Sheldon Richman's TGIF

TGIF: Libertarianism Rightly Conceived

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The debate on thick and thin libertarianism continues, and that’s a good thing. Libertarians can only gain by the discussion. Often one comes to appreciate one’s own philosophy more fully in the crucible of intellectual argument. So I, for one, welcome the debate — so long as it is a real debate and not merely a series of unsupported denials ... [click for more]

TGIF: What Should Libertarians Do?

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If the libertarian movement is to be the vehicle — actually, collection of vehicles — for the advancement of liberty, then libertarians need to master the art of persuasion. That’s hardly news, but it’s easily forgotten. I start from the assumption that we don’t want merely to feel good by making hard-core libertarian declarations about abolishing this or that government ... [click for more]

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: In Praise of “Thick” Libertarianism

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I continue to have trouble believing that the libertarian philosophy is concerned only with the proper and improper uses of force. According to this view, the philosophy sets out a prohibition on the initiation of force and otherwise has nothing to say about anything else. (Fraud is conceived as an indirect form of force because, say, a deceptive seller obtains ... [click for more]

TGIF: Empire on Their Minds

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The conflict in Ukraine has prompted several level-headed commentators to point out that, of all governments, the U.S. government is in no position to lecture Russia about respecting other nations’ borders. When Secretary of State John Kerry said on Meet the Press, “This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext.… You ... [click for more]

TGIF: Work!

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“I hear therefore with joy whatever is beginning to be said of the dignity and necessity of labor to every citizen. There is virtue yet in the hoe and the spade, for learned as well as for unlearned hands. And labor is everywhere welcome; always we are invited to work.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar,” ... [click for more]

TGIF: We Can Oppose Bigotry without the Politicians

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Portuguese Should the government coercively sanction business owners who, out of apparent religious conviction, refuse to serve particular customers? While such behavior is repugnant, the refusal to serve someone because of his or her race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is nevertheless an exercise of self-ownership and freedom of nonassociation. It is both nonviolent and nonviolative of other ... [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]

TGIF: The Cruel Joke of Sacralizing Voting

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By now we’re used to MSNBC’s state adoration, expressed not only on its programs but also through in-house promotions. These are often heavy-handed, such as Rachel Maddow’s spots asserting that only governments can accomplish “great things.” Sometimes the promos are more subtle, such as one currently running. Voiced by prime-time “All In” host Chris Hayes, the spot shows ... [click for more]

TGIF: Warfare/Welfare/Corporate State: All of a Piece

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If I understand Princeton historian Sean Wilentz correctly, progressives ought not to be grateful to Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Glenn Greenwald for exposing government spying because they are not card-carrying progressives. (“Would You Feel Differently About Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange If You Knew What They Really Thought?”) Apparently they have either hung out with libertarians, praised or ... [click for more]

TGIF: Rights Violations Aren’t the Only Bads

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More than a few libertarians appear to hold the view that only rights violations are wrong, bad, and deserving of moral condemnation. If an act does not entail the initiation of force, so goes this attitude, we can have nothing critical to say about it. On its face, this is strange. If you observe an adult being rude to his ... [click for more]
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