Sheldon Richman's TGIF

TGIF: Default Circus — er, Crisis — Averted?

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“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” — H.L. Mencken Even the sagacious Mencken might be amazed by what’s happening these days. Wherever we look, there are hobgoblins. The latest is — insert [click for more]

TGIF: The Housing-Financial Meltdown Revisited

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Five years after the housing and financial meltdown, self-styled progressives are still peddling their pseudoexplanation: that it was largely the fault of the 1999 repeal of a provision of the New Deal–era Glass-Steagall Act, which mandated the separation of commercial and investment banking. This tale is favored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others of her ilk, who hold the ... [click for more]

TGIF: Treating People Like Garbage

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The government “closed” this week. The quotation marks are meant to indicate that the worst parts of the government remain open at some level. It would be preferable to keep the monuments and national parks, like the Grand Canyon, going while closing the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA, the NSA, ICE, FBI, ATF, and all related so-called national-security ... [click for more]

TGIF: Lysander Spooner on the National Debt

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Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling — or, as I call it, the debt sky, because apparently the sky is the limit — the government won’t be able to pay all its bills starting October 17. The Congressional Budget Office says that dire condition won’t set in until sometime ... [click for more]

TGIF: The People Say No to War

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The Constitution did not keep President Obama from attacking Syria. The people did. Think about that. Obama, his top advisers, and many of his partisans and opponents in Congress insist that the president of the United States has the constitutional authority to attack another country without a declaration of war or so-called “authorization for the use of military force” even ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Cynical U.S. Policy on Chemical Weapons

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“I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.” That was President Obama’s response this week to those who believe he wants to attack Syria in order to defend his own credibility. Secretary of State John Kerry said the same thing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They were referring to the 88-year-old [click for more]

TGIF: Heroic

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Bradley Manning (who wishes to be known as Chelsea Manning) sure was naïve. During the sentencing phase of Manning’s court martial, Alexa O’Brien reports, a forensic psychiatrist said, Well, Pfc Manning was under the impression that his leaked information was going to really change how the world views the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and future ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Phony Trade-off between Privacy and Security

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Most people take it for granted — because they’ve heard it so many times from politicians and pundits — that they must trade some privacy for security in this dangerous world. The challenge, we’re told, is to find the right “balance.” Let’s examine this. On its face the idea seems reasonable. I can imagine hiring a firm to look after ... [click for more]

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]
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