Sheldon Richman's TGIF

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]

TGIF: Intellectual Property Fosters Corporate Concentration

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The modern libertarian case against so-called intellectual property (IP) has been building steadily since the late 1980s, when I first encountered it. Since then, an impressive volume of work has been produced from many perspectives: economics, political economy, sociology, moral and political philosophy, history, and no doubt more. It is indeed a case to be reckoned with. ... [click for more]

TGIF: Dump the Contraception Mandate and All the Rest

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“Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.” —Oscar Wilde In the wacky world of American politics, if you as an employer have a religious objection to paying for your employees’ contraceptives, you are the one contemptuous of religious freedom. As the New York Times editorial board lectured a judge who thinks otherwise, “the threat to religious liberty comes ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Moral Case for Freedom Is the Practical Case for Freedom

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If I say that a government activity — “public” schooling, perhaps, or the war on selected drug merchants and users — helps turn the inner cities into hellholes and otherwise makes people’s lives miserable, is that a moral objection or a practical (utilitarian or generally consequentialist) objection? Some libertarians are inclined to say it’s a utilitarian objection, but I’ve long ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Pope Dabbles in Economics

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Pope Francis wrote in his recent apostolic exhortation, “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality.” He’s right — but not in the way he intends. Before I elaborate, ... [click for more]

TGIF: Will 2016 Be a Good Year for the Corporate State?

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If you share my belief that the major obstacle to the free society is the national-security/corporate state, 2016 is shaping up to be a year of apprehension. The Wall Streeters, who are among the biggest advocates of partnership between big government and big business, are looking forward to a presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, a contest ... [click for more]
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