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Tag Archives: liberty

Look for the Union Label, not the Gender Role

Pierre Lemieux argues here that when it comes to questions of working hours, feminists have, from the beginning, allied themselves with the State in order to “enslave men equally.” In doing so, he overlooks a long history of women fighting against “equal enslavement” rather than freedom for all, demonizes all early feminists at one swoop, and overlooks the real bad guys–the unions. For example:  In 1903 the state of Oregon passed a law forbidding female employees of...

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The Rhetoric of the Paris Agreement

On November 4, the US government started the process of leaving the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (also called the Paris Agreement) by transmitting the formal one-year notification (“U.S. Formally Begins to Leave the Paris Climate Agreement,” NPR, November 4, 2019). A Wall Street Journal report (“U.S. Starts Process to Exit Paris Climate Agreement,” November 4, 2019) alluded to the official reason: The U.S. has officially started the process of...

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My Vivid Memories of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

On this 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I’m posting a section from Chapter 3 of my book The Joy of Freedom: An Economist’s Odyssey. The chapter is titled “We Won, But. . . .” I am inserting something that’s not in the text of my book because in going through my belongings shortly after retiring, I found a diary I had kept of interactions with my daughter. So the inserted part is from a November 1989 entry and I had forgotten it when writing the book...

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America Needs Defenders Who Understand Freedom

Former government bureaucrat has epic fail. When I was a journalist, I loved Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s assertion that the Constitution and the First Amendment are not just about protecting “free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” But as a government official traveling around the world championing the virtues of free speech, I came to see how our First Amendment standard is an outlier. Even the most...

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Vladimir Bukovsky RIP

Tom G. Palmer, at Cato @ Liberty, has written a moving tribute to Vladimir Bukovsky, who died yesterday at age 76. I had always wondered why the Soviet government didn’t outright murder him. I think I understand a little better after reading Tom’s tribute. While I respect Bukovsky for all the reasons that Tom gives, I also respect Bukovsky for, in his later years, speaking out against torture by the George W. Bush administration. Doing so might have caused him to...

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Liberty City

DEKORNFELD: But nothing would prepare him [James Massey] for what he would find in Von Ormy because all those classes were about building city government. And in Von Ormy, the sole goal seemed to be the opposite. This is from “The Liberty City,” episode 945 of Planet Money, October 18, 2019. The whole thing is interesting and, at times, hilarious. How Von Ormy, Texas started as a city: DEKORNFELD: Art [Martinez de Vara] told people, look; San Antonio is a growing...

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The complex roots of anti-Asian bigotry

Gideon Rachman has an excellent essay on what goes wrong when you start treating people as members of a group, not as individuals: An interesting example of the kinds of problems that are thrown up by group-based thinking is a current lawsuit brought against Harvard University for alleged discrimination against Asian-Americans. The complainants argue that Asian-Americans have to achieve better test scores, on average, to get into Harvard and are often marked down on...

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Should presidents make policy?

In America’s Constitution, the Congress is given the power to declare war and to set tariff rates. Over time, that power has gradually shifted to the executive branch. For instance, today we saw this tweet: I think it’s fair to say that America’s Founders did not envision the President having the power to destroy Turkey’s economy. (Or Iran’s.) On the other hand, this doesn’t necessarily mean the current system is undesirable. Here I’d like to side step two...

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Do People Want to Be Free?

The heroic resistance by many Hong Kong residents suggests that all individuals want liberty, an idea inherited from the Enlightenment. But is this classical-liberal and libertarian vision generally valid? Here are some related questions. In the Fall issue of Regulation, I have an anniversary review of James Buchanan’s What Do Economists Do?, a collection of essays he wrote in the 1960s and 1970s. One of these essays, a lecture he gave at a 1978 Liberty Fund...

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Do the “ends justify the means”?

This question actually has two distinct meanings: 1. Should we do things if benefits of the ends exceed the cost of the means?2. In various individual cases, does the benefit of the ends actually exceed the cost of the means? The first question is normative while the second is empirical.  To illustrate this distinction, let’s start by considering three cases: The US government sent young men to their death in Iraq, because the ends were supposed to justify the means....

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