Sheldon Richman's TGIF

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]

TGIF: Crime and Punishment in a Free Society

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Would a free society be a crime-free society? We have good reason to anticipate it. Don’t accuse me of utopianism. I don’t foresee a future of new human beings who consistently respect the rights of others. Rather, I’m drawing attention to the distinction between crime and tort — between offenses against the state (or society) and offenses against individual persons ... [click for more]

TGIF: Property and Force: A Reply to Matt Bruenig

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Last week’s TGIF, “One Moral Standard for All,” drew a curious response from Matt Bruenig, a contributor to the Demos blog, Policy Shop. In reading his article, “Libertarians Are Huge Fans of Initiating Force,” one should bear in mind that the aim of my article was not to defend the libertarian philosophy, but to show ... [click for more]

TGIF: One Moral Standard for All

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Libertarians make a self-defeating mistake in assuming that their fundamental principles differ radically from most other people’s principles. Think how much easier it would be to bring others to the libertarian position if we realized that they already agree with us in substantial ways. What am I talking about? It’s quite simple. Libertarians believe that the initiation of force is ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Affordable Care Act Doesn’t Go That Way

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Web problems can be fixed. The problems inherent in the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) are another story. Let’s stipulate that most people who favor the ACA have honorable intentions: they want everyone, including people in ill health, to have access to good and affordable medical care. All decent people should want that. (How many favor ... [click for more]
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