Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trump Champioms Free Enterprise

"I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequences," Trump said in his acceptance speech.

Is any comment necessary?

Trump's Plan for His First Day in Power?

In his acceptance speech Trump said, "Beginning on Jan. 20th, 2017, safety will be restored.”

Note that Trump does not say that beginning on inauguration day Americans will feel safe. He says "safety will be restored."

Is he promising -- or threatening -- martial law?

Monday, July 18, 2016

My Kind of Candidate...

...would support polycentric law and spontaneous order.

That would be a real law-and-order candidate.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Victimless-Crime Laws Breed Police Violence

As long as the police are charged with detecting and stopping consensual transactions -- concerning, for example, drugs, guns, gambling, sex, and untaxed cigarettes and CDs -- tension and violence will continue. Abolishing victimless-crime laws won't end institutional racism, but many opportunities for it will be eliminated.

The key feature of a victimless-"crime" transaction is that unlike, say, battery, it has no complaining participant -- the transaction is consensual. Because of this, police find they "need" to engage in surveillance, entrapment, cultivation of informants, stop-and-frisk, and other methods that breed distrust between the people and the system. This in turn gives rise to a view of the police as an occupying army, especially in poor minority neighborhoods, where for a variety of reasons -- occupational licensing and government schools, to name two -- the black market presents attractive alternatives to poverty.

Other measures to be taken: abolish all occupational licensing and minimum-wage laws, which impede people's efforts to prosper. (Providing goods and services without a license is a victimless crime if no deception is involved.)

Thus Dallas Chief David Brown's invitation to Black Lives Matter activists to join the police department and work for reform from within badly misses the point. This is not just about bad apples and community policing.

Another way to put it: if we didn't have cops, we wouldn't need them.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

TGIF: Trump, Saddam, and the Presumption of Innocence

The horrifying thing about Trump's recent remarks about Saddam Hussein is not that he expressed admiration for the late Iraqi dictator -- in fact Trump called him a "bad guy" three times. What is horrifying is that Trump seemed envious that Saddam could "kill terrorists" without due process -- the most important element of which is the presumption of innocence, which places the burden of proof of guilt squarely on the government's shoulders. "He killed terrorists" Trump said of Saddam. "He did that so good. They didn't read them the rights. They didn't talk. They were a terrorist, it was over." (Emphasis added.)

This should concern any Trump fans who believe that criminal suspects should be protected against the state. Trump was clearly signalling that he wants the government (which of course he aspires to run) to have the power to kill people suspected of planning or having committed politically motivated violence against noncombatants. Let's be clear: Trump wasn't endorsing capital punishment for convicted terrorists. (I ignore here the objections to state executions.) He was praising the killing of suspected terrorists without charge or trial in which the prosecution has the burden of proof. Dictators always find due process an obstacle to efficient and decisive action against threats real and imagined. But Americans supposedly believe that the rights of the accused are more important than the state's convenience.

The securing of due process was the result of a nearly thousand-year struggle against western tyrants. It is certainly true that due process has been badly eroded, especially since 9/11. But this is the first time I can recall a presidential candidate celebrating a dictator's freedom from due-process constraints at a campaign rally. This certainly distinguishes Trump from his predecessors and opponents. That the throng, wearing their Make America Great Again caps, responded enthusiastically is ominous indeed.

Trump's remarks are consistent with his earlier expressions of admiration for the "strength" of despots such as North Korea's Kim Jung Un and the Chinese rulers who slaughtered pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square. The remarks also flesh out his promise to use water-boarding and more against terrorism suspects and his belief that the families of suspects should also be killed.

Throughout his campaign Trump has shown impatience with procedures that brake government activity. He often bashes politicians who are "all talk and no action." So his envy of dictators should surprise no one.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!

Brexit, Scott Horton, and Me

Scott Horton and I discuss Brexit here.

Free Association Webinar

My latest webinar with sidekick Lucy Steigerwald discusses Clinton's emails, Gary Johnson, and Nazis.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Econ 101

Big difference -- YUGE -- between delivering bombs and delivering goods.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Brexit: Which Kind of Dependence Now?

Is Brexit a move toward British independence? Some Leave and Remain partisans may believe so, differing only over whether that's good or bad.

But, as usual, things are more complicated. We should hope that, in one respect, Britain's exit from the EU will create a kind of dependence that did not exist while it was still a member of the union. (But see Jacob T. Levy's well-argued opposition, as well as J.D. Tucille's rebuttal of the xenophobia explanation and Matt Ridley's defense of Leave.)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bravo for Brexit!

Excellent news out of the UK. The next step is for the anti-elites -- there, here, everywhere -- to see that the state itself is their enemy, no matter who sits on top. Only natutal-law market anarchism would fully dethrone the oppressors.

See Glenn Greenwald's discussion.