Liberty and Power

  • Remember the War Revenue Act of 1898!

    by Liberty and Power

    The federal revenue situation of the late 19th century United States presents a somewhat case study in constitutional political economy, owing to a fairly restrictive constitutional restraint on the means of raising revenue for the federal government. The U.S. Constitution provided Congress with the “Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises” as its primary means of taxation, yet it also provided that “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”

  • Matthews Demagogues Climate Change ... Again

    by Liberty and Power


    Chris Matthews does it again: Yesterday's show featured a discussion of the latest report on climate change with a climate scientist who believes that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) is happening (Michael Mann) and ... a Republican consultant (who kept saying, "I'm not a scientist."). Matthews's mission is to make sure his viewers never have to encounter a credentialed climate scientist with evidence against CAGW -- there are such -- so he can maintain the pretense that anyone who denies CAGW must be an anti-science religious fanatic.

  • It is Never Your Decision

    by Liberty and Power

    I read an article once that argued there were two types of people in the world those who were oriented towards the future while others gave the past more importance. I put myself firmly in the latter category. I find historical fiction much more interesting than science fiction because we can learn from the past but we can only speculate about the future. That is why I am a devoted follower of the television program “Mad Men” you may legitimately argue with their interpretation of the history of advertising. However, one thing you absolutely cannot fault the show for is not putting their story in historical context. Many of the last season’s shows contained a real sales pitch for Johnny Walker Scotch featuring the exceedingly beautiful cast member actress Christina Hendricks walking slowly towards the camera in a very attractive black dress. While doing so she makes her case for the superiority Johnny Walker then she stops looks squarely at the audience says “and you ordered it.”

  • To Rule the Earth

    by Liberty and Power

    I make a cameo appearance in George Smith’s latest post on the Herbert Spencer / Henry George debate. 

  • The Real Days of Infamy

    by Liberty and Power


    Today is the 68th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, one of President Harry Truman's acts of mass murder against Japan in August 1945. The anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing is Thursday. (It has lately come to my attention that the U.S. military bombed Tokyo on Aug. 14--after destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki and after Emperor Hirohito expressed his readiness to surrender.)

  • Bastiat and Subjective Marginal Utility

    by Liberty and Power


    Frederic Bastiat really was a precursor of the Austrian school.
    Menger was indeed a revolutionary, but that does not mean that no one before him glimpsed ideas that would later blossom into the Austrian school. As far back as Socrates, thinkers grasped the theory of subjective value in the praxeological sense, and we find a nearly complete subjectivist-marginalist framework 20 years before Menger took pen to paper — in the work of Frédéric Bastiat.
    In Bastiat’s unfinished magnum opus, Economic Harmonies (1850), he, like Menger, put the spotlight on the choosing individual and what she tries to accomplish through exchange. Trade, for Bastiat, is an exchange of services that will render useful things: I’ll do something for you (furnish a useful thing, for example) if you do something for me.

  • New Deal Witch Hunt

    by Liberty and Power

    My article just appeared at National Review:

    has become the default historical template for the Obama scandals, as charges about enemies lists, executive-agency politicization, and high-handed federal snooping dominate the discussion. But those hunting for historical analogies would do well to consider the even closer parallels between these events and occurrences during the New Deal and Fair Deal.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt routinely audited the income taxes of such critics as Representative Hamilton Fish, a Republican who represented the president’s hometown of Hyde Park, N.Y. Democrats of that era not only found creative ways to intimidate conservative and libertarian organizations, but also, like their modern counterparts, eventually attracted charges of witch-hunting.


  • What an Honest Conversation about Race Would Look Like

    by Liberty and Power

    Ever since George Zimmerman’s fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin hit the national headlines last year, calls for an “honest conversation about race” have been heard throughout America. (Up until then, apparently, we’ve had only conversations about having a conversation about race.) However, one need not believe that the Zimmerman shooting and verdict were about race — I watched the trial and I don’t — to think that an honest conversation about race is indeed long overdue.

    First on the agenda should be the many ways that government policies — either by intent or by palpable effect — embody racism. Let’s call them vehicles for official racism. I have in mind things like the war on certain drug manufacturers, merchants, and consumers; the crusade against “illegal” guns; the minimum wage and related laws; and the government’s schools. All of these by far take their greatest toll on people of color.

    Private racism, whether violent or nonviolent, is evil and abhorrent; it is also unlibertarian — yes, even nonviolent racism is unlibertarian, as I point out in “Libertarianism = Anti-Racism.” There I wrote,

  • French Liberalism Meets Boston Anarchism

    by Liberty and Power


    … which is actually a pretty good description of my politics.

    Anyway: In 1888, the Journal des Économistes – the chief periodical of classical liberalism in France, at that time under the editorship of Gustave de Molinari himself – published an article about individualist anarchism in America, with particular focus on the writers associated with Benjamin Tucker’s periodical Liberty. The author was Sophie Raffalovich, about whom more below. Benjamin Tucker replied in the pages of Liberty a few months later. The Journal des Économistes would return to the subject of Tucker and Liberty in 1902, in a piece by Paul Ghio.

    I’ve now translated and posted the pieces by Raffalovich (“The Boston Anarchists”) and Ghio (“An American Anarchist”); I’ve also posted Tucker’s reply to Raffalovich (“A French View of Boston Anarchists”).

  • Rand Paul, Jack Hunter, and All That

    by Liberty and Power


    I cringe every time libertarianism is associated with the Confederate States of America. Read Jeff Hummel's Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men to see why you should too.  

  • Welcome to the Desert of Huckabee

    by Liberty and Power


    Mike Huckabee projects such an aura of cuddly friendliness, and in reality he is such a vile, bloodthirsty creep.

    Just saw him favourably quoting these words from MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail:

    One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.” Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.

  • Why Fight for King and Country?

    by Liberty and Power

    There is something monstrously out of whack about going to war for a large nation state.

    I can understand why a man might take up arms in defense of himself, his family, his friends, perhaps even his neighborhood or his town. But once we get past the lived-in milieu, a man’s risking his life, limbs, health, and mental composure to fight for a large politically defined unit makes less and less sense, the larger the unit. Why, for example, should a man from Arizona go to war on behalf of people from New Jersey, people with whom he is not acquainted, people about whom he knows little or nothing. The man from Arizona might well have more in common with and greater concern for a typical “enemy” soldier than he has for the people of New Jersey. He might even dislike people from New Jersey and like the enemy people.

  • Dry Humor

    by Liberty and Power


    Although she did not drink martinis, she graciously prepared a double for me every evening before dinner. I introduced her to Tanqueray gin and Noilly Pratt vermouth, the ingredients for a perfect martini. Sensitive husband that I was, I courteously congratulated her every day on a fine martini, cautiously suggesting that it might be a touch drier. Day after day, I congratulated her, suggesting that it might be a touch drier still. One day I sipped the martini and bathed her in kisses: “Betsey, you’re wonderful, it’s perfect.” She did not take well to my gushing. Betsey almost never raised her voice, but raise it she did: “I knew it! I knew it! Of course I’m wonderful! Of course it’s perfect! You’re drinking straight gin.”
    (Eugene D. Genovese, about his wife Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, in Miss Betsey: A Memoir of Marriage)

    (No, I haven’t read the whole book. If I want to read a radical socialist turned right-wing opportunist, I can always read Marx.)


  • Climate Change Fear Mongering

    by Liberty and Power

    Those who would use the natural fact that earth’s climate has been continuously changing since it existed to increase the power of government to control and steal from ordinary people gave away their game in two ways.  First they started calling global warming climate change and that highlights the point that their theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming ignores the fact that the extreme instances of climate change occurred long before mankind was releasing any significant amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. For example when world temperatures changed around the year 1000 altering Greenland into a temperate agriculturally productive area, there were no gas guzzling SUVs or coal fired electricity generating plants.

  • Just Wondering

    by Liberty and Power

    Has the NSA spying ceased pending the debate?  

  • The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies: A New Era Begins

    by Liberty and Power

    The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies begins a new era this year: a collaboration with Pennsylvania State University Press, which will manage all aspects of design, production, distribution, and subscription fulfillment, while leaving the Editorial Board in full charge of the intellectual side of this grand adventure. As I state in the "Editor's Introduction: Change and Continuity," which appears in the new July 2013 issue: "In embarking on this new arrangement, the journal unveils a new look, but retains its commitment to introducing new writers to the ever-expanding world of Rand studies." And what a new look it is!

    Check out the Notablog entry here.


    by Liberty and Power

    [This article was originally published at The Dollar Vigilante which I urge you to browse at length. Click here.]

    Two events recalled a passage from the Irish poet William Butler Yeats:


  • Readings in Revisionist History

    by Liberty and Power

    I've been asked to post my list of readings in revisionist history separately so the link can be distributed. I haven't read all these books, but those I haven't gotten to yet come highly recommended by people I respect. I will add to the list from time to time.