Freedom Daily Archive

Power and Knowledge: Socialist and Militarist Calculation Problems

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Economist Ludwig von Mises argued (1920) that real prices arise only from exchanges of privately owned goods; having abolished such prices, socialist systems could never calculate rationally. Economist F.A. Hayek agreed with Mises that central planning would produce poverty and totalitarianism, but made the use of knowledge in society the central weakness of socialist calculation. In his view (1945), ... [click for more]

The Real Story Remains Untold

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Liberty’s Dawn: A People’s History of the Industrial Revolution by Emma Griffin (Yale University Press 2013), 320 pages). Emma Griffin calls this a “People’s History of the Industrial Revolution,” and uses documentation of much the same kind as E.P. Thompson in The Making of the English Working Class — a work she explicitly frames her work as a ... [click for more]

Children Learn More from Starfish than from Spiders

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The Rebirth of Education: Schooling Ain’t Learning by Lant Pritchett (Center for Global Development 2013), 288 pages. This book, which indicts centralized state schooling in the developing world, engages you from beginning to end. Examples from Pritchett’s own experiences in India and his use of Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom’s spiders and starfish tropes to differentiate centralized from ... [click for more]

Libertarians and Political Violence

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To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant’s Face: Libertarian Political Violence and the Origins of the Militia Movement by Robert H. Churchill (University of Michigan Press 2011), 384 pages. Discussions regarding the legitimate use of force are not limited to any single ideology. Perhaps the defining quality of any political movement vying for validity is its position on ... [click for more]

Leonard P. Liggio (1933–2014)

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I lost one of my favorite teachers in October, as did so many other libertarians, not to mention the freedom movement as a whole. Leonard P. Liggio, 81, died after a period of declining health. Leonard was a major influence on my worldview during the nearly 40 years I knew him. While I had not seen him much in ... [click for more]

Forgotten Civil War Atrocities Bred More Carnage

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George Orwell wrote in 1945 that “the nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” The same moral myopia has carried over to most Americans’ understanding of the Civil War. While popular historians have recently canonized the war as a practically holy ... [click for more]

The Root of Support for the Drug War

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Although many states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, some states have decriminalized the possession of certain amounts of marijuana, and four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, bipartisan support for the drug war throughout the United States continues unabated and unquestioned. Why? Why do so many Americans think that the ... [click for more]

Uniting Constitutional Protection for Economic and Social Liberties, Part 3: Can the Ninth Amendment Save Us?

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In part 2 of this series (December), I argued that unenumerated noneconomic rights such as those of parents or the right to marry are generally considered “fundamental rights” under the approach libertarian legal scholar Randy Barnett labels “Footnote Four-Plus.” That is, the rights of parents are nowhere enumerated in the Constitution including the Bill of Rights, but are nonetheless ... [click for more]

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]
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