“Armed and Black: The History of African-American Self-Defense”
A lot of people believe that blacks march in lockstep behind calls for gun control. But while the civil rights movement was largely about nonviolent resistance, many blacks exercised a legitimate right of self-defense. Many still do today. [Full Article]
“Too Dumb for Democracy?”
Mass ignorance about an increasingly complex world is a fact of life. And yet we’re all supposed to make decisions on matters about which we know little to nothing. It’s called democracy. [Full Article]
“Hayek’s ‘Rejuvenating Event'”
Despite everything wrong with the Nobel Prize in Economics, it brought F.A. Hayek’s work back to life. [Full Article]
“Why Libertarians Wanted Scotland to Secede”
No matter what political ideology drives an independence movement, real independence for a small political territory requires smaller government to survive. [Full Article]
“Class War in the Time of Robin Hood”
The Robin Hood legend originated as a story about political, not economic, oppression. [Full Article]
“Proud Little Englander”
Words from Victorian England continue to haunt advocates of freedom and peace [Full Article]
“Check Your History”
Those who use the word “privilege” as a bludgeon don’t understand the word’s history any better than they do the complexity of power dynamics. [Full Article]
“Black Death and Taxes”
The plague and the Little Ice Age didn’t do Europe any favors. But the excesses of the State amplified the damage. [Full Article]
“TV’s Third Golden Age”
Television’s new golden age puts consumers in control, rather than the government or the networks. [Full Article]
“Lady Liberty: An Unauthorized Biography”
We hear that the Statue of Liberty was the gift of “the French people” to “the American people.” Grammar-school civics aside, though, individuals from all walks of life wound up funding the statue voluntarily, without State funding or coercion. [Full Article]
“Putting Hedy Lamarr on Hold”
The story of the wireless revolution begins before World War II. It took an extra couple of decades to come about because the inventors dedicated themselves to the State. [Full Article]
“Worshipping the Wrong Goddess”
The Chinese students crushed in Tiananmen Square were inspired by a statue of the Goddess of Democracy. Under the nominal Communists, they are now discovering the blessings of markets and widespread wealth. Do they understand the relevance of the Goddess of Liberty? When they finally throw off the yoke of the totalitarian state, will they vote themselves into submission? [Full Article]
“Did Capitalism Give Us the Laugh Track?”
Contrary to the popular wisdom, the capitalist pursuit of the bottom line does not promote the lowest common denominator. Competition drives diversity (and vice versa). Cartels, like the one Hoover created in the broadcast media, create homogeneity. [Full Article]
“Why Rhett Butler’s Weed Is So Strong”
Prohibition has driven the development of ever-stronger drugs, where a free market would see a proliferation of lighter options.
Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 20 Num. 2
“Radio Free Rothbard” (PDF)
An earlier version of this journal article appeared on the Mises Institute website as “The Spectrum Should Be Private Property: The Economics, History, and Future of Wireless Technology.” See below.
Ludwig von Mises Institute
"The Evolution of an Anti-Anti-Communist"
While his claim of ideological steadfastness on his “basic political views” may have been correct, Rothbard did change his mind on questions of strategy and alliance, most significantly on the question of “McCarthyism” and the broader anti-Communist movement of the American Right, which he eventually rejected in favor of a more nuanced (and largely misunderstood) anti-anti-Communism. Rothbard writes: “It was, in fact, McCarthy and ‘McCarthyism’ that provided the main catalyst for transforming the mass base of the right wing from isolationism and quasi-libertarianism to simple anti-Communism.”
“The Tepid Movement Before Mises”
What was the pre-Misesian movement like? Friedman and Stigler’s pamphlet is a good indication. “Roofs or Ceilings” was a pale shadow of classical liberalism and a less than prestigious foreshadowing of the libertarian movement to come.
“How the Stewardess Lost Her Stripes”
Whatever happened to sexy stewardesses? I don’t mean as individuals, but as an institution, as a cultural icon, as a persistent commercial expectation.
Introduction to “Ludwig’s Mother”
In Her Own Words
Adele Mises Remembers . . .
A Day in the House of My Parents
Introduction to “Grandfather Willcke”
Mises’s Unsigned Editorial for the New York Times
"The Spectrum Should Be Private Property"
The Economics, History, and Future of Wireless Technology
How much of the spectrum should be privatized? All of it, writes B.K. Marcus. Even the vast “beachfront property” held by the military? Yes, all of it. Most government-held spectrum is currently unused, but remains off-limits to private appropriation. The result, in the United States, is an artificial scarcity well beyond that imposed by the FCC’s protectionist practices. How do we privatize the airwaves? If the spectrum confiscation were a recent development, the answer would be obvious. In today’s world, matters are more complicated.
“It’s the most extensive Rothbardian take on the topic that I’ve seen since, well, Rothbard.”
— Jesse Walker, author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America
Email and blog comments:
“Another great production from BKM.”
“A super Halloween thank you for your well written article! I love having my mind blown and informed simultaneously.”
“The goofiest collection of bull pippy I have read in a Mises essay.”
“The Monetary Economics of Thurston Howell III” (Top 15 – 2004)
Gilligan’s Island Economics can provide useful thought experiments, writes B.K. Marcus, for the same reasons Robinson Crusoe Economics has served as a staple of classical and Austrian School economics texts.
One thing Gilligan has, which Crusoe doesn’t, is a shared culture with the others on the island.
(Original Title: “The Post-Fiat Dollars of Thurston Howell III”)
“I read your article and find it brilliant! I’ll refer to you in all of my econ classes from now on.”
“… a great read and, despite the banal source material, not the least bit facile.”
“It should be printed in every high school and college economics textbook…”
“Wow! Thank you. Too bad we did not have this kind of real life learning taught to us in grammar school.”
“Your analysis shows people will adopt money based on specific circumstances, and that strange conditions will sometimes produce surprising choices. Very nicely done.”
Mises blog comments:
“This was a great article. I particularly liked the tie in with Iraq and its Dinars.”
“Terrific article. Very entertaining. This deepens my understanding on the subject.”
“what has to be the Strangest… Essay… Ever…”
“Someone has *WAY* too much time on their hands…”
"Can Markets Predict Elections?" (Top 15 – 2004)
Even if markets can somehow better anticipate the outcome, writes B.K. Marcus,
prediction markets will not achieve their full potential until they incorporate
the power of profit-seeking self-interest,
which can only be found in the private world of risk and reward.
Government-developed “planned markets” such as the Pentagon’s PAM,
“virtual markets” such as the Hollywood Stock Exchange, and low-risk
hampered markets such as the IEM (which only allows $500 trading accounts)
will not be able to operate as efficiently or accurately as would true capitalist markets,
which allow for real profit and real loss.
(Original Title: “Private Property & Prediction: Misesian Arbitrage in Hayekian Markets”)
“What a TERRIFIC debut! … I look forward to the next subject you tackle, anticipating a thorough, informative, and satisfying treatment.”
“Firstly let me say that I think this article is excellent in terms of explaining the key Misean point about why markets work and the contrast between Mises’ and Hayek’s thinking. The former point needs disseminating far and wide, and you have captured it extremely well.”
Murray Rothbard’s writing always displayed the clarity of a first-rate mind, but it is listening to him teach that reveals the humor, the wit, the sheer fun of experiencing his genius.
After listening to these ten hours of audio, you will know more real economics than most econ majors.
“The whole point of referencing Hitler is to force you to test your principles in the extreme cases, and for most people, Hitler is as extreme as it gets. If we disallow reference to Hitler, it can only be an acknowledgement of the extreme position he holds in our moral imagination. But by banishing the extremes from rational discourse, we make it too easy to settle our beliefs with the comfortable cases, never having to follow positions through to their logical conclusions.”
“That is a quality essay!”
“You have no idea how delighted I was to read your essay … For many years I’ve been infuriated by people misunderstanding my attacks on their underlying principles as ‘comparing’ two things …” – Dave
“Outstanding article! I can’t wait to reference this next time someone tries to divert an argument using logical fallacies.”
“Why not just take the word ‘Referencing’ out of your title?”
See also: “in defense of ‘in defense of…'” on majority rules versus plurality rules
“I’m catching myself having some stereotypical housewife moments, like feeling impatient when I’ve set out a special dinner and she won’t come to the table yet (‘But I worked on this all day and now it’s going to get cold!’ — thought, not said) or finding myself wanting acknowledgment for the care I took in packing a lunch. I pick up clothes left lying about and dirty breakfast dishes left out in her rush to leave for work and I have to stop and remind myself that this is my job now: to keep her from having to worry about such things…”
“one of the most original articles i have seen for a long time…. i enjoyed it all”
one man’s emasculation is another man’s enlightenment, or something.”
Do you see the sleight of hand there? Instead of defining capitalism in obvious straw-man terms, [Karl Marx] starts off with a good-faith definition —
one that pro-capitalists would agree with. But then he manages to shift the argument over to the straw man of mercantilism — a system that pro-capitalists are against!
And thus did Uncle Karl demonstrate that a ham sandwich is better than eternal happiness …
one of the most useful essays I’ve ever read on capitalism.”
“You articulated something which I had realized but was not smart enough to articulate. Bravo.”
The Libertarian Enterprise
"The 3 ‘E’s of the Minimum Wage"
From an ethical perspective, the law is wrong.
From an economic perspective, it is damaging and dangerous.
And yet the emotional perspective — the actual basis of most opinions — has a strangle hold on well-intentioned people.
From TLE’s Letters to the Editor:
“By George, I think you’ve got it!” Or something with the same emotionally congratulatory tone.
You have succeeded in answering the nagging feeling I’ve had, in discussions about a wide range of libertarian/Austrian topics, that I was missing some key argument needed to persuade my interlocutor.
One Act Plays (performed at Charlottesville’s No Shame Theater)
- After The End – “So you gonna have a crisis, move to New York City, dress up in black, and drink fancy coffee?”
- Royro – “When I look out the window I see Bobby laughing and playing and talking to someone, but I don’t see the someone he’s playing with or talking to.”
- Short Shorts (under 1,000 words)
- What Happens Next – “I am tired of these visions, of my helplessness as the future overwhelms me.”
- Short Fiction (under 5,000 words)
- Gregor Will Be 5 – This is what the Aryan Brothers had sought.
- Novellas (over 15,000 words)
- MonkeyCam – As he healed from the incident in the outer tunnels, Ike found himself moving from apathy and disinterest for the terraform laborers to a mild disgust — their pink hands and faces, their bulging diapers, the slow, slurred sound of their voices — but a phantom pain followed him when he saw
one brought under the ‘stick.
- Ronny Faber versus the Tooth Faerie – Ronny could taste the blood in his mouth.
HBO scrambled – “Is it the defacing of the beautiful or the revelation of the ugly?”
the best of lowercase liberty (my old blog)