implications for making an objective case for ethics, freedom and private property
"This brings us to political theory and the objective case for freedom. ... This has serious implications at the social and political level ... a truth seeker cannot advocate any political system that imposes limits on peaceful action and thought -- that is, which sanctions the initiation of force -- without implicitly contradicting herself."
Power to the Individual, Not to the State
, 29 Apr 2015
Discusses the progressive movement to increase the minimum wage to $15 and proposes a more radical solution
"Why do people forget the Law of Demand when low-skilled labor services are under discussion? Doesn't it stand to reason that if the government mandates a higher price (wage) for low-skilled labor, buyers (employers) will demand smaller quantities of it (hire fewer workers)? Why would this particular law of human action be different in just this one area? That makes no sense. It at least requires an explanation."
Preventing Opposition to War
, 13 Apr 2007
Explains why the George W. Bush administration has not gotten more people directly involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, such as by conscription, war bonds or demanding "sacrifices"
"War can be highly useful to this cause because in time the taxpayers may begin to catch on to the scam that drains their wealth. If they can be made to fear that an external enemy threatens their safety, they will happily trust their rulers with more power and money and ignore the occasional overt corruption. Nothing better serves this purpose than a foreign war."
Preventing War with Iran Is Top Priority
, 13 Nov 2013
Examines the 2013 situation between the Obama administration and Israel on one side and Iran on the other
"In fact, the American people and the Israeli government have entirely different interests with respect to Iran. Americans have no interest whatever in war with Iran. Countless noncombatants, not to mention U.S. military personnel, would be killed or maimed, and economic well-being would be shaken by the disruption of oil production and trade."
Privatize the Airwaves!
, 26 Apr 2004
Cites several incidents of FCC attempts to enforce "broadcast decency standards" and questions the rationale for nationalized airwaves
"Another gap in the debate is the failure to question the status of the airwaves, or broadcast spectrum, as government property. ... just because we call them 'the public's airwaves,' it doesn't mean that's what they are. Anything said to be owned by the public is actually controlled by the government — politicians and bureaucrats. If you think you are a real part-owner of the airwaves, try selling your 'share.'"
Profiting from Misfortune
, 5 Oct 2005
Reflects on the fairness of those who profit from the "misfortune of others", such as medical doctors and farmers, in view of gas price hikes due to hurricanes
"Prices are not determined by past costs. ... To replace the gas sold today, the station will have to pay the new higher price. That fact will and should influence his conduct, not yesterday's price, which has no relevance today whatsoever. . A fair price is one a seller and buyer agree to. ... ask yourself whether you intend to sell your home for the price you paid rather than the higher price you might be able to get."
Property and Force: A Reply to Matt Bruenig
, 22 Nov 2013
Responds to blogger Bruenig's criticism of the essay "One Moral Standard for All"; with quotes or examples from Roderick Long, Murray Rothbard, Gary Chartier, David Hume and Karl Hess
"... how do we get from the right to one's body to the right to one's (justly acquired) possessions, including land? A person's possessions are extensions of his life and labor. ... Flourishing requires the use of physical objects, including shelter and other uses of land, in an environment of respect for and from others. Thus to violate a person's property is to violate that person. (Again, violations can be de minimis, and the response must be proportionate.)"
Pundit in Wonderland
, 28 Sep 2007
Critiques a Washington Post
op-ed about the supposed increase in the "have-nots" in American society
"We can expect the widest diffusion of wealth in a truly free market because government wouldn't be discouraging production or granting privileges to the well-connected. Working people, who often feel they are without economic power, would have maximum bargaining clout if government kept hands off. Clout comes from having alternatives, and government intervention reduces alternatives, including self-employment options."
Real Liberalism and the Law of Nature
, 10 Aug 2007
Examines Hodgskin's introductory letter to Henry Brougham, a Member of Parliament (later Lord Chancellor), written in 1829, published in The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted
"Is government the source of our rights? I fear that today many people would say yes. Not infrequently it is said that the government or the Constitution grants us freedom of speech or press or the right to own property. This offends the natural-law tradition that was essential to the genesis of classical liberalism ('liberalism') and the vital institutions it spawned. ... the heart and soul of liberalism is — and remains — the natural law. The philosophy would be impoverished without it. Thomas Hodgskin ... well understood this. He deserves to be better known than he is. ... Where are those such as Thomas Hodgskin when we really need them?"
Revisiting a Libertarian Classic: Nock's Our Enemy, the State
, Future of Freedom
, Mar 2006
Examines some of the major themes of Nock's Our Enemy, the State
"Nock (1870-1945) was a prolific author of books and articles, a magazine editor, a colleague of H.L. Mencken, and a sharp observer of the political and culture scene. He is best known for his little book Our Enemy, the State, published in 1935. ... Nock admired the Jeffersonian ideals of natural rights and popular sovereignty. The problem, as Nock saw it, was that those ideals were quickly forgotten ... Nock represents a radical strain of modern libertarian thought that gets insufficient attention today. While he did not get everything right, he was more often on the mark than off."
Rights Violations Aren't the Only Bads
, 17 Jan 2014
Discusses criticism of "Intellectual Property Fosters Corporate Concentration" in the larger context of rights violations
"What I'm arguing for is a commonsense category of noninvasive moral offenses, wrongful acts that do not involve force. ... forced-backed remedies are not the only — or even the best — remedies available. Nonviolent responses, including boycotts, shunning, and gossip, can be highly effective. Libertarians ought to beware of embracing such a narrow view of morality that only forceful invasions of persons and property are deserving of moral outrage and response. Think of all the cruel ways people can treat others without lifting a hand. Are we to remain silent in the face of such abuse?"
Rothbard's For a New Liberty
, 16 May 2014
Review of For a New Liberty
with emphasis on Rothbard's discussion of the nonaggression axiom and natural rights
"The book is an excellent discussion of libertarian principles and applications, and it is still worth reading today. ... Rothbard played a larger role than most in shaping the modern libertarian movement. ... Anyone eager to understand the rich libertarian philosophy and heritage could do no better than to begin with For a New Liberty."
Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty: Still Worthy after All These Years
, 9 May 2014
Review of The Ethics of Liberty
with emphasis on Rothbard's arguments for the validity of natural law
"In 1982 Murray Rothbard published his magnum opus in political philosophy, The Ethics of Liberty. It is a tour de force, a remarkable presentation of the moral case for political freedom. ... Many of these quotations indicate that Rothbard believed that under natural law, binding moral constraints can be rationally identified. Respect for other people and their just possession is one such binding constraint; it does not require explicit or implicit consent."
Rule of Law Damaged by Schiavo Bill
, 23 Mar 2005
Discusses the implications of the hurried legislation, passed by Congress and signed by President Bush, to allow the parents of Terri Schiavo to have federal courts another look at her case, after state courts had ruled
"In the end, the bill probably won't prolong Terri Schiavo's life. But it may well cut short the rule of law. It is no defense of the Republicans to say that a young woman was being starved to death. Congress has no constitutional authority to exercise arbitrary power any time an emergency catches its attention, especially where there are no federal or constitutional issues at stake. That it is legally restrained from doing whatever it wants is part of what we mean by the rule of law."
Self-Deception about Medical Care
, 15 Feb 2006
Discusses comments made by Christine Cassel, a geriatric medicine specialist, arguing for public support of Medicare
"Long before there was Medicare and Medicaid, many people of modest and low income received decent medical care through fraternal organizations. Lodges would sign contracts with doctors, in effect buying services in bulk that, throughout the year, would be distributed to members and their families at affordable prices. The system made medical care accessible while maintaining self-responsibility and cost-consciousness."
Sgt. Bergdahl and the Fog of War
, 4 Jun 2014
Reviews the history of U.S.-Afghanistan relationship since Reagan to the present release of Sgt. Bergdahl
"On the surface, the war in Afghanistan seems easy to understand. The Taliban government gave sanctuary to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, which attacked American targets in the 1990s and on September 11, 2001. But things are not so simple. ... When Haqqani, a celebrated freedom fighter during the Soviet war, turned down a deal from the Americans because it included detention, the U.S. military attacked his home province and other areas, killing his brother-in-law and innocent children."
Smedley Butler and the Racket That Is War
, 27 Jun 2014
Review of United States Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler's War Is A Racket
"Butler proposed ways to make war less likely. ... he suggested three measures: (1) take the profit out of war by conscripting 'capital and industry and labor' ... before soldiers are conscripted; (2) submit the question of entry into a proposed war to a vote only of 'those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying'; (3) 'make certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only.'"
Social Security Has to Go
, Future of Freedom
, Jan 1998
Examines the U.S. Social Security system, including the employee and employer "contributions", the "trust fund" and how it may fare in the future
"Each pay period, workers are forced make what are called 'contributions,' and when they retire, they are to receive benefits. The system is riddled with dishonesty. First of all, when the government forces a citizen to make a contribution, it's a tax and nothing else. Second, the money is not put away or invested in order to earn interest and yield benefits for retirement later on. From the beginning, the money was used to pay benefits to current retirees."
So What If Freedom Isn't Free?
, 31 May 2013
Examines the "Freedom isn't free" assertion from the viewpoint of free will, negative or positive rights, resource scarcity and common usage
"Protecting one's (negative) social freedom may require the use of scarce resources, and in that sense freedom indeed is not free. ... I find that the phrase is more commonly used as a demand that we unquestioningly accept any state-imposed burdens placed under the national-security rubric. It's an emotional appeal intended to take the place of cool consideration. It's a blank check for the state."
Speaking to Nonlibertarians
, 11 Jul 2014
Suggests an approach by which libertarians can try to persuade others of the benefits of freed markets
"... people’s attraction to government-provided social services is not the problem (they believe they pay for them through taxes), because similar services offered in the voluntary sector (for-profit or mutual) would be not only unobjectionable but salutary. ... the libertarian approach should focus on the flawed political method by which the services are provided, not the purported objects of the services themselves — security."
States, United States: America's James Bond Complex
, 4 Feb 2015
Argues that the doctrine of American exceptionalism means U.S. officials appear to have a de facto licence to kill
"U.S. rulers have waged aggressive genocidal wars (against the Indians and Vietnamese, for example), have brutally put down colonial rebellions (against the Filipinos, for example), facilitated genocidal policies carried out by client dictators (in Indonesia, for example), underwritten repressive dictatorships and brutal occupations (in Egypt and Palestine, for example), and instigated in antidemocratic coups (in Iran and Chile, for example). When has an American official been placed in the dock to answer for these crimes?"
Stay Out of Haiti
, 5 Mar 2004
Commentary on U.S. intervention after the Feb 2004 coup d'état
"Guy Philippe, the leader of the rebellion against now-exiled despotic elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has declared himself the military ruler of Haiti. ... Given the history of U.S. intervention in Haiti, which began with a 19-year stint of outrageous meddling in 1915 at the behest of economic interests, and given the violently intractable nature of the place (in part thanks to that meddling), who can be optimistic?"
Stop-and-Frisk: How Government Creates Problems, Then Makes Them Worse
, 14 Aug 2013
Considers two recent decisions, from the Justice Department and from a Federal judge, that attempt to ameliorate previous bad policies
"... Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will keep nonviolent small-scale drug sellers who have no links to criminal organizations from getting caught in the mandatory-minimum-sentence trap. ... Federal District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the New York Police Department carries out the [stop-and-frisk] policy in a manner that violates the Fourth Amendment rights of blacks and Hispanics."
Stop Demonizing Iran
, 9 Oct 2013
Examines Iranian government efforts to cooperate with the Bush administration, as reported in 2006 by Gareth Porter
"... after the 9/11 attacks, the Iranian government tried to cooperate with the Bush administration on a number of fronts. The two sides actually began working together at the end of 2001 ... We rarely hear about the previous offers, perhaps because they conflict with the mainstream media's dominant narrative of Iran as an implacable threat. Apparently those who want war with Iran ... make better news copy than would-be peacemakers."
, 26 Feb 2007
Commentary supporting a New York Times
editorial advocating repeal of habeas corpus provisions in the Military Commissions Act and outlawing use of evidence obtained through torture
"... the Democrats who now control Congress ... could start by passing a bill introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter to repeal the habeas-corpus section of the Military Commissions Act, the infamous law that lets the president seize noncitizens anywhere in the world, proclaim them suspected terrorists, hold them indefinitely without access to the courts, and even send them off to foreign torture chambers."
Stop Those Who Would Stop Uber
, 11 Nov 2014
Explains how the Uber and Lyft services work and describes the local government reaction when Uber started offering its service in Little Rock, Arkansas
"... Uber (and its competitor, Lyft) is a company whose smartphone app efficiently matches riders and drivers. When Uber enters a market, it carefully recruits and certifies local drivers. Then, using the app, people who need a ride can quickly find drivers to get them where they want to go. Customers are told fares in advance and how long they'll wait to be picked up. After the trip, driver and rider are asked to evaluate each other."
, 7 May 2010
Examines key passages from La Boetie's Discourse on Voluntary Servitude
and criticises newspaper editorial writers (with a recent example) for preaching to the people to acquiesce and submit to government
"In The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, the sixteenth-century French poet, judge, and political philosopher Étienne de La Boétie ... was establishing the undeniable but overlooked truth that in any political system the ruled vastly outnumber the rulers. Brute force cannot be the key to maintaining despotism because the subjects always hold the potential to overwhelm the prince. Actually, they need not do anything except stop acquiescing."
Tackling Straw Men Is Easier than Critiquing Libertarianism
, 5 Dec 2014
Counters John Edward Terrell's critique of libertarianism using quotes from Adam Smith, Vernon Smith and Herbert Spencer
"What people like Terrell don't realize — or perhaps realize too well — is that the fundamental point in dispute is not whether the individual is a social animal or a creature best suited for an atomistic existence. No libertarian I know of subscribes to the latter notion. The point in dispute is whether proper social life should be founded on peaceful consensual cooperation or on compulsion."
Take the Constitution Seriously in the Second Term
, 8 Nov 2004
Suggests a plan of action for George W. Bush upon election for a second term as U.S. President
"According to the Constitution the presidency is a modest office. The powers are rather few. ... he executes the laws passed by Congress, which is also bound by a small number of powers. The president can spend money only as appropriated by Congress. ... He is not our commander in chief, as people seem to believe , and second, being commander does not include the power to declare war. That power was reserved, exclusively, to the Congress."
Tear Down the Trade Walls
, 22 Apr 2005
Reflections on free trade sparked by Ukrainian president Yushchenko's remarks to the U.S. Congress
"As noted, trade issues are simple. We produce so we can consume. Everyone knows that. Likewise, we sell so we can buy. National boundaries do not change that truth. Thus we export so we can import. And that means an open American market is, first, a benefit to American consumers. Of course, foreign sellers also benefit. But that is the nature of trade. Two parties to an exchange expect to benefit or they do not trade."
Thank You, Milton Friedman
, 20 Nov 2006
In memoriam highlighting the many contributions of Milton Friedman
"... he opposed discretionary power, understanding that politicians and bureaucrats could never know enough to run an economy. He also understood that inflation was purely a government creation. ... Friedman was an indispensable part of the effort to end the military draft in the 1970s. At the height of the Vietnam War, when the government was forcing young men to fight, kill, and die thousands of miles from home ..., Friedman put his prestige on the line and demanded that conscription be stopped."
That Mercantilist Commerce Clause
, 11 May 2007
Reviews the paper "The Panda's Thumb: The Modest and Mercantilist:Original Meaning of the Commerce Clause" by Prof. Calvin Johnson
"The Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution has been used to justify a wide expansion of government power, from antidiscrimination laws to drug prohibition to a ban on guns near schools. ... Johnson documents that Federalists and Anti-federalists alike feared trade imbalances, the loss of gold and silver, and the importation of luxury goods. They were, at bottom, mercantilists."
The 100th Anniversary of the Great State Crime
, 8 Aug 2014
Reflections on the start of the Great War, 100 years ago, the second act (World War II) and wars in general
"I think what gets overlooked is that ... war is the clearest possible lesson about the omnipresent danger of government power. Governments — politicians and monarchs — went to war, some perhaps more reluctantly than others. All shared responsibility for the carnage and devastation. ... At every stage, fallible persons operating under perverse incentives (they'd never be on the front lines) made choices — poor choices with respect to most people. War was never inevitable. It was a product of human agency."
The Affordable Care Act Doesn't Go That Way
, 1 Nov 2013
Examines the consequences of Obamacare from the perspective of basic economics (human action) and its unintended consequences
"Barack Obama and his allies saw a problem: some people can't afford or qualify for medical insurance. But instead of investigating how market forces might currently be thwarted from addressing this problem, they used government (the blunt weapon of aggressive force) to decree that insurance companies — which are already largely creatures of the state — must accept all applicants regardless of their health (guaranteed issue) and must charge the unhealthy the same price as they charge the healthy (community rating); that is, premiums may not reflect actual risk, converting insurance into a covert transfer program."
The American Disease
, 21 Mar 2014
Explains how U.S. foreign meddling is generally counterproductive, even when genuinely attempting to advance liberty
"One of the tragic consequences of this sordid American history is that even a genuine liberal movement opposing a truly odious regime will be tainted by a suspected American connection, furnishing propaganda with which rulers can fan the flames of nationalism. The American record in foreign affairs, that is, has been and continues to be an obstacle to the advancement of liberty abroad."
The American Sniper Was No Hero
, 28 Jan 2015
Considers whether Chris Kyle was a hero or a competent government-hired killer
"Kyle was part of an invasion force: Americans went to Iraq. Iraq did not invade America or attack Americans. Dictator Saddam Hussein never even threatened to attack Americans. Contrary to what the George W. Bush administration suggested, Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. ... The only reason Kyle went to Iraq was that Bush/Cheney & Co. launched a war of aggression against the Iraqi people. Wars of aggression, let's remember, are illegal under international law."
The Antimilitarist Libertarian Heritage
, 19 Sep 2014
Reviews several writings by Herbert Spencer on the subjects of war, militarism, colonization and patriotism
"Herbert Spencer, the great English libertarian philosopher of the late 19th and early 20th century, eloquently expressed radical liberalism's antipathy to war and militarism. ... Spencer was second to none in his antimilitarism and anti-imperialism, that is, his love of universal individual liberty and all forms of voluntary social cooperation."
The Ayatollahs' Overlooked Anti-WMD Fatwas
, 16 Apr 2014
Additional review of Gareth Porter's Manufactured Crisis
, focusing on Ayatollah Khomeini's position on the use of chemical and nuclear weapons
"... did you know that Iran's two supreme leaders since the revolution, Ayatollahs Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei, each in his time issued fatwas against weapons of mass destruction? Khomeini specifically addressed chemical weapons, while Khamenei's declaration was aimed at nuclear weapons."
The Banker's Bank
, 8 May 2009
Reviews the pre-history of the Federal Reserve and its origins in the Progressive Era
"There has hardly ever been anything we could call genuine free banking in America, even when a gold standard was in effect. States and the national government regulated the banks ... So, concerned about 'inelasticity' and the rivalry of state and private banks and private trust companies, the national banks (Wall Street), led by J. P Morgan, turned their attention at the end of the nineteenth century to the establishment of a central bank."
The Bastiat Solution
, 29 Aug 2008
Analyses segments of Bastiat's The Law
as an antidote for the demagoguery of the election season
"The election season will subject us to a nonstop barrage of platitudes ... Luckily, we have Bastiat to turn to for solace. But even more important, we have Bastiat's implicit strategic advice. Our family, friends, and neighbors would never think to threaten force to get their way because they know it is wrong. We just need to show them that the rules are the same for politicians."
The "Boomerang Effect": How Foreign Policy Changes Domestic Policy
, 26 Sep 2014
Reviews the essay "Perfecting Tyranny: Foreign Intervention as Experimentation in State Controll" by Christopher Coyne and Abigail Hall
"Advocates of foreign intervention—whether conservative or progressive—seem to believe that foreign and domestic policies can be isolated from each other and that illiberal methods used in foreign lands, such as bombing and military occupation, need not disturb domestic policy. ... Coyne and Hall demonstrate that this is no more than wishful thinking that is contradicted by experience, both past and present ..."
The Bright Side of War
, 24 May 2004
Comments on a Washington Post
article on the economic benefits of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
"... the idea that war creates prosperity is emphatically not true. ... The real cost of the war is the wealth we are compelled to forgo. ... Even truly defensive wars entail destruction, not production."
The Chavez Tragedy
, Future of Freedom
, Mar 2001
Comments on the disclosure that Linda Chavez, nominee for U.S. Secretary of Labor, had harbored an illegal immigrant
"By what moral theory must Chavez get a bureaucrat's okay before she invites an abused and impoverished Guatemalan woman to stay in her home for however long she wishes? The same folks who rhapsodize about freedom of association went berserk at Chavez's benevolent act. ... The immigration issue, freed of its grandiloquent pronouncements about national sovereignty, is nothing more than a matter of freedom of association. Chavez violated no one's rights by what she did."
The Consequences of Liberty
, 30 Jan 2015
Compares consequentialism to deontological ethics, also mentioning virtue ethics, and reviews Roderick Long's essay "Why Does Justice Have Good Consequences?"
"As I say, this discussion is hypothetical. Freedom (or justice) can be counted on to produce good outcomes, in a eudaimonistic way, for everyone. But is this just a lucky break? Or is there a more solid explanation? ... [Long] finds that the prima facie content of justice ... is represented by libertarianism, that is, the principle that each person is an end in himself and therefore is equal in authority to everyone else."
The Constitution or Liberty
, 21 Sep 2012
Contrasts Article II of the Articles of Confederation with the Tenth Amendment and Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, and discusses the implied powers of the latter document (revised version of article published 7 Dec 2007)
"Last year Professor Calvin H. Johnson of the University of Texas Law School published an illuminating paper titled 'The Dubious Enumerated Power Doctrine' ... Johnson presents formidable evidence that the framers had no intention of limiting the national government's powers to the 16 items listed in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution."
The Constitution Within
, 18 Aug 2006
Questions the validity of constitutions by relating how James Madison behaved during the debates over the U.S. document and later his introduction in Congress of the amendments that would become the Bill of Rights
"In recent columns I've argued that a free society depends ultimately on people having a proper sense of just conduct. This means more than the words they recite or put on paper. Most crucial is how they act and expect others to act. For this reason it is futile to put undue emphasis on written constitutions as the key to liberty. The real constitution is within — each of us. If the freedom philosophy is not inscribed in the actions of people, no constitution will help. ... And for that, there is no substitute for self-education and an articulate passion for liberty."
The Court Almost Gets It Right on Guns
, Future of Freedom
, Oct 2008
Discusses the U.S. Supreme Court majority and minority opinions on the D.C. law that bans handguns in private homes
"Scalia ... reminds us that when the Constitution was drafted, many people feared that the powerful central government would disarm the militias, which at the time comprised all able-bodied white men, in favor of a standing army ... Citing the importance of private gun ownership to a capable militia was meant to allay such fears. But ... the militia reference did not impose a restriction on who has the right to keep and bear arms."
The Crazy Arithmetic of Voting
, 8 Feb 2008
Reviews the "Voting Versus the Market" chapter of Bruno Leoni's Freedom and the Law
"I like Wheaties more than Cheerios. So I go to the store and buy Wheaties. Except for the rare occasion went the store has run out, I will bring home Wheaties. ... If I vote for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, I have to wait to see if I am in the majority before I know if I get what I want. If 50 percent plus one voted as I did, great -- I get my choice. But what if 50 percent plus one vote for Sen. Clinton? I'm out in the cold."
The Cruel Joke of Sacralizing Voting
, 7 Feb 2014
Comments on an MSNBC TV spot implying that voting is the only way to express oneself that really counts
"Of all the ways to express oneself, voting is the way that counts least! Candidates typically hold a grab bag of vaguely stated positions (implied promises, actually), often contradictory, that they may not really believe or ever attempt to keep. ... If your voting can't determine the outcome of an election, attempting to determine it is a poor reason to vote. Plus, it takes time and money ... that could have gone to something that would have actually made a difference."
The Cynical U.S. Policy on Chemical Weapons
, 6 Sep 2013
Discusses evidence of what is known and not so known about countries involved in the Middle East and chemical and nuclear weapons
"... note that while Syria is not a party to the CWC, neither are U.S. allies Egypt and Israel, which receive billions of dollars each year in military equipment. ... Israel, like Egypt, is considered to have stockpiles of chemical weapons; it also has biological and nuclear weapons. ... Zunes's article also discusses the Reagan administration's provision of thiodiglycol, which is used to make mustard gas, and other chemical precursors to Iraq's Saddam Hussein ..."
The Danger Is Intervention, Not "Isolation"
, 29 May 2014
Reflects on pronouncements by President Obama and Secretary Hagel on Americans turning more "isolationists"
"Those high costs in blood and treasure were the consequences of intervention, not 'isolationism.' ... The butcher's bill and the money price cannot be tolerated. America's record of death, injury, and destruction has on net created enemies. The gross cultural and economic distortions from worshipful militarism have yet to be calculated."
The Disaster That Is U.S. Foreign Policy
, 6 Jun 2014
Considers the effect of U.S. involvement in the Middle East in the past two decades, in view of the Bergdahl-Taliban prisoner exchange
"... bin Laden ... succeeded in drawing the United States deeper into the Muslim world, especially Afghanistan (the bane of earlier empires), because that was right where he wanted America. Iraq was icing on the cake, compliments of Bush, since it gave Arab jihadis a place to fight Americans and learn their trade, which they could later ply in Libya and Syria — strangely, with American assistance."
The Economics Lesson Obama Needs to Learn
, 25 Jul 2013
Explains economics in simple terms that even a statist politician ought to understand
"We live in a world of scarcity. At any given time our ends outnumber the means to achieve them. Hence we economize so that we can achieve as many of our ends as possible. Resources, labor, and time devoted to one purpose can't also be used for other purposes, and the alternative forgone is the true cost of any action. We individually choose among competing ends after assessing the trade-offs, because we don't want inadvertently to give up something we prefer in exchange for something we don't value as much."
The Economic Way of Thinking about Health Care
, 20 Feb 2015
Discusses the voicing of opinions on economic subjects without having knowledge of economics, the state of the health care and insurance industries and posits possible solutions
"... just because government can't provide universal high-quality health care, that doesn't mean there's no other way to achieve it. The way to do that is to remove all the impediments to the production and provision of medical and insurance services that have accumulated over many years in the form of privileges that restrict competition. This includes occupational licensing and accreditation, facility permits, protectionist and market-narrowing regulations (such as FDA requirements), patents, tax distortions, and more."
The Ferguson Distraction
, 4 Dec 2014
Argues that the lack of an indictment on the death of Michael Brown distracts us from the more important "racist police brutality that ravages America"
"The ultimate cause of this problem is that the police are the domestic armed troops of America's rulers — falsely called 'representatives' — and the rest of us are the ruled. They know it, and we are increasingly coming to know it. Most of the 'laws' they enforce against us violate our natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The chasm between rulers and ruled exists everywhere in the country, but it exists on a spectrum from the barely noticeable to the extreme."
The "Good-Government" Attack on Free Speech
, 1 May 2001
Discusses the freedom of speech implications of McCain-Feingold (which became the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in 2002)
"What would you call a law that would prohibit corporations and labor unions from placing television and radio advertisements that clearly identify candidates during the final 60 days of a general election? McCain-Feingold would do that. Yet it is a clear violation of the First Amendment. ... The Constitution makes no exception for corporations and labor unions. The only requirement should be that those organizations obtain their money through voluntary means. If they do, they should be free to place any ads they like. They are collections of persons and therefore have the same rights as their members."
The Greatness of Peace Activist John Bright
, 24 May 2013
Commentary on John Bright's opposition to war and interventionism. with relevant excerpts to several of his speeches
"... one of the world's great peace activists, John Bright (1811–1889). Bright, a Quaker and Nonconformist, is best known for leading (with Richard Cobden) Britain's Anti-Corn Law League ... Bright passionately opposed war — however popular — whenever it threatened to rear its ugly head. Free trade (free markets generally) and peace were not separate matters for Bright. On the contrary, they were (in Cobden's phrase) 'one and the same cause.'"
The Housing-Financial Meltdown Revisited
, 11 Oct 2013
Examines the history behind the 1933 Glass-Steagall act, its repeal in 1999, and the causes behind the 2008 financial meltdown
"This is hardly to suggest that all was well with banking before Dodd-Frank. Not by a long shot. The industry was a corporatist monstrosity, a cartelized affair that included government deposit insurance, which protects banks from conscientious depositors who would otherwise scrutinize their lending practices. But the 1999 repeal of one section of Glass-Steagall was not among the problems."
The Inherently Humble Libertarian
, 13 Feb 2015
Defends libertarianism from those who charge its advocates of "know-it-allness"
"To put it succinctly, libertarianism has humility baked in at the most fundamental level. Humility is not to be conflated with radical doubt, however. One can be humble while also believing it is possible to know things. And some things, including the nature and market implications of human action, can be known conceptually. One can know, for example, that intelligently planning an economy or even a particular market is beyond anyone's, including one's own, capacities."
The Iranian Threat That Never Was
, 26 Mar 2014
Reviews and summarizes Gareth Porter's Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare
"... before the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran was ruled by an autocratic monarch, the shah. The shah's power had been eclipsed in the early 1950s by a democratically elected parliament. Then, in 1953, America's Eisenhower administration sent the CIA in to foment civil discord in order to drive the elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, from office and restore the shah's power."
The Kenyan Massacre’s Roots in America's Somalia Policy
, 24 Sep 2013
Commentary on the 21 Sep 2013 Westgate shopping mall shooting in Nairobi, based on reporting by Jeremy Scahill and Scott Horton
"The horrendous attack in Nairobi has the news media abuzz over possible terrorist threats to 'soft targets' such as shopping malls, not only in Africa but also in the United States itself. As we think about this, we should realize that this is a threat made in Washington, DC. How many times do we have to experience what the CIA calls 'blowback' before the American people cry, 'Enough!'"
The Lethal Legacy of U.S. Foreign Intervention
, 12 Feb 2014
Presents examples of the deadly lasting effects of U.S. intervention: continuing sectarian conflicts in Iraq and unexploded bombs in Laos
"... arrogant American policymakers lumbered into a foreign country thinking they could remake it in their image — apparently without knowing anything about the cultural or social context. This is hardly the first time, which is why Eugene Burdick and William Lederer's 1958 novel, The Ugly American, still packs so much power."
The Lie Factory
, 7 Jun 2013
Contrasts Obama's 23 May 2013 statements regarding Afghanistan vs. analysis by Conn Hallinan and other reports
"If this and the usual sycophantic news reporting is all you've heard lately about the war in Afghanistan, you might think things are going well, that 'America's forces are winning.' ... Afghanistan is a hellhole. ... The facts don't stop Obama from giving the same rosy reports while promising to have the troops out by the end of next year. ... Obama apparently is looking for a way to bring home most of the troops without the place collapsing in chaos, which would be bad for his legacy."
The Market Is a Beautiful Thing
, The Freeman
, Jul 2013
Explores whether most people's aversion to the market is aesthetic and explains the beauty in the dynamics of the (freed) market
"The freed market is a political-legal setting in which people are at liberty to peacefully pursue their chosen plans. This activity generates, unintentionally, an undesigned order that facilitates cooperation and coordination among even distant strangers, making each person's pursuit more effective and efficient than otherwise."
The Middle East Harvests Bitter Imperialist Fruit
, 20 Jun 2014
Describes how the seeds of the current turmoil in the Middle East were planted a century ago by British and French imperialism
"This is a story about arrogant Western imperialists who thought enlightened, civilized Europeans should govern the Arabs (and Kurds) rather than let them determine their own destiny. ... When they achieved the elevated condition of their overlords, they will have earned the right to be free. This view was voiced by men representing countries that had just engaged in over four years of savage trench warfare in the 'war to end war,' not to mention the previous centuries bloodied by Europe's religious and political wars."
The Middle East Harvests Bitter Imperialist Fruit
, Future of Freedom
, Sep 2014
Recounts the history of foreign intervention in the Middle East since World War I to the present (expanded version of 20 June 2014 essay)
"The British created the states of Iraq and Transjordan (later Jordan). What was left of Palestine (it had different boundaries at different times) would not be designated a state but would be administered by Britain. France took Syria, out of which it created a separate Lebanon. The arbitrarily drawn 'national' boundaries cut through sectarian, ethnic, and tribal lines, planting the seeds of future conflicts that continue to this day. (The imperialists had done the same thing in Africa.)"
The Moral Case for Freedom Is the Practical Case for Freedom
, 27 Dec 2013
Considers whether it is reasonable to make distinctions between ethical and practical arguments for freedom
"... we must inquire whether libertarian concerns are really divisible into a concern with duties (deontology), say, regarding individual rights and a concern with practical consequences. ... Some libertarians often say they would favor freedom even if it did not promote good things like prosperity because people have a right to freedom that is unrelated to its consequences. (Of course, they don't believe that freedom could have bad consequences. But is that just a happy coincidence? ...)"
The Natural Right of Property: Not to be confused with government-created artificial rights
, 17 Aug 2007
Examines Hodgskin writings in The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted
"Thomas Hodgskin (1787-1869), the English economics writer ..., is an enigma — until his philosophy is seen in its entirety. He was an editor at The Economist of London from 1846 to 1855, during the period author Scott Gordon called 'the high tide of laissez faire, yet he is considered a Ricardian socialist, was quoted and deferred to by Marx [and] described by Sidney and Beatrice Webb as Marx’s master.' How could any libertarian claim Hodgskin as a mentor?"
The Neoconservative Obsession with Iran
, 14 May 2014
Discusses how Dubya, Cheney and their neocon advisors exacerbated the manufactured U.S.-Iran crisis
"Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton ... thought America needed an enemy, and Iran filled the bill. President George W. Bush['s] ... administration did everything in its power, including lying, to stop the more realistic British, French, and Germans from reaching agreement with an Iranian government eager to ensure the transparency of its nuclear program and, in return, have economic sanctions lifted."
The Noninterventionists Told You So
, 18 Jun 2014
Analyses the 2014 Iraqi situation from the vantage point of noninterventionism, contrasting it with those who still want the Obama administration to intervene
"... those who opposed the George W. Bush administration's invasion of Iraq in March 2003 — not to mention his father's war on Iraq in 1991 and the sanctions enforced through the administration of Bill Clinton — were right. ... There was no ISIS or al-Qaeda in Saddam Hussein's Iraq before the U.S. invasion. ... No one can grasp the complexity of one's own society, ... much less a society with Iraq's unique religious, sectarian, and political culture and history."
The Ominous Republican Hold on Congress
, 7 Jan 2015
Comments on what may be expected from the Republican-controlled Senate in 2015
"... those who abhor war will awaken each day knowing that hawkish Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and their ilk are in control. ... The congressional Republicans can also be expected to block Obama's proposal to normalize relations with Cuba. ... Finally, the Republicans undoubtedly will try to stop Obama from deferring the deportations of some five million people who are in this country without government permission."
The Open Society and Its Worst Enemies
, 16 Jan 2015
Considers the January 2015 events in France and contrasts the choice between an open, free society and imperialistic, militaristic foreign intervention
"If even a full-blown police state could not prevent all such plots, what chance does a society with a vestige of regard for civil liberties have? ... That is why it is imperative for societies wishing to remain more or less open to not let their rulers make enemies by conducting a militarist foreign policy. ... It really does come down to a stark choice between full freedom and empire."
The People Say No to War
, 13 Sep 2013
Commentary on how the American people stopped, at least momentarily, the Obama administration from attacking the Syrian people
"The pundits blame 'war-weariness' for the public's opposition. I regard that as an insult. ... Apparently, favoring war is a sign of thinking clearly. I don't believe people are war-weary. Instead, as someone has said ..., they are war-wary. They've been burned too many times by their (mis)leaders and (mis)representatives. ... Americans have had enough, and it's about time. Their 'no' to war is the best news we've had in a long time."
The Phony Trade-off between Privacy and Security
, 16 Aug 2013
Examines the claim that, in a dangerous world, a balance must be struck between privacy and security
"... in the freed market I would find the right 'balance' for myself, and you would do the same. ... The market would cater to people with a range of security/privacy concerns, striking the 'balance' differently for different people. ... we can say that there would be no trade-off between privacy and security at all, because the information would be voluntarily disclosed by each individual on mutually acceptable terms. ... But that sort of situation is not what Barack Obama, Mike Rogers, Peter King, and their ilk mean when they tell us that 'we' need to find the right balance between security and privacy. They mean they will dictate to us what the alleged balance will be. We will have no real say in the matter ..."
The Phony Trade-Off between Privacy and Security
, Future of Freedom
, Nov 2013
Examines the argument that a balance must be struck between security and privacy and the directive creating the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies
"... in the freed market I would find the right 'balance' for myself, and you would do the same. ... The market would cater to people with a range of security/privacy concerns, striking the 'balance' differently for different people. ... Obama ... meant he and his co-conspirators in Congress and the national-security apparatus will dictate to us what the alleged balance will be. We will have no real say in the matter, and they can be counted on to find the balance on the 'security' side of the spectrum as suits their interests."
The Poison Called Nationalism
, 6 Feb 2015
Discusses nationalism as exhibited by those who defend sniper Chris Kyle as a hero
"This integral relationship between nation and state is why nationalists reject claims that one can love one's country while despising the government. That's impossible by their definition of country. To oppose the government is to oppose the country. You may oppose a particular president, but don't dare oppose the military. Now, you can try to redefine country to make it something properly lovable, but you won't persuade a nationalist. It's no accident that governments never fail to call on their flocks to 'love their country,' by which they mean: be willing to make any sacrifice on its behalf, with 'sacrifice' defined by politicians."
"The Police Force Is Watching the People"
, 22 Aug 2014
Argues that the facts are crucial when examining an incident such as occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, and that the role of police must be re-examined
"In the current context, it is imperative that anytime a police officer shoots someone, a public adversarial proceeding should be held where all the evidence can presented. It could be a full-blown trial or a hearing to determine if a trial is warranted. But objectivity and transparency must be priorities. The public must see that the police officer is being judged without favor."
The Political Sterility of Jon Stewart
, 7 Nov 2014
Highlights the dearth of poltical satire, as evidenced by Jon Stewart's backtracking on his answers about voting and earlier comment about Harry Truman
"Throughout history, satirists have risked their liberty and even their lives using humor to engage in deep commentary about the reigning political system and its exalted political figures—they're called leaders, though surely better terms are rulers and misleaders. But no satirist risks his life or liberty in America today, which makes the scarcity of good satire so puzzling."
The Politicians Are Scaring You Again
, 16 Oct 2014
Comments on scaremongering efforts by Obama administration as well as opposition offiicials in order to gain support for military action
"If in a republic the people are the ultimate check on government power, a gullible, easily frightened public is a disaster waiting to happen. Where is the derisive skepticism Americans are reputed to feel toward politicians? ... Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), for example, goes to absurd lengths to frighten Americans. ... He forecast the deaths of hundreds of millions of Americans if something drastic is not done."
The Pope Dabbles in Economics
, 20 Dec 2013
Examines the economic premises of Pope Francis' 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium
"The pope's concern with the poor and excluded is well-placed. We should not tolerate their condition or its causes. But what the poor and excluded need are freedom and freed markets — really free markets, not 'the prevailing economic system' — so they may be liberated from the oppression that holds them back."
The Pretense of Regulatory Knowledge
, 3 Oct 2008
Contrasts the free market vs. regulation and central planning
"Calling regulators bureaucrats is not just an insult; it's also a description. Bureaucrats are not in the profit-and-loss game, as entrepreneurs in a (truly) free market are. They don't gain financially from producing value, and they have no capital at risk. As we've learned from the Food and Drug Administration, they tend to be overcautious because if they might err, it's better to err on the side of not letting something happen."
The Price of Empire
, 26 Apr 2006
Discusses U.S drug warriors' unfruitful efforts to eradicate coca production in some Andean countries and the consequent migration of cultivation elsewhere
"Empire — sorry, benevolent hegemony — has its price. Terrorism is one. Every empire in history probably had terrorism directed at it, because it's one of the few weapons available to relatively weak nonstate adversaries. Another, less dramatic price is the determination of other countries' rulers to go their separate ways. This can range from major moves to establish spheres of influence to sticking a thumb in the empire's eye."
The Reagan Record On Trade: Rhetoric Vs. Reality
[PDF], Policy Analysis
, 30 May 1988
Analysis of Ronald Reagan's stance on free trade and protectionism, contrasting what he and those in his administration said with a lengthy list of actual quotas, tariffs and trade negotiation results
"People tend to be implicit free traders and explicit protectionists. When they shop, they buy what best satisfies them in quality and price without regard to national origin or to their merchandise account with the seller. ... But when people talk about world trade, they become protectionists. ... A president truly committed to free trade would have exerted his influence to show why the implicit free traders are right and the explicit protectionists are wrong."
The Repudiation of Bush
, 10 Nov 2006
Comments on the results of the November 2004 U.S. elections and on the first George W. Bush administration
"It's reasonable to conclude from the election results that most voters felt the Republicans had been in power too long. The hopeless war in Iraq, the culture of corruption and incompetence, the spending binge (which includes the war), the grating social conservatism, and the autocratic arrogance approaching the dictatorial all culminated in a thunderous repudiation of President Bush and the Republican Party."
The Right to Life Equals the Right to Possess Firearms
, Future of Freedom
, Jun 1994
Discusses U.S. legislation or proposals to restrict, register, license or ban gun ownership, countering that these controls go against the basic right of self-defense, itself a corollary of the right to life
"Handguns offer the otherwise defenseless a convenient, practical, inexpensive method of safeguarding themselves and their families. Banishing handguns — even if the big and the strong were also denied them — would leave the small and the weak defenseless. The big and the strong aggressors have other tools of violence at their disposal; the small and the weak do not have other effective means of self-defense. Thus, outlawing handguns is a denial of the right of self-defense and, perforce, the right to life."
The Roots of Iran's Nuclear Secrecy
, 2 Apr 2014
Further commentary on Gareth Porter's Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare
, discussing why the Iranian government wanted secrecy for its civilian nuclear program
"Porter acknowledges that Iran did not always keep the IAEA fully informed. Is this proof that Iran was preparing to make nuclear warheads? Porter provides overwhelming evidence that the answer is no. ... What possible reason could Iran have had for working in secrecy? Simply put, from the 1980s onward the U.S. government was determined to thwart Iran's efforts to build even modest a civilian nuclear program."
The Social Security Fraud
, Future of Freedom
, Sep 2001
Discusses comments made by Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill indicating that the Social Security Trust Fund has no tangible assets
"O'Neill is right. The Trust Fund is a figment of our collective imagination. ... Every cent that the American people pay in FICA payroll taxes is immediately spent. Anything left over after the current retirees are paid off goes into the general treasury where it is used, first, to make up any operating shortfall, and then to pay the government's creditors. The Social Security Trust Fund is credited for that money in the form of nonnegotiable bonds that purportedly earn interest."
The "Stable Bulwark of Our Liberties"
, 13 Jun 2008
Reviews the Supreme Court majority opinion in the decision of the Boumediene v. Bush
"What is heartening about the decision is the majority's emphasis on how important habeas corpus is to the never-ending effort to keep government on a short leash. Key to that, it said, is the separation of powers. Without habeas corpus, the executive branch acquires the powers of the judiciary in conflict with the intent of the framers."
The State Is No Friend of the Worker
, 24 Oct 2014
Discusses how the state interferes with setting wage rates and quotes Thomas Hodgskin on how to reward workers properly
"The surest way to eliminate wage discrimination is to keep government from impeding the competitive process with such devices as occupational licensing, permits, minimum product standards, so-called intellectual property, zoning, and other land-use restrictions. ... Being able to tell a boss, 'Take this job and shove it,' because alternatives, including self-employment, are available, is an effective way to establish the true market value of one's labor in the marketplace."
The State of Humanity: Good and Getting Better
, by Sheldon Richman, Julian Simon
, 11 Nov 1996
Contrasts the pessimistic 1980 prediction, made in the Global 2000 Report to the President
, about the probable state of the world in the year 2000 with the actual state in the mid-1990's.
"The introduction to The Resourceful Earth (edited by Julian Simon and the late Herman Kahn) revised that passage: 'If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be less crowded (though more populated), less polluted, more stable ecologically, and less vulnerable to resource-supply disruption than the world we live in now.' ... Our message certainly is not one of complacency. The ultimate resource is people — especially skilled, spirited and hopeful young people endowed with liberty — who will exert their wills and imaginations for their own benefit and inevitably benefit the rest of us as well."
The Supreme Court Repeals the Constitution
, Future of Freedom
, Sep 2005
Discusses the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Kelo v. City of New London
"Before proceeding I must say that eminent domain is an assault on individual freedom. ... As a matter of law, this principle is a vestige of absolute monarchy and is contrary to the libertarian spirit of the American founding. As a matter of logic, no 'just compensation' is possible in a forced sale of property, because the only just price is the one freely negotiated by seller and buyer."
The Surveillance State Lives
, 21 Jan 2014
Examines Obama's 17 Jan 2014 "Remarks by the President on Review of Signals Intelligence"
"Obama says we need surveillance to protect us from terrorists. But we could be safe without having our freedoms trampled if the government would stop committing and enabling oppression in foreign countries, thus creating the desire for revenge against Americans. Freedom and security require no trade-off, because genuine freedom includes security against government snooping."
The U.S. Base on Diego Garcia: An Overlooked Atrocity
, 4 Jun 2013
Describes the forced evacuation of Diego Garcia's native inhabitants by Great Britain during 1968-1973, so that the United States could set up a Navy base, as well as current efforts to redress those actions
"Vine has written a book ... about the savage treatment of the people of Diego Garcia, part of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Americans may know Diego Garcia as a U.S. military base. It 'helped launch the Afghan and Iraq wars and was part of the CIA's secret "rendition" program for captured terrorist suspects,' ... 'A day after the European court ruling, the Obama administration rejected the demands of an online petition signed by some 30,000 asking the White House to "redress wrongs against the Chagossians."' The British were adequately looking after the matter, the administration said."
The U.S. Empire Provokes Terrorism
, 8 Aug 2013
Examines the claims and behavior of the Obama administration in response to "terrorist chatter" supposedly intercepted by them
"The United States has been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for a dozen years, but not because the former rulers are a direct threat to the American people. ... Al-Qaeda doesn't need Afghanistan. Bin Laden wasn't found there. Al-Zawahiri presumably isn't there. And the latest alleged unspecified threat comes from Yemen, 2,000 miles from Kabul. Doesn't that expose the 12 years of American-inflicted death and destruction, not to mention the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars, as a monumental waste of life and treasure?"
The U.S. Government Still Tries to Subvert Cuba
, 6 Aug 2014
Commentary on the 2014 disclosure that operatives of the U.S. Agency for International Development attempted to incite opposition to the Cuban government
"That makes the U.S. government's 53-year-long campaign for regime change in Cuba a perfect failure. Repeated efforts to spark an anti-Castro revolution or to kill the revolutionary-turned-dictator did nothing but strengthen the government's power. The embargo that the U.S. government imposed on Cuba in 1960, and which remains in force today, has given the Castros an excuse for the chronic hardship that Cubans suffer and has brought the people no closer to freedom."
The U.S. Isn't Leaving Afghanistan
, 20 Nov 2013
Reviews the terms of a 2013 draft agreement between the U.S. and Afghan governments to maintain U.S. troops stationed indefinitely
"The Afghan government, at U.S. insistence, would waive jurisdiction over U.S. military and civilian personnel who commit war crimes. ... What's clear from the negotiations is that the United States is not close to ending combat operations in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001. ... Further U.S.-inflicted bloodshed will do nothing but make matters worse. It's time for the U.S. military to leave."
The War of 1812 Was the Health of the State, Part 1
, 27 Feb 2015
Examines the sentiments of the founding fathers and other leading figures and some of the events that led to the War of 1812, and argues that "dangerous precedents were set" that led to imperialism and further wars
"In 1918, having watched in horror as his Progressive friends gleefully jumped onto Woodrow Wilson's war wagon, Randolph Bourne penned the immortal words: 'War is the health of the state.' ... An earlier group of Americans would have agreed, although they would not have shared Bourne's horror. These are the men who sought war with England in 1812. ... I will explore neither the justifications for the war nor the terms of the Treaty of Ghent. ... Instead I'll focus on how the war eroded liberalism in the United States by concentrating power and interest in the national government."
The War of 1812 Was the Health of the State, Part 2
, 6 Mar 2015
Discusses how James Madison's conduct of the War of 1812 led to changes in American attitudes, including mercantilism, militarism, imperialism and centralization
"As the War of 1812 with Great Britain approached during the Republican administration of James Madison, the War Hawks saw silver linings everywhere. ... Republicans, of course, had previously warned of the dangers of war, including high taxes, debt, corruption, a big military, and centralized power. Madison himself famously said that war contained the 'germ' of 'all the enemies to public liberty.' So now the party set out to prosecute a war while avoiding the evils they held were intrinsic to it. ... Randolph Bourne was right: war is indeed the health of the state."
They Don't Mean Well
, 15 Jan 2014
Reviews Barry Lando's article "The American Legacy in Iraq"
"Americans have a strange need to believe that their 'leaders' mean well. ... Yet when one examines the U.S. government's bloody record in foreign affairs, it is tough to come away thinking that the long trail of death, mayhem, and devastation is anything but the result of malevolence in the pursuit of political and economic interest."
Thinking about Foreign Policy
, Future of Freedom
, Dec 2006
Analyses why most people tend to think about foreign policy as if it were decided upon by "the people" and attempts to correct the misunderstandings
"America' s geographic position and wealth made nonintervention highly practicable and low-risk, yet successive governments refused to abstain from meddling in foreign affairs, which served only to endanger the people they claimed to protect. Keeping in mind the full context of how foreign policy is formulated, we can easily see through the popular fallacies that undermine so much thinking about war and peace."
Toying with the Free Market
, Future of Freedom
, Dec 1998
Discusses the 1998 Toys "R" Us restructuring announcement and earlier disclosure that it had engaged in monopolistic practices
"But if 'abusive practices' means practices that harm consumers, we can see that consumers are perfectly able to take care of themselves. When they (or their kids) decided that Toys 'R' Us did not keep pace with the new toy technology or that the stores were unpleasant, they went to Wal-Mart or Target instead. They didn't need anyone's prompting or permission. They didn't need to petition a government agency. They just found a store they liked better. That sounds like real power to me."
Trade Restrictions Show Hypocrisy
, 12 Sep 2003
Discusses how U.S. and European tariffs and quotas harm farmers in the developing world
"American consumers would love to buy low-priced clothing, shoes, and agricultural products from abroad. Producers in the developing world would love to sell them those things. But these exchanges never come to fruition. Why? Because the U.S. government forbids it. And why does it do that? Because domestic producers and farmers have the political pull. Thus, tariffs raise the price of low-cost foreign products so that they are less attractive to Americans than domestic alternatives. And import quotas suppress supply, forcing Americans to pay more for fewer goods."
Treating People Like Garbage
, 4 Oct 2013
Examines two examples at the micro and macro level of state behaviour towards people
"At its heart, the state — more precisely, the pretenders who call themselves 'leaders' — is capable of the most horrendous acts. The U.S. government stands out in this regard. ... The historian Ralph Raico observes that critics of the libertarian world view complain that the market treats people like commodities. Maybe, Raico replies. But the state treats people like garbage."
Treating Us like Children
, Future of Freedom
, Nov 1998
Comments on the Republican-controlled Senate approval of a provision outlawing Internet gambling
"There is also no reason to think that people generally act irresponsibly in their private affairs. Some do, but most don't. If we don't trust people to conduct their own lives responsibly, I see no reason to trust them with the vote. In fact, I'd sooner trust them in their own affairs than in my affairs and everyone else's. Running one life has to be easier than choosing on behalf of everyone. At least the errors will have less-widespread consequences."
Trivial Dispute: Obama versus the Interventionists
, 30 May 2014
Examines the scant differences between President Obama and those more closely aligned with the military-industrial complex, in arguments for continued U.S. intervention in other countries' affairs
"... Obama stakes out his 'moderate' position between isolationism and interventionism. To do this he has to misrepresent what he stigmatizes as 'isolationism' and create a straw man in order to place himself in opposition to the interventionists. ... Obama's straw man is the interventionist who sees military force as the only or the primary tool in the toolbox."
Truman, A-Bombs, and the Killing of Innocents
, 9 Aug 2013
Discusses the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 were unnecessary and can be considered war crimes
"According to Robert McNamara, ... Major Gen. Curtis LeMay acknowledged that if America had lost the war, he and his colleagues would have been 'prosecuted as war criminals.' ... The Truman administration revealed that it knew the atomic bombing was immoral by attempting to keep the full truth from the American people."
Two Kinds of Income Inequality
, 22 Jan 2015
Differentiates between market (or inherent) and political-economic inequalities and recommends elimination of legislation enforcing the latter
"Political-economic systems throughout the world ... are in fact built on deeply rooted and long-established systems of privilege. ... political-economic inequality is unjust ... These interventions and more protect incumbent firms from conditions that would lower prices to consumers, create self-employment and worker-ownership opportunities, and improve bargaining conditions for wage labor."
Understanding the Paris Violence
, 14 Jan 2015
Examines the statements of Amedy Coulibaly, the man who killed several people at a kosher grocery in Paris
"... judging by the recording, what was on Coulibaly's mind was not his hostages' religion but their support for the French government's violence against Arabs and Muslims. ... Coulibaly responded that 30 percent of tax revenues go to France's military. He also said that if a march could be held for Charlie Hebdo, why not one to oppose France's foreign intervention. ... The way to end Muslim violence in the West, therefore, is for the West to end its violence against Muslims."
Unjust Immigration Law Is Not Law
, 21 Nov 2014
Considers President Obama's decision to defer deportation of some undocumented immigrants, although three years ago he had said he lacked such authority
"In 'The Myth of the Rule of Law,' legal philosopher and libertarian John Hasnas argues that since no legal language is exempt from interpretation, law can't be determinate. Another legal scholar and libertarian, Randy Barnett, agrees, at least to some extent. He calls law 'underdeterminate.' ... 'The fact is that there is no such thing as a government of law and not people,' Hasnas concludes."
U.S.-Egyptian "Historic Partnership" Reeks with Hypocrisy
, 25 Jun 2014
Examines events in Egypt from 2011 to 2014, in view of continued U.S. military aid
"... in 2011, ... Egyptians took to the streets to demand an end to the decades-long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak ... The Egyptian people’s uprising led to their first elections and a victory for candidates associated with the Muslim Brotherhood ... All this was topped off this past spring by the election of former general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as president, with a suspicious 95 percent of the vote."
U.S. Foreign Policy Is a Shambles
, 7 Jan 2014
Examines the 2014 status of United States foreign policy in various Middle East countries
"McCain and Graham, who never saw an opportunity for U.S. military intervention they didn't like, continue to operate under the absurd illusion that American politicians and bureaucrats can micromanage something as complex as a foreign society. Their hubris knows no bounds, but, then, they never pay the price for their foolishness. Who pays? The Americans they cheer off to war, but even more so, the people in foreign lands who are on the receiving end of American intervention."
U.S. Has No Moral Standing to Condemn Assad
, 28 Aug 2013
Questions the propriety of the U.S. government's moral pronouncements (and potential military actions) in response to allegations that Syria's government used chemical weapons
"Whether or not Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, President Obama has no legitimate grounds to intervene. ... Obama's previous intervention is what has brought us to this point. Instead of steering clear of this regional conflict, he declared that Assad must go; ... and armed and otherwise aided Assad's opposition, which is dominated by al-Qaeda-style jihadists who have no good feelings toward America."
U.S. Hypocrisy on Iran
, 14 Feb 2007
Discusses the hypocrisy of Bush administration pronouncements about Iran interfering in Iraq, considering the U.S. intervention in Iran in 1953
"Surely he has read about Operation Ajax, in which the CIA's Kermit Roosevelt Jr., grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, and Norman Schwarzkopf Sr., father of the 1991 Gulf War general, conspired in 1953, along with British intelligence, to overthrow the democratically elected, though socialist, government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and restore the despotic shah to his Peacock Throne."
Variations on a Corporatist Theme: The people lose
, 13 Apr 2012
Contrasts the rhetoric on both sides of the 2012 U.S. presidential contest
"Genuinely freed markets won't make the list of feasible options. That will leave us with mere variations on a statist theme, namely, corporatism. How will voters choose among them? Most of those who abhor 'socialism' (however they define it) will rally round Republican corporatism because of the pro-market rhetoric, while most who abhor the cruel 'free market' ('Look at the hardship it created!') will rush to Democratic corporatism because of its anti-market rhetoric."
Vouchers or School Choice?
, 12 Nov 2007
Examines the recent school vouchers vote in Utah and explains how only education entrepreneurs, free from government interference, can provide real choice and innovation
"The way to create school choice is not to give the state more excuses to regulate the private schools. That's what vouchers would do. Look at the failed Utah initiative. It would have required private schools to 'give a formal national test every year' to students. ... That would limit innovation and make the private schools more like the public schools. Some choice."
Warfare/Welfare/Corporate State: All of a Piece
, 24 Jan 2014
Dissects article by Princeton professor Sean Wilentz criticizing Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange
"Wilentz seems to live in fear that the baby — the welfare/warfare state — will be thrown out with the bathwater — the admitted 'abuses' by the NSA. ... Both the establishment Left and the establishment Right offer flawed package deals ... In practice, the two are hardly different except for their rhetorical emphases. The point is to hold various constituencies in line by having them believe they must accept the whole package. Neoliberalism is corporate statism, not the freed market."
War in Georgia Shows U.S. Foreign Policy Is a Bust
, 15 Aug 2008
Examines how NATO and the U.S. implicitly encouraged the Georgian president to suppress secessionists in South Ossetia
"Georgia has been angling for membership in NATO for years. President Mikheil Saakashvili's Russian policy was nothing short of a pro-American in-your-face policy strategy. The Bush administration encouraged it by training and equipping the Georgian military. All of this stirred Russian suspicions about U.S. objectives in its 'backyard.' In return, Georgia sent troops to assist in America's misguided mission in Iraq."
War Is Peace and Other Things the Government Wants You to Believe
[PDF], Jun 2008
Transcript of speech given at The Future of Freedom Foundation's June 2008 conference, “Restoring the Republic: Foreign Poli cy & Civil Liberties”
"The state has to propagate a lot of myths, because if it told the straight truth to us we wouldn't put up with it anymore. So that goes without saying. And, there've been movies--there's been a lot of fiction, and movies and novels, that try to make this point. I don't know if most people get it. But think about The Matrix, for example. There's a great allegory about how states operate. They made it very literal, where they actually created reality by basically hooking people up to these elaborate technological devices and making people, in effect, imagine the reality they want you to imagine. And of course, some people are able to break through. And it's a great story for that reason. There was a great Libertarian point there, a great symbolic point."
War, Peace, and Murray Rothbard
, 18 Jul 2014
Review and commentary on Murray Rothbard's 1963 essay "War, Peace, and the State"
"Thus, Murray noted, the first acts of aggression that occur in interstate warfare are against each government's respective 'home' population. ... Interstate war of course also involves aggression against foreign populations as well as against home populations. ... Even 'smart' bombs and Hellfire missiles from remotely controlled drones kill people universally recognized as innocent noncombatants."
, 22 Sep 2006
Commentary on the perverted logic used in Washington politics, as evidenced by lobbying for and against import tariffs
"Washington is a funny place, with its own unique 'logic.' It's a 'company' town, the 'company' being the federal government, the 'product' being public policy. ... If you sense something screwy about this story, it's only because you are not using Washington logic. Elsewhere, the negation of a true statement is false. ... But things are different in Washington. There negation does not have the same logical implication."
Was the Constitution Really Meant to Constrain the Government?
, 8 Aug 2008
Explains how attempting to revert to the "original meaning" of the Constitution or appealing to the writings of the framers will not lead to a free society
"A shortcut favored by most advocates of limited government is 'restoration' of the Constitution. 'If only we could get back to the Constitution as it was written,' people say. It's a sincere wish, but as a path to a free society, it's riddled with potholes."
We Aren't Children
, Nov 2001
Discusses the freedom implications of three recent alcohol regulations in the state of Arkansas
"This is the phenomenon that economist Bruce Yandle calls 'Baptists and bootleggers.' It refers to the alliance inevitably struck between those who oppose some consensual activity for moralistic reasons and those who oppose it out of economic interest. Thus both the Baptists and the bootleggers favored Prohibition — the Baptists because drinking is sinful; the bootleggers because legal booze cut into their profits."
We Can Oppose Bigotry without the Politicians
, 28 Feb 2014
Explains why the state is not necessary to ensure that people or business don't discriminate against others on the basis of sexual orientation or some other reason
"If we are truly to embrace freedom of association, logically we must also embrace freedom of nonassociation. The test of one's commitment to freedom of association, like freedom of speech, is whether one sticks by it even when the content repulses. ... Boycotts, publicity, ostracism, and other noncoercive measures are also constituents of freedom of association."
We Must Not Be the World’s Policeman
, 4 Sep 2013
Considers whether United States actions against Syria are justified from moral and constitutional perspectives
"No one appointed the United States the world's policeman. The government's founding document, the Constitution, does not and could not do so. ... Assad poses no danger to Americans. Bombing would make him more — not less — of a threat. ... To be sure, Assad is a criminal. But the U.S. government's record on the world's stage hardly qualifies it for any merit badges."
We Need Freedom, Not School Standards
, Jun 1996
Compares the levels of education of Americans before and after 1840, when Horace Mann and others started molding "good industrial citizens"
"Ironically, the basic problem with the schools is that government has been setting standards for over 150 years. Before about 1840, government had little or nothing to do with education in the United States. ... Children didn’t have to attend school at all! Yet, America was a highly literate society–the most dynamic and enterprising in history. "
We Need Real Free Trade Now
, 4 Feb 2004
Responds to an article by Paul Craig Roberts and Sen. Charles Schumer arguing that free trade is no longer tenable due to outsourcing of jobs
"Free trade often requires adjustment to new conditions. Perhaps this will be true of hitherto secure computer programmers and other knowledge workers, who may see their incomes fall. But keep in mind that, while nominal wages may fall, real wages may not. That's because free trade and the resulting increased productivity of labor and resources will translate into more and lower-priced goods and services."
We Were Warned about the Rise of Empire
, 13 Jun 2014
Revisits Garet Garrett's 1952 essay "The Rise of Empire"
"It's easy to see how closely this fits the United States today. For a long time, the executive branch has been the dominant branch of government. For example, as Garrett noted, the war power has moved entirely into the hands of the president, despite the Constitution's language and Congress's half-hearted attempt to hold on to some power with the War Powers Resolution."
What an Honest Conversation about Race Would Look Like
, 19 Jul 2013
Argues that government policies, such as drug prohibition, gun control and mandatory schooling, are enablers for racism
"... things like the war on certain drug manufacturers, merchants, and consumers; the crusade against 'illegal' guns; the minimum wage and related laws; and the government's schools. All of these by far take their greatest toll on people of color. Private racism, whether violent or nonviolent, is evil and abhorrent; it is also unlibertarian — yes, even nonviolent racism is unlibertarian, as I point out in 'Libertarianism = Anti-Racism.'"
What Are Libertarians Out to Accomplish?
, 23 Jan 2015
Reviews a 1979 Nathaniel Branden speech bout the manner in which libertarians communicate with non-libertarians
"Branden was appealing to libertarians to be ruthlessly honest with themselves about why they were activists. If the reason was something other than achieving a free society through persuasion, then self-examination would be in order. If one's motives were mixed, then introspection might identify why one engaged in self-sabotage, such as intentionally alienating nonlibertarians."
What Exactly Did Gerald Ford Heal?
, 5 Jan 2007
Counters the argument that Geral Ford, by pardoning Richard Nixon, "healed the namtion"
"'The long national nightmare is over,' Ford said. But it wasn't a nightmare for the American people. It was a nightmare for the power elite. Their very legitimacy was in peril. The debt to Ford for restoring their legitimacy is owed by those who hold and aspire to power, not by those who suffer under it. Thus, what Ford accomplished was to stanch a growing public cynicism about government and to restore complacency."
What Is Golf?
, Jul 2001
Analyses the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the PGA Tour should allow disabled golfers to ride a golf cart
"The real issue at hand is not whether the PGA should voluntarily change its rules so people like Martin, whose degenerative circulatory disease precludes his walking the golf course, may use a golf cart. ... Reasonable people may disagree. Reasonable golfers do disagree. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, who know a thing or two about the game, testified for the PGA at the trial. But the issue is ... whether any branch of the government should sit in judgment of the PGA."
What Is the Constitution?
, Future of Freedom
, Jun 2002
Discusses constitutional interpretation, in particular the ninth and tenth amendments, in light of comments from Antonin Scalia about a national ID card
"James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, said that the central government was delegated powers that are few and defined. This is backed up by the Constitution itself. Article I, Sec. 8 contains a short list of powers given to the Congress. To reinforce this point, the Tenth Amendment (in the Bill of Rights), ... was adopted at the urging of those who thought the Constitution would allow the government to grow too powerful ..."
What Is the Enemy?
, Future of Freedom
, Apr 2006
Discusses why corporatism, mercantilism and Big Business are the chief opposition to libertarianism and truly free markets
"Which kind of state socialism is the greatest threat? ... it seems most likely that although there will be a variety of beneficiaries ..., the major receivers of largess, and the main proponents of government expansion, will be businessmen. In other words, the great threat to liberty is the corporate state, otherwise known as corporatism, state capitalism, and political capitalism."
What Should Libertarians Do?
, 25 Apr 2014
Examines what libertarianism demands from people and suggests focusing on the liberal insight that "societies run themselves" spontaneously
"Libertarians simultaneously ask little of people and a lot. We ask little when we preach nonaggression, because most people already practice nonaggression in their own lives. ... On the other hand, we ask a lot when we ask people to believe that free markets work. Most people know nothing about economics. Except in the most micro sense, they do not engage in the 'economic way of thinking.'"
What Social Animals Owe Each Other
, Future of Freedom
, Jul 2014
Revision of TGIF column dated 18 Apr 2014
What Social Animals Owe to Each Other
, 18 Apr 2014
Delves into the meaning and justification for the non-aggression principle, with insights from Roderick Long's "Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand"
"Every person owes it to all other persons not to aggress them. This is known as the nonaggression principle, or NAP. ... The NAP is an implication of the obligation to treat persons respectfully, as ends and not merely as means. ... Nonaggression is simply one application of respect. Thus a libertarian society in which people generally thought that nonaggression was all they owed others would be a society that should fear for its future viability qua libertarian society."
What's to Lose
, 20 Apr 2007
Explains the benefits to most Americans if the U.S. would withdraw from Iraq
"What would an American defeat in Iraq mean? Would evil Iraqis conquer the United States, force us all to speak Arabic, and convert us to Islam? Hardly. There is no threat whatsoever to the American people from the sectarian fighters in Baghdad or elsewhere in that country. ... If anything holds the disparate Sunni factions together, it's their common animosity to the U.S. occupation."
What's Wrong with Public Schools?
, Separating School & State
, 25 Mar 2005
Excerpt from chapter 2 of Separating School & State: How to Liberate Americas Families
"In a private education market, parents, if need be, could even send their children to one school to study French and to another to study math. The market is the most flexible arrangement for satisfying consumers that can be imagined. It is precisely that flexibility that is missing in bureaucracy, whether controlled democratically or not."
What the Immigration Bill Overlooks
, 9 Jul 2013
Discusses the 2013 immigration reform bill approved by the Senate and how it disregards basic human rights
"First, by nature all individuals — not just Americans — have rights. Specifically, they have a natural right to engage in any peaceful activity, that is, any conduct that does not aggress against other people. Among those rights, therefore, is the right to travel and settle anywhere, so long as no one else's rights are violated. ... Third, the free-enterprise system ... necessarily includes the freedom of business owners to hire whoever is willing to work for them. "
Where Free-Market Economists Go Wrong
, 1 Feb 2008
Discusses the economic stimulus proposals and the failure of many free-market economists to point out that the current economic system is not truly a free market
"What we have is corporatism, an interventionist system shot through with government-granted privileges mostly for the well-connected (yes, who tend to be rich). This system is maintained in a variety of ways: through taxes, subsidies, cartelizing regulations, 'intellectual property' protections, trade restrictions, government-bank collusion, the military-industrial complex, land close-offs, restrictions on workers, and more. As a result, people can get rich at the expense of the government's victims."
Where Is the Constitution?
, 28 Jul 2006
Discusses the varying legal interpretations of the U.S. Constitution and what is meant by "obeying rules"
"I mean the real constitution — the set of attitudes that reflect what Americans people will accept as legitimate actions by the people in government. ... words faithfully recited, or inscribed on parchment and hung in the National Archives, will never be enough to assure liberty. ... If liberty and free markets are to be established, government power must be rolled back. And if government power is to be rolled back, the real constitution — people's hearts and minds — must be pro-liberty."
W(h)ither Public Schools?
, Separating School & State
Chapter 1, made available online on tenth anniversary of the book's publication
"Is anyone happy with the public schools? It seems not. ... Whichever way they lean, people generally believe that the schools are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. ... Maybe the schools are doing precisely what they were designed to do or at least what they cannot help but do."
Why the U.S. Blew a Chance to Reconcile with Iran
, 1 May 2014
Another fascinating story from Gareth Porter's book about Iran: how the George H. W. Bush administration bungled the opportunity to improve the U.S. relationship with Iran
"The Bush administration took steps toward normalization, and Iran went to work on freeing the [US] hostages [being held by a militant group in Lebanon]. ... the last American was freed [in Dec 1991]. ... Then suddenly, in April 1992, the administration changed course. ... Porter also provides ample evidence that the main reason for the about-face was fear at the CIA and Pentagon that their budgets and staffs would be slashed with the end of the Cold War."
Why They Hate Us
, Future of Freedom
, Feb 2008
Examines the myth that the United States is hated because Americans "are free and represent democracy"
"American foreign policy has treated foreign populations like garbage, beginning with the brutal repression of the Filipino uprising against American colonial rule from 1899 to 1902. ... Since that time American presidents have intervened, directly or by proxy, in countless places, including Cuba, Haiti, Colombia (Panama), Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, the Soviet Union, Iran, Iraq, Guatemala, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan."
Will 2016 Be a Good Year for the Corporate State?
, 13 Dec 2013
Considers the prospective 2016 U.S. presidential contenders, Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, and how they line up with the aims of the corporate state, and further comments about South Africa
"She got one thing right: The politicians and big bankers 'all got into this mess together.' The financial and housing collapse of 2008 was the fruit of that malign partnership of big government and big business. ... But the big banks are doing fine now, thank you, and there's no reason to think that too-big-to-fail is over. It's regular people who are still hurting."
Will American Ground Troops Be Sent to Fight ISIS?
, 25 Sep 2014
Analyses President Obama's statements, made on 17 Sep 2014, regarding the anti-Islamic State strategy
"As for Obama's emphasis on coalition building, let's not be fooled. This is a U.S.-led operation, and that is how the inhabitants of the bombed territories will see it. ISIS recruitment will soar. But even if other coalition members shouldered most of the burden, why should Americans feel any better about the operation? The objection to a new U.S. war in the Middle East should not be that America would go it alone. Rather, it's that America cannot police the world without doing a variety of harms. Bringing a posse of nations along doesn't change that."
Woodstock May Have Saved Sen. McCain's Life
, 7 Nov 2007
Discusses John McCain's comment regarding Hillary Clinton's proposal for funding a Woodstock museum
"While McCain undoubtedly suffered beyond imagination, the full context of his situation needs to be maintained. ... He and his defenders would respond that he was serving his country and protecting Americans' freedom. He wasn't. North Vietnam never attacked the American people. The public was told it had attacked an American warship in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, but the U.S. government knew that was not true."
, 7 Mar 2014
Contrasts the "gospel of work" and "joy of labor" espoused by moralists and state socialists with the views of economists such as Adam Smith, Bastiat, John Stuart Mill, Mises and Rothbard
"The message was that work is not just an honest and proper way to obtain the necessities of life without mooching off others. ... the moralists were joined in their labor evangelism by employers, who needed uncomplaining workers willing to spend long hours in unpleasant factories. ... We get a different picture of labor from the economists. ... It follows that the penchant for economizing effort — the preference for leisure — is a beneficent feature of human nature."
Would-Be Rulers without Clothes
, Future of Freedom
, May 2008
Examines Hillary Clinton's assertion about "wanting" a universal health care plan
"But when a politician advocates forcing people to go along with his grand plans, the normal rules are suspended and different rules take their place. In the political world, people who have never bothered anyone may be coerced into participating in a politician's scheme for no reason other than that the scheme allegedly won't work if there isn't universal participation. ... It's a measure of how far removed politics is from normal morality that even to raise this issue seems slightly peculiar."
Zimmerman Case Is No Grounds for Gun Control
, 16 Jul 2013
Argues against those who, based on the outcome of the George Zimmerman case, push for bans on all private guns and for repealing "stand your ground" laws
"We may go further and note that even a guilty verdict would have been no grounds for gun control. No matter what gun laws are on the books, bad guys will always get firearms. Gunrunning is as old as guns themselves. It is only the innocent who would be without guns, and that means more murders, more rapes, more assaults. The answer to gun violence is not to deprive the innocent of guns."