Posts

The TEA Party is Back with ‘Stop Socialism Choose Freedom’ Rallies on April 15th!

President Trump has our economy booming. Unemployment claims are at an unprecedented 50 year low. There are more jobs available than there are workers to fill them.

And yet, every Democrat presidential candidate is on a mad dash to socialism. If a Democrat is elected president in 2020, we will be thrust back to the depressing days of Obama’s failed economy; record high numbers of Americans on food stamps, unemployment and disability. Democrats are like drug dealers seeking to insidiously addict Americans to government dependency solely to control their lives, behavior and voting loyalty.

From the beginning of the Tea Party movement, I traveled the country on numerous national Tea Party bus tours, speaking and performing my song, “American Tea Party Anthem” at over 500 Tea Party rallies nationwide.

Reflecting back to Obama’s horrible economy, I fondly remember the five dollar lady. After my performance on stage at a rally in Texas, I was approached by a humble woman. She thanked me for what our team of patriots was doing for our country. She explained that Obama’s anti-business policies cost her husband, a trucker, his job. With tears in her eyes, she grabbed my hand with both her hands, giving me a crumpled up five dollar bill for gas for our tour bus. I instinctively knew that five dollars was a huge contribution from her. The five dollar lady drove home the importance of our mission and responsibility to push back against Obama’s plan to transform America into a socialist nation.

On April 15th, Stop Socialism Choose Freedom Rallies are scheduled across America; 300 thus far with more added daily. Yes, the Tea Party is back. Please join us.

Actually, the Tea Party never went away. We matured, working behind the scenes to elect conservatives, becoming less visible. I became Chairman of the Conservative Campaign Committee, traveling the country helping to elect conservatives in House and Senate races

With their every attempt to remove Trump from office failing, the evil coalition of Democrats, fake news and the deep state have become totally deranged. They seek to create a race war and violence on Trump supporters while arrogantly breaking laws. No sacrifice is too large or scheme too low if it will remove Trump from of the White House.

Democrats’ extreme lawless resistance requires the Tea Party to become highly visible again. The Tea Party is the righteous legal-resistance to Democrats’ deranged, violent and illegal-resistance.

I am excited to announce that 34% of those who attended Trump’s latest rally in Michigan were registered Democrats. Trump is also winning blacks, Hispanics and millennials

This means despite fake news media’s 24/7 lies, deceptions and distortions about Trump, more Americans are beginning to discern that Trump is good for America. Lets pull formerly duped Americans into our Tea Party fold to rally behind our president.

Please allow me to address Democrats’ and fake news media’s despicable hate-generating lie that says the Tea Party and Trump are racist. I am a proud black American who attended over 500 Tea Party rallies nationwide. I was showered with patriot love and appreciation. Trump has an excellent record of hiring blacks. Blacks are experiencing unprecedented prosperity under Trump; historic low unemployment

Brother and sister Americans who love our country, lets join together to save America by keeping Trump in the White House. Please sign on to participate in the April 15th, Stop Socialism Choose Freedom Rallies

Thirty-two year old Todd Beamer was an American passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 93 which was hijacked as part of the Islamic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Beamer lead a band of courageous fellow passengers in an attempt to regain control of the aircraft from the hijackers. During the struggle, control was lost of the aircraft. It crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, saving the hijackers’ intended target which prevented the murder of more Americans. Upon the passengers launching their attack, Beamer said, “Let’s roll.”

Yes, the Tea Party is back! Quoting heroic American Todd Beamer, “Let’s roll.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Tea Party Backs ‘Stop Socialism, Choose Freedom’ Rallies on Tax Day

Why the Holocaust Should Matter to You by Jeffrey Tucker

People tour the nation’s capital to be delighted by symbols of America’s greatness and history. They seek out monuments and museums that pay tribute to the nation state and its works. They want to think about the epic struggles of the past, and how mighty leaders confronted and vanquished enemies at home and abroad.

But what if there was a monument that took a different tack? Instead of celebrating power, it counseled against its abuses. Instead of celebrating the state and its works, it showed how these can become ruses to deceive and destroy. Instead of celebrating nationalist songs, symbols, and stories, it warned that these can be used as tools of division and oppression.

What if this museum was dedicated to memorializing one of history’s most ghastly experiments in imperial conquest, demographic expulsion, and eventual extermination, to help us understand it and never repeat it?

Such a museum does exist. It is the US Holocaust Museum. It is the Beltway’s most libertarian institution, a living rebuke to the worship of power as an end in itself.

I lived in Washington, DC, when the Holocaust Museum was being built, and I vaguely recall when it opened. I never went, though I had the opportunity; I remember having a feeling of dread about the prospect of visiting it. Many people must feel the same way. Surely we already know that mass murder by the state is evil and wrong. Do we really need to visit a museum on such a ghastly subject?

The answer is yes. This institution is a mighty tribute to human rights and human dignity. It provides an intellectual experience more moving and profound than any I can recall having. It takes politics and ideas out of the realm of theory and firmly plants them in real life, in our own history. It shows the consequences of bad ideas in the hands of evil men, and invites you to experience the step-by-step descent into hell in chronological stages.

The transformation the visitor feels is intellectual but also even physical: as you approach the halfway point you notice an increase in your heart rate and even a pit in your stomach.

Misconceptions

Let’s dispel a few myths that people who haven’t visited might have about the place.

  • The museum is not maudlin or manipulative. The narrative it takes you through is fact-based, focused on documentation (film and images), with a text that provides a careful chronology. One might even say it is a bit too dry, too merely factual. But the drama emerges from the contrast between the events and the calm narration.
  • It is not solely focused on the Jewish victims; indeed, all victims of the National Socialism are discussed, such as the Catholics in Poland. But the history of Jewish persecution is also given great depth and perspective. It is mind boggling to consider how a regime that used antisemitism to manipulate the public and gain power ended up dominating most of Europe and conducting an extermination campaign designed to wipe out an entire people.
  • The theme of the museum is not that the Holocaust was an inexplicable curse that mysteriously descended on one people at one time; rather the museum attempts to articulate and explain the actual reasons — the motives and ideology — behind the events, beginning with bad ideas that were only later realized in action when conditions made them possible.
  • The narrative does not attempt to convince the visitor that the Holocaust was plotted from the beginning of Nazi rule; in fact, you discover a very different story. The visitor sees how bad ideas (demographic central planning; scapegoating of minorities; the demonization of others) festered, leading to ever worsening results: boycotts of Jewish-owned business, racial pogroms, legal restrictions on property and religion, internments, ghettoization, concentration camps, killings, and finally a carefully constructed and industrialized machinery of mass death.
  • The museum does not isolate Germans as solely or uniformly guilty. Tribute is given to the German people, dissenters, and others who also fell victim to Hitler’s regime. As for moral culpability, it unequivocally belongs to the Nazis and their compliant supporters in Germany and throughout Europe. But the free world also bears responsibility for shutting its borders to refugees, trapping Jews in a prison state and, eventually, execution chamber.
  • The presentation is not rooted in sadness and despair; indeed, the museum tells of heroic efforts to save people from disaster and the resilience of the Jewish people in the face of annihilation. Even the existence of the museum is a tribute to hope because it conveys the conviction that we can learn from history and act in a way that never repeats this terrible past.

The Deeper Roots of the Holocaust

For the last six months, I’ve been steeped in studying and writing about the American experience with eugenics, the “policy science” of creating a master race. The more I’ve read, the more alarmed I’ve become that it was ever a thing, but it was all the rage in the Progressive Era. Eugenics was not a fringe movement; it was at the core of ruling-class politics, education, and culture. It was responsible for many of the early experiments in labor regulation. It was the driving force behind marriage licenses, minimum wages, restrictions on opportunities for women, and immigration quotas and controls.

The more I’ve looked into the subject, the more I’m convinced that it is not possible fully to understand the birth of the 20th century Leviathan without an awareness of eugenics. Eugenics was the original sin of the modern state that knows no limits to its power.

Once a regime decides that it must control human reproduction — to mold the population according to a central plan and divide human beings into those fit to thrive and those deserving extinction — you have the beginning of the end of freedom and civilization. The prophets of eugenics loathed the Jews, but also any peoples that they deemed dangerous to those they considered worthy of propagation. And the means they chose to realize their plans was top-down force.

So far in my reading on the subject, I’ve studied the origin of eugenics until the late 1920s, mostly in the US and the UK. And so, touring the Holocaust Museum was a revelation. It finally dawned on me: what happened in Germany was the extension and intensification of the same core ideas that were preached in the classrooms at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton decades earlier.

Eugenics didn’t go away. It just took on a more violent and vicious form in different political hands. Without meaningful checks on state power, people with eugenic ambitions can find themselves lording over a terror state. It was never realized in the United States, but it happened elsewhere. The stuffy academic conferences of the 1910s, the mutton-chopped faces of the respected professorial class, mutated in one generation to become the camps and commandants of the Nazi killing machine. The distance between eugenics and genocide, from Boston to Buchenwald, is not so great.

There are moments in the tour when this connection is made explicit, as when it is explained how, prior to the Nazis, the United States had set the record for forced sterilizations; how Hitler cited the US case for state planning of human reproduction; how the Nazis were obsessed with racial classification and used American texts on genetics and race as a starting point.

And think of this: when Progressive Era elites began to speak this way, to segment the population according to quality, and to urge policies to prevent “mongrelization,” there was no “slippery slope” to which opponents could point. This whole approach to managing the social order was unprecedented, and so a historical trajectory was pure conjecture. They could not say “Remember! Remember where this leads!”

Now we have exactly that history, and a moral obligation to point to it and learn from it.

What Can We Learn?

My primary takeaway from knitting this history together and observing its horrifying outcome is this: that any ideology, movement, or demagogue that dismisses universal human rights, that disparages the dignity of any person based on group characteristics, that attempts to segment the population into the fit and unfit, or in any way seeks to use the power of the state to put down some in order to uplift others, is courting outcomes that are dangerous to the whole of humanity. It might not happen immediately, but, over time, such rhetoric can lay the foundations for the machinery of death.

And there is also another, perhaps more important lesson: bad ideas have a social and political momentum all their own, regardless of anyone’s initial intentions. If you are not aware of that, you can be led down, step by step, to a very earthly hell.

At the same time, the reverse is also true: good ideas have a momentum that can lead to the flourishing of peace, prosperity, and universal human dignity. It is up to all of us. We must choose wisely, and never forget.

Jeffrey A. TuckerJeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE and CLO of the startup Liberty.me. Author of five books, and many thousands of articles, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook. Email.

“We All Declare for Liberty, But We Do Not All Mean the Same Thing” by Eugene Volokh

A comment on my freedom and hypocrisy post reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, from Abraham Lincoln, in his Address at a Sanitary Fair, Baltimore, Apr. 18, 1864:

The world has never had a good definition of liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in need of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.

With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing to love liberty. Hence we behold the processes by which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke of bondage, hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruction of all liberty.

I’ve long found this to be a thought-provoking piece, and a useful reminder that “liberty” in the abstract is not self-defining. Most rhetoric that simply refers to “liberty” — whether in the context of slavery, where Lincoln said this, or abortion rights, or national sovereignty, and so on — rests on the assertion about the proper definition of people’s or institutions’ rights; and it’s that definition that should often be at the heart of the debate.

Of course, this analysis doesn’t itself tell us what the proper result is in any debate (such as the debate about abortion). But it should remind us that many questions can’t be resolved by just talking about “liberty” in the abstract, or “not imposing one’s beliefs on others” in the abstract.

If liberty means freedom to do things that don’t violate the rights of others, the important questions are (1) what constitutes those “rights,” (2) what counts as violation, and (3) in some contexts (e.g., abortion, animal rights, slavery), who counts as “others.”

This post first appeared at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Eugene VolokhEugene Volokh

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.

Precarity

Precarity is a neoliberal term that was unfamiliar until I researched the theme of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) conference. It means precarious, hazardous, risky, and it focuses mainly on the supposed “evils” of capitalism. Although life’s uncertainties have existed since the beginning of time, these women had come together to discuss the insecurities of living, focusing on the drawbacks of being ill prepared for functioning in today’s workforce. Where previous generations sometimes stayed with a company from hiring to retiring, today’s employees change jobs frequently and must keep up with the ever-changing technology. Thus these women fear the difficulties that arise with a free society, changing economy, other unreliable coworkers, and all that free enterprise has to offer.

Risk is the very essence of freedom and of life, and yet this is their anxiety.

They spurn those gifts bestowed upon us by our Creator and cited in our Declaration of Independence – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness, all of which involve risk. It is the freedom to pursue our own happiness along our chosen path that helps us to accept failures and overcome hindrances, and to continue chasing our personal dream. Instead these women are overwhelmed by responsibility, regarding the challenge as simply “misery” generated by capitalism, since they view that the sale of one’s abilities for profit may also result in failure and unemployment. Resistant to change and diversity, they yearn for their vision of a more secure and simpler life of the past, which, of course, is remembered without the discomforts, diseases, poverty and squalor.

Their dreams of the Utopian past erase the men’s long hours of hard labor, the women who were bound to a life of raising more children than they could manage, illnesses that have since been eradicated, few kitchen appliances to ease daily chores, and a labor force of children to help families make ends meet. Blaming capitalism for their current difficulties, the NWSA members want more entitlements and government intervention in exchange for the joys of innovation, growth, and the dignity of achievement. Taught by today’s academia to rely on their feelings and to redefine right and wrong, they wallow in comfortable discomfort and, significantly, decide to boycott Israel, her harvest, inventions and medical innovations. Could it be because Israelis treasure life and produce advantages and benefits not previously known, while the Palestinians desire to acquire Israel without the labor? Arab leaders allowed the barren, sparsely populated, impoverished land to become malaria-ridden over centuries before the Diaspora Jews returned to their historic homeland to cultivate the soil and recreate a flourishing democracy.

Precarity is the cost of living! It is the cost of charting one’s own course with all the possibilities of turning the unsure into opportunities. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that “all human beings are endowed with reason and conscience and shall act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood,” but the new liberalism distorts the vision of brotherhood into a nightmare of sameness, none better or worse; the goal of certainty, no triumphs or failures; and a less educated population reduced by chaos, abortion, sterilization, euthanasia, and incurable diseases. And for political correctness, with their minds distorted and freedom of speech eradicated, these souls will no longer recognize friend from foe, good from evil, excellence from mediocrity, or even female from male.

Amazingly, although we know that eight-one percent of mosques in America advocate violence, and Germany appears to be losing its autonomy to the invaders, and Sweden is losing its heritage, and Belgium went on lock-down, and France is actively closing mosques and eliminating militant imams, the NWSA denounced Israel. Despite the legal documents to verify that Jews, not Arabs, hold rightful title to the land, and under whose direction diverse people within flourish, these women choose Islamo-fascism, where a clear majority of its people favor severe Sharia law and terrorism.

As technology (much of it from Israel) provides us with a front seat to the world, we have seen Muslims destroy 3,000 people in the World Trade Center; Muslims behead or burn Christians alive; Muslims turn their young children into knife-wielding murderers; Muslims kill groups of revelers in arenas and weddings and schoolchildren in classrooms and school buses; Muslims car-attack or knife Jewish pedestrians, but these women are boycotting Israel. Muslims are harming girls with Female Genital Mutilation, followed by enslaving, torturing, and imprisoning women in lifelong domestic/sexual servitude in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, but the NWSA women ignore where they could be truly useful. Islam is overtaking and creating havoc in Europe, and our national intelligence-gathering agencies (FBI and DHS) have long terror-watch lists of dangerous Islamic jihadists, but the NWSA is boycotting Israel.

What the NWSA should know is that the Jewish people have moral, historical, religious and legal claims to the disputed lands in Israel, yet Israel has been willing to forego some claims for the sake of peace. The State of Israel was built on land purchased by Jews, and Jews have been a presence in Jerusalem for 3,000 years, with a majority-Jewish population for more than 250 years.  Israel already ceded land to the Palestinians, who, in turn, destroyed prospering businesses and use the land for launching rockets. In truth, the Arabs who took the name “Palestinians” are the occupiers.

Morally, Israelis are first responders who have helped numerous countries, from Albania to Turkey, after floods, fires, earthquakes, bombings, tropical storms, hurricanes and cyclones, providing emergency humanitarian and medical personnel and assistance. Israelis helped Boston after the Marathon Bombing and California with its fires and water shortages. America benefits from this valuable partnership, including intelligence; the UK benefits from Israeli technology in protection, jobs, medicines and more. Israel is a global leader in bio-technology and defense, agriculture, water innovation, medicine, book publishing, and more.  Increasingly, Israeli entrepreneurs are attracting more foreign banks’ investments in their innovative technology.

IsraAid, which, in cooperation with Israeli NGOs FIRST and Operation Blessing-Israel, launched a social-worker training program in the new African state of South Sudan, one of the most undeveloped in the world. They are addressing the country’s violent misogynistic culture of rape and forced marriage. The women of NWSA could be involved, but do absolutely nothing.

How will these work-shy, incompetent women defend themselves when the soldiers of Allah fill our streets and execute their many forms of violent jihad on our citizens? Will they crumble into submission when the young Muslim males wreak havoc on the most vulnerable? Will they merely stand by and watch the migrants join forces with their brethren in the terror mosques to create battalions beyond the control of our diminished police and armed forces? These women are either terribly ignorant or filled with a fanatical evil – how else to explain this mindset?

Perhaps it is then that the National Women’s Studies Association will finally achieve its goal.

Their insecurities will be gone because their future will be spelled out to the letter. All the laws of Islam are clearly defined for women in the Qur’an. Independence and security will be as amputated as the limbs of Islam’s thieves. They will be guaranteed of being equal to all other women (devalued by men), and their tomorrow will be precisely as today – that is, of course, unless they are accused of some minor Mohammedan infraction. Then the morrow will not even come into question.

Final note: With all the ignorance shown by NWSA, they also appear to be unaware that Israel boycotts are Illegal. Under corporate law, an organization, including nonprofit, can do only what is permitted under the purposes specified in its charter.  Boycott resolutions that are beyond the powers of an organization are void, and individuals can be sued and board members liable for damages.

We Need YOU to Protest this Unfair Boycott!

  1. Call NWSA:(410) 528-0355
  2. Email NWSA at: nwsaoffice@nwsa.org
  3. Click here to protest on the NWSA Facebook page.

Why Is Liberty So Important? by Lawrence W. Reed

At this time of the year, all of us at the Foundation for Economic Education take special note of our many friends, both new and old. Though our work is vitally important, we never want to be so absorbed in it that we neglect the people like you who make it possible.

So allow me this moment to express a collective thanks from all of us at FEE to all of you who partner with us as trustees, donors, seminar attendees and alumni, faculty network members, readers of the Freeman and FEE.org, and ambassadors for liberty.

If you’ve never financially supported FEE in the past, I invite you to do so today.

If you’re a past supporter of FEE, I thank you for your generosity and invite you to consider renewing your support.

When you invest in FEE, you invest in life-changing events and publications that will pay dividends for decades.

FEE is focused on cultivating an understanding of the principles of freedom in the minds of young “newcomers” to liberty — particularly those of high school and college age.

Every time I hear a student exclaim “I never heard this before FEE told me about it!” I know we’ve made a difference for the rest of that person’s life.

Why is liberty so important?

  • Liberty is precious, rare, never guaranteed, and always threatened. It can be lost in a single generation if it’s not advanced and defended.
  • Liberty follows from human nature: We are unique individuals, not a blob or an army of robots to be programmed by those with power.
  • To be fully human, all of us must be free to exercise our choices and govern our lives so long as we permit the same of others.
  • Liberty works. Over and over again, it produces a degree of interpersonal cooperation, innovation, and wealth creation that allows human beings to flourish — nothing else even comes close.
  • Liberty is the only social, political, or economic arrangement that requires that we live to high standards of conduct and character and rewards us when we do so. This is a crucial difference between liberty and the soul-crushing, paternalistic snares that are offered as alternatives.
  • Life without liberty is unthinkable. Who wants to live at the end of another’s leash, fearing at every turn what those armed with force and power might do to us, even if they have good intentions?

We wouldn’t expect, even if it were possible, that everyone who supports us will agree with everything they ever see or hear from FEE. We have our own core beliefs, of course, but to a considerable degree we are a forum for differing views among those who broadly share an affinity for liberty.

We don’t take for granted that we’ll earn your support every day, every month or every year. We know we have to earn it all the time. So we are engaged in a non-stop, self-improvement program. We experiment and innovate. Seminar themes, technology, content, and speakers change and improve. We expand and grow what works and drop what doesn’t. We do it all in an effort to be the best-known, most effective “first encounter” for young people with the economic, ethical, and legal principles of a free society.

I hope this cause in general — and our work at FEE, in particular — excites you as much as it does every member of the team we’ve assembled. We go to work every day with passion for what we do, and with appreciation for you who support us.

Thank you, too, for being an ambassador for liberty. Because of your sharing on social media and your own engagement with our content, FEE is reaching a wider audience than at any time in our 69-year history.

We are experiencing record levels of applications for our seminars. FEE voices are appearing in the international press. And FEE.org itself is being read by over 500,000 people per month (and rising fast!). This is a level of reach that would have delighted FEE’s founders, and the champions of freedom from time immemorial.

However, without the generosity of individuals like you, FEE would not be able to deliver life-changing moments for countless young people. We need your financial support to continue our work for liberty.

Whether you give a little or become a continuing benefactor in substantial amounts, we appreciate it deeply as a vote of confidence in FEE’s message, mission, and work.

Thank you for thinking of FEE in your year-end giving. And, thank you for all that you do to advance liberty in any way!

Best wishes to you and your families for this holiday season and for a blessed and prosperous New Year.

Lawrence W. ReedLawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s. Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook.

Big Government Is Still Young by Alberto Mingardi

I am reading Charles Murray’s By the People. Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission. By the way, it is quite an engaging read.

Right at the beginning of the book, Murray struggles to give some measure of the extent of increase in government involvement with everyone’s life.

Here’s a passage:

Until the 1930s, the federal government remained tiny. The federal budget of 1928 totalled $38.0 billion, expressed in 2010 dollars. …

Of that total budget in 1928, $9.4 billion went to defense. Of non-defense spending, another $9.4 billion went to repayment of the national debt and $9.0 billion went to pensions and the Veteran Bureau. That left $10.2 billion for everything else — all the expenses associated with the White House, the federal judiciary, and the Departments of State, Treasury, Justice, Commerce, Labour, Interior, the Post Office, and all the independent agencies of the federal government.

Expressed as per capita spending in constant dollars, that $10.2 billion amounted to 1.0 percent of comparable federal spending in 2013. Think about it: one one-hundredth.

Murray has quite a few similar “facts from the past” that turn out to be rather surprising for the contemporary reader. To me, the most striking thing is how fast government expansion was accomplished. I fear we very often forget that.

In Western countries, most people today think pensions are a most common feature of human life — and yet human beings had compulsory savings and pension systems for a minuscule fraction of their history.

If government grows fast, however, culture changes fast too. The sense of entitlement takes root easily in society.

For one thing, looking back makes us think that big government is not inevitable: after all, government was capricious, tyrannical, arbitrary during most of human history, but it never was this intrusive and expensive.

For the other, it is remarkable how easy we get used — perhaps, we become addicted? — to new government programs, and how strongly they can permeate society and change culture.

First published at © Econlog. Reprinted with permission.

Alberto Mingardi

Alberto Mingardi

Alberto Mingardi is Director General of Istituto Bruno Leoni, Italy’s free-market think tank.

Because of You and Your Destructive Policies, We the People want our Nation Back

Back in 2009, when I started my radio talk show, I knew that President Obama would be one of the worst presidents this nation has ever had.  I also took to heart what Rush Limbaugh said back then about the President.  Rush said “I hope he fails.” Lots of people on the left and in the ‘lame stream’ media blasted Rush for that.  They took him out of context on purpose so they could label Rush and others who agreed with him as racists.

I, of course, knew exactly what Rush meant back then.  I knew if this man succeeded then he would indeed fulfill a promise he made in one of his speeches “To Fundamentally Transform this Nation”. Fast forward some 7 years now and I can honestly say that what Rush wanted, what all true conservatives wanted, did not happen.  In fact the complete opposite happened.

President Obama did not fail he has succeeded.  In fact, I say that President Obama is the most successful president in our nation’s history at getting his agenda passed and implemented.  However, that success has meant failure and decline for this nation.  Obama wanted to punish those who were successful and did not tow his line.  Indeed we now have the longest high level unemployment rate since the Great Depression.

We have the lowest labor participation rate in nearly 40 years.  We have the fewest number of jobs in total compared to the total work force population since the Great Depression.  We have had the longest period of the Federal Reserve leaving the base interest rate at 0% in our history. We have the highest number of people on Food Stamp assistance in history.  We have nearly 50 million Americans now living at or below the poverty line and that is the highest it has been since the Great Depression.

We have a military that is smaller than what we had at the start of World War II and in some cases; it’s smaller than what we had at the start of World War I and Obama wants to cut it even further. Our influence and respect has declined all over the world and even our allies no longer take us seriously.

We have a government bureaucracy that is bigger than it has ever been and more costly than it has ever been.  We have more national debt than we have ever had and that debt as a percentage of our total GDP is the highest it has ever been.  We have police officers being targeted for assassination for the first time in our nation and the President is responsible for a good portion of this ill-will.  He refuses to stand up for law enforcement, yet he often condones and even congratulates those who challenge authority and even threaten our society and its peace.

In fact, things are so bad in this country today that even the Democratic candidates for President are distancing themselves from Obama.  They claim they will not follow in his footsteps yet we know each and every one of them would do so and in fact at least one of them would go even further.

But there is hope because Conservatives are gathering and speaking out.  They are voting in larger numbers and they are making an impact on local politics all over the nation.  They are turning out liberals, Democrats and Socialists almost everywhere. Even in some of our most liberal of cities, there is an air of conservatism that is creeping in.

People are beginning to understand what President John F Kennedy meant when he said.  “Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country”. We are spreading the word from coast to coast that conservatism, the rule of law, small government, efficient government, low taxes, and strong national defense has always meant a great America.

Yes, we are starting to re-energize our grass roots.  We are starting to believe that America can be great again.  We have given our acceptance to the strong, outsider voices for the GOP Presidential nomination race.  The polished, well-rehearsed, typical politicians are languishing at the bottom of the polls and at the bottom of the voters’ heart

We are demanding that our President represent what is best about our nation.  We want leaders that are not afraid to stand up for what is right no matter how bad the odds of winning may seem and most of all WE WANT OUR FREEDOM BACK. In short, Americans have seen what it is like to be a second rate nation in decline and we don’t like it because we want to be that shining beacon of hope for the world.

With the help of God and the American people, we will be that shining, gleaming city of light and hope on the mountain top because that is where the United States of America belongs forever.

Progressivism Is Illiberal: Modern Liberalism Is at Odds with Peaceful Interaction by Sandy Ikeda

A New York magazine article headline declares, “De Blasio’s Proposal to Destroy Pedestrian Times Square Is the Opposite of Progressive.”

That’s Bill de Blasio, the current mayor of New York City, who was elected in 2013 after running unabashedly as the progressive, socially democratic candidate. I find it interesting that people are surprised by the mayor’s illiberal stands on many (though not all) of the major issues he has faced in his short time in office.

One of the latest is his proposal to return cars to Times Square Plaza, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, by razing the outdoor space created by the administration of his Republican predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. You see, Mayor Bill says he doesn’t like the goings-on there, which lately include women soliciting topless on the street and people dressed as Elmo hustling tourists. His solution? We can’t control all the hucksterism, so let’s shut the whole thing down!

Justin Davidson, the author of that New York magazine article, says it well:

If de Blasio really believes that the best way to deal with street performers in Times Square is to tear up the pedestrian plaza, may I suggest he try reducing homelessness by eradicating doorways and subway grates?

My point goes beyond Times Square Plaza, of course, although that controversy is instructive, as are others (such as his recent attempt to rein in Uber).

The approach the mayor takes in this and similar matters is characteristic of any political ideology that views unrestrained political power as a legitimate tool of social change. That includes neoconservatism and other modern political ideologies, including progressivism.

While it’s a caricature to say that what progressives would not forbid, they would make mandatory, they show a pattern of using force to ban what they don’t like and of mandating what they do. If you think that sounds illiberal, you’re right. Progressivism isn’t liberalism, especially of the classical variety. But even the watered-down liberalism of campus radicals of the 1960s paid more heed to the principle of tolerance than progressives today do.

Progressivism versus Liberalism

Progressivism today goes beyond the liberal position that, for example, same-sex marriage should have the same legal status as heterosexual marriage, to the belief that the state should threaten physical violence against anyone who refuses to associate or do business with same-sex couples.

Progressives have a low tolerance for opposing points of view. Unfortunately, so do some libertarians, but for the most part libertarians do not endorse using political power to eradicate what they believe are disagreeable public activities. Libertarians are much closer to genuine liberals than progressives are.

To a genuine liberal, tolerance means more than endorsing a wide range of beliefs and practices. It means allowing nonviolent people to say and do things that we strongly disagree with, disapprove of, or find highly offensive. It means not assuming our own moral superiority over the wickedness or stupidity of our ideological opponents. English writer Beatrice Evelyn Hall captured that liberal spirit when she (and not Voltaire) wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

The plaza and the streets it encompasses were, of course, the creation of government, so we’re not talking about the municipality bulldozing private property. But it’s not the government-created structure the mayor is objecting to; it’s the purely voluntary — “unregulated” — activities going on in it that he doesn’t like and wants to wipe out with heavy hands and hammy fists.

Closing the Gap Economy

The activity in Times Square Plaza is related to what I called in a recent column the “gap economy,” which refers to the unregulated, money-making activities that arise in the free spaces left open by government regulation and that complete with businesses that have adapted themselves to the mixed economy. Progressives like Mayor de Blasio seem to fear what they cannot regulate and control. They don’t understand that in the free market, there is regulation and that the regulatory principle is not coercion but persuasion, competition, and reputation.

Progressives profoundly mistrust the spontaneous, especially when it’s the result of people acting out of self-interest. But that’s the hallmark and the essence of urban life. New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman sees it this way:

Time and again, Mr. de Blasio leaves an impression that he understands very little about the dynamics of urbanism and the physical fabric of the city — its parks and plazas, its open spaces, libraries, transit network and streetscape, which all contribute to issues he cares most about, like equity and social mobility.

He doesn’t understand because he probably thinks in terms of specific, static objectives (such as his so-called “Vision Zero,” which I write about in “Um, Scarcity?”) rather than what Kimmelman rightly refers to as “the dynamics of urbanism.” As the urbanist (and libertarian friendly) Jane Jacobs explained, those dynamics are messy and inherently unpredictable.

It doesn’t seem to matter to the mayor that ordinary people have demonstrated their preference for Times Square Plaza by showing up in record numbers, just as it doesn’t matter that ordinary New Yorkers have gained from gap-economy activities such as Uber or Airbnb. What concerns progressives like the mayor is that it’s not happening the way they want it to happen. (In the case of Uber, thank goodness, the truly liberal elements of New York soundly defeated the progressive forces.)

Davidson writes,

I understand that the mayor doesn’t care for the carnival atmosphere at Times Square — neither do I. But eradicating a pedestrian plaza because you don’t like who’s walking there is like blasting away a beach because you object to bikinis or paving a park because you hate squirrels. It represents such a profound misunderstanding of public space that it makes me question the mayor’s perception of what counts as progressive.

It’s not the mayor Davidson should be questioning so much as the principles that motivate him. De Blasio just happens to illustrate progressivism in a particularly glaring way.

Sandy IkedaSandy Ikeda

Sandy Ikeda is a professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism.

RELATED ARTICLE: Lessons Learned From Kim Davis About Religious Liberty and Government Accommodation

Real Hero Cato the Younger: The Man Who Almost Stopped Julius Caesar by Lawrence W. Reed

In the estimations of many historians, two men hold the honor as the most notable defenders of the Roman Republic. Marcus Tullius Cicero was one. Marcus Porcius Cato, or “Cato the Younger,” was the other.

Since there was a “younger,” there must have been an “elder,” too. Cato the Elder was the great grandfather of the younger. Both men, separated by more than a century, were influential in public office. Think of the elder as the social conservative, concerned in his day with preserving the customs and traditions of Rome. The younger was one of history’s early libertarians, interested more in personal and political liberties because he believed that if they were lost, nothing else mattered. It is this second one to whom I refer in the balance of this essay as simply “Cato.”

By the time of Cato’s birth in 95 BC, the Roman Republic was long in the tooth. Founded four centuries earlier, it had risen from obscurity to political and economic dominance in the Mediterranean. Rome was easily the world’s wealthiest and most powerful society. It wasn’t a libertarian paradise — slavery was a part of its makeup, as it was even more brutal everywhere else — but Rome had taken liberty to a zenith the world had never seen before and wouldn’t see again for a long time after it finally fell. The constitution of the republic embodied term limits; separation of powers; checks and balances; due process; habeas corpus; the rule of law; individual rights; and elected, representative legislative bodies, including the famous Senate. All of this was hanging by a thread in the first century BC.

Cato was just five years of age when Rome went to war with its former allies in the Italian peninsula — the so-called “Social War.” Though the conflict lasted just two years, its deleterious effects were huge. The decades to follow would be marked by the rise of factions and conflict and local armies loyal to their commanders instead of the larger society. A “welfare-warfare” state was putting down deep roots as Cato grew up. The limited government, personal responsibility and extensive civil society so critical to the republic’s previous success were in an agonizing, century-long process of collapse. Even many of those who recognized the decay around them nonetheless drank the Kool-Aid, succumbing to the temptations of power or subsidies or both.

Before the age of 30, Cato had become a supremely disciplined individual, a devotee of Stoicism in every respect. He commanded a legion in Macedon and won immense loyalty and respect from the soldiers for the example he set, living and laboring no differently from day to day than he required of his men. He first won election to public office (to the post of quaestor, supervising financial and budgetary matters for the state) in 65 BC and quickly earned a reputation as scrupulously meticulous and uncompromisingly honest. He went out of his way to hold previous quaestors accountable for their dishonesty and misappropriation of funds, which he himself uncovered.

Later he served in the Roman Senate, where he never missed a session and criticized other senators who did. Through his superb oratory in public and deft maneuverings in private, he worked tirelessly to restore fealty to the ideals of the fading Republic.

Since the days of the Gracchus brothers (Gaius and Tiberius) in the previous century, more and more Romans were voting for a living to replace or supplement having to work for one. Politicians were buying elections with expensive promises to distribute free or subsidized grain. Cato saw the debilitating effect such cynical demagoguery was exacting from the public’s character and opposed it at first. The one time he compromised on this issue was when he supported an expansion of the dole as the only way to prevent a demagogue named Julius Caesar from coming to power. It was a tactic he hoped would be temporary, but it ultimately failed, becoming the only blot on an otherwise virtuous and principled public career.

It was Cato’s fierce and relentless opposition to Julius Caesar that made him most remarkable. He saw in the ambitious, power-hungry general a mortal threat to the republic and tried to block his every move. He filibustered for hours on end to prevent a vote on Caesar’s bid to attain Rome’s highest office, the consulship. Caesar eventually got the job, but while in office, Cato vexed him more than any other senator. Caesar even ordered Cato dragged from the Senate in the middle of one of his orations, whereupon another senator declared, according to historian Cassius Dio, that he “would rather be in jail with Cato than in the Senate with Caesar.”

In Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Caesar’s Mortal Enemy, authors Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni underscore Cato’s implacable resistance:

It had been an unprecedented year of obstruction and deadlock, all spearheaded by Cato. Never before had a senator brought forth such a range of legislation to the same dead halt in a matter of months. The tax contracts, the postwar plans for the East, the land reform, Caesar’s triumph (a costly public spectacle), Caesar’s bid for a strong consulship and a provincial command — Cato had not stood against them alone, but he was the common thread between each filibuster and each “no.”

Cato stood in the way of Caesar’s ambitious agenda but couldn’t prevent his postconsulship appointment as a provincial governor. In that post, Caesar mustered his forces for an assault on the very republic he had governed as a consul. In 49 BC, he famously crossed the Rubicon River and headed for Rome to seize power.

As a sign of strength and magnanimity, Caesar might have pardoned his old foe. Some contemporaries and present-day historians believe that was, in fact, Caesar’s intent and would have been a politically smart thing to do. Quoting again from Goodman and Soni:

But Cato would not give Caesar the gift of his silence; he had scripted his own scene. He would not recognize a tyrant’s legitimacy by accepting his power to save. As Cato saw it, Caesar broke the law even in offering pardons, because he offered them on no authority but his own. To accept forgiveness would be conceding Caesar’s right to forgive, and Cato would not concede that.

So in April 46 BC in Utica, using his own sword to do the deed, Cato committed suicide rather than live under the thumb of the man whose power lust was about to extinguish the old republic. While Cato lived, write Goodman and Soni, “every Roman who feared that the traditional virtues were guttering out, who saw the state’s crisis as a moral crisis — as the product of terrifyingly modern avarice or ambition — looked, in time, to Cato.”

With Cicero’s death three years later under the orders of Caesar’s successor, Marc Antony, the Republic died and the dictatorship of the empire commenced.

More than 17 centuries later, in April 1713, Joseph Addison’s play Cato: A Tragedy debuted in London. Depicting the ancient Roman as a hero of republican liberty, it resonated for decades thereafter in both Britain and America. George Washington ordered it performed for his bedraggled troops at Valley Forge during the awful winter of 1777–78. Congress had forbidden it, thinking its sad conclusion would dispirit the troops, but Washington knew that Cato’s resistance to tyranny would inspire them. And thankfully, it did.

“Few leaders have ever put ambition so squarely in the service of principle,” write Goodman and Soni. “These were the qualities that set Cato apart from his fellows — and that made posterity take notice.”

Putting ambition in the service of principle instead of one’s own glory or power or wealth: now that’s a virtue to which every man and woman in public office — in any walk of life, for that matter — should aspire today.

For further information, see:

The Fall of the Republic” by Lawrence W. Reed

Enemy of the State, Friend of Liberty” by Lawrence W. Reed

Are We Rome?” by Lawrence W. Reed, and other essays on Rome


Lawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s.

EDITORS NOTE: Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.

LTC Allen West Reads The Declaration of Independence

The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) wishes you a happy and meaningful 4th of July, the anniversary of our Declaration of Independence.

LTC Allen West U.S. Army (Retired), President and CEO of NCPA, reads excerpts from the Declaration of Independence.

Happy 239th Independence Day America!

Nudging Voters to Make the Right Decisions by Julian Adorney

In politics, as in commerce, consumers cannot always be trusted. Sometimes they’re duped, or foolish, or just make decisions for the wrong reasons. That’s when we need government to step in and take the decision out of their hands.

I propose the passage of the Control and Help Upgrade the Market in Politics (CHUMP) Act to eliminate the inherent flaws in the political market.

A little nudge

Many intellectuals realize that consumers need to be nudged toward certain decisions.

This idea, called “libertarian paternalism,” consists of bureaucrats “self-consciously attempting to move people in directions that will make their lives better.”

Take cigarettes, for example. Consumers aren’t rational enough to research the dangers of cigarettes on their own, so governments insist that tobacco companies include graphic warnings to “nudge” people away from buying them. This light touch retains for users the option to buy cigarettes but gently moves them toward a wiser decision.

We need to move this idea into the political marketplace. Under the CHUMP Act, government will be empowered to nudge voters by asking them to read a few positive facts about certain candidates before they vote. Like cigarette buyers, voters will still be free to choose their candidate. We’ll just be offering a little guidance.

MoveOn.org recently put this idea into practice, releasing a poll with positive statements about Elizabeth Warren (and no statements about any other candidate). Warren won the poll by several points. That’s the political market at its best.

Subsidizing good ideas

We have long realized that unregulated markets produce the wrong distribution of resources. As Senator Bernie Sanders recently argued, why should we have 23 brands of deodorant when we can’t feed our children? Or, to put it another way, why does Kim Kardashian always have a show while NPR struggles to make ends meet? The market may reflect the desires of consumers, but it leads to the wrong outcomes.

We deal with this market failure by subsidizing NPR. But we don’t just need better shows; we need better politics, too.

For that reason, the CHUMP Act will subsidize some political groups. Judging by Sanders’s poll numbers, many Americans don’t care for big-government rhetoric. But so what? All that means is that there’s insufficient demand for his views. Some ideas, like NPR’s brand of reporting, are downright unpopular in the market. But we need them. What’s wrong with helping them along?

Certain policies, or rather the candidates who endorse them, should be subsidized. Each candidate should be rated on a scale of 1 to 100 (or from Ted Cruz to Bernie Sanders) and receive funding equal to $5,000 multiplied by their score. Hillary Clinton might score a 55, and receive $275,000 in subsidies for her presidential campaign. Sanders, who might score a solid 100, would receive $500,000. Who can say that money wouldn’t be put to good use educating Americans on the benefits of bigger government?

Cruz, as the scale suggests, would score 0 and receive no funding. Some ideas just shouldn’t be encouraged.

Banning bad politics

We need more than subsidies for good ideas: we need to protect people from themselves. Again, the blueprint lies in commerce, where wise bureaucrats protect people from businesses like Lyft, Airbnb, or Tesla. No matter how much people may say they like these companies, some products and services are just bad all around. I don’t care if you want to take an Uber. It’s too expensive, it’s disruptive, and its rating system is deeply flawed. If your city has banned ride-sharing services, it’s doubtless for your own good.

In the same vein, why should the government stand idly by while underinformed voters succumb to the rhetoric of extremist malcontents? We need to step in to save these misguided folks from themselves. They may say they want lower taxes or fewer regulations, but that’s only because they don’t understand the long-term consequences of casting their votes for smaller government.

But what about freedom?

Now, some naysayers may claim that political and commercial markets are different, that we should subsidize companies but not ideas. They claim that political freedom, the ability to choose freely between competing political ideas, is sacrosanct.

But a century ago, during the dark ages of the Lochner era, we said the same thing about economic freedom: “freedom of contract” was a right enshrined by the Supreme Court. Can you imagine if we still lived in an era where economic freedom was recognized as inviolable? It would be a nightmare of worker exploitation, child labor, and Kardashian shows. The Supreme Court struck down this freedom for the good of us all.

Right now, this “libertarian moment” we’re in is as dangerous as the Industrial Revolution was before reformers curbed its excesses. We no longer have child labor, but we do have people who want to eliminate welfare. We have reduced exploitation, but we still have extremists claiming that health care is not a right.

These residual reactionary views remain with us because we still believe that the political consumer’s choices are sacred. But that belief allows demagogues to be elected with no thought to the consequences.

Like toddlers who refuse to eat their veggies, some people just don’t know what’s good for them. We need to help them make the right choices. Political freedom is no more sacred than economic freedom — and should be dispensed with as easily, for the good of us all.


Julian Adorney

Julian Adorney is Director of Marketing at Peacekeeper, a free app that offers an alternative to 911. He’s also an economic historian, focusing on Austrian economics. He has written for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Townhall, and The Hill.

Is Mad Max the End of Freedom? by Jeffrey A. Tucker

What a ride is the new Mad Max!

The desert scenes — filmed in Namibia and Australia — remind me of Lawrence of Arabia. So peaceful. At first. Then, in the first scene, Mad Max, who is forced to live off the land, eats a two-headed lizard whole and raw. Blech. But actually this sets up the whole atmosphere of extreme privation that dominates the film. The absence of material provision leads everyone to act in egregious ways.

Then the action starts. Huge and crazy looking cars, motorcycles, and trucks guzzling massive quantities of gas (who makes it all?), racing around the desert blowing each other up.

There are punks, zombied-eyed workers, disgustingly dirty workers and peasants, haggard women warriors, a gross-me-out dictator, a strange economy that seems to live off blood transfusions and mother’s milk, a tireless heavy-metal band with a flame-throwing guitar player riding around on a war truck, and many more wacky things.

The whole film is loud, eye-popping, jaw-dropping, crazy, insane, high-anxiety fun from first to last. It leaves you breathless. Then it turns out to be substantive in a philosophical sense, and even inspires with a message of triumph over despotism.

And yet, I was also reminded of my first experience watching the old Mad Maxin my youth. I had recently become convinced of the case for the free society. I had daringly embraced the conviction that it is not the state that holds society together and builds civilization.

Society itself — Bastiat and others convinced me — contains within it the capacity for its own ordering. Markets, property rights, and even law are emergent institutions that allow the creation of the good society. Accepting that meant departing from both right and left.

Somehow, and I’m not entirely sure why, the first viewing of the original film shook my convictions. Is this what freedom looks like? Yikes. I walked away from the film somehow fearing that I had embraced a political vision that would lead straight to the grim, chaotic — let’s use the word anarchic — world of Mad Max. There are no rules, only a vague semblance of morality, and social norms are made up on the spot.

Truly, is this what libertarianism is all about? It’s just an impulse, and one that actually makes no sense, though I can imagine many viewers would come away with that same fear. If this is the way the world looks without powerful central control, no thanks.

But think about it. The setting is usually described as “post-apocalyptic.”

Who destroyed the world (a question one character in the new version asks)? We don’t know for sure, but it’s a good bet that it is the same crew that, in the 20th century, blew up whole cities, dropped bombs on millions of innocents, slaughtered whole peoples in famines, gulags, work camps, death marches, and gas chambers.

I’m speaking of the state. That’s the only institution with means and the will to destroy civilization. So if I had to guess the answer to the question, I would guess: politicians and bureaucrats destroyed the world.

Plus, there is in fact a state, or at least a ruling class with power, in Mad Max.

His name is Immortan Joe. He wears a weird mask and has some strange breathing contraption on the back of his neck. He both controls all resources (including the most precious resource of all, water) and heads a religious cult in which all his followers think that perfect obedience will lead to eternal salvation. He commands them completely and totally.

He is also utterly lawless — any means to the end of keeping his power. That’s his one and only concern. He also happens to inhabit the only green spot in the whole region, monopolizing and devouring the earth’s most valuable resources.

Sounds like a state to me.

As for the rest of society, true, there is no law and nothing like stable property rights. Morality is pretty much out of the question. Even if you believe in right and wrong, the material privation is so intense that acting on moral postulates is out of the question. This is not society. This is society destroyed, a society reset, all norms and institutions for human cooperation erased.

The viewer can’t help asking the question: What would I do if I were in the situation?

Well, I would have to learn not to be squeamish about eating two-headed lizards raw. I would have to learn to be a good driver. I would have to learn how to stab and shoot to kill. I would have to get used to the sight of blood.

But most of all, if I wanted to play some part in improving this ghastly world, I would have to contribute my efforts to unseating the grotesque and loathsome Immortan Joe.

There are plenty of challenges in the Mad Max world. Extreme conditions of scarcity is just the most conspicuous. To solve that problem requires property rights, markets, capital accumulation, and long-term investment. These are great ideas. But they can’t be realized so long as there are thugs extant that will rob you of property the instant it starts to create wealth.

In other words, the problem in the Mad Max world is not too much freedom. It is that freedom is never given a chance to work due to the presence of tyranny. This is the source of the disorder, chaos, non-stop violence, and overall poverty and insecurity.

Until the tyranny is overthrown — until the head of the ruling class is dislodged from perch of power — there can be no hope whatever. In the end, the effort to unseat this jerk is led by women who escaped his clutches to live far outside the capital. They long for the freedom to put together something like a life.

To see that requires you look a bit below the surface.

The film does, in fact, reveal something important about sex/gender and politics: namely, that a consciousness of universal human rights and dignity is the product of civilization. A might-makes-right society of poverty and power will be highly exploitative of women. This much we know from history, and the film gets this right.

Finally, for an economist, there is a clever insight here concerning the ancient problem of the diamond/water paradox: Why is water, which is more necessary for life, cheaper than diamonds? Mad Max reveals the answer: It all comes down to marginal value and relative scarcities. In this society, people will do anything for a drop to drink. Or eat.

Thank you, thank you, freedom and trade, for rescuing us all from the world of Mad Max and Immortan Joe.

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.

Does Freedom Ruin Love? by JASON KUZNICKI

Over at the WeekDamon Linker sees the “paradox of choice” at work in an unlikely place: love and romance. Our young people, he says, have too many romantic choices.

The paradox of choice works like this: Let someone pick between two kinds of jam, and they’ll pick the one they like the best, and they’ll know it. The result is a happy consumer.

But let someone pick among a hundred kinds of jam, and they’ll get… frustrated. They’ll vacillate. They’ll second-guess. And there goes all their happiness. A bigger menu has only made things worse.

Now, preferences aren’t supposed to work that way. Not if we’re being rational (at least by some accounts of rationality). But we’re not fully rational, says this theory, and so… too much choice can bother us.

The paradox of choice seems custom-tailored for memetic success: It’s contrarian. It’s fashionably anti-consumer, without demanding too much in the way of personal asceticism. It’s anti-rational, in that special, cowardly way that lets adherents sneak back to a slightly greater rationality than the rest of us schmucks. In fine, it’s reassuringly snobby.

Unfortunately, the economic research on the paradox of choice just doesn’t hold up all that well — not even in consumer goods, where the idea was first hatched. As to lab results, a meta-analysis of the paradox has found virtually zero effect. Perhaps more work needs to be done, but for now, the preponderance of the evidence says no.

Out in the field, IHOP seems to have used the paradox to inform a new menu design, but it’s only modestly boosted sales, even without controlling for all the other menu changes that IHOP made at the same time. (Does ordering more pancakes make you happier? I’d guess that more people would regret buying, rather than not buying, those extra pancakes, so you tell me.)

Which brings us, I suppose, to romance. Linker writes:

In their personal lives, Americans have never been freer — from obligations, expectations, restrictions, constraints. Most of us consider this a hard-won achievement, a sign of progress beyond the limitations with which our parents, and their parents, and their parents’ parents, had to contend. But is it really progress? Are we happier in our boundless autonomy — or more miserable?

As evidence of our collective misery, Linker cites this essay by Columbia University sophomore Jordana Narin. It’s about a relationship of hers that lived, and died, without so much as a label. Whenever the question of labels came up, she simply talked around it, and so did he. Was their relationship sexual? Yes. Was it romantic? Who knows.

Heartbreakingly, Narin never even knew when to move on. Having never been a couple, she and her Jeremy could hardly break up. And that’s a problem, as I think all parties would agree.

Narin’s essay is certainly an angsty piece of work. That’s not a dig; if you’re a college sophomore who isn’t visibly angsty, you’re probably hiding something.

Along the way, Narin raises some superlative questions about the wisdom of the unlabeled relationship, and about whether one can cross from a casual affair to something more enduring, and about how the casual can be the enemy of the sincere. Her work fully deserved the award that it won.

Her essay is a lot of things, including wise and moving. But evidence for the paradox of choice it is not: If Narin had any other romantic choices at the time, she declines to say. Her choices seem to have been few, or easily made, or both.

So what went wrong? Narin writes: “I told myself a lot of things I never told him.” Now, I’m not an advice columnist, but if I had to guess, I’d say she’s found the problem.

To repeat: she’s a college sophomore, writing about some mistakes she started making in high school. She’s not a woman of fifty looking back at a wasted youth, a lifetime of regret born of too many options. She’s hardly a lost cause.

And, with the benefit of hindsight, she even has a familiar name for her predicament: the One Who Got Away. Back in my day, when things weren’t really all that different, there was hardly a college sophomore who didn’t have One Who Got Away.

So where was Linker headed with all of this? Here:

Marriage was once close to ubiquitous, and couplings were often arranged by families. When they weren’t arranged, they nearly always took place within rigidly defined cultural, religious, and ethnic boundaries. By the age of 25, and usually long before, you were bound to another person, in most cases for life. . . .  Individuals might fight against received constraints, but in the end the constraints always won.

Or at least, they did for a long time. In more recent centuries and decades, we’ve seen a slow but dramatic shift in the direction of individual autonomy, accelerating to the present day. It began with the rise of the ideal of romantic love, which led to marriages based more and more often on free choice. Eventually the old cultural, religious, and ethnic boundaries broke down, making way for all sorts of once-unthinkable intermarriages.

And all sorts of once-unthinkable reasons to end a marriage. First there was an escape clause for abuse and abandonment, then a list of lifestyle considerations (including a couple “growing apart”). Eventually divorce could dissolve a supposedly indissoluble, ostensibly life-long bond for any reason at all, without attributing “fault” to either party. . . .

And yet, for all of these changes, the institution of marriage, plus at least some of those norms and practices, persisted as a cultural ideal.

Until now, that is. With the rise of the millennial generation, marriage itself — along with formal dating, exclusive dating (“going steady”), and engagement — has come to seem for many like an unwanted obstacle to personal autonomy. And it’s easy to understand why.

Now, if I wanted to play hardball, right here is where I would wonder aloud whether Damon Linker really meant to condemn inter-ethnic marriage. After all, he describes it as a choice, in an essay about how we have too many romantic choices. Presumably we would gain something by giving it up. Presumably we would also gain if we crossed off all those other choices, too. We might even be happiest if we just left the choice to our parents.

Of course, I don’t believe that Linker thinks any of these things. But he did bring them up, and I guess the most charitable thing I can do is to stroke my chin, and wonder why, and move on.

Linker’s real target here — the one he means us to talk about — is “hookup culture.”

The problem with worrying about hookup culture is that it’s not a new choice. It’s not even a choice that more millennials are making.

As we talk about it today, hookup culture is simply a moral panic.

As journalist Amanda Hess has ably demonstrated, the data paints a very different picture from the one we oldsters seem inclined to imagine. Teen pregnancy is downMost STIs are downHooking up isn’t common, isn’t well-regarded among college students, and isn’t on the rise.

Controlling for age, 40 years of survey data says that millennials are having less casual sex than either of the two generation s that went before them. Who had the most? The boomers. Go figure: Hookup culture is something your grandparents did — which… Ew.

Moreover, marriages rates might be going down, but not because divorce is going up. Marriages in the 2000s are less likely to end in divorce than any time since the ‘60s, and divorce rates have been in decline for decades.

None of this has stopped most journalists from writing as if something dreadful were going on, and Linker is certainly no exception.

The paradox of choice is empirically dubious even on its home turf; it’s preposterous to deploy as an explanation for a nonexistent social trend, and surely cannot illuminate the angst of our heartbroken college sophomores.

More freedom in their relationships hasn’t made younger generations more miserable, more promiscuous, or less committed — it’s just made them more free.

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is the editor of Cato Unbound.

Israel – 67 Years of Fighting for Freedom

We present a special show today focusing on Israel’s 67th anniversary of their Independence Day which follows their solemn Memorial Day.

Join me and our team as they go back to Life Magazine, 1948 and see how life was in Tel Aviv during the British handover of Israel.

Our special guest, Israeli, Arie Egozie walks us though the tough past and maybe tougher future awaiting this tiny but very strong nation.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Is the Obama Administration Misleading Americans About How Close Iran Is to Getting a Nuclear Weapon?

House Conservatives Want More Power Over Iran Nuclear Deal

Liberals DO NOT believe in Freedom For All

This past week end, I spent a lot of time outside working on my landscaping.  The long, hard winter of 2014/2015 looks to be over.  And I would just like to say thank you to Global Warming advocates who are still at a loss as to why this planets climate has not lived up to the desert like conditions promised.

I guess global warming equals record cold temperatures and record snow fall.  Well if that is what global warming is, then I will jump on board because I love living in New England and I sure don’t want another Alaska type winter to befall us.  Note the sarcasm.  But I digress.

While working in my yard this past week end, I got to see some of what makes America great.  The freedom of people to be who they want to be.  I saw people walking in shorts and tank tops. Mind you, although it is warm, to me it is far from tank top weather.

I saw folks riding their motorcycles, big ones and small ones.  Some had flags on the back.

Some were the noisy type.  Some were the fast type.  And some were the big, touring grandparent type. I saw folks taking their convertibles out for a week end joy ride probably for the first time this year.  I saw and heard the younger set with all their windows down and music blaring.  Yes, we can hear you a half mile away and you are going to kill your ears by playing music that loud. But at least in most communities, those young people have the freedom to play their music in their car as loud as they want.

And there it is.  The freedom.  I saw people enjoying their freedom.  Nobody telling them they could not walk in a tank top yet.  Nobody passing a law preventing motorcycles from being ridden at this time of year.  No overreaching ordinances telling young people that in order to be legal others cannot hear your music outside of your car at all.

Now this part of the article is for all of my Liberal friends and haters out there.  This is where I point out how hypocritical you are.  Lets take gay rights for example.  Now this is America.  As some would say, ‘Murica.  And this is the land of the free.  Which, you on the left say, means that gays have the right to live as they please.  They have a right to live in peace.  They have a right to love who they please.  They have the right to have a life just like a straight person.  To which many other Americans would agree. But then you turn the tables on everyone else.  You want laws dictating how others act and react around you.  You wish to stifle or take away the freedom and rights of others just to fit your own selfish desires.  You say you want to be free, but you want big government to dictate how we all live and interact with each other.

It would be like telling the person on the fast motorcycle that he is not allowed to go 65 mph on the highway while allowing cars to do that speed.  In other words, you are not asking for freedom.  You are asking for special privileges.  Privileges in which the rest of the population is not able to avail themselves of.  You are asking to separate the people in to classes and groups. Some classes and some groups get more freedom than others.

That kind of thought is straight out of the pages of the novel Animal Farm.  In this novel there is a passage that says, “some animals are more equal than others” which means some animals are not equal at all.

This is the same thought process used to own and keep slaves.  Blacks were not thought of as being equal to whites.  Now gays want to say that straights are not equal to gays.  And thus a straight person has no right to admonish gays in any way.  However, when you ask the question of gays should they be forced to make a T-Shirt for a Muslim that says “gays are infidels and must die” the fast and quick answer is no way.

Well if you have the right to tell a straight person they must make you a t-shirt that says “being gay is fab” then the Muslim has the right to tell the gay person to make him a t-shirt of his choosing. But in order to get around this, gays would say that what the Muslim wants is hate speech.  So you want to create a law that stops hate speech.  Even though, in this country, the Muslim is free to say what he pleases just like you and I.  But you wish to live your life of freedom by taking the rights of others away simply because you don’t like it.

This is not an issue with Muslims.  I need to say it because some of you out there would point out Muslims should not have a right to say what they say.  To which I reply with a query.  Why?  Sure I find a lot of what they say offensive.  But does that give me the right to deny his free speech rights simply because I don’t agree or like his speech? Does this mean that gays should censor straights because they don’t like the fact that some straights don’t agree with homosexuality?  Does it mean that we force the motorcycle to go only 55 instead of 65 because they are not wrapped in a steal cage?

Who decides who gets special rights and who gets their rights denied?  The point is when you deny someone their rights, you are most likely starting down that slippery road process of denying your own rights.  And frankly that makes us all less free.  And less freedom has no place in ‘Murica.