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Liberty and Power

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  • The "Wacky" Religious Beliefs of Politicians: Should We Care?

    by Lester Hunt

     Mitt Romney's Mormonism as inspired a lot of discussion lately about whether we it is okay to vote against a politician because of their religion. As everyone knows, Mormons have beliefs that seem odd to non-Mormons. Now it turns out that Herman Cain has an unusual supernatural-related belief as well: that the number 45 has a special significance in his life, often appearing as a "sign" of important events. Not too surprisingly, this has been discussed in the leftosphere in posts with titles like "Herman Cain is Even Crazier than You Thought." Here is a thoughtful discussion of whether Romney's religion is something we should care about.

  • No Hope or Change for Millions of Marijuana Users

    by Keith Halderman

    In 2008 Obama supporters set up a website, Change.org  in order to advance his quest to be President. The website was designed to fool people into thinking that Obama actually cared what the public wants when comes to public policy. Those who went there were asked to list ten policy alterations they wanted to see Obama implement and list them by priority. By far the number one change that his supporters believed needed to happen was the legalization of marijuana.

    The site itself continues to advocate a more enlighten and less vicious policy, however, Obama’s administration in a display great disloyalty towards those who elected him totally rejects such a beneficial program as marijuana legalization. He is in fact currently persecuting marijuana users with renewed vigor.


  • The Inversion of America's Dominant Ideology

    by Robert Higgs

     According to an ABC News report last week,

    At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today [October 26], President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.

    “The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people, ‘you are on your own,’” Obama told a crowd of 200 donors over lunch at the W Hotel.

    “If you get sick, you’re on your own. If you can’t afford college, you’re on your own. If you don’t like that some corporation is polluting your air or the air that your child breathes, then you’re on your own,” he said. “That’s not the America I believe in. It’s not the America you believe in.”


  • The Inversion of America’s Dominant Ideology

    by Robert Higgs

     

    At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today [October 26], President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.

    “The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people, ‘you are on your own,’” Obama told a crowd of 200 donors over lunch at the W Hotel.

    “If you get sick, you’re on your own. If you can’t afford college, you’re on your own. If you don’t like that some corporation is polluting your air or the air that your child breathes, then you’re on your own,” he said. “That’s not the America I believe in. It’s not the America you believe in.”


  • The Euthanasia of the Saver

    by Robert Higgs

    In chapter 24 of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes laid out his screwball idea that capital might soon become, or be made to become, no longer scarce; hence no payment would have to be made to induce people to save, and that condition would be splendid inasmuch as it would entail the “euthanasia of the rentier.” This stuff really must be seen to be believed; here is the meat of Keynes’s discussion in his own words:

    The justification for a moderately high rate of interest has been found hitherto in the necessity of providing a sufficient inducement to save. But we have shown that the extent of effective saving is necessarily determined by the scale of investment and that the scale of investment is promoted by a low rate of interest, provided that we do not attempt to stimulate it in this way beyond the point which corresponds to full employment. Thus it is to our best advantage to reduce the rate of interest to that point relatively to the schedule of the marginal efficiency of capital at which there is full employment.


  • The American Nightmare that is Civil Asset Forfeiture

    by Wendy McElroy

    My weekly column for Future of Freedom has appeared: The American Nightmare That Is Civil Asset Forfeiture. Please visit this highly recommended site. Click here.

    The American Nightmare That Is Civil Asset Forfeiture
    by Wendy McElroy

    Being innocent does not matter. Not being arrested or convicted of a crime is no protection. With amazing ease, the government can take everything you own. And to recover it, you must prove your innocence through an expensive and difficult court proceeding in which a severely lowered standard of evidence favors the government. This is civil asset forfeiture.

    Russell and Patricia Caswell of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, know the process well. For the last two years they have battled to keep the motel that Russell’s father built in 1955 and at which Russell has worked since childhood. The couple assumed ownership of Motel Caswell in the 1980s, and viewed the asset, worth approximately $1 million, as their retirement plan.

    In the past 20 years, the Caswells have rented out approximately 125,000 rooms. Of the renters, about .05 percent have been arrested for crimes.


  • Cain the Neocon

    by Ralph Raico

    From the Washington Post, Oct. 7:

    On Hermann Cain:
     

    "He has committed some early missteps, saying he would not appoint a Muslim to his Cabinet and stumbling on questions about the Middle East and the war in Afghanistan. He has since said he is aggressively studying up on foreign policy and that he meant to say he would not appoint a “jihadist” to his Cabinet."

    Right. As if the other candidates would. Cain is a smarmy, lying neocon.


  • Obama's UN Veto Threat Supports Occupation of Palestine

    by Sheldon Richman

      The Obama administration’s hypocritical vow to block full UN membership for Palestine shames America. Only a hypocrite could proclaim support for the Arab Spring while opposing this step toward realizing the Palestinian aspiration to be free from the 44-year-old Israeli occupation of the West Bank and subjugation of Gaza.

     

    The Palestinians have been under brutal and degrading occupation since the 1967 Six-Day War, which they did not start. Their daily lives, when not punctuated by shootings, beatings, and bulldozing of homes and olive groves, are scarred by routine humiliation: military checkpoints, road blocks, arbitrary searches, unpredictable delays, and an inhumanely disruptive “security” wall. No one should have to live like that, yet two generations of Palestinians have been subjected to this cruelty. Some Palestinians, mostly in Gaza, have responded with attacks on Israeli civilians. However comprehensible, it is nonetheless vicious, criminal action.

    Negotiations have produced no progress. In 1988 Palestinian leaders relinquished claim to 78 percent of historic Palestine, despite the 750,000 Arabs driven from their homes when Israel declared its independence in 1948.


  • The Aulaqi Killing and the Law

    by Lester Hunt

      As I have said before (here and here), the process by which a liberal democracy decides to kill a particular combatant in the battlefield is very, very different from that in which it decides whether to execute someone accused of a crime.

  • Double Standard

    by Roderick T. Long

     

    A picture like this could of course be made for libertarians too – showing libertarians with tax-funded educations walking on tax-funded streets, contacting each other via government postal monopoly, paying for their lunches with federally issued currency, etc.

    Libertarians understand why that would be a silly argument against anti-government protestors. They really should understand why the parallel argument against anti-corporate protestors is equally silly.


  • Important New Evidence on Regime Uncertainity

    by Robert Higgs

     When I introduced the concept of regime uncertainty in 1997, attempting to improve our understanding of the Great Depression’s extraordinary duration, I anticipated that many people—especially my fellow economists—would not welcome this contribution. Their primary objection, I ventured, would be that the concept remained too vague and, most of all, that it had not been reduced to a quantitative index of the sort that modern mainstream economists customarily work with, especially in their empirical macroeconomic analyses.

    My argument did not lack evidence, however, and I regarded the agreement of several different forms of evidence as an important element of the argument’s force. The evidence I adduced with regard to changes in the yield spreads for high-grade corporate bonds of differing maturities seemed to me both systematic and especially compelling, though not decisive because alternative explanations of those changes might be offered.


  • Wall Street Couldn’t Have Done It Alone

    by Sheldon Richman

    To Occupy Wall Street:

    Wall Street couldn’t have done it alone. It takes a government and/or its central bank, the Federal Reserve System, to:

    Create barriers to entry for the purpose of sheltering existing banks from competition and radical innovation, then "regulate" for the benefit of the privileged industry;

    Issue artificially cheap, economy-distorting credit in order to, among other things, give banks incentives to make shaky but profitable mortgage loans (and also to grease the war machine through deficit spending);

    Make it lucrative for banks—and their bonus-collecting executives—to bundle thousands of shaky mortgages into securities and other derivatives with the knowledge that government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other companies, all subject to powerful congressmen looking for campaign contributions, would buy them after a government-licensed rating cartel scores them AAA;

    Inflate an unsustainable housing bubble by the foregoing and other methods, enticing people to foolishly overinvest in real estate;


  • A Reminder from Sir Thomas Moore

    by Sheldon Richman

    From A Man for All Seasons by Robert Boldt:

     

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!


    More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?


    Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!


    More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!


  • Occupying Wall Street

    by Sheldon Richman

    Government power ultimately will be influenced and controlled by those whom the occupiers despise. So, protesters, rail against Wall Street. But rail, too, against its indispensable partner – government, with its unique legal power to wield aggressive force – and realize that the genuine antipode of the system you oppose is the freed market. The rest of TGIF: Occupying Wall Street is here.
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