Category Archives: freedom

"New Justice Department Documents Show Huge Increase in Warrantless Electronic Surveillance."


The ACLU reports on “documents, handed over by the government only after months of litigation.”

“New Justice Department Documents Show Huge Increase in Warrantless Electronic Surveillance.” (Ann Althouse)
Fri, 28 Sep 2012 00:50:00 GMT


Cafe Hayek

via Coddled.

Entering the economics department today I saw the following notice on the front door of the building:

When I first saw it, I noticed that it was referencing a test of the fire alarm system. I presumed that meant there would be some alarms going off and not to worry–it’s just a test. But then I looked more closely. The sign was saying that there would be tests of the fire alarm system and during the three day period of the testing process, there would be no alarms available. So in case there was a fire, be sure to get the heck out of the building. EVACUATE THE AREA! Good idea. In other words, don’t wait for an alarm, there isn’t going to be one.

At first glance, this seems like a remarkably paternalistic and condescending instruction. In the event of fire, flee! Did the designers of the sign think that I would smell smoke or see flames and think, well, I don’t hear an alarm, so there must not be a fire? How stupid do they think I am? But maybe it wasn’t so insulting. Maybe after your sensitivity is deadened by constant coddling, you need signs like this.

I remember being in Chile and having a miserable cold or flu, I went into a drugstore in search of something to make me feel better. As I struggled with trying to read the labels, I realized that Chile’s FDA, if there was one, was probably not like the American FDA. In America, the problem with the stuff you can buy in the drugstore without a prescription is so benign, the problem is whether it will have any impact on you. Anything other than Tums or aspirin requires a prescription. In another country, however, there could be some pretty powerful drugs available over the counter. Having been coddled by the FDA, I was unprepared for the exciting but scary world of potentially real drugs that I could choose freely.

Similarly, I hear people say that were we to privatize social security or better, eliminate it, most people (meaning people other than the person speaking) would not have the financial sophistication to invest their own money. Could be true. For someone with very little discretionary income (a problem partly caused by a payroll tax of over 15% to fund other people’s social security and medicare) why should they develop any financial sophistication. Give them the opportunity to invest their own money and they will have an incentive to get educated.

We have a natural incentive to take care of ourselves. But if someone takes care of us, our impulse toward self-preservation lapses and gets rusty. Pay for my losses and I’ll be less prudent. Cleanse the drugstore of anything remotely likely to have a side effect and I’ll be less prudent. Get rid of the alarm system and maybe I’ll hesitate to run from fire. Well, not really on that last one. But maybe I’ll smell smoke and assume that if the alarm hasn’t gone off, it must be someone misusing the microwave. So maybe it’s not a bad idea to let people know the alarm system is on vacation.

Land of the free? NOT!

I find it fascinating that the heritage foundation (no bastion of socialists), finds the Canada freer than the US.  This even though Canada has a single payer healthcare system.  Per Rush limbaught as soon as government has healthcare, bye bye freedom. 

To clarify, I think that some kind of coherent health care system with better access and lower cost is what we need.  I’m not sure what that will ultimately look like, but my hope is that in passing a comprehensive reform we’ll get there.  States taking different paths might really help with that.  Finally, I’m not necessarily an advocate of Canadian style single payer.  It just I can’t deal with the over the top nonesense that the talk radio right claims and so so many uncritically accept.

Do Events Like the Arizona Shooting Justify Restrictions on Free Speech?

Jeffrey Miron

via Do Events Like the Arizona Shooting Justify Restrictions on Free Speech?.

The American War on Drugs is Not Only an American Disaster-Becker

The Becker-Posner Blog

via The American War on Drugs is Not Only an American Disaster-Becker.

Economics and the Draft

I like economics. I find it always intellectually stimulating. I’d like to think it helps understand a little how some human affairs do work. I’d hope it sometimes gives insights on how human affairs should be managed. One area where it had an influence was the draft.

Not a lot of people know that economics and the arguments of economists played a part in end of the draft. Milton Friedman was a vocal opponent of the draft and had this exchange with the late General Westmoreland:

In his testimony before the commission, Mr. Westmoreland said he did not want to command an army of mercenaries. Mr. Friedman interrupted, “General, would you rather command an army of slaves?” Mr. Westmoreland replied, “I don’t like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves.” Mr. Friedman then retorted, “I don’t like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries. If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general; we are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher.”

There’s more on the subject here.

I have opposed conscription both for it burden in taking talented people from valuable pursuits and because its an imposition on liberty. Now though I do wonder about the volunteer army making us less concerned about needless military adventures, and may have caused to go to war too lightly.

While Friedman’s volunteer army has fought the war in Iraq, Professor Friedman strongly opposed the Iraq war.

Jeffrey Miron: How the Republicans Can Waste Their Electoral Victories

Liberal groups in Wisconsin are bracing for a fight over contraception coverage under Medicaid. Battle lines are being drawn over sex education in North Carolina. And conservatives in several states intend to try to limit the ability of private insurers to cover abortions.

Social issues barely rated in this year’s economy-centric midterm elections. More than six in 10 voters who cast ballots on Election Day cited the economic downturn as their top concern, according to exit polls. And this year was the first in more than a decade in which same-sex marriage did not appear on a statewide ballot.

But major GOP gains in state legislatures across the country – where policy on social issues is often set – left cultural conservatives newly empowered. Opponents of same-sex marriage, for instance, now see an opportunity to block or even reverse recent gains by gay rights advocates in Minnesota and New Hampshire.

The Tea Party was successful precisely because it ignored everything but economic issues; that allowed it to unite conservatives, libertarians, and independents. The behavior outlined by the story is suicide for Republicans.



Jeffrey Miron

via How the Republicans Can Waste Their Electoral Victories.