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.
The east coast and parts of the southern U.S. were to varying degrees paralyzed by blizzards a few weeks ago. The snow as expected rendered the roads treacherous, and in anticipation of slick streets, shoppers flocked to the grocery stores in advance.The rush into grocery stores, and its aftermath, offers worthwhile lessons in economics.First up, […]
The financial world is plodding along like a drunken sailor avoiding debt collectors by keeping no cash in his wallet. It’s not the kind of calm that’s going to last or end well. But the storm will have to wait until after the Olympics.What a game! We’ve never watched ice hockey closely before. But watching […]
(First published at the Future of Freedom Foundation site.)
They hang the man, and flog the woman,
That steals the goose from off the common;
But let the greater villain loose,
That steals the common from the goose.
Anonymous, in The Tickler Magazine, February 1, 1821.
An understanding of the Enclosure Acts is necessary to place aspects of the Industrial Revolution in proper context. The Industrial Revolution is often accused of driving poor laborers en masse out of the countryside and into urban factories where they competed for a pittance in wages and lived in execrable circumstances.
But the opportunity that a factory job represented could only have drawn workers if it offered a better situation than what they were leaving. If laborers were driven to the cities, then some other factor(s) must have been at work.
One factor was the Enclosure Acts. These were a series of Parliamentary Acts, the majority of which were passed between 1750 and 1860; through the Acts, open fields and ‘wastes’ were closed to use by the peasantry. Open fields were large agricultural areas to which a village population had certain rights of access and which they tended to divide into narrow strips for cultivation. The wastes were unproductive areas – for example, fens, marches, rocky land, or moors – to which the peasantry had traditional and collective rights of access in order to pasture animals, fish, harvest meadow grass, collect firewood or otherwise benefit. Rural laborers who lived on the margin depended on open fields and the wastes to fend off starvation.
Enclosure refers to the consolidation of land, usually for the stated purpose of making it more productive. The British Enclosure Acts removed the prior rights of local people to rural land they had often used for generations. As compensation, the displaced people were commonly offered alternative land of smaller scope and inferior quality,sometimes with no access to water or wood. The land seized by the Acts were then consolidated into individual and privately-owned farms, with larger and politically connected farmers receiving the best land. Often small land-owners could not afford the legal and other associated costs of enclosure and, so, were forced out.
In his pivotal essay “English Enclosures and Soviet Collectivization: Two Instances of an Anti-Peasant Mode of Development”, libertarian historian Joseph R. Stromberg observed,
“[T]he political dominance of large landowners determined the course of enclosure….[i]t was their power in Parliament and as local Justices of the Peace that enabled them to redistribute the land in their own favor. A typical round of enclosure began when several, or even a single, prominent landholder initiated it….by petition to Parliament….[T]he commissioners were invariably of the same class and outlook as the major landholders who had petitioned in the first place, it was not surprising that the great landholders awarded themselves the best land and the most of it, thereby making England a classic land of great, well-kept estates with a small marginal peasantry and a large class of rural wage labourers.”
In turn, this led to new practices of agriculture, such as crop rotation, and resulted in a dramatic increase in productivity over time. (Of course, this may have happened naturally, with common users co-operating for greater productivity.) Whatever the long term effect, the immediate one was to advantage those fortunate enough to become individual owners and disadvantage peasants. The immediate effect was to devastate the peasant class.
When access was systematically denied, ultimately the peasantry was left with three basic alternatives: to work in a serf-like manner as tenant farmers for large landowners; to emigrate to the New World; or, ultimately, to pour into already crowded cities where they pushed down each others’ wages by competing for a limited number of jobs.
HISTORY OF THE ENCLOSURE ACTS
The British enclosure question is extremely complex, varying from region to region and extending over centuries. Enclosure reaches back to the 12th century but peaks from approximately 1750 to 1860, a time period that coincides with the emergence and rise of the Industrial Revolution. British economic historian Sudha Shenoy stated, “Between 1730 & 1839, 4,041 enclosure Bills passed, 581 faced counter-petitions, & 872 others also failed.” How far-reaching were those thousands of Acts? According a 1993 study by J. M. Neeson, Commoners: Common Right, Enclosure and Social Change in England, 1700-1820, winner of the 1994 Whitfield Prize of the Royal Historical Society, enclosures occurring 1750 and 1820 dispossessed former occupiers from some 30 percent of the agricultural land of England.
Perhaps the most significant measure was the General Enclosure Act of 1801 (also called the Enclosure Consolidation Act) because it simplified and standardized the legal procedures of ensuing Acts.
Historians J. L. and Barbara Hammond in The Village Labourer 1760-1832 (1970) described the worker who was driven into factories by the Enclosure Acts:
The enclosures created a new organization of classes. The peasant with rights and a status, with a share in the fortunes and government of his village, standing in rags, but standing on his feet, makes way for the labourer with no corporate rights to defend, no corporate power to invoke, no property to cherish, no ambition to pursue, bent beneath the fear of his masters, and the weight of a future without hope. No class in the world has so beaten and crouching a history.”
Cumulatively and within a few generations, the enclosures created a veritable army of industrial reserve labor. The displaced and disenfranchised class were reduced to working for starvation wages that they supplemented through prostitution, theft and other stigmatized or illegal means. When the workers swelled the ranks of the poor, the Government once again stepped in once more…this time to assist capitalists who petitioned for tax-funded favors.
Even the anti-libertarian comentator Christopher A. Ferrara explains,
“England’s response to the crisis of poverty among the landless proletariat” was a “system of poor relief supplements to meager wages, adopted de facto throughout England (beginning in 1795) in order to insure that families did not starve. The result…was a vast, government-subsidized mass of wage-dependent paupers whose capitalist employers, both urban and rural, were freed from the burden of paying even bare subsistence wages.”
In turn, the palpable misery of this class fueled the rise of a vigorous socialist movement that blamed the Industrial Revolution for the exploitation of the masses. (The socialists were aware of the impact of enclosure but ultimately blamed industrialization.) And exploitation by industrialists undoubtedly existed; for one thing, some used governmental means. But the masses were there to be exploited largely because powerful land owners had used political means to deny to peasants their traditional means of rural livelihood. Exploitation was possible because other opportunities had been legally denied.
It is deceptively simplistic to blame the Enclosure Acts alone for the abuses usually ascribed to the Industrial Revolution. Many factors were in play. For example, the majority of people in pre-Industrial England dwelt in the countryside where they often supplemented their income through cottage industries, especially the weaving of wool. This income evaporated with the advent of cheap cotton and industrialized means of weaving it. Many influences contributed to the desperation of an unemployed army of workers.
What enclosure does illustrate without question, however, is that the abuses ascribed to the Industrial Revolution are far from straight-forward. Blaming industrialization for workers’ misery is not merely simplistic, it is also often incorrect. Whether or not some exploitation would have existed within free-market industrialization, the abuses of the Industrial Revolution were standardized, institutionalized and carried to excess by government and the use of political means.