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Free Association



Proudly delegitimizing the state since 2005 "Aye, free! Free as a tethered ass!" —W.S. Gilbert"All the affairs of men should be managed by individuals or voluntary associations, and . . . the State should be abolished." —Benjamin T



Updated: 2018-02-22T16:25:57.448-06:00

 



TGIF: "Peace Through Strength" Is a Racket

2018-02-16T06:09:53.688-06:00

Donald Trump has embraced the popular "peace through strength" doctrine (PTSD) with his characteristic panache: 
"I’m going to make our military so big, so powerful, so strong, that nobody — absolutely nobody — is gonna to mess with us," Trump says. On other occasions he's said similar things: "We want to defer, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military strength" and, a year ago, "Nobody is going to mess with us. Nobody. It will be one of the greatest military build-ups in American history."
Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!



Radio Interview: Why I Am Proud NOT to Have “Served” in Vietnam

2018-02-11T09:18:50.495-06:00

I was on the Craig Silverman Show yesterday talking about why I am proud not to have "served" in Vietnam. Listen here.



TGIF: Raining on the Parade

2018-02-09T03:56:30.531-06:00

Of course Donald Trump wants a military parade. I'd be surprised if he didn't. It's just what an insecure narcissist would want. A parade would be the national equivalent of his strutting around like a peacock, dying to turn heads. Even a politician can see that: "I think confidence is silent and insecurity is loud, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy said. "America is the most powerful country in all of human history; you don't need to show it off."

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!



TGIF: The Church of America

2018-02-03T05:04:50.230-06:00

One myth that Americans live by is the separation of church and state. Some like the idea; others hate it; but the irony is that church and state were not separated at the founding of the United States and are not separate now. In fact, they were united in the sense that the state is a church — the Church of America — and you can’t separate a thing from itself. The religion this church administers is not Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, or anything else that comes to mind when most people think the word religion. It’s Americanism, a species of nationalism. Nationalism and religion are cut from the same cloth.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!



TGIF: The Voice of American Workers Is a Charlatan

2018-02-01T11:55:56.324-06:00

Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed voice of American working people, has decreed that the prices of washing machines and solar panels shall rise.

So it is written. So it is done.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!



Protectionism, Freedom, and a Frustrating Day at the Pipe Shop

2018-01-25T12:04:29.672-06:00

One of my haunts is a local tobacco shop, where I regularly drop in to smoke a few bowls of fine pipe tobacco and talk to a fine group of friends and acquaintances. I go there to relax, which is what pipe smoking is all about, but part of yesterday's visit was anything but relaxing.

I happened to bring up Trump's new tariffs on washing-machine and solar-panel imports, pointing out, of course, that the tariffs are a tax on American consumers and a slap at all Americans who don't make their living in the washing-machine and solar-panel industries. In other words, the special interests triumphed over individual and general welfare.

To my (naive) surprise, the small group of people sitting around what we affectionately call "the table of knowledge" couldn't believe what I was saying. They favored the tariffs because they believed Trump's action would help all Americans and punish the Chinese. That's all they "knew" or needed to know.

When I tried to explain that their belief was mistaken, they would not hear it. It had apparently never occurred to them that the action would harm consumers and Americans who make things other than the targeted goods, that is, the vast majority of the people in the country. (Some America First policy, right?)

It also never occurred to them that we live in a world of scarcity. If Americans and resources are employed to make washing machines and solar panels, they can't be employed to make other things. (That's physics as well as economics.) So my friends did not see that if we buy washing machines and solar panels from somewhere other than America, we can have them plus the other things Americans would produce. But if the government raises the prices of the imports to keep domestic firms going -- which is the point of tariffs -- we won't get those other things.

In other words, along with scarcity, my tobacco brotherhood had no appreciation of the division of labor.

They also did not see that if we have to spend more money on washing machines and solar panels, we'll have less money to spend on other goods and services, harming us both as consumers and as producers of those other goods and services. Nor did they grasp that tariffs reduce the number of dollars foreigners have with which to buy American exports or that an ensuing trade war would also harm American exporters.

To use Paul Heyne's expression, my friends were strangers to the economic way of thinking. They are hardly unusual in that respect. Most people have had no contact with the economic way of thinking when it comes to government policy, although they engage in it whenever they shop.

Think of what this means for the theory of representative democracy? Much of what the government does is interfere with our economic pursuits. Therefore, most of what "our" so-called representatives -- I call them misrepresentatives -- do is enact legislation consciously designed for such interference. That means candidates for office ought to be judged on what they know about basic economics and the consequences of interference. How can we expect people to be competent participants -- informed voters -- in this system if they don't understand the most basic economic principles?

Needless to say, the matter of individual liberty made no difference in the discussion. All they saw was Trump helping "Americans" and slamming foreigners.

Cross-posted at The Libertarian Institute.



Is Trump Planning a Tactical Nuclear Strike on Kim Jong Un?

2018-01-25T12:05:20.595-06:00

From Business Insider:
The US has been quietly amassing firepower in the Pacific during a lull in tensions with North Korea, but recent developments on an under-the-radar nuclear weapon suggest preparation for a potential tactical nuclear strike. [Emphasis added.] 
The US recently sent B-2 stealth bombers to Guam, where they joined B-1 and B-52s, the other bombers in the US's fleet. 
While the B-2 and B-52 are known as the air leg of the US's nuclear triad, as they carry nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles, a smaller nuclear weapon that has undergone some upgrades may lend itself to a strike on North Korea.
Color me skeptical, even in the Trump context. This is too crazy on many levels.

Cross-posted at The Libertarian Institute.



TGIF: Trump versus the World

2018-01-19T07:49:18.501-06:00

According to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, somewhere President Donald Trump, instead of saying, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries…. We should have more people from Norway.,” said, “Why don’t we allow more people from shithole countries to come here? They need a decent place to live and work and succeed. Their rulers hold them back. The Norwegians don’t need America as badly. After all, Norway ranks 25th in the Index of Economic Freedom. Let’s be compassionate toward the world’s poorest and most subjugated people. Besides, we’d also benefit from their coming to America.”

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!



TGIF: Trump and No Silver Lining

2018-01-15T05:48:25.931-06:00

I confess I was indulging in wishful thinking when I thought I detected a silver lining to Donald Trump's election as president. That's what comes of being an optimist and a libertarian romantic. Beware apparent silver linings; they may be fool's gold instead.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!



Make-Work Is Wasteful

2017-12-29T09:14:16.554-06:00

My final column for the American Institute for Economic Research is "Make-Work Is Wasteful."



The Tax Code Should Not Be Used to Influence Home Buyers

2017-12-28T05:31:31.332-06:00

My penultimate column for the American Institute for Economic Research is "The Tax Code Should Not Be Used to Influence Home Buyers."



TGIF: Anatomy of a Tax Cut

2017-12-28T05:27:12.287-06:00

Taxation is theft, I know, but the repeal of taxation, which would mean the repeal of the state, is not on the menu today. Sorry about that. So for now we must talk about the best available option. That’s life. You must begin any journey exactly where you are.

I’ve watched the debate over the vanilla Republican tax bill closely during these many months. It’s been fascinating at many levels, not least sociologically. People reveal much about themselves — and their views of personal autonomy — in how they discuss taxes.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!



TGIF: Trump & Co.’s Vile Anti-Immigrationism

2017-12-15T11:05:28.244-06:00

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna displayed an odious hostility to liberty at a press briefing this week when he tried to associate immigration with terrorism.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!



How the Government and Special Interests Thwart Economic Mobility

2017-12-15T11:01:44.717-06:00

My latest column for the American Institute for Economic Research is "How the Government and Special Interests Thwart Economic Mobility."



TGIF: The FBI Is Not Your Friend

2017-12-08T04:50:33.023-06:00

One of the unfortunate ironies of the manufactured “Russiagate” controversy is the perception of the FBI as a friend of liberty and justice. But the FBI has never been a friend of liberty and justice. Rather, as James Bovard writes, it “has a long record of both deceit and incompetence. Five years ago, Americans learned that the FBI was teaching its agents that ‘the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.’ This has practically been the Bureau’s motif since its creation in 1908…. The FBI has always used its ‘good guy’ image to keep a lid on its crimes.”

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!



End Net Neutrality

2017-12-07T12:43:53.856-06:00

My latest column for the American Institute for Economic Research is "End Net Neutrality."



TGIF: Liberty, Democracy, and the Right

2017-12-01T07:45:00.156-06:00

I am mystified by the claim that the long-standing libertarian critique of democracy furnishes aid and comfort to conservatives who display a taste for populist authoritarianism. Let me say at the outset that the libertarian critique has nothing to offer those who would impose legal or social disabilities on racial, ethnic, religious, and other minorities. If white supremacists see something helpful here, they are mere opportunists who would find something helpful to their cause in anything they looked at.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!



Consumption Is the Purpose of Production

2017-12-01T07:38:30.839-06:00

My column "Consumption Is the Purpose of Production" has been posted at the American Institute for Economic Research.



All Economies Are Service Economies

2017-12-01T07:36:20.403-06:00

My column "All Economies Are Service Economies" is posted at the American Institute for Economic Research.



TGIF: Assertions versus Facts

2017-11-17T06:42:13.914-06:00

CNN is running a house commercial that on its face is a plea for respect for demonstrable facts. “This is an apple,” a voice says over an image of a bright red apple. “Some people might try to tell you that it’s a banana. They might scream, “Banana, banana, banana,” over and over and over again. They might put “BANANA” in all caps. You might even start to believe that this is a banana. But it’s not. This … is an apple.”

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!



We Don't Need the Department of Commerce

2017-11-17T06:40:55.794-06:00

My latest column for the American Institute for Economic Research is "We Don't Need the Department of Commerce."



TGIF: Real Common Sense on Gun Control

2017-11-10T05:52:42.194-06:00

Here’s how to judge the pragmatic case for gun control: if the pro-control lobby managed to have each of its favorite restrictions enacted, could we as individuals be more casual about our safety than we are today? The answer clearly is no. So what’s the point of the restrictions beyond letting their advocates feel good about themselves?

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian InstituteHe is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!



Free Markets Reduce Consumption Inequality

2017-11-09T16:26:20.493-06:00

My latest column for the American Institute for Economic Research is "Free Markets Reduce Consumption Inequality."



TGIF: Quit Worrying about the Russians in Our Borderless World

2017-11-03T09:42:22.566-05:00

Is American society so fragile that a few “divisive” ads, news stories, commentaries, and even lies — perhaps emanating from Russia — threaten to plunge it into darkness? The establishment’s narrative on “Russian election meddling” would have you believe that. On its face, the alarm over this is so ridiculous that I doubt any of the fearmongers really believe their own words. They’re attempting to provoke public hysteria for political, geopolitical, and financial gain. There’s no more to it than that.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian InstituteHe is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!



Repeal NAFTA and Replace It with Free Trade

2017-10-28T10:55:12.636-05:00

My latest column for the American Institute for Economic Research is "Repeal NAFTA and Replace It with Free Trade."