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Liberty and Power

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  • 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.

  • Defend Academic Freedom at the University of Wisconsin-Stout

    by David T. Beito

     

    One of the worst violations of academic freedom in many years is now occurring at UW-Stout. See here.

    Campus police, backed up by spineless administrators, tore door a poster from the door of Professor James Miller in the Department of Theater featuring a quotation from the popular series, "Firefly." In response, Miller put up another poster (shown above) with another quotation from the series. The police also tore it down.

    Although Miller is getting full backing from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), he needs reinforcements. A chilling effect has already taken place among many UW-Stout faculty who, rather than showing support for Miller, are now removing anything "controversial" from their doors.

    The best place to start, in my view, is to start calling each member of the Board of Regents of the UW System.  Here are their numbers. You can also call , Paul Stauffacher , the chair of the Theater Department and urge him to back his colleague.


  • Richard Cobden's "I Had A Dream" Speech

    by Wendy McElroy

    Hat tip to David Hart who refers to the following quote as classical liberal Richard Cobden's "I had a dream" speech.

    COBDEN: But I have been accused of looking too much to material interests. Nevertheless I can say that I have taken as large and great a view of the effects of this mighty principle as ever did any man who dreamt over it in his own study. I believe that the physical gain will be the smallest gain to humanity from the success of this principle. I look farther; I see in the Free-trade principle that which shall act on the moral world as the principle of gravitation in the universe,—drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonism of race, and creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace. I have looked even farther. I have speculated, and probably dreamt, in the dim future—ay, a thousand years hence—I have speculated on what the effect of the triumph of this principle may be. I believe that the effect will be to change the face of the world, so as to introduce a system of government entirely distinct from that which now prevails.


  • Israeli Foreign Minister Wants Palestinians Punished

    by Sheldon Richman

      From the Middle East Monitor, September 22:   Israel's Foreign Minister has warned Benjamin Netanyahu that the governing coalition will fall part if the Prime Minister doesn't take punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority for its decision to bid for independent statehood at the United Nations.

  • Peace Prize-Winner Obama Savages Somalia

    by Sheldon Richman

    A human catastrophe is taking place in Somalia, the result of drought, famine — and the savage war conducted by the Obama administration, complete with a CIA training facility and prison....

    The catastrophe is often attributed to natural conditions, but neighboring areas are not experiencing the same threat.

    The difference is Obama’s war. In the guise of fighting terrorism the U.S. government, beginning under George W. Bush and continuing with a vengeance under the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama, has turned Somalia into a hellhole. If Americans knew what was happening in their name, they would hang their heads in shame. Or would they?

    Read the full op-ed: "Peace Prize-Winner Obama Savages Somalia" here.


  • Ron Paul Must Win

    by Keith Halderman

    On September 9th Sheldon Richman put up a post, Ron Paul and Immigration: A Speculative Theory, that reminded me very much of some conversations I took part in back when I was very active with the Montgomery County Maryland Libertarian Party. They revolved around the issue, were we a real political party or just a glorified debating society. At the time that was a legitimate question because our candidates had no chance of winning power and gathering 3% of the vote was considered a good outing. It is different with Ron Paul he can and must win the presidency in 2012. He is the only one running who will take us off the road to serfdom before it becomes too late to change our direction without massive suffering or even bloodshed.


  • Ron Paul MUst Win

    by Keith Halderman

    On September 9th Sheldon Richman put up a post, Ron Paul and Immigration: A Speculative Theory, that reminded me very much of some conversations I took part in back when I was very active with the Montgomery County Maryland Libertarian Party. They revolved around the issue, were we a real political party or just a glorified debating society. At the time that was a legitimate question because our candidates had no chance of winning power and gathering 3% of the vote was considered a good outing. It is different with Ron Paul he can and must win the presidency in 2012. He is the only one running who will take us off the road to serfdom before it becomes too late to change our direction without massive suffering or even bloodshed.


  • Limbaugh’s Creative Accounting

    by Sheldon Richman

    I understand Rush Limbaugh has nominated George W. Bush for the next vacancy on Mount Rushmore because “the United States” has not been attacked since 9/11.  Okay, if you ignore the fact that more Americans have been killed in aggressive foreign wars since 9/11 than were killed on the day the World Trade Center and Pentagon were hit and that Osama bin Laden got what he was after: American imperial overreach and a financial hemorrhage that won’t be stanched.  


  • Influential Financial Economist Turns to Austrianism

    by Robert Higgs

     

    Thomas Mayer is the chief economist of Deutsche Bank Group and head of Deutsche Bank Research. He has an impressive background as a highly placed analyst in major private and public financial institutions. Which is to say, when he speaks, people are much more likely to pay attention and to give weight to what he says than they are when those of us on the lunatic fringe spout off.

    So, it is an event of considerable note that Mayer has recently given a speech in which he roundly condemns the major macroeconomic theories embraced since the 1930s and the government policies that have flowed from them.


  • NPR Morning Hit Piece on Ron Paul (Another Reason to Defund "Public Radio")

    by David T. Beito

    NPR ruined my morning drive.  In typical fashion, it's morning blow-by-blow summary of the debate ignored Ron Paul (aside from a very brief mention that he was booed).  The focus was on Romney and Perry and Michelle Bachmann (who Paul now leads in national polls).   This was to be expected.  A reporter for NPR then hit a new low, however, in the post-debate interviews when he baldly stated that Paul had said that U.S.

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