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Liberty and Power

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  • Do You Really Want to Be Correct?

    by Wendy McElroy

    Evidence that something is wrong with a theory is rarely as obvious as a trout in the milk. This is particularly true when a belief is deeply-held or invested with emotion.

  • Is the NDAA Notification Requirement Unconstitutional?

    by Anthony Gregory

    If Obama is right about the NDAA, he should start releasing far more prisoners from Guantánamo. A firestorm has erupted over the Obama administration’s release of five Guantánamo captives in exchange for the Taliban’s release of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl. Putting aside all the rest of the strategic, moral, and practical arguments, I want to focus on the legal side. Many of Obama’s critics say that his move violated the NDAA notification requirement, signed by Obama (who issued a signing statement suggesting he thought it was unconstitutional). The requirement mandates that the president inform Congress of Guantánamo releases.

  • Are Some Groups More Equal Than Others?

    by Jonathan J. Bean

    In the recent Schuette v. BAMN decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of voters to amend the Michigan Constitution by guaranteeing Equal Protection to individuals in state university admission. The Court’s 6-2 majority split in its reasoning, with several justices citing recent decisions upholding “permissible” racial discrimination when the Court deems it acceptable. There is, however, no such “permissibility” language in the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

  • Press TV Interview

    by Sheldon Richman

    Press TV interviewed me about U.S. policy toward Ukraine. You can listen here

  • The Disaster That Is U.S. Foreign Policy

    by Sheldon Richman

    We live in angry times. For evidence, turn on any news program. An awful lot of people, led by right-wing politicians and radio and TV entertainers, are angry at Barack Obama for trading five Taliban officials, who have been held for years without charge in the Guantánamo prison, for an American soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who apparently walked away from his outpost after having a change of heart about the Afghan war. The Right is apoplectic.

  • A Soviet Devil in the Capitalist Details

    by Phillip Magness

    The other day I began scrutinizing Thomas Piketty’s data on capital to national income ratios and particularly the twice-published Figure 5.8/12.4. This graph provides an important piece of evidence for Piketty’s theoretical argument in Capital in the 21st Century, and particularly his contention that “a country that saves a lot and grows slowly will over the long run accumulate an enormous stock of capital (relative to its income), which can in turn have a significant effect on the social structure and distribution of wealth.” This “law” of capital accumulation, along with Piketty’s much quoted formula r>g, is supposed to demonstrate the central argument of his book wherein returns on capital outpace income, leading to sustained wealth disparity.

  • Politics, Not Economics, Driving Minimum Wage

    by Wendy McElroy

    On April 30, the Senate voted 54-42 to end debate on the Minimum Wage Fairness Act and effectively shelved it for the foreseeable future. The act would have raised the minimum wage of federal workers to $10.10 by 2016 and indexed it to inflation thereafter. Championed by Democrats and opposed by Republicans, minimum wage will be a flash point in the November elections. But does minimum wage genuinely help the workers that Democrats claim it benefits: the young, the poor, immigrants and women?

  • Data Problems with Piketty’s Capital/Income Ratios

    by Phillip Magness

    The post that follows is a bit more technical than my other posts on the data problems with Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. It also involves a more complex piece of his data, though one with significant implications to his general theory about a hypothesized inherent tendency of capital returns to outpace other earnings.

  • The Achilles Heel of Libertarian War Theory: Who Decides?

    by Wendy McElroy

    Can a libertarian support or engage in war? Some libertarians point to the right of self-defense to justify going to war. An individual has the right to defend himself with deadly force, if necessary, against an aggressor. If you multiply the justified individual by hundreds of thousands, they argue, then you create an army of people who can collectively and rightfully exercise their self-defense. From this point, debate on the propriety of a libertarian war usually revolves around issues such as the inevitable harm inflicted on non-aggressors, on civilians. One fundamental issue rarely crops up.

  • Why the U.S. is Stuck With a Subpar Economy

    by Robert Higgs

    Making sense of economic fluctuations can be a daunting task. The economy comprises a gigantic set of interrelated assets, inputs, processes, transactions, and outputs, and its dimensions can be and have been measured in countless ways.

  • Remember the War Revenue Act of 1898!

    by Phillip Magness

    The federal revenue situation of the late 19th century United States presents a somewhat case study in constitutional political economy, owing to a fairly restrictive constitutional restraint on the means of raising revenue for the federal government. The U.S. Constitution provided Congress with the “Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises” as its primary means of taxation, yet it also provided that “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”

  • Matthews Demagogues Climate Change ... Again

    by Sheldon Richman

      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.

  • It is Never Your Decision

    by Keith Halderman

    I read an article once that argued there were two types of people in the world those who were oriented towards the future while others gave the past more importance. I put myself firmly in the latter category. I find historical fiction much more interesting than science fiction because we can learn from the past but we can only speculate about the future. That is why I am a devoted follower of the television program “Mad Men” you may legitimately argue with their interpretation of the history of advertising. However, one thing you absolutely cannot fault the show for is not putting their story in historical context. Many of the last season’s shows contained a real sales pitch for Johnny Walker Scotch featuring the exceedingly beautiful cast member actress Christina Hendricks walking slowly towards the camera in a very attractive black dress. While doing so she makes her case for the superiority Johnny Walker then she stops looks squarely at the audience says “and you ordered it.”


  • To Rule the Earth

    by Roderick T. Long

    I make a cameo appearance in George Smith’s latest post on the Herbert Spencer / Henry George debate. 


  • The Real Days of Infamy

    by Sheldon Richman

     

    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 Thursday. (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.)

  • Bastiat and Subjective Marginal Utility

    by Sheldon Richman

     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.

  • New Deal Witch Hunt

    by David T. Beito

    My article just appeared at National Review:

    Watergate
    has become the default historical template for the Obama scandals, as charges about enemies lists, executive-agency politicization, and high-handed federal snooping dominate the discussion. But those hunting for historical analogies would do well to consider the even closer parallels between these events and occurrences during the New Deal and Fair Deal.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt routinely audited the income taxes of such critics as Representative Hamilton Fish, a Republican who represented the president’s hometown of Hyde Park, N.Y. Democrats of that era not only found creative ways to intimidate conservative and libertarian organizations, but also, like their modern counterparts, eventually attracted charges of witch-hunting.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/354706/new-deal-witch-hunt-david-t-beito

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