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Is Taxation Voluntary?

Have you ever heard the claim that paying income tax is voluntary? The term “voluntary” is variously used in government documents, including the 1040 form itself, and some very naive people have actually taken this to mean that they don’t have to pay if they don’t want to. They think that “voluntary” actually means voluntary, …

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The Banishment of the Marginal Worker

Do you know about Europe’s problem with the NEETs? This is the name being given to those mostly young workers who are not in school, not employed and not in training. The designation applies to one in five people aged 24 and younger. Unemployment among this generation is frighteningly high all over the eurozone. These …

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Who Moved My Juice Bottle?

Most people think of the capitalist marketplace as the venue for the unleashing of the human ego. Selfishness reigns as those with financial means buy and build whatever they want, acquiring and amassing with no concern for the fate of anyone but themselves. Bah! I can’t even imagine a more inaccurate description of real life. …

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To Love the Unknown

Why do we let the police power of the state take over and inevitably wreck so many aspects of our life? Why do we tolerate the invasions of our homes, businesses, and bank accounts? One theory: people find more comfort in the false security that the state provides over the uncertainty of a liberty-driven future. …

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Why Facebook Works, and Democracy Does Not

We can learn from Facebook and all other social networks that the Internet has brought us. These are more than websites; they are models of social organization that transcend old forms. Make the rest of life more like a social network and we will begin to see real progress in the course of civilization. Persist in the old model of forced democratic community and we will continue to see decline.

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The Great Monetary Debate

When National Public Radio airs a segment on the gold standard, you know that the debate over the quality of money has reached the point where it can no longer be ignored. Another sign came last month when Newt Gingrich, who has never shown the slightest interest in the cause of sound money, suddenly began …

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How Change Happens

My brother is teaching a semester in London, and he casually video Skyped me last week to show me around his apartment, which is small but charming. I reciprocated by hauling up the cover of the e-book I am reading, and shared my desktop to show a YouTube performance of Renaissance music I thought he …

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Ninety-Nine Years of Evil

January 3 of this year was the 99th anniversary of the signing of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. It enshrined into law an idea that stands in total contradiction to the driving force being the American Revolution and the whole idea of freedom itself. The great “old right” commentator Frank Chodorov once described the …

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A Public Service Announcement for Internationals Visiting the U.S.

Reprinted from the Daily Reckoning First up, a quick public service announcement for our International Reckoners: For Australians, that means no “cracking onto” members of the opposite sex…no getting “off one’s face”…no “tearing it up”…no “little rippers” and, we would think, no “barrakking” for anyone. Our Irish friends will likewise wish to steer clear of …

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The Speakeasy Economy

Reflecting on the sheer vastness of this sector of life, one realizes the fiction, for example, embodied in official government statistics that record only the on-the-books sector of economic life. These agencies are pumping out half-truths and whole myths every day. One further realizes the immense damage that would be done to humanity in general should there come a time when government actually managed to enforce all its edicts. It would be catastrophic. We owe much of our prosperity to people’s willingness to enter the rebel class.

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The Transformation of Banking

There is a scene in the Parable of the Talents in which the returned master berates the shabbiest of his three servants. Discovering that he had buried his seed capital in the ground, the master says: “You should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have …

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The Death of File Sharing

Last week’s violent government attack on the hugely popular site Megaupload — the U.S. government arresting Belgian citizens in New Zealand, of all places, and stealing at gunpoint servers bank accounts and property — has sent shock waves through the entire digital world. The first shock was the realization that the gigantic protest against legislative …

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Zero Percent Uber Alles

We are getting a sense of what life is like with the new Fed policy of openness. It means that the chairman tries to beat the world record for the longest, most-boring press conference in modern history. Ben Bernanke is getting even better at that crucial skill of repeatedly saying nothing at great length. The …

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The Alleged Serving-Size Scandal

When you eat Oreo cookies, if you do eat Oreo cookies, how many do you eat? Three sounds sort of reasonable to me. Surely, after three, you have been “served.” If I were a guest at someone’s house and ate more than that, I would try to do it surreptitiously. But of course, this is …

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It’s Treason to Disagree

A horrifying aspect of modern life is how nearly daily threats to fundamental freedoms and human rights require that citizens become politically aware and active. Here we are struggling to put food on the table, cultivate a civilized private life, support things we care about, manage our households and otherwise meet all the challenges of …

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The Fed’s Men Behind the Curtain

The debate about the Fed is under way, and thank goodness. But as with many policy debates, there really shouldn’t be a debate at all. That’s because, if you think about it, the idea of central banking makes no sense. We don’t have a government-created central repository that plans and manages shoe distribution. The market …

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Capitalism Caused What Crisis?

The Financial Times continues its series on “Capitalism in Crisis.” We’re getting a little tired of it. We were hoping at least one of the writers might tell us what the crisis was. Instead, we’ve gotten a variety of opinions; none offering much light on the nature of the crisis and several offering more darkness …

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Power vs. People in the Digital Age

The government seems determined to turn out the lights on the digital age. And this is with or without SOPA or the other bills that were only this week shouted down by the global digital community on Blackout Wednesday. The very next day, after support for that legislation collapsed after an impressive mass protest, the …

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Violating Rights in the Name of Property

You know that anti-piracy video you sometimes see at the beginning of movies? It explains how you wouldn’t steal a handbag, so neither should you steal a song or movie by an illegal download. Well, it turns out that the guy who wrote the music for that short clip, Melchoir Rietveldt, says that his music …

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Protesting Government Digitally

There’s been a long debate over digital technology. Does it help or harm the cause of liberty, individualism and human rights? People who say it has hurt point out that government has been able to use the products of private innovation for its own purposes. The government can watch us as never before. It assembles …

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Blackout Wednesday: The Time Has Come

The two dominant trends of our time are, on the one hand, the darkening of the physical world ruled by governments and, on the other hand, the re-enlightening of the world thanks to the spontaneous order of digital media controlled by everyone else. Governments are seeking to drag it down and shut off the lights. The protests against these proposed controls constitute a mighty statement that we will not let the raiders, the barbarians, the vandals, have their way.

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What Does Liberty Really Mean?

It is at times useful to imagine how a truly laissez-faire society, one entirely emancipated from the shackles of state coercion, might exist and operate. Morris and Linda Tannehill examine this very idea in The Market for Liberty: Is Government Really Necessary? The Market for Liberty imagines a totally free society: one with no government …

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Mere Mortals at the Fed

The secrecy of the Federal Reserve is legendary, but pressure in recent years has led to some opening up. Already in the last 12 months, we’ve seen some eye-popping records of who received credit during the 2008-09 credit crunch. We’ve seen lists of institutions that the Fed favors, and these lists have confirmed the worst …