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Posts published in “Liberty”

A libertarian reading list

Once you are exposed to the complete picture -- and For a New Liberty has been the leading means of exposure for more than a quarter of a century -- you cannot forget it. It becomes the indispensable lens through which we can see events in the real world with the greatest possible clarity.

For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto

For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto by Murray N. Rothbard

An absolutely awesome book. If you are interested in liberty, this is, in my opinion, the most important book to read.

I think Lew Rockwell, who I recently had the pleasure to meet at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, says it best about this book:

Once you are exposed to the complete picture -- and For a New Liberty has been the leading means of exposure for more than a quarter of a century -- you cannot forget it. It becomes the indispensable lens through which we can see events in the real world with the greatest possible clarity. ... Its logical and moral consistency, together with its empirical explanatory muscle, represents a threat to any intellectual vision that sets out to use the state to refashion the world according to some pre-programmed plan. And to the same extent it impresses the reader with a hopeful vision of what might be. ... He never talks down to his readers but always with clarity. Rothbard speaks for himself. ... The reader will discover on his or her own that every page exudes energy and passion, that the logic of his argument is impossibly compelling, and that the intellectual fire that inspired this work burns as bright now as it did all those years ago.

And finally, from Lew again:

The book is still regarded as "dangerous" precisely because, once the exposure to Rothbardianism takes place, no other book on politics, economics, or sociology can be read the same way again. What was once a commercial phenomenon has truly become a classical statement that I predict will be read for generations to come.

This book is available for purchase at the Mises Institute at http://mises.org. It may be read in its entirety from that site, and an audio recording is available there as well.

Toward a Free America

The libertarian creed, finally, offers the fulfillment of the best of the American past along with the promise of a far better future. Even more than conservatives, who are often attached to the monarchical traditions of a happily obsolete European past, libertarians are squarely in the great classical liberal tradition that built the United States and bestowed on us the American heritage of individual liberty, a peaceful foreign policy, minimal government, and a free-market economy. Libertarians are the only genuine current heirs of Jefferson, Paine, Jackson, and the abolitionists.

A Free Society: It’s Not All About Country

The opening words of Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman, written around 1962:

In a much quoted passage in his inaugural address, President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country.” It is a striking sign of the temper of our times that the controversy about this passage centered on its origin and not on its content. Neither half of the statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society.

Political power is the opposite of freedom

The problem is that politicians are not supposed to have power over us – we're supposed to be free. We seem to have forgotten that freedom means the absence of government coercion. So when politicians and the media celebrate political power, they really are celebrating the power of certain individuals to use coercive state force.

On praising Milton Friedman

I wonder how many of the newspaper reporters and editorial writers praising Milton Friedman, not to mention politicians, knew of his strong belief in and advocacy of a very limited government. Would they still praise him? Would they be willing to take his advice?

No more smoking laws, please

There is no doubt in my mind that smoking cigarettes and breathing secondhand smoke are harmful to health. If a young person asked my advice as to whether to smoke cigarettes, I would strongly urge them to avoid smoking.

But it doesn't follow that we should have laws against smoking, or laws that govern how businesses such as bars and restaurants must accommodate smokers and non-smokers.

Consider carefully all costs of gambling in Wichita

In a free society dedicated to personal liberty, people should be able to gamble. But that's not what we have, as in a free society dedicated to personal liberty, people wouldn't be taxed to pay for the problems that others cause in the pursuit of their happiness.

How does this relate to the issue of casino gambling in Wichita and Kansas?

I, Government

I, Government
Published in The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty, October 2002 by D.W. MacKenzie
Click here to read the article.

This article illustrates just how large government at all levels has become.

Do we really want governments so powerful that they can do the things described in this article?

How have we let this happen? Will we ever be able to shrink the size and intrusiveness of government? Even under a president who labels himself a conservative, government spending has grown rapidly. Even the most modest proposals to take away power from the government and give it back to the people appear to have no chance of success. The proposal for social security private accounts is an example of this.

The Law by Frederic Bastiat

About a year ago I became acquainted with the writings of the economist Walter E. Williams. After reading his foreword to this book, I understand -- as Williams says himself -- how important Bastiat's writings are. As Williams says:

Reading Bastiat made me keenly aware of all the time wasted, along with the frustrations of going down one blind alley after another, organizing my philosophy of life. The Law did not produce a philosophical conversion for me as much as it created order in my thinking about liberty and just human conduct.

And then this:

...Bastiat's greatest contribution is that he took the discourse out of the ivory tower and made ideas on liberty so clear that even the unlettered can understand them and statists cannot obfuscate them. Clarity is crucial to persuading our fellowman of the moral superiority of personal liberty.

I am tempted to repeat in full Dr. Williams's foreword, but you would do well to read it yourself.

The Law is a book about liberty and justice. One of the most important things I learned from reading this book is that the proper function of the law is not to create justice, but to prevent injustice. This makes the laws we should have quite simple. Instead of deciding how much to take from us in the form of taxes (plunder) and how to distribute it, laws should protect us from plunder.

Let free markets, not laws, regulate smoking

Today, in the town of Hutchinson, Kansas, an indoor smoking ban takes effect. I hope Wichita does not pass the same law. I believe the evidence that shows smoking is tremendously harmful to the health of the smoker, and also dangerous to those around the smoker. Personally, I don't care to be around smokers and I take measures to avoid places where I will be exposed to cigarette smoke. So shouldn't I favor a smoking ban in Wichita?

Vioxx and personal liberty

A recent column by Thomas Sowell titled Free lunch 'safety': Part II (a link to part one is here) started with this paragraph:

"The government will allow you to risk your life for the sake of recreation by sky-diving, mountain climbing or any number of other dangerous activities. But it will not allow you to risk your life for the sake of avoiding arthritis pain by taking Vioxx."

On Seatbelts and Helmets

I believe there is little doubt that it is foolhardy to be in an automobile without wearing seatbelts, or to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet. Someone inevitably claims that it is better to be thrown clear of the wreckage than to be trapped inside. But ask any race car driver -- they who witness crashes all the time and may have even been in several -- if they would dare take to the track without making use of their extensive belting systems.

I believe it would be nice if we had the right to drive automobiles without wearing seatbelts, and to ride motorcycles without wearing helmets. These acts, while dangerous to the actor, don't pose any real threat to others. If the person who crashes into my car isn't wearing their seatbelt, it doesn't change my likelihood of injury to my body. It does, however, greatly increase the danger to my wallet, and that's where I draw the line.

Why I Like Walter E. Williams

I've never met Walter E. Williams, economics professor at George Mason University, and I don't suppose I ever will. But I think I would like him if I met him. I certainly admire his writing. In his columns he has a way of writing very plainly, where everything makes sense. These are some of his columns that I have thought important:

Socialism is Evil This article very plainly makes the case for less taxation by the state.
Socialism is evil: Part II Follow-up.

About Voice For Liberty in Wichita

A voice for individual liberty, limited government, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas.

I started this website in October 2004 in response to what I felt was a misunderstanding of the important issues in the November 2004 elections, especially involving the proposed downtown Wichita arena.

The debate over the arena was wide-ranging, involving factors such as its cost compared to the cost of renovating the existing Kansas Coliseum, its seating capacity, traffic and parking problems, whether it will sellout or not, who will profit from building it, whether a sales tax is better than a property tax, and other such factors. Our local government leaders and media seemed to believe whichever convenient set of facts supported their position, and almost all seemed to be endorsing the downtown arena.

I too became involved in arguing issues like these, even when I knew in my heart that the most important issues are these: How much government do we want, at the expense of how much personal liberty, and what is the proper role of government and individual? I saw very little discussion of these important issues, and most importantly, very little media coverage.

So I started this website to explore and report on issues of government, media, and individual liberty in Wichita, Sedgwick County, the State of Kansas, and, to a lesser degree, the United States.

Bob Weeks
Email to bob.weeks@gmail.com
Skype bob.weeks. AIM WichitaLiberty.
316-708-1837
Wichita, Kansas
October 28, 2004

Bob Weeks, and with his ragdoll cat Tippy

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