How Welfare States Make Us Less Civilized

Throughout history, the state has justified itself on the grounds that it is necessary to protect us from others whose habits and beliefs — we are meant to believe — are dangerous. For millennia, this fiction was easy to maintain because most people interacted so little with people outside their nearly autarkic — and therefore impoverished — communities. But, with the rise of industrialization and international trade in recent centuries, the state's claim that it is necessary to keep us “safe” from outsiders has become increasingly undermined. Much of this is thanks to the fact that in order...

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Glorious Tax Season

Tax season is here. This is a time to celebrate. No, I mean it. Not because the State makes its claim on our hard-earned monies known, but because of what is on everybody's mind and the type of activity we're all involved with. Seldom is the State as present in our pockets (and pocket books) as in mid-April every year, when we either learn that we have inadvertently paid even more than the State thinks is its "fair share" of our earnings, or learn that even the outrageous amounts we have already paid weren't enough. And to make matters worse, we waste a lot of productive time to fill out...

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Statist’s Dilemma

Statist’s Dilemma

I tend to get drawn into debates with statists both in cyber and "meat" space, and the discussions always either start (and/) or end with arguments for/against the State. Strangely, the basic knowledge about the nature of the State is often shared or, at least, can easily be agreed on: the State is defined as an organization with the [legitimate] monopoly of violence. (Legitimate is within brackets for the reason that it can mean, as is the case in this definition, "generally accepted" whereas, from a rights perspective, legitimate means more than simply accepted.) The problem for statists...

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Left and Right and Collectivism

I made the mistake recently of tweeting on immigration, which made it all too clear that clear and stringent thinking is as lacking on the "right" as it is on the "left." While we have perhaps gotten used to the postmodern anti-logic of progressives, who certainly don't mind contradicting themselves several times in the same sentence (!) while proudly and loudly asserting their conviction is both better and of higher moral value, the right tends to (occasionally) get some things right. At least regarding economics. Certainly, the "right" wrestles with their own logical leaps of faith (and of...

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Fake News? The New York Times Reporting from Venezuela

The New York Times has published a series of articles by Nicholas Casey on the state of Venezuela, the very recently rich oil country that is today destitute and with a population suffering starvation, riots and kidnappings, and outright chaos. The articles include plenty of important observations from the everyday life in the post-Chávez nation and pictures documenting how the suffering population survive against the odds. In a recent article, "No Food, No Medicine, No Respite: A Starving Boy's Death in Venezuela" published on Christmas Day, Casey portrays the great suffering of a mother...

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Your Twitter Handle May Be a Weapon

Not exactly, but Politico reports that the form non-Americans must fill out to enter the country on the "visa waiver" program - the ESTA - now includes an "optional" question where travelers can enter their social media account information. Yes, account information. Apparently not passwords, but account names. Writes Politico: "The prompt includes a drop-down menu that lists platforms including Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as a space for users to input their account names on those sites." Of course, the argument is, as The Verge notes, to "identify political...

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Libertarianism as Extreme Middle-of-the-Roadism

While the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate Gary Johnson unsuccessfully tried to sell voters a lukewarm version of libertarianism as the good policies from both Democrats and Republicans but none of the bad (“neither too hot nor too cold”), there’s an argument to be made for libertarianism as the “golden middle.” But it is not a middle position between those two evils, but between two destructive extremes in social cooperation: the power of one and the power of none. The power of one refers to the highly hierarchical and vertically organized (read: coercively coordinated) society...

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Last Rights: The Death of American Liberty

Last Rights: The Death of American Liberty

Americans today have “freedom” to be fleeced, groped, injected, harassed, surveilled, vilified, disarmed, beaten, detained, and maybe shot by federal agents. From hapless homeowners hit by SWAT raids to pandemic lockdowns pointlessly paralyzing lives, government...

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