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  • A government is a group of individuals who exercise authority over a political society, such as a country or political subdivision. Exercising authority entails issuing commands that the individuals in the society are expected to obey. The commands may range over a number of human activities, from determining what constitutes a crime to permissible behavior in commercial or personal relationships.

    Featured Topics

    • State, The - The group of people that, having effective control over a government, benefit the most from the exercise of its power
    • Taxation - Compulsory contributions demanded by governments from individuals and other entities

    Notable Topics

    • Bureaucracy - A hierarchy of government officials, mostly unelected, that set policies, prescribe regulations and administer them
    • Democracy - Form of government where the power is exercised directly or indirectly by a majority of the citizens
    • Government, Limited - Restricting government to its proper functions, defined by law
    • Law - Set of rules and guidelines intended to influence social behavior
    • Politics - The practices of guiding, influencing or controlling government


    Government, by James Mill, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1820
    Discusses the purpose of government, the means for attaining that end and various related questions and objections; rationalises that representative democracy, as exhibited in early 19th century Britain, is most conducive to "good Government"
    THE question with respect to Government is a question about the adaptation of means to an end. Notwithstanding the portion of discourse which has been bestowed ..., it is surprising to find ... how few of its principles are settled ... The end of Government has been described in a great variety of expressions. By Locke it was said to be "the public good;" by others it has been described as being "the greatest happiness of the greatest number." ... It is immediately obvious, that ... the whole science of human nature must be explored, to lay a foundation for the science of Government.
    United States Declaration of Independence
    We hold ... that all men ... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ... to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ... whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes ...


    The 100th Anniversary of the Great State Crime, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 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 the 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 ... Could the men responsible for the war have wrought anything like the horrors they inflicted had they not controlled a state apparatus—an army, a navy, a compulsory revenue-collection agency, and a bureaucracy to conscript (enslave) the nation's young males? (The draft was fittingly called the blood-tax.)
    The 9/11 Servility Reflex, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Dec 2007
    Discusses how the general American public reacted after the 9/11 attacks and how the 9/11 Commission and the mainstream media helped reinforce that reaction
    Many of the most respected and prominent media commentators saw 9/11 as the great sanctifier of government power ... R.W. Apple announced, "Government is back in style" ... Al Hunt proclaimed, "It's time to declare a moratorium on government-bashing" ... The 9/11 attacks produced many such summonses to elevate and glorify government. Yet it was U.S. government foreign policies that stirred up the hornets' nest, breeding hatred that led to the attacks themselves. After two skyscrapers collapse and the Pentagon is in flames, the government is hailed for failing to protect Americans from the enemies its policies helped create.
    The Abstract Concept of Human Liberty, by Robert LeFevre, The Freeman, Dec 1982
    Discusses how people may be interested in other people, in events or in material things but only a few are interested in ideas, and how each group of people tends to view liberty from those perspectives
    Those interested in events are interested in power ... Those who think at this level clearly see the loss of freedom we all experience when other hands than theirs are on the tiller of the ship of state. "Give us the scepter!" they cry. "We will throw out those rascals and provide a government which will enforce freedom. We will reward the just and punish the unjust! Only those of us who understand freedom can be entrusted with the power to impose our wills upon all by force. The taxes we levy will be rightful taxes. The regulations we impose will be only for the good of Society."
    The Accidental Inventor of Today's Capitalism: Jean-Baptiste Say, No Longer a Villain, Stands Guard Over Free Markets, by Louis Uchitelle, The New York Times, 21 Feb 1998
    Written in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, discusses Say's law, both as popularly heard and what he actually wrote, and Keynes' role in making Say's unwritten words famous as well as his preference for government intervention
    Will supply and demand balance on their own at a high enough level to put everyone to work? Or can the balance come at a much lower level, requiring government to step in with job-creating measures? ... The Asian collapse is a result of too much government meddling, modern Saysians argue. The Korean Government, for example, pushed companies to borrow when they should not have borrowed and to manufacture too many cars, semiconductors, steel products and other things when there was no ready market for them. The markets, left to themselves, would have balanced supply and demand at a healthy level and Asia would not be in crisis today ...
    Adams, John (1735-1826), by Michiel Visser, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    In 1776, Adams was urged to write a short pamphlet ... that proved to be the most influential of his writings ... Thoughts on Government is a warning against both direct democracy and unicameral unbalanced government. Human nature cannot be trusted with power, and the legislature must therefore be balanced by a strong executive, with the legislature split into a Senate, whose members should come from the socially powerful and serve longer terms, and a popular lower house. The executive should be given veto power over the actions of the legislature, and both legislative chambers must agree on any legislation.
    Related Topic: John Adams
    Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand, by Edmund A. Opitz, The Freeman, Jun 1976
    Explains mercantilism, the rationales for political power, government's proper role, Smith's "invisible hand" metaphor, his concept of "equality, liberty and justice" and how a free society allocates economic goods; from a lecture given 17 Feb 1976
    [The] political theory of Classical Liberalism ... declared that the end of government is justice between persons, and maximum liberty for everyone in society ... The point to be stressed is that the essential nature of government—its license to resort to force at some point—is not changed by merely altering the warrant under which government acts ... Government is as government does. Governmental action is what it is, no matter what sanction might be offered to justify what it does. The nature of goverment remains the same even though its sponsorship be changed from monarchial power to majority rule.
    Adam Smith—"I had almost forgot that I was the author of the inquiry concerning The Wealth of Nations", by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Mar 1995
    Biographical essay
    As early as 1749 ... Smith had concluded that the way to promote prosperity is for governments to leave people alone ... in a lecture that year, Smith declared: "Little else is required to carry a state to the highest degree of affluence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things. All governments which thwart this natural course, which force things into another channel, or which endeavor to arrest the progress of society at a particular point, are unnatural, and, to support themselves, are obliged to be oppressive and tyrannical."
    Algernon Sidney: Forgotten Founding Father, by Chris Baker, The Freeman, Oct 1997
    Biographical essay discussing also Sidney's political theories and his influence in the American colonies
    In 1680, Robert Filmer's Patriarcha was published. Filmer (who had died in 1653) argued that absolute monarchy was a natural form of government, existing from the creation. Fathers governed families, and the right to rule passed on to the eldest son. Sidney penned his Discourses Concerning Government in response to Filmer ... Sidney was not totally opposed to monarchy. "The best Governments of the World have bin [sic] composed of Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy," he believed ... But he did believe uncompromisingly in the right of revolution. He saw government as a contract among the people.
    Along Pennsylvania Avenue, by Murray N. Rothbard, Faith and Freedom, Dec 1955
    Discusses the perennial "farm problem" reviewing the various agricultural policy interventions going back to 1929 to the one to be passed in 1956, then cautions those who may want government repression of "left-wing" foundations
    If we call for government repression of foundations, we abandon the very principle of liberty for which we fight. Does government control supply the answer to our problems? If so, why criticize the Ford Foundation for coming up with the same answer. This was the basic trouble with the Reece Committee investigation of foundations last year. The Committee ... suffered from a fatal flaw: here a government committee denounced private foundations and called for government control of these foundations. Why? Because these foundations advocated government control of private institutions!
    Related Topic: Farming
    The American Disease, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 21 Mar 2014
    Explains how U.S. government meddling in foreign countries (citing contemporaneous examples in the Ukraine and Russia) is generally counterproductive, even when genuinely attempting to advance liberty
    If the purpose of U.S. intervention in the affairs of other countries is really to help suffering people, the program has a fatal flaw. (This should surprise no one familiar with other government programs.) The flaw is that the U.S. government does opposition movements no favors when it gives credibility to the charge that those movements are tools of foreign—particularly American—interests ... We here in America cannot live in liberty with a government equipped to meddle in foreign countries—even for what appear to be worthy causes; moreover, the meddling does not help others.
    analysis: 1949-1951, by Charles H. Hamilton, The Conservative Press in Twentieth-Century America, 1999
    Note: the initial publication date is incorrect in the original title
    Chodorov agreed with the goals of fighting communism, and at times he flirted with McCarthyite elements of the Right. Mostly, though, he reminded his readers that the ultimate value was freedom and that they should not squander it in an ill-advised effort to protect it. His point was simply that "the commies don't count." The real enemy was statism. To the question of how to rid the government of communists, Chodorov half-seriously remarked: "Easy. Just abolish the jobs."
    Related Topic: analysis
    'Anarchist' Idiocy, by David Boaz, 14 May 2011
    Discusses a Washington Post story about Greek so-called "anarchists" who were protesting the "rolling back of social safety nets"
    The last vignette ... is about 20‐​year‐​old Nikos Galanos, who has joined the anarchist movement in anger over his mother's losing her government job and his father's being the victim of a 15 percent salary cut in his own government job.
    "I don't support violence for violence's sake, but violence is a response to the violence the government is committing against society," Galanos said ...
    In fact, the government has been committing violence against society for decades, by taxing people, overregulating business, and spending money it didn't have. No wonder youth unemployment is 35 percent.
    Related Topics: Anarchism, Greece
    The Anatomy of Antitrust: An Interview With Dominick T. Armentano, by Dominick T. Armentano, Austrian Economics Newsletter, 1998
    Discusses aspects of the United States v. Microsoft Corp case and related issues, such as product tying, exclusivity agreements, theories of compettion, price fixing, Robert Bork's views, government monopolies and Armentano's antitrust book
    AEN: But why isn't the wealth and power of government similarly criticized?
    ARMENTANO: I suppose the explanation is psychological. Government is always put in a separate category, and somehow not subjected to the same strictures it imposes on everyone else ... When I talk to average people, I expect them to exempt government and government monopolies from the criticisms they make of big business. But even when you talk to intellectuals, they make the same mistake ... I don't know how to overcome that, except to keep showing how repressive government imposition is, and how government regulation harms economic welfare for everyone.
    And now, a word from our founder, by Raymond C. Hoiles, The Orange County Register, 29 May 2006
    Statement of editorial policies that "should be followed in order to make the newspapers controlled by Freedom Newspapers Inc. better serve the community, the state and the nation", written in the 1960s by the Freedom Communications, Inc. founder
    We know of no other U.S. newspapers that use as a guide the theory that no man or group of men should initiate force. This makes us oppose any discriminatory legislation. It makes us take the stand that no government or no subdivision of the government has a moral right to do anything that each and every individual does not have a right to do. If we are consistent with this principle we have to be against tax-supported schools, minimum wages, Social Security and any law that interferes with people making voluntary contracts and any law that interferes with an unhampered market.
    Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Who First Put Laissez-Faire Principles into Action, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Aug 1997
    Biographical essay, covering his life, works and involvement with the Physiocrats, as well as his accomplishments as an administrator
    [Turgot] explained why government officials couldn't run an economy. "For instance: If the Government limits the number of sellers by exclusive privileges or otherwise, it is certain that the consumer will be wronged and that the seller, made sure of selling, will compel him to buy dearly bad articles ... To desire that government should be obliged to prevent fraud from ever occurring would be to desire it to provide head pads for all children who might fall. To assume, by regulations, successfully to prevent all the possible malversations ..., is to sacrifice ... the whole progress of industry."
    Annotated Bibliography of Frédéric Bastiat, by Sheldon Richman, Jul 2000
    Opens with a biography, then discusses Bastiat's major works and concludes with a current perspective; includes short list of works about Bastiat and links to other sites
    All government interventions designed to create or save jobs, such as tariffs, are obstacles to progress because, by creating or maintaining artificially high prices, they leave consumers less money ... to satisfy other wants ... Bastiat emphasizes that government interference with the system of free exchange, no matter how well intentioned, has perverse effects. To fully understand this, we must look beyond the immediate effects to the secondary, "unseen" consequences. Only if we do so can we be sure that government policy is not "legal plunder," benefiting the few at the expense of the many.
    The Antimilitarist Libertarian Heritage, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 19 Sep 2014
    Reviews writings by Herbert Spencer, "Government Colonization" (in Social Statics (1851)) and "Patriotism" (in Facts and Comments (1902)), on the subjects of war, militarism, colonization and patriotism
    Spencer advocated just enough government to protect the freedom of the citizens who live under it ... Any true economic benefits from dealing with foreign populations can be obtained through free trade, he says. He invokes the law of comparative advantage to argue that the parent society loses, not gains, when the government coercively creates artificial foreign markets for products the society can't produce as efficiently as others can ... Spencer was keenly aware that such criticism of the government was regarded as unpatriotic. In 1902, near the end of his life, he turned his attention to that charge.
    April Is the Cruelest Month, by Sheldon Richman, 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
    Nothing is more human than the wish to keep what one has earned. But the government will go to great lengths to prevent that. The complexity of the code gives government great scope for intrusion ... To rub salt in the wound, the government compels employers to withhold the tax before we even get our hands on it ... Truth be told, government does not serve the "general welfare." It is just a cynical transfer machine: politicians take what A produces and give it to B. The B's are well-organized interest groups, the A's the unorganized majority.
    Related Topic: Taxation
    A-Scalping We van Gogh, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Feb 1999
    Explains the economics concepts of opportunity cost, money, prices and entrepreneurship, based on analysis of scalping of "free" tickets for a Van Gogh exhibit at the National Gallery of Art
    [G]overnment ownership complicates things. The [National Gallery] is financed through the theft of taxation. Thus it, like everything government does, is a method of transferring wealth. We can say with certainty that government should not own galleries, but if it does, what is the status of an anti-scalping rule? My quick response is that the rule is illegitimate. When government thwarts scalpers—which is just a pejorative for "entrepreneurs"—it capriciously favors one group of peaceful citizens over another. In theory, government should be neutral among lawful people.
    Auberon Herbert, Part 1, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, Feb 2011
    First part of biographical essay on Auberon Herbert; discusses Spencer's influence on him, his views on anarchism vs. voluntaryism, self-ownership, majority rule, war and imperialism
    In short, Herbert believed defensive force and the protection of property were legitimate roles for government or "a central agency." The government would be financed solely by a "voluntary tax." Payees would gain the privilege of voting; nonpayees would not have the franchise but could set up their own associations. Herbert doubted they would do so because the benefits of a "central agency" would be apparent to all. Thus, he called himself a "governmentalist" and, in 1879, once more attempted to join the House of Commons but failed.
    Bad Medicine, by Sheldon Richman, 21 Mar 2003
    Discusses the differences between Democrat and Republican policies for government schooling and proposals to add prescription-drug coverage to Medicare
    Under President Bush, state and local governments ladle out learning also under Washington's supervision, but if that's not satisfactory, he will let parents take their kids to other government schools. He might even consider ... vouchers. To us recalcitrants there is less difference here than meets the eye. In both cases, dispensers of the government money ultimately call the shots. The Republicans do it by an indirect route and call it "school choice." But government is the death, not the fount, of choice. Real choice would let parents keep their money and buy education in the free market.
    Bad Medicine, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Nov 2003
    Discusses the potential effects of passing the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, signed into law in Dec 2003
    Congressman Bill Thomas (R–Calif.) says the objective ... is to "provide access to affordable prescription drugs." [That] can only mean that money will be taken from one group to pay for other people's drugs. How else can government "provide access"? ... Regardless of how the government provides the coverage, a bureaucracy will gain the power ... When insurance companies and managed-care organizations are dependent on government checks, government officials can take charge ... If hiking the payroll tax isn't enough, the government can always put price ceilings on drugs and drug coverage.
    Benjamin Constant, Eloquent Defender of Freedom, by David Boaz, 25 Oct 2017
    Tribute to Constant, written on the 250th anniversary of his birth, with quotes from his speech "The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with That of the Moderns"
    He concluded by exhorting his audience to insist that modern governments respect modern liberty and leave individuals free to make their own decisions: "... They are so ready to spare us all sort of troubles, except those of obeying and paying! They will say to us: what, in the end, is the aim of your efforts, the motive of your labours, the object of all your hopes? Is it not happiness? Well, leave this happiness to us and we shall give it to you. No, Sirs, we must not leave it to them. No matter how touching such a tender commitment may be, let us ask the authorities to keep within their limits. Let them confine themselves to being just ..."
    Related Topics: Benjamin Constant, Liberty
    Benjamin Tucker, Individualism, & Liberty: Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order, by Wendy McElroy, Literature of Liberty, 1981
    Bibliographical essay covering the people and radical movements that influenced Tucker in his founding and publishing of Liberty, its major themes and contributors
    The status and functions of government [during the Civil War] inflated as never before. Equally important, the prevailing view of government changed. With the Declaration of Independence and the cry of "no taxation without representation," government was considered to rule through the consent of the people. When the North refused to permit the South to withdraw its consent through secession and when it imposed an unpopular government upon the South, the consensual view of government was weakened and, with the "One Union under God" motto, mystification of the coercive State was underway.
    Bernie Is Not a Socialist and America Is Not Capitalist, by Marian Tupy, The Atlantic, 1 Mar 2016
    Clarifies the meaning of various terms which young people tend to misunderstand, including socialism, communism, capitalism and corporatism, and then discusses the relative levels of economic freedom in the United States and other countries
    Today, local, state, and federal governments spend 39 percent of the gross domestic product ... [W]hile production in America is dominated by the private sector, spending is dominated by the government. Or, to put it differently, the government is by far the single most important spender and, consequently, the single most important economic actor. In fact, many of the most important financial decisions made by ordinary Americans during the course of their lives, such as the purchase of healthcare, social security, education, and housing, are heavily influenced by the government.
    Big Brother, not Snowden and Greenwald, Is the Story, by Sheldon Richman, 27 Jun 2013
    Examines the reaction from various media pundits and talking heads (Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Andrea Mitchell, Chris Matthews, etc.) both progressive and conservative to the Snowden and Greenwald revelations about NSA data collection
    The other day, [Joe Scarborough's] sidekick, Mika Brzezinski, asked, "Is there anything we can do to track [Edward Snowden] down?" (Emphasis added.) She meant the government. Brzezinski went on to accuse Snowden of taking the job with NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton "to screw over our government." That's how one who speaks power to truth spins it ... I've focused on MSNBC because it has so egregiously and persistently circled the wagons around the government. It's an old story: TV hosts and reporters need access to government officials, but access is jeopardized if they antagonize those officials.
    Big Pharma and Crony Capitalism, by Wendy McElroy, 9 Jul 2012
    Examines the ways in which large pharmaceutical companies influence government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
    The government's stance on drugs is so contradictory ... that no sane arguments occur on an official level. While SWAT teams break down the doors of adults ... the public school system acts as a pusher [for] ritalin ... even when government appears to act as a check on big pharma, the ultimate result comes down to a slap on one pharmaceutical wrist and permission for the other hand to pursue plunder ... Relying on government to check the results is dangerous to your health. Indeed, the FDA does not actually conduct drug trials. Instead, they review the trials and reports submitted to them by drug companies ...
    Big-Spending Republicans Can Learn from Ireland's Reforms, by Benjamin Powell, 17 Sep 2003
    Contrasts U.S. government spending in the 1990's (under Bill Clinton) and early 2000's (under George W. Bush) with the approach taken in Ireland from the late 1980's
    Tax cuts alone do not mean less government or more economic freedom. All government spending must be taken from private-sector wealth. When spending increases, the sphere of private-sector economic activity decreases. Government spending must be paid for by borrowing, inflating, or taxing. Cutting taxes while increasing spending only changes the avenue through which private-sector activity—the mainspring of economic growth—is crowded out, while real resources are consumed by the government. Real economic growth is promoted by slashing the size and role of government in the economy.
    The Bill of Rights: Antipathy to Militarism, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Sep 2004
    After quoting the text of the Third Amendment, discusses standing armies in the historical context and in modern times
    While the Framers understood the need for a federal government, what concerned them was the possibility that such a government would become a worse menace than no government at all. Their recent experience with the British government—... against which they had taken up arms—had reinforced what they had learned through their study of history: that the biggest threat ... was their own government. Thus, ... the challenge ... was how to bring a federal government into existence that would be sufficiently powerful to protect their rights and liberties but that would not also become omnipotent and tyrannical.
    The Bill of Rights: Due Process of Law, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Nov 2004
    Describes the origins of due process in the Magna Carta, the basic requirements of "notice" and "hearing", other guarantees (e.g., assistance of counsel, trial by jury of peers), habeas corpus and comments on the current state of affairs
    Government's job would be to bring such malefactors to justice and impose punishment on them. ... history and experience had shown that when government (i.e., the king) was vested with the unlimited power to arrest, incarcerate, and punish violent offenders, always and inevitably such power had been misused against the innocent, especially those who dared to criticize or challenge government policies or practices. For example, without restrictions on power, the king would simply send his soldiers to the home of a government critic. They would then arrest him, incarcerate him, and punish him.
    The Bill of Rights: Eminent Domain, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Dec 2004
    Discusses the eminent domain protections of the Fifth Amendment and how they were undermined by cases such as Berman v. Parker (1954) and Poletown (1981), and the positive outcome of Wayne County v. Hathcock (2004)
    Lost in all this "public use" controversy is a fundamental question: Why should government have the power of eminent domain anyway? If it needs a piece of property, why shouldn't ... officials be expected to negotiate for its purchase, just as everyone else does? If someone refuses to sell, then the government can simply go and purchase its property elsewhere ... bear in mind the personal pain and sorrow that accompanies the forcible taking of people's homes and businesses, even when "just compensation" is paid. The best example was the Interstate Highway System, a ... project that destroyed the homes and businesses of thousands ...
    The Bill of Rights: Freedom of Speech, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Jul 2004
    Part of a series examining the Bill of Rights, this covers the freedom of speech clause as a barrier to censorship by government (and not by private entities)
    Compare, for instance, a private newspaper and a private radio station ... Consumers... have the right to buy the newspaper or refuse to buy [it] for whatever reason ... —either because the newspaper is publishing [Howard] Stern's thoughts or because it is refusing to do so. Government plays no role in the process. A radio station, on the other hand, while having to deal with the same market forces in terms of private consumers, must also deal with the heavy hand of government—the heavy hand that can put the station out of business through punitive fines or revocation or a nonrenewal of its broadcasting license.
    The Bill of Rights: The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Aug 2004
    Discusses the fallacies in gun-control arguments, comparing possible gun prohibition to the war on drugs, highlighting the behavior of U.S. officials in occupied Iraq and concluding with several quotes by Founding Fathers and Framers
    Let's assume that private ownership of guns is wiped out of existence in the United States and that somehow the government is able to prevent murderers and rapists from acquiring them in a black market. Would that make the American people safer? No, because a government that wielded [that] power ... would be an omnipotent, tyrannical government, such as ... exists in Cuba or North Korea ... As people who have lost their liberties at the hands of their own government throughout history have discovered, once the sacrifice and surrender of rights has begun, the march toward tyranny becomes inexorable.
    The Bill of Rights: Unenumerated Rights, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Apr 2005
    Examines the rationale and history behind the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, citing both James Madison and Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
    The Framers could easily have called into existence a government whose powers were omnipotent. For example, they could have said,
    Believing that a government is needed to do good, the federal government that is hereby called into existence shall have the power to enact whatever laws and to take whatever action federal officials deem necessary to accomplish that end.
    Notice that ... the Constitution could still have enabled people to democratically elect their public officials. In such a case, then, we would have had a democratically elected government with omnipotent powers—a democratic dictatorship.
    UpdBlessings of Discrimination, by F. A. Harper, In Brief, 1951
    Discusses the human ability to discriminate, e.g., to feel the heat of a stove, which Buddha considered an "essential" virtue, contrasting it with the policy of nondiscrimination on employment, association and other areas
    [W]hen [a] child grows to adulthood, because of some peculiar twist of "modern thought," he is confronted on every hand with the idea that discrimination is a sin. At its ultimate and logical conclusion, this concept flowers into governmental prohibition of choice, because government is the principal agent of force used to rob men of their right of choice. Carried to its ultimate, a controlled society removes choice from every sphere of human conduct, including religious practice, place of work, whom one will hire, with whom one will trade, and at what price.
    A Bogus Libertarian Defense of War, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Oct 2007
    Criticizes Randy Barnett's Wall Street Journal op-ed "Libertarians and the War" (17 Jul 2007) and his follow-up post "Antiwar Libertarians and the Reification of the State" (20 Jul 2007) at the Volokh Conspiracy blog
    [N]o principle of national sovereignty is needed ... Governments don't have rights over "their" territories or populations. Rather, they are ubiquitous threats to life, liberty, and property. But that is precisely why they must be kept from clashing with each other—when they do, innocents get slaughtered and wealth gets confiscated. This doesn't mean that governments may properly aggress against "their" populations unmolested. They most certainly may not. It simply means that the method of opposing a given state's aggression must be something other than interstate warfare.
    The Brilliance of Turgot, by Murray N. Rothbard, Apr 1986
    Biography and review of Turgot's major writings; introduction to The Turgot Collection (2011), edited by David Gordon
    Governmental restrictions ... compel consumers to buy poorer products at higher prices. Turgot concludes that "the general freedom of buying and selling is therefore the only means of assuring, on the one hand, the seller of a price sufficient to encourage production, and on the other hand, the consumer, of the best merchandise at the lowest price." Turgot concluded that government should be strictly limited to protecting individuals against "great injustice" and the nation against invasion. "The government should always protect the natural liberty of the buyer to buy, and of the seller to sell."
    Buchanan, James M. (1919-2013), by Peter T. Leeson, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    To believe that government can correct market failures, we must first assume that political agents charged with this task desire to pursue the public good ... The ["Emperor's Singing Contest"] tale suggests that those who observe market failure are prepared to automatically respond by calling for government correction without first considering what that "correction" entails. Allowing for symmetry between individuals' motivations in politics and the market means that there may be good reason to think that in many cases government failure will be worse than that of the market.
    Related Topics: James M. Buchanan, Politics
    Bundling and unbundling, by Thomas Sowell, 13 Apr 1998
    Argues that the government should not be telling Microsoft (or any other company) what it can or cannot bundle in one of its software products or otherwise interfere in private transactions, except for holding sellers responsible for what they sell
    Free market economists do not believe that the government should "do nothing." But they think it is crucial to understand just what the government should and should not do. Government is the ultimate repository of force in a society. That force can be used to see that a general framework of laws is followed and that contracts between private individuals are enforced. This is basically an umpire's role ... The government has no business saying what ought to be in the bundle that is sold to the customer. But the law ought be able to say that whoever sold that bundle is legally responsible for all of it.
    Related Topic: Technology
    Bureaucracy and the Civil Service in the United States, by Murray N. Rothbard, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1995
    Historical examination of the evolution of the United States Civil Service and attempts to reform it, from its beginnings through the early 20th century
    By its nature, government is not subject to the profit-and-loss test, to the domination by the consumers, of the free market ... government is unique among organizations in attaining its revenue via the coercion of taxpayers. Hence, government suffers no worries about losses or bankruptcy; it need serve no one except itself. The only limit on government is the enormously wide one of people rising up to refuse to obey its orders (including taxes) ... Government, in short, is particularly subject to the well-known evils of an arrogant, hidebound, inefficient, red-tape-ridden, ever-expanding "bureaucracy."
    Bush's Opium Boom, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Apr 2003
    Describes attempts by the Taliban (from July 2000 to October 2001—the U.S. invasion), the U.S., the United Nations and the Karzai government to control opium poppy production in Afghanistan
    In April 2002, the Karzai government offered farmers up to $600 an acre not to plant opium. Many of the farmers who accepted the government proposal got defrauded. Instead of cash, they were given a government voucher that was often very difficult to redeem. In other cases, farmers acceded to government demands to destroy their crops but were never paid anything, not even a voucher. Some farmers concluded that the government was even more devious than the people who previously bought their opium. One farmer in the southern Helmand province declared, "We will never believe the government again."
    Bush's Secret Surveillance State, by Anthony Gregory, 26 Dec 2005
    Discusses the actions of the Bush administration before and after the New York Times disclosed that secret, warrantless wiretaps were and are being conducted, on both domestic and international calls and emails
    The real threat to American liberty, the defense of which the administration still insists is the purpose of the war on terror, is a federal government without strict checks and limits on its power, whose executives feel comfortable using the military to spy on peaceful Americans, while telling the media not to report their secret and unconstitutional surveillance activities ... A government that spies on its own people must be in turn be watched even more carefully by those people. And a government that does not trust the people to know about its spying cannot itself be trusted.
    The Businessman and the Defense of Capitalism, by Benjamin A. Rogge, Can Capitalism Survive?, 1979
    Chapter 1 of Part IX, "an explicit follow-up to the Schumpeter-based 'Can Capitalism Survive?'" (the lead essay in this volume); offers business leaders suggestions as to what to do and not to do in helping "the cause of freedom"
    I begin then with the question, "What is our problem?" In an earlier sentence, I identified the problem as that of overexpanded government. This is not really correct for the purposes of therapy. Overexpanded government is, in fact, but the most noticeable, objectively evident symptom of our problem. Our problem is in the form of a set of ideas whose implementation calls for the use of force, and government is that agency of society given a monopoly of the right to use force. For so long as those ideas are dominant in society, Behemoth will continue to grow.
    California's Blow Against Property Rights, by Sheldon Richman, Dec 1997
    Discusses the concepts of private property and property rights in view of California's law forbidding smoking in bars, beginning in January 1998
    A bar is private property. It may be thought of as a public place, but the term "public place" has come to have two different meanings: a private establishment open to the public, such as a bar, and a government-run, tax-financed facility, such as a public school. Unfortunately, we use the term "public" in both contexts. That only causes confusion. A government facility is theoretically owned by all citizens and subject to democratic rule, although in practice, it is controlled by bureaucrats. We'd be better off if public schools and other government-owned facilities were privatized, but that is [another] subject ...
    The Case for the Barbarous Relic, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., 26 Jul 2006
    Argues for a return to the gold stndard by reviewing U.S. political, economic and monetary history; from talk presented in New York City on 21 March 2006
    Let's say you have a wayward son ... He borrows and ... spends, more and more every month and year ... So long as you are willing to underwrite his habits, you are enabling irresponsibility. The same is true with the federal government. The reason spending is out of control is that there is no institutional break to interrupt the pattern. Spending and debt continue to rise with no apparent consequence for anyone. The politicians make promises, the pundits scold, the voters sit back in discomforted bemusement, and the game continues without limit: ever more programs, benefits, and wars.
    China's Legacy: The Thoughts of Lao Tzu, by James A. Dorn, South China Morning Post, 4 Sep 2007
    Contrasts the teachings of Laozi with respect to government intervention with the lingering effects of Mao Zedong's legacy
    Good government must be in harmony with each person's desire to prosper and expand the range of choice. By emphasising the principle of non-intervention, Lao Tzu also recognised that when government leaves people alone, then "without being ordered to do so, people become harmonious by themselves" ... Disorder arises when government oversteps its bounds—when it overtaxes and denies people their natural right to be left alone to pursue their happiness, as long as they do not injure others.
    Related Topics: China, Dào Dé Jīng, Lǎozǐ
    Clint Eastwood announces: I'm a "libertarian", Libertarian Party News, 18 Feb 1997
    Libertarian Party press release based on Eastwood's response to a Playboy interview question: "How would you characterize yourself politically?"
    The 66-year-old Eastwood has been an increasingly outspoken critic of government abuse in recent months—echoing the Libertarian Party's criticisms of the federal government's role in the bloodbath at Waco, Texas, and the shooting of Randy Weaver's family at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. In an essay he wrote for the January 12, 1997 issue of Parade Magazine, Eastwood noted: "Abuse of power isn't limited to bad guys in other nations. It happens in our own country if we're not vigilant." For example, he wrote: "At Waco, was there really an urgency to get those people out of the compound at that particular time? ..."
    Related Topics: Libertarianism, John Stossel
    Clinton's Health-Care Plan for You: Cradle-to-Grave Slavery, Part I, by Jarret Wollstein, Freedom Daily, Jan 1994
    Examines various provisions of the Clinton health care plan of 1993, including studies conducted on the proposal by CONSAD Research Corporation and the Heartland Institute
    Under Clinton's plan, you will ... be enrolled in a government-run "health alliance." ... All doctors will eventually be forced to join governmental "health networks" ... [They] will be under direct control of a new National Health Board ... Given this planned governmental regimentation ..., it should not be surprising that ... "half of all the physicians ... say they would consider retiring if the Clinton plan is too onerous—and they have the means to do so." ... [W]e have not had a free market in health care ... for over 50 years. The government now controls over 40% of health-care expenditures.
    Related Topics: Bill Clinton, Health Care, Taxation
    Common Sense, by Thomas Paine, 14 Feb 1776
    Full title: Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America, On the following interesting Subjects:
    I. Of the Origin and Design of Government in general, with concise Remarks on the English Constitution.
    II. Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession.
    III. Thoughts on the present State of American Affairs.
    IV. Of the present Ability of America, with some miscellaneous Reflections.
    Pamphlet written by Paine in 1775 and 1776, advocating independence from Britain
    Some writers have so confounded society with government ... Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer ... Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. freedom and security.
    Related Topics: England, Society
    Confessions of a Welfare Queen, by John Stossel, Reason, Mar 2004
    Discusses the National Flood Insurance Program, subsidies to farmers and farm corporations (such as Archer Daniels Midland) and Donald Trump's attempt to use eminent domain to expand a casino in Atlantic City
    [My] architect said, "... If the ocean destroys your house, the government will pay for a new one." What? ... Why would [the government] encourage people to build in such risky places? ... Since private insurers weren't dumb enough to sell cheap insurance to people who built on the edges of oceans or rivers, Congress decided the government should step in and do it ... Why does Uncle Sam offer me cheap insurance? ... That's government logic: Since we always mindlessly use taxpayer money to bail out every idiot who takes an expensive risk, let's get some money up front by selling them insurance first.
    Congress Strong-Arming Baseball? That's Foul, by Nick Gillespie, Matt Welch, The Washington Post, 20 Jan 2008
    Discusses the 2008 Oversight and Government Reform congressional hearings on the use of steroids in the MLB
    Few scenes could be stranger than watching the senior citizens on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform—an invention of Newt Gingrich's revolution that was designed to prune back the federal government's reach, not stick its nose into the nation's locker rooms—attempt to justify government intrusion into a private sporting league ... Major League Baseball, along with other sports leagues and private-sector ventures, simply should not be required to submit their business plans—much less blood and urine samples—to Congress or any other government body.
    Related Topic: Baseball
    Conscience on the Battlefield, by Leonard E. Read, 1981
    Pamphlet written in 1951, during the Korean War, revised edition in 1981; Read recalls the 1918 incident when the troopship he was on was sunk by a German submarine and wonders about his thoughts if he were dying (in 1951) on a Korean battlefield
    But I was not acting as a member of a mob. I acted in response to my government.
    Government, also, is a collective. It differs from the mob in that it is organized, legalized, formal force, presumably founded on deliberation rather than on impulse. But government is no more subject to eternal damnation or Immortal Glory than is an illegal mob. It, also, is but a name given to an arrangement which consists only of individuals. They–and they alone–are responsible for what they do collectively as government. They–and they alone–are subject to Judgment.
    The Constitution and the Rule of Law, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Aug 1992
    Describes, using some of F. A. Hayek's writings, the concepts that individual rights do not stem from the U.S. constitution, that the latter is meant to "straitjacket" the government and the misunderstood (or forgotten) "rule of law"
    [Hayek] observed that our American ancestors ... truly believed ... that people have certain fundamental and inherent rights ... endowed by "Nature and Nature's God," not by government. To protect themselves and their property from the violent acts of others, and to provide a means by which people could peacefully resolve their disputes, our ancestors established a national government. But ... what would prevent our government from becoming destructive of the very ends for which it was formed? The goal, then, was to institute a government which could be kept within a very narrow purpose ...
    The Constitution or Liberty, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 7 Dec 2007
    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 doctrine (a revised version was published in The Freeman, Jan/Feb 2008)
    The Constitutional Convention operated on the assumption that more, not fewer, powers were needed for the national government than were allowed under the Articles. [Calvin H.] Johnson quotes some of the framers to indicate this attitude. "It has never been a complaint agst. Congs. that they governed overmuch. The complaint has been that they have governed too little," James Wilson of Pennsylvania said. "The evils suffered and feared from weakness in Government have turned the attention more toward the means of strengthening the [government] than of narrowing [it]," Madison said to Thomas Jefferson.
    Could Katrina vanden Heuvel Please Just Shut Up?, by Kevin Carson, 22 May 2013
    Commentary on The Nation's publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel tweet on "government for common good"
    Remember in the weeks after 9-11, when she gushed about the return of public faith in the government? Thirty years before, in the early '70s, Samuel Huntington lamented in almost identical language the loss of public trust in government and other forms of authority as a result of Vietnam, Watergate and the student protest movement. It was only public trust in government after WWII, Huntington said, that enabled a tiny clique ... to govern the world without interference from the ignorant public. And the restored faith in government that so tickled vanden Heuvel's fancy had exactly the same effect.
    Crony-in-Chief: Donald Trump epitomizes Ayn Rand's "Aristocracy of Pull", by Steve Simpson, 2 Feb 2017
    Examines the issues of "cronyism" or "pull-peddling", suggesting—as Ayn Rand did—that the solution is "to limit government strictly to protecting rights and nothing more"
    Our bloated government has vast power over our lives and trillions of dollars worth of "favors" to dole out, and a seemingly endless stream of people and groups clamor to win those "favors." As a lawyer who opposes campaign finance laws, I've often said that the problem is not that money controls politics, it's that politics controls money—and property, and business, and much of our private lives as well. Still, we need to be more precise. "Favors," "benefits," and "privileges" are too vague a way to describe what government has to offer.
    Default Circus—er, Crisis—Averted?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 18 Oct 2013
    Examines the U.S. government's possibility of default on its debt and other obligations, with some side remarks on handling of Social Security funds
    Speaking of Social Security, some commentators have used the term default for much more than nonpayment of the interest or principal on government securities. Failure to pay any government "obligation" on time would be a default, they say. They are free to use the word that way if they wish, but that doesn't mean the world economy would have collapsed had the government paid some employees or contractors late; no one in the government was talking about repudiation (alas). So the media's incitement to panic was irresponsible. (The media apparently regard themselves as a branch of government.)
    Related Topics: Social Security Tax, Taxation
    Democracy Versus Liberty, by James Bovard, The Freeman, Aug 2006
    Discusses the dangers of equating liberty with "self-government" as majority rule
    The notion that democracy automatically produces liberty hinges on the delusion that "people are obeying themselves." ... Is a citizen governing herself when she is arrested for possessing a handgun in her own home for self-defense in a crime-ridden District of Columbia neighborhood ...? Is a 20-year-old citizen governing himself when he is arrested in his own home by police for drinking a beer? The fact that a majority—or, more likely, a majority of the minority who bothered to vote—may have sanctioned such laws and government powers has nothing to do with the self-government by each citizen of his own life.
    Dictatorship of Gadflies, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Nov 1998
    Discusses the efforts of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and similar groups to preserve much broader targets than historically meaningful buildings
    The same people who would scream for the ACLU if the local government dictated that everyone dress in fashions popular in the 1940s avidly support government dictates that force everyone to "dress" their homes the same way that they were decked out 50 years ago. Yet, why should governments have a sacred duty to punish any homeowner who tries to deviate from the architectural fashions of earlier decades? ... preservationists tend to worship state power because it is the state that allows them to impose their values on [others]—seeking heaven on Earth by maximizing government's power to prohibit anyone from modifying his own property.
    The Disastrous Middle Of the Road Policy, by Ludwig von Mises, The Commercial and Financial Chronicle, 4 May 1950
    From a speech to the University Club of New York on 18 Apr 1950; argues that the middle of the road policies of interventionism, such as price controls and progressive taxation, eventually lead to socialism via central planning
    [W]hen ... all-around control of business is attained, there can no longer be any question of a market economy ... The government tells the entrepreneurs and capitalists what to produce and in what quantity and quality, at what prices to buy and from whom, at what prices to sell and to whom. It decrees at what wages and where the workers must work ... All the prices, wages, and interest rates are determined by the authority ... The government, not the consumers, directs production. The government determines each citizen's income, it assigns to everybody the position in which he has to work.
    Do Elections Guarantee Freedom?, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Nov 2007
    Discusses whether democratic elections achieve the purported objective of "will of the people" controlling the government
    The current system of government is structured so that voters effectively have to vest near-absolute power in someone. This is simply how the rulers and the establishment have fixed the game. Any choice that would deny nearly boundless power to the rulers is kept out of the sunlight by the powers that be ... "Representative government" is a phrase far less prone to induce mass delusions than is democracy. "Democracy" sounds like automatic pilot—that the government will serve the people simply because that is part of the mission statement. In contrast, the term "representative government" sounds more hit and miss.
    Does Freedom Require Empire?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 5 Sep 2014
    Critiques Daniel McCarthy's "Why Liberalism Means Empire" (July 2014), which attempts to justify British and American imperialism by insisting that "power is the basis of the peaceful order upon which liberal democracy rests"
    McCarthy's article is strangely void of references to rent-seeking (the buying of political advantages by the well-connected) ... and Hayek's "why the worst get on top" phenomenon. The military-industrial complex is hardly a passive beneficiary of government policy. We've had enough experience with government to know that even well-intended policies will likely be turned to the benefit of special interests ... and that the people most adept at deception and most comfortable with administering the machinery of violence will be most attracted to political power and best at procuring it.
    Do Greedy Spinach Merchants Want To Kill You?, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Mises Daily, 6 Oct 2006
    Comments on the September 2006 North American E. coli outbreak in spinach, the reaction by merchants and intervention by government agencies
    [T]hen ... the government got involved. The FDA echo chamber started issuing recalls ... [I]ncredibly, the FBI got involved, as if we were talking about thugs and criminals and terrorists rather than bad soil or a mistake at the company ... Has the government never heard of the difference between civil and criminal law? ... This is government in the Bush age, in which every turn of events becomes a matter for federal goon squads to crack skulls ... We are being conditioned to believe that for every problem, there is a government answer, and nothing lies outside its purview and expertise.
    Don't Believe Those Inflation Numbers, by Mark Brandly, Mises Daily, 1 Sep 2006
    Discusses how the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported inflation rates are unlikely to be a true reflection of the actual increases in prices of goods
    The CPI is a government statistic, and since the government's expansionary monetary policy creates the inflation, officials have an incentive to underestimate ... Underreporting inflation helps government officials in at least three ways ... Expanding the money supply creates revenue for the state and falsely raises GDP. They are able to hide the resulting inflation by choosing the right basket for their price index ... Government officials have the incentive and the ability to manipulate economic statistics. The lesson is: don't be fooled by government statistics.
    Don't Blame the Thermometer for the Fever, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Jan 1999
    Discusses President Clinton's calls for worldwide regulations limiting capital movements and a global regime similar to the New Deal, comparing his views on private property with those of Hitler
    A free worldwide capital market is a vital check on governments' ability to enact bad policies. The agreement to restrict capital movements is designed ... to thwart that check. It's an outrageous cartel arrangement whereby governments try to prevent or limit policy competition among themselves. Until now, if a government enacted measures that violated economic freedom and stifled growth, investors could ... take their money elsewhere. That might ... moderate the intensity of a government's intervention ... This step toward the worldwide centralization of government power must not be taken lightly.
    Don't Do It, Google, by Lew Rockwell, 2 May 2006
    Cautions Google not to take the rumored action of asking the U.S. Justice Department and the European Commission to intervene to prevent Microsoft from setting their search engine as the default in a new version of their web browser
    MS does own Windows ... Internet Explorer [and] its search engine. How it bundles those products must be left to the owner. The alternative is to get the government involved in designing and managing how software is built, managed, and marketed ... Government intervention is not in Google's long-term interest either. A government big enough to punch out Google's competitors is big enough to punch out Google too ... It would be a crying shame to see this wonderful company participate in an action that will end up tightening the already tight level of control that government now exercises over society.
    Related Topics: Free Market, Property Rights
    Don't Privatize Plunder, by Anthony Gregory, 22 Sep 2004
    Criticizes George W. Bush's plans to "privatize" Social Security, discussing the regressive aspects of it, how many older, even "free market" thinkers want to keep it afloat, and instead recommends scrapping it entirely by gradually reducing payroll taxes
    [I]f you took all the victims of the US government—people unjustly imprisoned, people who have had their homes and businesses confiscated through the totalitarian asset forfeiture laws, people who have been regulated into poverty, people killed accidentally by federal cops, not to mention those who have lost property and loved ones to US wars of aggression—I would expect the liabilities would far exceed the assets. Even just counting Americans who have had to pay taxes all their lives, certainly the government can't pay them all back what has been stolen. Even the entire US economy couldn't ...
    Related Topics: Social Security Tax, Taxation
    Do Our Rights Come from the Constitution?, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Jun 1999
    Dispels the myth that rights are granted to the people by the Constitution or the Bill of Rights
    Throughout history, the standard belief was that people were unconditionally subject to the commands of their government. If the king ordered a person to leave his family to fight in a war thousands of miles away, that person would have to obey ... Gradually, people began questioning the notion ... man's rights don't come from the king or from any other government official. Rights ... exist independently of government ... antisocial people such as murderers, rapists, and thieves would make life quite miserable for everyone else. Therefore, government is needed to arrest, prosecute, and punish these types of people.
    The Drug War as a Socialist Enterprise, by Milton Friedman, Friedman & Szasz on Liberty and Drugs, 16 Nov 1991
    Chapter adapted from keynote address at Fifth International Conference on Drug Policy Reform; examines why, 20 years after his admonition against the drug war, the government continues its attempts at enforcement, in spite of the predicted results
    Suppose government undertakes the same project [as a private group] and its initial experience is the same: it starts to lose money. What happens? The government officials could shut it down, but they have a very different alternative. With the best of intentions, they can believe that [it] is because it has not been operating on a large enough scale. They do not have to dig into their own pockets to finance an expansion. They can dig into the pockets of the taxpayers ... All they need to do is to persuade the taxpayer, or the legislators who control the purse that their project is a good one.
    Dump the Contraception Mandate and All the Rest, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 3 Jan 2014
    Questions the logic of advocates of mandating employers to pay for "insurance" coverage of contraceptives
    Coverage for contraceptives is like fire insurance that covers arson committed by the policyholder. It's the kind of thing that only government can bring into existence—by threatening those who fail to comply ... the [Supreme Court] has already ruled that the government can force each of us to buy medical insurance as long as the penalty for not doing so is called a tax ... On what grounds can the government justly require employers to pay for their employees' birth control services? ... Religious people who oppose contraception are not the only people with rights against the government.
    The Early Economists Who Tried to Save France, by Richard Ebeling, 31 Oct 2016
    Discusses the Physiocrats, focusing on Quesnay and Turgot
    [Quesnay] insisted that government had no essential role directing or controlling the circular flow of goods between town and country and the matching flow of money between agriculture and manufacturing to facilitate the exchanges. There was no need for the government to regulate the prices at which goods were bought and sold ... The Mercantilist dogma that trade among nations always resulted in a gain for one of the traders and a loss for the other was wrong ... The best policy for government to follow is "laisser passer, laisser faire"—let goods pass and leave men alone to their own decisions.
    Economic Nationalism, Enemy of the People, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 17 Nov 2006
    Considers the outcome of the 2006 U.S. congressional elections and explains the benefits of free trade and the perils of protectionism and economic nationalism
    To the extent that government interferes with the market on behalf of privileged interests, it doesn't work quite that way. Taxes and regulations can make commerce sclerotic and impede adjustment. But that is not an argument against free trade; it's an argument against intervention. Yes, under free trade in a global economy people have to adjust to changing conditions. What's the alternative? Government policies to freeze the status quo in place? If that thinking had prevailed earlier, some of us would be poor farmers and blacksmiths today; the rest would not have been born.
    Economics Ideas: David Hume on Self-Coordinating and Correcting Market Processes, by Richard M. Ebeling, 5 Dec 2016
    Explores Hume's contributions to the then young subject of "political economy", particularly on the mercantilist view of the need for a "positive" balance of trade
    Governments and special interest groups, Hume feared, are always wont to use and abuse political authority and influence to gain much for themselves at the expense of the ordinary, or common, members of society. And as a society grows in wealth there is more for the government to siphon off through taxes for its own purposes and for interested groups to use the state to plunder and manipulate. But with the emergence of a middle class that is increasingly supporting itself through commerce and industry, they have the financial means to resist these encroachments by the state.
    Related Topics: Free trade, David Hume, Money
    The Economics Lesson Obama Needs to Learn, by Sheldon Richman, 25 Jul 2013
    Explains economics (scarcity, the marketplace, entrepreneurship) in simple terms and contrasts government projects and "services" to those undertaken or provided subject to the market test of the consumers
    Note how government projects differ essentially from market projects ... [G]overnment "services" are not offered in a competitive market ... [W]e're forced to pay a monopoly provider regardless of whether we want the "services" ... You can't opt out of paying for "free public schools" even if you don't want to use them. Everyone pays into Social Security, a (meager) pension plan, under threat of force. In other words, government services are not true services in the market sense because they face no market test from consumers free to withhold their money without penalty.
    Election 2014: The Good News and Bad, by Sheldon Richman, 6 Nov 2014
    Sobering comments on elections, governments, democracy and why voting is of so little consequence to the individual voter
    [This] isn't really about personality and character. It's about the limits of human nature. No one is qualified to govern us, considering how "govern" is defined today. The national, state, and local governments attempt to manage all aspects of our lives. In various ways, they undertake to "get the economy moving" and keep it "humming." On top of that, the national government maintains a global empire in the service of which the national-security apparatus presumes to manage foreign societies ... No person or group could possibly possess the knowledge that would be required to manage a society ...
    Related Topics: Corporatism, Democracy, Ethics, Voting
    Emergencies: The Breeding Ground of Tyranny, by William L. Anderson, Freedom Daily, Nov 2006
    Examines the long history of "emergency powers" claimed by U.S. Presidents, including recent examples such as sanctions stemming from the International Economic Powers Act and the so-called War on Terror
    Thus, while it is easy to become lost in the details of antitrust or anti-terrorism issues, the larger question still remains: Does the U.S. government—or any government, for that matter—actually need emergency powers? ... First, and most important, the function of "emergency" powers is not to protect the people of a nation but rather to enlarge the power of government. Second, as has been the clear case since governments came into existence, the presence of so-called emergencies in the long run inevitably results in governments' permanently gaining more powers at the expense of citizens.
    Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803-1882), by Roderick T. Long, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    Stressing self-reliance in both the material and spiritual spheres, Emerson held that we should seek to direct our own lives and not those of others. Hence, he concluded that "the less government we have, the better," and he came to regard all states of whatever form as corrupt. Although not himself an anarchist, he expressed friendliness toward anarchy, opining that, "with the appearance of the wise man, the State expires." He pointed to various peacefully stateless episodes in American history (Massachusetts during the American Revolution, California during the gold rush) as evidence of the practicability of anarchism.
    The Essence of Government, by Doug Casey, 26 Oct 2001
    Examines the questions "What is the essence of government?" and "Are governments necessary?", comparing mobs, organized groups and governments
    Most people accept the institution of government because it has always been there; they have always assumed it was essential. People do not question its existence, much less its right to exist ... What is the essence of government? After you cut through all the rhetoric, the doublethink and the smokescreen of altruism that surround the subject, you find that the essence of government is force. And the belief it has the right to initiate the use of force whenever expedient. Government is an organization with a monopoly, albeit with some fringe competition, on the use of force within a given territory.
    Related Topics: Law, Middle East, Politics
    The Ethics of Voting: Part Three [PDF], by George H. Smith, The Voluntaryist, Apr 1983
    Examines, among other things, whether a libertarian can be employed by or hold office in a State entity
    The minarchist-anarchist debate revolves around the essential (or defining) purpose of government. Minarchists assert that the "proper" function of government is defense of individual rights, broadly conceived (police, military, and judicial system). But it is unclear what "proper" means here. If it means "morally proper"—i.e., the State cannot legitimately exceed these boundaries—then no anarchist will disagree. No institution, by whatever name we call it, may properly violate rights. But why the State should be the focus of defense remains a puzzle.
    Related Topics: Lyndon B. Johnson, Politicians
    Examining Reagan's Record on Free Trade, by Sheldon Richman, The Wall Street Journal, 10 May 1982
    Analyzes several actions taken by the Reagan administration that belie Mr. Reagan's alleged pro-free trade stance
    Another major trade case is steel ... The government's intervention in steel pricing would mean U.S. automakers, which are so badly out-competed now, would have to pay 25% to 30% more for steel than their rivals in Europe and Japan ... [T]he tobacco-subsidy program, under which the government buys whatever tobacco the growers cannot sell at the artificially high price ... Despite his promises to get government off the people's back and revive the economy, consumers are still prohibited from buying more than specified totals of imported peanuts, mushrooms, beef, shoes, ad infinitum.
    Exploiting the Workers, by Anthony Gregory, 14 Apr 2006
    Discusses the attitudes of progressives and the "left", who usually favor the rights of workers, but show little or no concern of the exploitation of workers by income taxation
    Ever since World War II, Americans have had their income tax withheld by their employers ... Government funding runs more smoothly, especially in larger amounts, when the taxpayer is soaked gradually ... April 15 [is the] date by which most Americans have to submit their tax forms ... It is an onerous imposition for millions. It is a reminder that the government is essentially an extortion racket ... [F]ew [progressives] attack the institution of income taxation for what it is: ... exploitation ... by the most monopolistic, immense and predatory corporation to be found, the national government.
    The Federalist No. II: Concerning Dangers from foreign Force and Influence, by Publius, The Independent Journal, 31 Oct 1787
    Drawing a parallel with the wisdom of the Congress of 1774, that led to the Independence Declaration, recommends approval of a Union under a single national government rather than being "split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties"
    Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government; and ... that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights ... to vest it with requisite powers. It is well worthy of consideration therefore, whether it would conduce more to the interest of the people of America that they should, to all general purposes, be one nation, under one federal government, or that they should divide themselves into separate confederacies, and give to the head of each the same kind of powers which they are advised to place in one national government.
    Related Topic: United States
    The Federal Ripoff, by George Leef, Freedom Daily, Nov 2006
    Review of The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money (2006) by Timothy P. Carney
    The Republicrats like our managed, regulated economy because it ensures steady support for them from the many business interests that profit from government ... most business executives like the comfort that big government provides them ... the people don't understand what is going on with the government. Obscured by political mythology, the truth that big government and big business dance together at the expense of our liberty and property weighs on few minds. Nothing will be done to eliminate corporate welfare until ... people [realize] that public officials use government to grant favors to businesses that lick their boots.
    UpdFinding the Flaws, by Joseph Sobran, 25 Mar 1997
    Discusses how governments naturally attempt to influence each other, the democratic flaw of voting for benefits at others' expense, in particular children, and how the U.S. Constitution has failed to avoid this outcome
    Governments try to influence each other all the time. Our government hasn't been shy about nudging Israeli, Russian, and other elections toward what it considered the right outcomes. Why should we affect Claude Rains indignation ("Shocked! Shocked!") at learning that other governments do likewise? ... Governments are made to be bribed. The bigger they get, the more surely they will become corrupt. Power has a market value, and concentrating power increases the pressure, usually through the medium of money, on any leak. Nature finds the human flaws in any system.
    First Principles, by Charley Reese, 24 Mar 2007
    Enumerates and discusses briefly some of the "essential principles" presented by Thomas Jefferson in his first inaugural speech
    The third [principle] was support of the state governments in all their rights as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest protection against anti-republican tendencies. This one has been largely abandoned so that many people today consider the states to be merely administrative units of the federal government. This should not be allowed to continue. It used to be considered axiomatic that the best government was the government closest to the people. Federal encroachment on states is one of our biggest problems.
    Related Topic: Thomas Jefferson
    Flat Tax Folly, by Laurence M. Vance, Mises Daily, 14 Apr 2006
    A review of Flat Tax Revolution (2005) by Steve Forbes, also presenting five problems with the flat tax proposal
    Forbes has a paragraph heading ...: "The Numbers Show: The Flat Tax Will Create Wealth and Government Revenue." But what could possibly destroy wealth more than government revenue? Where does Forbes think government revenue comes from? Why would we want to maximize the government's tax revenue? And even if it were true that the flat tax would raise more revenue, what makes this government worthy of almost $3 trillion dollars a year for its spending orgy? ... The masses get to enjoy their tax cut and their government subsidies—for a while. But ... Congress can reform the tax system again ...
    Foreword, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., A Foreign Policy of Freedom, 2007
    Examines the historical precedents for the Paulian view that American foreign and domestic policy both be conducted in the same non-interventionist manner
    Government should be restrained from intervening at home or abroad because its actions fail to achieve their stated aims, create more harm than good, shrink the liberty of the people, and violate rights ... [I]t makes perfect sense that there is no sharp distinction between the principles of domestic and foreign policy ... What would be inconsistent would be to favor activist government at home but restraint abroad, or the reverse ... Government unleashed behaves in its own interests, and will not restrict itself in any area of life. It must be curbed in all areas of life lest freedom suffer.
    Frederic Bastiat, Ingenious Champion for Liberty and Peace, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Jun 1997
    Biographical essay of Frédéric Bastiat, covering those who influenced him as well as those influenced by him, his writings (including correspondence with his friend Coudroy), his roles in the French Constituent and Legistative Assemblies and his legacy
    Respected political scientist R.J. Rummel, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, analyzed almost 8,200 estimates of deaths from domestic violence, war, genocide, and mass murder. In his 1995 book Death by Government, he reported that throughout history, governments have murdered more than 300 million people—not counting war deaths. In his 1997 book Power Kills, Rummel surveyed experience of the past 180 years and reported that he didn't find a single case of war between two democratic governments with limited power.
    Free Cory Maye, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, May 2006
    Further discussion and commentary on the case of Cory Maye (see Richman's article "More Drug-War Victims", Dec 2005) [Update: Maye's sentence was overturned in Sept. 2006 and he was finally released in July 2011]
    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 ... When government enforces laws against consensual activities, police terror is inevitable. Since there is no complaining victim or witness in drug sales (as there is in real crimes), police turn to foul tactics to catch lawbreakers ... We are not just talking about government persecution of recreational drug users. The moment the state intruded into drug use, it intruded into the practice of medicine.
    Freedom in Transactions, by Frédéric Bastiat, 1848
    Constrasts how freedom of exchange furnishes Paris daily with vast numbers of provisions versus government-directed exchange; extract from Social Fallacies (1944), translation of Economic Sophisms (1848), series 1, chapter 18
    In what situation ... would the inhabitants of Paris be if a minister should [think] to substitute for this power ... his own genius, however superior we might suppose them to be ... Truly, there may be much suffering within the walls of Paris—poverty, despair, perhaps starvation, causing more tears to flow than ardent charity is able to dry up; but I affirm that it is probable, nay, that it is certain, that the arbitrary intervention of government would multiply infinitely those sufferings, and spread over all our fellow-citizens those evils which at present affect only a small number of them.
    Related Topic: Free Market
    Freedom, Security, and the Roots of Terrorism against the United States, by Richard Ebeling, Freedom Daily, Oct 2001
    Reflections on the 11 September attacks a few weeks after, discusses the reasons for the terrorist attacks and proposes certain measures to deal with the situation
    Airport security and safety is now the job of government, and it has failed. Shifting a greater part of the responsibility to the federal law-enforcement or military authorities provides no guarantee against future hijackings and terrorist attacks. After all, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the USS Cole were under federal security, and that did not prevent those earlier tragedies. Furthermore, federal enforcement agencies, judging from past experience, are unlikely to show much concern for the rights or dignity of the American citizenry as they try to travel by air.
    UpdFreeing the Education Market, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Mar 1993
    Examines the effects of compulsory public education on literacy rates and suggests market alternatives
    The problem is that government runs the education system. There is a de facto monopoly in education that has done exactly what we would expect of any protected monopoly: it has become grossly inefficient as it pursues its interests whether or not those interests coincide with the interests of students. Although schools are primarily governed at the local and state levels, a nationwide education bureaucracy controlled by teachers unions and professional administrators, with help from the U.S. Department of Education, determines how education is provided.
    The Free Market Is the High Road, by Bart Frazier, 2 Aug 2004
    Discusses how government regulations bear on countless areas, how regulation distorts free market prices and the benefits of deregulation, both financial and moral
    Nothing could raise our standard of living more than freeing the economy from our meddling government ... Today, government regulates almost every aspect of our lives, including how we educate our children, what we build on our land, how chicken is packaged, how much gas our cars use, what we use for money, what we spray in our gardens, what countries we visit, what we ingest, what we're paid for our work, ... what kind of fish we can catch, where we protest, how much money we give to politicians, sex, marriage, and just about every other facet of life that should be no one's business but our own.
    Related Topics: Free Market, Prices
    Garet Garrett Revived, by Bruce Ramsey, 26 Mar 2002
    Discusses Garrett's political writings and announces a new collection of his Saturday Evening Post articles about the New Deal, edited by Ramsey
    Garrett wrote: "... it occurred to me to project these people into their own future, into the future of the country – these who were saying, each one to himself, 'No matter what happens, I shall be fed and clothed and housed. The Government will see to it.' And then, by way of contrast, to project in like manner another crowd of the same general character, with only the difference that each one is saying to himself, 'This is very nice, but I ought to be thinking of tomorrow. I must be thinking of how to take care of it myself.' At the end of twenty years, how will the works of one crowd compare with the works of another?"
    Give Me Liberty [PDF], by Rose Wilder Lane, 1936
    Originally published as an article titled "Credo" in the Saturday Evening Post; describes her experiences in and history of Soviet Russia and Europe, contrasting them with the history of the United States, emphasizing the individualist themes
    The communist village was possible because there a few men, face to face, struggled each for his own self-interest ... But the government of men in hundreds of millions is another thing ... Representative government cannot express the will of the mass of the people, because there is no mass of the people ... In a republic, a majority ... decides what candidate ... shall have the use of The State's police power ... But a majority ... cannot govern; it acts as a check on its governors. Any government of multitudes of men, anywhere, at any time, must be a man, or few men, in power.
    The "Good-Government" Attack on Free Speech, by Sheldon Richman, 1 May 2001
    Discusses the freedom of speech and individual liberty implications of McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" bill (which later became law as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002)
    If the concern is that candidates will promise to do things in return for contributions, that conduct is as old as government and will not be stamped out by McCain-Feingold ... The real corruption in government is not that people seek to influence legislation; it's that government holds life-and-death tax and regulatory power over everyone. As long as government can harm any segment of society by a change in the tax laws or regulations, people will work to ensure that their allies are in office. If you don't like campaign finance activity, limit the scope of government power.
    Related Topic: Freedom of Speech
    Government: Creator of Uncertainty, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Jul 2000
    Discusses economic subjectivism, the principle that different persons attach different values to things or events, as evidenced by the early 2000 stock market downturn
    When it comes to causes of distress, people always want to know, "What can the government do?" Here's what it can do: it can stop creating uncertainty. The world is uncertain enough. The last thing we need is fiscal, monetary, and regulatory authorities with fluid policies. One of the virtues of a regime of property rights is that it eliminates most, if not all, policy fluidity and discretion at the macroeconomic level. This is yet another reason for abolition of the income tax, full deregulation, and the privatization of money.
    Government Failure, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 5 Oct 2007
    Examines the validity of the concept of "market failures" as an argument for government intervention, reviewing arguments made by David Friedman in the article "Do We Need Government?", Liberty, Dec 2005
    [I]t 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. Market critics have had enough time to bring forth the arguments. Where are they? Mises and F. A. Hayek left behind a voluminous literature explaining that calculation and knowledge problems assure that government-generated outcomes will be inferior to market-generated outcomes.
    Government in Business, by Murray N. Rothbard, The Freeman, Sep 1956
    Contrasts characteristics of government-run enterprises with those of privately operated businesses and counters the argument of running government "like a business"
    It is only government that "solves" the traffic problem on its streets by forcing trucks (or private cars or buses) off the road ... Conflicts and bitterness are inherent in government operation. Imagine what would happen if all newspapers were published by government. First, because a government operation gets its revenues from coercive taxation instead of voluntary payment for services rendered, it is not obliged to be efficient in serving the consumer. And, second, conflicts among groups of taxpayers would rage over editorial policy, news content, and even tabloid versus regular size.
    Government Is the Problem, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Aug 2013
    Discusses a spring 2013 speech by Barack Obama, the facts that contradict his statements and delves into "our experiment in self-government" and the problems of representation dating even to the Founding Fathers
    [Contrary] to Obama, government is not "a system of ... tools to do big things and important things together that we could not possibly do alone"—that's what markets are—when they're allowed to work, free from interference by presumptuous, meddling politicians and the well-connected interests that seek their favors. Unlike markets, politics fundamentally is not cooperation; it's violence. "Government is a broker in pillage," H.L. Mencken observed, "and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods." ... "free election" is a contradiction in terms, since participation always occurs under duress.
    Government Keeps People Poor, by Sheldon Richman, 28 Jun 2006
    Enumerates five ways in which, although politicians claim to care about the poor, government keeps people in poverty
    [I]f the politicians really wanted to help poor people, they long ago would have ... eliminate[d] all the ways that government blocks people from climbing out of poverty ... How does government keep people poor? ... First, low-income people pay various taxes ... Second, government does many things that make the cost of living higher ... Third, ... occupational licensing is a devastating one-two punch against low-income people ... Fourth, [it] has steadily eroded the value of the dollar ... Fifth, the minimum-wage prices low-skilled workers out of the labor market ...
    Government the Exploiter, Not Protector, by Sheldon Richman, 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 that favors those with political connections
    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 and restricted trade to create monopoly advantage ... [R]ulers afforded the people some protection, lest an outside power horn in on the action ... Rulers regularly reminded the people about the protection, while keeping the exploitation obscured ... [I]nvariably, the thing [the people] needed protection from most was ... their "own" government.
    Hard Cases Make Bad Law, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 23 Mar 2005
    Discusses the attempt by members of the U.S. Congress to have U.S. federal courts intervene in the Terri Schiavo case, already decided by a Florida district court
    We might all consider it a horrible miscarriage of justice. We might be horrified that this woman is being permitted to die contrary to the principles of her Catholic faith. We might believe that this was really never her intent. But the fact remains that that is our system of government. Such a system doesn't always guarantee the "right" or the "just" or the "moral" result. But we have faith that our judicial system, by and large, does work, which is why we keep it in existence and continue to rely on it rather than abolish it and just let Congress or the president have the omnipotent power to do "the right thing."
    Hayek, Friedrich A. (1889-1992), by Ronald Hamowy, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 12 Aug 2008
    Biographical and bibliographical essay
    Alarmed by the prodigious growth of government in the 20th century, even in those nations ostensibly dedicated to personal liberty and private initiative, Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom in 1944 ... Hayek had been alarmed by the prevailing orthodoxy that viewed an immense welfare state and extensive government intervention into the lives of its citizens as a compassionate response to unrestrained capitalism ... he hoped to show ... that central planning, even should its intentions be benign, resulted in destroying the spontaneously generated order of the market, which in turn led to even more government planning.
    Health Insurance Scam, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 13 Nov 2009
    Analyzes how what is called "health insurance" is not about health nor is it insurance, how it came about from "wartime economic controls", and why it has resulted in rising medical care costs
    In a textbook example of rent-seeking, state governments aggravate the situation by mandating coverage for a variety of elective services ... [T]he system that earlier generations of planners constructed creates artificially high prices ... A new group of planners now comes along claiming to want to help those harmed by the previous groups ... None of the offending interventions will be repealed. That's how government works. (There is no time to describe how government also constrains supply through occupational licensing, the FDA, and other ways, increasing prices further.)
    Related Topics: Business, Health Care, Prices, Taxation
    Heinlein, Robert (1907-1988), by Amy H. Sturgis, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical and bibliographical essay
    Heinlein also wrote nonfiction. His book, Take Back Your Government, bemoaned the runaway state and the uninvolved citizens that allowed it ... "The Happy Days Ahead" warned of "the cancerous explosion of government" and exhorted citizens to be active and vigilant. His works are pervaded by a concern for government bankruptcy, dictatorship, and a nuclear holocaust in the United States. His confession in "The Happy Days Ahead" was typically wry: "I don't claim to be altruistic. Just this pragmatic difference: I am sharply aware that, if the United States goes down the chute, I go down with it."
    Related Topic: Robert A. Heinlein
    Henry David Thoreau and "Civil Disobedience," Part 2, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, Apr 2005
    Examines several of the initial themes in Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience", including government injustice, the individual as the source of power and authority, war and the military and the reasons why people obey the state
    The problem remains, however, why do people like Emerson—who cannot be called ignorant—render any obedience to laws with which they disagree? One reason is obvious: the people who believe they need a government are willing to accept an imperfect one. Such people, Thoreau explains, accept government as a "necessary evil." Other people support government out of self-interest; Thoreau specifically mentions merchants and farmers in Massachusetts who profit from the war and from slavery. Still others obey because they fear the consequences of disobedience.
    Henry David Thoreau: Founding Father of American Libertarian Thought, by Jeff Riggenbach, 15 Jul 2010
    Biographical essay, transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 8 July 2010
    Of any standing government that did exist in any particular place, Thoreau argued, it was clear that "the authority of government ... must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it." And Thoreau conceded nothing to any standing government. "I, Henry Thoreau," he wrote, "do not wish to be regarded as a member of any incorporated society which I have not joined." What he did wish to do he expressed simply and straightforwardly. "I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State," he wrote ...
    Herbert Spencer: Liberty and Unlimited Human Progress, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Apr 1995
    Biographical profile, highlighting Social Statics and his acquaintance with Andrew Carnegie
    Despite Spencer's heroics, public opinion increasingly favored government intervention during the late nineteenth century. Perhaps this was because government had been cut back so much that it no longer seemed like a public menace. More people imagined government could do good. Spencer responded by writing four powerful articles which affirmed the bedrock principles of laissez faire and attacked government intervention, published in the Contemporary Review, 1884 ... [Spencer] told how government-enforced interest-rate ceilings, supposedly enacted to help people, made it more difficult to borrow money.
    Hidden Government, by Sheldon Richman, 1 Sep 2006
    Discusses the July 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, which resulted in 800 dead and which, according to Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker, was carried out with assistance and approval of the Bush administration
    Americans pride themselves on "self-government." But when significant policies are undertaken without their notice, much less consent, self-government is a cruel hoax ... 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?
    Related Topics: George W. Bush, Israel, Lebanon
    The History of Freedom in Antiquity, by John Dalberg-Acton, 26 Feb 1877
    Surveys the ancient history of liberty, both from the side of rulers (despots, Solon, Pericles, Roman Republic and Empire) and philosophers (Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics), and the later influence of Christianity
    The government of the Israelites was a Federation, held together by no political authority, but by the unity of race and faith, and founded, not on physical force, but on a voluntary covenant. The principle of self-government was carried out not only in each tribe, but in every group of at least 120 families; and there was neither privilege of rank, nor inequality before the law. Monarchy was so alien to the primitive spirit of the community that it was resisted by Samuel in that momentous protestation and warning which all the kingdoms of Asia and many of the kingdoms of Europe have unceasingly confirmed.
    Related Topics: Democracy, Liberty, The State
    H. L. Mencken, America's Wittiest Defender of Liberty, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Sep 1995
    Biographical essay, highlighting Mencken's tenure at the Baltimore Sun, the books he authored, the founding and his work at the American Mercury monthly and his brief relationship with Sara Haardt
    "The government I live under has been my enemy all my active life," Mencken declared. "When it has not been engaged in silencing me it has been engaged in robbing me. So far as I can recall I have never had any contact with it that was not an outrage on my dignity and an attack on my security." ... "Every government," he wrote, "is a scoundrel. In its relations with other governments it resorts to frauds and barbarities that were prohibited to private men by the Common Law of civilization [since] Hammurabi, and in its dealings with its own people it ... regularly gambles with their very lives ..."
    H. L. Mencken: The Joyous Libertarian, by Murray N. Rothbard, New Individualist Review, 1962
    Examines the themes and style in Mencken's writings, mainly from selected pieces in A Mencken Chrestomathy
    The Chrestomathy contains some brilliant writing on ... the "inner nature" of government:
    All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man; its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him ... The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions ... The number of men sitting at Atlanta and Leavenworth for revolting against the extortions of government is always ten times as great as the number of government officials condemned for oppressing the taxpayers to their own gain ...
    Hobby Lobby Ruling Falls Short, by Sheldon Richman, 2 Jul 2014
    Dissects the good and bad parts of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, ruling against the Affordable Care Act provision that required employers to pay for contraceptives
    [When] government has the power to issue such commands [to compel one group of people ... to pay for things that another group wants]—always backed by force, let us never forget—it sets off a mad interest-group scramble for control of the government machinery—because control is a license to steal. Is it any wonder that people are willing to spend billions of dollars to influence who makes government policy? If people face the alternative of controlling the government or being controlled by it, those who have resources will buy power and influence, even if only in self-defense.
    How a 19th century French pamphleteer preempted two centuries of economic fallacies, by Christopher Todd Meredith, 18 Oct 2016
    Examines some of the main themes in Bastiat's writings, such as ethics and economics, the seen and the unseen and the State
    Libertarians and classical liberals are distinctive among modern political thinkers for their emphasis on the proper role of government. This focus on the things government ought to do—and more importantly, the numerous things government ought not to do—is at odds with the prevailing political opinions in Western countries today. Indeed, it is not unusual for a libertarian who opines that access to education or health care is a laudable goal but not an appropriate function of government, to be greeted with incredulity.
    How Empires Bamboozle the Bourgeoisie, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Mises Daily, 28 Oct 2006
    Speech at the Mises Institute Supporter's Summit; comments on two issues related to the U.S. population reaching 300 million: what kind of economy is needed to support that population and do all these people need to live under the same central government
    Population only becomes a problem when government enters the picture ... Why should these 300 million people be forced to live under the same central government? The independent Greek cities, out of which came Western civilization, had populations of 15,000 or so, smaller than Auburn, Alabama, today. If we followed the Greek model, we would not have one central government but fully 20,000 small communities, each with political autonomy ... [T]he forces of competition would work to improve the governments under which we live and bring them in line with the old liberal ideal.
    How Much Do You Know About Liberty? (a quiz), The Freeman, Jun 1996
    A 20-question quiz (with answers) on various topics related to liberty in the history of the United States
    5. After the Civil War, how did the federal and state governments oppress black people? ... Southern state governments enacted "black codes" which made it difficult for blacks to compete with whites in business and professions. To help protect freedom of contract and property rights for blacks as well as everyone else, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. But in 1872, the Supreme Court refused to uphold freedom of contract and property rights for blacks. These were the notorious Slaughter-House Cases.
    How to Become a Teacher [PDF], by Robert LeFevre, The Voluntaryist, Feb 1983
    Autobiographical summary of the events in LeFevre's life that led to the founding of the Freedom School, including LeFevre's relationship with Baldy Harper and the offer for him to lead the School
    I had imagined that the government of the United States embodied all that was good and worthwhile within the nation; that the state and local governments existed to serve the public; and that "the American way of life" consisted of the right of every American to earn his own way, to own any ... property he could honestly acquire ... so long as he refrained from injuring anyone ... I had discovered to my dismay that ... governments were manned by thousands of officials whose task was to bully and harass individuals for the presumed good of an unidentified and amorphous entity called "society."
    How To Get Action, by Leonard Read, Ideas on Liberty, May 1955
    First published in the quarterly Ideas on Liberty; reprinted in the 1958 collection Essays on Liberty, Vol. III and in The Freeman Aug 1998; argues the best form of action is working on self-improvement
    Just as government becomes dangerous when its coercive, restrictive, and destructive powers are extended into the creative areas, so do voluntary organizations pervert and destroy the benefits of intellect when ... subjecting individual judgments to the will of the majority or group ... Every individual ought to realize that he has not mastered the subject of liberty until he thoroughly understands, and can competently explain, this idea: With government properly limited to its legitimate functions of defense, our problems of interdependence can be resolved through voluntary effort, and only through voluntary effort.
    How to Help Fast-Food Workers, by Sheldon Richman, 1 Aug 2013
    Discusses contemporaneous strikes by fast food workers seeking a doubling of the minimum wage, the economic realities behind wages and alternatives that would truly help the workers
    We must sweep away the government-created barriers to income earning, barriers that protect established businesses from competition and rob the most vulnerable people of options ... it pays to acquire marketable skills. (Rotten government schools handicap the most vulnerable Americans.) Government aggravates an already bad situation anytime it erects artificial barriers to employment alternatives, including self-employment. But governments at all levels do this routinely, usually by protecting the well-connected from market competition ... Government land holdings make land artificially more costly.
    How To Sell Liberty, by Jarret Wollstein, Jun 1998
    Discusses eight principles of effective salesmanship and how to apply them to market liberty
    You qualify a prospect by asking three central questions: What do you want? When do you want it? What are you willing to pay for it? For example, if a person tells you they want lower taxes as quickly as possible and they would be glad to contribute $500 to an effective tax-reduction group, you have a good prospect. Similarly, a person who says that government has no business censoring films and music would be another good prospect ... People who tell you they want more government handouts, more laws and regulations, or more political power to implement their personal agendas, would be your worst prospects.
    Related Topics: Libertarianism, Liberty
    The Idea of Liberty is Western, by Ludwig von Mises, American Affairs, Oct 1950
    Argues that the "idea of liberty is and has always been peculiar to the West", beginning in ancient Greece and moving westward to Europe and America, and discusses "liberty" as viewed by Harold Laski, contrasting life under Stalin with Italy under fascism
    The meaning of all modern political and judicial institutions is to safeguard the individuals' freedom against encroachments on the part of the government. Representative government and the rule of law, the independence of courts and tribunals from [administrative] interference ..., habeas corpus, judicial examination and redress of acts of the administration, freedom of speech and the press, separation of state and church, and many other institutions aimed at one end only: to restrain the discretion of the officeholders and to render the individuals free from their arbitrariness.
    Illegal Surveillance: A Real Security Threat, by James Bovard, 27 Feb 2006
    Describes how the FBI, IRS and other agencies spied on Americans on both sides of the political spectrum during the 1960s and 1970s, and warns about the NSA wiretaps ordered by George W. Bush
    Does the fact that someone works for the government automatically entitled him to know what his neighbors are saying and thinking? If Americans permit the feds to exempt themselves from the law, then the only freedom left in this country will be freedom to obey and applaud politicians, no matter what they say or do. Illegal wiretaps will pave the way for other government crimes. The more information government gathers on people, the more power it will have over them. The more expansive and secretive government intrusions become, the easier it becomes for government to rule by fear.
    Immorality, Inc., by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Mises Daily, 31 Jul 2006
    Argues that the lawlessness and violence in occupied Iraq is due to the immorality of modern day warfare and questions the claim that the U.S. invaded Iraq "to bring about freedom"
    In civics class we are routinely taught that government officials are the ones we trust with keeping the law. But deeper analysis reveals the more fundamental truth that the only difference between the government and the people, in any system, is that the government lives by a different set of rules. There is nothing inherent in the nature of government that causes its employees to be more honest, trustworthy, and public spirited ... Indeed, the power that government exercises over others would be considered criminal if any citizens attempted to behave as a government does every day.
    Related Topics: Ethics, Iraq, Socialism, War
    Impeach the American People!, by Butler Shaffer, 17 Nov 2006
    Comments on proposals to impeach (or otherwise bring to justice) George W. Bush and others in his administration, countering that most Americans didn't do their part under the alleged "social contract"
    In recent decades–and particularly during these past five years–most Americans have utterly failed in their contractual undertakings. They have treated this alleged "social contract" not in bilateral terms–where each have duties to perform–but as a unilateral transaction, in which performance is all one-sided. To most people, government may have been established by contract but, once created, the state became a free agent, able to extend its decision-making authority in any direction it chose, without any check upon its power from those it ruled.
    Imperium in Imperio, by Frank Chodorov, analysis, Jun 1950
    Examines the theory of government espoused by James Madison, how property rights have regressed since then, and arguing that a States' Rights movement (meaning decentralization and local autonomy) should be focused on protecting property rights
    To be consistent, the current ... fundamentalists might look to the basic theory of government written into the Constitution. This theory, borrowed from John Locke, holds that the only purpose of government, and its only competence, is to protect private property. If it presumes to go beyond that function it is guilty of misfeasance; if it fails to perform that function it is derelict in its duty. "The first object of government," says Madison in the tenth number of The Federalist, is the protection of "the diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of private property originate."
    In Defense of a Free Market in Health Care, by Robert D. Helmholdt, 16 Apr 2004
    Explains why government health care reforms will not improve the status quo, recommending instead complete deregulation of the industry and reliance on the free market
    For example, how will any political cure prescribing more of the same poison of government reform work as an antidote for the current poison produced by prior government reforms? ... Why are health-care costs out of control? Because for decades an overwhelming paternalistic government nanny has been force-feeding Americans with entitlements, which are goods or services received by Mr. Jones, for which not he, but rather the government, pays. The money used is "free" money ... Simply put, "free" money is money that the government takes from someone to be spent as it sees fit on someone else.
    In Defense of Bank Deposits: An Open Letter to Professor Omarova, by George Selgin, 12 Oct 2021
    Criticizes The People's Ledger: How to Democratize Money and Finance the Economy (2020) by Saule T. Omarova
    You also note how any call for turning central banks into "large-scale investors in financial assets triggers familiar warnings about governments 'crowding out' private investment or 'picking winners and losers' in ostensibly private markets." But instead of taking such concerns seriously, you write them off as being "rarely substantiated by reference to anything more specific than deeply internalized skepticism toward the government as an economic actor." I've tried to show that there are plenty of specific reasons for worrying about a plan that would "end banking as we know it" ...
    Individual Rights or Civil Rights?, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, 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, also discussing private vs. government discrimination
    Most common of all, however, has been the state's segregation of its own facilities. It was a municipal bus company in Montgomery, Alabama, that required blacks to sit in the back. Government school districts confined black children to ramshackle "schools." This brings us to a crucial point: while private individuals have the right to associate on any terms they wish, governments do not. Since governments do not discriminate when they tax their citizens, they may not discriminate in the provision of services or hiring.
    In Memory of the Charlie Hebdo Victims, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 9 Jan 2015
    Comments on the Jan 2015 attack and killings at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and the ensuing mainstream commentary
    [The] victims of freelance violence often seem to count more than the victims of governments supposedly representing the "free world," especially the U.S. government. Thus the lamentations about violence that we hear in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders are conspicuously absent from the coverage of U.S. bombings, drone kills, and other violence ... It's not surprising that government officials engage in such selectivity. One has to laugh when President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry denounce violence whenever the perpetrators are not in the employ of the U.S. government.
    Related Topics: Humor, Freedom of the Press
    In Praise of the Libertarian Party, by Harry Browne, 4 Jun 2004
    Discusses the obstacles faced by the Libertarian Party due to the inherently two-party system, as well as the benefits of the LP presidential campaign
    America is a two-party nation because the politicians have used the force of government to make it so ... Having a Libertarian candidate lets millions of Americans know that there's a large number of people who think as they do—who want to get government out of their lives, who want them to be free to live as they think best ... Such a campaign gives hope ... to people who had long since given up on the idea ... that government could ever be cut down to size ... one of my favorite approaches was to ask a host or talk-show caller to name one government program that works (I never got a single convincing answer).
    In Pursuit of Liberty, by Jarret Wollstein, May 1997
    Primer on liberty concepts, including voluntary vs. coercive associations, individual rights, government and possible future improvements in the status quo
    A government is an association of men and women authorized by society to use force to compel obedience. The proper role of government is to protect your freedom and safety, from both domestic and foreign aggressors. But as George Washington observed ..., "Government is like fire. A dangerous servant and a fearful master." When government agents cross the line from defenders of your rights to violators, they become just another criminal gang. Morally and legally, government agents are bound to protect our rights. When they don't ... they MUST be arrested and tried, like any other criminals ...
    Intellectual Property Fosters Corporate Concentration, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 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" (2013), particularly the point that "IP tends to concentrate wealth in large business firms"
    ["Rights"] in ideas—patents and copyrights—were government monopoly grants having nothing in common with the notion of property ... IP strikes at the very heart of the social-intellectual process that makes all aspects of progress possible. Government impediments to the free flow of information undermine the very dynamic of an advancing civilization ... [Shaffer] writes,
    There are many other costs associated with IP that rarely get attention ... the patenting process, as with government regulation generally, is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking that tends to increase industrial concentration ...
    The Internet and the End of Monetary Sovereignty, by Bill Frezza, The Future of Money in the Information Age, 1997
    Considers how cyberspace promises of privacy and anonymity may lead to new monetary institutions and "a practical realization of laissez-faire capitalism" as advocated by Ayn Rand
    [C]yberspace differs from our everyday world in that coercive force cannot be projected across a network ... This is a discomfiting revelation to most legislators, who like to pretend that their power rests on the consent of the governed rather than the barrel of a gun. Sooner or later, however, any assertion of sovereignty over actions that take place entirely within cyberspace—whether it is the transmission of banned materials, the regulation and taxation of consensual economic transactions, or even the creation of money—must resort to acts of physical coercion or threats thereof.
    Interview with Jim Bovard, by James Bovard, Sunni Maravillosa, Apr 2006
    Extensive dialogue (13 web pages), from Jim's first paid writing to an upcoming book, the publishing industry, the Future of Freedom Foundation, his books, radio hosts and much more
    I agree with Jefferson that "that government is best which governs least." I am in favor of greatly reducing government power. I am not keen on doctrinal disputes about ... whether anarchy is feasible now—at a time when the government power has become unbounded. The government has got no business doing the vast majority of the things it is doing nowadays. When choosing what to write about, ... my point is almost always that abolition is the only meaningful reform. This was a crux of the message of my work on farm subsidies, trade barriers, and a heap of petty nuisance bureaucracies and federal programs.
    Introductory, by John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859
    Chapter I; explains the subject of the essay, namely, "the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual"
    The majority have not yet learnt to feel the power of the government their power, or its opinions their opinions ... There is, in fact, no recognised principle by which the propriety or impropriety of government interference is customarily tested. People decide according to their personal preferences. Some, whenever they see any good to be done, or evil to be remedied, would willingly instigate the government to undertake the business; while others prefer to bear almost any amount of social evil, rather than add one to the departments of human interests amenable to governmental control.
    The Invisible Hand Is a Gentle Hand, by Sharon Harris, 14 Sep 1998
    Originally published at; defends the free market and individual liberty, quoting among others Bastiat, Thomas Jefferson, David and Milton Friedman, John Lott, Isabel Paterson, Proudhon, Adam Smith, Sowell, John Stossel and Walter Williams
    Perhaps no one has ever better summed up what it's like to interact with the government than ... Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. In 1849, he wrote:
    To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-ridden, regulated, penned up, indoctrinated, preached at, checked, appraised, seized, censured, commanded, by beings who have neither title, nor knowledge, nor virtue. To be governed is to have every operation, every transaction, every movement noted, registered, counted, rated, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, refused, authorized, endorsed, admonished, prevented, ...
    I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to LEONARD E. READ, by Leonard Read, The Freeman, Dec 1958
    Read's most famous essay; resource page at FEE website includes PDF, MOBI and ePub versions, and MP3 recording; 2019 version with introduction (2015) by Lawrence W. Reed and afterword by Milton Friedman (previously the introduction, 1999 version)
    Once government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely ... No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation's mail delivery any more than any individual [knows how] to make a pencil ... Delivery? Why, in this area where men have been left free to try, ... they deliver each four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard—halfway around the world—for less money than the government charges for delivering a one-ounce letter across the street!
    Related Topics: Capital Goods, Free Market, Labor, Land
    Iraqi Death by Political Abstraction, by Sheldon Richman, 5 Jun 2006
    Examines the causes of the 2005 Haditha killings, reflecting on Leonard Read's notable essay "Conscience in the Battlefield"
    "But, my Conscience, I had no choice. I had to do what others called my duty. Otherwise, my friends and fellow-citizens would have dubbed me a traitor ... I was not acting as a member of a mob. I acted in response to my government." "Government, also, is a collective. It differs from the mob in that it is organized, legalized, formal force, presumably founded on deliberation rather than on impulse ... [But it,] also, is but a name given to an arrangement which consists only of individuals. They—and they alone—are responsible for what they do collectively as government. They—and they alone—are subject to Judgment."
    Islam and the Discovery of Freedom, by George Leef, The Freeman, Sep 1998
    Review of Islam and the Discovery of Freedom (1997) by Imad-Ad-Dean Ahmad, which is based on Rose Wilder Lane's The Discovery of Freedom (1943), with an introduction and scholarly commentary by Ahmad
    In an era in which many people expect government to do everything from caring for toddlers to building highways, it is astounding to learn how little government did in the ancient Islamic world. Schools, hospitals, and even roads were built by private foundations. Islamic universities ... were not established or funded by the state; there were no accreditation boards or required curriculum ... Ahmad documents the fact that ninth-century Baghdad had 60 drugstores. No [FDA] stood in the way of medical progress. Surgeons unlicensed by any government performed effective operations with local anesthesia.
    Israel M. Kirzner and the Austrian Theory of Competition and Entrepreneurship, by Richard Ebeling, Freedom Daily, Aug 2001
    Written on occasion of Kirzner's academic retirement at age 71; begins with biographical summary and then focuses on Kirzner's understanding of entrepreneurs in the market "process" and the detrimental effects of government intervention in the market
    Kirzner has forcefully warned of the dangers resulting from government intervention, regulation, and taxation. Such government infringements on the freedom of the market stifle and close off the opportunities and incentives for entrepreneurial alertness and discovery, thereby hindering an effective coordination of many potential peaceful and mutually beneficial possibilities for gains from trade ... [He] has vehemently argued ... that government regulators and planners have neither perfect knowledge nor sufficient wisdom to direct the economic affairs of millions of people.
    Is there a federal deficit?, by Walter E. Williams, 19 Apr 2006
    Discusses, from an economics standpoint, whether there is a budget deficit in the U.S. federal government and what are the effects of the shortfall between federal expenditures and revenue (taxes)
    If Congress spends $2.4 trillion but only takes in $2 trillion in taxes, who makes up that $.4 trillion shortfall that we call the budget deficit? ... Some might be tempted to answer that it's future generations who will pay. That's untrue. If the federal government consumes $2.4 trillion ... in 2005, it must find ways to force us to spend $2.4 trillion less privately in 2005. In other words, the federal government can't spend today what's going to be produced in the future ... [T]he true measure of the impact of government on our lives is not the taxes we pay but the level of spending.
    Related Topics: Inflation, Taxation
    It's Not Edward Snowden Who Betrayed Us, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 14 Jun 2013
    Discusses commentary from progressive and conservative apologists for the NSA surveillance disclosed by Snowden and constrasts them to writings by David Hume and Lord Acton
    A defining trait of those who trust power is that abuse is of no concern until it occurs ... It never occurs to them that power is inherently abusive. Donald Boudreaux informs us that Edmund Burke, the conservative Whig, had a keener insight into abuse. Burke wrote of America in 1775:
    In other countries, the people, more simple, and of a less mercurial cast, judge of an ill principle in government only by an actual grievance; here they anticipate the evil, and judge of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle. They augur misgovernment at a distance; and sniff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.
    Jacobs, Jane (1916-2006), by Sanford Ikeda, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    Systems of Survival is perhaps [Jacobs'] most libertarian book. It argues that the virtues appropriate to action in the market are fundamentally different from those guiding government. Confusion and dangerous contradictions arise when agents attempt to apply the moral system of one sphere while operating in the other ... She advocated limited forms of government intervention at the local level, such as zoning for diversity ... But she remained skeptical of planning at all levels of government because it is incapable of comprehending local knowledge and needs.
    Related Topic: Jane Jacobs
    Jefferson on American Liberty, by Gary M. Galles, Mises Daily, 4 Jul 2002
    List of Thomas Jefferson quotations on the subjects of liberty, rights and government
    "What more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? ... a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from ... labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
    Our government cannot legitimately take away our rights or our liberty to exercise them. ...
    "The right of self-government does not comprehend the government of others." ...
    Our liberty is not to be undermined by government intervention or redistribution.
    The J.F.K. Flap, by Murray N. Rothbard, The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, May 1992
    Review of Oliver Stone's JFK (1991), including the media reaction and current theories on the Kennedy assassination
    The last-ditch defenders of the Warren view ... always fall back on generalized vaporings, such as: "How could all the government be in on it?" But since Watergate, we have all become familiar with the basic fact: only a few key people need be in on the original crime, while lots of high and low government officials can be in on the subsequent cover-up, which can always be justified as "patriotic," on "national security" grounds, or simply because the president ordered it. The fact that the highest levels of the U.S. government are all-too capable of lying to the public, should have been clear since Watergate and Iran-Contra.
    Related Topics: John F. Kennedy, JFK
    John Locke—Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Aug 1996
    Extensive biographical essay, including summaries of his major works
    [Locke] expressed the radical view that government is morally obliged to serve people, namely by protecting life, liberty, and property. He explained the principle of checks and balances to limit government power. He favored representative government and a rule of law. He denounced tyranny. He insisted that when government violates individual rights, people may legitimately rebel. These views were most fully developed in Locke's famous Second Treatise Concerning Civil Government, and they were so radical that he never dared sign his name to it. He acknowledged authorship only in his will.
    John Locke's Top 5 Radical Political Ideas, by Brandon Turner, 29 Aug 2016
    Brief discussions of "five features of Locke's political thought that remain particularly important": natural equality, property, consent, resistance and toleration
    In the context of the Second Treatise, the notion of consent functions as a solution to a thorny and longstanding problem: if we are all born equally free and equal—or, put another way, if we are born into a world without natural or divinely-inspired relations of subjection—then how is political authority possible at all? Locke's answer ... is that legitimate political authority—understood as the power to coerce others without violating their natural rights—can be generated by an act of consent ... it isn't easy to imagine a conceptual space in which consent isn't the primary (if not sole) engine of political legitimacy ...
    Julian Simon Remembered: It's a Wonderful Life, by Stephen Moore, Cato Policy Report, Mar 1998
    In memoriam by one of Simon's students, research assistant and co-author of the posthumous It's Getting Better All the Time
    Simon believed that human progress depended not only on creative and ingenious minds but also on free institutions. He often marveled that the only place on earth where life expectancy actually fell in the 20th century was in the Soviet Union and other East European nations during the tyranny of communism. Many of his most ardent critics were government activists who believe that the only conceivable solution to impending eco-catastrophe is ever more stringent governmental edicts: coercive population stabilization policies, gas rationing, wage and price controls, mandatory recycling, and so on.
    Related Topic: Julian Simon
    The Justice and Prudence of War: Toward A Libertarian Analysis, by Roderick T. Long, Mises Daily, 20 Sep 2006
    Examines the ethics of war from a libertarian viewpoint, considering both deontological (is war itself right or wrong) and consequentialist (are war's consequences right or wrong) perspectives
    [I]t is because this equality in authority ... holds between private citizens and public officials that governments are forbidden to exercise any powers not available to people generally ... But whatever restrictions are appropriate here will have to apply to governments and private individuals equally; the notion that government, the wealthiest and most powerful organization in society, should be exempt from the prohibition on self-judgment that it imposes on others does not pass libertarian muster. Hence the notion of a "highest authority" or "final arbiter" in society is un-libertarian ...
    Kennedy's Libertarian Revolution: Lawrence's reach, by Randy Barnett, National Review Online, 10 Jul 2003
    Comments on the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas which deemed sodomy laws to be unconstitutional and in particular on Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion
    [Kennedy] puts all his energy into demonstrating that same-sex sexual freedom is a legitimate aspect of liberty ... With this as the baseline, the onus then falls on the government to justify the restriction ... Once an action is deemed to be a proper exercise of liberty ..., the burden shifts to the government. Though he never acknowledges it, Justice Kennedy here is employing what I have called a "presumption of liberty" that requires the government to justify its restriction on liberty, instead of requiring the citizen to establish that the liberty being exercised is somehow "fundamental."
    Lao-Tzu Argues for Liberty in Ancient China, by Lǎozǐ, 1891
    Short introduction to excerpts of chapters 57 to 60 of the Tao Te Ching, as translated by James Legge, Professor of Chinese at Oxford, see Sacred Books of the East, Vol XXXIX, edited by F. Max Müller
    The government that seems the most unwise,
    Oft goodness to the people best supplies;
    That which is meddling, touching everything,
    Will work but ill, and disappointment bring.
    ... Governing a great state is like cooking small fish. Let the kingdom be governed according to the Tao, and the manes of the departed will not manifest their spiritual energy. It is not that those manes have not that spiritual energy, but it will not be employed to hurt men. When these two do not injuriously affect each other, their good influences converge in the virtue (of the Tao).
    Related Topic: The State
    Lao Tzu (c. 600 BC), by James A. Dorn, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay focusing on Laozi's teachings
    Disorder arises when government oversteps its bounds—that is, when it overtaxes and denies people their natural right to be left alone to pursue their happiness, as long as they do not injure others. Lao Tzu argued that taxes, not nature, were the primary cause of famine: "When men are deprived of food," he wrote, "it is because their kings [rulers] tax them too heavily." Likewise, he recognized that rulers could easily destroy the natural harmony that people cherish by destroying their liberty: "When men are hard to govern, it is because their kings interfere with their lives."
    Related Topics: Lǎozǐ, China, Dào Dé Jīng
    The Legacy of Leonard E. Read, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Sep 1991
    Reflects on the influence of Read on the author and other "freedom devotees", recounting two illuminating examples of Read's "deep dedication to integrity and principle"
    What role does government have in such a society? If we were all angels, Read said, government would not be necessary. But since there are antisocial people in the world, government's proper role is to protect people from domestic aggression, protect the nation from foreign attack, and, through a judiciary, resolve disputes which arise among the citizenry ... "Conscience on the Battlefield" ... focused on the moral responsibility of the individual citizen for the wrongful acts of his government—in this case, the moral responsibility of the individual soldier for participating in foreign wars waged by his government.
    Lessons about Our Constitution from Abu Ghraib, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 26 May 2004
    Argues that constitutional protections and restraints on government are needed more than ever to prevent abuses such as have happened in U.S.-occupied Iraq
    Some might ... conclude that today no such restrictions are necessary. Government ... can be trusted to do the right thing, they might say. The federal government is our friend, our provider, our protector in the wars on poverty, drugs, illiteracy, and terrorism ... officials provide us with our retirement, health care, education, and food and protect us from drug dealers, terrorists, entrepreneurs, and foreigners. It ensures that we are a caring and compassionate people by taking our money and giving it to others ... The next time someone ridicules the Constitution ... ask him whether he would prefer living under U.S. occupation in Iraq ...
    Letters to Mr. Malthus, on Several Subjects of Political Economy, and on the Cause of the Stagnation of Commerce, by Jean-Baptiste Say, 1820
    Original title: Lettres à M. Malthus, sur différens sujets d'économie politique, notamment sur les causes de la stagnation générale du commerce
    Series of five letters from Say to Malthus, written in response to the latter's criticisms in Principles of Political Economy (1820); the letters were translated from the French by John Richter
    All these nations complain of the sufferings to which they have reduced themselves by their own fault ... I know that certain governments, corrupted and corrupting, stand in need of monopolies, and of custom duties, to pay for the votes of the honourable majorities which pretend to represent nations: I am not so unreasonable as to expect them to govern so entirely according to the general interest, as to be able to obtain the votes without paying for them; but, at the same time, why should I be astonished that such vicious systems have deplorable consequences?
    UpdLet the Immigrants Stay, by Sheldon Richman, 9 Jul 2014
    Discusses the plight of unaccompanied Central American children migrating to the U.S. who face deportation by the Obama administration
    [N]o government has the moral authority to capture these kids and send them back to the miserable situations they have escaped ... Where does government get the moral authority—I'm not talking about legal power—to apprehend and detain human beings of any age who have committed aggression against no one? ... Without government agents hunting them, children and parents could move north together in freedom and safety ... [I]f the U.S. government did not prosecute a violent war on drug makers and users, and did not push the war on [other] governments, those children would be safer to start with.
    Related Topics: Children, Rights
    "Liberal" Court Okays Eminent Domain Abuse, by George Leef, 1 Jul 2005
    Discusses the U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 decision, in favor of the defendants, in Kelo v. City of New London
    It is one of those statist clichés so beloved of power-hungry politicians that economic development (and thereby the people's standard of living) needs to be fostered by government ... [Justice] Stevens wrote, "Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government." ... Traditionally, the role of government included the preservation of order, the administration of justice, and the provision of a few "public goods" ... Throughout most of our history, it was not regarded as the role of government to try to boost the level of economic activity within its jurisdiction.
    Liberalism, Marxism, and the State [PDF], by Ralph Raico, Cato Journal, 1992
    Examines the writings about the state by the French founders and contributors to the early 19th century journal Le Censeur, compares them to Karl Marx (who they influenced), as well as some 1990 comments by Václav Havel
    The function of government is to ensure security—"whether there is a danger from outside or whether the mad and the idle threaten to disturb the order and peace necessary for labor." ..., [Augustin] Thierry asserted that any government that exceeds these limits ceases to be a government properly speaking:
    Its action can be classed with the action exerted upon its inhabitants of a land when it is invaded by soldiers; it degenerates into domination, and that occurs regardless of the number of men involved, of the arrangement in which they order themselves, or what titles they take.
    Libertarian Anarchism: Responses to Ten Objections, by Roderick T. Long, 6 Aug 2004
    Transcript of informal talk given at the 2004 Mises University. First makes the case for anarchism and then responds to objections others have raised against it
    [O]ne objection that's sometimes raised isn't so much an objection to anarchism as an objection to the moral argument for anarchism: well, look, [government is] not really a coercive monopoly. It's not as though people haven't consented to this because there's a certain sense in which people have consented to the existing system—by living within the borders of a particular territory, by accepting the benefits the government offers, and so forth ... I think that the person who makes this argument is already assuming that the government has some legitimate jurisdiction over this territory.
    Libertarianism and the War, by Justin Raimondo, 2 Apr 2007
    Criticizes a Cato Unbound symposium titled "Libertarianism: Past and Prospects" with contributed essays from Brian Doherty, Brink Lindsey, Tyler Cowen, Tom G. Palmer and Virginia Postrel
    [Cowen claims that the] incremental success of the libertarian quest for ... freedom from government–has led to an increase in ... (material wealth), which has diverted more resources to government ... [The symposium writers are] largely blind to the enormous potential of the war question to debunk and delegitimize the moral authority of government ... Just as the Vietnam War brought about a general discontent with and distrust of government officials and their policy initiatives, so this war is also vividly dramatizing the central libertarian insight: governments lie, they loot, and they kill.
    Libertarianism Is the Key to Our Future, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Jul 2006
    Examines three reasons—freedom, morality and pragmatism—that suggest that Americans will eventually return to their libertarian heritage
    Consider some of the major crises that confront our country: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the dollar, Iraq, terrorism, immigration, the drug war, and education. Do you notice a common denominator in all these programs? The federal government! The federal government has made a mess out of all of these areas of life ... No matter what government officials do—no matter what new reforms are enacted—the drug war ... and the war on immigrants will fail. The same holds true for Social Security, ... public schooling, and all the other socialist and interventionist programs that afflict our society.
    NewLibertarianism Updated, by Randy E. Barnett, Law & Liberty, 2 Jul 2024
    Discusses five areas in which Barnett believes libertarianism, "largely frozen in amber since the 1970s", ought to "up its game"
    [L]ibertarianism needs to recognize that "public-private" and "government-nongovernment" are not one, but two distinct binaries. Free citizens may rightfully be excluded from private-nongovernmental spaces such as our homes and our beds, and also from private-governmental spaces such as military bases. But free citizenship may carry with it the privilege of accessing public spaces and services, whether governmental (like streets, sidewalks, and parks) or nongovernmental (like places of public accommodation and common carriers) without being subject to arbitrary discrimination.
    Libertarian moment or movement?, by Michael A. Glueck, Robert J. Cihak, 24 Jan 2003
    Presents the views of Robert Higgs and David Theroux, two months before the 2003 Iraq invasion, as to whether the libertarian movement can have "a major role to play in post-9/11 America"
    Government grows via what [Higgs] calls the "ratchet effect" ... Throughout the 20th century, according to Higgs, war provided the major impetus to growth. After each war, government shrank somewhat, but never totally returned to its former size or scope. Further, from the Depression forward, the warfare state buttressed the welfare state, as people grew more and more accustomed to governmental control. In the end, Higgs concludes, governments will always act like governments, seeking to expand their power, unless checked by the citizenry ... the standard American response is to demand that the government DO SOMETHING ...
    Liberty and Small Government in Tao te Ching, by Luke Hankins, 22 Apr 2014
    Presents selections from the Dào Dé Jīng, examining some of the seeming paradoxes of Daoist philosophy
    Tao te Ching is a central text in Taoism, and Taoist political philosophy tends to be more anarchic than Confucianism, the other major Chinese philosophical tradition. Tao te Ching views laissez-faire, small government, and non-intervention as political ideals in keeping with the Tao ... Similarly, the Way of politics is a way of minimal action, of not presuming to be able to control what rightly lies outside of any person's or government's control:
    When the government is too intrusive,
    people lose their spirit.

    Act for the people's benefit.
    Trust them; leave them alone.
    Related Topic: Dào Dé Jīng
    The Liberty Manifesto, by P. J. O'Rourke, 6 May 1993
    Remarks at a gala dinner celebrating the opening of the Cato Institute's new headquarters in Washington, DC
    We have a group of incredibly silly people in the White House right now, people who think government works. Or that government would work, if you got some real bright young kids from Yale to run it ... You know, if government were a product, selling it would be illegal. Government is a health hazard. Governments have killed many more people than cigarettes or unbuckled seat belts ever have. Government contains impure ingredients—as anybody who's looked at Congress can tell you ... And the merest glance at the federal budget is enough to convict the government of perjury, extortion, and fraud.
    Liberty or Empire?, by Patrick Henry, 5 Jun 1788
    Excerpt of speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention; criticizes several clauses of the proposed Constitution and warns about the possibility of a U.S. President becoming even worse than a king
    The honorable gentleman ... attributes to the present feeble government ... Under the same despised government we commanded the respect of all Europe ... Shall we imitate the example of those nations who have gone from a simple to a splendid government? ... If we admit this consolidated government, it will be because we like a great, splendid one ... Such a government is incompatible with the genius of republicanism. There will be no checks, no real balances, in this government. What can avail your specious, imaginary balances, your rope-dancing, chain-rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and contrivances?
    Liberty's Greatest Advocate, by Walter E. Williams, 4 Jul 2001
    Reflections on some of Bastiat writings, particularly those related to legalized plunder, on the 200th anniversary of his birth
    Plunder is when people forcibly take the property of another. It's legalized plunder when people use government, such as our Congress, to do the same thing ... Two-thirds to three-quarters of next year's $2 trillion federal budget represents legalized plunder, where Congress makes it possible for one American to live at the expense of another ... This ... isn't limited to money handouts. There's plunder in the form of special privileges such as import tariffs and quotas, licenses and franchises, where government rigs the market in favor of certain sellers, particularly those making large campaign contributions.
    Related Topic: Frédéric Bastiat
    Lies and Leviathan, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Aug 2006
    Describes the deceit used to institute and expand the U.S. Social Security program, as well as various other programs such as job training and placement, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Office of Strategic Influence, and various duplicitous officials
    Big government requires big lies—and not just on wars but across the board. The more powerful government becomes, the more abuses it commits and the more lies it must tell. Interventions beget debacles that require cover-ups and denials. The more the government screws up, the more evidence the government is obliged to bury or deny. The government becomes addicted to the growth of its own revenue and power—and this growth cannot be maintained without denying or hiding the adverse effects of government power ... Lies have propelled Leviathan's growth.
    The Life and Death of Peter McWilliams [PDF], by R. W. Bradford, Liberty, Aug 2000
    Tribute to McWilliams, relates his life from 1996 until his death in June 2000, from being unable to use marijuana to alleviate the nausea caused by AIDS and cancer drugs
    [T]he judge ... ruled that Peter could not present to the jury ... the fact that the government's own research concludes that marijuana is virtually the only way to treat the illness ... I'm one of those libertarians who generally tries to look at government policies more as folly than as evil. But sometimes, the evil that government does transcends simple folly. Sometimes I have to be reminded that there is a real human cost of government. It happened when I learned of the government's killing of 86 people at Waco and its murder of Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge. And it happened with Peter, too.
    Related Topics: War on Drugs, Peter McWilliams
    The life and times of F.A. Hayek, who explained why political liberty is impossible without economic liberty, by Jim Powell, 2000
    Lengthy biographical essay, with extensive quotes; alternate version of "The Worst on Top" chapter of The Triumph of Liberty (2000)
    [Hayek] noted there is general agreement about a few functions of government—such as punishing violent criminals. But as government takes on more functions, it necessarily goes beyond ... and infringes ever more on personal liberty. Central economic planning, Hayek explained, inevitably means massive assaults on liberty by giving bureaucrats the power to decide which kinds of cars, pens, apples and everything else should be produced—and who should get them. He observed that power tends to be corrupted because it naturally attracts people who enjoy taxing, imprisoning and even executing others.
    The life and times of Murray N. Rothbard, by Jim Powell
    Full title: The life and times of Murray N. Rothbard, who showed why private individuals can do just about everything that needs to be done
    Lengthy biographical essay
    [Rothbard] challenged the utopian illusions of so-called "liberals" who believed that government was a force for good, although [it] acquired its revenue by force from some people and handed it to others with more political influence. [He] discussed the doctrine that "we are the government"–practically anything government does is okay, as long as leaders are democratically selected ... [He] hammered the welfare state for harming the poor. "A host of government licensing restrictions permeating occupation after occupation exclude poorer and less skilled workers from these jobs," he reported.
    Locke, John (1632-1704), by Eric Mack, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical and bibliographical essay
    [A]s forms of property become more complex, there is a need for a clear public articulation of who owns what. In addition, the demand for known laws and reliable and impartial judges becomes increasingly important. At the same time, the need for reliable power to enforce known law and judicial decisions increases. For these reasons, directly or indirectly, individuals waive their private rights to act as executors of the law of nature. They vest this right in political society, which, in turn, entrusts a particular government with the task of articulating and enforcing the law of nature.
    The Longest-Running War, by Doug Bandow, 20 Dec 2004
    Reviews the books Bad Trip: How the War on Drugs Is Destroying America (2004) by Joel Miller and Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition (2004) by Jeffrey A. Miron
    For decades the U.S. government has attempted to suppress the use and sale of illicit substances ... "The right question for policy analysis, however, is ... whether policy reduces that misuse, and at what cost." The answer of both authors is that the government only ineffectively cuts drug abuse, and does so at a very high social cost ... Miller explores the relative ineffectiveness of government interdiction efforts ... The government already is militarizing the drug war. Police have been turned into paramilitary forces, turning homes and entire neighborhoods into war zones.
    Lord Acton on Liberty and Government, by Gary M. Galles, Mises Daily, 11 Nov 2002
    Lamenting that most people only know Lord Acton's most famous quote, lists many of his other memorable writings on liberty, government and related subjects
    ... It is easier to find people fit to govern themselves than people to govern others. Every man is the best, the most responsible, judge of his own advantage.
    The great question is to discover, not what governments prescribe, but what they ought to prescribe; for no prescription is valid against the conscience of mankind.
    The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.
    There are many things the government can't do, many good purposes it must renounce. It must leave them to the enterprise of others. It cannot feed the people. It cannot enrich the people. It cannot teach the people ...
    Lunar prisoners fight for freedom in Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, by Howard Baetjer, 1 Feb 2017
    Discusses Heinlein's (and book character professor Bernardo de la Paz's) views on government and anarchism in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, with several excerpts, and ending with "Don't miss it"
    [The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress] is ... an intriguing examination of government, governance, and politics ... Because the "Loonies" (the moon is known as "Luna") are convicts or the descendants of convicts ... and ... cannot escape Luna without boarding one of the government's ships, the official government—the Lunar Authority, set up by the rulers on Earth—does not do much at all. But in such a hostile physical environment, order is essential, and the Loonies have worked out for themselves a functioning system of governance without government, of rules without legislation.
    Lysander & Limited Government, by Fred Miller, Reason, May 1976
    Argues that Spooner, although critical of the government instituted by the U.S. Constitution, was in favor of a legitimate, limited government, i.e., one that is voluntarily financed
    Spooner is opposed to a secret government and to a government of looters. But is he opposed, without qualification, to government? "Evidently not" is the answer suggested by at least two passages in "No Treason #6." ... Spooner is here laying down a necessary condition for legitimate government: it must be voluntarily financed. He is asserting, not that no government is legitimate, but that no government that is financed by extortion is legitimate. Since the possibility of a legitimate government is thus left open, it is clearly consistent with the limited-government libertarian.
    Lysander Spooner (1808-1887) and Foreign Policy, by Joseph R. Stromberg, 8 May 2000
    Begins wih biographical summary and then delves into Spooner's views on slavery, the U.S. Constitution and the War Between the States
    Seeing that governments are not the agents (certified in writing) of actual rights-bearing persons and that they do not conduct themselves as hired protectors or genuine insurance agencies, Spooner naturally asks Who is it, exactly, that governments do protect? His conclusion is a Rothbardian one–or, since Spooner came first, one can say that Rothbard extended the Spoonerian argument–namely, that governments protect themselves, that is, those persons who comprise them, and those interests allied with those persons. I hope Dan Rather mentions that on the evening news sometime.
    Lysander Spooner on the National Debt, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 27 Sep 2013
    Examines contemporaneous warnings about Congress not raising the national debt limit by considering what Spooner wrote in "The Constitution of No Authority" about the legitimacy of the debt
    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 the 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." It's the greatest swindle ever perpetrated.
    Related Topics: Lysander Spooner, Taxation, Voting
    Lysander Spooner, Part 2, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, Nov 2005
    Lengthy biographical and bibliographical essay; this second part is from 1852 to Spooner's death, examining An Essay on the Trial by Jury, the No Treason essays and his subsequent influence
    Government by consent means that every person who pays taxes or provides a service to the state must render his consent in order for the exchange to be just. Without such consent, the "exchange" is actually brute force that the government imposes upon the individual. Otherwise stated, if people pay taxes or offer a service because they fear the consequence of not doing so, then the state is no better than a robber who says, "Your money or your life." Or, as Spooner phrased it, government becomes "a mere conspiracy of the strong against the weak."
    Madison, James (1750-1836), by Michael Zuckert, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    Madison asserted that "government is instituted to protect" this broad kind of property. "That alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own." Just government, in order to secure property in external goods, must not invade property in personal rights, must not seize the property that a man has in "his personal safety and personal liberty," nor may men be denied "the free use of their faculties and free choice of their occupations" because of "arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies." Just governments neither "invade the domestic sanctuaries of the rich" nor "grind the faces of the poor."
    Related Topics: James Madison, Rights
    "Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss", by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 11 Jan 2008
    Examines politics, including slogans such as "hope", "change" (Barack Obama) and "straight talk" (John McCain) in the 2008 United States presidential campaigns, and explains why politicians cannot be expected to lead the way to liberty
    Through the years, and almost inexorably, government has grown, a fact neatly hidden by defining reductions in the planned rate of spending growth as "budget cuts" or increases in government borrowing and attendant monetary expansion as a "tax cuts." ... Considering that government has increasingly had its hands in everything for ages, the only real change would be toward laissez faire and liberty ... Today all candidates proposing "energy independence" ... claim to know what forms of energy are best and are ready to use the power of government—physical force—to impose them on us.
    Misguided Democracy, by George Leef, Freedom Daily, Mar 2006
    Review of Attention Deficit Democracy (2006) by James Bovard
    [M]uch of what government does today is done covertly ... Presidents can issue Executive Orders to do almost anything, from confiscating gold to declaring people to be "enemy combatants." Government documents can easily be placed beyond public scrutiny, and ... this is becoming more and more prevalent as politicians choose increasingly to hide behind a "trust us" smokescreen. The bureaucracy has the power to issue regulations with the force of law and then punish violators ... The judiciary can freely ignore the Constitution to arrogate power to itself or to confer power on other branches of government.
    A Modest Proposal for the Next Drug-War Shootdown, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Aug 2001
    Offers recommendations (some tongue in cheek, later serious) after the shootdown by the Peruvian air force of a Cessna carrying American Baptist missionaries (but claimed to carry traffickers)
    The U.S. government has also been surprisingly laggard in announcing the appointment of a "blue-ribbon independent panel" including one or two pliable former U.S. senators to consult with federal agencies. These independent panels are vital for maintaining public faith in government, since they almost inevitably issue an exhaustive report proving that no government official is to blame for anything that happened. (Note: This tactic worked very well after Waco.) In the future, U.S. government officials must move expeditiously to cast suspicions on the victims of government action.
    Module 2: John Locke's Two Treatises of Government
    Second module of the Cato Home Study Course, includes link to listen or download audio program (2:41:50), questions and suggested readings
    The true foundation of government rests in the consent of the people to the transfer of certain just powers to government in order to protect their rights, rather than in a total alienation of their rights to government. Government is made necessary by three deficiencies of the "state of nature": the lack of a known and settled law, the lack of a known and impartial judge to settle disputes, and the lack of a power to back and support the decisions of law. To remedy these "inconveniences" of the state of nature, individuals delegate to government their right to execute the law of nature.
    Module 8: John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman
    Eighth module of the Cato Home Study Course, includes link to listen or download audio program (two parts, 1:15:47 and 1:25:24), questions and suggested readings
    The emergence of the United States as a democratic republic led [John Stuart Mill] to conclude, "It was now perceived that such phrases as 'self-government,' and 'the power of the people over themselves,' do not express the true state of the case. The 'people' who exercise the power are not always the same people with those over whom it is exercised; and the 'self-government' spoken of is not the government of each by himself, but of each by all the rest."
    Related Topic: John Stuart Mill
    Monetary Central Planning and the State, Part 27: Milton Friedman's Second Thoughts on the Costs of Paper Money, by Richard M. Ebeling, Freedom Daily, Mar 1999
    Discusses how Friedman changed his mind about the advisability of a paper money standard
    [Friedman and Schwartz] argued:
    The apparently great value to the economy of having a single unit of account linked with an (ultimate) medium of exchange does not mean that government must play any role, or that there need be a single producer of the medium of exchange ... [H]istorically, governments have entered the picture ... after the community had settled on a unit of account ...
    They stated: "Our own conclusion ... is that leaving monetary and banking arrangements to the market would have produced a more satisfactory outcome than was actually achieved through government involvement."
    Monetary Central Planning and the State, Part 32: Friedrich A. Hayek and the Case for the Denationalization of Money, by Richard M. Ebeling, Freedom Daily, Aug 1999
    Shows the progression of Hayek's thinking on money from 1945 when he was agreeable to central monetary control to 1976 when he advocated a system of private competing currencies
    There could be no more effective check against the abuse of money by the government than if people were free to refuse any money they distrusted and to prefer money in which they had confidence. Nor could there be a stronger inducement to governments ... than the knowledge that, so long as they kept the supply below the demand for it, that demand would tend to grow. Therefore, let us deprive governments (or their monetary authorities) of all power to protect their money against competition: if they can no longer conceal that their money is becoming bad, they will have to restrict the issue ...
    Monetary Central Planning and the State, Part XXIV: Milton Friedman's Framework for Economic Stability, by Richard M. Ebeling, Freedom Daily, Dec 1998
    Describes Friedman's criticisms of Keynesian policies and examines Friedman's own proposals for government intervention in the economy
    [S]uppose that the statistical data at the policymaker's disposal suggested the macroeconomy was heading into a downturn. The policymaker might conclude that what was needed was increased government deficit spending ... But by the time [its] additional deficit spending started to have its effects, the economy might have "moved on" and naturally begun to recover from any recessionary tendencies ... [D]iscretionary government policy always ran the risk of doing the supposedly right thing too late and making any new situation worse than if the government had merely left the market alone.
    Monetary Central Planning and the State, Part XXV: Milton Friedman and the Demand for Money, by Richard M. Ebeling, Freedom Daily, Jan 1999
    Describes the role of money according to Keynesians and contrasts it with Friedman's monetary theories in his 1956 essay "The Quantity Theory of Money–A Restatement"
    Money, in the Keynesian framework, was relegated to a place of secondary importance in the policy toolkit of activist government. Increasing the money supply to try to stimulate the economy, in the Keynesian view, was pointless. Any such increases would merely be absorbed for the most part into unspent cash hoards ... Instead, government needed to run a budget deficit and either borrow the private sector's idle cash savings to put it into circulation or directly spend any increases in the money supply upon various public-works projects to stimulate employment and private-sector investment.
    Related Topics: Milton Friedman, Inflation, Money
    Money in the 1920s and 1930s, by Richard Timberlake, The Freeman, Apr 1999
    Attempts to set the record straight on the economic and monetary events of the 1920s and early 1930s, arguing against both the Austrian view (as expressed by Murray Rothbard) and those who put the blame on stock market speculation
    Competitive markets drive the production and sale of all household durables, but the production of money in every country in the world today (and yesterday, too) is the province of governments ... Because they have the power to create money without license, governments also have the complementary incentive to claim that depressions and inflations resulting from the mismanagement of money occur because of unusual and unexpected economic developments—"shocks," as they are labeled ... Government apologists of many persuasions ... argue that the massive interventions of the 1930s were necessary ...
    Monopolies versus the Free Market, Part 1, by Gregory Bresiger, Freedom Daily, Sep 2006
    Contrasts state-backed monopolies or quasi-monopolies vs. regular businesses in a free market, with historical and current examples, and discusses antitrust laws
    [T]he irony is that the government, which is the agency that has enacted and prosecuted antitrust laws, is the creator of some of the biggest monopolies. It is as though a convicted criminal [was] put in charge of law-enforcement ... Here is the philosophy of all antitrust thinking: Some prosperous ... businesses ... must be broken up ... Powerful monopolistic government enterprises with statutory powers to bar competition are beneficial and should be nurtured and supported. In other words, don't break up the U.S. Postal Service, which has a statutory monopoly for first-class mail delivery.
    Monopoly, Competition, and Educational Freedom, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Mar 2000
    Discusses monopolies and competition in the religious, postal delivery and educational realms and criticizes a speech by Gary Becker about competition in religion and education
    If the monopolist is the government itself, then there are two possible approaches to getting rid of the monopoly. Upon repeal of the monopoly law, the government might be permitted to continue competing against private firms. Alternatively, the government might open up the market by repeal of the monopoly law and also remove itself from that particular business. For example, consider the U.S. Postal Service, which describes itself as an "independent establishment of the executive branch of the government of the United States." It holds a monopoly to deliver first-class mail in the United States.
    Morality and Social Security, by Robert Sirico, Freedom Daily, Dec 1999
    Discusses the effect of the U.S. Social Security program from an ethical and social standpoint
    The very existence of Social Security has convinced tens of millions of people that government-mandated savings are utterly necessary ... the program has had a profound effect on the way we view the role of government in society ... With government benefits supporting us cradle to grave, we are less inclined to think about the future ... Social Security has also contributed to the crowding out of private charity, an old and very serious problem associated with all state benefits. Why should private associations bother to solve social problems widely understood to be the responsibility of government?
    Related Topic: Social Security Tax
    More Victims of Immigration Control, by Sheldon Richman, 18 Jan 2008
    Discusses how, aside from actual immigrants, American employers and particularly property owners along the United States-Mexico border are also victims of U.S. immigration controls, in the government's attempt to build a fence along the border
    [At] least some of [the] landowners fear the government will steal their land—using the euphemism "eminent domain" ... 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 ... Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says he doesn't have all day ... Well, isn't that nice in the land of the free? The government wants to trespass on private property in order to determine whether it will seize it to build a Berlin-style wall to lock out people who are looking for work from willing employers.
    Motives Aside, the NSA Should Not Spy on Us, by Sheldon Richman, 18 Jun 2013
    Examines a couple of reasons for rejecting the surveillance state, even if "government officials sincerely believe that [collecting] data is vital to the people's security"
    "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence—it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action." Although often attributed to George Washington, that famous quotation was probably was not uttered by him. Nevertheless, its value lies in what it says, not in who said it. At best, government represents a risk to the people it rules ... the danger remains that innocent people could have their lives seriously disrupted—or worse—by a zealous agent of government who sees an ominous pattern in someone's data where none in fact exists.
    Mr. Bush, Mind Your Own Business, by Sheldon Richman, 21 Oct 2005
    Criticizes George W. Bush's unsolicited advice to Americans that they should drive less in order to conserve gasoline
    The phony [free-market advocate] is ... the one urging conservation and, perhaps, positive government measures to increase supply. In contrast, the genuine marketeer looks for the ways government intervention is stifling entrepreneurship ... [O]ne readily sees that there is no economic role for government whatsoever, except to repeal any interventionist measures ... Bush's unsolicited advice ... further accustoms people to the idea that one's personal life is to some extent a public matter. (Government's control of medicine conveys this idea in an especially ham-handed way.)
    The Myth of 19th-Century Laissez-Faire: Who Benefits Today?, by Roderick T. Long, 10 Jun 2013
    Responds to questions posed by Michael Lind and E. J. Dionne Jr. regarding lack of actual libertarian countries or the supposedly "small government libertarian utopia" in the late 19th century
    [I]t remains true that the late 19th century American economy was characterized by vigorous and systematic government intervention on behalf of big business (wrapped sometimes in laissez-faire rhetoric and sometimes in progressive rhetoric). A government that routinely brings in police or the army to break up strikes is hardly a laissez-faire regime ... Dionne's vision of the New Deal as coming to the rescue of a government that was previously "helpless" and "handcuffed" by "anti-government ideology" is ludicrous; Roosevelt's big-government, pro-cartelization policies were largely a continuation of Hoover's.
    The Myth of War Prosperity, Part 1, by Anthony Gregory, Freedom Daily, Dec 2006
    Introduction to the review of Depression, War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy (2006) by Robert Higgs
    With government spending, the same principles apply. Money seized from the private sector—from those who know how to make productive, profitable economic decisions—and transferred to government programs does indeed produce jobs, but to focus on this ignores what the wealth could have been used for had it not been forcibly transferred. As the humorist Dave Barry so succinctly put it, "See, when the government spends money, it creates jobs; whereas when the money is left in the hands of taxpayers, God only knows what they do with it. Bake it into pies, probably. Anything to avoid creating jobs."
    The Myth of War Prosperity, Part 2, by Anthony Gregory, Freedom Daily, Jan 2007
    Main part of the review of Depression, War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy (2006) by Robert Higgs
    For many years, libertarians have complained about big government and have understood on a theoretical level at least how even such universally accepted government projects ... as much as any lesser public program, must subsist at the cost of ... America's general economic well-being. Unfortunately, the myths and misunderstandings surrounding the U.S. garrison economy—its alleged promotion of productivity and the general welfare and its ostensible nature as an essentially capitalistic sector free of the trappings borne by the classic archetypes of socialist central planning—have endured.
    The Natural Right of Property, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 17 Aug 2007
    Examines Thomas Hodgskin's philosophy, in particular his writings on property rights in The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted (1832)
    [S]ome wish to prosper ... through appropriation of the fruits of other people's labor. The most efficient way is through the power of government ...
    One of the first objects then of the law, subordinate to the great principle of preserving its unconstrained dominion over our minds and bodies, is to bestow a sufficient revenue on the government ... [W]hat pen is equal to the task of accurately describing all the vexations, and the continual misery, heaped on all the industrious classes of the community, under the pretext that it is necessary to raise a revenue for the government?
    The Nature and Significance of Economic Education, by Israel Kirzner, The Freeman, Oct 1998
    Revised version of lecture given 19 March 1998; explains why economic education of both the general public and legislators is needed and why a teacher, such as Mises, must remain scientifically detached even if passionate about the teaching goals
    Very many intelligent, well-meaning persons ... have concluded that government planning and control of market activities are crucially needed ... to avoid economic chaos ... [T]he truth is that, because of sheer economic ignorance, well-meaning policy makers may be completely unaware that ... they ... generate consequences quite the reverse of what they wish ... If public policies seeking to increase the scale and scope of government intervention in the economy are to be successfully fought at the legislative and executive levels, the economic understanding of the public must ... be enhanced.
    A New Scheme, by F. A. Harper, The Freeman, Feb 1956
    Comments on the implications of a plan whereby the United States government would act as guarantor for private ventures wishing to invest in Indian projects, providing compensation in the event of subsequent nationalization by the Indian government
    Without our government having entered the deal, it would have been only another case of The House of Borgan [sic] or some other private investor making a foolish investment abroad and losing it, each investor standing to gain or lose from his own venture. The second consequence will be that the United States government will have to tax us all for the funds with which to reimburse the private investors. Why? Because the government is an enterprise of losses rather than one of profits and must always collect the money for any such use in the form of taxes.
    Related Topics: India, Taxation
    The New U.S. War on Liberty, by David J. Theroux, Karen De Coster, 22 Jan 2002
    De Coster introduces a critical analysis, by Theroux, of the War in Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism
    Too many people are presuming that somehow the U.S. government can and does represent us contractually, and that somehow socialism can be made to work for defense purposes. However, government institutions by definition exist primarily based on coercing the peaceful choices of people, representing political interest groups who use government power against others, and making decisions based on an incoherent and anti-social collectivist calculus ... the ... fact that the new "War on Terrorism" is being used ... to justify ... systematic government surveillance and potential trampling on the Bill of Rights ... should be enough to give any libertarian pause.
    Related Topics: Afghanistan, Ron Paul
    Obama Speaks with Forked Tongue on Surveillance, by Sheldon Richman, 11 Jun 2013
    Compares contradictory claims by Obama and his administration regarding Edward Snowden's disclosures of NSA monitoring, discusses the obstacles of challenging the surveillance in court and the lack of oversight
    The administration should not be allowed to get away with the specious claim that telling its secrets to a few privileged members of Congress is equivalent to informing the people ... It's merely one branch of government telling some people in another branch. Calling those politicians "our representatives" is highly misleading. In what sense do they actually represent us? ... Congressional oversight is worse than useless; it's a myth, especially when one chamber is controlled by the president's party and the other chamber's majority embraces big government as long as it carries a "national security" label.
    Obesity Not a Government Problem, by Charley Reese, 19 Jun 2006
    Argues that although humans, including children, have become less active than our ancestors and thus more prone to be obese, it is not government's role to interfere with people's eating habits
    Anybody who doubts that many Americans have a problem with obesity need only visit an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant. Most of the customers fill their chairs and then some. Nevertheless, it is not a government problem. Freedom means you can have a lot to lose if you want to, and it's nobody's beeswax ... Healthy living is always a personal decision, and government, though it itches to control every aspect of our lives, should stay out of it. For one thing, you can't compel people to live healthy lives, nor should anyone desire to do so.
    Related Topics: Children, Life Extension
    Objectivism and the State: An Open Letter to Ayn Rand, by Roy A. Childs, Jr., The Rational Individualist, Aug 1969
    Published by the Society for Rational Individualism (later merged into the Society for Individual Liberty); responds to five of Rand's arguments in her essay "The Nature of Government"
    Although I ... think that [your definition of government] is epistemologically mistaken ..., I shall accept it for the purpose of this critique. One of the major characteristics of your conception of government is that it holds a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force in a given geographical area. Now, there are only two possible kinds of monopolies: a coercive monopoly, which initiates force to keep its monopoly, or a non-coercive monopoly, which is always open to competition. In an Objectivist society, the government is not open to competition, and hence is a coercive monopoly.
    On Conscription [PDF], by Daniel Webster, 9 Dec 1814
    Condensed from speech before the U.S. House of Representatives, given in opposition to bill proposing conscription during the War of 1812, reprinted in Left and Right in 1965, during the Vietnam War
    It is [the] pleasing duty [of the supporters of the measures before us] to free us of the delusion, which we have fondly cherished, that we are the subjects of a mild, free and limited Government, and to demonstrate by a regular chain of premises and conclusions, that Government possesses over us a power more tyrannical, more arbitrary, more dangerous, more allied to blood and murder, more full of every form of mischief, more productive of every sort and degree of misery, than has been exercised by any civilized Government in modern times.
    One Moral Standard for All, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 15 Nov 2013
    Postulates that most nonlibertarians agree that initiation of force is wrong, but they have to be shown that the same moral standard should hold for government personnel as for private individuals
    For example, if I would properly be recognized as an armed robber were I to threaten my neighbors into giving me a percentage of their incomes so that I might feed the hungry, house the homeless, and provide pensions for the retired, why aren't government officials similarly recognized? ... [T]he nonlibertarian will respond that government officials were duly elected by the people according to the Constitution ... Thus they may do what is prohibited to you and me ... If you and I admittedly have no right to tax and regulate others, how could we delegate a nonexistent right to someone else through an election?
    On Equality and Inequality, by Ludwig von Mises, Modern Age, 1961
    Examines the premise that "all men are created equal" and some possible as well as purported conclusions
    [T]he arguments advanced in favor of representative government by the liberals of the 19th century—the ... champions of laissez-faire— ... are based upon the fact, most lucidly exposed by David Hume, that those at the helm are always a small minority as against the vast majority of those subject to their orders. In this sense every system of government is minority rule and as such can last only as long as it is supported by the belief of those ruled that it is better for themselves to be loyal to the men in office than to try to supplant them by others ready to apply different methods of administration.
    On the Overproduction and Underconsumption Fallacies [PDF], by James Mill, George Reisman (editor, introduction), Commerce Defended, 1808
    Excerpts from chapters VI "Consumption" and VII "Of the National Debt", edited and with introduction by Reisman (in Sep 2006)
    One of the most powerful restraints upon the prodigal inclinations of governments, is the condemnation with which expence ... is ... viewed by the people. But ... should the disposition of government to spend become heated by an opinion that it is right to spend, and should this be still farther inflamed by the assurance that it will by the people also be deemed right in their government to expend, no bounds would then be set to the consumption of the annual produce. Such a delusion could not certainly last long: but even its partial operation ... might be productive of the most baneful consequences.
    Original Intent, by Charley Reese, 3 Jun 2006
    Considers how disturbed the Founding Fathers would be if they were to visit the United States in the early 21st century, given various substantive and detrimental changes in the government as devised by the Constitution
    What would disturb [the Founding Fathers] is how fond Americans have become of government ... The Founding Fathers were suspicious of government and wary of it. They recognized that government is always the greatest threat to liberty. George Washington likened government to fire—"a dangerous servant and a fearful master." The whole purpose of the Constitution they devised was to keep the government divided and weak. First, they expected the sovereign states to act as a brake against any attempt by the federal government to usurp their powers as defined by the Constitution.
    Page Scandal: Political Corruption Precedes Sexual Corruption, by Sheldon Richman, 25 Oct 2006
    Comments on the U.S. Congress page program, recommending its immediate abolition, and the scandal involving Mark Foley
    [N]early all congressmen teach pages that raw government power is a good thing. In a society that thinks of itself as free, this is intolerable ... [Power] violates individual freedom. The more power the government has, the less freedom the people have. But the pages are misled into believing otherwise ... One former page said, "There's something that really feels good about getting to hang out with people who are powerful and well-known." I fear for this young man. Not only will he be vulnerable to sexual exploitation; he probably won't object when government violates his rights.
    Related Topics: Individual Liberty, Politics
    Paper Money and the Constitution, by Rick Lynch, Freedom Daily, Jan 2009
    Examines the historical period of the Articles of Confederation and how it led to controls on the issuance of paper money in the U.S. Constitution
    The Framers saw the entire history of government for what it was: one long, sad saga in which those in power—be they the king, aristocrat, or oligarch, the many, the few, or the one—trampled the rights of those without power. Human beings being what we are, the oppression would take a multitude of forms, but the oppression of property is almost always the first and favorite of oppressions ... History, political theory, and the contemporaneous paper-money crisis all demonstrated that a government of the people would be no different from governments throughout history.
    Parity: Bureaucratic Tyranny by Moral Fraud, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Sep 1999
    Discusses the consequences of establishing "parity" for agricultural prices, in the name of "fairness", as was done by the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 (and subsequent legislation)
    The word "fairness" sometimes has the same mesmerizing effect upon [people] that the phrase "divine right" had a few centuries ago. Modern morality is based on "push-button fairness": the government announces a new regulation, enforcers twist arms, and—voilà!—fairness triumphs. The vast expansion of government power ... has stemmed in part from the presumed moral superiority of the government over the private sector; the presumed moral superiority of government commands over private voluntary agreements; and the presumed moral superiority of politicians and bureaucrats over private citizens.
    Pathetic Arguments for Foreign Intervention, by Sheldon Richman, 25 Jan 2008
    Criticizes comments made by The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens about Ron Paul's call for a full U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East
    Occasionally government has protected rights, but far more often it has usurped them. As for protecting international trade, why assume only a government can do that? ... What happens when the interests of a government that has assumed the role as protector of world trade collide with the interests of the people in whose name it acts or some other people? That is not a hypothetical question. It happens every day. Governments seize their revenue by force and are essentially unaccountable. Any resemblance between their interests and the interests of ordinary people is largely coincidental.
    Patrick Henry: Enemy of the State, by Ryan McMaken, 2 Dec 2003
    After brief mention of Henry's more well-known speech, discusses his role and oratory in the Constitutional ratification debates
    [Those] who had already tasted the perks of consolidated government ... hid this behind a façade of "economic prosperity," but Patrick Henry contended that such things were not the business of governments: "You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and prosperous people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the end of your government." For when government gives free men the power to secure their own rights, economic prosperity can only follow. But when men of government come to claiming the need to tax to increase your liberty and prosperity, beware.
    Patriotism along the Southern Border, Part 1, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Dec 1998
    Discusses patriotism, loyalty to a country, and treason, in the historical context of Texas between 1821 (as a territory of Mexico), 1836 (when it became an independent republic—not recognized by Mexico) and 1846-48 (the Mexican-American War)
    [D]idn't the Mexican government have the legitimate authority to send troops anywhere in Mexico? Doesn't the U.S. government today claim the power to send U.S. troops to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California? ... Well, weren't [the Texas revolutionaries] simply claiming that the government did not have the legitimate authority to tax its citizens, regulate their peaceful activity, close the borders to immigration, and have a standing army in their midst? Isn't that what English colonists considered patriotism (and what English authorities considered treason) in 1776?
    Persuasion Power Point #202: Are Government Failures the Result of the Wrong People Running It?, by Michael Cloud, The Liberator Online, 11 May 2006
    Examines the excuses given for the failure of government programs and whether the outcomes would be different if the "right" people were in charge
    [Big] Government programs repeatedly fail. Why? Their defenders respond ... because the wrong people are in charge ... What if it's the nature of government itself that causes the problems? What if it's a design characteristic of government itself that causes the problems—and makes them unavoidable and unfixable? ... There are 5 Iron Laws of Big Government: I. Big Government Programs Don't Work. II. [They] often make things worse for the very people they're intended to help. III. [They] create new problems. IV. [They] are costly and wasteful. V. Big Government Programs divert money and energy from positive, productive uses.
    Related Topic: Ludwig von Mises
    Piercing through Myths, Lies, and Stupidity, by George Leef, Freedom Daily, Aug 2006
    Review of Stossel's Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity (2006)
    In another chapter, Stossel takes on the myths, lies, and stupidity that prop up Monster Government. "Growing up," he writes, "I believed that government was a good thing, like Mommy and Daddy. It helped and protected us. It took me a while to understand that government could become too much of a good thing; patronizing, overprotective, and destructive of our liberty.: After years of looking at government with cold rationality, observing actual results rather than stated intentions, Stossel has concluded that it's mostly a gigantic rip-off. Republicans and Democrats take an equal pounding.
    The Poison Called Nationalism, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 6 Feb 2015
    Discusses nationalism as exhibited by those who defend sniper Chris Kyle as a hero (in response to the earlier article "The American Sniper Was No Hero", 28 Jan 2015)
    [N]ationalists 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.
    Related Topics: Iraq War, Marriage, United States
    The Pope Dabbles in Economics, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 20 Dec 2013
    Examines the economic premises of Pope Francis' 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, explaining where the Pope has a point and where he is wrong
    People are excluded and treated unequally to the extent that governments prevent them from breaking away from traditional (and, in the present context, oppressive) wage employment and setting out on their own or in cooperative ventures with peers. The prospect of self-employment, particularly among low-income people with government schooling, is next to impossible due to taxation, product regulation, occupational licensing, zoning ..., minimum-wage laws, "intellectual property," and more. Government has myriad ways to make what's been called a comfortable subsistence much more expensive.
    Related Topics: Corporatism, Free Market, The State
    Power to the Individual, Not to the State, by Sheldon Richman, 29 Apr 2015
    Discusses the various arguments and counter-arguments between progressives and radicals due to the former's movement to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour
    A progressive laments the condition of working people and proposes to further empower the government. A radical laments the condition of working people and proposes to empower individuals by diminishing the power of government. Of course government power and individual power differ in kind: government power is the legal authority to compel peaceable people through threats of violence ... 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)?
    Preface, by Murray N. Rothbard, Gold, Peace, and Prosperity: The Birth of a New Currency, 1981
    Preface to Ron Paul's Gold, Peace, and Prosperity
    The government has systematically eroded and invaded property rights, has piled on ever higher taxes, ever more onerous regulations, and, most sinister because most hidden, has eroded the value of the dollar and of all our savings through inflation ... Inflation ... is caused by the government's continual creation of new money, by what amounts to ... legalized counterfeiting ... In the case of government, the power to counterfeit means that government's debts can be paid without levying taxes, that government spending can increase, and that political allies can be purchased and maintained.
    Presentation to The Eris Society 2000, by L. Neil Smith, 2000
    Discusses Smith's plan for prevent an extinction level event, such as the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction, including related topics such as the diffent categories of asteroids, their chemical composition and terraforming
    Now it's important—just as important as preventing another mass extinction—that the Space Patrol not be military, or governmental in nature. The power to divert an asteroid away from the Earth is the power to divert an asteroid toward the Earth. As the 20th century, with its 200 million government murders demonstrates, it's a power best kept out of government hands—otherwise, we might as well give up and let ourselves be wiped out. It would be a cleaner death than they suffered at Buchenwald, the Cambodian killing fields, or Mount Carmel [Center, Waco, Texas].
    The Primacy of Freedom, by Brian Summers, The Freeman, Feb 1988
    One of over 20 essays in the anthology Ideas on Liberty: Essays in Honor of Paul L. Poirot (1987), discussing why the freedom philosophy and economic and moral education are important
    Why—when resources are being squandered ..., when billions of people continue to suffer in abject poverty ... —why doesn't the great mass of humanity cry "Enough!" and throw off the shackles of enslaving governments? ... Government intervention in peaceful affairs—no matter at whose behest, and no matter what the excuse—is wrong ... There is further difficulty in convincing people that when government, acting as someone's agent, harms one person to benefit another, then the person who used the government for his own ends is as guilty of plundering another as if he had committed the act himself.
    The Production of Security, by Gustave de Molinari, Journal des économistes, Feb 1849
    Questions whether the provision of security to citizens should be an exception to the economic principle of free competition, delving into arguments favoring monopolistic and communistic government and concluding with a hypothetical free market example
    In order to define and delimit the function of government, it is first necessary to investigate the essence and object of society itself ... Hence ... the creation of establishments whose object is to guarantee to everyone the peaceful possession of his person and his goods. These establishments were called governments. Everywhere ... one encounters a government, so universal and urgent is the need for security provided by government. Everywhere, men resign themselves to the most extreme sacrifices rather than do without government and hence security, without realizing that in so doing, they misjudge their alternatives.
    Related Topics: Communism, Democracy, Monopoly, Society
    A Real Free Market Benefits Workers, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Nov 2006
    Discusses The State of Working America: 2006/2007, a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and arguments from both progressives and their opponents as to whether workers are losing ground in spite of increased productivity
    [H]ousing, medical insurance, higher education, and other things are increasingly expensive (thanks to government policies). And the only reason we wonder whether wages keep up with inflation is that the government inflates the money supply in the first place ... When government undertakes to regulate a market-based system, it (1) compels exchanges (for example, through eminent domain and tax transfers) and (2) forcibly interferes with voluntary exchanges. So when government taxes us to provide subsidies to business, our preferences are overthrown in favor of someone else's.
    Reason 35th Anniversary Banquet Remarks, by Robert W. Poole, Jr., 5 Nov 2003
    Remembrances of 35 years, focusing on Reason magazine and the Reason Foundation, but also contrasting the late 1960s to the early 2000s in terms of both technology and government intervention
    In 1978 [we] created Reason Foundation to research and publicize better policy ideas like privatization and deregulation. My book, Cutting Back City Hall, came out in 1980 and helped put privatization on the map. We followed up with two books on deregulation. Those ideas found a warm reception in the Reagan administration. All through the 1980s Reason magazine featured articles showing how and why markets work better than government monopoly. And in the 1990s, ... came hundreds of Reason Foundation policy studies, aimed at people in government who really want to make positive change.
    Reasoning on the Nature of Things, by Clarence B. Carson, The Freeman, Feb 1982
    Discusses how natural law doctrines were repudiated by utilitarians, why natural rights are important from an economic viewpoint, how the rights to life, liberty and property can be construed and what the author understands as the "social contract"
    Given the existence of government with its monopoly of the use of force, what is to keep it from interfering in the economic undertakings of individuals? ... Government unrestrained by the rights of people under its jurisdiction is like an automobile without brakes ... Governments without brakes ... are equally, or even more, dangerous. Property is at peril when government is unrestrained; trade is precarious; all sorts of interventions may hamper the production and distribution of goods. In a broader sense, the lives and liberties of all are in perpetual danger.
    Regime Libertarians, by Lew Rockwell, 12 Jul 2005
    Criticizes the "Iraq Exit Strategy: America's Path Forward" proposal, made by the Libertarian National Committee on 29 June 2005, and suggests the name "Regime Libertarians" for those who make that kind of proposals
    We are told that the "direct aid program will give Iraq vital assistance while giving the Iraqi people, through their government, control over the disbursement of funds." But surely the Iraqi political situation provides an excellent illustration that government and the people are separate, and not united as in some Rousseauian fantasy ... As for infrastructure, there's nothing like a government project to hold back progress. It can only crowd out private suppliers. Same with government aid to cure unemployment: it's more likely to do the opposite by preventing market adjustment.
    Rent Control, by Walter Block, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
    Defines rent control, its general effects, its effects on tenants and offers some solutions; citing supporting examples from New York City and elsewhere
    One effect of government oversight is to retard investment in residential rental units ... In most businesses, governments will place only limited controls and taxes on your enterprise. But if you entrust your money to rental housing, you must pass one additional hurdle: the rent-control authority, with its hearings, red tape, and rent ceilings ... If the government wanted to help the poor and was for some reason constrained to keep rent controls, it would do better to tightly control rents on luxury unit rentals and to eliminate rent controls on more modest dwellings—the very opposite of the present practice.
    Related Topics: New York City, Prices, Vietnam
    The Repeal of Social Security, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Nov 1995
    Argues for the outright repeal of the Social Security Act of 1935 quoting Bastiat in his advice against using the law as an "instrument of equalization"
    The attitude of the elderly is: "I put my money in and I have a right to get it back. My retirement was promised to me. The government made a contract with me and now has to honor it." All of these arguments are fallacious and specious. And deep down, the elderly know it ... Social Security was—and is—simply a tax-and-welfare scheme ... The government taxes some people. The government pays welfare to others ... Any generation has the right to form new government founded on principles of liberty and property—and the right to reject political schemes erected by their predecessors.
    The Repudiation of Bush, by Sheldon Richman, 10 Nov 2006
    Comments on the results of the November 2006 U.S. mid-term elections and on replacement of Donald Rumsfeld by Robert Gates, formerly in the George H. W. Bush administration
    Americans, sad to say, are not opposed in principle to activist government. They just don't like the appearance of incompetence ... Most people welcomed Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, an activist piece of legislation if there ever was one, and the Medicare drug program, a massive expansion of the soon-to-be-bankrupt government medical retirement plan. Why shouldn't they applaud the Democrats when the new majority begins promising expanded middle-class entitlements? ... A CNN poll found that 54 percent say government is too intrusive, but when we get down to specifics, the small-government ranks probably melt away fast.
    Revisiting a Libertarian Classic: Nock's Our Enemy, the State, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Mar 2006
    Examines some of the major themes of Nock's Our Enemy, the State (1935)
    Nock (and Oppenheimer) saw this characteristic [economic exploitation of one class by another] in all states. But it should be pointed out that Nock distinguished state from government. For him, government grows out of people's desire for freedom, security, and justice, and its interventions are negative. It is what Jefferson (whom Nock admired immensely) had in mind when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. In contrast, a state originates in conquest and intervenes positively in order to appropriate the product of honest laborers for the benefit of the privileged class.
    Ricardo in Parliament, by Edwin Cannan, The Economic Journal, Jun 1894
    Account of Ricardo's final years, as a Member of Parliament for Portarlington, discussing his actions and speeches on matters of general and economic policy; published in two parts (June and Sept. 1894 issues); quotes are from Hansard
    'Mr. Ricardo said that he conceived the duty of government to be to give the greatest possible development to industry. This they could do only by removing the obstacles which had been created. He complained therefore of government on very different grounds from [Mr. Maxwell], for his complaint was against the restrictions on trade, and other obstacles ..., which opposed the development of industry ... If government interfered, they would do mischief and no good. They had already interfered and done mischief by the poor laws. [They] would likewise violate the sacredness of property ...'
    The Right to Life Equals the Right to Possess Firearms, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, 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
    But, many people will say, in a civilized society, we have delegated our right of self-defense to the government ... Not even the most idealized vision of government has ever promised to protect each individual 24 hours a day. The most it promises is a general deterrence through police patrols and apprehension of criminals. (Leave aside the fact that the government's record of delivering on its promises is abysmal.) Simply put, the government leaves us unprotected nearly all the time. In fact, government law-enforcement personnel have no legal obligation to protect you even if they see a crime in progress.
    A scholar's scholar retires, by Donald J. Boudreaux,, 21 Jul 2015
    Discusses Higgs' retirement, highlighting his books Competition and Coercion and Crisis and Leviathan as well as his identification of "regime uncertainty"
    Bob's most famous book is his 1987 study, "Crisis and Leviathan." With a mastery of historical details, Bob explained that government's growth is fueled in part by crises—whether real, exaggerated or illusory. The other part of the fuel for government's growth is an ideology that demands government intervention during troubling times. As people's trust in markets and voluntary action weakens and as their faith in government strengthens, politicians grab more power. And when the country escapes each crisis, politicians seize credit for the salvation even when ... politicians' actions actually worsened the situation.
    Selections from Lao-tzu (Laozi): Tao Te Ching (Daode-jing), by Lǎozǐ
    Thirty-seven translated excerpts from the Dào Dé Jīng, unidentified as to chapter or source [however, the translator appears to be professor A. Charles Muller at]
    When the government is laid back
    The people are relaxed.
    When the government is nitpicking
    The people have anxiety.
    Misfortune depends upon fortune.
    Fortune conceals misfortune.
    What has a definite delimitation?
    Or abnormality?
    The normal reverts to strangeness.
    Goodness reverts to perversion. [from Chapter 58]
    Related Topics: Taxation, War
    Self-Deception about Medical Care, by Sheldon Richman, 15 Feb 2006
    Discusses comments made by Christine Cassel, a geriatric medicine specialist, arguing for public support of Medicare; pointing out that long ago people of modest means were able to obtain medical care through "lodges" (fraternal organizations)
    This may be why such people can't see government for what it is: a massive transfer machine. In the end, all government can do is move money from one person to another. Whether you think that's right or wrong, let's at least agree on what it does. Government takes from A to give to B, and it uses the threat of physical force (such as incarceration) to ensure that A will surrender whatever is demanded of him. Government looks a lot less attractive when described in those terms—which may be one reason why people such as Dr. Cassel don't want to think of it that way. It's too unpleasant.
    Related Topic: Health Care
    Selling Ideas, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., 21 Dec 2005
    Discusses the 2005 incident involving Bandow and Jack Abramoff and reminds us of previous incidents of left-vs.-right attacks (and vice versa), concluding with quotes from Mises' Liberalism (1927)
    After all, we are talking about a government that spends trillions. The whole point of hanging around Washington is to get a piece of that action ... There can never be something called "good government" that acts as a pure defender of the public interest so that no private interests ever influence its actions or decisions. That is absurd. So long as there is government, it will be corrupt, and for one reason: the business of government involves activities that, if you and I attempted them in the private sector, would land us in prison. If someone wants to root it out and expose it, we can only cheer.
    The Six Faces of the Terrorist; The One Face of Bureaucracy, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 18 Aug 2006
    Wonders how much more will Americans tolerate the searches and commands of the Transportation Security Administration agents, contrastring "public sector" security to private security and comparing the TSA to the welfare bureaucracy
    How much more of this will the American people take? ... As much as people loath the invasions of privacy and the inconvenience, and as much as people roll their eyes in amazement and frustration, so long as people grant that there are such things as suspicious behaviors and real threats—and that the government is the right party to deal with them—these humiliations will continue. And truly, how can we know when the government has gone too far? ... One method we can use to discern whether the government has gone too far is to imagine what private security officials on private property might do.
    Related Topics: Bureaucracy, Business, The State
    Socialized Medicine in a Wealthy Country, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 2 Dec 2006
    Discusses the view of socialized medicine held by left-socialists, examining the problems that existed in Soviet-controlled countries as well as current U.S. problems, and urges a "complete separation of health and state"
    The welfare state actually succeeded in driving people to adapt their life conditions to make themselves eligible. I'm quite sure that if the government were to institute a Good Samaritan Office, we would find the streets strewn with people who had been beaten and robbed. It is the nature of a government program to multiply the problem rather than solve anything ... The government has incentives to spend money. Indeed, governments win from passing money around, and that can mean making more money available rather than less, unlike in the Soviet system.
    Social Security Has to Go, by Sheldon Richman, 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
    The system over the years has taken in more than it has paid out. But the government "borrows" the surplus to spend on other things. That money is consumed too. The Social Security "trust fund" has nothing in it but bonds that need not be repaid and that can only be paid by additional taxation. This whole business is phony from top to bottom. How can the government borrow from itself? It simply moves money from one pocket to another ... If Social Security, the crown jewel of the American welfare state, is seen to be rotted with fraud to the very core, what other conclusions might we Americans draw about our government?
    Related Topics: Social Security Tax, Wages
    Sowell and Spying, by William L. Anderson, 9 Feb 2006
    Criticizes Sowell for his 7 Feb 2006 column titled "Point of no return" in which he defended the George W. Bush administration's warrantless domestic phone surveillance program on utilitarian grounds
    One wishes that the FBI or other government authorities would be able to pick out only guilty people when they "investigate" potential terrorists or other criminals. However, we know all too well that the government's track record is one in which the innocent are swept up with the guilty. Furthermore, we have found that the government finds it much easier to go after innocent people, since they are less likely to resist or have the resources to resist government attacks ... Government is based on coercion and abuse and anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand the real nature of the state.
    Related Topics: Jeremy Bentham, Thomas Sowell
    Speaking to Nonlibertarians, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 11 Jul 2014
    Suggests an approach by which libertarians can try to persuade others of the undesirability of government-provided services and the benefits of free markets
    We all come into a world full of national governments that present themselves as providers of a social safety net, guarantors of products and services, protectors of workers, defenders of the national borders, and dispensers of benefits ... The officials who run government agencies have no money at risk, and the people (as taxpayers) have no choice but to put up with them ... [G]overnment—because it operates through force and faces no market test from customers free to say no—offers inferior services even when they would be perfectly legitimate if offered privately.
    Spencer, Herbert (1820-1903), by George H. Smith, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    Collectively titled "The Proper Sphere of Government," these [12 letters] address a central problem of political philosophy, viz: "Is there any boundary to the interference of government? and, if so, what is that boundary?" Spencer responded with the classical Lockean doctrine that the fundamental purpose of government was "to defend the natural rights of man—to protect person and property—to prevent the aggressions of the powerful upon the weak—in a word, to administer justice." He contrasts this conception with the common belief that the purpose of government is to promote the "general good."
    The State in the Dock, by Lew Rockwell, 26 May 2006
    Reflects on the then ongoing trial of Saddam Hussein (2004-2006) and wonders what would happen if other heads of state, including George W. Bush, were put on trial
    The main impetus behind government-provided protection services is precisely to protect the government. There is nothing necessarily scandalous about this. It is what governments do ... The essence of government is the right to obey a different set of laws from that which prevails in the rest of society. What we call the rule of law is really the rule of two laws: one for the state and one for everyone else ... So this raises many questions. Under what law should the heads of governments be tried? If they are tried according to everyday moral law, they would all be in big trouble.
    Related Topics: George W. Bush, Iraq, The State
    Stiglitz is Wrong on Government, by Michael S. Rozeff, Mises Daily, 6 Sep 2006
    Criticizes the 1986 Bruce C. Greenwald and Joseph E. Stiglitz paper "Externalities in Economies with Imperfect Information and Incomplete Markets", which posits that certain government interventions "can make everyone better off"
    Real government is not an ongoing type of firm created and managed by the private sector to iron out certain problems. If it were, it would not be marked by the extensive power that it has to impose measures. It would not be marked by life and death debates over its every action. It would not be marked by divisions between one part of it and another and between it and society. It would not be marked by what seems to be its creation of conflicts and externalities that rive society. It would hardly be the destroyer of money or of wealth or the inefficient manager of every activity that it touches.
    Stop-and-Frisk: How Government Creates Problems, Then Makes Them Worse, by Sheldon Richman, 14 Aug 2013
    Considers two recent decisions, from the Justice Department and from a Federal judge, that attempt to ameliorate bad policies enacted in the past, without getting to the root of the problems
    [W]hen government sets out to solve a problem it created, things get much worse ... The problems purportedly addressed by stop-and-frisk and mandatory minimums are of the government's own making ... In a free society, government has no business telling us what we can and can't ingest or inject. Before drug prohibition, America had no drug problem. It's prohibition that created the problem, just as alcohol prohibition gave America organized crime on a large scale ... [W]hen government tries to ban drugs, it creates bigger problems by putting drugs in the streets and gangs in control.
    Stop Worrying about the Election, by Isaac M. Morehouse, Mises Daily, 3 Oct 2008
    Illustrates individual freedom using the film The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and events in communist Poland
    When the Communist authorities finally announced that they were relinquishing their power the reason they gave was that the Polish people had become "ungovernable." ... Keep this in mind as America's government changes with each election. Remember this when you see government expanding its reach into your life. Rather than looking to political leaders to protect or expand our freedom we should cultivate the seeds of freedom ... and inspire others to do the same. Nothing government can do can take away our freedom; and if we are a people who are truly free, the government will have to follow.
    Related Topics: Individual Liberty, Poland
    Subjugating Ourselves, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 7 May 2010
    Examines key passages from La Boetie's Discourse on Voluntary Servitude and criticizes newspaper editorial writers (with a recent example) for preaching to the people to acquiesce and submit to government
    The government's schools are also instrumental in cultivating the subject mentality in children. And let's not forget the continuing "need" for adult "education" to reinforce the propriety of subordination to political authority ... [E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post] wrote this:
    Ever heard the one about the guy who hated government until a deregulated Wall Street crashed, an oil spill devastated the Gulf of Mexico, a coal mine collapsed, and some good police work stopped a terrorist attack? ...
    ... In fact, government had a heavy hand in every one of those things.
    The Supreme Court Repeals the Constitution, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Sep 2005
    Discusses the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London (2005), with emphasis on the dissenting opinions of O'Connor and Thomas
    [T]he majority held that "public use" needn't mean public use. It may mean any intended public benefit the government chooses. Quoting a 1984 case, Justice John Paul Stevens declared, the "Court long ago rejected any literal requirement ..." If the Court can liberate itself from any "literal requirement" when reading the Takings Clause, it can liberate itself from any literal requirement when reading any other part of the Constitution. But that means we can never know how the Court will claim to understand the Framers' limits on government power. Which means: there are no limits on government power.
    The Surveillance State Lives, by Sheldon Richman, 21 Jan 2014
    Examines Obama's 17 Jan 2014 speech "Remarks by the President on Review of Signals Intelligence" announcing some "reforms" to surveillance programs
    To be sure, Obama is clever. He says,
    Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: Trust us, we won't abuse the data we collect. For history has too many examples when that trust has been breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends on the law to constrain those in power.
    But "the law" can't constrain those in power, because the law is always interpreted and enforced—or not enforced—by those very people in power. Ultimately, government officials define their own powers.
    TANSTAAFL, There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, by David R. Henderson, 3 Mar 2014
    Explains the two meanings of TANSTAAFL: the scarcity of economic resources (and the need for tradeoffs) and the expectation of some kind of reciprocity when something is offered for "free"
    Many of us forget that scarcity, and the resulting necessity to make tradeoffs, apply not only to individuals and businesses, but also to government. If the government decides to spend more on war, it will have less to spend on health care or on something else. If it decides to spend more on war and not cut spending on anything else, then it will increase the budget deficit or reduce the budget surplus ... Because there are tradeoffs in government as well, a very good question to ask a politician who wants the government to spend more on a particular program is: "What do you want the government to spend less on?"
    Taoism in Ancient China, by Murray N. Rothbard, Economic Thought Before Adam Smith, 1995
    Chapter 1, section 1.10; discusses the three schools of political philosophy and then concentrates on the Daoists, covering Lǎozǐ (Lao Tzu), Zhuāng Zhōu (Chuang Tzu), Bào (Pao) Jìngyán and the historian Sīmǎ Qiān (Ch'ien)
    The history of government is the history of violence, of the strong plundering the weak. Wicked tyrants engage in orgies of violence; being rulers they 'could give free rein to all desires.' Furthermore, the government's institutionalization of violence meant that the petty disorders of daily life would be greatly intensified and expanded on a much larger scale ... To the common charge that he has overlooked good and benevolent rulers, Pao replied that the government itself is a violent exploitation of the weak by the strong ...[T]he object of government is not to benefit the people ...
    Tax Day, by Murray N. Rothbard, The Libertarian, 15 Apr 1969
    Editorial discussing taxation as robbery, government as a gang of thieves and dedicating the issue to those engaged in some form of tax rebellion
    The first great lesson to learn about taxation is that taxation is simply robbery ... Robbery is the taking of a man's property by the use of violence or the threat thereof, and therefore without the victim's consent ... But if taxation is robbery, then it follows as the night the day that those people who engage in, and live off, robbery are a gang of thieves. Hence the government is a group of thieves, and deserves, morally, aesthetically, and philosophically, to be treated exactly as a group of less socially respectable ruffians would be treated.
    Related Topic: Taxation
    Test your freedom IQ, The Orange County Register, 18 Jun 2006
    20 multiple-choice questions covering the role of government, free enterprise, taxes, property rights, free speech, religion, civil liberties, transportation, war and foreign policy, the Nanny State, gun ownership, education and immigration
    1. A congressman said recently, "Government can be a force for good in your life." Do you:
    a) Agree? You believe ... government generally spends your money better than you do in these "big issue" areas.
    b) Feel confused, because you've never really thought about the question, What is the proper role of government in my life?
    c) Disagree? Government's role should be limited, and individuals should be left on their own to be responsible and to seek their dreams and achievements for themselves and their families, which will lead to the greatest good in a free society.
    Thinking about Foreign Policy, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Dec 2006
    Analyzes why most people, even libertarians, tend to think about foreign policy as if it were decided upon by "the people" or at least with their interests in mind, rather than the "ruling elite" and its desire "to preserve and augment its own power"
    The dangerous temptation is to see the state as an agency that has been established primarily to protect life, liberty, and property. This idea comes from the various social-contract theories which have imagined that a group of people long ago decided that the state of nature was inadequate and formed a government ... But this was never proffered as a historical event, and one is hard-pressed to find a government that was ... established that way. Governments were initially formed through conquest, and modern governments, even those in democratic countries, can be traced back to earlier conquests.
    Thomas Chalmers and the Poor Laws, by Clifford F. Thies, The Freeman, Dec 1993
    Biographical essay on Scottish minister Thomas Chalmers focusing on his arguments for reforming Poor Laws and his objections to providing relief to the "undeserving poor", and a concluding section on current poverty relief
    His method was ... involving family and community in the fight against poverty ... Chalmers' efforts to reform the poor laws went hand in hand with his opposition to the Corn Laws, which restricted international trade in order to "protect" domestic agriculture; to grants of legal monopoly to industry; to prohibitions against free unions; and, to the heavy burden of taxation upon the laboring classes. In all these cases, he saw government interferences with the workings of a free society—including both its competitive and cooperative spheres as disrupting the natural, or even the divine order of things.
    Related Topic: Scotland
    Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862), by Jeff Riggenbach, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    Thoreau begins his famous essay by inquiring into the nature and justification of the state.
    I heartily accept the motto,—"That government is best which governs least" ... Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,—"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.
    In the interim, Thoreau argued, ... we should live peaceably with the state—unless and until it adopts policies that require us to participate in or assist with the perpetration of injustice.
    Tocqueville, Alexis de (1805-1859), by Jason Kuznicki, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    [Tocqueville] mistrusted both aristocracy and centralized government, and he stressed the limits of any government's ability to enact social change ... [He] mistrusted great concentrations of wealth. He feared the undue influence that extraordinary wealth could exert on governments, and he held that concentrated wealth was one of the chief evils produced by a government that grew beyond its proper bounds. Without unfair government privilege, [he] thought, competition among individuals and ... ordinary life would exert a broadly leveling influence, enriching the poor and reining in the wealthy.
    The Top 25 Liberty Songs, by Bill Winter, Libertarian Party News, Aug 2001
    List of 25 "Liberty's Best Songs" chosen from over 200 suggestions, each with a short summary and highlighted lyrics, and a supplementary list of 25 runners-up
    The Rainmakers are willing to tackle the really tough issues—free government cheese! Actually, this is a (semi)-serious song about the spirit-sapping effects of government welfare. The lyrics say: "Give a man a free house and he'll bust out the windows / Put his family on food stamps, now he's a big spender / No food on the table and the bills ain't paid / 'Cause he spent it on cigarettes and P.G.A. [Pure Grain Alcohol] / They'll turn us all into beggars 'cause they're easier to please / They're feeding our people that Government Cheese ... / I ain't gonna eat no Government Cheese."
    Trade Restrictions Show Hypocrisy, by Sheldon Richman, 12 Sep 2003
    Discusses how U.S. and European agricultural tariffs and quotas, established at the behest of wealthy farmers in those countries, harm farmers in the developing world as well as others in the developed nations
    The U.S. government incessantly proclaims its desire to help the world’s poor. Empty words. Sure, the politicians force the suffering American taxpayers to provide foreign aid to the developing countries' governments. But what's good for a government is usually not good for those who live under it. Meanwhile, the people of those nations are held down by a constellation of U.S. (and European) tariffs and quotas that stifle their ability to improve their own conditions. Once again government thwarts social cooperation, which is the essence of the division of labor and economic exchange.
    Related Topics: Brazil, Farming, Free trade
    Treating People Like Garbage, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 4 Oct 2013
    Prompted by the "closing" of the U.S. government during Oct 2013, examines two examples of how the state behaves towards people: an Iraq war veteran and his family, and the genocide of Bengalis in March 1971, with the support of Nixon and Kissinger
    The government is so entwined in our lives that some innocent people are hurt by the partial shutdown. Policies have consequences, creating perverse incentives and dependencies. Government intervention blocks routes out of poverty, and in self-defense, the ruling elite ameliorates some of the worst effects with handouts. If the handouts are suddenly yanked while the barriers stay in place, hardship will result ... Government equals centralization, and centralization means that bad ideas harm far more people than would be harmed under decentralized governance.
    Treating Us like Children, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Nov 1998
    Comments on an amendment to an appropriations bill that would outlaw Internet gambling, overwhelmingly approved by the Republican-controlled Senate, and discusses the "democratic paternalism" evinced by this action
    The position that government can restrict the peaceful activities of adults in order to protect children includes an objectionable view of adults as well. Implicit in that view is that adults are children. An underlying principle of monarchy and other forms of autocracy is that a society is like a family. The autocrat is the father, or head of the family, and the people are his children. That metaphor has arisen many times in the political history of the world. John Locke's first Treatise of Government was a response to Sir Robert Filmer, who held the paternal theory of the monarchical state.
    Trivial Dispute: Obama versus the Interventionists, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 30 May 2014
    Examines Barack Obama's speech at the 2014 West Point graduation and points out the scant differences between him and those advocating military intervention, in arguments for continued U.S. meddling in other countries' affairs
    Licensing the U.S. government to police the world—Obama calls it "leadership" and "American exceptionalism"—is a surefire path to disaster, even if it means only enlisting local proxies to do the dirty work. History demonstrates this. The government will always keep secrets about its activities abroad, and that secrecy will shroud from public view inevitable operations to benefit special interests—the military-industrial complex would abhor nonintervention—and to support brutal and corrupt regimes that are useful to the policy elite’s objectives. Government simply cannot be trusted with such power.
    Try This On Your Friends [PDF], by F. A. Harper, Faith and Freedom, Jan 1955
    Poses a riddle about the extent to which government is needed
    Do you enjoy riddles? ... To what extent should politicians be enthroned to rule affairs in our daily lives? What should be the proper domain of political rulership—that is, government? ... Here we see the political paradox I would pose: When society is viewed in terms of the two pure patterns in a moral sense—good and evil—we find that political rulership becomes either totally unnecessary or totally ineffective. As people in society progress toward "good," government becomes less and less necessary. As people in society progress toward "evil," government becomes less and less effective.
    Related Topics: Ethics, Society
    Tullock, Gordon (1922- ), by Paul Dragos Aligica, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    [Tullock] had a decisive contribution in destroying the idea that we can expect government to be a benevolent mechanism that can be used to remedy market failures ... State intervention, like the market, he maintained, should respond to the preferences of individual persons. If the market does not provide perfect responses, neither does the state ... His conclusions pointed toward the desirability of the division of government into small jurisdictions and "a sizeable reduction in the total amount of activities attempted by the governmental apparatus," ...
    Related Topic: Gordon Tullock
    Two Kinds of Income Inequality, by Sheldon Richman, 22 Jan 2015
    Differentiates between market (or inherent) and political-economic inequalities and recommends elimination of legislation enforcing the latter, such as intellectual property laws, regulations and licensing
    The question is whether government needs to do something about this—or whether government needs to undo many things ... [P]olitical-economic inequality ... is the inequality fostered through the political system. Since government's distinctive feature is its claimed authority to use force aggressively (as opposed to defensively), this second sort of inequality is produced by violence, which on its face should make it abhorrent ... [S]ince the days of John Jacob Astor, ... [g]overnment was little more than the executive committee of leading manufacturers, planters, and merchants ...
    Related Topics: Economic Barriers, Free Market
    The Ultimate Tax Cut, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Dec 2007
    Explains how tax cuts promised by political candidates are fraudulent, since the government expenditures still have to be paid somehow, either by taxation or through monetary inflation, and asks a fundamental question regarding the role of government
    [T]he income tax has converted the relationship between government and citizen into one akin to parent and child ... Americans must ask themselves a fundamentally important question: What should be the role of government in a free society? Should its role include taking money from one group of people by force (i.e., taxation) in order to give it to another group of people (i.e., provide welfare)? Should its role include the maintenance of an enormous military-industrial empire that serves as an international policeman and welfare-provider for the world?
    Related Topics: Business, Inflation, Taxation
    An Unstimulating Idea, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 25 Jan 2008
    Examines the economic "stimulus" proposals being made by "everyone and his uncle" during the 2008 United States elections
    [G]overnment debt doesn't create wealth; it only transfers it ... If the government increases some people's ability to spend by decreasing [others'], where's the stimulus? ... The most objectionable side ... 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 ... If the government tries to "run the economy" it has to run us.
    Related Topics: Free Market, No Free Lunch
    The U.S. Base on Diego Garcia: An Overlooked Atrocity, by Sheldon Richman, 4 Jun 2013
    Describes the disheartening and shameful story of 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
    The largest criminal organizations in the world are governments. The bigger they are, the more capable of perpetrating atrocities. Not only do they obtain great wealth through compulsion (taxation), they also have an ideological mystique that permits them uniquely to get away with murder, torture, and theft. The U.S. government is no exception. This is demonstrated by, among many other things, the atomic bombings of noncombatants in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World II. But let's examine a lesser-known case, one we might know nothing about were it not for David Vine ...
    Vernon L. Smith (1927- ), The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, 2008
    Biographical entry, including list of selected works
    Smith pointed out that these examples contradict the myth that a central function of government is to "solve" the free-rider problem in the private provision of public goods. In fact, he noted, the cattle-ranching example showed the reverse: private entities solved the public-good problem, and when governments came along and provided protection paid for by the taxpayers, cattle ranchers were quite happy to have the general taxpayer bear the cost of protecting their cattle. Smith also noted [that] Ellickson showed that private negotiations and sanctions worked to handle knotty problems without government intervention.
    Related Topic: Vernon L. Smith
    Vices Are Not Crimes: A Vindication of Moral Liberty, by Lysander Spooner, 1875
    Contrasts crimes and vices, discussing the need to legislate or take other governmental action against the former but not the latter, countering several potential arguments in favor of vice legislation, in particular laws regarding spirituous liquors
    It is now obvious, from the reasons already given, that government would be utterly impracticable, if it were to take cognizance of vices and punish them as crimes. Every human being has his or her vices. Nearly all men have a great many. And they are of all kinds; physiological, mental, emotional; religious, social, commercial, industrial, economical, &c., &c. If government is to take cognizance of any of these vices, and punish them as crimes, then, to be consistent, it must take cognizance of all, and punish all impartially. The consequence would be, that everybody would be in prison for his of her vices.
    Voting Is No Sin [PDF], by R. W. Bradford, Liberty, Nov 1996
    Bill Bradford's response to Wendy McElroy's "Why I Would Not Vote Against Hitler" essay, published in Liberty, May 1996
    Suppose, for example, ... that your use of public streets leads your neighbors to believe the state is morally legitimate. Must you then stop using the roads? As a matter of fact, many people do believe that if you use the streets, or sidewalks, or government schools, or postal service, or any other state-owned or state-controlled entity, you confer legitimacy on our massively coercive government ... So what action can one take to reduce the power of government and increase human liberty? To answer that question, we must remember that government power rests on the opinions of our fellow human beings.
    Related Topics: Wendy McElroy, The State, Voting
    Vouchers or School Choice?, by Sheldon Richman, 12 Nov 2007
    Examines the vote in Utah that refused ratification of a bill on school vouchers, and explains how only entrepreneurs, free from government interference, can provide real choice and innovation in education
    Government must not be allowed to interfere in transactions between consenting education providers and parents ... When the government dominates education, entrepreneurship is all but ruled out. The demand for alternative schools is suppressed when government provides apparently free schools ... Thus government schools inhibit true education reform ... Education liberated from government wouldn't only be more efficient. It would also be more in keeping with a free society. Where did the people inspired by the Declaration of Independence ever get the dangerous idea that government should teach their children?
    Warfare/Welfare/Corporate State: All of a Piece, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 24 Jan 2014
    Dissects article by Princeton professor Sean Wilentz criticizing Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange due to their libertarian sympathies
    Employing a dubious logic, [Wilentz] apparently reasons thusly: We have a government worthy of support because of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and protection from "our enemies." Leaks which reveal that this government spies on us indiscriminately erode confidence in that government and, by implication, all those good things. Therefore, people with apparently libertarian motives who leak that information are to be reviled ... He claims, without evidence, that the government is worthy of allegiance and is not "an imperial power, drunk on its hegemonic ambitions."
    Warfare-Welfare in Yugoslavia, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Jun 1999
    Criticizes U.S. involvement in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) during the Kosovo War, viewing it as continuation of the American warfare-welfare empire that stretches back to U.S. entry in World War I
    The issue is not whether a foreign dictator mistreats his own citizens. Dictators have done that throughout history ... Whether to revolt against the tyranny of one's own government rightfully rests with the people who are suffering under that tyranny. Ultimately, they, not some foreign government, have to decide whether the oppression under which they suffer is worth the risk of armed conflict against their own government ... After all, where does all this stop? Do all governments have the right to militarily intervene to remedy the tyrannical acts of other governments?
    War Is Peace and Other Things the Government Wants You to Believe [PDF], by Sheldon Richman, 8 Jun 2008
    Transcript of speech given at The Future of Freedom Foundation's 2008 conference, “Restoring the Republic: Foreign Policy & Civil Liberties”, including audience questions
    [T]he people of any country protect the government ... [A]nytime [the U.S. Government] believes it or its interests are threatened ..., it's conscripting our money to protect it and what it sees as its interests ... [S]ometimes it actually conscripts our bodies, our persons ... Put that way, we don't owe it any gratitude, do we? ... [N]ot only does it not protect us in this ... narrow sense ...; it doesn't because it's too busy endangering us. It's too busy meddling around the world, creating dangers to us. Well, how does that fit with the story that the government protects us?
    The War the Government Cannot Win, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., 1 May 2007
    Discusses how government cannnot win the war on terror because economic law is more powerful than the state; talk given at the Wisconsin Forum in Milwaukee
    Ludwig von Mises said that the great accomplishment of economists was to draw attention to the extreme limits on the power of government. His point was not merely that government should be limited, but that it is limited by the very structure of reality. It cannot make all people rich by its own initiative. It cannot provide universal housing, literacy, and health. It cannot raise wages across the board ... Those who seek to accomplish economic ends such as these are choosing the wrong means. That is because there is something more powerful than government: namely economic law.
    Washington Logic, by Sheldon Richman, 22 Sep 2006
    Comments on the perverted logic used in Washington politics, as evidenced by lobbying for and against import tariffs
    Tariff suspensions of course would be impossible if there were no tariffs to suspend—which is how it should be. But a no-tariff policy would deprive congressmen of power. The authority to grant selective tariff suspensions is undoubtedly a good source of campaign donations ... Some crusader for good government will wave the clipping as he implores Congress to further restrict political donations and spending lest more tariff suspensions be purchased in smoke-filled rooms. Once again the point will be missed: special interests would have nothing to buy if government had nothing to sell.
    Was the Constitution Really Meant to Constrain the Government?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 8 Aug 2008
    Explains how attempting to revert to the "original meaning" of the Constitution or appealing to the writings of the framers is not a shortcut leading to a free society
    Conspicuously missing from this list of purposes is: to constrain the powers of government. How did we overlook this? One comeback is that restraining government is implicit in the references to justice and liberty. In my view, justice and liberty certainly require limitations on the power to inflict violence. But there are other notions of justice and liberty. Advocates of expansive government power also see themselves as champions of justice and liberty. How do we know that the language in the Constitution doesn't mirror these competing notions? There was a good deal of government intervention in the states back then.
    We Need Freedom, Not School Standards, by Sheldon Richman, Jun 1996
    Compares the levels of education of Americans before and after 1840, when Horace Mann and others architected "public schools" and various levels of government got involved in education
    The nation's governors recently affirmed their intention to hold the children of their states to high standards ... That is the essence of the standards movement. Some level of government will dictate to children (and their parents) what's expected of them. There may be debate over which level of government should do the dictating but not over whether some government should be doing it. 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.
    We Need Real Free Trade Now, by Sheldon Richman, 4 Feb 2004
    Responds to an article by Paul Craig Roberts and Senator Charles Schumer arguing that free trade is no longer tenable due to outsourcing of jobs to Asian countries made possible by the "easy mobility of software and data"
    We can all sympathize with people who suddenly need to find new jobs or learn new skills ... Our new era requires immediate and full deregulation of the economy, repeal of taxes, cuts in government spending, and the institution of sound market-based money (that is, abolition of the Federal Reserve). The threat of frivolous lawsuits against business must also be ended. All government intervention impedes investment and the creation of new opportunities for good-paying work. It is more urgent than ever that the government get out of the way of the productive people of this country.
    What an Honest Conversation about Race Would Look Like, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 19 Jul 2013
    Argues that in order to have an "honest conversation about race", it must first be recognized that many government policies, such as drug prohibition, gun control and mandatory schooling, are enablers for racism
    First on the agenda should be the many ways that government policies—either by intent or by palpable effect—embody racism ... [T]hings 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 ... And to [those] offensive interventions let us add immigration controls, zoning laws, occupational licensing, and restrictions on street vendors and taxi drivers, all of which impose their heaviest burdens on people of color ...
    What Exactly Did Gerald Ford Heal?, by Sheldon Richman, 5 Jan 2007
    Counters the argument that Gerald Ford, by pardoning Richard Nixon, "healed the nation"
    For too long people have trusted the political system: the government schools and the establishment news media unceasingly propagandize that ... the system ... serves the people's interests ... But government today is an exploitation machine that milks the taxpayers for the benefit of favored interests, especially military contractors and other big well-connected businesses. A superficial party rivalry obscures the great, overarching common interest both parties have in keeping the machine running smoothly—which requires that people not catch on that they are being milked for the privileges of others.
    Related Topics: Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon
    What Is the Constitution?, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Jun 2002
    Discusses constitutional interpretation of allowed governmental powers and restrictions on such powers, in particular the ninth and tenth amendments, in light of comments from Justice Antonin Scalia about a national ID card
    Instead of a document that protects individual liberty by reining in government power, Scalia would make [the Constitution] one that protects government power by reining in individual liberty ... [I]f a power is not explicitly listed in the Constitution, the national government can't exercise it. This is ... the only scheme consistent with the idea of a constitutional republic. A constitution such as ours is needed only if the intent is to limit the powers of government on behalf of liberty. A "constitution" that limits liberty on behalf of government power is a contradiction in terms.
    What Is the Enemy?, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Apr 2006
    Discusses why corporatism, also known as state capitalism or political capitalism, is the "the great institutional threat to liberty"
    While the textbooks used in government schools unswervingly portray the Progressive Era and the New Deal as left-wing, or liberal, responses to the abuses of big business, nothing could be further from the truth. In each case the business elite looked to government for help ... The results were the [ICC], Sherman Act, [FDA], [FTC], Federal Reserve System, ... and on and on. That such government intervention harmonized with the aspirations of statist intellectuals does not change the fact that the corporate elite looked to Washington to bring order to disorderly (that is, competitive) markets.
    What Nat King Cole Would Have Told Martha Stewart, by Charles Adams, 12 Mar 2004
    Comments on the Martha Stewart insider trading case and, based on the advice of Nat King Cole's lawyer, counsels celebrities and others on never talking to government agents
    Aggressive prosecutors, police, investigators, in all walks of government have a long history of making false charges, arrests, manufacturing evidence, and even convicting the innocent, especially when they can bring down the rich and famous. ... Like it or not, we have to protect ourselves from over-zealous governments. And this is not a disease of our government, or of our age, but of all governments everywhere. As Thomas Paine stated at the founding of America, "Government is a necessary evil, at best; at worst, an intolerable one."
    What Should Libertarians Do?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 25 Apr 2014
    Examines what libertarianism requires of people, such as an understanding of economics, and suggests focusing on the (classical) liberal insight that "societies run themselves" spontaneously, with example quotes from Thomas Paine and John Quincy Adams
    If you tell most people that the government should exit the economy, you'd get the equivalent of this answer: "You want to replace something, however imperfect, with nothing?" Given their premises, it is understandable ... [M]ost people are bombarded with disinformation that government ... acts to protect the vulnerable from exploitative special interests ... [T]he truth is precisely the opposite. Historically, the state has been the tool of exploitation for the well-connected, allowing an elite to acquire wealth and power, at the people's expense, that would be unachievable in a freed society.
    What's Wrong with Public Schools?, by Sheldon Richman, Separating School & State, 1994
    Excerpt from chapter 2 of Separating School & State (1994), published online on 25 March 2005
    Government is the institution that has a monopoly on the legal use of force in a society. Most significantly, government obtains its revenues by force—taxation ... Myron Lieberman writes, "None of us knows the costs of public education, from our own pockets or the government's. These costs are extremely diffuse and intermingled with others beyond identification ... [I]t is impossible to ascertain what any individual is paying for education." ... [W]hen every level of government ..., puts money into the schools, how can anyone know precisely what he has been forced to contribute?
    Where Free-Market Economists Go Wrong, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 1 Feb 2008
    In view of the early 2008 economic stimulus proposals, admonishes free-market economists and libertarians who fail to point out that the current economic system is not truly a free market but rather a corporatist, government interventionist system
    As free-market economists point out, government cannot affirmatively stimulate what we misleadingly call "the economy." (It is people and property engaged in transactions.) ... I said the government can't affirmatively stimulate the "economy", but it can encourage productive activity. How? By not discouraging it. Here is where some free-market economists have fallen short in shaping the public debate. Too much of what they say is along these lines: "The economy is fundamentally healthy. Recessions are a necessary correction of errors ... The government need do nothing."
    Where Is the Constitution?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 28 Jul 2006
    Discusses the varying legal interpretations of the U.S. Constitution, what is meant by "obeying rules" and suggests that to effect change in a pro-liberty direction, the "hearts and minds" of people must change
    To change the Constitution in a pro-freedom direction, we first have to change the (tacit) constitution, that is, people's ideological outlook. If there are lines that government won't cross today (and these are becoming fewer), it is because enough people would find such action intolerable. Liberty's champions have to use all educational means at their disposal to constrict the range of government activity ... 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?, by Sheldon Richman, Separating School & State, 1994
    Chapter 1, made available online on 19 May 2004 to celebrate the tenth publication anniversary; discusses how even mild "public school" reforms are treated as "deadly threats", why a new vision is needed and the role of the family in educating children
    Literacy was higher before government schools existed. Government historically has been a hindrance to education. In the antebellum South, it was a crime to teach slaves to read. Historian E.G. West writes that in early 19th-century England, the government complained that people were too literate and were [reading] seditious material. Thomas Malthus ... worried that "the circulation of [Thomas] Paine's Rights of Man ... has done great mischief among the lower and middle classes ..." ... [T]he public school system ... was modeled on the [in] Prussia, a paragon of authoritarianism ...
    Why I Am An Anarchist, by Caleb Johnson, The New Hampshire Free Press, 12 Mar 2008
    Contrasts the general public view of anarchism with the reality of national governments and their actions
    I have consistently used the word state. I have tried to avoid the word "government". In the minds of many people, these words are synonymous ... [I]nteraction between men requires a sort of government. This is evident in all of man's social dealings. A family exists in some sort of governmental arrangement, inasmuch as there are roles and understood norms of conduct within each family. Often, government in this sense is merely informal. In larger groups ..., it is likely to be more explicit. But what distinguishes these forms of government from the state is that the state is not voluntary.
    Why Limited Representative Government Fails, by Michael S. Rozeff, 17 Apr 2008
    Presents a four-element theory of why limited representative government fails, prefaced by numerous examples of how the American version of it has failed
    When I say that government has failed, I mean ... [g]overnment has succeeded in enriching and empowering certain specific persons and groups, but that success, from the viewpoint of the population at large, is simply evidence of failure in my terms ... When we the people accept the premise of representative government, we are making a fateful decision. We are accepting a method of pseudo-cooperation, pseudo-freedom, and pseudo-welfare improvement. Representative government does not deliver freedom, welfare improvement, or cooperation. To achieve these, we need a different premise. We need self-government.
    Why Markets Are Dreaded, by Tibor Machan, 27 Apr 2007
    Insights on why higher education professionals prefer not to have to compete in "markets" and instead want governments to run colleges and universities
    [These experts] all accept ... that it is the business of governments to run most of the country's colleges ... So clearly there is no disagreement about basics—governments ought to run and to fund colleges and universities (by extorting money from citizens through taxes) ... Higher education merchants and professionals must be protected from such burdens. They must have their income expropriated from many unwilling taxpayers; their scholarship and research, unlike that of many in the private sector, must be funded with the loot the government gets to extort from us with complete impunity.
    Related Topics: Business, Free Market
    Why Not a Free Market in Education?, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 25 Mar 2005
    Examines an op-ed by Bill Gates arguing for reforms in the public schools, countering with the paradigm used in the software and computer industries: the free market, and suggests an answer to educating the truly poor
    Public schools are run by the government, which ought to cause everyone's eyebrows to raise. When was the last time you saw government run anything well? Social Security? Medicare? Public housing? Public schooling, however, is not just any old government program ... Imagine that the government had been running the software or computer industries. What do you think the results would be? Any better than the results in public schooling? I wonder what Bill Gates would say if government had been running the software or computer industry for the last 30 years. Reform it?
    Why Those Who Value Liberty Should Rejoice: Elinor Ostrom's Nobel Prize, by Peter Boettke, The Freeman, Dec 2009
    Discusses Elinor Ostrom's work and viewpoints, shortly after her being awarded the Nobel Prize in economics
    [M]uch of the last century of political and economic discourse has been dominated by a debate between advocates of perfect markets and perfect central planners. The latter strove to demonstrate market failure, then would insist that government would provide the necessary corrective. Ostrom was one of the core thinkers ... to say, "Hold on. Markets may fail, but government solutions also might not work." One must always remember that Elinor and Vincent Ostrom are foundational contributors to the theory of Public Choice. But the Ostroms went further than simply demonstrating the possibility of government failure.
    The Wisdom of LeFevre, by Lew Rockwell, The Free Market, Jul 2001
    Discusses various aspects of LeFevre's thoughts, e.g., the distinction between true and artificial government, patriotism, and includes excerpts from a draft new Declaration of Independence
    [Historians] write about the rise and fall of civilizations, of prosperity and famine, of peace and war. While noticing that government is often responsible for bad things, they incorrectly conclude it must be credited for all good in society as well. This leap of logic is what keeps the truth of freedom under wraps. Crediting government for the good in society was, to his mind, like crediting the criminal class whenever it leaves us alone to go about our affairs ... True government is made up of the customs (habits, manners, folkways) and institutions (family, workplace, church) that regulate our daily life.


    The Nightmare of the New Deal, Part 1, by George Leef, Freedom Daily, Dec 2007
    Review of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression (2007) by Amity Shlaes; introduction and focus on the "bad guys"
    In the United States of 1929, the federal government played a very small role, employed very few people, and spent very little money. Most important, very few Americans looked to ... D.C., to solve "social problems." Three years of interventionist policies under Hoover—Shlaes makes it clear that Hoover was anything but the dogmatic laissez-faire advocate he is usually said to have been—and five more under Roosevelt had turned America into a country where a nearly omnipotent government was everywhere, controlled by people who admired Stalin and Mussolini as models of forward-looking leaders.


    Curing the Therapeutic State: Thomas Szasz interviewed by Jacob Sullum, by Thomas Szasz, Jacob Sullum, Reason, Jul 2000
    Subjects discussed include involuntary commitment, the insanity defense, ADHD, government drug policies and physician-assisted suicide
    Szasz: I think that [making needles available without prescription and stop penalizing people for possessing them] would be fundamental, because the message it would send is that this is a problem only because the government has made it a problem. The American people don't realize that a very large proportion of the AIDS cases in America are government-manufactured, in the sense that the government has prohibited needles. People talk about iatrogenic—doctor-caused—diseases. People never talk about government-caused diseases. There is no Latin word for that.
    Do You Consider Yourself a Libertarian?, by Lew Rockwell, Kenny Johnsson, 25 May 2007
    Interview by Kenny Johnsson for the short-lived "The Liberal Post" blog; topics discussed include libertarianism, statism, war, elections, taxes, anarchism and the U.S. Constitution
    Rockwell: ... [E]ven the good kind of liberalism was very much bound up with republican theory, that you could have a government made up of the people rather than the elites. This error, which is really utopian, led to a commitment to government as an essential institution. Advances in economics and political philosophy since that time have shown that this is a misnomer. There is no way to keep government in check, since by definition it is guilty of committing the very aggressions it is supposedly designed to keep at bay: namely, theft, murder, counterfeiting, kidnapping, and the like.
    Mises's Bibliographer: An Interview with Bettina Bien Greaves, by Bettina Bien Greaves, Austrian Economics Newsletter, 1998
    Topics discussed include: Ludwig von Mises, the Mises bibliography project, language knowledge, Leonard Read, Henry Hazlitt, Human Action, the business cycle and her husband's Pearl Harbor book
    GREAVES: ... [Mises] came with a clear message. Government should protect and defend the lives and property of the persons under its jurisdiction, settle disputes that arise, and otherwise leave people free to pursue their various goals and ends in life ... Governments still ... manipulate prices, fix wages, subsidize business, hamper imports or exports, manage the money supply, care for the sick and elderly, ... and on and on. But these efforts ... produce undesirable consequences for society in the long run. They impede the ability of people to cooperate in their own material betterment.
    Radical Economics: An Interview with Walter Block, by Walter Block, Austrian Economics Newsletter, 1999
    Discusses topics such as the effect of Rothbard's death, Block's own intellectual development, the legality of blackmail and barriers to Austrians in academia
    Block: ... Before [Public Choice] got started, most mainstreams believed that the existence of "market failure" was enough to establish that government needed to take on the job. The great contribution of Public Choice is to point out that this conclusion implies that government is perfect. They pointed out that there is such a thing as government failure too ... [M]en do not grow angels' wings when they go into public service ... [G]overnment is not a firm or a club because it is not a voluntary pooling of assets. The political process is not analogous to the market process.
    Risky Journalism, by John Stossel, Jacob Sullum, Reason, Apr 1997
    Lengthy introduction and interview, discussing Stossel's early work, his ABC News specials, his response to criticism, ABC's policies, objective reporting, and topics he would like to cover
    Stossel: I believe, just as Jefferson did, that less government is good government, and as George Washington did, that government is not reason or persuasion, government is force. I think the issue of the day is how big should government be. Ours has grown over 100 years from 1 or 2 percent of the GDP to about 36 percent of the GDP. I think the debate should be about what percentage is [optimal]. I think it's somewhere around 18 percent, and that's my main political issue. I don't think that makes me a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative.
    The Roots of the Great Depression, by Richard Timberlake, Navigator, Jan 2001
    Interview topics include the Federal Reserve policy during 1920-1939, the British attempt to return the pound to its World War I value and U.S. interventions during the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations
    Timberlake: ... [G]overnments had no role, ever, in the initiation of moneys. Yet, everywhere ... today (and most yesterdays, too), governments through their central banks and treasuries have ... monopoly control over the production of money ... How can any government improve on an economic device that has arisen through the emergence of market processes and has become accepted voluntarily by both buyers and sellers? ... It can't. No government can anymore improve the quality of privately produced money than it can improve privately produced computers, automobiles, or a health care system.
    September 11 and the Anti-Capitalistic Mentality: An Interview with Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., for, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Myles Kantor, FrontPage Magazine, 12 Mar 2002
    Discusses the insights of Mises' The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality particularly with regard to the attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 Sep 2001
    Rockwell: ... [I]n 2001 the free market struck back ... Unviable businesses melted ... [C]ontrast this process with HUD, the post office, or any other federal bureau. The GAO comes out with regular reports showing that these agencies' books are in complete chaos, with tens of billions missing, unaccounted for, or uncollectible. There are no earnings. There are no dividends. And who cares? No one. In Washington, GAO reports are used for scrap paper and birdcage lining ... Government specializes in keeping unprofitable operations going: look at the history of industry in the Soviet Union ...
    Stand-Up Guy, by Drew Carey, Nick Gillespie, Steven Kurtz, Reason, Nov 1997
    Interview topics range from Hollywood reactions to Carey's humor, his attitude toward government, the ABC network censor, Las Vegas, drug legalization and more
    Reason: What's your basic attitude toward government?
    Carey: The less the better. As far as your personal goals are and what you actually want to do with your life, it should never have to do with the government. You should never depend on the government for your retirement, your financial security, for anything. If you do, you're screwed.
    Reason: But you were in the Marines reserve, weren't you?–
    Carey: That's all the government should be: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines (laughs). P.J. O'Rourke once said the government has passed enough laws–it should just stop. It oversteps its bounds so often.
    Takings Exception: An Interview with Richard Epstein, by Richard Epstein, Steve Chapman, Reason, Apr 1995
    Interview topics include libertarian ideas, Epstein's book Takings, the public housing and inner city issues, and civil rights laws
    Epstein: ... [Wilson] is somebody who still believes that ... some massive government program for housing, or for education and so forth, ... will do better for people than they would do for themselves ... What you really ought to do is to reduce the total level of government burden, let people live where they choose, and it will turn out that, in general over time, the level of the housing stock will improve and the level of incomes will increase, just as ... between 1946 and 1960-64 ... in which you had the benefit of the post-war growth and of moderate levels of government intervention.

    Cartoons and Comic Strips

    The government can just take some of my money—for no reason?!, by Aaron McGruder, The Boondocks, 7 Oct 2007
    Related Topic: Taxation
    Hmm ... Maybe we just have a semantics problem ..., by Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur, 23 Jan 2008
    The Most Active Branch of Government ..., by Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur, 7 Aug 2007
    The Office of Sen. Kingpit Dixon, by Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur, 18 Jun 2015
    The Only Monument We Need To Be Placed in Government Buildings ..., by Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur, 3 Feb 2007
    Opinion polls show you have a 95% disapproval rating, by Parker and Hart, The Wizard of Id, 15 Mar 2014
    Our government is miles in debt ..., by Parker and Hart, The Wizard of Id, 5 Sep 2012
    There's a morbid disease that can grow ..., by Johnny Hart, B.C., 10 Aug 2006


    Discourses Concerning Government, by Algernon Sidney, 1698
    Partial contents: To depend upon the will of a man is slavery - God leaves to man the choice of forms in Government - That 'tis natural for Nations to govern, or to choose Governors - Government is not instituted for the good of the Governor
    Official Lies: How Washington Misleads Us
        by James T. Bennett, Thomas DiLorenzo, 1993
    Partial contents: Welcome to the Jungle - The Political Economy of Propaganda, or Joe Isuzu Meets Nelson Rockefeller - Getting Down on the Farm - Fuel for the Propaganda Machine - The Sky is Falling! - Compelling Belief - Dope, Booze, Smokes, and Sex
    Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government
        by P. J. O'Rourke, 1991
    Partial contents: The Mystery of Government - The Dictatorship of Boredom - The Three Branches of Government: Money, Television and Bullshit - Our Government: What the Fuck Do They Do All Day, and Why Does It Cost So Goddamned Much Money
    Power and Market: Government and the Economy
        by Murray N. Rothbard, 1970
    Partial table of contents: Defense Services on the Free Market - Fundamentals of Intervention - Triangular Intervention - Binary Intervention: Taxation - Binary Intervention: Government Expenditures - Antimarket Ethics: A Praxeological Critique
    The Second Treatise of Civil Government, by John Locke, 1690
    Partial contents: Of the State of Nature - Of the State of War - Of Slavery - Of Property - Of Paternal Power - Of Political or Civil Society - Of the Beginning of Political Societies - Of Conquest - Of Tyranny - Of the Dissolution of Government
    Underground Government: The Off-Budget Public Sector
        by James T. Bennett, Thomas DiLorenzo, Cato Institute, 1983
    Partial contents: Going Underground - The Political Economy of Off-Budget Enterprises - Off-Budget Activities of Local Governments
    Why Government Doesn't Work: How Reducing Government Will Bring Us Safer Cities, Better Schools, Lower Taxes, More Freedom and Prosperity for All
        by Harry Browne, 1995
    Partial contents: Ooops! Why Government Programs Always Go Astray - If You Were King (The Dictator Syndrome) - How Freedom Was Lost - How Much Freedom Is Left? - Fixing America's Problems - Do We Really Want Government to Protect Family Values?


    Schools of Thought in Classical Liberalism, Part 2: Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, by Nigel Ashford, 9 May 2012
    Short video, with transcript; discusses the answers to the question "What is the proper role of government?" from the viewpoint of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of economics
    What should be the role of government according to the Chicago school? ... First of all, to protect us from our enemies, both internal and external enemies ... Secondly, government should provide the administration of justice in order to achieve peaceful reconciliation of conflict ... The third ... is that there are some things, not many, ... that the marketplace, through voluntary exchange, cannot provide satisfactorily ... And the fourth area he says that government needs to act is to protect the irresponsible, those that we assume are not capable of looking after themselves.

    We're the Government -- and You're Not: A Presentation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Propaganda, by David McElroy, 26 Jan 2007
    But what does it mean to be a good citizen today? What do you owe to your fellow man and to your government? In the next few minutes, we're going to answer that question. Obey these rules, instead of following your heart or ... your head. Why? Because we're the government, and you're not. ... So lesson number three is: Don't cause trouble by asking embarrassing questions or by not supporting your government.
    Related Topic: Taxation