Sheldon Richman's TGIF

TGIF: The War of 1812 Was the Health of the State, Part 1

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Part 1 | Part 2 In 1918, having watched in horror as his Progressive friends gleefully jumped onto Woodrow Wilson’s war wagon, Randolph Bourne penned the immortal words: “War is the health of the state.” As he explained it, The republican State has almost no trappings to appeal to the common man’s emotions. What it has ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Economic Way of Thinking about Health Care

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I realize Mike Lupica is a sports columnist -- and that Howard Cosell called sports "the toy department of life" -- but maybe that's what makes Lupica's recent declaration about Obamacare all the more representative a reaction. Appearing on a morning cable news program, Lupica declared that “health insurance for all is a noble idea.” He repeated this a few ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Inherently Humble Libertarian

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You would think that the advocates of a philosophy of political economy that embraces spontaneous social order, bottom-up rule-making based on peaceful voluntary exchange, and even competing polycentric law at least at some level would be safe from the charge of conceit. How conceited can someone be who forswears compelling other people to live in certain ways, ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Poison Called Nationalism

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Serbo-Croatian “Forward, the Light Brigade!” Was there a man dismay’d? Not tho’ the soldier knew Someone had blunder’d: Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson The reason for the venom directed at those of us ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Consequences of Liberty

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Consistent free-market advocates — and not just professional economists — are not only enthusiastic about their preferred system of political economy; they are very enthusiastic. At least part of that enthusiasm is fueled by a well-grounded conviction that the general level of prosperity would be unprecedentedly high if people were free to engage in peaceful production and exchange without ... [click for more]

TGIF: What Are Libertarians Out to Accomplish?

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When I was researching my recent article on Nathaniel Branden, who died last month, I came across an audio file of a talk Branden gave at the 1979 Libertarian Party national convention in Los Angeles. I was at the convention, but I don’t remember attending the talk. I might have been busy with other things; on the ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Open Society and Its Worst Enemies

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Last week’s bloody events in Paris demonstrate yet again that a noninterventionist foreign policy, far from being a luxury, is an urgent necessity -- literally a matter of life and death. A government that repeatedly wages wars of aggression — the most extreme form of extremism — endangers the society it ostensibly protects by gratuitously making enemies, some of whom will seek revenge against ... [click for more]

TGIF: In Memory of the Charlie Hebdo Victims

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Words can hardly convey the grief and disgust felt at Wednesday’s executions of the editor, cartoonists, and others — 10 people in all — at France’s satirical weekly magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Two policemen also were killed, and 11 other people were wounded by the three fanatics who reportedly declared they were avenging the prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. Nothing can justify ... [click for more]

TGIF: Monopoly and Aggression

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The concepts monopoly and aggression are intimately related, like lock and key, or mother and son. You cannot fully understand the first without understanding the second. Most of us are taught to think of a monopoly as simply any lone seller of a good or service, but this definition is fraught with problems, as Murray Rothbard, Austrian economists generally, and ... [click for more]

TGIF: “And the Pursuit of Happiness”: Nathaniel Branden, RIP

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Libertarians and others have wondered why Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence concludes its explicitly incomplete list of unalienable rights with the pursuit of happiness rather than property. The website Monticello.org states, Unfortunately, Thomas Jefferson himself never explained his use of the phrase “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. However, he was almost certainly influenced by George ... [click for more]

TGIF: Tackling Straw Men Is Easier than Critiquing Libertarianism

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Maybe I’m being unreasonable, but I think it behooves a critic to understand what he’s criticizing. I realize that tackling straw men is much easier than dealing with challenging arguments, but that’s no excuse for the shoddy work we find in John Edward Terrell’s New York Times post, “Evolution and the American Myth of the Individual.” In his ... [click for more]
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