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What Is or Should Be the Law?

It seems that the president is frustrated with Congress. What kind of legislature is this, he asks, that fails to immediately enact the will of the executive? The executive has been using a slightly different approach these days: He uses an executive order. Forget all that stuff you have read in the civics texts about …

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Throwing Out the Old

Two years ago, I was the soul of generosity. I had culled through my sizeable collection of CDs and found 30 discs that I was happy to give away. My social circle went nuts, praising me as the great giver. They were so happy to have such fabulous music for free. This week, I tried …

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The Economy Is Us: A Tribute to John Papola

For many people around the world, the first they had ever heard of the great economist Friedrich A. Hayek came from a rap video. That’s right. Some 3.4 million people have watched “Fear the Boom and Bust” since its release two years ago. It has been shown in classrooms and been featured in countless stories …

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The Great Lawn Mower Hack

The functioning of millions of our consumer products has been wrecked by government regulations in ways that are extremely hard to detect and difficult to narrow down. The other day, I wrote about discovering the reason lawn mowers have mysteriously stopped working and stopped improving over the last decade or so. (I now have a …

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Wal-Mart, Victim of Extortion

To do serious business in America requires vast campaign contributions to several layers of elected politicians, an army of lobbyists in Washington, retired government employees on your board and public devotion to the American civic religion. It goes on every year and restarts every election cycle. Even then, it is hard to know if you …

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The Secret History of the Club (Part 1)

“Launch” has been the watchword this week in the world of Spy Briefing Books. It’s been on everyone’s mind since the brilliant idea of a club first emerged in the early weeks of 2012. When the launch finally happened, I experienced one of those moments: “Pinch me so that I know I’m not dreaming.” I …

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Money and Finance as if You Mattered

During the 2008 credit crisis, a horde of central bankers, Treasury officials and large corporations screamed that the end of the world was upon us — unless trillions of your money were spent (or created) to prop up the existing financial and banking systems. The presumption was that the existing structure must never be changed, …

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The Bizarre World of Plastic Fees

Most everyone is really down on financial companies these days. What kind of scam are they running, anyway? It seems as if everywhere we turn, there are fees, fees, fees. Because most everyone has some kind of credit or debit card, the popular mind is particularly focused on them, expecting to find signs of exploitation …

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Despair and the State

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 …

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How Regulators Wrecked Our Mowers

When I was a kid, lawn mowers worked. You pushed them and they cut grass. The grass went into the bag. Then you emptied the bag. The results were great. There was no grass to rake. It all went into the bag, because that’s what lawn mowers did. Then the feds got involved. Or so …

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Regulators Take on the E-Book

Get this: The federal bureaucrat who last month started the litigation against Apple and book publishers for e-book pricing is the same person who, back in the stone age, represented Netscape in its lawsuit against Microsoft. Recall that Microsoft was trying to give away its Internet Explorer to computer users for free. Netscape went nuts …

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The Good News (for Animals) on Health Care

There’s so much bad news about health care these days. Maybe it’s time for some good news. One sector, technology, is advancing at a pace never seen before. Customers have a range of services to choose from, and price competition is very intense. The doctor sees you whether you have insurance or not. Customers mostly …

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A Tool of Human Liberation

Of all social media on the Internet, LinkedIn is the least splashy. A movie will never be made about this tool. It has introduced no new words into our vernacular. The teen crowd doesn’t download the app. But if you measure these technologies and Web tools by the positive ways they have changed lives, LinkedIn …

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Commerce, Our Benefactor

What if we had the following economic system? This system would shower the globe with free goods day and night, asking nothing and giving nearly everything. Most of what it generated would be free goods, and every living person would have access. Anyone who amassed a private profit would do so only because he or …

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Iran and the Recurring Bad Dream

Maybe U.S. energy independence isn’t such a great thing after all. Some years ago, when the American political class was whooping it up for war with China, what stopped the push were the American commercial interests who essentially asked, “What, are you crazy? This is bad for business. We need China, and China needs us. …

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Should We Worry about the Class Divide?

Charles Murray’s new book Coming Apart has generated an incredible amount of handwringing on all sides. For those who are skilled at ignoring such debates — good impulse, I say! — his thesis is that the ebb and flow of wealth and status between classes that once characterized American culture has ended. He marshals vast …

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Death by Regulation

I had previously heard nothing about the tragic and remarkable case of Andrew Wordes of Roswell, Ga., who set his house on fire and blew it and himself up as police arrived to evict him from his foreclosed-upon home. It was Agora’s 5 Min. Forecast that alerted me to the case, and this report remains …

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Market Failure? The Case of Copyright

How gigantically humongous and intrusive is the federal government? A traditional measure is to look at the pages of regulations in the Federal Register, which is, by now, probably the world’s largest book collection. The problem with this approach is that it takes no account of how a single bad regulation can have monstrously deleterious …

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Are We Oppressed by Technology?

Do we really need an iPad 3 after it seems as if iPad 2 was released only a few months ago? Was it absolutely necessary that Google give us Google+? Do phones really have to be “smart” when the old cell phones were just fine? For that matter, is it really necessary that everyone on …

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The Failure of Another Dystopian Film

Every good dystopian story needs a villain responsible for bringing about the sad state of affairs. Half the interest in the plot concerns how the despotic conditions developed and are maintained. This is precisely why almost all dystopian stories tend toward a libertarian bent, or at least a theme of human liberation from some coercive …

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Democracy Is Our Hunger Game

Whatever good you have heard about The Hunger Games, the reality is more spectacular. Not only is this the literary phenom of our time, but the movie that created near pandemonium for a week from its opening is a lasting contribution to art and to the understanding of our world. It’s more real than we …

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Warming up to Environmentalism

I’m starting to rethink the whole environmental craze in the culture, which is about as inescapable as pop music and jeans. It was born some 50 years ago and it has spread like a cancer ever since. It’s always annoyed me that its most consistent dogma, pushed without evidence or argument, is that commerce, and …

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Theory Comes to Life

The final general session of the Oxford Club’s Investment University — the 14th annual and held in San Diego this year — just wrapped up, and a series of afternoon sessions now follow. It is the kind of event that only a tiny percentage of the population — one might say that this is the …