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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Aye, Matey!

I could not be more enthusiastic in recommending Jesse Walker's explanation of what's going on with Somalia and piracy. Read it here and learn.

Credit-Card Deform

Beware the unintended consequences of the "Credit Card Holders' Bill of Rights," which could pass the House this week. Even assuming the best of intentions, the proposed restrictions (like usury laws) would make it harder for lower-income people or those with weak credit records to use credit cards. This wouldn't reduce their debt; it would only encourage a switch to inferior forms of debt. I hate defending the banks since they are not free-market firms but rather part of a state-banking cartel. But this is no way to address whatever credit-card problems exist. Even in the current context, banks compete for credit-card customers, and people shop around aggressively. (I've transferred balances at zero-interest often in the past.) The alleged obligations attached to TARP money are irrelevant if the new regulations would harm people.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Of course those who ordered and carried out torture should be prosecuted for criminal wrongdoing. Enough said.

Friday, April 24, 2009

TGIF: Boomerang: Government and Systemic Risk

If you’re not careful when throwing a boomerang, it could come around and hit you in the back of the neck. Politicians and bureaucrats should learn the same lesson when touting their supposedly indispensable role in safeguarding the country’s economic security. If you look closely, you find that they are the biggest source of the very dangers they presume to protect us from.

Read the rest of TGIF here.

Do They Get to Change Their Votes

The top U.S. trade official said it isn't necessary to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, despite a campaign promise by President Barack Obama to strengthen the pact's labor and environmental provisions.

--Wall Street Journal

I didn't like Barack Obama's protectionist appeals during the campaign, but shouldn't those who did get to change their votes? Oh, that's right. Unlike in the market, there are no refunds or exchanges in the democratic realm.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

End the Cuban Embargo!

Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have nothing to talk about. While they do their diplomatic dance, the Cuban people are suffering because of the American trade embargo. It should end forthwith. The idea that trade between Americans and Cubans must await an American president’s say-so is an insult to anyone who aspires to be free.

The rest of the op-ed is here.

Keynesian Cons

My latest article in The American Conservative is here. A teaser:

Indeed, you would be hard-pressed to find a conservative who admits to being an orthodox Keynesian, conservatives having joined the Church of the Supply Side many years ago. But though Keynesianism tends to be associated with big-government “liberalism”—in its original form, liberalism stood for small government in all realms—many who take Keynes’s approach to economics are nevertheless self-identified conservatives. In practice, “conservative Keynesian” is not a contradiction in terms.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Real Debate

The foreign-policy debate shouldn't be unilateralism vs. multilateralism, but interventionism vs. noninterventionism.

Government Spending Is No Cure for Recession

Mario Rizzo debunks the claim that government spending is as good economically as private spending here. Definitely worth reading.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Is to Be Done?

From FEE on Vimeo. Western New England College, March 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Taxation with Misrepresentation

It’s tax season. Consider what that means. It’s the time of year when you must account for yourself to the government. You must report every dime you earned last year, and if you believe any of it should be beyond the state’s grasp, you’d better have the proof. If the government withheld more of your money than (you think) the rules require, it is your burden to prove that. You then must submit the official paperwork by a certain time. If the authorities are not satisfied with what you submit, they will demand that you prove you’ve done it right. If you can’t, you’ll have to do it their way and pay more. Should you refuse to comply with any of these requirements — and a lot more no one understands — the government has the power to make your life hell and impose additional financial burdens. It can even imprison you.

And all in a country most people would swear is free.
See the rest of my op-ed here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

TGIF: Bad Regulation Drives Out Good

In 1969 economist Harold Demsetz identified an important flaw in much public policy analysis, the “Nirvana Fallacy.” We would do well to keep it in mind as we think about solutions to the current economic problems.

The rest of TGIF is here.

Executive Privilege

I see Barack Obama has one-upped George W. Bush in his defense of executive autocracy by invoking both state secrets and sovereign immunity against people suing the government over Bush's warrantless wiretapping. Well, what's the point of being president if you're not going to have all those cool executive powers Bush accumulated?

Kevin Carson has a good comment here.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Beware Systemic Threats

The current push for a regulatory dictatorship over the financial industry is based on the principle that we must keep on a tight leash any organization whose activities are so pervasive and consequential that its potential for misjudgment stands as a “systemic threat.”

Isn’t that the case for strictly limiting the government?

Friday, April 03, 2009

The G(rasping)-20

We expected little of sense to come out of the G-20 summit, and it met our expectations with flying colors.

The rest of TGIF is here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

On the Glenn Beck Show Today

Topic: Is it Fascism or Socialism?

Walmart: Yea or Nay?

Good discussion about Walmart going on over at Austro-Athenian Empire, one of my favorite places to hang out on the Net. Have a look. We don't know exactly how things would be in a laissez-faire economy, but I tend to think big companies like Walmart have a corporate-state advantage over smaller and yet-to-be-founded companies. I don't care that Walmart might look the same in a free(d) market. What matters is why it is in its current state. If a billionaire made his money through state advantage, no libertarian would say, "It doesn't matter because a guy that smart would be a billionaire in the free market anyway."