Free Society

TGIF: Government Undermines Social Cooperation

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I should know better than to take seriously the insipid words of presidential speechwriters, especially those who composed an inaugural address. Still, I can’t let some of the words President Obama read at Monday’s inauguration pass without comment. For example, Obama said this: Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet ... [click for more]

TGIF: What’s Need Got to Do with It?

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Recent public-policy debates have taken an ominous turn. Proponents of new government impositions increasingly justify their proposals by asserting that the individuals who would be adversely affected should not complain because they do not need whatever the government action would deny them. We've heard this during debates over both higher taxes on upper-income people and gun control. Those favoring higher ... [click for more]

The Heroism of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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A destructive myth hangs over the history of World War II. It is that a flaw within the German character allowed the rise of Hitler and Nazism. How else can you explain the coming of the Holocaust from one of the world’s most cultured nations? Oddly, no one seems to consider Mussolini as indicating a flaw in Italians or ... [click for more]

Charity, Not Welfare

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As long as human beings have gathered together in society, provisions have been made for the aid of the poor. In Europe, it was the church that came to shoulder most of this burden, granting a percentage of its income to those in need. In their excellent work, Life in a Medieval Castle, Joseph and Frances Gies ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Year That Was

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The year coming to an end has hardly been a banner one in the cause of liberty. Once again, high points are tough to find, but low points abound. In mainstream public discussion, freedom counted for nothing, if it wasn’t ridiculed outright. The presidential election saw the marginalizing (again) of the only figure in the race — Ron Paul — ... [click for more]

Holding “Public Servants” Accountable

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Most would agree that if we must suffer the impositions of government, it would be wise to subordinate it to the rule of law. As Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” This is what the Founding ... [click for more]

The Fight over Right-to-Work

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The “right-to-work” issue is back. When a state passes a right-to-work law, as Michigan did this month, employers in that state can no longer agree to require workers to pay union fees as a condition of employment. Supporters of right-to-work see it as a way to protect workers from being forced to support unions against their will. Many opponents of ... [click for more]

The Calling: Risk, Tradeoffs, and Freedom

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In the wake of the Newtown massacre, people from all over the political spectrum are chiming in with their own recommendations of what should be done to prevent this kind of horrific tragedy. For my purposes here, I want to put aside two rather obvious points in order to explore some more subtle ones. First, for American politicians, especially President ... [click for more]

The Political Use and Abuse of Children

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On December 7, President Obama signed the Child Protection Act of 2012. The act continues a political trend that harms children psychologically and endangers them physically — namely, the trend of fearmongering about child abuse. Certainly, child abuse exists, but more than enough laws already exist to address the issue in all its manifestations. More than enough cameras and ... [click for more]

The Goal Is Freedom: Individualist Collectivism

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Is the free market an individualist or collectivist social arrangement? Don’t answer too quickly. It’s a trick question. Most people — free-market friend and free-market foe alike — will answer “individualist.” And that makes perfect sense. The free market describes a political/legal environment in which individuals are at liberty to engage in any peaceful activity, with only force and fraud ... [click for more]

Why Are Brothels Illegal?

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In contrast to the boring and predictable presidential candidates, there are some unusually colorful candidates who somehow manage to get into office each time there is an election. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was twice elected to the California governorship. Professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota. Singer Sony Bono was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives until his life was tragically cut ... [click for more]

The Lingering Curse of “Bush Freedom”

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It has been almost four years since George W. Bush’s presidency ended. Unfortunately, it increasingly appears that Bush did permanent damage to this nation’s political vocabulary and understanding. Rather than repeal his worst precedents, Barack Obama used them as launch pads for his own abuses. And the scant discussion of Obama’s power grabs in this fall’s presidential campaigns illustrate ... [click for more]
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