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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Saturday, January 30, 2010

TGIF: The State of Obama's Union

Despite what some popular right-wing talk-show hosts claim, Barack Obama is not pushing Marxism, revolutionary or otherwise. He’s pushing good old American progressive-corporate elitism.

Read TGIF here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

About that Spending Freeze

"Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years." --Barack Obama

All spending? What about the military?

Okay, all spending, except the military.

What about the FBI?

Okay, all spending except the military and the FBI.

What about the CIA?

Okay, all spending except the military, the FBI, and the CIA.

What about the Department of Homeland Security?

Okay, all spending except the military, the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Homeland Security.

What about the VA?

Okay, all spending except the military, the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the VA.

What about Medicare?

Okay, all spending except the military, the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the VA, and Medicare.

What about Medicaid?

Okay, all spending except the military, the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the VA, Medicare, and Medicaid.

What about Social Security?

Okay, all spending except the military, the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the VA, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

What about education?

Okay, all spending except the military, the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the VA, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and education.

With apologies to Monty Python.

Howard Zinn, RIP

The revisionist historian -- best known for A People’s History of the United States (1980) -- and antiwar activist died yesterday at age 87. Here's an obit.

The State of the Union Address

Sorry. I don't do theater reviews.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Funny Thing

Everyone understands the phrase "crony capitalism." But try using "crony free market" and watch the facial expressions.

"Capitalism" versus Communism

Stephen Kinzer provides a good reason not to use "capitalism" to mean "free market":
Visiting unhappy Cuba is especially thought-provoking for anyone familiar with its unhappy neighbours. Cubans live difficult lives and have much to complain about. So do Jamaicans, Dominicans, Haitians, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, and others in the Caribbean basin who live under capitalist governments. Who is worse off? Does an ordinary person live better in Cuba or in a nearby capitalist country?
I take it Kinzer defines "capitalism" as "not Cuban-style Marxist state socialism."

HT: Jacob Hornberger

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The "Pro-Capitalist" Mentality

You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you.
--Ludwig von Mises to Ayn Rand (pdf)
regarding Atlas Shrugged

These two people have been big influences on me, and both have made important contributions to the cause of freedom. Nevertheless, I believe that "capitalism" can engender the attitude shown here. Often it is implicit in writing about capitalism, but it is there and people we might win over to libertarianism are alienated by it.

Scott Horton, Lysander Spooner, and Me

Scott Horton interviewed me on Antiwar Radio the other day. The subject: Lysander Spooner and his relevance to our times. Here it is.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lysander Spooner

Lysander Spooner (1808-1887)

One of my heroes.

"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. "

(More here.)

Remembering Murray

Apparently I forgot to post a link to last week's TGIF, "Murray Rothbard." Read it here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Libertarians Against Capitalism

I've started a group by that name on Facebook. Thomas Hodgskin, mentor to Herbert Spencer, is the inspiration. Here's the official description:
We are a group of libertarians who understand that historically the word "capitalism" has meant, not the free market, but crony capitalism -- that is, collusion between business and State at the expense of consumers/workers. Thus we refuse to use the word "capitalism" to describe what we favor: individual liberty in all respects and free, competitive markets. We believe that what we have today IS capitalism -- and we oppose it.
I like what Brad Spangler said in a comment:
Which is more direct, a two-step process or a one-step process?

A: 1) Convince people the status quo is not capitalism & 2) Convince people that "capitalism" in the sense of a freed market is the remedy to the status quo?


B: 1) Convince people that a freed market is the remedy to the capitalist status quo?
No, that's not Thomas Hodgskin up there. Apparently there are no pictures of him. Instead, I've used Benjamin Tucker, who's a darned good stand-in.

Happy Birthday

Free association . . . the only true form of society.
To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place[d] under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.

Friday, January 08, 2010

TGIF: Opaque By Design

The phrase “transparent government” is just this side of a logical contradiction. A really transparent government would barely qualify as a government at all. Imagine if you could witness all the backroom dealing, logrolling, outright bribery, and the rest of the shenanigans that go on under the laughable rubric “governing.” It wouldn’t last a week.

Read TGIF here.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Have We Won?

Cheryl found this sign (click to enlarge) at a store called Intellectual Property in downtown Austin. She couldn't resist.

The sign says, "Store Closing." Write your own caption.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Ben Franklin on Patents

Governor Thomas was so pleased with the construction of this stove . . . that he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term of years; but I declined it from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz.: That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.
--Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography
HT: James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

Friday, January 01, 2010

TGIF: What Next?

Liberty always walks uphill.
Read the rest here.

Happy New Year!

May it be one in which we make notable progress toward peace, freedom, and prosperity for everyone. Oh, and statelessness too. Success to the Molinarians!