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Liberty and Power

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  • Robert Higgs’s Tocqueville Award Acceptance Speech (November 15, 2011)

    by Robert Higgs

    Distinguished honorees , co-chairs, and honorary co-chairs, Mr. and Mrs. Theroux, ladies and gentlemen.

    It is a great honor to have been selected to receive the Alexis de Tocqueville Award on this occasion. For many years, I have been working with David Theroux, the founder of the Independent Institute, and Mary Theroux, the Institute’s senior vice president, striving to make the world a freer, more peaceful, and more prosperous place. I wish to pay the highest possible tribute to them for everything they have done―and it is much more than any of you is likely to know―to promote greater scholarly and public understanding of the values and institutions that undergird a truly free, peaceful, and prosperous society. They have fought the good fight, never flagging, never yielding to despair, never hesitating to take the next step, and the next and next, toward the goal of a world in which every human being is accorded the freedom and dignity to which each is justly entitled.

    Over the years, as a teacher and scholar, I have striven to uphold high standards of honesty, accuracy, and professional competence in my efforts to enlighten my students, professional colleagues, and members of the public. However, I have disdained many of the beliefs and practices common in the ranks of professors and commentators on public affairs.


  • Defending the Oxford Comma

    by Lester Hunt

     
    I just got involved in an internet freeforall on this issue, which I've wondered about over the years. Do you say "eggs, toast, and orange juice" or "eggs, toast and orange juice"? I have always put in the "extra" comma, as did Robert Nozick, author of Anarchy, State,[sic] and Utopia.

    One commenter spoke of being surprised when the last comma "came into use." Actually, I'm pretty sure The Oxford comma was the original system, gradually it has been disappearing. Take a look at any eighteenth century author, such as David Hume or Dr. Johnson. It's commas all the way down!

  • Americhristian Exegesis

    by Roderick T. Long

    Oh, and one more. This was published in The Daily Tar Heel (the student newspaper of UNC Chapel Hill) on 28 January 1994:

    To the Editor:

    Matt Osman’s Jan. 20 letter (“Columnist Obviously Doesn’t Understand Ways of Baptists”) offers two defenses of Christian intolerance of homosexuality.

    Mr. Osman’s first defense is the claim that “this country is founded on Christian principles,” and America’s founding documents are cited as evidence. But Mr. Osman’s memory of those documents seems a bit shaky. The Constitution of the United States contains no reference to God or Christianity. The Declaration of Independence contains a passing reference to God, but nothing distinctively Christian. (This is hardly surprising, since its author, Thomas Jefferson, was a Deist, not a Christian.)

    Mr. Osman mentions the Pledge of Allegiance. This hardly qualifies as a founding document, since it was written in 1892, and the words “under God” were not added until 1954.


  • Iran, Israel, and Rice

    by Sheldon Richman

      The U.S. government says it expects Iran to fulfill its IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) obligations. And what about Israel? Oh, that's right. It has no IAEA obligations -- unlike Iran, it never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is not subject to inspections, despite its possession of a few hundred nukes.

    Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the very fact people are discussing Israel's rumblings about attacking Iran shows how dangerous ... Iran is. She really said that.  

  • U.S. Economic Recovery Remains Anemic, at Best

    by Robert Higgs

    How goes the recovery? Not well, it seems. Indeed, according to the most recent official estimates, it is anemic, at best.

    As the chart shows, real GDP has recovered its losses during the recent contraction and is now running at about the same rate as it was at its pre-recession peak in late 2007. So, the rate at which the U.S. economy produces total output has gained nothing during the past four years, and its present rate of growth, even if it continues, is too slow to bring back into employment many of the would-be workers now without work, including a disturbing number who have been without employment for years.


  • U.S. Economic Recovery Remains Anemic, at Best

    by Robert Higgs

    How goes the recovery?  Not well, it seems. Indeed, according to the most recent official estimates, it is a anemic, at best.

    As the chart shows, real GDP has recovered its losses during the recent contraction and is now running at about the same rate as it was at its pre-recession peak in late 2007. So, the rate at which the U.S. economy produces total output has gained nothing during the past four years, and its present rate of growth, even if it continues, is too slow to bring back into employment many of the would-be workers now without work, including a disturbing number who have been without employment for years.


  • 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.

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