Ask a D.C. insider what’s the best way to solve the debt crisis. Nine times out of ten, they’ll recommend taking on more debt. That’s how things operate in the Potomac swamp. Up is down, right is left, digging yourself into more debt is the best way to get out of it. But it wasn’t always like this. In fact, there used to be common sense when it came to the economy. So where did it all go wrong?
Politicians talk about the uninsured. Special interests argue on behalf of those with pre-existing conditions. But why is no one wondering how doctors are affected by the new law? They’re the ones on the frontlines dealing directly with new patients, as well as the red tape that makes bureaucracies go round.
Politicians proclaim the benefits of small business while on the campaign trail. But when they meet in the seedy halls of Congress, they have no problem doing whatever they can to stifle, regulate, and subdue their progress. Instead of siding with entrepreneurs, these politicians often side with political allies and cronies that helped put them into office.
Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Especially now that you have all the time in the world to do what you really want. Entrepreneurs don’t only come out of Silicon Valley. They come from all walks of life, from all different ages. If you’re retired and want to stay active while you relax, then find out the steps you need to take in order to start, manage, and grow your next small business.
Technology brought the world together. But has it gone too far? Decades ago, mail was delivered by hand. Now it’s delivered in seconds. How has that changed the way you live your life? How has it changed the way people act with each other? These are just some of the questions we need to ask.
The U.S. dollar has been the world's reserve currency for almost a century, and already there are signs it may be in decline. But that doesn't mean it's not still valuable. On the contrary... As Chris Mayer explains, there are many reasons the U.S. dollar will remain relevant on the world stage for years to come. Read on...
Gun control isn’t a modern idea. The rise of gun control laws and limits on your 2nd Amendment freedom go hand in hand with the increase in the size and scope of government. Politicians want you to think the only people who can keep you safe are government forces. But as one renown libertarian economist and thinker will show you, their misguided laws do nothing but take away your freedoms and leave you less safe.
The government will do whatever it takes to make sure it has enough of your money to fund itself. On the surface you might think that means enduring a grueling audit. But the IRS and the government is more than willing to ignore your privacy in the cold relentless pursuit of the money they think they deserve. As they get bigger and bigger every year, the smaller and smaller your paycheck becomes as they leach off it.
The Congressional Budget Office said the government needed to reach 7 million people by the end of March. They claim to have reached the goal and now the debate about Obamacare is over. But what does this milestone really mean in the ongoing healthcare discussion? And more importantly, how will it affect reforms going forward?
If you’re good at something should you be penalized so others have a chance at success? Should award winning actors and actresses be barred from future Oscar ceremonies to give other men and women the chance to succeed? Success should always be rewarded and encouraged. But what happens when you have a government that wants to even the playing field and take away the spoils of success. Gregory Bresiger finds out...
In an effort to cut costs and keep track of patients' records, governments could institute a medical guideline cookbook. Bureaucrats might think they have the best of intentions in mind, but these new rules would drag down the medical process and destroy whatever quality is left in our current system.
Practical people often pooh-pooh fiction reading as a time wasting dalliance, dominated by a Marxist coloring of the world. However, fiction readers were given a scientific reason recently for spending hours absorbing fanciful figments of someone’s imagination.
Argentina is suffering the ravages of government debasement of the currency -- i.e., inflation, the process by which government pays for its ever-increasing debts and bills by simply printing more paper currency. The expanded money supply results in a lower value of everyone’s money, which is reflected in the rising prices of the things that money buys.
When government expansion is allowed to continue unabated or when it casts a heavy regulatory shadow on America’s entrepreneurial spirit, the freedoms that we’ve come to know, and perhaps take for granted, slowly begin to slip away.
The saga of All Saints could soon be coming to a community near you. Thanks partly to the scandal surrounding the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, the agency has proposed a new set of rules for a huge number of social-welfare groups that claim tax exemption under Section 501(c)4 of the tax code.
The new reality of Obamacare’s tax credits has left finance reporters to pen articles warning readers to “take care” when considering a tax credit and providing strategies for how best to “protect yourself.” So what do finance reporters know that the White House doesn’t?
Nihilo ex nihilo fit. Out of nothing, nothing comes. First put forward by ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides in the fifth century B.C., Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine later used this axiom to prove that the universe needed a “first mover” to get things going. Even if the whole thing began with some kind of “Big Bang” moment, it still needed a banger to bang it. Who? God, of course.
What positive steps can we take? The energy that is now expended by well intentioned, freedom-seeking individuals on the destructive course of politics can be turned into powerful steps that will have a positive effect on the future. All are moral, right and just. None require aggressing. Consider the following...
The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” says a proverb often attributed to Yogi Berra. Imagine the world of freedom, or lack of it. Who could foresee the technologies that make our lives so rewarding and convenient? The same technologies have us all under the government’s giant microscope. Thankfully, the brave have turned the microscope around.
In the months since Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the spying that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been perpetrating upon Americans and foreigners, some of the NSA's most troublesome behavior has not been a part of the public debate.
National Treasury Union President Colleen M. Kelly recently described the 2014 IRS budget allocation as “woefully inadequate.” But the agency has not proven itself to be an efficient steward of taxpayer dollars. Here are ten ways the IRS lost the trust of the American people.
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Given how poorly states like California and Illinois have funded the pension funds for their own employees, one would think that this would stop dead in its tracks any plan to have the government assist in managing private sector funds too. The spate of recent activity, however, suggests otherwise.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The problem for NSA apologist is that when guys like Snowden disclose that the government conducts comprehensive surveillance in ways that would have made 1984’s O’Brien drool, it puts the entire progressive agenda in jeopardy.
Now that hysteria over my original Brazil column has died down, let me add some comments and reflections about it and what gave rise to the reactions.
To review, I had written a piece praising the many glorious features of Brazil and especially the way in which civilization has managed to thrive by virtue of certain freedoms that we do not have in the U.S.: the freedom to pass on estates in whole to children and the seeming absence of the police-state security apparatus and military-industrial complex that represses us every day in this one-time land of the free.
Many Brazilians were appalled by what seemed to them to be my favorable comparison of Brazil to the United States. Don’t I know that their country is ruled by a wicked socialist dictatorship that strangles the life out of enterprise every day? Don’t I know about the other egregious forms of taxation they deal with constantly? Am I completely unaware of the stultifying bureaucracies that make it nearly impossible to open and run a business?
One thing that all the correspondents said again and again: if you think you have it bad, you should experience our disgusting lives and then you would really know the meaning of despotism.
I also detected in all these letters a sort of idealization of the U.S. that we often find abroad. No matter how much our government tries to wreck our reputation as the place where liberty thrives, many people around the world still like to imagine that we have full constitutional rights and free-wheeling enterprise that they do not enjoy.
As Americans, we should resist this flattery. It is an interesting exercise to travel abroad and discover that, behold, in some ways people living under democratic socialism experience elements of freedom that our current American system (democratic fascism?) denies to us. To me, this is the strongest case for traveling, just so that we can gain some perspective.
But all of this raises an interesting question. Why is it that we tend to be more critical of our own governments than those in other lands?
In a sense, I agree with Noam Chomsky (I’m a sometime fan but not a devotee) who was once asked why he is such a severe critic of the U.S. government but doesn’t have much to say about the evil of other governments around the world.
I’m paraphrasing his answer. First, he knows more about the U.S. government than other governments so he is in a better position to report accurately. Second, his criticisms of the U.S. government can actually have some influence whereas he would have no influence on the policies in Afghanistan or North Korea. Third, because he is a U.S. citizen he has a special and even moral obligation to object when the government that is stealing from him is using that money to murder and oppress people abroad.
He might have had other reasons too but those strike me as reasonable. I might add that we all have a tendency to believe that the government we know the best is probably the worst. For example, many people can tell grim stories of the corruption, graft, favoritism, and brutality of our local governments. We know its victims first hand. We’ve seen it up close and we are appalled.
Our heads should tell us that if it is this bad at the local level, it is surely worse at the state level and unimaginably bad at the central level of the federal government. Most of us have no direct experience with the feds, however, so its depredations are more abstract to us.
It doesn’t help that the sheer numbers that the feds play with are beyond human comprehension. The local official who steals $100,000 is a criminal but what does it mean when a federal agency loses track of $2,000,000,000 in loans? The larger the number, the more abstracted it becomes from our experience.
I take it for granted that all governments everywhere are parasitic, power abusing, thieving, grafting bastions of hypocrisy, depredation, and duplicity. This is not an accident of history but rather an outgrowth of a fundamental structural reality: government operates by different rules from the rest of us.
If we steal, we are doing wrong and everyone knows it. But the government does the same thing and claims it is sustaining the social order — and calls us unpatriotic if we disagree. And that’s only the beginning. The government punishes us for doing things — fraud, theft, murder, kidnapping, counterfeiting — that it does legally every day.
This is not a feature of bad government. The legal right to violate the laws it enforces against the population is the defining feature of the state as we know it. That is to say, there is evil at the very heart of the business of government. The more centralized the state, the less control we have over it and the more egregious the immorality, efficiency, graft, and lies.
I would go further than Thomas Jefferson, who said that the government that governs best governs least. Actually, the government that governs not at all is the best of all.
Returning to Brazil, the difference between the government there and the government here is not a matter of kind but of degree. So it is for all governments in all times and places, which is why we can read about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and find so many parallels with our own time. Measuring the degree of evil can be extremely tricky. Chomsky is right here: if we wish to decry evil in politics, our primary obligation is to focus on the state we know best, which is our own. In that sense my critics are right, from their point of view, and I’m right from mine.
At the same time, there is more to the task of liberty than hating and decrying the state. The other side of the coin is developing a genuine love of liberty, which implies a love of its most spectacular, people-serving feature: commerce.
Commerce keeps the world orderly and rational and free. It gives us drive and ratifies our efforts. It sparks imagination and defines its boundaries. It feeds the world, sustains and builds civilization, and unleashes the best in the human spirit. It keeps us materially connected and linked to our brothers and sisters across the globe. It makes possible, in our own time, beautiful worlds we could never dream up on our own.
Wherever there is liberty, there is commerce. And this commerce breaks down the barriers that the state erects between people. Commerce ignores borders, draws people together whom the state would like to see separated. It always tends toward the service of human needs rather than civic priorities.
Without some liberty, however restricted it might be, and the commerce it sustains society would die in a matter of weeks. The state alone sustains nothing. This is why, when I travel, I’m very much drawn to finding and watching those sectors where liberty lives and observing the massive contribution it makes to the social order.
I take it for granted that the state is too big, invasive, and horrible — not just in Brazil, not just in the U.S., but absolutely everywhere. What’s really exciting is to see people finding the workaround and making lives for themselves, and that usually means some commercial activity that thrives despite every effort to kill it.
This is what I saw in so many beautiful ways in Brazil. To see liberty work is to see a model for building the future. This is why it is so inspiring to visit real markets, to see what people can do with investable wealth, to observe all the ways in which people manage to make good lives for themselves despite every obstacle.
This is the spirit of liberty. The great merit of the work of Mises Brasil is that it encourages intellectual change throughout society, building from the liberty that currently does exist toward a full-blown free society. This is the path of change. It requires that we see more than what is bad but also see what is good, and build from that.
Wendy McElroy’s forthcoming book from Laissez Faire Books is called The Art of Being Free. She raises a very profound question for serious libertarians. If the state went away, what would you be left with to give your life meaning? Find that thing and you will have found your North Star, the inspiration and driving force for building a vibrant and free future.
Hate the state, yes, but love liberty even more. Decry the thicket, yes, but then find the seed, plant it, and see the garden grow.