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Liberty and Power

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  • The Colorado Shootings: Irrelevant to Gun Congrol

    by Lester Hunt

    In the wake of mass shootings like the one in Aurora Colorado, there are always renewed calls for gun control. This familiar phenomenon is a testament to human imperviousness to facts and logic, as such shootings are. of all gun-related deaths, the least likely to be deterred by gun laws. The worst such shooting, ever, happened in Norway (death toll 77) and the worst K-12 school shooting happened in Erfurt Germany (18 dead).

  • Counsel of Despair?

    by Robert Higgs

    Over the years, I have heard many people say that the government’s adoption of a laissez-faire stance during a business recession or depression amounts to “do-nothing government”—the unstated assumption always being that it is better for the government to “do something” than to do nothing. Recommending such a hands-off stance is often described as a “counsel of despair.” Moreover, it is frequently added, in a democratic polity, the electorate will not tolerate such a policy.

    Implicit in such criticism is the assumption that the government knows how to improve the situation and has an incentive to do so. If only it will take the known remedial action, people’s suffering will be relieved, and the economy will return more quickly to full employment and rapid economic growth. All that blocks such remedial action, it would seem, are outdated ideas about the proper role of government and, perhaps, the opposition of certain selfish special interests. Government need only step on the gas pedal, by means of expansionary fiscal and monetary policies, and the economic engine will accelerate. If the government is already taking such actions, it need only press down harder on the gas pedal.


  • Settlements Yesterday, Settlements Today, Settlements Tomorrow!

    by Sheldon Richman

    The New York Times did us all a favor last week when it published the blunt declaration that "Israel’s Settlers Are Here to Stay." It was an op-ed by Dani Dayan, described as chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, which is how Israelis and their fanatical supporters, Jews and evangelical Christians, refer to Palestinian occupied territory on the West Bank of the Jordan River. Dayan writes:

     

    Israel legitimately seized the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria in self-defense. Israel’s moral claim to these territories, and the right of Israelis to call them home today, is therefore unassailable. Giving up this land in the name of a hallowed two-state solution would mean rewarding those who’ve historically sought to destroy Israel, a manifestly immoral outcome. . . .


  • Alexander Cockburn, RIP

    by Sheldon Richman

     Alex Cockburn, 71, died today. I am saddened. He was a true maverick who wasn’t afraid to take positions that alienated allies and lost him friends and publishing outlets. From the start he saw through Obama. He distrusted centralized power and hated war. He was pro-gun and a skeptic about manmade catastrophic global warming. Alex was not fond of the free market (which he probably thought could not be kept clear of corporatism) but his website, Counterpunch, was open to libertarians (me and Kevin Carson included).

    I met Alex once a few years ago and kept in touch with after that. I liked him and admired him. I’m sorry he’s gone.

     

  • Latter-Day Acceptance (and Pushback)

    by David T. Beito

    Jesse Walker, one of my favorite historians, provides a thoughtful and informative overview of the history, and increasing respectability, of Mormonism in the United States:

    For many Americans Mormons are scary, or weird, or at least not the sort of folk you'd want marrying your first lady. Last year a Gallup poll found that 22 percent of the country would not support a Mormon candidate for president. MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell claimed in early April that Mormonism "was created by a guy in upstate New York in 1830 when he got caught having sex with the maid and explained to his wife that God told him to do it." Jacob Weisberg, generally a reliable barometer of center-left conventional wisdom, wrote during the run-up to the last presidential campaign that he "wouldn't vote for someone who truly believed in the founding whoppers of Mormonism."

  • Latter-Day Acceptance (and Pushback)

    by David T. Beito

    Jesse Walker, one of my favorite historians, provides a thoughtful and informative overview of the history, and increasing respectability, of Mormonism in the United States:

    For many Americans Mormons are scary, or weird, or at least not the sort of folk you'd want marrying your first lady. Last year a Gallup poll found that 22 percent of the country would not support a Mormon candidate for president. MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell claimed in early April that Mormonism "was created by a guy in upstate New York in 1830 when he got caught having sex with the maid and explained to his wife that God told him to do it." Jacob Weisberg, generally a reliable barometer of center-left conventional wisdom, wrote during the run-up to the last presidential campaign that he "wouldn't vote for someone who truly believed in the founding whoppers of Mormonism."

  • How Corporate Liberals Win, Part II.

    by Roderick T. Long

     

    Extremely sound reasoning, followed by an absolutely insane conclusion.

    Inferring from “Ideologically, the Republican establishment doesn’t appreciate the difference between being pro-market and being pro-business” to “Romney is eminently qualified to make the pro-market case” makes about as much sense as saying “Every time I eat a polka-dot mushroom I get sick. Therefore, this giant polka-dot mushroom over here is eminently qualified to cure me.”

    “Ergo, presto!” as Benjamin Tucker would say.


  • Yitzhak Shamir Is Dead

    by Sheldon Richman

      The terrorist and once-prime minister of Israel, who called Palestinians "grasshoppers," is gone. Read about his monstrous career, which included a massacre at a Palestinian village and the assassination of a UN peace envoy, here. The only thing missing from the linked article is Shamir's efforts to collaborate with the Nazis against the British, who were running Palestine in those days.

    Also see this.  

  • My Vent on the SCOTUS Ruling (AHA Blog)

    by David T. Beito

    Follow the link for my lamentations.  The  two other historians who comment are still celebrating.

    http://blog.historians.org/articles/1681/aha-roundtable-historians-perspectives-on-the-supreme-court-health-care-ruling


  • An Insight on the SCOTUS Obamacare Decision

    by Wendy McElroy

    Michael B. wrote to comment, If you're looking for some good news, the SCOTUS blog just noted:

     

    "The rejection of the Commerce Clause and Nec. and Proper Clause [as the Constitutional basis for Obamacare] should be understood as a major blow to Congress's authority to pass social welfare laws. Using the tax code -- especially in the current political environment -- to promote social welfare is going to be a very chancy proposition."



    Meanwhile, Ryan W. McMaken has a different take on the LewRockwell.com site.

     

    SCOTUS voted 5-4 to uphold Obamacare and have concluded that the Constitution actually empowers the government to force people to buy things.

  • Anna Jacobson Schwartz (November 11, 1915–June 21, 2012)

    by Robert Higgs

     

    Anna Schwartz was one of the best economic historians of the past century. With Milton Friedman, she wrote (among many other works) that century’s most influential economic history book, A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960 (1963). Although not an economic theorist of Friedman’s caliber, she was a fine economist in her own right. Friedman’s statement that “Anna did all of the work, and I got most of the recognition” was not a mere expression of false modesty, but an honest confession that the immense body of historical evidence meticulously collected, compiled, annotated, and displayed in their landmark books was overwhelmingly the product of Anna’s efforts.

    Although I never knew Anna personally, I felt as if I did because I knew so many people who knew her well and because she was always friendly and helpful when our paths intersected.


  • Happy Flag Day

    by Sheldon Richman

    If you're not convinced that nationalism is cultish, look up the rules for the proper handling of an American flag. My favorites:

    The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

  • Social Science 101: Three Ways to Relate to Other People

    by Robert Higgs

     Many years ago, in a book I’ve lost along the way (I believe it was A Primer on Social Dynamics), Kenneth Boulding described three basic ways in which a person, in the quest to get what he seeks, can approach other people. He can, as it were, say to them:

    (1) Do something nice for me, and I’ll do something nice for you.

    (2) Do something nice for me, or I’ll do something nasty to you.

    (3) Do something nice for me because of who I am.

    The first approach is that of peaceful, mutually beneficial exchange, of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” of positive reciprocity. It is the method by which we conduct the bulk of our economic affairs.

    The second approach is that of coercion, of threats to harm others unless they do as we wish, regardless of their own preferences. This is, among other things, the realm of government as we know it.


  • Politics and Markets: A Highly Misleading Analogy

    by Robert Higgs

    Proposition: Putative “public demand,” especially as expressed by voting, drives the political-governmental system. Elected officials and hence the bureaucracy subordinate to them may be viewed as perfect agents of the electorate.

    Adherence to this proposition characterizes the bulk of all analysis dealing with the growth of government in the West, regardless of analytical tradition or ideological leaning. (Specific citations seem unnecessary, but see virtually any issue of Public Choice, as well as the widely cited articles by Meltzer and Richard [1978, 1981, 1983], Peltzman [1980, 1984, 1985], Becker [1983, 1985], and Borcherding [1977, 1985]. The most recent and most extreme contribution along these lines is by Wittman [1989].)

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