My remarks at the Mises Institute’s Mises Circle in Manhattan.
I first encountered Professor Gerard Casey of University College, Dublin, in 2004, when I was having a debate on economics with some pretty nasty people. Across the water he was giving a public lecture in my defense, but with one caveat: I wasn’t hardcore enough, he said. This is my kind of guy, I thought.…Details
I have four things to say.
(1) David Weidner wrote an article critical of the gold standard.
(2) The article contains gems of knowledge like this:
Another problem is that rather than try to improve our currency systems, we keep going back to this 600 B.C. technology that’s a step up from seashells. Gold is pretty, but it’s just a piece of metal. Its uses are limited. It can be dug out of the ground. In other words, it’s really all about human confidence that gold is worth something. And, you know, the earth is flat too….
A big problem is that the gold standard never works. It’s like getting back together with that old girlfriend. Your memories of how good it used to be are tainted by your current pain of loneliness. I get it. The pull is very, very tempting. But haven’t we gone down that road enough already?
(3) Weidner probably never expected this insignificant, phoned-in piece of inanity to be subjected to withering ridicule and refutation, point by point. A refutation so thorough that it even smashes his clumsy efforts at humor (e.g., contrary to popular belief, and as I myself have pointed out, essentially no one believed the earth was flat).Details
I bring this up not to endorse or criticize either Jefferson or Madison, but just as a good example of the feedback members get in the Liberty Classroom forums. Someone asked, “In a letter Jefferson wrote to Madison about the Constitution he talked about how laws should have a termination date of 19 years. This option was better than just allowing for the repeal of the law. Is there more to it or if we were to follow Jefferson’s word should the Constitution have been rewitten many times over?”
The letter you mention was sent to James Madison. Jefferson had been pondering the question whether we should inherit any government obligations, whether in the form of constitutions, statutes, public debt, or private debt. Having tentatively concluded that we shouldn’t, he wrote to Madison with this idea.
In response, Madison made several observations: 1) Obligations incurred by government in one generation may well yield benefits to the next. So, for example, if the government sells bonds to finance construction of a bridge, the succeeding generation may find itself facing the previous generation’s obligation, but it will also recoup most of the benefits associated with that obligation. To insist that every obligation have a 19-year sunset would make such government programs impossible. 2)
One of my pet peeves is the conservative who lectures us on the “limits” of markets and looks with a self-satisfied and condescending shake of the head upon the stupid rubes he must endure who persist in supporting the market all the same. Why, haven’t these dopes read Wilhelm Roepke, whose views are to be considered definitive?
In this unfortunate post, we get the usual laments about what “capitalism” has done to the public. If only banking had stayed local we wouldn’t have had all these problems, etc.
Absent as always from these critiques is any discussion of the Federal Reserve, the elephant in the living room, which is a friend neither of localism nor the free market. Likewise absent is any acknowledgment that to call the banking system of today a “free market” is at best an expression of one’s sense of humor. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the current system is rather far from the Misesian ideal; it includes:Details
In my exchange with Dean Clancy, I presented (in the comments section) a few of the initial problems that opponents of the compact theory of the Union (which holds that the Union was created by the sovereign peoples of the states) have to confront. The nationalist view, by contrast, holds that the Union was created by a singular…Details
From The O’Reilly Factor, email segment for July 5:
“Bill, you keep asking what the Republicans have to replace Obamacare. Under the Constitution, there is no role for the Federal government in healthcare.”
“That’s not true, Felicia. The opening paragraph of the Constitution says the welfare of the people must be promoted. A just healthcare system comes under that banner.”
I couldn’t resist answering this.Details
On the forums over at my Liberty Classroom, a member asks Brion McClanahan, one of our faculty members: “You mention in part one of Mr. Lincoln’s War that Jefferson believed there would eventually be multiple American federal republics. Can you tell me where to find more information on his thoughts regarding this?” Professor McClanahan replied: Jefferson…Details