Obama and the Seventh Century

I cannot get excited against air strikes on 7th-century violent barbarians persecuting civilian populations. However, I believe any supporter of liberty must get excited against Barack Obama when he says: “I don’t want to get in the business … of being the Kurdish air force.” (Financial Times, August 9, 2014).

Who does he think he is? Does he think he is an airforce?

The conceit of rulers, so-called democratic, is despicable, but alas symptomatic of their power.

Something Troubling in James Buchanan’s Theory

Just when I first read Buchanan’s The Limits of Liberty (1975) 30 years ago, I find the following intriguing or troubling:

In the model incorporated here … I allow quite explicitly for personal inequality in the natural equilibrium, the anarchistic base from which primal disarmament contracts are conceptually negotiated. … [T]he establishment of positive claims to stocks of goods or endowments may not be possible until and unless some unilateral transfers are made. This potential for transfer allows us to introduce an additional dimension of adjustment which may possibly facilitate the reaching of agreement among parties in contract. …
[C]ertain “exchanges” of resources endowments of goods and behavioral constraints may be necessary before clearly acknowledged ownership imputations are possible. (pp. 92-3)

Anarchy and the Limited State

One can argue for total anarchy if it is the only stable equilibrium that is acceptable on the continuum from total anarchy to the total state. Note that both total state and total anarchy are stylized concepts, which can only be approximated in reality. Note also that stability has a time dimension. During history, neither near-total state nor near-total anarchy has been stable for more than a few centuries. One could venture the claim that total anarchy would be stable, but it does not seem more a stretch of the imagination to make the same claim for a classical liberal, limited state.

Urban Legends about Mathematics and Keynes

Many urban legends circulate about the use of mathematics in economics.

For example, many people think (they have heard that…they know somebody who knew somebody who knew…) that John Maynard Keynes loved and used mathematics. In his 1936 magnum opus, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Keynes seldom used math. He even attacked economists for using them too much. One can find this by simply reading the General Theory:

It is a great fault of symbolic pseudo-mathematical methods of formalizing a system of economic analysis… Continue reading

The State Must Have Something to Hide

Any terrorist who does not believe that we are living in a free society but under a disguised tyranny (the sort he would like to establish under a different mantle) would have assumed that, at the very least, his phone calls could be logged and his emails read. The only people not to believe so were honest citizens who thought they were living in a free society. So remind me what are the reasons for hiding the Surveillance State? Why do you hide your surveillance programs if you have nothing to hide?

US Government Is Already Broke

Published in the Financial Post (www.nationalpost.com), January 25, 2013

In Tuesday’s Financial Times, well-known columnist Martin Wolf argues that “America’s fiscal policy is not in crisis.” “The federal government,” he writes,“is not on the verge of bankruptcy.” “This,” Wolf admits, “is a highly controversial statement.”

Indeed, many analysts believe that the U.S. federal government is bankrupt. They include, among others, economists Jeffrey Hummel of San Jose State University and Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University. As early as 2006, Kotlikoff wrote an article in the journal of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, asking the question “Is the United States Bankrupt,” to which he answered affirmatively. Continue reading

Obama’s Inaugural Address: the Citizens’ Citizens

Presidential inaugurations are, at best, similar to royal marriages in England, where simple people dream of the Prince Charming; at worst, they resemble nationalist orgies where people proclaim their faith in, and submission to, their dear leader. There was both in Barack Obama’s inauguration today. Continue reading