Ideas on Liberty

Articles from Vol. 52, No. 12, December

An Inspiration for All Time
Most lovers of liberty want to be optimists. All that has to happen for liberty to be widely embraced is for people to open their minds and shed the baggage of the socialist impulse. Simple enough, right? No. It isn't simple at all, and that's why too...
Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control
Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control by Don B. Kates and Gary Kleck Prometheus Books * 2001 * 363 pages * $27.00 For 77 consecutive days in the fall of 1969 the Washington Post published editorials calling for stricter gun controls. This was something...
Back to Basics
Peripatetics Lately I've landed in discussions about whether there is such a thing as human action. I'm not kidding. Some educated people have their doubts. Just to be clear from the outset, human action, as Ludwig von Mises pointed out, is purposeful...
Buffaloed: The Myth and Reality of Bison in America
Almost every schoolchild is taught that prior to the arrival of whites, Plains Indians lived in perfect harmony with nature as the ultimate socialist ecologists. According to the common tale, Indians had little private property-and certainly were not...
Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias edited by Peter Ludlow MIT Press . 2001 . 451 pages . $60.00 Reviewed by Andrew P Morriss This volume offers a wildly uneven array of original, revised, and reprinted writings on the broad topic of anarchy...
Ebenezer Scrooge: In His Own Defense
Scrooge speaks: To hell with writers. They're all the same. They carry a simple formula in their empty minds; mix one small fact with a headful of dreams, and Eureka! A best seller. Give a writer a drop of truth and he'll make a Thames, thereby providing...
Fool's Errands
Fool's Errands by Gary T. Dempsey with Roger W. Fontaine Cato Institute * 2001 * 215 pages * $19.95 hardcover; $10.95 paperback The destruction of the Taliban government in Afghanistan and its replacement by a new regime that is at least not certifiably...
Frontiers of Legal Theory
Frontiers of Legal Theory by Richard A. Posner Harvard University Press * 2001 * 453 pages * $35.00 I am one of Judge Richard Posner's most sincere and enthusiastic admirers. Not only am I, like everyone who knows of him, in awe of his remarkable rate...
Government-Think
For as long as there have been governments, it has been a truism that whatever private individuals or companies, engaging in free exchange of goods and services, see as opportunities, government sees as problems. There is nothing terribly surprising...
Ideas and the Abolition of Slavery
The history of slavery is a subject of great interest to contemporary historians. The intense interest it evokes today is partly a consequence of one huge reality: slavery has been a feature of almost every historical epoch except for the last 200 years....
Indian Socialism Breeds Sectarianism
In a classic case of deflecting blame for their own shortcomings, politicians in India have identified the size of the population as the country's biggest problem. This disingenuous position was stated in a unanimous resolution issued by the Indian parliament...
It Just Ain't So!
Business Scandals Show Inherent Worker-Management Conflict? As predictable as late-summer crabgrass, statists have taken advantage of the recent business fiascoes to argue that capitalism is not good for workers. In the September 2 New York Times, Steven...
Notes from FEE
This is the 57th Christmas for FEE from its home along the Hudson River, and my first as its president. I became aware of FEE at age 14 when I came across a copy of The Freeman magazine-the original name for Ideas on Liberty-among some political literature...
Perspective: From Another America
[Editor's Note: On July 4, 1821, in honor of America's independence, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams addressed the U.S. House of Representatives. Such thoughts are sorely missed today.] . . . And now, friends and countrymen, if the wise and learned...
Preference Pollution: How Markets Create the Desires We Dislike
Preference Pollution: How Markets Create the Desires We Dislike by David George University of Michigan Press . 2001 . 184 pages . $49.50 Reviewed by Gary M. Galles David George, professor of economics at LaSalle University, wishes to tar markets for...
Republic.com
Republic.com by Cass Sunstein Princeton University * Press * 2001 * 202 pages * $29.95 Reviewed by Andrew Cohen Developing technologies such as the World Wide Web and e-mail have become fixtures in our daily lives. But is the Internet consistent with...
Sensible Assumptions
Thoughts on Freedom I'm proud of the contribution that the best economists have made to our understanding of society and to the preservation of freedom. What would our world be like today if F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, and Adam Smith...
The Claims for Total War Revisited
According to the numerous defenders of Total War, no means of breaking an enemy's will can be forsworn under the conditions of modern warfare. The enemy includes every member of the "enemy society," regardless of age, gender, occupation, etc. Any vestiges...
The Constitution According to George Bush
White House lawyers have reportedly told President George W. Bush that he doesn't need congressional authority to go to war. For political reasons, the President says he will seek "congressional support for U.S. action" in Iraq. But will he agree to...
The Living Wage: What's Wrong?
The latest on the minimum-wage front, brought to us by the academic minions of "social justice," is a private, not a public, effort to raise the pay of lowwage workers. Emanating first from prestigious institutions of higher learning such as Harvard...
The Miracle of the Christmas Spirit
Charles Dickens wrote his most famous story to demonstrate what happens to a wretched, miserly old man when once the Christmas spirit gets to work on him and takes over. Something happens at this time of year to make people easier to get along with....
The Right Morality for Capitalism
This is not a good time to defend the morality of capitalism. Even the dismal economic failure, not to mention the appalling inhumanity, of socialism did not produce a new affection for the free-- exchange, property-based system. Its alleged greed-driven,...
The Tax Code-Now That's Outrageous!
If you've ever had the sinking suspicion that many in the mainstream media just don't get it, then the September 2002 issue of Reader's Digest was just for you. In its pages, conservative columnist Tucker Carlson penned his mighty attack on American...
Where Have All the Marxists Gone?
From the early days of Marxism until its collapse, the Left pretended that socialist central planning would lead to greater productivity and advanced technological progress. No one seriously entertains that illusion any more. So how is it that so many...
Widening Route 6
I really shouldn't tell you this, but Cape Cod is a very beautiful place. I shouldn't mention its beaches with their towering sand dunes. I shouldn't mention the golden eagle I saw soaring over the marsh near the cottage where we stayed on vacation....