Ideas on Liberty

Articles from Vol. 53, No. 2, February

Blurring the Civilian-Military Line
The soldier's mission, as soldiers often phrase it, is "killing people and breaking things," and they're trained accordingly. In contrast, police officers, ideally, are trained to operate in an environment where constitutional rights apply and to use...
California's War on Homeschoolers
I'm routinely astounded by the degree to which Americans will be outraged by government abuses that take place in far-off lands, while remaining uninterested in similar abuses right here in their very midst.My newspaper, the Orange County Register, last...
Capital Letters
Meat-Eating, Health, and the PoorTo the Editor:Dennis Avery asks, "Are meat eaters starving the poor?" (October 2002). While it may be a stretch to claim a causal relationship between the inefficiency of raising animals for food and global starvation,...
Corporate Accounting: Still Evolving after All These Years
Politicians were quick to blame recent accounting scandals on failures in the free-market system. But financial markets are far from free, and the government deserves a share of the blame for the scandals. For example, the distortionary tax code causes...
Decade of Denial: A Snapshot of America in the 1990s
by Herbert LondonIf you think that life in America has gone from bad to worse in the past decade and if you would find a grim pleasure in reading an elegantly acerbic description of the nation's ills, then Decade of Denial is for you. Herbert London's...
Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet, and the Enlightenment
by Emma RothschildThere is a burgeoning movement afoot to redefine Adam Smith as a "liberal" of the contemporary, progressive sort, rather than as the icon of classical liberalism he is standardly taken to be. It has never been a secret that Smith was...
Frankenstein Television
The televisions that Americans have loved for over 50 years will soon become obsolete. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated that the analog TV broadcast signals be turned off in 2006. After that date all TV broadcasts will be "digital."This...
Henry Ford, Upton Sinclair, and Limits on Consumer Choice
Early in the twentieth century two prominent Americans, one a capitalist, the other a socialist, enunciated surprisingly similar views on the relationship between product differentiation and consumer welfare. The capitalist, Henry Ford, had revolutionized...
How Government Disables Private Disability Insurance
Taxed Social Security earnings determine the level of three major types of Social Security benefits-the life annuity at the center of most discussions of Social Security, survivors' benefits, and disability benefits-available to individual working Americans...
It Just Ain't So!
New Laws Will Protect Americans from Snipers?The handcuffs had barely been slapped on the two Maryland sniper suspects-John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo-before the so-called liberals began invoking their crimes as a pretext to undermine the rights...
James Madison: The Constitutional War President
Is it possible for a president to run a war effectively and obey the Constitution at the same time? Most historians would say no; after all, they persistently rank Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt as two of the nation's greatest presidents. Lincoln...
Labor Freedom Makes Sense
If compulsory unionism were put to a moral test, it would flunk without debate. Forcing a worker to join and pay dues to an organization he doesn't want to represent him is a manifest violation of that worker's free will and right of contract. It so...
Labor Law and the West Coast Dock Dispute
The two-month West Coast dock dispute was settled in late November, but not until after President Bush obtained an injunction to halt the shutdown that was underway at all 29 ports from Seattle to San Diego. The injunction imposed the full 80-day "cooling...
No Shortcuts
For about ten years a number of writers sympathetic to the free market have rejoiced that more and more Americans have become shareholders in corporations through retirement accounts and direct investing. These commentators predicted that widespread...
Opportunity Knocks-Late
Perhaps it is the emphasis on youth in marketing and advertising-aside from a few prescription-drug commercials these days-that creates the impression that the rich are all young or have their career paths set by age 30. In fact, however, America's business...
Postconstitutional America?
PERSPECTIVEIt's a cliche that in time of war we must shift the balance between liberty and security, sacrificing some freedom to protect our society from assault. Funny how we blithely forget other fond adages when they become unfashionable, such as...
Seeing the World Plain
Washington, D.C., is filled with professions of good intentions by politicians and bureaucrats as they steadily strip away Americans' liberty and money. The political class uses even the most serious social problem to cement its control.Elections, which...
Self-Interest, Part 1
Asked on camera by John Stossel "Who has done more good for humanity, Michael Milken or Mother Teresa?" philosopher David Kelley unhesitatingly answered, "Michael Milken."Kelley is surely correct. But I've spoken to many people who are horrified by this...
Take Your Bike Helmet to the Safety Museum
I like to bike down to our neighborhood park. The wind sings along with the spinning bike wheels, an easy, five-minute downhill ride. On the way down, you coast like a hockey puck on buttered ice. Of course, going home is a chore that would daunt Sisyphus....
The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance
by Russell RobertsA few semesters ago I created a freshman honors seminar in economics. While I was pleased with the course overall, like most first-time courses there was room for improvement. During the last class meeting, I asked students to discuss...
The Opium of the Intellectuals
by Raymond AronThis, the most famous of Aron's works, was first published in 1955. It is now republished together with the essay "Fanaticism, Prudence and Faith," which was Aron's original response to his critics. It thus becomes the fifth volume in...
The Technology of Property Rights
edited by Terry L. Anderson and Peter J. HillAmericans are used to thinking of property rights as a given, but as Terry Anderson and P. J. Hill point out in this splendid collection of essays (one of the many books to have come from the Political Economy...
The Trouble with Government
by Derek BokWhy does the federal government perform so badly, asks Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University? It's a step in the right direction for a political "liberal" even to pose that question. But although Bok notes several factors that...
They Take More Than Half
If a college teacher living in California who earns $75,000 per year publishes an article in Ideas on Liberty, and FEE pays him $100, how much do the federal and state governments take? How much does he get to keep?Here is the pertinent information about...
University Economics versus Austrian Economics
Some time ago my wife asked me to define economics for her."Ah," I said, sensing an opportunity to sound intelligent. There was long silence. I sat up, cleared my throat, and said "Ah" again.Truth was I wasn't sure how to answer her. Of course, I could...
Your Social Insecurity Number
Some advocates of a national ID card profess to be concerned about the personal security of individuals. They lament the ease with which current ID requirements may be sidestepped by those who would violate an individual's privacy in order to perpetrate...