“Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution.” That’s probably the most famous sentence that Nobel laureate Robert Lucas ever said.
To be blunt, I’m right and they’re wrong. Yes, human smugglers charge high prices. Yes, farmers pay low wages. But the reason for these unfavorable market conditions is the oppression of the Italian government.
The lesson: When the government oppresses you, you don’t have to submit. You don’t have to make a futile effort to fix the system. And you don’t have to play the victim. You always have the final freedom to be a scofflaw.
Writing in Jacobin, Ben Burgis argues that libertarians implausibly understand freedom as mere non-interference. In his view, a better understanding is one that affirms “that the kind of freedom that matters most is the freedom from arbitrary domination.” In Burgis’s example, “the boss [who] tells you that you can’t get a tattoo if you want to keep your job at his restaurant” subjects you to arbitrary domination and so makes you unfree.
Thomas Jefferson famously said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
One of my students was recently part of a classroom discussion on Black Lives Matter. Another participant roughly said, “It is totally unfair for people to blame BLM protestors for rioting. The vast majority of BLM protestors were peaceful. Blaming them for a few bad apples is just collective guilt.”
Until now I’ve never really told the world’s governments what they ought to be doing. My bad, but I’m ready to make amends. Here, in no particular order, are my Guidelines for Government.
Being labelled a “racist” is scary. If you scour the Internet, you will find a few confessed racists. For the most part, though, “racism” is a doctrine we ascribe to others in order to damn and ostracize them. The strange result: While we hear endless debates about whether a person, idea, or practice is “racist,” we rarely hear arguments against racism itself. Arguments of the form, “Racism is wrong because…”
The Mises Institute has been the center of libertarian immigration skepticism for the last three decades. Ludwig von Mises himself, however, was a staunch open borders advocate for people of all races. Starting over a hundred years ago. Yet in a classic case of “No good deed goes unpunished,” historian Quinn Slobodian recently interpreted
I just returned from a two-week speaking tour of Poland, Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia. Most of the focus was on Open Borders, which has been translated into Polish, Hungarian, and Czech. Lots of Americans urged me to cancel the visit, or at least leave my 12-year-old son behind. Since our family ignored the doom-sayers, my son and I had an inspiring and thought-provoking journey, making friends wherever we went.