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Happy Birthday, F. A. Hayek

Today is the 116th anniversary of the birth of F. A. Hayek, one of the greatest scholars of the 20th century.

David Boaz writes: Back in 2010, as the tea party movement was on the verge of delivering an electoral rebuke to President Obama’s big-government policies, the New York Times derided the movement for reviving “long-dormant ideas [found in] once-obscure texts by dead writers.” They meant Hayek especially. But a more astute journalist might not have regarded Hayek as obscure.

Who was Hayek? He was an economist born and educated in Vienna. After the Nazi conquest of Austria, he became a British citizen and taught there and at the University of Chicago for most of his career. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974. President Ronald Reagan called him one of the two or three people who had most influenced him, and so did some of the dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. President George H. W. Bush awarded him the Medal of Freedom. Margaret Thatcher banged his great book “The Constitution of Liberty” on the table at Conservative Party headquarters and declared “This is what we believe.” Milton Friedman described him as “the most important social thinker of the 20th century.”

But respect for Hayek extended far beyond libertarians and conservatives. Lawrence H. Summers, former president of Harvard and a top economic adviser to Presidents Clinton and Obama, called him the author of “the single most important thing to learn from an economics course today” — that markets mostly work without plans or direction. He is the hero of “The Commanding Heights,” the book and PBS series on the battle of economic ideas in the 20th century. His most popular book, “The Road to Serfdom,” has never gone out of print and saw its sales explode during the financial crisis and Wall Street bailouts. John Cassidy wrote in the New Yorker that “on the biggest issue of all, the vitality of capitalism, he was vindicated to such an extent that it is hardly an exaggeration to refer to the 20th century as the Hayek century.”

In much of his work Hayek explored how society can best make use of “the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess.” Read the rest of this entry »

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TOP FIVE Infuriatingly Ignorant Socialist Quotes From Elizabeth Warren

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Intellectuals and socialism have a long, sordid history

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is a smart cookie, no doubt about it. In fact, she used to vote Republican, so it appears at once she might have had a tiny soft spot for the free market… not that Republicans really believe in a free market either but… forget them, this is about Warren.

Intellectuals and socialism have a long, sordid history. Academics are generally thought to be highly intelligent, so since so many university professors tend to lean left, wouldn’t that mean that socialism is good because smart people back it?

Not so fast.

In “The Intellectuals and Socialism” by F.A. Hayek, the Austrian economist argued that we may be suffering from what’s known as “sample selection bias,” meaning that there are lots of intelligent people who don’t favor socialism, but these people are more likely to find a productive job in the marketplace, rather than join the academy and teach. In other words… in the famous words of polemicist H.L. Mencken: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” And don’t forget that “intellect is not wisdom,” from Thomas Sowell.

Let’s see if Liz Warren has any wisdom to offer in accordance with her intellect.

1. “No one in this country should work full time and still live in poverty.”

Poverty is about more than just how many hours you work. It’s about the decisions you make with the money you earn. Poverty isn’t always a choice, but it isn’t always mandatory either. The US federal government uses poverty thresholds to determine which and how many households have pre-tax income which they claim is insufficient to meet minimal food and basic needs. Really it’s about determining who should receive government assistance, but if you only look at these dollar amounts in American figures, you’re not getting a very good picture of what true poverty is on a global scale. You don’t want to be poor in Europe, trust us.

[Read the full story here, at  thelibertarianrepublic.com]

And it’s a complete fallacy that the poor are getting poorer in America. The bottom fifth of U.S. households in 1975 earned $28,000 more in 1991. Not only that, but the poor’s purchasing power has increased. Here in the good old US of A, even poor people have microwaves, smart phones, and a vehicle or two parked in the old dirt road. Some people are poor and happy. Some people aren’t, but here in America, at least poor can be a choice rather than a mandate.

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2. “The federal government will make $ 51 billion in profits off student loans. That’s more than wrong. It’s obscene.”

There’s that old bugaboo word there “profit” again. As if making a profit was a bad thing. Libertarians don’t think the government should be in the student loan business at all. Read the rest of this entry »


The End of an Era: Economist Thomas Sowell Says ‘Farewell’ 

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‘There is no economist alive today who has done more to eloquently, articulately, and persuasively advance the principles of economic freedom, limited government, individual liberty, and a free society than Thomas Sowell.’

 writes: After writing a weekly (sometimes semi-weekly) column for the last 25 years (here’s an archive of his columns back to 1998), economist, scholar, author and national treasure Thomas Sowell made this announcement in his column today (“Farewell“):

“Even the best things come to an end. After enjoying a quarter of a century of writing this column for Creators Syndicate, I have decided to stop. Age 86 is well past the usual retirement age, so the question is not why I am quitting, but why I kept at it so long.”

Here’s a link to Thomas Sowell’s second column today (“Random Thoughts, Looking Back“), here’s some of the reaction on Twitter and the Internet to Sowell’s retirement, here’s Thomas Sowell’s webpage, and here’s his Wikipedia entry. Milton Friedman once said, “The word ‘genius’ is thrown around so much that it’s becoming meaningless, but nevertheless I think Tom Sowell is close to being one.”

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“I don’t think any living free-market economist even comes close to matching Sowell’s prolific record of writing about economics. And I don’t think there is any writer today, economist or non-economist, who can match Thomas Sowell’s “idea density” and his ability to consistently pack so much profound economic wisdom into a single sentence and a single paragraph.”

In my opinion, there is no economist alive today who has done more to eloquently, articulately, and persuasively advance the principles of economic freedom, limited government, individual liberty, and a free society than Thomas Sowell. In terms of both his quantity of work (at least 40 books and several thousand newspaper columns) and the consistently excellent and crystal-clear quality of his writing, I don’t think any living free-market economist even comes close to matching Sowell’s prolific record of writing about economics. And I don’t think there is any writer today, economist or non-economist, who can match Thomas Sowell’s “idea density” and his ability to consistently pack so much profound economic wisdom into a single sentence and a single paragraph.

Even at 86 years old, Thomas Sowell has remained intellectually active with his syndicated newspaper columns and the publication last year of his 40th book — Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective — which was, amazingly, his 13th book in the last decade! To honor Thomas Sowell’s well-deserved retirement from writing his invaluable weekly column for the last quarter century, I present below some of my favorite quotations from Dr. Thomas Sowell (most were featured on a CD post in June on Sowell’s birthday) and a bonus video of the great economist:

1. Knowledge. The cavemen had the same natural resources at their disposal as we have today, and the difference between their standard of living and ours is a difference between the knowledge they could bring to bear on those resources and the knowledge used today.

[Read the full story here, at Carpe Diem Blog » AEIdeas]

2. Obamacare. If we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs now, how can we afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs, in addition to a new federal bureaucracy to administer a government-run medical system?

3. Economics vs. Politics I. Economics and politics confront the same fundamental problem: What everyone wants adds up to more than there is. Market economies deal with this problem by confronting individuals with the costs of producing what they want, and letting those individuals make their own trade-offs when presented with prices that convey those costs. That leads to self-rationing, in the light of each individual’s own circumstances and preferences. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Milton Friedman on the True Cause of the Great Depression 

Milton Friedman corrects the record on the cause of the Great Depression. Debunking the myth that is what from high speculation on wall street. Milton Friedman was an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

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16 Nov 1930, Chicago, Illinois, USA --- Notorious gangster Al Capone attempts to help unemployed men with his soup kitchen "Big Al's Kitchen for the Needy."  The kitchen provides three meals a day consisting of soup with meat, bread, coffee, and doughnuts, feeding about 3500 people daily at a cost of $300 per day. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

16 Nov 1930, Chicago, Illinois, USA — Notorious gangster Al Capone attempts to help unemployed men with his soup kitchen “Big Al’s Kitchen for the Needy.” The kitchen provides three meals a day consisting of soup with meat, bread, coffee, and doughnuts, feeding about 3500 people daily at a cost of $300 per day. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS


[VIDEO] REWIND: Milton Friedman on the Immorality of Socialism

Milton Friedman is no fan of socialism. And he walks us through his reasoning. Socialism is force he says. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Hitler he reminds us only instituted socialism with the oppression and force agains many people who were disadvantaged. Milton Friedman was an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

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[VIDEO] Milton Friedman: Is Capitalism Humane? (Q&A) 

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[VIDEO] A Milton Friedman Paradox: Illegal Immigration Only Helps When its Illegal 

A large group of Immigrants, guided by two "coyotes" or guides, walk on the desert of Sonora bound for the border with Arizona. This group consisted of 37 border crossers, from four different countries- They included people from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and one Brazilian. Sasabe, Mexico. 01/23/05


Venezuela’s Road to Literal Serfdom

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Friedrich Hayek’s classic book The Road to Serfdom describes the popular delusions that have led to the breakdown of civil society in Venezuela.

Barry Brownstein writes: In his classic 1841 book on financial bubbles, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles Mackay observed, “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

“In societies turning to socialism, there is no appreciation of scarcity. There is no appreciation that ‘things cannot all be done at the same time, that anyone of them can be achieved only at the sacrifice of others.’”

Mackay covered religious and political delusions, too. “We see one nation suddenly seized, from its highest to its lowest members, with a fierce desire of military glory; another as suddenly becoming crazed upon a religious scruple,” he recounts, “and serfdomneither of them recovering its senses until it has shed rivers of blood and sowed a harvest of groans and tears, to be reaped by its posterity.”

[Order Friedrich Hayek’s classic “The Road to Serfdom” from Amazon.com]

Venezuela is sowing its harvest of “groans and tears.” Due to the breakdown of civil society in the country, even war-plagued Syrians feel more safe in their homes than do Venezuelans. Venezuelans are so hungry that they cried at the sight of food in Columbia. Recently the hungry broke into a zoo to kill a horse for its meat. Literally, they have become serfs that may be required to work 60 days or more in agricultural fields.

“The hard to give up delusion of socialists is that there are coercive plans that will benefit all. Venezuelans have seen the means of production nationalized in the name of the common good and with every intervention their standard of living fell further.”

Venezuela has the world’s worst rate of economic growth, and the worst inflation rate. It has become like “a gangster state that doesn’t know how to do anything other than sell drugs and steal money for itself.” Socialism has virtually destroyed civilization in Venezuela making it seem like a “hurricane [has] swept things away.”

[Read the full text here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

When the history of this tragic period in Venezuela is written, the population will have plenty of “culprits” to blame. In blaming many will eschew their own responsibility. Some will blame Chavez; others will blame Maduro. Some will follow their beloved leaders and continue to blame the “elite” and the capitalists. The true believers will continue to insist there is no inherent flaw in socialism; they will simply say mistakes were made that will not be made again.

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“Believing that the “coercive or arbitrary intervention of authority,” can coordinate and adjust our individual activities is delusional. With this delusion comes disbelief that a market economy can solve problems and advance society. Those who cherish such delusions may find themselves hungry.”

We are not the victims of the world we see. Our delusions, our beliefs have consequences. The fact that our delusions are often invisible to us does not make them any less powerful or any less consequential. Again, Mackay observed that a population subject to delusions “only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

The new idea of freedom “gave the socialists another word in common with the liberals and they exploited it to the full.

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Venezuelans have not yet recovered their “senses.”  Caracas radio host Glen Martinez stubbornly insists that the “reforms” that Chavez instituted will never be reversed. “We are not the same people we were before 1999,” Martinez said. Many share Martinez’s sentiments; daily the true believers still march and  promise to spill their blood in support of the government.

“The fact that our delusions are often invisible to us does not make them any less powerful or any less consequential.”

There is no better book than Friedrich Hayek’s classic The Road to Serfdom to explain the popular delusions that helped to virtually eliminate the market economy and civil society in Venezuela. Writing during the depths of World War II, Hayek intended his book as a warning “to the socialists of all parties.” What happened in Venezuela can happen wherever a critical mass of the population begins to hold certain delusionary beliefs.

Popular Delusion 1: Freedom Means Freedom from Necessity

Hayek points out that freedom in Western countries traditionally meant “freedom from coercion, freedom from the arbitrary power of other men.”

Socialists point to a “new freedom” which is “freedom from necessity” which releases us “from the compulsion of the circumstances which inevitably limit the range of choice of all of us.”

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Hayek adds, “the demand for the new freedom was thus only another name for the old demand for an equal distribution of wealth.”

Believing that these two types of freedom can be combined is delusional. Hayek points out that the new idea of freedom “gave the socialists another word in common with the liberals and they exploited it to the full….Few people noticed [that the word freedom was being used differently] and still fewer asked themselves whether the two kinds of freedom promised really could be combined.”

Popular Delusion 2. Only Coercive Planning Can Coordinate Activity

Almost every individual and organization plans. Writes Hayek, there is no “dispute about whether we ought to employ foresight and systematic thinking and planning our common affairs.”

Hayek thought that to plan or not to plan is not “the real question.” Instead, we should ask if “the holder of coercive power should confine himself in general to creating conditions under which the knowledge and initiative of individuals is given the best scope so that they can plan most successfully; or whether a rational utilization of our resources requires central direction and organization of all our activities according to some consciously constructed ‘blueprint.’”

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Those who cherish such delusions may find themselves hungry.

The humanitarian disaster in Venezuela has been a long time in the making. In 2010, the hungry waited while “2,340 shipping containers with more than 120,000 tons of rotting food (estimated to feed 17 million people for one month)” sat at the government run port of Puerto Cabello. Read the rest of this entry »


Happy 86th Birthday to Economist Thomas Sowell, One of the Greatest Living Economists

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 writes: Two of my all-time most favorite economists — Thomas Sowell and Frederic Bastiat – share the same birthday — they were both born on June 30. To recognize Bastiat’s birthday today I posted some of his quotes on CD yesterday, and I’ll now do the same for Thomas Sowell, who turned 86 today. Here is Thomas Sowell’s webpageand here is his Wikipedia entry. Milton Friedman once said, “The word ‘genius’ is thrown around so much that it’s becoming meaningless, but nevertheless I think Tom Sowell is close to being one.”

In my opinion, there is no economist alive today who has done more to eloquently, articulately, and persuasively advance the principles of economic freedom, limited government, individual liberty, and a free society than Thomas Sowell. In terms of both his quantity of work (at least 40 books and several thousand newspaper columns) and the consistently excellent and crystal-clear quality of his writing, I don’t think any living free-market economist even comes close to matching Sowell’s prolific record of writing about economics. Even at 86 years old, Thomas Sowell is still active and writes two syndicated newspaper columns almost every week (one column in some weeks) and recently released his 40th book last fall Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective — which amazingly was his 13th book in the last decade! To honor Thomas Sowell’s 86 birthday today, I present here 15 of my favorite quotations from Dr. Thomas Sowell and a bonus video:

1. Knowledge. The cavemen had the same natural resources at their disposal as we have today, and the difference between their standard of living and ours is a difference between the knowledge they could bring to bear on those resources and the knowledge used today.

2. Obamacare. If we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs now, how can we afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs, in addition to a new federal bureaucracy to administer a government-run medical system?

[Read the full story here, at Carpe Diem Blog » AEIdeas]

3. Economics vs. Politics I. Economics and politics confront the same fundamental problem: What everyone wants adds up to more than there is. Market economies deal with this problem by confronting individuals with the costs of producing what they want, and letting those individuals make their own trade-offs when presented with prices that convey those costs. That leads to self-rationing, in the light of each individual’s own circumstances and preferences.

4. Economics vs. Politics II. The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.” Read the rest of this entry »


Remembering Milton Friedman

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Today is the birthday of prominent free-market economist Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Economic Science.

Friedman, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 94, was widely regarded as the leader of the Chicago School of monetary economics.

Friedman also wrote extensively on public policy, always with primary emphasis on the preservation and extension of individual freedom.

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Friedman’s ideas on economic freedom hugely influenced both the Reagan administration and the Thatcher government in the early 1980s, revolutionized establishment economic thinking across the globe, and have been employed extensively by emerging economies for decades.

In the picture above,  Friedman is all smiles with Cato Institute founder, Ed Crane and Vice President for Monetary Studies, Jim Dorn.

Learn more about Milton Friedman and his ties to Cato

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Sorry, Liberals, Obama is No Reagan

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The Ronald Reagan Foreign Policy Legacy Distorted

 writes: One of the more amusing things to see in journalism is for committed liberals who didn’t work for Ronald Reagan, who didn’t vote for Ronald Reagan and who were fiercely critical of Ronald Reagan to invoke his name in order to instruct conservatives on how to better understand Ronald Reagan.

“J. Dionne, Jr. of the Washington Post…argues in his column that Barack Obama’s Iran strategy parallels Reagan’s approach to Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s. In fact, the lessons are exactly the opposite.”

The most recent example of this is E. J. Dionne, Jr. of the Washington Post, who argues in his column that Barack Obama’s Iran strategy parallels Reagan’s approach to Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s. In fact, the lessons are exactly the opposite.

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“Both Reagan nor Thatcher were able to revise their assumptions based on new facts, new actors on the world stage, and new opportunities. They were not dogmatists. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, most assuredly is.”

For all the criticisms of the left against Reagan that he was a rigid ideologue, he was, in fact, a man who was quite willing and able to adjust his views in light of shifting circumstances. That is precisely what he and Margaret Thatcher did in the case of Mr. Gorbachev.

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“Barack Obama is all about trust and completely indifferent to verify. The president was determined to strike a deal with Iran, any deal, for the sake of a deal. The Iranians, knowing this, were able to win one concession after another from the president.”

To their credit, both Reagan and Thatcher were dedicated anti-Communists. They understood the evil nature of the Soviet regime and they took a hard-line stance against it for most of their careers. But equally to their credit, they saw that Gorbachev was someone with whom, in Thatcher’s words in 1984, “We can do business together.” And they did. Both Reagan nor Thatcher were able to revise their assumptions based on new facts, new actors on the world stage, and new opportunities. They were not dogmatists.

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“Mr. Reagan negotiated from a position of strength and operated within the four corners of reality; Mr. Obama negotiates from a position of weakness and operates in a world of his own imagination.”

Mr. Obama, on the other hand, most assuredly is. He has been ideologically committed to a rapprochement with Iran even before he was elected president; it has been his foreign policy holy grail for his entire tenure. Nothing was going to keep him from striking a bargain with which he was obsessed. (It explains in part why the president was so passive during the Green Revolution in 2009, essentially siding with the Iranian regime over the democratic movement seeking to topple it.)

[Read the full text here, at Commentary]

And here’s a key difference between Reagan and Thatcher and Obama. The former revised their approach based on an accurate assessment of Gorbachev and, therefore, the Soviet regime he ruled. Read the rest of this entry »


EXCLUSIVE: Leaked List of Osama Bin Ladin’s Top-Secret Conservative Book Collection

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Bin Laden’s Right-Wing Reading List Goes Viral

editor-commen-deskThe list includes an archive of radical right wing books, history books, humor texts, and conservative philosophy belonging to the former al-Qaeda chief, some of which are still being withheld by the U.S. government, but leaked online this afternoon.

Among the volumes of books on law and military strategy that were publicly released this week, are a not-yet-declassified list of books by popular conservative authors such as Ann Coulter, Jonah Goldberg, and Andrew Breitbart, as well as scholarly texts by Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and Friedrich von Hayek. The collection includes:

The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome by Kevin D. Williamson

Ideas Have Consequences by Richard M. Weaver

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change by Jonah Goldberg

Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama by Ann Coulter

The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek

Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman

God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of ‘Academic Freedom by William F. Buckley, Jr.

Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! by Andrew Breitbart

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

Human Action, The Scholar’s Edition by Ludwig von Mises

The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 by George Nash

Witness by Whittaker Chambers

The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot by Russell Kirk

Ethnic America: A History by Thomas Sowell

Natural Right and History by Leo Strauss

The leak comes shortly after the fourth anniversary of Bin Laden’s death at the hands of US special forces…

developing…


Milton Friedman on Equality

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The Man Behind the Hong Kong Miracle

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Some of us just write about libertarian ideas. This guy actually made them public policy for millions.

[Also see our EXCLUSIVE companion article “UNDERNEATH the “Hong Kong Miracle”]

For The FreemanLawrence W. Reed writes: Three cheers for Hong Kong, that tiny chunk of Southeast Asian rock. For the twentieth consecutive year, the Index of Economic Freedom—compiled by The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation—ranks Hong Kong (HK) as the freest economy in the world.

“Maybe this is why socialists don’t like to talk about Hong Kong: It’s not only the freest economy, it’s also one of the richest.”

Though part of mainland China since the British ceded it in 1997, HK is governed locally on a daily basis. So far, the Chinese have remained reasonably faithful to their promise to leave the HK economy alone. What makes it so free is music to the ears of everyone who loves liberty:  Relatively little corruption. An efficient and independent judiciary. Respect for the rule of law and property rights. An uncomplicated tax system with low rates on both individuals and business and an overall tax burden that’s a mere 14 percent of GDP (half the U.S. rate). No taxes on capital gains or interest income or even on earnings from outside of HK. No sales tax or VAT either. A very light regulatory touch. No government budget deficit and almost nonexistent public debt. Oh, and don’t forget its average tariff rate of near zero. That’s right—zero!

“Over a wide field of our economy it is still the better course to rely on the nineteenth century’s ‘hidden hand’ than to thrust clumsy bureaucratic fingers into its sensitive mechanism.”

— Sir John James Cowperthwaite, 1962

This latest ranking in the WSJ/Heritage report confirms what Canada’s Fraser Institute found in its latest Economic Freedom of the World Index, which also ranked HK as the world’s freest. The World Bank rates the “ease of doing business” in HK as just about the best on the planet. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: Milton Friedman

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‘Neoliberalism’ – A Term Both Ubiquitous and Ill-Defined – is an Evolving Body of Market-Driven Ideas. Or a Conspiracy by Elites to Torment the Poor…

Margaret Thatcher arrives in Washington, November 1988 (courtesy Ronald Reagan Library)

Margaret Thatcher arrives in Washington, November 1988 (courtesy Ronald Reagan Library)

Spontaneous Order: Looking Back at Neoliberalism

Tim Barker  writes:  “The owl of Minerva,” Hegel famously wrote, “flies only at dusk”: historical events can be theoretically comprehended only in retrospect. Is this the case with neoliberalism? A term ubiquitous in the academy but scarcely used outside it, the concept is difficult to define with precision. A common shorthand identifies it as the economic and philosophical ideology behind the Reagan-Thatcher revolution; it is also often agreed that this ideology contributed somehow to the financial crisis of 2008. Now, with the recession technically over but recovery still ambiguous, two recent books attempt to describe neoliberalism’s historical origins and explore its current political implications.

Markets in the Name of Socialism: The Left-Wing Origins of Neoliberalism

by Johanna Bockman
Stanford University Press, 2011, 352 pp.

Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics

by Daniel Stedman Jones
Princeton University Press, 2012, 432 pp.

In Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics, Daniel Stedman Jones charts the rise of neoliberalism, which he defines as the “coherent, if loose, body of ideas” that underwrite our contemporary “market-driven society.” He begins with the intellectual biographies of three exiled Central European thinkers—Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Karl Popper—who challenged the industrial West’s consensus around social welfare programs, full employment, labor unions, and state intervention. This first, émigré generation (joined by kindred Americans and West Germans) were “neoliberal” in their opposition to central planning, but also “neoliberal” because they sought a reformed liberalism for the middle of the twentieth century, not a simple return to the laissez-faire of the nineteenth. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, for example, countenanced significant departures from laissez-faire, including universal health care.

Read the rest of this entry »


More on “The Increasingly Libertarian Milton Friedman”

  writes:  In the journalistic/academic circle of life, Milton Friedman biographer Lanny Ebenstein in a new article available at Economic Journal Watch riffs (at least partially) off a Reason review written by me of Ebenstein’s own edited collection of Friedman rarities, The Indispensable Milton Friedman.

Ebenstein’s new journal article, like my review, is called “The Increasingly Libertarian Milton Friedman.”

[See The Indispensable Milton Friedman: Essays on Politics and Economics (2012) at Amazon]

It does a very thorough job demonstrating that as Friedman’s career and knowledge went on–and especially when he shifted from a professional active academic to a professional public intellectual activist–he became more and more libertarian in his views.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Milton Friedman on Socialized Medicine

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Xia Yeliang: The China Americans Don’t See

Illustration: Ken Fallin

Illustration: Ken Fallin

David Feith writes:  The 21st-century romance between America’s universities and China continues to blossom, with New York University opening a Shanghai campus last month and Duke to follow next year. Nearly 100 U.S. campuses host “Confucius Institutes” funded by the Chinese government, and President Obama has set a goal for next year of seeing 100,000 American students studying in the Middle Kingdom. Meanwhile, Peking University last week purged economics professor Xia Yeliang, an outspoken liberal, with hardly a peep of protest from American academics.

“During more than 30 years, no single faculty member has been driven out like this,” Mr. Xia says the day after his sacking from the university, known as China’s best, where he has taught economics since 2000. He’ll be out at the end of the semester. The professor’s case is a window into the Chinese academic world that America’s elite institutions are so eager to join—a world governed not by respect for free inquiry but by the political imperatives of a one-party state. Call it higher education with Chinese characteristics.

“All universities are under the party’s leadership,” Mr. Xia says by telephone from his Beijing home. “In Peking University, the No. 1 leader is not the president. It’s the party secretary of Peking University.”

Which is problematic for a professor loudly advocating political change. In 2008, Mr. Xia was among the original 303 signatories of the Charter 08 manifesto calling for democracy, civil liberties and the rule of law in China. “Our political system continues to produce human rights disasters and social crises,” declared the charter, written primarily by Mr. Xia’s friend Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace laureate who is currently serving an 11-year prison term for “inciting subversion of state power.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Milton Friedman – A Conversation On Equality


Five myths about libertarians

Five myths about libertarians

By Nick Gillespie

Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason.com and a columnist for the Daily Beast, is a co-author of “The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong With America.”

by Nick Gillespie The specter of libertarianism is haunting America. Advocates of sharply reducing the government’s size, scope and spending are raising big bucks from GOP donors, trying to steal the mantle of populism, being blamed for the demise of Detroit and even getting caught in the middle of a battle for the Republican Party. Yet libertarians are among the most misunderstood forces in today’s politics. Let’s clear up some of the biggest misconceptions.

1. Libertarians are a fringe band of “hippies of the right.”

In 1971, the controversial and influential author Ayn Rand denounced right-wing anarchists as “hippies of the right,” a charge still leveled against libertarians, who push for a minimal state and maximal individual freedom.

Libertarians are often dismissed as a mutant subspecies of conservatives: pot smokers who are soft on defense and support marriage equality. But depending on their views, libertarians often match up equally well with right- and left-wingers.

The earliest example of libertarian principles in partisan politics might have come in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,when Anti-Imperialist League Democrats rejected empire and war — and believed in free trade and racial equality at a time when none of that was popular. More recently, civil libertarians such as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) supported Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in his filibuster on domestic drones and government surveillance.

Libertarians are found across the political spectrum and in both major parties. In September 2012, the Reason-Rupe Poll found that about one-quarter of Americans fall into the roughly libertarian category of wanting to reduce the government’s roles in economic and social affairs. That’s in the same ballpark as what other surveys have found and more than enough to swing an election.

2. Libertarians don’t care about minorities or the poor.

As the recent discovery of neo-Confederate writings by a former senior aide to Sen. Paul shows, there sometimes is a connection between libertarians and creepy, racist elements in American politics. And given the influence of Ayn Rand among many libertarians, it’s easy to think that they care only about themselves. “I will never live for the sake of another man,” runs a characteristic line from Rand’s 1957 novel, “Atlas Shrugged.”

But at least two of the libertarian movement’s signature causes, school choice and drug legalization, are aimed at creating a better life for poor people, who disproportionately are also minorities. The primary goal of school choice — a movement essentially born out of a 1955 essay about vouchers by libertarian and Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman — is to give lower-income Americans better educational options. Friedman also persuasively argued that the drug war concentrates violence and law enforcement abuses in poor neighborhoods.

Libertarians believe that economic deregulation helps the poor because it ultimately reduces costs and barriers to start new businesses. The leading libertarian public-interest law firm, the Institute for Justice, which has argued Supreme Court cases for free speech and against eminent-domain abuse, got its start defending African American hair-braiders in Washington from licensing laws that shut down home businesses.

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