Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Also see this.
Follow the link for my lamentations. The two other historians who comment are still celebrating.
Michael B. wrote to comment, If you're looking for some good news, the SCOTUS blog just noted:
Meanwhile, Ryan W. McMaken has a different take on the LewRockwell.com site.
This nicely illustrates the theory that SCOTUS judges will almost always come down on the side of more government power unless doing so will dangerously undermine...
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. She wrote positive reviews of several of my books, and when Oxford University Press published my book Depression, War, and Cold War in 2006, she wrote a laudatory blurb for the dust jacket. Previously, when David Theroux and I made plans to launch a new journal, The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy, in the mid-1990s, we invited Anna to become a member of the journal’s board...
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.
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. When we say government, we say violence or threats of violence against all who refuse to comply with the rulers’ dictates.
The third approach is that of personal-identity relationships. One person says to another, do what I want you to do because of who I am and who you are—because, for example, I am your father or your teacher or your kinsman.
Boulding argued that all social systems are a blend of these three types of interaction among its individual members. Part of the difficulty of understanding how societies operate arises from the complex...
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 .)
This approach displays a professional deformity related to the economist’s basic tool of analysis―the theory of markets, with its component theories of demand and supply. Economists, applying their familiar tools to the analysis of politics, immediately look for analogues. What is the “good” being traded? Who is the “supplier,” and who is the “demander”? What is the “price”? The answers seem obvious to economists. Public policy is the good; the elected legislators are the suppliers; the voters are the demanders; votes are the currency with which political business is being transacted. Thus, voters “buy” the desired policies by spending their votes; the legislators “sell” policies in exchange for the votes that elect them to office. (See Benson and Engen 1988 for a straightforward application of such analogues.)
Economists view consumer demand in ordinary markets as ultimately decisive for the allocation of resources; hence, they speak of consumer “sovereignty,” thus importing a political metaphor into...
1. Straight talk cannot get a politician from a current point A to the point B at which he really wishes to arrive.
2. To extend a growth-of-government line, project it indefinitely in a line straight to hell.
3. To describe how politicians approach the real solution to a social or economic problem, trace the circle described by a fixed radius of substantial length from the solution point.
4. All right and left angles are morally equal to one another.
5. Politics and morality are parallel lines and never meet.
6. Democratic and Republican policies that are essentially equal to the same thing are also equal to one another.
7. If equal amounts are added to the government’s debt by Republicans and Democrats, the increases in the debt are equally inconsistent with the general public interest (if any exists).
8. If equal amounts of economic rationality are subtracted from economic policy, then the number of incumbents reelected to Congress is equal to the number reelected in the previous election.
9. Politicians who coincide with one another, such as Republicans and Democrats who support “bipartisan” measures, are equally dishonorable.
10. The whole of society is greater than the part that government officials can comprehend, and much greater than the part that they can manage for the attainment of a desirable end.
11. The path of political evolution is spherical and expanding: any course of political events brings society back to the point at which it started, but upon its return, the problem has been made much worse.
12. The shortest distance between a free society and a totalitarian society passes through war.
Read the Wikipedia page on the United Fruit Company, with particular attention to the sections titled “History in Central America” and “Banana massacre.”
Now read this article about the United Fruit Company on Reason.com. (CHT Sheldon.)
You may notice a certain … incompleteness in the latter’s account.
The Romney Victory Fund is now …. offering dinner with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Celebrity Apprentice television star Donald Trump. … Persons who donate $3 or more to the fund will have their names placed in a raffle. … The winner will be invited to the Romney-Trump dinner event in Las Vegas. … As an added attraction, Newt Gingrich will be dining with Romney and Trump.
What could be more deliriously delightful?
As “everyone knows,” Herbert Spencer was a reactionary defender of capitalism and an opponent of socialism, while Thomas sHodgskin was a proto-Marxian defender of socialism and an opponent of capitalism; so what should one expect from Hodgskin’s review (now online) of Spencer’s Social Statics?
The right answer, it turns out, is almost total agreement: “there are very few conclusions or remarks to which we are disposed to object.” And the one point for which Hodgskin does take Spencer to task is Spencer’s rejection of private ownership of land.
It’s almost as though traditional political categories are mistaken somehow ….
Incidentally, although Hodgskin makes some good points in his discussion of land (some of which are reminiscent of Dave Schmidtz’s work), I don’t think he quite sees the force of Spencer’s arguments. Spencer worries that if private land ownership were permissible, the entire earth could theoretically fall into private hands, whereupon the nonowners would be at the mercy of the owners – since while on other people’s property you have to do as they say or leave, and when leaving is impossible all that’s left is doing what they say. (Note, by the way, that Spencer’s worry is not that this would be a likely result. His worry is rather that the principle of land ownership gives the wrong answer to the...
I remain puzzled at the refusal of civil libertarians to see the dangers inherent in government control of medical care.
So the people get to vote on who may marry? And this pleases conservatives? I thought they disliked mobocracy.
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. Moreover, the constitution provides for an army to enforce Southland’s laws (I have been duly appointed chief of staff), and if he refuses to pay his tax, the authorities will have no choice but to use violence against him to compel payment.
He protests that this whole scheme is madness, that I have gone mad, too, and that he will not give us a dime. Elizabeth and I then form up the ranks of Southland’s army: I constitute the infantry, armed with my trusty shotgun, and she leads the army band, which consists of herself with her flute. We march to our neighbor’s house and threaten to kill him...