Freedom Daily Archive

Why Doesn’t Democracy Work?

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Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter by Ilya Somin (Stanford University Press 2013), 280 pages. In Democracy and Political Ignorance, law professor Ilya Somin looks down into the apparently fathomless depth of voter ignorance and concludes that dividing and decentralizing the power of the federal government can alleviate many of the ills attending such ignorance. Somin ... [click for more]

Nothing to Fear from New Technologies If the Market Is Free

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The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (W.W. Norton & Company 2014), 320 pages. The subject of this book is the “second machine age,” in which “computers and other digital advances are doing for mental power — the ability to use our brains to understand ... [click for more]

Bastiat on the Socialization of Wealth

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That … veil which is spread before the eyes of the ordinary man, which even the attentive observer does not always succeed in casting aside, prevents us from seeing the most marvelous of all social phenomena: real wealth constantly passing from the domain of private property into the communal domain. Wealth marvelously passing from the private to the communal domain? ... [click for more]

The Food-Security Charade

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Federal spending on food aid has skyrocketed in recent decades, and the feds are now feeding more than 100 million Americans. Yet, according to the Agriculture Department (USDA), far more Americans are “food insecure” now than before the mushrooming of subsidized feeding programs. But rather than seeing this as evidence of a government failure, a chorus of activists and ... [click for more]

The Origins and Intentions of Copyright

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In a victory for media Goliaths, the Supreme Court recently ruled that TV-streaming service Aereo “perform ... copyrighted works publicly” and therefore violated copyright law. The ghost of Grokster haunts us. Napster rolls in its grave. Copyright’s muscular hands have once again strangled innovation. What is the purpose of copyright law? Conventional wisdom asserts that it protects the rights of ... [click for more]

Uniting Constitutional Protection for Economic and Social Liberties, Part 2: The Great Depression and the Great Divide

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 In part 1, I traced the evolution of “substantive due process” jurisprudence under which the Supreme Court protected a variety of unenumerated rights, both economic and personal, through the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Many of the unenumerated rights that had been protected ... [click for more]

“Both Together, They Made a Very Good Book”

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The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Left and Right by Yuval Levin (Basic Books 2014), 235 pages. Yuval Levin’s well-written Great Debate is full of useful material, understandable explanation, and interesting reflections. It flows along smoothly and even entertainingly, unless that is a cuss word in serious circles. Levin goes through the Burke-Paine controversy ... [click for more]

Ignoring the Difference between Free markets and State Capitalism

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Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer (Belknap 2014), 696 pages. The basic phenomenon that Thomas Piketty devotes this book to describing is simple: “When the rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy..., then it logically follows that inherited wealth grows faster than output and income.” His historical account ... [click for more]

Jane Cobden: Carrying On Her Father’s Good Work

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Among libertarians and classical liberals, the name Richard Cobden (1804–1865) evokes admiration and applause. His activities — and successes — on behalf of freedom, free markets, and government retrenchment are legendary. Most famously, he co-founded — with John Bright — the Anti–Corn Law League, which successfully campaigned for repeal of the import tariffs on grain. Those trade restrictions had ... [click for more]

Eric Holder: Patron Saint of Trigger-Happy Cops

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Attorney General Eric Holder received a tidal wave of laudatory media coverage for his visit to Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of a local white policeman’s killing an 18-year-old black man. Holder assured the people of Missouri, “Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent.” But Holder’s own record belies his ... [click for more]
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