“While I heartily subscribe to your premise of pursuing one’s dream,” one reader, Donald J., wrote, “there are alternate perspectives worth considering.”[We’re listening… go on.]“Some wiseguy once said that life is what happens to you while you’re waiting for something better to come along. Milton put it a little more poetically in one of his […]
“Where were you when it happened?” How many times have we been asked -- and asked -- this question since 2001? Today, Chris Campbell asks us to pose a different question: What can I do today to making Sept. 11 another turning point in my life? And then, of course, taking that first step. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
Hundreds of pictures of nude celebrities were leaked onto the Internet last week. The mainstream is blaming twenty-something hackers, but according to Chris Campbell, everyone must’ve already forgotten what we learned about the NSA only a year ago. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
The so-called recovery is only built on debt and printed cash declares our own Byron King. In the long term, the only option for the government to continue financing it's operations is to print too many dollars. Money printing has it's limits, however. It's Byron's opinion that at some point, perhaps very soon, the government will have to turn to more desperate measures. Namely, capital controls. In the following featured essay, Byron outlines 4 probably ways the government will take your cash and one play you can buy through your broker to prepare today. Read on...
Americans expatriate because they want to get out of the country. Corporations expatriate for similar reasons. Clem Chambers explains...
Say goodbye to your boring morning commute. New technologies are changing the way people drive their cars. It’s making them safer, more fuel efficient, and could reshape the way America builds its roads and cities. The only thing that could stand in the way...
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
The U.S. dollar is the dominant global reserve currency. All markets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and foreign exchange are affected by the value of the dollar.The value of the dollar, in effect, its “price” is determined by interest rates. When the Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates, it is manipulating, and therefore distorting, every market in […]
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”There was […]
The game of speculation is the most uniformly fascinating game in the world. But it is not a game for the stupid, the mentally lazy, the person of inferior emotional balance or the get-rich-quick adventurer. They will die poor.– Jesse Livermore, How to Trade in StocksThe trouble with capitalism’s guardians is that they have no […]
Let’s head back in time…In 2004, a mere decade ago, the US national debt rang the register at $7.4 trillion. That represents “debt per citizen” of over $25,000. You, me, your neighbor, your 4-yr old grandson, you name it and they’re portion of the U.S. debt is $25k.But flash forward to today and you’ll see […]
John Foust, a Democrat running for the 10th congressional seat in Northern Virginia, is — like Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other state Democrats — gung-ho to expand Medicaid. His wife’s position is, shall we say, a bit more nuanced.Foust has slammed his opponent, Republican Del. Barbara Comstock, for her opposition to expansion. He has spoken […]
The midterm election season is upon us, and it’s a tossup whether the Republicans will win the Senate, or if President Obama, seemingly oblivious as conflict flares up around the world, will, through his continuous campaigning, keep Harry Reid in his majority leader seat.The only thing we know for sure is that sociopaths will be […]
Alexander Hamilton was America’s first Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington. When he first entered office in 1789, America was an agricultural nation of just 4 million still broke from its financially costly victory over the British Empire in the Revolutionary War.The states had accumulated relatively massive debts to finance that war, which mostly […]
I was talking with one of my colleagues the other day, and he raised a very interesting question, one that deserves consideration by anyone worried about their digital privacy. He read an article that championed the idea that the more steps one took to protect their privacy by using anonymous Web-browsing tools like Tor, the […]
In the minds of many people around the world, including in the United States, the term “capitalism” carries the idea of unfairness, exploitation, undeserved privilege and power, and immoral profit making. What is often difficult to get people to understand is that this misplaced conception of “capitalism” has nothing to do with real free markets […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Some people are saying it is just what the doctor ordered. Others are saying that the cure is worse than the disease.The Affordable Care Act? Reengagement in Iraq? Tea Party bullying in the GOP?Not this time. Just as protracted in the corridors of Congress and the White House is the debate over the proposed reform […]
In 2012, money mandarins running the European Union chose stagnation over restructuring. Here’s a consequence of that choice: expectations for a self-sustaining economic recovery keep getting crushed.Two years ago, European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi promised to do “whatever it takes” to hold the eurozone together. He bluffed nervous investors into believing in a […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
“In the beginning, all the world was America.” — John Locke“The Garden of Eden was a perfect place,” my friend Manuel explained. “Man had free will. He could live in harmony with nature and God — and everything would be fine. But if he defied God, the stain of original sin would be on his […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
It might sound like the latest new product from Apple, but IPAB is actually the newest major legal challenge to Obamacare.Recently, a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, a 15-member panel created by the Affordable Care Act and empowered […]
The sad and tragic story of Andrew Wordes — the chicken farmer who was driven to despair by government harassment and killed himself last month — continues to haunt me. And it turns out to be just one of millions of cases of similar psychological torment caused by government, directly and indirectly. These are wholly unnecessary events, inflicting terrible loss on the world.
For every one person who these days dies fighting in U.S. wars around the world, 25 other soldiers kill themselves. Veterans are killing themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. There are than 6,500 veteran suicides every year. That’s more than all the American soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq in the last 10 years, according to a New York Times analysis. Being a veteran apparently doubles your risk of suicide.
Economic conditions wrought by government policies around the world have contributed to the death toll. Europe is undergoing an epidemic of suicide in countries seriously hurt by the downturn. In Greece, the suicide rate among men increased more than 24% since the disaster hit. In Ireland, male suicides have shot up more than 16%. In Italy, economic-motivated suicides have increased 52%.
The big aggregates reported here do not convey the level of tragedy experienced in the lives of every single individual here. They leave behind shattered families and wrecked communities. There is an unbearably sad story behind every single statistic.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the same is happening in the U.S and that the broad trend follows economic prospects. The difference between the rising prosperity of a free market and economic desperation caused by government is really a matter of life and death. The desperation and sadness wrought by war — an extension of domestic policy and carried out with much higher stakes — is a symptom of the same problem.
These represent both direct and indirect ways that government is spreading misery around the world. The direct way involves war and its psychological effects. Being harassed by regulators is another direct way: The person sees no way out and is thereby driven to desperate measures. The indirect way results from the economic stagnation caused by government policies.
Life is hard enough on its own. Government makes it harder. Its recession-causing policies; its policy responses that do not work; its regulations that makes people crazy; its poverty-inducing taxes and inflation; and, most of all, its wars have driven millions to despair.
Why the state in particular? It all comes down to the sense of having control over your life. The essence of statecraft is the absence of choice and the inability to escape. Many operations of the state try to disguise these features.
Once you develop a nose for this, you see it everywhere. The faces of people in line at the DMV, the sauntering mass in line to be screened by the TSA and even the blank stares you see in the post office lines. There is something about state policy that demoralizes us all. That takes a toll on our health and our outlook on life and even leads to tragedy.
I think back to the old Soviet days, which to me typify what it means for a society to be entirely under state control. The government put out a magazine called Soviet Life, and it was filled with pictures of happy, healthy people who were living fulfilling and active lives. The contrast with reality couldn’t have been more extreme. Emigrants told stories of a demoralized population turning to alcohol, drugs and suicide — anything to escape the toxic combination of sinking living standards and the absence of choice due to despotism.
Today we know that the propaganda was a lie. What we fail to realize is that this human tragedy is not unique to a fully socialized society. We can get there in small steps by growing the state and expanding its reach year by year until it envelops us in all our life activities. We have to turn to the state ever more. We are blocked by barriers. Everywhere we go, we encounter bureaucrats who demand our papers, riffle through our belongings, forbid what we want to do and mandate what we do not want to.
Of course, soldiers in war face this reality every day. They are not their own persons. They must obey orders whether they make sense or not. They see things that no one should have to see and they are ordered to do things that no one should have to be forced to do. It is hardly surprising that people who go through such an ordeal have confused perspective on the value of human life.
To a lesser extent, citizens in every country with an interventionist state face an analogous situation. They may have a dream of starting or growing a business, but they are blocked — not because of their own lack of vision, but because of the thicket erected by public policy. The state acts as a dream killer. It becomes all the more maddening when there is nothing that the citizen can do about it. There is no real choice.
Oh they tell us that in a democratic system, we can vote and that this is our choice. We have nothing to complain about. If we don’t like the system, we can change it. But this is wholly illusory. The government completely owns the democratic system and administers it to generate the types of results that government wants. More and more people are catching on to this, which is why voter participation falls further in every election season.
The great thinkers of the libertarian tradition have always told us that freedom and the good life are absolutely inseparable. I think of Thomas Jefferson, Frederic Bastiat, Herbert Spencer, Albert Jay Nock, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, F.A. Hayek and so many others. Even contemporary authors have addressed the theme. They had long warned that every step away from freedom would mean a diminution of the quality of life. We are seeing these prophecies come true.
Too often public policy debates take place on the wrong level. The core point is not to make the “system” work better or otherwise fine-tune the rules within a bureaucracy. We need to start talking about larger issues about the dignity of the human person, the moral status of freedom and the rights and liberties of the individual in society. The expansion of the state is not just wrong as a matter of “public policy”; it is wrong because it is dangerous to the good life and the quality of life.
To kill freedom is to kill the essence of what makes us human.