Available Now!

Available Now!
What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Friday, October 29, 2010

TGIF: Is Freedom a Radical Idea?

Throughout history, and with only the rarest of exceptions, freedom has been far removed from the center of political events — even during that ostensibly exceptional period, say, 1776-1901.
This drawn from my remarks at Libertopia. Read the rest of TGIF here.

Op-Ed: Thank Goodness for WikiLeaks

Thanks to WikiLeaks we know more now than we did before about the the consequences of the U.S. government’s criminal conduct. Like the Bush administration before it, the Obama administration would rather have the American people ignorant of the truth about its military operations. But we have a right to this information. If the government won’t give it up, we are justified in getting it by other means.
Read the rest here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Op-Ed: Hypocrisy’s Coming Election-Day Triumph

By nearly all accounts, Republicans are poised for a big win, even by historical midterm standards, in the November 2 congressional elections. Many candidates backed by the Tea Party should have a big day.

But what will these victories mean for people who are alarmed by the growth of the welfare-warfare state? Not much, I’m sorry to say.

Read the rest of my op-ed here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Now Online: The Freeman, November 2010

Juan Williams: Who Cares?

Must I wade into this? Do I care what NPR does? I don't get nervous when I see people dressed in Muslim garb. The 9/11 hijackers wore western clothes. Wouldn't hijackers be expected to? No one has pointed out that Williams, like so many others, misrepresented the remarks of would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. Williams and Bill O'Reilly are jerks. Dash it, these guys aren't worth my scarce time.

TGIF: Obamacare Reality Bites

One might think that letting government officials exercise discretion in the enforcement of bad regulations would be a good thing. I’m not so sure.
Read the rest of TGIF: Obamacare Reality Bites.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Libertopia Rocked!

Cheryl and I spent four great days in Hollywood attending Libertopia, the first in what I hope will be a long series of top-notch conferences. I'll try to write more in the coming days about this memorable gathering.

On the personal side, it was great being around people I "see" in cyberspace but rarely or never see in person. They included (alphabetically) Less Antman, David Beito, Bruce Benson, Gary Chartier, Brian Doherty, Fred Foldvary, David Friedman, Angela Keaton, Roderick Long, Tennyson McCala, Jim Peron, Sharon Presley Butler Shaffer, Brad Spangler. Hope I didn't forget anyone.

Hats off to Sky Conway and Joyce Brand for putting on such a great event.

TGIF: The Charade

The political establishment, helped by the mass media and intelligentsia, has long played a game in this country. It consists in depicting the competition for power as between two blocs: one hostile to business in the name of social justice, the other friendly to business in the name of “the free market.” Each bloc’s talking points and pet projects are calculated in superficial ways to reinforce its signature theme. Whenever the blocs need to rally their respective bases, they accentuate their surface differences. The “anti-business” bloc accuses its opponents of being, say, Wall Street lackeys, while the “pro-free-enterprise” bloc accuses its opponents of being, say, socialists.

It’s all a sham that serves both side’s interests.
Read the rest of TGIF: The Charade here.

Friday, October 08, 2010

TGIF: Presidential Hubris

If we were going to spend $700 billion, it seems it would be wiser having that $700 billion going to folks who would spend that money right away.

Barack Obama said those words in defense of his opposition to extending the soon-to-expire 2001 and 2003 tax-rate reductions for people making more than $200,000 a year.
Read the rest of TGIF: Presidential Hubris here.

Op-ed: War Doesn't Produce Prosperity

[H]ave a look at what the leading Progressive Keynesian, Paul Krugman, and leading conservative Keynesian, Martin Feldstein, agree on: a big war is apparently the only way left to get the U.S. economy out of its doldrums....

[T]hank goodness we don’t need a war to prosper. Shame on those who say we do.
Read the rest here.

The Lying Media and the "War on Terror"

Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison the other day for trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square last May. At his sentencing Shahzad said what almost every Muslim says when he pleads guilty to or is sentenced for committing or attempting to commit violence against Americans:
We are only Muslims trying to defend our religion, people, homes and land, but if you call us terrorists, then we are proud terrorists, and we will keep on terrorizing you until you leave our lands and people at peace.
The Associated Press reported the quote in full.

But that's not what the Washington Post wanted you to read. So it gutted the quote leaving: "We are only Muslims . . . but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists, and we will keep on terrorizing you."

The Washington Times, doctoring the AP story, did the same thing.

Ditto USA Today.

The New York Times did a better job, sprinkling the quote throughout its story but burying "
we will keep on terrorizing until you leave our land and people at peace."

Why won't the mass media let the American people see the full story? Muslim violence is not aimed at American freedom. It is retaliation for decades of U.S. government crimes against Muslims.

The establishment media are lapdogs of the warfare state, as slavish as any publication in the old Soviet Union.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Military Keynesians Are the Worst Keynesians of All

From the National Journal this week:

Two wars are not enough.

America's economic outlook is so grim, and political solutions are so utterly absent, that only another large-scale war might be enough to lift the nation out of chronic high unemployment and slow growth, two prominent economists, a conservative and a liberal, said today.

Nobelist Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist, and Harvard's Martin Feldstein, the former chairman of President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, achieved an unnerving degree of consensus about the future during an economic forum in Washington. Their views were shared by a third economist, Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs, who said the only economic scenarios he could visualize were either "pretty bad" or "very bad." ...

Krugman and Feldstein, though often on opposite sides of the political fence on fiscal and tax policy, both appeared to share the view that political paralysis in Washington has rendered the necessary fiscal and monetary stimulus out of the question. Only a high-impact "exogenous" shock like a major war -- something similar to what Krugman called the "coordinated fiscal expansion known as World War II" -- would be enough to break the cycle. "I don't think we're about to launch a war against anybody," Feldstein said with tongue-in-cheek regret at the left-leaning forum, "America's Fiscal Choices," sponsored by four think tanks. "But Paul is right. That was the fiscal move that got us out" of the last downturn comparable to this one, the Great Depression.

Krugman is the leading Progressive Keynesian, Feldstein the leading conservative Keynesian. (That is not a contradiction in terms. See my article on the subject.) What unites them? Military Keynesianism.

Both mistakenly think World War II ended the Great Depression, a claim soundly debunked by Robert Higgs. (See Art Carden's discussion.) How could the war have ended the Depression? The economy was mostly devoted to making things that would blow up and destroy other things -- including life. Living standards certainly did not rise during the war: The purchase of consumer goods was restricted through an elaborate rationing system. Government directed production. It owned the economy.

Economists point to improved wartime aggregates, such as GNP, investment, or employment. But who cares about statistical aggregates? They only shroud what's going on at ground level. Government spending is a component of GNP; so increases bore no necessary relationship to individual well-being. Ten million men were drafted into the military, so what did the improved unemployment rate have to do with consumer welfare? Besides, Higgs shows the statistics are suspect for a variety of reasons.

Economists often give reckless advice to governments. But when they declare that only a major war will lift the economy out of recession, we really need to start worrying. Military Keynesianism kills.

(See Steve Horwitz's recent column on the subject.)

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Truth about the Welfare State

I can't recommend too highly Kevin Carson's latest at the Center for a Stateless Society. "Giving Back With a Spoon, Taking With a Shovel" is a brief but excellent introduction to the American political economic system and the fundamental short-coming of most right-wing "free market" analysis. Choice quote:
The main effect of most government policies is to increase entry barriers, minimum capital outlays, and overhead cost of small-scale production, and to reduce the amount of idle land and cheap capital, so as to minimize the number of self-employment opportunities that wage employers are forced to compete with for your labor. And by putting a floor under the cost of subsistence, the regulatory framework increases the size of the minimum revenue stream the average household needs just to break even, hence increasing workers’ demand for hours of employment relative to the supply....

I believe the overwhelming trend of income transfer is upward (but more indirect and less visible), and that the direct and visible downward transfers involve just the least possible fraction of this enormous sum required to reduce outright homelessness and starvation below politically destabilizing levels.
Read the entire article and you'll have an idea of what left libertariansism is about.

While you're at it, also read Carson's "Labor Struggle: A Free Market Model" (pdf) for excellent revisionist history on the labor movement.