Liberty and Power

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  • Inflation Hawks

    by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

    Over at the Forbes blog, Timothy Lee of the Cato Institute has a good post criticizing what he calls "libertarian inflation hawks." But as David Henderson points out in an EconLog post entitled "Timothy Lee's Blunder," Lee is quite incorrect to state that Scott Sumner is the "lonely exception" to libertarians predicting rising inflation. As evidence, David cites our own joint article defending Greenspan, published by the Cato Institute, along with two of his previous posts. He also could have mentioned our earlier defense of Greenspan, appearing in the March 28, 2008, issue of Investor's Business Daily.

  • Outstanding Exposé of Psychiatric Drugs

    by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

    The New York Review of Books has run an outstanding, two-part review by Marcia Angell of three new books highly critical of psychiatric drugs and medical psychiatry:  (1) Irving Kirsch, The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth;  (2) Robert Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America; and (3) Daniel Carlat, Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry--A Doctor's Revelations about a Profession in Crisis. The first part of the review, entitled "The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?", ran in the June 23, 2011, issue. The second part, entitled "The Illusions of Psychiatry," ran in the July 14 issue.

  • Krugman and Macroeconomics

    by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

    One of my former students asked me about Pete Boettke's post over at Coordination Problem on a recent Paul Krugman presentation, "Mr. Keynes and the Moderns." Pete does not agree with Krugman, but he likes this particular piece and thinks it must be addressed. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I'm not entirely clear why.

  • Selgin critiques Roubini

    by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

    The latest issue (Summer 2011) of The Independent Review has a wonderful review essay by George Selgin critical of Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm's Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance. Roubini is of course the famous "Dr. Doom" who in September 2006 predicted the recent financial crisis.

    But as Selgin points out, if "one devoted Roubini watcher is to be believed, 'Dr. Doom' actually predicted no fewer than '48 of the last 4 recessions.' . . . Roubini predicted a serious crash for 2004, then a severe slowdown for 2005, then a global reckoning for 2006, and finally a sharp recession for 2007. After the much-trumpeted crisis at last materialized (though not quite for the reasons Roubini had harped on), he declared that the S&P 500 would sink to 600, that oil would get stuck below $40 a barrel, and that a gold 'bubble' was about to do what the housing one had done. To be sure, these things have not yet come to pass, but tomorrow is another day, and to succeed prophets need only mark when they hit and never mark when they miss."

    Although Selgin's review is not entirely negative and there are sections I would take issue with, it scores many important points.

  • An Easy Solution to the Government’s Debt-Ceiling Impasse

    by Robert Higgs

    If we credit the reports coming to us from the mainstream news media–and I am certainly not suggesting that we should–the Democrats and the Republicans are locked in a fierce struggle over whether to increase the government’s statutory debt limit. The administration and its supporters in Congress insist that taxes be increased as part of the deal, whereas congressional Republicans insist that taxes not be increased and that substantial spending cuts be made to trim the future stream of budget deficits (i.e., additions to the federal debt). Negotiations have been tense, we are told; the president recently waxed petulant and stalked out of a meeting. Heavens!

    Despite the seeming impossibility of resolving this conflict, an easy solution lies at hand, and as a public service, I feel compelled to divulge it, so that the entire matter may be resolved at once and the acrimony put, as they say, “behind us” as we march stoutly toward the Brave New World that awaits us.

    First, however, permit me to digress for a moment.

  • If You Prick Us, Do We Not Burst?

    by Roderick T. Long


    Jesse Walker’s latest column does a great of replying to internet critics like Eli Pariser, Andrew Shapiro, and Cass Sunstein, who think the internet is isolating us from viewpoints we disagree with.

    You can post a comment disagreeing with him, but I won’t read it.

  • A Very American Story

    by Mark Brady

    Christopher Turner, author of Adventures in the Orgasmatron: Wilhelm Reich and the Invention of Sex (London: Fourth Estate), describes here how J. D. Salinger, Saul Bellow and Norman Mailer were all devotees of the orgone energy accumulator, whose inventor, Wilhelm Reich, claimed that better orgasms could cure society's ills.  Over the years some libertarians have been interested in Reich, not least because he was a victim of FBI and FDA repression.

  • An Open Letter to Senator Barbra Mikulski

    by Keith Halderman

    I sent Senator Mikulski a message in support of Ron Paul and Barney Frank's bill to legalize marijuana at the federal level and she replied "I'm against legalization of marijuana." My response is below:

    Dear Senator Mikulski


  • Looming Treasury “Default”: Theater of the Absurd

    by Robert Higgs

    For weeks, we have been treated to comic opera in D.C.’s theater of the politically and economically absurd. On the stage, the actors — President Obama, the Secretary of the Treasury, congressional leaders — hop about, shouting moronic lines about the national “default” that will occur unless the government’s statutory debt limit is raised, reciting Chicken Little lines about how such a default will trigger worldwide economic catastrophe. According to a report in yesterday’s Christian Science Monitor,

    Facing an Aug. 2 deadline, Congress and the White House are stepping up face time to avert what the Treasury Department has called “catastrophic economic and market consequences” of a default on the national debt.

  • Has the American Revolution’s Rationale Lost Its Force?

    by Robert Higgs

    The heart of the Declaration of Independence adopted by the thirteen united colonies of British North America on July 4, 1776, is as follows:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

  • Marriage 2000: A Time Odyssey

    by Roderick T. Long


    The following passage (CHT Jesse Walker) from Ehrlichman’s Witness to Power: The Nixon Years, quoting Nixon on same-sex marriage in 1970 –

    I can’t go that far; that’s the year 2000! Negroes [and whites], okay. But that’s too far!

    – irresistibly reminds me of these lines toward the end of the recent Doctor Who episode “Day of the Moon,” set in 1969:


    DOCTOR:Canton just wants to get married. Hell of a reason to kick him out of the FBI.

    NIXON:I’m sure something can be arranged. … This person you want to marry – black?

    CANTON:Yes …

    NIXON:I know what people think of me, but perhaps I’m a little more liberal –

    CANTON:… he is.

    NIXON:I think the moon is far enough for now, don’t you, Mr. Delaware?

    CANTON:I figured it might be.

  • Read It and Weep

    by Jane S. Shaw

    I don’t know which brought tears to my eyes—the negligence on the part of the famed Great Books school, the University of Chicago,  or Joe Bast’s
    extraordinary devotion to  learning. You will not read this unmoved: “My Eight Years as an Undergraduate.”

  • World War II: Still Being Touted as the Quintessential Keynesian Miracle

    by Robert Higgs

     Someone must have imagined that my hopes for improved economic understanding might be excessively optimistic today and thus needed to be curbed to restore my normal emotional balance, because that person undertook to smash any such hopes to dust by e-mailing me a link to a HuffingtonPost article by Paul Abrams, “Economically, World War II Was Stimulus on Steroids.” This screed turns out to be an ostensible macroeconomics lesson composed in equal measure of economic foolishness, historical ignorance, and ideological tendentiousness – the veritable epitome of a worse-than-worthless contribution to public enlightenment.

    The opening paragraphs indicate the direction of Abrams’s argument:

    The next time someone argues that the New Deal failed, and only the Second World War ended the Depression, as ‘proof’ that government spending does not work, one can respond with the details of economic growth and unemployment reduction up to 1940, or one can ignore the claim and thank them for making your case for massive government spen

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