We’re back on the self-publishing beat today…In today’s episode, you’re going to learn about two fantastic services you should consider if you’re self-publishing a book.Even if you’re not writing a book, if you’re an avid reader you’ll love these websites too. They’re how you can find some of the world’s best “hidden” authors in the […]
Is Democracy really all its cracked up to be? Does Hong Kong really need it? That’s the question Chris Campbell ponders today as he observes the protests in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has enjoyed low taxes, free business and trade, and high social freedom without our favored system of governing.
The government is on a mad race to create a vaccine for Ebola. What they aren’t telling you is that, in 2003, they may have found a way to beat it naturally. According to one unclassified government document, this little-known plant beat Ebola 90% of the time. Why isn’t the government developing it? Read on…
The mainstream media has been complacent in reporting the truth about Ebola. They’re not telling the truth about how dangerous the Ebola situation really is. Because of this, millions of lives are at risk. Inside today’s Laissez Faire Today, learn what the mainstream should be telling you about how to protect yourself in the case of an outbreak in the United States. Read on…
Writing a book? Chris Campbell shows you three secrets to successfully self-publishing. Secrets including, how to get a professional-looking cover for as little as $5… how to format your book to get people to love it and buy your next one… and how to market your book to hundreds of thousands of people -- absolutely free. Read on…
One CIA insider visited our Baltimore HQ yesterday. While here, he leaked 30 potential events to cause the next financial avalanche. Even more, he also gave us several ways everyday Americans can thrive because of these events. Why did he impart so much valuable information? Find out in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
Instead of letting you choose, the government has found it fit to force one potentially dangerous medication on you and your family. Where is it? In your drinking water. Even more outrageous: While Uncle Sam forces medication down your throat, he also says you have no right to choose your own milk. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
ISIS’ spokesperson is a kid from Calgary who wants to “paint the White House black.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell asks one question none of the “officials” seem to care to ask: Why? Why are foreigners flocking to the Middle East to fight alongside ISIS? Why is Saudi Arabia so keen on getting involved? How far does Obama really want to go? Find out inside. Read on…
If you’ve ever wanted to expose some heinous crime against humanity, here’s your chance. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell shows you how to make sure the world accesses to your leaks, even if something happens to you. Chris also shares why this is probably a terrible idea. Read on…
America has about 4% of the world’s population, yet houses 25% of the world’s incarcerated. What’s going on here? Chris Campbell digs deep into the industry to figure out the truth. While many blame the private prison industry, the real culprit, says Chris, begins right outside your door. Read on…
When Obama first announced U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, most people have no idea that it was to destroy U.S. military equipment in the hands of ISIS. How did ISIS get U.S. weapons? Chris Campbell blows the story wide open in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
Every 37 seconds, an American is arrested and criminalized because of one racist and ridiculous law. Join Chris Campbell as he takes you back to when marijuana became illegal… why it’s hurting America… and why you should fight to end the prohibition. And it’s not so you can smoke it. Read on…
An ancient guide has been in hiding… until now. As it dusts itself off, some early adopters are calling it “the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength.” And, according to Chris Campbell, it could be the only thing you need to thrive in our day-to-day life of modern chaos. Embrace it, and become the hero of your own story. Ignore it, and risk living a whimper of a life on someone else’s terms. Read on…
Think it’s impossible to escape Obamacare? Think again. Laissez Faire Today reader David F. shares how he did it and how you can do it too. Don’t see another doctor, take another pill, or shop around for better medical insurance until you read his story. Read on…
“What… is… that?!”That’s what one colleague asked when she saw this on my desk…My face, according to 3-D printing“My face,” I said. “What does it look like?”“Uh…”OK, sure. It’s a rough depiction. Eh. It’s pretty choppy…And, as you can see, the glasses didn’t really take well… making for an eerie sunken eye look.Didn’t really turn […]
“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…
Chris Campbell got more than he bargained for during Sunday brunch. In a packed restaurant, he learned about a hidden sex boom that’s taking the world by storm. You won’t believe how much money ordinary Americans are making in this boom. It’s so much…you may even consider cashing in yourself.
“Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.” — Oscar WildeIn the wacky world of American politics, if you as an employer have a religious objection to paying for your employees’ contraceptives, it is you who is contemptuous of religious freedom.As the New York Times editorial board lectured a judge who thinks otherwise, “the […]
Socialism is the big lie of the 20th century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may […]
Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government’s National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist’s camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a worldwide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I […]
I opened a new bottle of probiotics this morning, and it had one of those circular seals on the top. You know, the one that reads, “Sealed for your protection.”And that seal got me thinking… how much protection do we need? How much security is enough?How much homogenization, pasteurization, disinfection, national security, etc…. do we […]
Last spring, Barack Obama told the graduating class of Ohio State University:“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems… They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because […]
In the Huffington Post last week, Glenn Greenwald, Slate contributor Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim had an investigative piece reporting that the NSA had been tracking the online porn-viewing habits of several Muslim leaders whom it viewed as radicals. A top-secret document shows that the agency was considering exposing these firebrands’ Internet dalliances as a […]
Americans are still trying to get a handle on the full extent of the government’s domestic spying activities, including the recent revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting and storing the email address books of ordinary Americans using online messaging services. Many users of such services are looking to tech executives for […]
A few months ago at a demonstration against the president of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, a Canadian citizen made the following claim: “We don’t have guns, we are not Americans, we are civilized.” A few days before, in early July, a train of the company had run away and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing […]
From the Tongue-In-Cheek Department of Laissez Faire Books…Washington, D.C. — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced that her committee will hold a “major review into all intelligence-collection programs.” This surprising declaration followed the revelation, through documents leaked by government whistle-blower Edward Snowden, that the NSA has been listening to the […]
Why has America, a nation known for rugged individualism, descended so quickly into submission and a police state?
In 1831, the French political theorist and historian Alexis de Tocqueville received a commission to examine the prison system in America. His personal purpose, however, was to examine the character of a new America to which many Frenchmen looked as a model. After turning in his official report on prisons, De Tocqueville published his more personal findings: a pivotal work entitled Democracy in America (two volumes: 1835 and 1840).
The primary purpose of Democracy was to explore the American political system but it also commented upon the character of civil society. De Tocqueville wrote, “Amongst the novel objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of conditions.” Unlike status-conscious Europeans, Americans shook hands with each other as though there were no social distinctions. De Tocqueville was amazed by town meetings at which everyone unabashedly voiced their opinions and objections. America was not a nation of bowed heads.
Scroll forward about two centuries to 9/11 and the creation of a a bowed America. But 9/11 cannot explain the rapidity and ease with which a police state arose in the “land of the free.” The terrorist attacks were not the cause but the tipping point in a long process that has worked quietly in America’s political background. For many years, institutions designed to protect individual rights have been eroded. These are institutions such as courts that respect due process or schools that teach critical thinking.
These institutions form a powerful barrier that shields liberty by restraining government. Over time, however, they became hollowed-out shells…or worse. They became tools of government intrusion and living mockeries of their former selves, from courts that blithely enforce unconstitutional laws to a public school system that teaches conformity. When the two planes crashed into the twin towers on 9/11, it was not merely the buildings that shattered but the last remnants of freedom-oriented institutions as well.
Most Americans did not seem to notice at first. Perhaps many had lived with liberty so long that they took it for granted that America was the freest nation in the world; it always had been; it always would be; it is innate within the American character. They missed a fundamental truth that is obvious to anyone in a totalitarian state. Namely, the continuation of both liberty and personal safety rests upon invisible institutions like freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Only when the institutions disappear does it become obvious that their presence means the difference between speaking with impunity and being shot as a dissident.
America’s freedom did not spring from characteristics innate within the American soul. Ask yourself a question: Why would a child born in Wisconsin be more naturally inclined to liberty than one born in Mexico City or the Ukraine? There is no genetic explanation. It was the institutions of America that were largely responsible for its freedoms; the institutions helped to shape the character of Americans by encouraging them to value peaceful exchange and productivity. Why? Because they were able to reap the rewards of civil society and hard work. This is what De Tocqueville saw – the character of a free and equal people who felt at liberty to look others in the eye and to speak their mind. This is what amazed De Tocqueville – a society of free men.
What is an institution?
An institution is any stable and widely-accepted mechanism for achieving social and political goals. Traditional institutions of society include the family, court systems, the free market, and churches. Institutions generally evolve over time to reflect the history and dynamics of a culture. For example, the institution of common law evolved on a grassroots level to meet the demand for justice by average people. Equally, the institutions of money and the market arose to satisfy human need and desire for goods.
As those needs and desires change, so do the institutions. Sometimes the change occurs due to conscious human design. Trial by a jury of one’s peers, for example, was a procedure consciously designed to maximize the justice of verdicts. This court procedure weathered the test of time well enough to now be viewed as a cornerstone of Western jurisprudence. When institutions are responsive and grassroots in nature, they become such a natural part of human progress that they change in a spontaneous manner, as in the continuing evolution of language. Like the free market, they strongly encourage peaceful interaction because that is what benefits the vast majority of people.
The political system is the institution upon which libertarians focus. They commonly observe that politics ‘institutionalizes corruption'; political structures and procedures encourage bad results like the personal malfeasance of elected figures. A large reason for the corruption is that the political system is not responsive, not grassroots. As a static institution, it serves the embedded interests of an elite class rather than the dynamic ones of the average person. (The elite class consists of politicians and those with political pull.) What libertarians call ‘corruption’ is what the elites call ‘profit’. They have consciously sculpted the institution to increase their profits through such procedures as non-transparency.
In a sense, the embedded corruption of politics is good news for libertarians because it spotlights a basic truth about institutions. They can promote liberty or statism depending upon their structure, procedures and the embedded incentives. The Founding Fathers knew this. For example, they attempted to limit the government by constructing a tripartite system of checks and balances designed to prevent the centralization of power. The Bill of Rights created incentives toward liberty by laying down societal ground rules to be upheld by the Supreme Court. (Whether the best intentions of the Founding Fathers were doomed to defeat by the inherent nature of politics is debatable.)
The specific structures and procedures of any institution will determine the results it produces. As long as the procedures are followed, the motives of those participating in the institution are irrelevant. Elsewhere, I offered the example of a man who works in a candy factory with the intention of producing canned tuna. As long as he follows the workplace rules and procedures, however, he will produce candy. A police officer may want to promote libertarian justice but as long as he enforces the laws of a totalitarian state, he will produce injustice.
Equally, as long as everyone respects the rules of the free market, it will function as a mechanism of peace and prosperity even if some of its participants are ill intentioned human beings. You may buy goods from a man whom you would never allow into your home; he can detest your religion or skin color even as money peacefully changes hands. As long as the rules of the free market are observed, freedom itself is served.
The burning question now becomes: how do we construct institutions that encourage liberty?
There are two answers on how to construct freedom-oriented institutions. The first: do not to construct them at all. Allow them to evolve through the spontaneous interaction of individuals pursuing their own self-interest. This is how free markets function, families are created, free speech rings out… Many institutions require merely to be unobstructed.
But other institutions require some design beyond the “anything that is peaceful” rule. For example, a court system requires procedures of justice such as “innocent until proven guilty.” And, so, the second answer to designing institutions is: do so in as minimal a manner as possible and only to promote individual rights.
America’s rugged individualism has been called the ‘soul’ of its character. America needs its soul back.