Politics

TGIF: What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

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If I were compelled to summarize the libertarian philosophy’s distinguishing feature while standing on one foot, I’d say the following: Every person owes it to all other persons not to aggress them. This is known as the nonaggression principle, or NAP. What is the nature of this obligation? The first thing to notice is that it is unchosen. I never agreed ... [click for more]

TGIF: Don’t Get Out the Vote

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A seminar student once became upset with me for suggesting that instead of running get-out-the-vote campaigns, the government should keep the dates of elections and the locations of polling places secret so that only people with enough initiative and interest to ferret out the information could vote. It was not a serious suggestion, but the college-aged young woman didn’t catch ... [click for more]

Exit over Voice

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By what standard should we judge collective decision-making? In the liberal-democratic tradition, the overwhelming consensus affirms the supremacy of process. On this view, the justness and efficacy of collective decision-making depend on the inclusiveness of the process. That concern, what philosophers and social scientists call “voice,” has manifested itself in many familiar and important ways, chiefly through an expansion ... [click for more]

Politicians as Interchangeable Units

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Why did it take a comedian to demand answers about a blatant double standard embedded in Obamacare? On October 7, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was grilled mercilessly by Jon Stewart, who focused on why businesses can delay enrollment for a year but individuals cannot. Stewart speculated on the reason, saying, “Geez, it looks like ... [click for more]

Don’t Look for Grown-Ups in Government

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With the government partially closed for over two weeks now and the debt-ceiling deadline upon us, the pundits are demanding that the “grown-ups in the room” finally put a stop to the childish goings-on in Washington. That would be nice — except there are no grown-ups in the room. If you seek evidence, just look around. Politicians, from President Barack ... [click for more]

Obama’s Bid for Unilateral Power over Elections

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“I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how.” — Joseph Stalin (1923), as quoted in The Memoirs of Stalin’s Former Secretary by Boris Bazhanov. To glimpse the political future of America, turn off the news, ignore public statements from officials, and ... [click for more]

The Calling: The Problem with Political Heroes and Villains

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It’s sometimes hard to tell the coverage of politics from the coverage of sports. People seem to root for political parties as though they were sports teams, cheering Team Red or Team Blue on to victory with the same passion they bring to the Super Bowl. Individual team members are followed with the same intensity as are star players ... [click for more]

Obama, Union Buster?

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Organized labor has been a bedrock of President Obama’s political power. How far will he go to preserve support from this key Democratic constituency? On April 16, the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (UURWAW) became the first union to officially call for the repeal of Obama’s signature legislation — the Affordable Care Act, also known as ... [click for more]

The Motives of Public Officials

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It is not uncommon for critics of the free market to allege that for-profit providers of services have an interest, not in solving problems, but rather in prolonging them. Why would the medical industry cure cancer, heart disease, or AIDS, for example, when it would just be putting itself out of business? This argument essentially hinges on the notion that ... [click for more]

The Washington Con Game Goes On

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Much of what government does seems unfathomable until you remember one thing: the politicians think the people are morons. Take the latest example: the effort to avert the “fiscal cliff.” If, as the politicians say they believe, the country is in a budgetary deficit and debt crisis combined with an anemic economic recovery, why would they raise taxes on everyone ... [click for more]

Reflections on the 2012 Elections

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Every two years the parasitic political class must subject themselves to a vote of confidence from their hapless hosts, the American people. These elections — which H.L. Mencken called “an advance auction sale of stolen goods” — allegedly grant legitimacy to the system of legalized plunder we call politics. The quadrennial presidential elections have long since become meaningless ... [click for more]
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