Laissez faire

WichitaLiberty.TV: Can anyone make a pencil?

WichitaLiberty.TV: Can anyone make a pencil?

In this excerpt from WichitaLiberty.TV, I introduce the video "I, Pencil" and then show the movie as created by Competitive Enterprise Institute. More about this movie may be found at ipencilmovie.org. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
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I, Pencil: The Movie

"The spontaneous configuration of creative human energies, of millions of people, with their various skills and talents, organizing voluntarily in response to human necessity and desire -- as if led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of the intention." This is part of the narration from a new short movie I, Pencil, produced by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Lawrence W. Reed, President of Foundation for Economic Education says about this movie: "For more than half a century, Leonard Read’s classic story has opened eyes and changed minds by the hundreds of thousands. It humbles…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday December 26, 2011

Kansas computer security. This month the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit released an audit looking at how well five Kansas state government agencies kept their computers up-to-date. The audit found: "Three of the five agencies had significant vulnerabilities because of inadequate workstation patching processes, and all five could make some minor improvements to their patching process." Patching refers to the process of keeping software updated. The most important updates, or patches, concern security vulnerabilities that have been discovered and fixed. Some of these vulnerabilities are serious and can lead to computers and networks being compromised. The report is at…
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Intellectuals against the people and their freedoms

At a recent educational meeting I attended, someone asked the question: Why doesn't everyone believe what we (most of the people attending) believe: that private property and free exchange -- capitalism, in other words -- are superior to government intervention and control over the economy? It's question that I've asked at conferences I've attended. The most hopeful answer is ignorance. While that may seem a harsh word to use, ignorance is simply a "state of being uninformed." That can be cured by education. This is the reason for this website. This is the reason why I and others testify in…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday October 3, 2011

Wichita City Council. Tomorrow the Wichita City Council considers these items: First, the council will have a do-over of a public hearing it held on September 21st. The need for this arises from a mistake regarding proper notification. Mistakes like this are not uncommon at Wichita city hall. ... Then the council considers revising the development agreement for the Ken-Mar TIF district. More about that at Ken-Mar TIF district, the bailouts. ... The council will be asked to approve an agreement with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 513 providing for pay raises of 2.5 percent per year for the…
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‘I, Pencil’ in audio argues for economic freedom, not government control

The Foundation for Economic Education has released an audio version of the booklet I, Pencil. Written by FEE's founder Leonard E. Read and first published in 1958, its message proclaiming the importance of economic freedom has not diminished with the passage of time. This audio recording, which you can listen to on your computer or mp3 player, is just short of 15 minutes in length. But it this short span it makes a compelling case for economic freedom instead of government control and planning. In Wichita, we have a mayor, city council, and business leaders that are steering us down…
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In Wichita, who is to plan?

In presenting the plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita, Wichita's planners routinely make no distinction between government planning and private planning. In their presentations, they will draw analogies between the wisdom of individuals or businesses creating and following a plan and government doing the same. An example is Wichita Downtown Development Corporation President Jeff Fluhr, who told the Wichita Pachyderm Club that the development of downtown is like the planning of an automobile trip, so that we don’t make major investments that we later regret. But government and the private sector are very different, facing greatly different constraints, motivations,…
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Kansas: business-friendly or capitalism-friendly?

Plans for the Kansas Republican Party to make Kansas government more friendly to business run the risk of creating false, or crony capitalism instead of an environment of genuine growth opportunity for all business. An example is the almost universally-praised deal to keep Hawker Beechcraft in Kansas. This deal follows the template of several other deals Kansas struck over the past few years, and outgoing Governor Mark Parkinson is proud of them. Incoming Governor Sam Brownback approved of the Hawker deal, and probably would have approved of the others. Locally, the City of Wichita uses heavy-handed intervention in the economy…
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Thompson makes case for liberalism, freedom, capitalism

Speaking to an audience in Wichita last Thursday, author and scholar C. Bradley Thompson delivered a lecture that explained the foundation of the greatness of America, and cautioned that this greatness is, and has been, under attack. Thompson's lecture was sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute and underwritten by the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation. Thompson is the BB&T Research Professor at Clemson University and the Executive Director of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism. He has also been a visiting fellow at Princeton and Harvard Universities and at the University of London. In his…
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‘Political capitalism’ explained in Wichita

In Wichita this Monday, Robert L. Bradley, Jr. explained the state of capitalism in America today, using his experience working in a high-level position at the failed energy conglomerate Enron as a backdrop. Bradley asked: What happened to business prudence? What has happened to capitalism? The answer is that what we have today is not free market capitalism. Rather, it's a very different type of capitalism: political capitalism. A common question today is has capitalism failed? Problems are automatically blamed on greed, self-interest, and profit maximization -- in other words capitalism. Historically, robber barons have been condemned as examples of…
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The real right to medical care versus socialized medicine

In 1994, George Reisman wrote a pamphlet explaining the problems with America's health care system. He criticized the Clinton plan for reform, and offered an alternative based on freedom and markets rather than government interventionism. It is a brilliant work, and still relevant today: "I wrote this essay to help defeat the Clinton plan for socialized medicine. In all essentials it’s as valid today as it was then. It’s a demonstration that government intervention inspired by the philosophy of collectivism is the cause of America's medical crisis and that a free market in medical care is the solution for the…
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80 Years Later: Parallels Between 1929 and 2009

Austrian economist Walter Block delivers a lecture that draws the parallels and differences between now and the Great Depression. Block lays blame for the current mess squarely on the Federal Reserve System. "Hoover was no free-enterpriser," Block says. Neither was George W. Bush, or Ronald Reagan, for that matter.
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Some misunderstand what they criticize …

But it doesn't stop them. Over at the Kansas Jackass blog, it appears there's been a discussion about libertarianism and how it doesn't work. I think however, that the Jackass and some of his sycophants are misinformed about a few things. Here's something the Jackass wrote: "The Libertarian views the world like nature. If a lion eats a zebra, we shouldn't interfere because that's the way of nature." This illustrates the Jackass's lack of knowledge about being a libertarian, for one of the most important things about libertarianism is the nonaggression axiom. Quoting from Rothbard in chapter 2 of For…
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Financial crisis caused by government

Did the "excesses" of capitalism cause the current financial crisis? First, we really don't have capitalism in the United States, at least not any reasonable semblance of laissez faire capitalism, as explained in my post The Myth that Laissez Faire Is Responsible for Our Present Crisis, based on the work of Professor George Reisman. The Wall Street Journal article How Government Created the Financial Crisis: Research shows the failure to rescue Lehman did not trigger the fall panic explains more in these excerpts: Many are calling for a 9/11-type commission to investigate the financial crisis. Any such investigation should not…
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The bailout reader

The events taking place in the financial market offer an illustration of the soundness of the Austrian theory of money, banking, and credit cycles, and Mises.org, which has long warned of precisely the scenario playing itself out today, is your source not only for analysis of these events but also the economic theory that helps explain what is happening and what to do about it. There are many thousands of articles available, and also the full text of thousands of books as well as journal articles. The Bailout Reader at the Ludwig von Mises Institute continues to be the best…
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I, Pencil turns 50!

The Foundation for Economic Education has a new version of I, Pencil to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Click here to view the announcement and read this short book. I've written about I, Pencil in the past. I, Pencil is one of the most important and influential writings that explain the necessity for limited government. A simple object that we may not give much thought to, the story of the pencil illustrates the importance of markets and the impossibility of centralized economic planning. The size and scope of government, both at the national and local level, has been growing. Now our…
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Introducing Economics in One Lesson

In This Book is So Me, Walter Block introduces a book that I've quoted from and used extensively: Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. Every widespread economic fallacy embraced by pundits, politicians, editorialists, clergy, academics is given the back of the hand they so richly deserve by this author: that public works promote economic welfare, that unions and union-inspired minimum-wage laws actually raise wages, that free trade creates unemployment, that rent control helps house the poor, that saving hurts the economy, that profits exploit the poverty stricken; the list goes on and on. Exhilarating. No one who digests this…
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Pragmatism must recognize reality

Any editorial that starts with "Karl Marx was right about at least one thing ..." deserves close examination, especially when it appears in Kansas' largest newspaper and is written by that newspaper's former editor. The thrust of Davis Merritt's article is that the theory of free markets hasn't worked: "We're painfully experiencing right now the unraveling of neat free-market theory." (Pragmatism needs to trump ideology, November 18, 2008 Wichita Eagle) Here's the first problem with Mr. Merritt's argument: what we live in is anything but a free market society. George Reisman details just how far removed we are from anything…
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Joe Scarborough: Please Stop Saying Laissez-faire

I'm listening to Joe Scarborough on MSNBC, and he says: "Laissez-faire capitalism is a wonderful thing except in this case ..." I've heard stuff like this over and over the past few months: A politician says "I'm a big free-market guy, but ..." What's sad to realize is that these people think that what we have in American is free markets and laissez-faire capitalism. We don't have these. See my post The Myth that Laissez Faire Is Responsible for Our Present Crisis. The sooner that we understand that it is largely government that is the cause of the present crisis,…
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