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Liberty and Power

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  • Screw the Vote

    by Sheldon Richman

     

    So the people get to vote on who may marry? And this pleases conservatives? I thought they disliked mobocracy.


  • Want to Rip Off Your Neighbor? Form a Government

    by Robert Higgs

    Facts of the case: My wife and I live in an area with one neighbor nearby. One day, I knock on my neighbor’s door and demand that he give me $10,000. He wants to know what the devil I am talking about.

    I explain that the people—most of them, in any event—in our area have seceded from St. Tammany Parish, the state of Louisiana, and the United States of America and formed a new government whose territory comprises his property and ours. We have also written and ratified, with our own votes of approval, a constitution for the new country, which we have decided to call Southland. We have also conducted elections in which a 2/3 majority of the eligible voters elected Elizabeth and me to fill all of the new government’s offices, including tax collector (I won this vote myself).

    My neighbor protests that he has never heard of any of these developments and wants nothing to do with them, to which I reply that he has no choice in the matter because the constitution of Southland gives its government the power to tax, I am the duly elected tax collector, and he is at fault for not following the news more closely and not participating in public affairs.


  • The Systematic Organization of Hatreds

    by Robert Higgs

     

    In the mid-1970s, I began to do consulting work in addition to my academic work. By that time, I had become familiar with how economists generally analyze cooperation and competition, in both the economy and the political realm. Economists put great weight on gains from trade. Nobody, they like to say, walks past a $20 bill he sees lying on the sidewalk. If a situation contains the potential for a trade or other arrangement that will bring gain to a decision-maker, he will embrace that trade or arrangement. This market process leads, in the theoretical extreme, to the happy condition known as the Pareto Optimum—the situation in which all potential gains from trade have been captured.

    Notice that this view of mankind causes us think of people as self-interested, but not as vicious. Individuals are seen as, in effect, indifferent to the welfare of their trading or cooperating partners, but intent on making themselves as well-off as possible. They do not seek to harm others, but only to benefit themselves (and those about whom they happen to care).

    As I launched into my consulting work, which involved various efforts by Washington state and the U.S.


  • The Question of Value

    by Sheldon Richman

    Labor (including mental labor) does not bestow utility on an automobile; consumers do that. Rather, labor bestows utility on the disparate factors of production by transforming them into an automobile.

  • Can Mutually Beneficial Exchanges Be Exploitative?

    by Sheldon Richman

    The great thing about competitive markets is not that marginal utility sets prices, but that rivalry among sellers drives prices below the level that approximates many people’s marginal utility. This produces a consumer surplus. (How far below is governed by producers’ subjective opportunity costs, including workers’ preference for leisure.) We all have bought things at a price below that which we were prepared to pay. . . . In a manner of speaking, competition socializes consumer surplus.On the other hand, in the absence of competition a coercive monopolist is able to charge more than in a freed market, capturing some of the surplus that would have gone to consumers. That’s a form of exploitation via government privilege.

    Read the rest of TGIF here.  


  • Fellow Anarchists – Prepare to Be Stabbed, Shot, and Bataranged

    by Roderick T. Long

     I always start by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business. Every aspect of [our] lives is directly impacted by global events. The security of our cities is connected to the security of small hamlets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.


  • The Old Rugged Cross

    by Roderick T. Long

    12

    Genius. Billionaire. Playboy. Philanthropist.

    For some reason I’m on the mailing list of an outfit called “Conservative Action Alerts.” (They seem more libertarian than the conservative mainstream, so that’s probably the connection.) Their latest missive complains that the word “individualism” has been “poisoned by deceptive propaganda that disparaged it as ‘rugged.’”


  • Tornado Recovery: How Joplin Is Beating Tuscaloosa (My Wall Street Journal Article)

    by David T. Beito

     Last April 27, one of the worst tornadoes in American history tore through Tuscaloosa, Ala., killing 52 people and damaging or destroying 2,000 buildings. In six minutes, it put nearly one-tenth of the city's population into the unemployment line. A month later, Joplin, Mo., suffered an even more devastating blow. In a city with half the population of Tuscaloosa, a tornado killed 161 and damaged or destroyed more than 6,000 buildings.

    More than 100,000 volunteers mobilized to help the stricken cities recover. A "can-do" spirit took hold, with churches, college fraternities and talk-radio stations leading the way. But a year after the tragedies, that spirit lives on far more in Joplin than in Tuscaloosa. Joplin is enjoying a renaissance while Tuscaloosa's recovery has stalled.

    In Joplin, eight of 10 affected businesses have reopened, according to the city's Chamber of Commerce, while less than half in Tuscaloosa have even applied for building permits, according to city data we reviewed. Walgreens revived its Joplin store in what it calls a "record-setting" three months. In Tuscaloosa, a destroyed CVS still festers, undemolished.


  • Was Trayvon Martin Standing HIS Ground?

    by Sheldon Richman

     Trayvon Martin's champions should be careful what they say about the "stand your ground" law. It's possible that Martin felt threatened by George Zimmerman and, in fear for his life, countered the threat rather than retreat.  Of course Martin had no gun, but what if he had managed to kill Zimmerman by, say, slamming his head on the pavement? He might have reasonably invoked "stand your ground."

    Be careful.


  • Deir Yassin Day

    by Sheldon Richman

    Today is Deir Yassin Day. Anyone who seeks understanding about the unending conflict in Palestine/Israel ought to know about this massacre of 254 innocent Palestinians by the Zionist paramilitary forces Irgun (headed by future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin) and the Stern Gang in 1948, a month before the Jewish state declared independence. Deir Yassin was among the worst incidents of the Nakba, the ethnic-cleansing catastrophe that befell the Palestinians in the creation of the state of Israel. Some 750,000 people were driven from their homes (which were then destroyed or expropriated) and were not allowed to return.

    The best brief introduction to the Nakba is Jeremy Hammond’s The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination.


  • Trademarking Trayvon, Manufacturing racism

    by Wendy McElroy

    [First published at the highly recommended Future of Freedom Foundation site. Visit in order to access the many links embedded in the original article.]

    On February 26, a 17-year-old black youth named Trayvon Martin was walking at night in an area where he had every right to be. A self-appointed captain of the neighborhood watch named George Zimmerman found the unarmed Trayvon “suspicious” even though the youth was not engaged in criminal activity and none has since been alleged.

    Zimmerman tailed Trayvon, calling the 911 operator as he did. The operator advised him to stop following the youth. From this point, versions differ but two facts remain constant: Minutes later Trayvon lay on the pavement, dead from a gun shot wound; and Zimmerman admits to shooting him.

    Was it self-defense? Confusion and contradictory accounts obscure the answer. Zimmerman was taken into custody by the police but not arrested, even though the lead investigator reportedly wanted to charge him with manslaughter. Instead, he was released after the state attorney's office found insufficient evidence to proceed.


  • Cordial and Sanguine, Part 21: War Among the Bleeding Hearts

    by Roderick T. Long

    Greetings from Las Vegas! Our two panels went well, and I’ve been having a great time hanging out with my Molinari/C4SS/ALL comrades. This is the first Vegas conference where I’ve actually stayed at the conference hotel (I got a special deal, half the conference rate) rather than my usual venue, three miles up the strip at the Mohamed Atta EconoLodge; that’s certainly an improvement.


  • Response to The Horrors of an Ayn Rand World

    by Wendy McElroy

    Friend and blog reader Robert M. gives an excellent response to a third party who queried him about an anti-Rand article written by Gary Weiss entitled "The Horrors of an Ayn Rand World." Excerpt: "In an Objectivist world, roads would go unplowed in the snows of winter, and bridges would fall as the government withdrew from the business of maintaining them. Public parks and land, from the tiniest vest-pocket patch of green to vast expanses of the West, would be sold off to the newly liberated megacorporations. Airplane traffic would be grounded unless a profit-making capitalist found it in his own selfish interests to fund the air traffic control system. If it could be made profitable, fine. If not, tough luck. The market had spoken. Fires would rage in the remnants of silent forests, vegetation and wildlife no longer protected by rangers and coercive environmental laws, swept clean of timber, their streams polluted in a rational, self-interested manner by bold, imaginative entrepreneurs." The third party asked, "The author of this article below seems to think her thought has gone into Libertarian beliefs. Has it?"

    Robert's response...


  • Three Felonies a Day by Harvey A. Silverglate, a Review

    by Wendy McElroy

    If you are an average American, then you are a repeat felon. In his stunning book, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (2009), civil-liberties attorney Harvey A. Silverglate estimates that the average person unknowingly breaks at least three criminal laws each and every day. Federal statutes and regulations have become so voluminous and vague that over-reaching prosecutors can target anyone at any time. They may think you are guilty, they could want leverage to force your co-operation, they may be vengeful, or they could be building their own careers; the motives are secondary. What's primary is the clout and, in this, the federal bureacracy of the United States now rivals the Soviet Union at the zenith of its power.

    Even if you are ultimately proven innocent, the 'vindication' will come after years of abusive prosecution during which your assets will be frozen, your family interrogated and, perhaps, threatened, your reputation smeared, your life left in shambles.

    How did this happen in the Land of the Free? How did America drift so far from common law roots that preserved peace and property?Step by step.

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