Issue CCLXXII

January 1, 2011

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Economics
Is Big Government a Myth?:
Robert P. Murphy

January 1, 2011
Lately the supporters of big government have deployed an interesting twist to their arguments, claiming that it is a dirty right-wing lie that government has grown under the Obama administration. Unlike arguments over economic theory, surely this should be an objective exercise in looking up the facts. Dr. Robert Murphy shows that there is indeed a big — and growing — government in DC, as even that government's own numbers confirm. Although this conclusion won't surprise the readers of Dr. Murphy's column, it will still be fun to analyze Paul Krugman's attempts to deny the obvious.

Have Events Vindicated Keynesian Models?:
Robert P. Murphy

January 1, 2011
In a December 25, 2010, article Dr. Robert Murphy discussed Jim Manzi's debate with economist Karl Smith. Dr. Murphy pointed out that Smith's evidence in favor of mainstream macroeconomic models was actually consistent with the view that fiscal and monetary "stimulus" policies only stoke economic crises. In the present article, Dr. Murphy shows a different example of this same pattern. Specifically, Paul Krugman took a macro forecast from Mark Zandi, and then after the fact compared it to the actual trajectory of GDP. Krugman concluded that Keynesian theory was vindicated, when in fact the results are more in line with what the critics predicted would happen.

Will There Be QE3, QE4, QE5... ?:
Philipp Bagus

January 1, 2011
Philipp Bagus writes that the rhetorical tricks used by Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve should not distract us from the fact that "quantitative easing" (QE) is simple money creation. The aim of Money Creation II is to finance federal-government spending, debasing the dollar. We should dismiss the term QE and instead call money creation what it is: inflation.

Ethics
The "Common Good" is No Good:
Kyrel Zantonavitch

January 1, 2011
Kyrel Zantonavitch argues that "the public good," "the public interest," "the common good," "the greater good," "the good of all," "the good of humanity," etc. are all naturally, inherently, ineluctably collectivist notions and ideals. Whether people know or intend it, these moral standards ruthlessly attack the Holy Individual -- the cynosure of the universe. Still, in some senses -- and depending on what you mean -- one can argue that "the greater/common/collective good" is actually and truly a good ideal. But only if it's interpreted individualistically, such as "liberty and justice for all" (i.e. for all individuals equally). But historically this is not how these phrases have been used.

History
With or Without a God: Natural Law and Property Rights (1995):
Murray N. Rothbard

January 1, 2011
Not only were the physiocrats generally consistent advocates of laissez-faire, but they also supported the operation of a free market and the natural rights of person and property. Murray Rothbard briefly describes the natural-law principles of the physiocrats and the manner in which these principles can be given objective justification without relying on divine authority.

Politics
The Cancun Climate Con:
Duggan Flanakin

January 1, 2011
Duggan Flanakin has written a compelling column that outlines the real purpose of the UN and environmentalist global-warming campaign: controlling economic growth and redistributing the world’s wealth and resources. He also explains why the world’s poor need abundant, reliable, affordable energy – and yet are being kept impoverished and diseased by policies that prevent them from having that energy and improving their lives.

Social Security is Not "Insurance":
Ron Paul

January 1, 2011 
Rep. Ron Paul emphasizes that courage begins with a commitment to see things as they are, rather than how we wish they were.  When it comes to Social Security, we must understand that the system does not represent an old-age pension, an “insurance” program, or even a forced-savings program.

Why This Gigantic "Intelligence" Apparatus?:
Robert Higgs

January 1, 2011 
On July 19, 2010, the Washington Post published the first of three large reports by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin on the dimensions of the gigantic US apparatus of "intelligence" activities being undertaken to combat terrorist acts against the United States, such as the 9/11 attacks. Dr. Robert Higgs writes that to say that this activity amounts to mobilizing every police officer in the country to stop street fights in Camden only begins to suggest its almost-unbelievable disproportion to the alleged threat.

Salazar Circumvents Congress:
Marita Noon

January 1, 2011
On December 23, the day after the end of the 111th Congress, when most people were preparing to party, the Department of the Interior issued a new order. Secretarial Order (SO) 3310 is said to “restore balance” to the management of public lands. The press release announced, “Salazar, Abby Restores Protection for America’s Wild Lands”—a reaction to Congress’ failure to pass the Omnibus Lands Bill. SO 3310 creates a new designation: “Wild Lands.” Previously, it took an act of Congress to declare a “wilderness area.” Marita Noon warns us of the dangers of this new power grab by Secretary Salazar and the Obama administration.

Nullification in 2011!:
Alan Caruba

January 1, 2011
The great issue of our times is the same great issue of the 1830s. The question is whether Congress can pass legislation or the President issue executive orders that are not authorized by or consistent with the Constitution. What recourse do the States have individually and in combination when the central government acts in a fashion that is contrary to the limits and enumerated powers of the Constitution? Alan Caruba argues that the answer, other than an appeal to the courts, is nullification.

 "The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody had decided not to see." 
~ Ayn Rand