Sheldon Richman's TGIF

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]

TGIF: No Intervention in Syria

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If after the debacles in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya (dare I say Vietnam?) some people still want the U.S. government to intervene — further — in the war inside Syria (but fueled by outsiders), we must conclude, not that they can’t learn the lessons of recent history, but that they won’t because doing so would be contrary ... [click for more]

TGIF: Criminal Government

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“A nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concludes that ‘it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture’ and that the nation’s highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it.” So began a page-one story in the New York Times that should have ... [click for more]

TGIF: Liberty, Security, and Terrorism

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“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” It would be nice if Benjamin Franklin’s famous aphorism were as widely believed as it is quoted. I doubt that Sen. Lindsey Graham and his ilk would express disagreement, but one cannot really embrace Franklin’s wisdom while also claiming that ... [click for more]

TGIF: Government Should Stop Its Own Violence First

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The horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon have left us all stunned. We still don’t know the perpetrators’ motive, but there are some things we do know. The bombers chose the most closely monitored location in all of Boston. They could have chosen a different site, knowing that all eyes were on the marathon route. But no. They chose the ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Market Is a Beautiful Thing

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Market advocates tend to respect the intellect of their fellow human beings. You can tell by their reliance on philosophical, moral, economic, and historical arguments when trying to persuade others. But what if most people’s aversion to the market isn’t founded in philosophy, morality, economics, or history? What if their objection is aesthetic? More and more I’ve come to think ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Myth of Market Failure

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In the language of economics, a market failure is, as David Friedman writes, “a situation where each individual correctly chooses the action that best accomplishes his objectives, yet the result is worse, in terms of those same objectives, than if everyone had done something else.” As a rule, the pursuit of individual good in the market ... [click for more]

TGIF: Loving Economics

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“My love affair with economics began in the fall of 1979.” With those words, Peter Boettke begins his valentine to the economics discipline, that is, his latest book: Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Independent Institute and Universidad Francisco Marroquin, 2012). Boettke, besides being a University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University, the BB&T Professor ... [click for more]

TGIF: Bastiat on the Socialization of Wealth

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That … veil which is spread before the eyes of the ordinary man, which even the attentive observer does not always succeed in casting aside, prevents us from seeing the most marvelous of all social phenomena: real wealth constantly passing from the domain of private property into the communal domain. Wealth marvelously passing from the private to the communal domain? ... [click for more]

TGIF: Freedom Overlooked

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The idea of freedom counts for little in public discourse. It may come up now and then, only to be quickly shoved to the rear as something quaintly outmoded if not suggestive of paranoia. Examples abound, and this week saw its share. The first that comes to mind is New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s legal setback in his attempt to ... [click for more]

TGIF: Entrepreneurship and Social Cooperation

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We may laud the market order as an indispensable arena for large-scale social cooperation, but let’s not forget that people cannot cooperate with one another if they don’t know that the potential for mutually beneficial exchanges exists. In the real world ignorance is pervasive, and we mustn’t fall prey to the mainstream economists’ unreal assumption that full knowledge about means, ends, ... [click for more]
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