Available Now!

Available Now!
What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Saturday, August 31, 2013

In Search of Monsters to Destroy

Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, July 4, 1821 (excerpt):

And now, friends and countrymen, if the wise and learned philosophers of the elder world … should find their hearts disposed to enquire what has America done for the benefit of mankind? Let our answer be this:

America … has invariably … held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity.

She has uniformly spoken among them … the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights.

She has … respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own.

She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart....

Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.

But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own....

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.

The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.... She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit....

[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Scariest Line from Kerry's Syria Speech

"It is also profoundly about who we are. We are the United States of America. We are the country that has tried, not always successfully, but always tried to honor a set of universal values around which we have organized our lives and our aspirations."

Random Thoughts

  • Onion headline I'd like to see: Obama Issuing Troops Nike Footwear to Avoid Accusation He's Putting Boots on Ground in Syria.
  • Who says Obama is not brilliant? He neutralized Hagel, didn't he?
  • Let's take all the tables away from the politicians so they will have no place to put their options.
  • "National interest" is way too vague an idea to be a useful guide for anything.

Now I Understand

I just listened to Secretary State John Kerry's speech on Syria and chemical weapons. He pointed out that such weapons were banned internationally after Word War I. That sheds light on a question that has bugged me for a long time. Now I see why Harry Truman dropped two A-bombs on Japan in 1945: Chemical weapons were illegal.

Two Items Related to Syria

Op-ed: "U.S. Has No Moral Standing To Condemn Assad"
TGIF: "Obama and King" (Portuguese translation here.)

Friday, August 23, 2013

TGIF: Heroic

Chelsea Manning deserves our admiration. Here's hoping her prison stay is short and easy.

Read TGIF: Heroic here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Matthews Demagogues Climate Change ... Again

Chris Matthews does it again: Yesterday's show featured a discussion of the latest report on climate change with a climate scientist who believes that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) is happening (Michael Mann) and ... a Republican consultant (who kept saying, "I'm not a scientist."). Matthews's mission is to make sure his viewers never have to encounter a credentialed climate scientist with evidence against CAGW -- there are such -- so he can maintain the pretense that anyone who denies CAGW must be an anti-science religious fanatic.

Worth reading: Alex Cockburn's "Is Global Warming a Sin?"

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Regarding Bradley Manning's Apology

Bradley Manning was sentenced today to 35 years in prison today, more than the 25 minimum, but less than the 60 the government asked for.

Arthur Silber has written a moving post, "If You Love Martyrs So Much, Then You Be One," about Manning's apology before his court-martial judge. If you are among those who are disappointed in Manning's action, I strongly recommend that you read it. If you understand what Manning did, I also recommend it. Here's a sample:
To express "disappointment" and the like is to confess that you may have grown to adulthood physically, but that you have allowed yourself to become fossilized emotionally in a state one might expect from a pathetically narcissistic, very badly damaged adolescent, with no understanding of how human beings actually live their lives or how societies function. It is also to confess a close to complete ignorance of political matters. It would be sufficiently nauseating if they only wished Manning to become a martyr for whatever cause they think they're serving. But it is beyond obscene that they demand that he willingly climb onto the cross, and drive the nails through his body himself.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Delete the Fed

My latest Future of Freedom Foundation op-ed, "Delete the Fed," summarizes the reasons why no one should succeed Ben Bernanke when his term as chairman of the Federal Reserve expires at the end of January. 
Money was not invented by government. It was the spontaneous creation of people trying to ease exchange in the marketplace. Central banks like the Fed only messed money up, robbing the people while facilitating warfare and welfare spending through irresponsible large-scale government borrowing.
Therefore, the Fed should be deleted.
Read it here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

TGIF: The Phony Trade-Off between Privacy and Security

When we're told that we must trade some privacy to gain security, don't believe it. Read about it here.

Webinar: The Myth of Market Faiilure

Here's the audio for my FFF webninar on the myth of market failure. Enjoy!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Libertarian Angle

The latest Libertarian Angle covers the drug war and foreign policy. Enjoy!

Friday, August 09, 2013

TGIF: Truman, A-Bombs, and the Killing of Innocents

Sixty-eight years ago today a president of the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a city full of innocent Japanese. It was the second time in three days that Harry Truman had done such a thing: He had bombed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The fatalities in the two cities totaled 150,000–246,000. The victims – mostly children, women, and old men – suffered horrible deaths in the blasts and firestorms. Only shadows remained of those who were vaporized. Many more were injured; others later died from radiation sickness.
Appallingly, history has been kind to Truman, and people who profess a variety of political views claim to admire the “plucky” plain-speaking guy from Independence, Mo. As I see it, however, no condemnation could be harsh enough, for if Truman wasn’t a mass murderer, no one was.
Read it here.

The Libertarian Angle

The latest Libertarian Angle discusses the uncompromising nature of libertarianism.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Scott Horton Appearance

Last week Scott Horton and I discussed matters related to the minimum wage and government obstacles to individual advancement. Listen here.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Real Days of Infamy

Today is the 68th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, one of President Harry Truman's acts of mass murder against Japan in August 1945. The anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing is Friday. (It has lately come to my attention that the U.S. military bombed Tokyo on Aug. 14--after destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki and after Emperor Hirohito expressed his readiness to surrender.)

There isn't much to be said about those unspeakable atrocities against civilians that hasn't been said many times before. The U.S. government never needed atomic bombs to commit mass murder. Its "conventional" weapons have been potent enough. (See the earlier firebombing of Tokyo.) But considering how the "leaders" saw The Bomb, its two uses against Japan stand out as especially heinous acts. The U.S. government may not have used atomic weapons since 1945, but it has not yet given up mass murder as a political/military tactic. Presidential candidates are still expected to say that, with respect to nuclear weapons, "no options are off the table."

Mario Rizzo has pointed out that Americans were upset by the murder of 3,000 people on 9/11 yet seem not to be bothered that "their" government murdered hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians in a few days.

As Harry Truman once said, "I don't give 'em hell. I just drop A-bombs on their cities and they think it's hell." (Okay, he didn't really say that, but he might as well have.)

Rad Geek People's Daily has a poignant post here. Rad says: "As far as I am aware, the atomic bombing of the Hiroshima city center, which deliberately targeted a civilian center and killed over half of the people living in the city, remains the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of the world."

Other things to read: Anthony Gregory’s “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the US Terror State and David Henderson’s “Remembering Hiroshima.”

Finally, if you read nothing else on this subject, read Ralph Raico's article here.

[A version of this post appeared previously.]

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Bastiat and Subjective Marginal Utility

Frederic Bastiat really was a precursor of the Austrian school. 
Menger was indeed a revolutionary, but that does not mean that no one before him glimpsed ideas that would later blossom into the Austrian school. As far back as Socrates, thinkers grasped the theory of subjective value in the praxeological sense, and we find a nearly complete subjectivist-marginalist framework 20 years before Menger took pen to paper — in the work of Frédéric Bastiat.
In Bastiat’s unfinished magnum opus, Economic Harmonies (1850), he, like Menger, put the spotlight on the choosing individual and what she tries to accomplish through exchange. Trade, for Bastiat, is an exchange of services that will render useful things: I’ll do something for you (furnish a useful thing, for example) if you do something for me. It’s up to each individual to evaluate the terms and decide if the exchange is worthwhile. Methodological individualism, marginalism, and subjectivism are all to be found in Bastiat.
Read about it here.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Latest Op-Ed: How to Help Fast-Food Workers

Doubling the minimum wage may seem like a good way to help fast-food workers, but it would hurt them instead. So what should we do? We must sweep away the government-created barriers to income earning, barriers that protect established businesses from competition and rob the most vulnerable people of options.

The Bradley Manning Verdict

Now we know what happens when you embarrass the scoundrels who run the U.S. government.