LRC Blog

Madness: Government Destruction of the Supply of Defense

The prohibition of ivory has obvious parallels to the prohibition of alcohol and marijuana. A good in demand is being produced whose supply the government seeks to curtail or eliminate altogether. The regulations on automobiles, washing machines, appliances, shower heads, lightbulbs, motors, toilets, and so on, are in the same category.

Less obvious are the cases in which the government bans supplies and then undertakes to replace the goods being produced by its own management of production. This is the case with police services, court services and national defense.

Central governments typically monopolize the supply of defense. The results are lower quality services at higher prices (via taxes).

In plain terms: more wars than otherwise, larger wars than otherwise, a military establishment, wasteful military expenditures, a military that can’t win even the wrong wars it is asked to fight, or else kills and wounds far too many people in the course of winning it or arriving at a stalemate, incompetent people drafted to do tasks where their skills are wasted, people badly trained, failure to choose efficient defensive strategies, failure to defend against real threats while projecting force against unreal and exaggerated threats, and a hugely expensive force that is mostly support with fewer and fewer actual fighters.

Then, because the government is a monopolist in defense supply, it “defends” places across the world that have nothing to do with defending Americans, if you can even call its intrusions into other countries defense, which you cannot. A monopolist supplier of defense doesn’t even have to supply domestic defense. It can redefine its mission. The supplier will produce enemies so as to assure its existence and rationalize the seizure of wealth from the population. This too is part of the reduction of services while raising the price.

Government would, if it could, outlaw all personal defense by guns, pepper spray, fists, martial arts, swords, clubs or anything else if it could. It would suppress the supply of this too and attempt to become the monopoly supplier via public policing. This is an area where lobbies have managed to educate enough people that concealed carry laws are on the books. But this doesn’t stop some governments, state and federal, from seeking to control the supply via control of weapons, bullets and other means.

7:20 pm on April 10, 2014

Madness: Intentional Government Destruction of Ivory

For months now, governments around the world have been destroying perfectly good elephant ivory that they have seized. They crush the ivory. This wealth destruction is madness in a pure form. It shows the irrationalities that governments routinely produce whenever they attempt to control the market for any good.

5:25 pm on April 10, 2014

Tomorrow: An Inflation Seminar for High School and College Students

unnamedOnline and at The Mises Institute:
Inflation: Causes, Consequences, and Cure. A seminar for High School and College Students

Register  here. 

One of the easiest ways for the state to take our money is to inflate away the value of the money we already hold. When governments and central banks work together to create more paper money, the state’s friends and allies benefit while everyone else who holds the now-devalued currency suffers.

In this new seminar for college and high school students from the Mises Institute, our scholars will help students understand the state’s motivation to inflate the currency while examining the many effects of this backdoor method of taxation.

From hyperinflation, to disruption of entrepreneurial planning, to income inequality and to wealth destruction, students will leave this seminar with a detailed and timely knowledge of the way that inflation is being used worldwide to enrich governments and impoverish private citizens.

Attendance is open to homeschool, public, or private high school students and their chaperones or teachers, and college students. Through the generosity of one of our donors this seminar is free to everyone. To attend the live sessions, at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, fill out the registration form at the bottom of this page. In addition, all of the sessions will be broadcast live andcan be viewed either from the homepage of or through the Mises Academy on the day of the event.  Special thanks to an anonymous donor for making this event possible.


1:54 pm on April 10, 2014

NATO Is An Albatross

Empires over-expand, over-reach and fail. Their ineptitude is gargantuan because their organization is an umbrella over diffuse and contradictory interests and forces. Those at the top don’t know what goes on beneath them, cannot obtain good information, can’t control those below them, can’t formulate clear goals, can’t measure whether they are attaining those goals, are subject to biased advice, act on their own biases, and govern with the weaknesses and limitations endemic to all human beings.

The relations between the U.S. government and NATO are a case in point. Just as the colonial and imperial projects of past empires typically cost more than their gains, proving to be albatrosses, so is keeping NATO alive when it should have been killed in 1989.


12:03 pm on April 10, 2014

More Kennedys, More Bushes – Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

In Doh! Not. Another. Kennedy. I wrote about yet another Kennedy running for public office: the son of former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-Caracas), Joseph P. Kennedy III who ran for Congress from Massachusetts in 2012 to replace the retiring Congresscriminal Barney Frank. Little Joe Kennedy won thanks to the limousine liberals of Newton and Brookline, the town that just banned plastic shopping bags despite evidence that paper shopping bags have been shown to be more harmful to the environment than plastic ones. So much for limousine liberal elitists. But Massachusetts is Kennedy Country, don’t expect them to rely on science to enact their petty fascist decrees.

Anyway, but now another Kennedy has announced a run for public office. And this one is the son of former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, Edward M. Kennedy, Jr. will run for the Connecticut state senate from the New Haven area. (Do we really need another Kennedy to do more meddling and intruding?) This one is over 50 now. And he’s a lawyer. (Do we really need another lawyer in politics?) This Kennedy specializes in issues regarding health care, disabilities and financial services. His wife, “Kiki,” is a psychiatrist and a professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. (Hmmm. I wonder what “Kiki” thinks about the over-prescribing of psychiatric meds and their association with mass shootings in recent years. Or what she might think about the Justina Pelletier ordeal in which psychiatrists seized the child’s case away from the gastroenterologists who were treating her. Perhaps I shouldn’t even ask.)

And besides more Kennedys, there’s another Bush now who is considering running. For President! That’s George W. Bush’s brother Jeb Bush, another son of George “Poppy” Bush. (Another Bush?) So while the elder President George Bush wanted to be known as the “Education President,” perhaps Jeb Bush wants to be known as the “Common Core President.” (He loves it.) But for the conservatards who don’t like Jeb Bush, it’s because of this Bush’s promotion of amnesty of “illegal” immigration. I don’t what it is with today’s so-called conservatives against immigration. They have certainly exposed their inner Archie Bunkers on that issue. But, the Republican Party — such as it is — will nominate whichever statist TPTB want to run, Jeb Bush or whomever. (If Jeb is elected President in 2016, perhaps he’ll start another war of aggression like the other Bushes. They seem to love starting wars.)

So, more Kennedys, more Bushes — Let’s call the whole thing off, I say.

(Cross-posted on my blog.)

11:52 am on April 10, 2014

Hey, Hey, LBJ, How Many Rights Did You Kill Today?

There’s a celebration of mass-murder LBJ’s signing of the 1964 civil rights act taking place at his presidential temple in Texas now. Such fellow warmongers as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama join in the festivities. Yet the law subverts freedom of association, freedom of contract, private property, and other essential principles. It also, of course,  enhances the state.

Thanks to the late F.A. Harper, founder of the Institute for Humane Studies, for making available to me, many years ago, this interesting law review article on the subject.

10:32 am on April 10, 2014

Ben Swann

I’ll be on Ben’s radio show from 11:00am-noon central time today.

10:07 am on April 10, 2014

NATO Plans for U.S. Troop Mobilization

NATO’s chief issued a fresh threat to Russia: “Russia must pull back its troops from the Ukrainian border as a first step to start dialogue over the crisis there, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday.”

In addition, “In an interview with the Associated Press, US Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said that forthcoming plans intended to ensure stability in Europe for the NATO partners in the area could involve the mobilizing of American troops.”

Breedlove has been hawkish on the Ukraine-Russia situation for several weeks, as has been Rasmussen. Breedlove is the USAF commander in charge of NATO’s military.

“Breedlove told the newswire that he has every intention of unveiling his proposal ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline, and that he wouldn’t ‘write off involvement by any nation, to include the United States.’”

There is no public indication at this time that these threats, proposals and plans issued by NATO that could involve U.S. round forces have been coordinated or approved by the U.S. government.

NATO continues to be a dangerous and aggressive organization that is acting as if it were an independent state with its own relations with existing states. Its officials have inserted it into the Ukraine-Russian situation.

8:00 am on April 10, 2014

H.L. Mencken’s Opinion of “The Veteran”

“The average soldier found in the army a vastly more spacious life, with many of the privileges of a chartered libertine. . . .  If he did a little stealing it was one of his privileges as a savior of humanity.  If he was rough and brutal it was a sign of his fighting spirit.  Moreover, he could look forward to distinction and respect for the rest of his life, with a long list of special privileges.  In every community in America, however small, there are local notables whose notability rests wholly on the fact that they were once drafted into some war or other . . . .  Their general intelligence is shown by the kind of ideas they advocate.  They are, in the main, bitter enemies of the liberty of the individual, and are responsible for some of the worst corruptions in politics.  The most grasping of all politicians is the veteran.”

H.L. Mencken, writing about World War I draftee veterans in A Mencken Chrestomathy, pp. 93-95.

(Believe it or not, this was written long before John McCain became a senator).

8:08 pm on April 9, 2014

The Economics Profession’s Dr. Frankenstein

That would be A. W. Phillips of Keynesian “Phillips Curve” notoriety and also of the Dr. Frankensteinish MONIAC computer  that purportedly imitated the real economy.  It’s absolutely hilarious to think that such an idiotic gadget with water pumped in to represent taxes, and pumped out to represent savings, was so celebrated by the likes of Nobel laureate economists Paul Samuelson and Robert Solow in the ’50s and ’60s.

1:44 pm on April 9, 2014

Forbes Magazine’s Doomsday Preacher

Like a fanatical preacher who keeps moving ahead his prediction of the end of the world as each new date comes and passes, Forbes magazine’s Paul Roderick Gregory has worked himself into a lather screaming that the Russian military invasion of Ukraine is imminent! It’s coming! It’s already taking place!

Ukrainian defense analysts and coup-appointed military leaders in Kiev (no conflict of interest there?) are reporting on the invasion, War of the Worlds-style, and Gregory is there, his fingers burning up the keyboard, to dutifully report.

In the interest of space, we will only go back three weeks, where on March 17, Gregory cites CATO’s Andrei “Is Helsinki Burning?” Illarionov to warn:

Former Top Putin Advisor Sounds The Alarm: Putin Has Already Declared War On Kiev

War! But it is an awfully quiet war. Without a single death. Unlike US “liberations” of Libya, Syria, etc.

Three days later the Forbes analyst returns to the same theme, writing  again of the invasion:

New Sanctions No Joke: Putin Risks Regime For Ukraine Invasion (Treasury Issues A Direct Threat To Putin) See Updates

But he is wrong again, this time on both counts. The sanctions are a joke, and there is no invasion. But like all neocons, a bad prediction calls for doubling down on faulty analysis, so what to do but backtrack without apology.


1:13 pm on April 9, 2014

Ignoring the Obvious (Again)

I am often asked how a monstrous tyrant who suffered from several mental illnesses went from being America’s most reviled president in all of history to our “most beloved president.”  I speak of course of Abe Lincoln, who was indeed the most hated and reviled of all presidents during his own lifetime, as documented by historian Larry Tagg in The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: America’s Most Reviled President. (As for Lincoln’s mental illness and instability, see Joshua Shenk, Lincoln’s Melancholy).

Part of the answer to this question is that the template for Lincoln biographies was written many decades ago by Lincoln’s two White House secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay, with the close supervision and censorship of Lincoln’s son Robert.  Presidential “biographies” written by White House press secretaries (a.k.a. Official Executive Branch Propagandists) and the presidents’ children are never taken very seriously by serious people, but with Lincoln it is an exception.

So now comes a book celebrating how the Lincoln myth was invented by Nicolay and Hay in an equally gushing and hagiographic book by one Joshua Zietz entitled Lincoln’s Boys.  The essence of the book is that it is an attempt to lionize Nicolay and Hay for a job well done in pulling the wool over the American public’s eyes about the most hated president in their history.  He was hated by people who actually knew him or knew of him during his time.  It is only future generations of Boobus Americanus, as H.L. Mencken called them, who came to revere Dishonest Abe.  Indeed, this is the purpose of the entire Lincoln cult — to always keep The Big Lie fresh in the minds of rationally-ignorant Americans.  For the Lincoln myth is the ideological cornerstone of the American state which supposedly sanctifies anything and everything the state does, just as Robert Penn Warren described in his 1961 book, The Legacy of the Civil War.

1:01 pm on April 9, 2014

Mindlessness in High Places

Politicians and people in the media waste little time getting before the public to reinforce ignorance of the causal explanations of political behavior. Following the stabbing of 20 high-school students in Pennsylvania, a Republican congressman was on network television declaring that a major problem among the young is the lack of enough psychologists and the need for more medications to help the kids.  Is this damned fool that ignorant – or wicked – in babbling such utter nonsense? Is he unaware of how most – perhaps all – of the high-school shootings have been carried out by boys (why no girls?) on prescription mood-altering drugs?  Would this nitwit-in-high-places also suggest that Uncle Willie’s cirrhosis could best be treated by getting him to switch to an alternate brand of Scotch?

Now you know why Ron Paul was so often outvoted 434-1 on bills in Congress!

12:38 pm on April 9, 2014

Yo, Tyrants

Say, Thugs, could we dispense with one of your particularly insulting memes? Here’s the incarnation that most recently came to my attention: Sen. Marco Rubio assuming we serfs are all as venal, craven, ignorant and worshipful of the satanic State as he and that if we only understood the NSA, we would naturally applaud its crimes against us.

Rubio et alia: the problem is not that we don’t understand but that we understand too well.

12:12 pm on April 9, 2014

Another Palindrome Date

Tomorrow’s date is another palindrome date. 4/10/2014.

All you number-scheme collectors out there, get your nets ready. . .

12:08 pm on April 9, 2014

The Real Heroes Are the War Resisters

Like Archibald Baxter (1881-1970), a New Zealand pacifist who refused to fight in World War I on the grounds that “all war is wrong, futile, and destructive alike to victor and vanquished.” For his disobedience he was arrested, imprisoned, beaten, starved, and tortured. He eldest son was also imprisoned for refusing to fight in World War II. Baxter’s account of his treatment by the New Zealand government was published in 1939 as We Will Not Cease. I was recently made aware that the book is online here.

12:06 pm on April 9, 2014

On the Meaning of Libertarianism

I don’t know why all this “meaning of libertarianism” stuff has been the talk of the town so much lately. In response to Laurence Vance and Thomas DiLorenzo in their critiques of David Boaz’s defining libertarianism as “the political philosophy that says limited government is the best kind of government,” I would say that under libertarianism the best kind of government is self-government. Duh.

When David Boaz writes “limited government,” I don’t think he means “limited self-government,” but a limited State. But I have pointed out recently that libertarianism has no role for the State. (And I see that Christopher Cantwell agrees, I hope more people will also.) Libertarianism includes self-ownership and non-aggression. Let me live my life and you go live yours, but leave me alone. Why is that so anguishing to so many people?

But the State inherently can’t do that. It can’t leave others alone, because the apparatus of the State is a territorial monopoly ruler whose agents are empowered in a contract-less involuntarily-agreed-to arrangement that is enforced through coercion and threats. Is that any kind of “live and let live” society? And how is that a “limited” apparatus?

So, “limited government” meaning “limited State”? Impossible, says Hans-Hermann Hoppe. So real honest-to-God libertarianism has no role whatsoever for the State, in my view.

Dump the State!

11:57 am on April 9, 2014

I Don’t Pity These Vets

For any reason. According to a Washington Post poll, nearly 9 in 10 veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan “say that even considering all they know about the military, they’d still choose to join if they could make the decision again.” Even more disturbing is the report that “that view wavers little among those who paid a bigger price for their service: 92 percent among those who were seriously injured, 88 percent whose physical health is worse, 79 percent who say the wars are not worth fighting, and even 90 percent who did things in war that made them feel ‘guilty.’” Fully 87 percent “feel proud about what they did in the war.” The poll also found that a majority of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan had a favorably view of George W. Bush.

Do it again? Proud of their ‘service”? Like Bush? These veterans deserve nothing but scorn.

11:03 am on April 9, 2014

High School Stabbings

A 16 year old male apparently went on a stabbing spree at a high school in Pennsylvania this morning, injuring 20 fellow students. A professional psychologist opined that this kid was probably driven by a desire to inflict mass injuries.  Do you suppose?  No mention as to whether he might have been on prescribed psychotropic drugs, or whether the school cafeteria will remove all knives from the utensil counter. Perhaps a sign will be placed at the school: “Knife-Free School.”

10:42 am on April 9, 2014

‘Obama Girl’ Repents–Is She Now a Libertarian?

(Via Chris Rossini)

8:42 am on April 9, 2014

Thank Goodness Guns are Banned on U.S. Military Bases

Otherwise, some nut on government-administered psychotropic drugs might go on a murder spree some place like Fort Hood.  Oh wait.  Guns ARE banned on military bases (and at all public schools).  My mistake.

6:00 am on April 9, 2014

Obama Was Mobilizing a Massive Aggression Against Syria

Seymour Hersh’s article on Syria confirms what was reported last August and September, which is that Great Britain, France and the U.S. were preparing and mere days away from launching a massive attack on anything attackable in Syria. See here, here, and here.

At the time, an article appeared in Forbes on 9/11/2013 concerning the legality of such a move under international law, i.e., the UN charter. It pointed out that the contemplated bombing campaign was illegal and so was NATO’s Kosovo campaign. At the time, Russia said a Syrian bombing by the West would be illegal.

The Forbes commentary is worth quoting:

“To put an even finer point on it, U.S. military action in Syria is actually prohibited by the United Nations Charter. There are only two circumstances in which the U.N. Charter permits the use of military force by one nation against another: a case of self-defense, or when authorized by the Security Council ‘to maintain or restore international peace and security.’ Russia has already said it does not support action against Syria, so its veto (or that of China) in the Security Council would stop that alternative cold. The U.S. makes noises that it is concerned about its own security whenever a leader uses weapons of mass destruction (Saddam Hussein in Iraq), but a case of self-defense would need to be stronger for chemical weapons thousands of miles away.

“So, the bottom line is that if you want to undertake military measures against Syria for its use of chemical weapons on its own people, international law is part of the problem, not part of the solution. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are left with the thin argument that what they propose is ‘legitimate’ even if it isn’t actually ‘legal.’ And how do they establish such legitimacy? Presumably by getting other world powers to agree, by persuading Congress to pass a resolution, from the E.U. statement of concern (but no authorization of military force), etc. This is how NATO authorized bombings in Kosovo in the 90’s—the major world powers agreed (or agreed not to disagree) that this was the humanitarian and right thing to do, even though it violated international law.”

At the time, I criticized Obama’s attempts to justify attacking Syria while violating the UN charter. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

What is the point, beyond the educational one, in recounting this history of near-war and near-aggression, one that the U.S. military warned against as a blunder but which the Obama White House was only 2 days away from launching?

It is simply that such a rash, illegal and imprudent decision at the highest levels of authority of the U.S. government is not unique to the Obama White House and not limited to foreign policy decisions. These kinds of wrong, ill-considered, unconstitutional, destructive, irrational and harmful decisions, domestic and foreign, occur in every administration without letup. They occur because of the setup of the government itself and its powers.

Government makes every attempt to appear rational in its operation, to be doing good, to be responsive to the public, to be acting justly, and to be acting legally. Unfortunately, it is none of these things on a systematic basis. Systematically, the design of it and the realities of what government is and has become produce bad and wrong results almost as a matter of course. The Syrian episode provides a recent example.

5:33 am on April 9, 2014

re: Describing Libertarianism

So David Boaz, who has written several books that attempt to redefine libertarianism as beltwaytarianism combined with libertinism, now says libertarianism means “limited government.”  But the question is:  How “limited”?  One percent smaller than the current governmental leviathan?  Five percent less?  More importantly, WHO will impose such limits?  The American people lost the ability to control their own central government when their rights of secession and nullification were destroyed at gunpoint almost 150 years ago.  Boaz and all of his fellow beltwaytarians  are, of course, dead set against secession and silent about nullification because their primary goal is the Quixotic one of being “accepted” by the leftist zealots at the Washington Post, New York Times, etc.

Having destroyed the rights of secession and nullification, the central state took the appointment of U.S. senators out of the hands of the people of the states (by state legislatures) with the Seventeenth Amendment calling for popular elections.  Once elected by popular vote, senators can then cater exclusively to wealthy donors, the people back home be damned.  They could no longer be recalled (fired) for bad behavior by their state legislatures.  That’s how a John McCain could move to Arizona, and a Hillary Clinton could move to New York, and become U.S. senators “from” those states.

The income tax and the Fed then enabled the state to impose and enforce military conscription beginning in World War I.  Having thus reintroduced slavery, the state demonstrated that it owns us and all of our income, only allowing us to keep whatever percentage IT decides by announcing what income tax rates were to be.  Decades of case law have “reinterpreted” the Constitution to render it meaningless as a means of limiting government, just as John C. Calhoun predicted it would in his 1850 Disquisition on Government.   The state then went hard to work making it virtually impossible to unseat any incumbent in Congress with gerrymandering, taxpayer-funded permanent campaign staffs, hundreds of committees and subcommittees designed to streamline the buying of votes by ladeling out massive amounts of individual and corporate welfare, the virtual banning of third parties, and myriad other forms of barriers to entry into politics.  Ask Ron Paul about that.

“Limited government” is not only not the definition of libertarianism; in today’s world it is meaningless blather.



8:58 pm on April 8, 2014

Is This How We Should Describe Libertarianism?

This is how Cato’s David Boaz begins an article on libertarianism: “Libertarianism — the political philosophy that says limited government is the best kind of government.”

Don’t Republicans and conservatives say that limited government is the best kind of government?

This reminds me to also mention the inadequacy of another statement one sometimes hears about libertarianism: “socially liberal, economically conservative.”

Either way the United States could still be dropping bombs all over the world.

2:31 pm on April 8, 2014

Don’t Bother Trying to Resuscitate NR’s Cadaver

National Review, brain dead for years, struggles from its stupor to reach out for life support from wealthy Pentagon contractors supplying the USG’s Afghan “policy.”

There is “hope in Afghanistan,” insist NR’s “editors,” so the US should send more billions to the country that is Transparency International’s most corrupt country in the world.

Not even the Onion would print this drivel.


2:06 pm on April 8, 2014

Americans on Medicaid Exceed Population of UK

So says the conservative CNS news. Not mentioned is that Republicans are some of the greatest supporters of Medicaid. They continually vote to fund it, even when they had an absolute majority in Congress and the White House for over four years under George W. Bush. No, Obama does not make me nostalgic for his predecessor.

12:45 pm on April 8, 2014

Not a Dime’s Worth of Difference

Is there a dime’s worth of difference between the leaders of the Democratic and Republican Parties?

obama boehner

I’m sorry, I didn’t notice that their ties were different colors.

12:36 pm on April 8, 2014

They Are Not Heroes Just Because They Are in the Military

It is unfortunate that the American national religion of military worship has infected American churches. Pastor Randall Wallace of the First Baptist church of Killeen (the home of Fort Hood) “has watched thousands of troops head off to war and then come home to Fort Hood.” “These are heroes,” he said. No pastor, they are not heroes just because they are in the military. They are not heroes for going overseas to fight some senseless war. They are not heroes for helping to carry out an evil U.S. foreign policy. They are not heroes for “defending our freedoms.” They are not heroes at all. In many cases, they are just young men who needed a job.

Thanks to J.L.

12:32 pm on April 8, 2014

The Greater the Ignorance, the Greater the Support of Government

Americans don’t know where Ukraine is, and the further off they are in their guesses, the more they support U.S. intervention. There is a positive correlation between ignorance and support of the government. The greater the ignorance, the more that the person defers to the supposedly greater knowledge and wisdom of the government. Liberty depends less on vigilance than it does on good information. The public schools breed government support by keeping people ignorant, not only by indoctrinating in government worship.

12:07 pm on April 8, 2014

The Natural Progression of Being “Socially Responsible”

I don’t know about other religions, but one of the nicer points of Christian ethics is that one is responsible only for one’s own actions. If I buy a loaf of bread from a baker, and then that baker uses the money to go out and buy a gun to murder his whole family, I’m not responsible for his murderous acts. End of story.

Consequently, those government ads from a few years back claiming that if you buy a bag of dope, you are responsible for terrorism (because bad guys use drug money) are less than convincing. But that’s how people have been trained to think and we’re now required to boycott this and avoid that or be “sensitive” to something else in the name of not being responsible for the death of that polar bear trapped on an ice floe somewhere.

On the other hand, one might note that it’s all going in this direction:

10:55 am on April 8, 2014