Sheldon Richman's TGIF

TGIF: Truman, A-Bombs, and the Killing of Innocents

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Sixty-eight years ago today a president of the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a city full of innocent Japanese. It was the second time in three days that Harry Truman had done such a thing: He had bombed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The fatalities in the two cities totaled 150,000–246,000. The victims – mostly children, ... [click for more]

TGIF: Frédéric Bastiat and Subjective Marginal Utility

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In the 1870s economics took a radical turn in what is known as the “marginal revolution.” Whereas the classical economists, beginning with Adam Smith, cleaved use-value from exchange-value and thought in terms of the total utility and total supplies of goods, Carl Menger, William Stanley Jevons, and Leon Walras realized that people act at the margin. They never choose ... [click for more]

TGIF: James Madison: Father of the Implied-Powers Doctrine

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James Madison famously wrote in Federalist 45: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined.” Strict constructionists are fond of this quote, and often cite it in defense of their view that the Constitution established a government of strictly limited powers. But did it? One way to approach ... [click for more]

TGIF: What an Honest Conversation about Race Would Look Like

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Ever since George Zimmerman’s fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin hit the national headlines last year, calls for an “honest conversation about race” have been heard throughout America. (Up until then, apparently, we’ve had only conversations about having a conversation about race.) However, one need not believe that the Zimmerman shooting and verdict were about race — I watched the ... [click for more]

TGIF: Airbrushing Barbarity

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“As the base rhetorician uses language to increase his own power, to produce converts to his own cause, and to create loyal followers of his own person – so the noble rhetorician uses language to wean men away from their inclination to depend on authority, to encourage them to think and speak clearly, and to teach them to be ... [click for more]

TGIF: Is Edward Snowden a Lawbreaker?

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Most people believe that Edward Snowden, who has confirmed that the U.S. government spies on us, broke the law. Even many of his defenders concede this. While in one sense the statement “Snowden broke the law” may be trivially true, in another, deeper sense it is untrue. He may  have violated the terms of legislation passed by Congress and signed ... [click for more]

TGIF: National Servitude

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To make citizens, we must facilitate the shared experiences that cultivate civic pride and responsibility. This should mean a period of full-time national service as a rite of passage for every young American, ages 18 to 28. Such service could be military or civilian. Young adults could choose the Army or Peace Corps, Marine Corps or AmeriCorps, the Navy or ... [click for more]

TGIF: It’s Not Edward Snowden Who Betrayed Us

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When you cut through the fog, the NSA controversy is about whether we should trust people with institutional power. Edward Snowden’s courageous exposure of massive secret surveillance separates those who say yes from those who say, “Hell no!” The trusting attitude can be found among progressives and conservatives alike (with notable exceptions), and even some who have identified themselves ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Lie Factory

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In his latest major address on foreign policy, President Obama said this: So after I took office … we pursued a new strategy in Afghanistan, and increased our training of Afghan forces.… In Afghanistan, we will complete our transition to Afghan responsibility for that country’s security. Our troops will come home. Our combat mission will come to an end. ... [click for more]

TGIF: So What If Freedom Isn’t Free?

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“Freedom isn’t free.” We’ve all heard this glib line. It usually is uttered as an admonition to those who criticize some government imposition that is defended in the name of national security. The last time I heard it I had just condemned military conscription — the draft — as slavery. It’s also brought out to rebut those who refuse to ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Greatness of Peace Activist John Bright

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As we approach Memorial Day — or what I like to call Revisionist History Day — it’s fitting to contemplate the words of one of the world’s great peace activists, John Bright (1811–1889). Bright, a Quaker and Nonconformist, is best known for leading (with Richard Cobden) Britain’s Anti-Corn Law League, the organization that fought successfully to abolish ... [click for more]

TGIF: Government Is the Problem

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Barack Obama recently told the graduating class of the Ohio State University, Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems.… They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that ... [click for more]
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