Issue CXLII 

January 31 - February 1, 2008

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Economics
How Free is the "Free Market"?:
Jeffrey Tucker

January 31, 2008
Just how draconian government intervention is ebbs and flows from decade to decade, but the reality of the long-term trend is undeniable: more taxes, more regulation, more bureaucracies, more regimentation, more public ownership, and ever less autonomy for private decision-making. The federal budget is nearly $3 trillion per year, which is three times what it was in Reagan's second term. Just since Bush has been in office, federal intervention in every area of our lives has exploded, from the nationalization of airline security to the heavy regulation of the medical sector to the centralized control of education. Jeffrey Tucker asks, with "free markets" like this, who needs socialism?

A Creditors' Protection Bill:
George Reisman

February 1, 2008
Dr. George Reisman writes that is a financial life raft, as it were, that could be made available to everyone, that would enable people to salvage at least some significant portion of the real value of their savings and contracts denominated in fixed sums of dollars. It is something much more urgently needed, aimed at a much more realistic danger, and much more feasible than efforts to control global warming, say. What is it? It is the enactment of a creditors' protection bill, whose essential provisions would be the insertion into all outstanding contracts of a limited, contingent gold clause, and the removal of all legal obstacles to the inclusion of such clauses in all future contracts.

The Keynesian Corner:

Robert P. Murphy

February 1, 2008
The Fed has now painted itself into a Keynesian corner.  According to old-school Keynesianism, the government faces a Phillips Curve tradeoff.  It can adopt a loose monetary policy, which spurs output but leads to price inflation.  Or, the government can adopt a tight monetary policy, which keeps prices under control but leads to recession. Dr. Robert Murphy disagrees. A penny saved is a penny spent, from the viewpoint of the economy as a whole.  Rather than printing up new money through the Federal Reserve, or engaging in shell games with billions of tax dollars, the government should cut its own budget while we ride out the present crisis.

Santa Claus's French Regulatory Nightmare:
Valentin Petkantchin

February 1, 2008
The representatives of Santa Claus's toy industry in France, being accused of anti-competitive practices, went through a difficult Christmas time. The Competition Council issued a decision, on December 20, 2007, with multi-million-euro fines, on a supposed price-fixing agreements among several manufacturers and distributors. Beyond the ruling, current regulations are those that paralyze companies aiming to do better than their competitors. Valentin Petkantchin writes that it is those regulations that are anti-competitive, and consumers end up bearing the brunt.

Ethics
A Defense of Classical Liberal Tolerance:
G. Stolyarov II

January 31, 2008
In this age of competing statisms, powerful coalitions on the Left and Right attempt to governmentally impose their beliefs and practices on others. One of these coalitions seeks to turn America into a fully Christian nation, while another seeks to transform it into a fully politically correct nation. A global environmentalist movement threatens our technological progress and high standards of living, while a global Islamic fundamentalist movement desires to impose Sharia law everywhere. If any of these efforts succeed, we shall witness the end of the American Founders’ vision of individual liberty, inalienable natural rights, and freedom of conscience. Mr. Stolyarov argues that to preserve a free country, we need to embrace the classical liberal idea of tolerance and to guard against intolerable intrusions on individual self-sovereignty.

Politics

National Heritage Areas: Assault on Private Property and Local Community Rule:
Tom DeWeese

January 31, 2008
One of the dangerous pieces of legislation lying in wait as Congress reopens for business is the "Celebrating America's Heritage Act." The bill has already passed the House (H.R.1483) by a vote of 291-122 and now awaits action in the Senate. Why is it so dangerous? Tom DeWeese writes that proponents of Heritage Areas are using our great love of history as an emotional sledgehammer to impose a massive federal pork barrel scheme that enriches the pockets of private advocacy groups by helping to impose draconian controls over the dreams of average American homeowners.

Election Year Nonsense:
Selwyn Duke

January 31, 2008
To use a play on Winston Churchill’s cynical words, the best argument against democracy is a five-minute perusal of election coverage.  Another way to put it – at risk of sounding trite – is if it weren’t for nonsense, it wouldn’t make any sense at all.  Yet, if being trite were a sin, most presidential aspirants would languish in political purgatory.  Selwyn Duke explains.

Eeeek!: Understanding US Foreign Policy:

Fred Reed

February 1, 2008
Fred Reed believes that a malign and poorly understood influence on foreign policy is the paranoid truculent male (though a few females share the ailment). The PTM is a fairly well-defined type, who believes that They Are Out to Get Us. He doesn’t much care who They are. If one They fails him, he will find another. These They must be fought to the death. It’s us or They.

Correcting Kinsley on Libertarianism:

Robert P. Murphy

February 1, 2008
Michael Kinsley recently wrote a piece criticizing extreme (i.e. consistent) libertarianism, and Dr. Robert Murphy has a few bones to pick with him. Dr. Murphy responds to Kinsley's arguments regarding national defense, road privatization, and government prohibitions.

Is Canada's Economy a Model for America?:
Mark Steyn

February 1, 2008
Mark Steyn argues that American "progressives" who look to Canada are wrong. Not only is Canada’s path not a model for America, it’s not a viable model for Canada. As Canadians are about to discover, the future belongs to those who show up for it.

"Capitalism should not be condemned, since we haven't had capitalism." 
~ Ron Paul