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Mar
11

J. Gresham Machen on National Parks

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The great 20th century theologian J. Gresham Machen was not much a fan of the “National Park” system.

“A great system of National Parks has been built up. It might have been a beneficent thing if it meant that the natural beauty of the regions now embraced in the National Parks were to be preserved. But as a matter of fact it means nothing of the kind. During a period of over 30 years I used to go in the summers, with some interruptions, to Mt. Desert Island, Maine. When I first went there it was about the sweetest and most beautiful lake and mountain region that could possibly be imagined. It really seemed as though no human being would have the heart to destroy the delicate charm of those woods. But then came Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the Lafayette (later Acadia), National Park, and all was changed. Huge roads now scar practically every mountainside and skirt the shores of practically every lake. The woods near the roads have been ruthlessly ‘cleaned up.’ The natural beauty of the region has been systematically destroyed. When I go into that National Park, with its dreary regularity and its officialdom, I almost feel as though I were in some kind of penal institution. I feel somewhat as I do when I am in Los Angeles or any of the other over-regulated cities of the West, where pedestrians meekly wait around on the street corners for non-existent traffic and cross the streets only at the sound of the prison gong. Certain it is at any rate that the best way to destroy true recreation is for government to go into the business of promoting it.”

From Education, Christianity, and the State, excerpt reprinted in “Men versus Machines,” The Freeman, Sept. 1992.

Thanks to Timothy Terrell and Doug Douma for the tip.

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Mar
05

The Economics of Dallas Buyers Club

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From EconStories, the makers of the “Fear the Boom and Bust” and “Fight of the Century”, comes a new web show all about economic in popular culture. Hence the title: EconPop! Episode one is about the economics of the recent Academy-award winning film Dallas Buyers Club. This is excellent stuff, folks.

Ready for more? Subscribe to the EconStories Youtube channel to stay tuned for new episodes.

Categories : Media
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Echoing George Wallace, it has been said many times that there is not a dime’s worth of difference between liberals and conservatives. This is even usually true when the focus is on the most liberal liberals and the most conservative conservatives. The similarity may not be apparent on the surface, but once you compare both groups to libertarians it becomes perfectly clear.

The answers that libertarians give to questions debated by liberals and conservatives are unexpected and not what either of those groups wants to hear. I list below 11 topics with 50 questions that might be debated by liberals and conservatives followed by the libertarian answer.

Foreign Aid

1. Should the United States give less foreign aid to Egypt because of its violent crackdowns on protestors?

Libertarian answer: No country should receive foreign aid for any reason.

2. Should the United States give more foreign aid to Israel because it is our ally in the Middle East?

Libertarian answer: No country should receive foreign aid for any reason.

3. Should a country’s foreign aid be tied to its human rights record?

Libertarian answer: No country should receive foreign aid for any reason.

Disaster Relief

4. How much disaster relief should the United States government provide to the Philippines?

Libertarian answer: It is not the purpose of government to provide disaster relief to foreigners.

5. How much disaster relief should the United States government have provided to Americans after the tornadoes in Illinois last year?

Libertarian answer: It is not the purpose of government to provide disaster relief to Americans.

6. How much of a role should the U.S. military play in disaster relief?

Libertarian answer: It is not the purpose of the military to provide disaster relief.

Education

7. Should the U.S. Department of Education provide educational vouchers so low-income children can go to the school of their choice?

Libertarian answer: There should be no U.S. Department of Education in the first place.

8. Should students at public schools be required to wear uniforms?

Libertarian answer: There should be no public schools in the first place.

9. Should the federal government cap the student loan interest rate?

Libertarian answer: The federal government should not be in the student loan business.

10. Should students be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance?

Libertarian answer: There should be no Pledge of Allegiance for students to recite.

11. How much should children who qualify for the National School Lunch Program have to pay for their lunch?

Libertarian answer: There should be no children who qualify since it is not the business of government to provide anyone lunch.

12. Should Head Start be expanded?

Libertarian answer: There should be no Head Start to expand.

Taxes

13. Should the Earned Income Tax Credit be indexed to inflation?

Libertarian answer: All refundable tax credits should be eliminated.

14. Should welfare benefits be included in determining taxable income?

Libertarian answer: There shouldn’t be any welfare benefits in the first place.

15. Should the income tax be changed to a flat tax?

Libertarian answer: The income tax should be abolished.

16. Should the income tax code be made fairer?

Libertarian answer: The income tax code should be eliminated.

17. Should the number of tax brackets be increased or decreased?

Libertarian answer: There should be no tax brackets in the first place.

18. How much more should the “rich” pay in income taxes than the “poor”?

Libertarian answer: Neither the “rich” nor the “poor” should pay any income tax.

19. Which tax loopholes should be closed?

Libertarian answer: None of them; they should be made larger so Americans can keep more of their money.

20. Which tax deductions should be extended and for how long?

Libertarian answers: All of them should be made permanent so Americans can keep more of their money.

Health Care

21. How much prescription drug coverage should be included with Medicare?

Libertarian answer: Medicare should not exist in the first place.

22. Should the FDA approve more drugs or at least approve drugs quicker?

Libertarian answer: The FDA should not exist in the first place.

23. If Obamacare is repealed, how should the government reform health care?

Libertarian answer: The federal government should have nothing at all to do with health care in the first place.

24. How much funding should the government devote to finding a cure for cancer?

Libertarian answer: It is not the purpose of government to fund medical research of any kind.

Social Security

25. How much of a COLA should Social Security recipients receive next year?

Libertarian answer: Social Security should not exist in the first place.

26. How quickly should the Social Security retirement age be raised?

Libertarian answer: Social Security should not exist in the first place.

27. By what percentage should the Social Security payroll tax cap be increased for 2014?

Libertarian answer: Social Security should not exist in the first place.

Government Agencies

28. Should NASA go back to the moon or go to Mars instead?

Libertarian answer: NASA should not exist in the first place.

29. Should NPR give equal time to conservatives?

Libertarian answer: NPR should not exist in the first place.

30. Should the NEA be prevented from funding pornographic art?

Libertarian answer: The NEA should not exist in the first place.

31. How much of a fine should the FCC levy on television networks for broadcasting profane speech or actions?

Libertarian answer: The FCC should not exist in the first place.

32. Should AMTRAK increase its fares in an attempt to be profitable?

Libertarian answer: AMTRAK should not exist in the first place.

33. Should the TSA use less invasive procedures?

Libertarian answer: The TSA should not exist in the first place.

34. What criteria should the SBA use in granting loans?

Libertarian answer: The SBA should not exist in the first place.

The Military

35. Should the U.S. intervene militarily in Syria if it can prove that chemical weapons were used?

Libertarian answer: The U.S. military should not intervene in any foreign country for any reason.

36. Which overseas U.S. bases should be consolidated or closed?

Libertarian answer: The United States should not have any overseas bases.

37. By what percentage should the defense budget be increased or decreased?

Libertarian answer: It should be cut to the bone.

38. How many U.S. troops should stay in Iraq and Afghanistan as advisers and peacekeepers?

Libertarian answer: The U.S. military should never have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place.

Economics

39. What should the minimum wage be?

Libertarian answer: There should be no minimum wage in the first place.

40. For how long should unemployment benefits be extended?

Libertarian answer: There should be no unemployment benefits to be extended.

41. Should food stamp benefits be adjusted every year depending on the state of the economy?

Libertarian answer: There should be no food stamp benefits to be adjusted.

42. By what percentage should a businessman be able to raise prices in the aftermath of a disaster and not be guilty of price gouging?

Libertarian answer: There should be no such thing as price gouging laws.

43. What is the maximum interest rate that should be allowed on a credit card or a payday loan?

Libertarian answer: There should be no government regulation of interest rates to being with.

The Drug War

44. Should marijuana use be legal under certain circumstances?

Libertarian answer: There should be no restrictions on marijuana use for any reason.

45. Should users of crack cocaine do more prison time than users of powder cocaine?

Libertarian answer: There should be no difference between the two; both should be perfectly legal.

46. Should drug traffickers be eligible for parole?

Libertarian answer: No, they should be pardoned and immediately released as long as they have not also committed any real crimes.

Miscellaneous

47. Should public libraries be allowed to make available risqué books?

Libertarian answer: There should be no public libraries to begin with.

48. Should funding for Planned Parenthood be cut since the organization performs abortions?

Libertarian answer: There should not be any government funding of any private organization in the first place.

49. What should the CAFE standards for cars be for the 2014 model year?

Libertarian answers: There should be no CAFE standards to being with.

50. Should sexual orientation and gender identity be added to anti-discrimination laws?

Libertarian answer: There should be no anti-discrimination laws in the first place.

Conservative and liberal debates over public policy are utterly meaningless. Not only do they not have the right answers; they don’t even ask the right questions.

Originally published on LewRockwell.com.

Categories : Articles
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Feb
13

The System Built on Greed

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http://reformedlibertarian.com/wp-content/themes/sahifa/timthumb.php?src=/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/new-14480_640.jpg&h=330&w=660&a=c

Guest post by C. Jay Engel of the Reformed Libertarian.

The anti-free market proclamations from the left (and even sometimes the right) come in all shapes and sizes.  Among the more common of these proclamations is the one that I heard yesterday.  As far as I can remember, this is what was said by the individual (to her friend) next to me.  “Capitalism is problematic because it is an entire system based on greed.  If we want a healthy society, we should not seek to adopt such a system.  We need a system that is based on cooperation and love.”  That capitalism is a system built on greed is a claim that is often heard and the theme has been pushed at every level of society; from the politicians, the educators, the commentators, the media, and the average Joe.

It is immediately clear that there is a dichotomy here between cooperation and capitalism, a dichotomy that should immediately raise the red flags of the libertarian.  After all, aren’t we always saying that the economy is most ethical when it is completely voluntary?  And does not voluntary interaction and exchange form the basis for capitalism?  The problem sits in the misunderstanding of the very nature of (free market) capitalism.  This capitalism is not the same as the fascist system we have today.  The American system of corporatism, that has largely existed since the nineteenth century, should never be confused with the free market.

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Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, by Robert Sirico (Regnery Publishing, 2012), 213 pages.Defending-the-Free-Market3.jpg

Critics of the free market assert that it fails the underprivileged, leads to income inequality, exploits the poor, and is at times downright cruel. They charge its defenders with being motivated by greed, selfishness, and materialism, and making a god out of efficiency. The solution to the alleged deficiencies of the free market and the character of its supporters is always without exception government intervention in the marketplace. But when that fails to remedy the perceived wrongs of the free market, then even more intervention is prescribed to make things right. And as Richman’s Law states, “No matter how much the government controls the economic system, any problem will be blamed on whatever small zone of freedom that remains.”

The Rev. Robert Sirico, in his book Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, argues that a free economy — where property rights, contracts, and the rule of law are respected; prices and interest rates are freely agreed to by willing parties; entrepreneurship is encouraged; profit is not disdained; and charity is voluntary — is the most efficient and moral way to meet society’s material needs. Read More→

Categories : Book Reviews
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