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, April 29, 2016

Yet More Praise

The Anti-Federalists were right: The pursuit of "national greatness" inevitably diminishes liberty and centralizes government. The U.S. Constitution did both, as Sheldon Richman demonstrates in this powerfully argued anarchist case against the blueprint for empire known as the U.S. Constitution. 
--Bill Kauffman, author, Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin

Thursday, April 28, 2016

More Praise for America's Counter-Revolution

The libertarian movement has long suffered from a constitutional fetishism that embraces an ahistorical reverence for the U.S. Constitution. Far too many are unaware of the extent to which the framing and adoption of the Constitution was in fact a setback for the cause of liberty. Sheldon Richman, in a compilation of readable, well researched, and compelling essays, exposes the historical, theoretical, and strategic errors in the widespread reification of a purely political document. With no single correct interpretation, the Constitution has been predictably unable to halt the growth of the modern welfare-warfare American State. I urge all proponents of a free society to give his book their diligent attention.
--Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Professor, San Jose State University; author, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War

Latest Free Association Webinar: Voting, Democracy, and Other Ills

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Framers' Error

James Madison and the other framers thought cooperation could not be achieved without the state. They also thought that under their Constitution ambition would counteract ambition to limit state abuse. But they didn't foresee that ambitious parties would manage to cooperate, without state direction, in a conspiracy against the public. So the framers' double error is really the same error: cooperation does take place without state compulsion. That being so, we don't need the framers' system in which ambition counteracts ambition.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Two Tyrannies: State and Society

My review of Jacob T. Levy's Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom is now available at The American Conservative website: "Two Tyrannies: State and Society."

Monday, April 18, 2016

Buy American Hurts Americans

Mike Lindell, president of My Pillow Inc., seems like a nice guy, and I like his product. But he says something in his commercial that bothers me:

"Every part of my product is made in the USA."

What could be wrong with that? Lots of things.

You're Invited!

Jeff Tucker and I will talk about my book at 7 pm EDT tonight at Liberty.me. Join us!

Income Tax Day

If you hate the income tax (among others), damn the Rats (Federalists) and praise the Anti-Rats (Anti-Federalists). Ignore those who blame someone else later in American history. Don't let the original bad buys off the hook.

As Lysander Spooner said,
But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Saturday, April 09, 2016

A New Thought Crime

From the Competitive Enterprise Institute:
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today denounced a subpoena from Attorney General Claude E. Walker of the U.S. Virgin Islands that attempts to unearth a decade of the organization’s materials and work on climate change policy. This is the latest effort in an intimidation campaign to criminalize speech and research on the climate debate, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and former Vice President Al Gore.
“CEI will vigorously fight to quash this subpoena. It is an affront to our First Amendment rights of free speech and association for Attorney General Walker to bring such intimidating demands against a nonprofit group,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “If Walker and his allies succeed, the real victims will be all Americans, whose access to affordable energy will be hit by one costly regulation after another, while scientific and policy debates are wiped out one subpoena at a time.” 
The subpoena requests a decade’s worth of communications, emails, statements, drafts, and other documents regarding CEI’s work on climate change and energy policy, including private donor information. It demands that CEI produce these materials from 20 years ago, from 1997-2007, by April 30, 2016.

On March 30, 2016, Attorney General Schneiderman, former Vice President Al Gore, and attorneys general from Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, Vermont, as well as Attorney General Walker, held a press conference in New York City to announce “an unprecedented coalition of top law enforcement officials committed to aggressively protecting and building upon the recent progress the United States has made in combating climate change.” Schneiderman said that the group, calling itself “AGs United for Clean Power,” will address climate change by threatening criminal investigations and charges against companies, policy organizations, scientists, and others who disagree with its members’ climate policy agenda. 
CEI has long been a champion of sound climate change policy, and opposed previous attempts to use McCarthy-style tactics by officials aiming to limit discussions between nonprofit policy groups and the private sector regarding federal policies. CEI is being represented in this matter by attorneys Andrew M. Grossman and David B. Rivkin, Jr., who recently founded the Free Speech in Science Project to defend First Amendment rights against government abuses.

Friday, April 08, 2016

America's Counter-Revolution Now at Amazon!


America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited is now available at Amazon.com. A Kindle edition is also available. Check it out!

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. 
Praise for America's Counter-Revolution:
The libertarian movement has long suffered from a constitutional fetishism that embraces an ahistorical reverence for the U.S. Constitution. Far too many are unaware of the extent to which the framing and adoption of the Constitution was in fact a setback for the cause of liberty. Sheldon Richman, in a compilation of readable, well researched, and compelling essays, exposes the historical, theoretical, and strategic errors in the widespread reification of a purely political document. With no single correct interpretation, the Constitution has been predictably unable to halt the growth of the modern welfare-warfare American State. I urge all proponents of a free society to give his book their diligent attention.
--Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Professor, San Jose State University; author, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War 
"No state or government can limit itself through a written constitution, no matter how fine the words or how noble the sentiments they express. It is one of the many virtues of Sheldon Richman's book that it shows how this is true even of the American Constitution, which despite the promises of its designers and the insistence of its defenders down the years, made limited government less and not more likely."
 --Chandran Kukathas, London School of Economics
“This book is a milestone in real liberal history. Never to my knowledge has the liberal critique of constitutionalism been so acutely and concisely put. All those defending the heavy hand of statism will henceforth have to answer Richman’s assessment point by point. He sums up the issues deftly. This book is the best extant overview of the matter.”
—Walter E. Grinder, Institute for Civil Society
“Richman delivers an accessible, incisive, and well-grounded argument that the Constitution centralized power and undid some of the Revolution’s liberating gains. He rebuts patriotic platitudes but avoids the crude contrarianism so common in libertarian revisionism written for popular consumption. He does not romanticize America’s past or overstate his case. Radical and nuanced, deferential to freedom and historical truth, Richman rises above hagiography or demonization of either the Federalists or anti-Federalists to produce an unsurpassed libertarian exploration of the subject.”
— Anthony Gregory, Independent Institute
“[A]fter reading this book, you will never think about the U.S. Constitution and America’s founding the same way again. Sheldon Richman’s revealing and remarkably well-argued narrative will permanently change your outlook. . . . Richman . . . [is] one of this country’s most treasured thinkers and writers . . . . [H]e draws on the most contemporary and important scholarly research, while putting the evidence in prose that is accessible and compelling.”
— Jeffrey A. Tucker, Liberty.me and Foundation for Economic Education
“Several years ago, in just a few short blog posts and exchanges, Sheldon Richman changed my mind—he challenged my naïve view of the Constitution as an imperfect but basically libertarian blueprint for a minimalist state. No, the Interstate Commerce clause was not really just about free trade. No, the taxing authority is not as limited as we would like to argue. In America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, Richman demonstrates that the purpose of the Constitutional project was to expand and centralize the new federal government’s powers. This is a much-needed antidote to US-centric Constitution worship common among libertarians and conservatives.
— N. Stephan Kinsella, Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Bernie Sanders's Short Memory


During his interview with the New York Daily News, Bernie Sanders was asked to specify the fraud committed by Wall Street banks. He replied:
What kind of fraudulent activity? Fraudulent activity that brought this country into the worst economic decline in its history by selling packages of fraudulent, fraudulent, worthless subprime mortgages. How's that for a start? 
Selling products to people who you knew could not repay them. Lying to people without allowing them to know that in a year, their interest rates would be off the charts. They would not repay that. Bundling these things. Putting them into packages with good mortgages. That's fraudulent activity.
Does Sanders really forget that it was progressives like him who demanded that banks lower lending standards so that low-income people with no, weak, or bad credit histories could get mortgages with low teaser interest rates that would later balloon? Is he ignorant of the fact that these banks had every reason to believe the government would bail them out if they failed? Does he not recall Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises championed by Barney Frank and other progressives, that were right in the middle of this action, knowing they'd be saved if they failed? Has Sanders no memory of mortgage lenders like Countrywide, which were celebrated by progressives for aggressively pushing mortgages on people who could not afford them? Is he unaware that HUD, under Bill Clinton (and Secretary Andrew Cuomo) as well as George W. Bush, enabled people with poor credit and low incomes to "buy" houses with little or no down payment? And finally, is he oblivious of the fact that it was all these government-pushed shaky mortgages that were bundled into the exotic investment instruments Sanders now decries?

I'm pretty sure Sanders is aware of all this. But it doesn't fit his narrative that the Great Recession was entirely the result of private-sector greed, so he can't acknowledge it. Wall Street is properly viewed with suspicion, but what makes that reasonable is that it has long been in cahoots with the national government, notably with federal deposit insurance, which rewards irresponsibility by relieving depositors of the need to judge banks' sobriety or lack thereof.

In other words, Sen. Sanders, Wall Street couldn't have done it alone. It needed people like you.

(For details see Peter Boettke and Steven Horwitz, "The House that Uncle Sam Built.")

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!

Monday, April 04, 2016

Man's Inhumanity to Man

Customer: Hello, Home Warranty Co.? My A/C system broke down. I'd like coverage for it.
Home Warranty person: Do you have a policy with our company?
Customer: No. That's why I'd like one now.
Home Warranty person: But your A/C is already broken?
Customer: Yes.
Home Warranty person: I'm sorry but we don't cover breakdowns that occur before you buy a policy.
Customer: You don't cover preexisting conditions? How cruel! Does the government know about this?

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Now You Know Why

Market competition is the proven best way to keep suppliers honest. Government forbids competition with itself. The dots are so close they connect themselves. Elections are ersatz competition, homage via superficial imitation. The moral/epistemic value of competition is sadly unappreciated unrecognized.