F.A. Hayek

Rules for Liberty

Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff

Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff. That’s the philosophy of liberty in a nutshell. Everyone should be free to live their lives as they think best, free from meddling by politicians and government bureaucrats.

To me, the values of liberty just seem like a commonsense way to think about political philosophy. The rules are easily understood, our aspirations for government are modest and practical, and our designs on the lives and behavior of other people are unpresumptuous, even humble. The rules are pretty straightforward because they treat everyone just like everyone else: simply; they are blindly applied like Lady Justice would; across the board. No assembly required.

I am not a moral philosopher and I don’t particularly aspire to be one. That said, I have stayed at more than one Holiday Inn Express. That makes me at least smart enough to know what I don’t know. So the rules that follow represent my not-so-humble attempt to boil down and mash up all the best thinking in all of human history on individualism and civil society, the entire canon of Judeo-Christian teachings, the spontaneous evolution of common law, hundreds of years of English Whig, Scottish Enlightenment, and classical liberal political philosophy, lots of Friedrich Hayek, Adam Smith and Ayn Rand, a smattering of karma, and, like any morally relevant updating of a time-tested ethos, at least a few hat tips to The Big Lebowski. All of this in six convenient “Rules for Liberty.”

Libertarianism is like the new communism, dude

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, drug legalization, immigration, and land-use policy.

Libertarianism is the new communism, at least if you ask Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu:

Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images. Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways.

This colorful lede suggested they might offer a new critique of libertarianism, but my hopes were quickly dashed. The authors end up retreading old arguments—seemingly unaware that others had done so many times before. Their failure to offer a substantive appraisal of libertarian ideas may stem from low familiarity with libertarianism itself.

Hanauer and Liu start with a decent definition of libertarianism, namely that it is “the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values.” This is fairly accurate characterization of the moral beliefs held by many libertarians. Unfortunately, the authors struggle to trace these moral foundations to basic philosophical  or policy positions held by actual libertarians.

Why I’m not excited about Herman Cain

As you may have heard, Herman Cain is planning on forming an exploratory committee for a presidential run in 2012. I’m not surprised. Cain has always held ambition to hold elected office. He ran for the United States Senate here in Georgia in 2004; losing to now-Senator Johnny Isakson without a runoff.

Many don’t realize that this isn’t the first time Cain, who once served as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, has discussed a presidential bid. As Matt Lewis has noted, Cain ran for president in 2000.

Like many conservatives, Cain has used the tea party movement as a platform to build up his name and slam the policies of Barack Obama and Democrats. Unfortunately, the criticism of Obama and friends inside the tea party movement is no longer limited to economic policy.

However, Cain was largely silent during the six years of runaway spending under the Bush Administration and a Republican-controlled Congress. Like most Republicans, he only acknowledged his party’s failings after it was too late to do anything about it.

He backed the Wall Street bailout, or according to Cain, the “recovery plan,” as he called it on his radio show. Cain wrote that nationalizing banks “is not a bad thing.” He even went as far as criticizing opponents of the bailout, calling them “free market purists” and absurdly claiming that no valid criticism had been brought forward.

Today in Liberty: Greenwald teases more NSA revelations, just half of Georgia’s Obamacare signups have paid

“[I]f you want to be adversarial to those who wield power, you have to expect that those who wield power aren’t going to like what you’re doing very much.”Glenn Greenwald

— Expect more NSA revelations: In an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Glenn Greenwald said that we can expect more disclosures about the NSA in a new book due out next month. “There are stories that I felt from the beginning really needed the length of a book to be able to report and to do justice to,” Greenwald said, “so there’s new documents, there’s new revelations in the book that I think will help inform the debate even further.” The book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, is slated for a May 14 release.

New study shows ObamaCare is a bad deal for young Americans

Despite ongoing efforts by the Obama Administration and its supporters to sell ObamaCare to a skeptical American public, a new study from the National Center for Public Policy Research finds that young people will see no financial benefit from the law’s insurance exchanges.

The centerpiece of the ObamaCare is the state insurance exchanges, through which uninsured Americans can purchase coverage from any one of four different plans, the cheapest of which is the Bronze plan.

But even with subsidies provided by the law, many Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 will be $500 richer if they don’t buy health insurance, according to the study, Why the ‘Young Invincibles’ Won’t Participate in the ObamaCare Exchanges and Why It Matters.

“Over 3.7 million individuals will pay at least $595 out-of-pocket for a Bronze plan, meaning that they will save at least $500 if they decline insurance and pay the fine,” noted Dr. David Hogberg, the author of the study. “About 3 million individuals will save at least $1,000 if they go the same route.”

“Also noteworthy is that a large portion of the total number of single people without children ages 18-34 have a substantial financial incentive not to participate next year,” he added. “Sixty-one percent will have at least $500 worth of incentive to avoid the exchange, and 49 percent will have at least $1,000 worth.”

But here’s how it is in real world terms.

“At $23,831 annual income, that 25-year-old will save $1,000 by just paying the one percent fine,” wrote Hogberg. “That’s a savings of about $83 a month that can purchase a month’s worth of groceries for a single person at a grocery store such as Aldi.”

George Will Hails Rising GOP Star Justin Amash

The libertarian-wing of the Republican Party is gaining more and and more attention every day. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is already well-known for his stands for free markets and civil liberties, but Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) is also getting attention.

In his Sundy column at the Washington Post, George Will, a conservative columnist with a libertarian streak of his own, praised Amash and floated the idea that the Michigan Republican may join the growing ranks of liberty-minded senators:

He absorbed a libertarian understanding of opportunity from the example of his father, who began his very successful business career by buying stuff from small wholesalers and selling it door-to-door. Amash graduated magna cum laude with an economics degree from the University of Michigan, then earned a law degree there. “Some of my views,” he says mildly, “were a little bit different from my Republican peers.” He began reading Friedrich Hayek and other representatives of the Austrian school of economics, and less than four years after he left Ann Arbor, he was in Michigan’s Legislature, where in his one term he cast the only “no” vote on more than 70 bills.

A Perfect Holiday Album for the Keynesians on Your Christmas List

Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

I’m understandably partial to my video debunking Keynesian economics, and I think this Econ 101 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity does a great job of showing why consumer spending is a consequence of growth, not the driver.

But for entertainment value, this very funny video from EconStories.tv puts them to shame while also making important points about what causes economic growth.

What did C.S. Lewis have in common with Mises and Hayek?

C.S. Lewis

Growing up in a religious home and later dabbling in Christian apologetics, I developed affinity for C.S. Lewis, author of several novels and books — including the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Screwtape Letters, and Mere Christianity.

Whether call yourself a Christian or an atheist, Lewis was indeed a great writer who didn’t simply ground his beliefs in faith. Unlike many who simply follow their beliefs based on Sunday school teachings, Lewis developed the modern view of Christian apologetics, laying the ground for future thinkers, including William Lane Craig and others.

One of my favorite books by Lewis is Mere Christianity. In this book, Lewis presents a case for Christianity and also breaks down the Christian worldview on society and morality. In the book, Lewis notes that a pure Christian society would closely resemble socialism, a suggestion that isn’t too far off-base if one reads the Book of Acts, which explains that early Christians lived together and “had everything in common.” This was likely due to the persecution endured by early believers at the hands of Jews and Roman rulers. They kept together in what were very unaccepting times for followers of Jesus Christ.

Federal Reserve to monetize more debt

Ben Bernanke

The Federal Reserve announced a third-round of quantitative easing (QE3), during which the central bank will purchase $600 billion bonds in hopes that the debt monetization will stimulate the economy and thus bring down the unemployment rate by one-percentage point.

The move has already been met with derision by GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI), who called the Fed’s actions “insidious” during a speech in Florida on Saturday. Before the Federal Reserve announced its decision last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that many economists expressed doubt that another round of quantitative easing would do anything to stimulate the economy. And if they do manage to do anything, it could be as, Neil Cavuto explains, “substituting bubbles”:

The risk with forcibly keeping interest rates low is you create another bubble, which is odd because we’re in the fix we’re in because we burst out of a real bad financial bubble.

My fear is that we’re substituting bubbles.

We’re encouraging the very reckless hedging and leveraging that brought on the last financial meltdown.

I’m not saying that happens again. But you don’t have to be Nostradamus to see where this kind of stuff goes. It’s inflationary, for one thing, and likely prompts a continued run-up in commodity prices that had stalled for a while.

Federal Reserve lowers economic outlook

The main news out of yesterday’s press confernce with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was the extention of Operation Twist. But the central bank also announced that growth forecasts for the rest of the year had been revised downward, painting a less than rosy picture for Americans weary of tough economic times:

The Federal Reserve has sharply lowered its outlook for U.S. economic growth and thinks the unemployment rate won’t fall much further this year.

In its updated quarterly forecast, the Fed lowered its prediction for growth in 2012 to 2.4 percent, a half percentage point weaker than its previous forecast in April.

That isn’t much better than the economy’s tepid 1.9 percent annual pace of growth in the first three months of the year.

The Fed also downgraded its outlook for unemployment. It thinks the unemployment rate will fall no lower than 8 percent by year’s end. That’s more than its prediction in April that the rate could be as low as 7.8 percent at year’s end.

The unemployment rate is now 8.2 percent.
[…]
With job growth weaker and the unemployment rate still high, consumers have pulled back on spending. Retail sales have fallen for the past two months. Part of that is due to falling gas costs. But even excluding gas sales, spending barely rose in May and fell in April.

Businesses also appear less confident about the economy. They are placing fewer orders at factories, which has slowed manufacturing output. A measure of companies’ investment spending has dropped for two straight months.


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