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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Re the Energy Bill

There's a rumor that the energy bill would require passing a government efficiency inspection of your home before you can sell it. I cannot find this in the 1,200 page bill. Does anyone know the section, subsection, etc.? Or is this right-wing agitprop?

Anarchism Can Fly!

The minarchist is like a scientist who insists a bumblebee cannot fly because it doesn't satisfy his theoretical criteria for that capability. That bumblebees do in fact fly apparently offers little ground for examing and revising the theory.

Similarly, minarchists insist that market competition in the "production" of law and security in theory cannot generate a peaceful, just, and efficient society. Like the scientist, they ignore the many examples of successful stateless relations in history and in our own time, and refuse to examine and revise their theory of where law comes from and how it is enforced.

(The apparently true story on scientists and the bumblebee is here.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Anarchism: It's All in the Rules

Scratch a minarchist and you'll find someone who fundamentally does not understand social rules -- their organic origins in custom and mediation, their evolution, their power to induce compliance. Yes, it's as simple as that.

Op-ed: Obama the Health-Care Reformer Should Grow Up

Barack Obama insists he does not want the government to run the medical system. He insists that he wants only to fix what’s broken while leaving what works intact.

Taking him at his word, this is typical of Obama. His desires are a primary, things that can be achieved if only we want them badly enough. All that prevents fulfillment are the obstacles created by uncooperative, ideological, and perhaps evil people.

If Obama really believes this — and is not merely engaging in demagoguery (a strong possibility) — then he has the maturity of a child.
The rest of my latest FFF op-ed is here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Farrah and Ayn

Call me a sentimental fool, but I like this story about the contact between Farrah Fawcette and Ayn Rand.

Hat tip: Brian Doherty.

Anarchists vs. Minarchists: The Defining Economic Difference

The crux of the economic difference between market anarchists and market minarchists is that the minarchists -- a priori -- find a market failure in the provision of law and security. Market anarchists do not. Considering that the minarchists embrace market theory in every other area, it seems they have the burden of showing why their own principles don't apply in those excepted areas. (It is significant that the first market anarchist we know of was an economist, Gustave de Molinari.)

Market anarchists have the theory, the history, and the moral philosophy. What's left?

TGIF: The Misrepresentation of Healthcare Reform

Why should the people get something through government–that is, at the point of a gun–simply because they want it?
The rest of TGIF is here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Kindle's DRM Rears Its Ugly Head"

Dan Cohen had a frustrating time with his Kindle and iPhone relating to DRM. He tells about it here and here.

The "bottom line":

You are able to redownload your books an unlimited number of times to any specific device.

Any one time the books can be on a finite number of devices. In most cases that means you can have the same book on six different devices.

Unfortunately the publishers decide how many licenses, that is devices, a book can be on at any one time. While most of the time that will be five or six different devices there will be times when it's only one device.

At the present time there is no way to know how many devices can be licensed prior to buying the book. [Emphasis added.]

I guess we shouldn't be surprised.

Cross-posted at Against Monopoly.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shut Up about Iran

Here’s some advice for Barack Obama, John McCain, and any other U.S. politician who feels the urge to issue a declaration about the election in Iran: Shut up.
The rest of my latest FFF op-ed, "Shut Up about Iran," is here.

The Freeman, July-August 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

IP Debate Breaks Out at FEE

At a recent FEE seminar, a debate over intellectual "property" broke out spontaneously among Ivan Pongracic (second from right), Paul Cwik (second from left), and me (left, where I belong). Who won?

A Palestinian State .... If

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Palestinians can have their own country ... if, if, if, and if. See details here.

Reminds me of the story philosopher Norman Malcolm told about Wittgenstein:
When in very good spirits he would jest in a delightful manner. This took the form of deliberately absurd or extravagant remarks uttered in a tone, and with the mien, of affected seriousness. On one walk he "gave" me each tree that we passed, with the reservation that I was not to cut it down or do anything to it, or prevent the previous owners from doing anything to it: with those reservations they were henceforth mine.
Cross-posted at @TAC and Liberty & Power.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Economics Reporters Ignorant of Economics

I just watched David Mark of Politico say on MSNBC that there is no positive side to the closing of auto dealerships. No positive side? What about the freeing up of labor and resources for projects that will create -- rather than destroy -- value?

It is outrageous -- though hardly new -- that major news organizations have reporters covering economic news without knowing even the most basic concepts of economics -- such as scarcity!

Is ignorance of Bastiat's "broken window" fallacy that widespread?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Welcome to Post Office Health Care

America’s health-care system has problems — all traceable to government intervention — but it could be worse. And if the so-called reform emerging in Congress is enacted, it will be worse.
My latest Future of Freedom Foundation op-ed, "Welcome to Post Office Health Care," is here.

Bourne Updated

Health is the health of the State.

TGIF: Intellectual "Property" vs. Real Property

Intellectual “property” (IP) is a sleeper issue. It seems uncontroversial: Someone invents or writes something and therefore owns it. What could be plainer? But IP contains the power to destroy liberty.
The rest of TGIF is here.

Will the “Public Option” Be a Cutthroat Competitor?

President Obama says he doesn’t want the government to run health care. He just wants a “public option” to keep the private insurers “honest.” Imagine that: A government bureaucracy keeping someone else honest. Physician, heal thyself!

But would a public option keep insurers honest? People who dislike markets often spin horrifying scenarios about big companies engaging in cutthroat competition and predatory pricing to drive their rivals out of business. But none of these folks ever see this danger in government “enterprises.” A public option will have sources of revenue no private insurer has: captive taxpayers, the U.S. Treasury, and the Federal Reserve. Do you mean to tell me this won’t permit the government program to engage in cutthroat competition and predatory pricing against the private insusers? And let’s not forget that it will be government that dictates what products the private companies can sell.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Beware Politcians' Sweet-Talk about Healthcare Reform

President Obama had sugared words for those concerned that government healthcare "reform" will violate freedom of choice. He insisted that people happy with their insurance and their doctor will be free to stick with them.

What he didn't say is what those people should do when the government's tax-subsidized "public option" insurance program and price controls drive private insurers out of the market and doctors get fed up dealing with the government.

The Paper of Record

The New York Times headline about the shooter at the Holocaust Museum:

Museum Gunman a Longtime Foe of Government

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Skousen Update

I have exchanged emails with Mark Skousen, and here's what he tells me:
  1. Jim Davidson misstated his position.
  2. He does not believe people who disagree should seriously fight it out.
  3. He invited the offended vet, an ex-Marine, to argue with Doug Casey not at a FreedomFest but at a Blanchard Conference.
  4. Mark also playfully invited them to Indian arm wrestle.
  5. Doug did not win; it was a draw.
  6. Davidson asked to speak at FreedomFest; Mark did not approach him.
  7. The quote from an email that Mark sent Davidson is taken out of context.
On the quote, Mark's point makes sense. The quote says nothing about fighting: “The vet was expressing outrage by [sic] Doug in his insensitive comments about veterans, and that’s all. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

My apologies to Mark. Unless new revelations arise, I am through with this.

Mea Culpa

I still do not know the full story about Mark Skousen, Doug Casey, Jim Davidson, and the wrestling vet, the subject of the post below. But, and however the story comes out, I wish to apologize for posting before I contacted Skousen. That was wrong.

Stay tuned.

Sticks, Stones & Words Can Get Your a Thrashing at FreedomFest

Mark Skousen has a strange conception of libertarianism. He believes that a person may express his outrage physically against anyone who merely offends him, say, by writing an article that doesn't regard war vets as saints. Read the horrifying details at Roderick Long's Austro-Athenian Empire here.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Kirzner Speaks

Israel Kirzner, the eminent economist of the Austrian school, speaks about the morality of markets.

Beyond Efficiency from FEE on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Carson on Intellectual "Property"

I highly recommend Kevin Carson's "'Intellectual Property': A Libertarian Critique" (pdf), published by the Center for a Stateless Society. It is first-rate. So-called intellectual property is not just about rock bands "protecting" recordings. It's about big dinosaur corporations attempting to subordinate people through the control of ideas. This big issue will only get bigger in the near future, and much is at stake. Whether one realizes it or not, defense of patents and copyrights puts one on the side of the opponents of liberty.

Friday, June 05, 2009

TGIF: Regulation Red Herring

Most people believe that government must regulate the marketplace. The only alternative to a regulated market, the thinking goes, is an unregulated market. On first glance that makes sense.

The rest of TGIF, "Regulation Red Herring," is here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

"The Depoliticization of Law"

In my article "The Rule of Lore" I sought to draw attention to John Hasnas's great paper "The Myth of the Rule of Law." I now want to spotlight a later paper by Hasnas that expands on the first: "The Depoliticization of Law" (pdf). In it Hasnas makes clear that the rule of law is a myth only when the law is politicized through a monopoly lawmaker. But when law is the product of a depoliticized, competitive, and spontaneous customary and common-law system, it meets the criterion of a true rule of law; namely, it is a system in which people are subject to rules that evolve out of custom and market-based dispute resolution, rather than to the conscious will of a single person or group of legislators and politically appointed judges. Especially interesting is Hasnas's critique of consent-based law.

Highly recommended!