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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Monday, December 31, 2012

Bottom Line on the "Fiscal Cliff"

The tax increases will be real. The spending cuts will be illusions, at best, a minor slowing of the rate of increase. We may not even see that. Word is that the two division of the uniparty are discussing postponing "sequestration," the automatic so-called across-the-board cuts in domestic and military discretionary scheduled to kick in at midnight. Republicans reportedly want a three-month postponement, Democrats a two-year postponement.

Business as usual. You can't make this stuff up.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

More on Right to Work

My FFF op-ed this week is titled "The Fight Over Right-to-Work."

And if you haven't had enough on the subject, Gary Chartier and I respond to Shikha Dalmia's defense of right-to-work laws (at Reason.com) in our Center for a Stateless Society commentary, "Right-to-Work Legislation Is Not the 'Good.'"

Friday, December 21, 2012

TGIF: Intervention Begets Intervention

This week's TGIF looks at Ludwig von Mises's "critique of interventionism." Bottom line:
Is there a lesson to be drawn from Mises’s critique? I think so. Intervention tends to beget intervention. Therefore, when you see a public problem, don’t look to government intervention for a solution. Instead, look for the previous intervention that created it — and work to have the offending legislation repealed.
Read it here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Taxpayers Aren't Stationary Targets

My latest piece at the Project to Restore America website is "Taxpayers Aren't Stationary Targets."
Actor Gérard Depardieu's decision to flee France for Belgium to avoid a 75 percent marginal tax rate on incomes above $1.3 million sends a message we here in America should heed: Those who are singled out for tax increases are not stationary targets. The means of avoiding and evading the taxman are legion.
Read it all here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Government-Industry Revolving Door

Not that we thought it would be any different, but revolving door between government and industry spins just as fast in Obama's Washington. Read about it in my latest article at the Project to Restore America.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shooting in Connecticut

I am deeply saddened by the shooting of children and adults at the school in Connecticut. My heart goes out to their loved ones and to the wounded.

TGIF: Right-To-Work Laws and the Modern Classical-Liberal Tradition

TGIF today ventures into the treacherous waters of "right-to-work" laws, noting that a previous generation of libertarians and Austrians opposed them, realizing full well that at least some people intended them to neutralize the Wagner Act's compulsory-union provisions.

Read it all here.

Other good reads on the subject are herehere, and here.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Individualist Collectivism

Is the free market an individualist or collectivist social arrangement? Don’t answer too quickly. It’s a trick question.
My latest TGIF is "Individualist Collectivism." Read it here.

Scott Horton and I Talk about "Individualist Collectivism"

Here's my latest interview with Scott Horton.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Romanticizing Taxation

My latest at the Project to Restore America website is titled "Romanticizing Taxation." It addresses the annoying attempt during the "fiscal cliff" controversy to portray taxation as something benign, you know, "the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society," as FDR put it.  My take:
Far from some enlightened institution, taxation began when conquerors realized that formal and continuing appropriation of a subject population's wealth was preferable to hit-and-run pillaging. For this to work, however, the rulers needed to convince the peasants that the regime would protect them from predators in return for their regular remittances. That's right: It was a protection racket, from which the racketeers and their cronies profited handsomely. For the taxpayers, there was little choice in the matter. They weren't buying protection as people buy insurance in the market, and they weren't paying dues as they would later pay dues to mutual-aid societies. They paid or they were punished. The ideology of benevolent state protection reduced enforcement costs because the ruled outnumbered the rulers and widespread tax resistance would have doomed the regime. Things have changed little in our time.
Read it all.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

That Pesky Debt Ceiling

The central government is again getting close to its debt ceiling. Fearing another game of chicken between the White House and congressional Republicans, the risk of default, and another downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, some people want President Obama to bypass Congress and raise the ceiling by executive order. Others would dispense with the ceiling altogether. Obama vaguely says he will not go through what he had to go through with Congress last year. I hope they don't raise the debt ceiling. In fact I favor repudiation of the government debt, since it is based on the immoral power to wield aggressive force. A voluntary government creditor takes his chances.

Here's the one thing that I find amusing in this discussion: Pundits and others who favor limitless government insist that raising the debt ceiling won't permit the government to spend more money; it merely let's the government pay its current bills. If that is so, it's not very comforting. It means the government incurred obligations without knowing for sure that it would have the money to pay its bills. Why is it allowed to do that?

Oh, that's right. It's the government.

Israel's Hypocrisy Runs Thick

The Israeli leadership is about as interested in a two-state solution with the Palestinians as the U.S. leadership is in liquidating the American empire. That was clear even before the latest announced plan to build 3,000 Jewish-only homes in East Jerusalem and on the West Bank. The timing of the announcement, though surely not the plan itself, is related to the Palestinians' successful bid to upgrade their status at the UN. Israel seems to be quaking at the prospect of the Palestinians' going to the International Criminal Court with their grievances -- as well they should.

Listen carefully to what Israel's and America's leaders say. They admonish the Palestinians that their "unilateral" action undermines negotiations. What a laugh! Negotiations are supposed to be about land, but Israel insists on annexing Palestinians' land during negotiations! When the Palestinians insist that they will not talk until Israel stops building Jewish-only settlements on their land, which was seized in a war, Israel responds that there must be no preconditions to negotiations. That's as insult to everyone's intelligence. Yet Israel has gotten away with this for years.

Israel is simply doing what it has always done in its quest for the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. It is establishing irrevocable facts on the ground. The only peace it wants is the one that will result from wearing down and demoralizing the Palestinians. In light of its spectacular failure to prevail over Hamas last month in the Gaza Strip, the Israelis must attach a new urgency to their grand strategy.

More and more observers are concluding that the two-state solution is long dead. In light of the facts on the ground, it's hard to rebut this judgment. It certainly appears that there will be only one country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. The only question is whether it will be racist or not.

The Obama administration will bluster a bit, but in the end we know where it will stand: in "lockstep" with Israel.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

How the Rich Rule

My article by that name is now online at The American Conservative. One aspect of the article has been criticized by market monetarist Scott Sumner at his blog (and previously here and here). It has set off quite a debate over the Austrian position on "Cantillon effects" from government-created money; this is the idea that when the Fed creates money it enters at particular points in the economy and through the possession of particular individuals. It doesn't get evenly distributed throughout the economy with no real effects.

Another critic, Nick Rowe, weighs in too.