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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 …

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The Nearest Thing to a Permanent Thing

You can find a coin shop in nearly every town in the United States. The proprietor is unlike any you will find in any other store. He is unusually steeped in history, intensely aware of the larger context of the passing economic and political scene. This is because if it is a good shop, you …

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The Nickel-and-Dime Protection Racket

Governments at all levels in the United States have begun to master the art of extracting as much money from the public as possible in every conceivable situation, over and above what we normally cough up to states at all levels year-round (which is commonly 40% of our income).

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Money or Capitalism in Crisis?

We are living under a form of monetary prohibitionism today, forbidden to use any means of payment other than that maintained by the state. And it is not unlike the alcohol prohibition of old. It redistributes wealth, steers gains to the unscrupulous, strengthens the state and promotes various forms of criminality.

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The Monetary Metal that Just Won’t Die

For more than one hundred years, governments have been trying to kill gold’s role in the monetary system. They’ve dreamed of a day when the cursed metal would vanish completely except as jewelry and luxurious adornment. And yet its monetary properties won’t go away. Central banks still hold it, and many have increased their gold …

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Elections and the Illusion of Choice

The political season has unleashed its predictable frenzy, much to delight of people who make a living off it. But to what end? There are only two types of politicians who end up holding office, wrote H.L. Mencken: “first, glorified mob-men who genuinely believe what the mob believes, and secondly, shrewd fellows who are willing …

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There’s No Such Thing as a Stable State

Twenty years ago, and much to the shock of just about everyone, the mighty Soviet Union, the very embodiment of Hegel’s view of the state as the divine on Earth, dissolved and disappeared. The malicious foe of the U.S., the deadly grizzly that was said to wander the world seeking whom it would devour, just …

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The Genius of the Price System

The other day, a local hamburger joint was advertising a 99 cent hamburger, and I took the offer. It was great. I wondered: how can they make money this way? A few days later, my head still swimming with memories of that great experience, I went back. This time, I dug in a bit deeper …

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Nicaragua and the Cold War Political Theater

Some friends and co-workers spent their holidays at Rancho Santana in Nicaragua, where you can live like a king on a pauper’s salary. The beaches are among the best in the world, and the people are nuts for Americans. There is every amenity and consumer product, even better stuff than you can get at Wal-Mart. …

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Truth in Advertising

If you are a visitor from another planet and you want to find out about real life on Earth, what do you watch on television to give the most-accurate picture: the news, the shows or the commercials? Think about it realistically. We are seeking here an accurate window into what human beings are really like, …

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The Race for the Coolest Stuff

A staple of action/thriller movies like the Mission: Impossible and the James Bond series is that the government agencies have all the cool gadgets, stuff we can’t get. There’s usually some opening scene featuring geeky scientists displaying the latest technology, such as a pen that is really a flamethrower or special shoes that allow you …

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Two Views of the Internet

The barely-defeated legislation called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) hit out of the blue and caused a global scramble among the smart set to make sure it was defeated. It was a close call, and the legislation isn’t going away. It will come back and back again, and it will require relentless vigilance to keep …

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The Elves of Capitalism

One reason that the Brothers Grimm fairy tales have such appeal — more so than the folklore that came before — is that they deal with a world that is familiar to us, a world that was just being invented in the early 19th century, when these stories were first printed and circulated. They deal …

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Who Should Control the World?

In the days following the gift-giving holidays, many millions of people stand in judgement over the quality of the gifts they gave and the gifts they receive. Did they arrive on time? Did the quality hold up? Did the reality match the advertising hype? The Internet ads an extra wrinkle. Anyone dissatisfied can post blistering …

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The Hidden Cost Of The Payroll Tax

The best part of the chaotic debate in Washington about the payroll tax is that this wicked institution is finally getting the public attention it deserves. In most debates about taxation, the payroll tax has hardly ever been mentioned, even though it accounts for more than one-third of federal revenue, and even though two-thirds of …

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The Regulatory State Does Not Like You

Two important regulatory rulings have been issued in the last day that will have a profound effect on your life, both immediately and over the long run. One forces a continued degradation of AT&T’s cell phone coverage by forbidding a merger with the embattled company T-Mobile. The other targets a feature of Google’s Android phone …

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What is Laissez-Faire?

There stand two broad schools of thought: those who believe in state control of one or many aspects of the social order and those who believe in laissez-faire, that is, that attempts at state control are counterproductive to the cause of prosperity, justice, peace and the building of the civilized life. Laissez-faire says that the artists, merchants, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, investors, and property owners — and not the cartelizing thugs of the state — ought to be permitted to drive the course of history.

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Victory in Iraq?

There is no peace treaty, no humbled enemy, no national glory and certainly no newfound freedom. The “liberation” of Iraq leaves a widely hated puppet dictator in charge with a mandate “to see that process of strengthened central authority continue,” in the words of a U.S. cable revealed by WikiLeaks. Still, the U.S. has declared …

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The Twelve-Year Sentence

You look at the parade of mindless dopes and dopers that make up the Occupy protesters and think: What is wrong with these people? They are mostly kids. They don’t have jobs. Most don’t even look employable. Those who are employable can’t find work at a wage they are willing to accept. Instead, they meander …