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America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Trump Supports Legal Status, But Not Amnesty, for "Illegals"

“When I use a word,” Trump said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” (With apologies to Lewis Carroll)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How to Deal with a Non-Violent Bigot

My article "How to Deal with a Non-Violent Bigot" has been published at Learn Liberty (IHS). In it I discuss the "alt-right's" repugnant response to the excesses of "political correctness" and my view of the proper libertarian perspective on bigotry.

Monday, August 15, 2016

America's Counter-Revolution Reviewed

Independent historian (and old friend) Joseph R. Stromberg reviewed America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited at The American Conservative magazine website. He opens "The Federalists' Revenge" with:
America’s Counter-Revolution, dedicated “To the constitutionalists of all parties,” gives new meaning to the word pithy. In 20 short chapters (most of which were previously columns in the Freeman and elsewhere) Sheldon Richman achieves a remarkable thematic coherence, giving the reader a nice window into American constitutional argument and thus into American history.
Building on Arthur E. Ekirch’s Decline of American Liberalism (1955), Richman concludes that the Federalists gave America a vague constitution having the appearance of limited powers but marred by implied ones: a “living constitution” for conservative nationalists. The Federalists, recall, set imperial greatness above liberty and thought real limits on power “impossible”; so-called Anti-Federalists opposed the rule of self-nominated aristocrats and believed in dispersed power.

Friday, August 12, 2016

National Regulation of Amusement Parks Is Not What's Missing

The potential danger of amusement parks is not that they face state rather than national regulation. It's that people have been lulled by government chimerical guarantees per se. A false sense of security is worse than no sense of security at all. The best assurance would be produced by market competition along the safety dimension.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Is the Government's Budget Equal to GDP?

Memo to news people: tax cuts don't have to be paid for. The money is ours; the government takes it from us by threat of force, i.e., taxation. It's government programs that have to be paid for. Tax cuts are not government programs. So if you want to ask how government programs will be paid for if taxes are cut, fine. I will answer that the programs should be abolished.

The more you think about the notion that tax cuts must be paid for, the more ridiculous it sounds. One might say tax cuts have have to be made up for (by cutting spending), because the government would have less revenue, but not paid for. Moreover, since taxpayers pay for everything government does (sooner or later), the conventional wisdom about paying for tax cuts translates to: How should the taxpayers pay for their tax cuts? To which the only proper answer is: Huh? Say what?

From the taxpayers' vantage, tax cuts cost nothing. We might say they cost the politicians, bureaucrats, and government contractors something--but it's something they had no right to anyway. Securing my wallet "costs" a would-be thief my money. But who cares?

Final point: a hidden premise of this belief is that the government properly owns all wealth and income. In budget-talk when the government gives you a chance to recover or hold onto some of your money, say, via a tax deduction or credit, that is known as a "tax expenditure"; in other words, it's just another way for government to spend (its) money. But under that way of thinking it follows that not taking the money in the first place is also a tax expenditure. What's the difference between, on the one hand, taking money and giving some back and, on the other, not taking the full amount to begin with? Thus the whole GDP must be the government's budget because the politicians, as they see things, "spend" all of it one way or another.

This is pretty absurd. So let's just acknowledge that what you honestly earn is yours and that the government is a thief because taxation is theft.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

71th Anniversary of the A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki



Today marks the 71st anniversary of U.S. President Harry Truman's atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. The atomic bombing of Nagasaki took place three days later in 1945. Some 90,000-166,000 individuals were killed in Hiroshima. The Nagasaki bombing killed 39,000-80,000 human beings. (It has come to my attention that the U.S. military bombed Tokyo on Aug. 14--after destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki and after Emperor Hirohito expressed his readiness to surrender.)

There isn't much to be said about those unspeakable atrocities against civilians that hasn't been said many times before. The U.S. government never needed atomic bombs to commit mass murder, but it dropped them anyway. (Remember this when judging the official U.S. moralistic stance toward Iran.) Its "conventional" weapons have been potent enough. (See the earlier firebombing of Tokyo.) Nor did it need the bombs to persuade Japan to surrender; the Japanese government had been suing for peace. The U.S. government may not have used atomic weapons since 1945, but it has not yet given up mass murder as a political/military tactic. Presidents and presidential candidates are still expected to say that, with respect to nuclear weapons, "no options are off the table."

Mario Rizzo has pointed out that Americans were upset by the murder of 3,000 people on 9/11 yet seem not to be bothered that "their" government murdered many more Japanese civilians in two days. Many more died as a consequence of the bombings.  Conservatives, ironically, were among the earliest critics of Truman's mass murder. It's also worth noting that the top military leaders of the day opposed the use of atomic bombs.

As Harry Truman once said, "I don't give 'em hell. I just drop A-bombs on their cities and they think it's hell." (Okay, he didn't really say that, but he might as well have.)

Some people still see the A-bombs as the only alternative to invasion, which would have cost many more civilian lives. Now there's the fallacy of the false alternative in dying color. Why couldn't the U.S. military have called it a day and gone home? Why the assumption that the state must destroy and conquer its "enemy"? Why demand unconditional surrender? (To back up a step, why go to war against Japan at all? Pearl Harbor was the result of systematic, intentional provocation -- as Herbert Hoover and others pointed out at the time) -- perhaps with Roosevelt's foreknowledge. A government less concerned with a rival for its and its allies' colonial possessions might have not gotten involved.)

Rad Geek People's Daily has a poignant post here. Rad says: "As far as I am aware, the atomic bombing of the Hiroshima city center, which deliberately targeted a civilian center and killed over half of the people living in the city, remains the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of the world."

Other things to read: Anthony Gregory’s “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the US Terror State,”  David Henderson’s “Remembering Hiroshima,”  G.E.M. Anscombe's "Mr. Truman's Decree," and my own "Truman, A-bombs, and the Killing of Innocents."

Finally, if you read nothing else on this subject, read Ralph Raico's article here.

[A version of this post appeared previously.]